Snowmobile skis are used for providing the effective steering that you need when you are out in the snowmobile tracks. They provide the directional control. We can say that the ski and runner configuration has a great influence on how the machine is handled. They curve upward stopping the machine from diving into the snow as it is smashing forward.
How the Skis function?
The snowmobile is steered by turning the handlebars. The handlebars connect to the front of the snowmobile where we have a mounted stem and this in turn is connected to the bottom of the snowmobile where we have the skis mounted on the bracket. As a result of this, when the handlebars are turned, the skis also turn in the same direction.
Now, the skis come in different widths and sizes suitable for the different terrains. There are also single and double ski models. Narrow skis are helpful in achieving the sharp turn that you need to take while on a ride. Wider skis enable the snowmobile to float higher over the snow as they displace the sled’s weight over a larger area.
Materials used for making skis
The earliest skis were made from wood that was designed to sustain the weight of the heavy engine and the chasis. There were obvious durability issues which lead to the introduction of metal skis. The metal skis reduced the bulkiness and also improved the durability of the skis. However, under deeper snow conditions, there was this common problem of snow getting frozen to the bottom of the skis. This literally created snow brakes on the skis. Paint or coating of the skis worked, but not on the long run. There were also Aluminum models which are lighter than metal skis but there were still snow freezing issues. With the introduction of plastic skis, there has been a great advancement in the ski technology.
Plastic skis can slide through the snow in a better manner. They flex as they are lighter. They actually add a new dimension to the sled’s suspension.
Correct snowmobile ski alignment is an important aspect of sled set up. It can actually make a difference in your ride. It can make you love the ride on your sled or make you hate the ride. And if not properly aligned, you may also face darting which is frustrating.
Dating is an issue associated with ski alignment. It can also be caused due to damaged carbides, incompatible tracks, worn out wear bar etc. Now as we are dealing with ski alignment, let’s address this cause.
Your sled is said to dart when the sled skis encounter ruts and they shift into other tracks on the trail while you are riding. Too much pressure on the skis can be a reason for this. If so, you may need to modify the sled’s suspension so as to adjust the pressure on the skis. Pressure on the skis can also be decreased by adjusting the rear suspension. If you want to make further adjustments, you can also extend the limiter strap on the rear suspension. All these adjustments should be done slowly. Test the sled in between to verify if your adjustments are going in the right manner. Keep in mind that the suspension adjustments are specific for each riders based on the weight, the terrain and the type of riding they are into.
Misaligned skis can be another reason why your sled is darting. The misaligned skis can reduce the pace of the snowmobile jeopardizing the performance of the sled. Toed in ski alignment can also be a reason for darting. This is because in the toe in alignment, each ski will try to track its own route in the snow. Misaligned skis can also cause more power consumption due to rolling resistance.
So we have seen how misaligned skis can hamper our riding experience and lead to darting and associated power loss. This calls for a need to properly align the skis.
How To Align Snowmobile Skis?
Once the winter season approaches you might be into high dollar improvements on your sled. But all this will go in vain if you don’t have your sleds skis properly aligned. As said earlier, they can have a big impact on your riding experience. So it is not a bad idea to invest your time to this cause.
To align the snowmobile skis, follow these steps:
- Firstly you need to put the snowmobile on a firm and level surface.
- Now, with the help of handlebars, position the skis straight. You may also take the help of spindle alignment kit for your sled to achieve this.
- Settle the front end of your snowmobile by pushing it down a couple of times as needed.
- The next step is actually an old suspension trick which may sound strange but it help you eventually in achieving the toe out condition which is considered more desirable than the toe in condition. So what you need to do is to place a bungee strap across from one ski handle to the other ski handle so that it holds the skis together at the tips.
- Take a pipe, straight edge or 2×4 and set it alongside the snowmobile’s back idler. The length of the pipe should run next to the skis inside edge. Left or right, any side would be okay.
- Now check the distance between the straight edge and the skis inside edge by using a measuring tape.
- Take two measurements at the front and at the back of the ski. Your skis are properly aligned if these measurements are equal.
- Adjust the steering rod nuts in accordance with the sled’s company specified manner to bring about the proper alignment.
- After each steering rod adjustment ensure that your handlebar is straight.
- Repeat the steps on the other side also.
- Recheck the measurements and remove the straight edge.
If done in proper way your skis will be properly aligned leading to a good riding experience. Remember that good riding experience is an outcome of a number of pre adjustments that we make on the sled and the gears with proper care and based on the sled manufacturer instructions.