Snowmobile Summerizing is Easy and Important!
It's important to make sure your sled is ready to go BEFORE next season arrives and the snow comes and all your friends are on the trail and your machine won't start and your self esteem tanks and you start drinking heavily and your wife/husband/significant other leaves you and you lose your job, rob a 7-11, end up in jail and...well maybe it's not that important but it could save you alot of avoidable trouble.
Summer Prep Basics
by Dan Canfield reprinted from www.ride-ny.com
Well, for most people the snowmobile season is over and with just a little bit of effort on your part you can ensure that your snowmobile makes it through the summer and is easy to get ready next fall for riding. Obviously the easiest way for you to prep your sleds for the summer storage is to let you dealer do it. However, if you're like me, you like to do this stuff yourself. I find that summer storage prep is a great time to give the machine a thorough going over to see how it made it through the previous riding season. If I find any major problems I can get them taken care of now so that its ready to ride come next season.
Summer storage is a necessary evil for most snowmobilers. I personally try to keep this storage period to a minimum, but then again I live in the mountains and we have snow seasons a lot longer than the flatlands do. But eventually the season comes to an end even in the Rockies and the snowmobiles go into storage. Over the years I've found a few things that are an important part of summer prep. I've broken these things down into "must do" and "can do".
First thing to do when you are preping for summer storage is to check your owners manual for anything specific to your machine. With electric start machines and/or EFI equipped machines you might have a battery and other electrical parts that require special attention. The owners manual will list these for you or a quick call to your dealer should give you any special things you need to do for these systems.
In the "must do" catagory I place the following.
1-Fuel system - There are a couple of ways to approach this. One way is to drain the gas tank completely dry and drain all the fuel out of the carbs. This makes sure that there is no fuel in the system which can tarnish and become stale. I used to use this method exclusively, but over the past years I've taken a different approach. I go down to the local parts store and buy a bottle of fuel stabilizer. I put the appropriate amount according the instructions in the gas tank and then run the machine for a few minutes to make sure that the stabilized fuel has made its way into the carbs. At this point I shut off the fuel and run the carbs dry. You could also just shut the machine off and open the drains in the bottom of the float bowls to drain the fuel out. Either way I make sure the carbs are empty. Then I top the fuel tank off with gas. With the tank full of fuel there is no room for moisture to condense in the tank over the summer. I've been doing it this second way for the past 4 or 5 years and have had no problems with dirty carbs come fall.
2-Clean and wax the machine. You should be doing this on a regular basis, but at the very least do it before storing the sled. This will ensure that there are no corresive substances, like road salt, on the machine. Also, if you have a cover, wash it before putting it on for the summer. Covers do a great job of protecting your sled through the winter, but they get all kinds of dirt and grime ground into them. Most covers can be washed in your washing machine and cleaned well before putting them away for the summer. This will make for a nice clean cover on the machine over the summer plus it will help your cover last longer.
3-Fog the motor. What's that??? At most all snowmobile shops and also at boat shops you can get fogging oil. Its a spray oil which you squirt into the cylinders (through the plug holes). It will permiate throughout the internals of the motor, coating all the metal so that nothing rusts or corrodes over the summer. If you can't get any fogging oil you can pour a little bit of snowmobile oil in each cylinder and turn the motor over slowly by hand to coat the metal surfaces inside.
4-Pick a protected, dry place to store it. If you think there might be rodents in the area stuff a piece of steel wool in the exhaust pipe outlet so they don't build a home in your pipe.
5-Block the machine up off the ground. You can do this by putting a board under the rear bumper to hold it off the ground and by putting a block under the bulkhead to hold the front up. The object is to get all the weight off the suspension and the track off the ground.
6-Grease all lube points. All snowmobiles these days have several points on the suspension and chassis where you can grease them. This should be a part of your ongoing maintenance throughout the riding season, but it is especially important for summer storage. Water gets into everything on a snowmobile. By greasing it at the end of the season you force all the water out of these places so that it can't rust or corrode over the summer. Just look over the machine and you'll see most of the grease fittings and then check your owners manual to see which ones you missed.
Now, there are additional "can do" things that I recommend you also take the time to do. Are they absolutely critical? Probably not, but they keep even the little problems from coming up.
1-Clean the machine. I know, I already talked about this, but I'm talking about giving the machine a thorough cleaning. Wash out any dirt that may have gotten thrown up under the tunnel or in the suspension... maybe on that last ride of the season when the snow was almost all gone. Lift the hood and clean all the engine grime, belt dust and spilled oil out. A trick I use is to cover the air intake with a plastic bag and use a pressure washer (like at the car wash) to clean all the grime out from under the hood. After doing this I start the motor up and let it heat up just to dry things off good. I also spray a protectant on the seat to keep it from drying out and cracking in the heat of summer.
2-Clean any rust off the pipes and either paint them or spray them with fogging oil. I've found that BBQ grill paint does a pretty good job of staying on the pipes. I simply pull the pipe off, clean off any rust with a wire brush or sand paper and spray the paint on them. Even though I have never done it, I have seen people who spray the fogging oil they use in the motor on the pipes. It serves the purpose of putting an oil coating on them to keep them from rusting over the summer. I've even heard people recommend you do this when trailering the machine to keep the pipes from getting covered with moisture and rusting.
3-Remove the belt and clean the clutches. Use a good solvent such as brake cleaner or lacquer thinner. Once the clutches are clean then spray them with a silicone spray of some sort which is NOT water based. This will put a light coating on the clutches to keep them from corroding.
4-Loosen up the suspension. I back off all spring adjustments and shock adjustments to their loosest settings. A little hint here, write down in your owners manual what each of the settings are so that you can easily restore them in the fall. Be careful about loosening the track. There are two thoughts on this, one stemming from the past and one from the present. Some will say to loosen the track during storage so that it doesn't stretch over the summer. This is/was the case with older machines with older tracks. However, todays tracks are Kevlar belted and those belts don't stetch past the regular break in. Some even contend that if you loosen up the track on a newer sled it will "shrink" and require a breakin period again in the fall when you tighten it back up. My personal preference is to not loosen the track. I run a 2" paddle track and I run it about as loose as I can during the season. I don't bother with loosening it more when I put the machine away in the summer and all I have to do is check the alignment come fall. If you are riding a 1978 machine with the original track you probably will want to loosen the track, but if you're on a modern sled, say from the late 1980's on, then you don't need to loosen it, just make sure you get it blocked up off the ground.