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Control Freak

Published online: Oct 05, 2007 Feature Steve Janes
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When you're running your sled up a tight slide chute in a "make or break" situation, where even the slightest stutter or hesitation could cost you dearly, do you want to trust your fuel delivery mapping to some college grad in the Midwest who has never taken a snowmobile up an incline steeper than a trailer ramp?

It's not that today's fuel injected sleds aren't adequately engineered or programmed to deliver just the right fuel/air ratio for typical riding conditions. It's just, there are many conditions in western riding that aren't typical.

So if you're the kind of snowmobiler who likes to be personally involved in the tuning process of your sled, then Boondocker may have a product that's right up your alley.

The Boondocker Control Box was designed to complement nitrous oxide injection but has a wonderful application when it comes to the tuning process of fuel induction. The Control Box connects between the snowmobile's electronic control unit and the fuel injectors. It doesn't replace or reprogram the ECU. It only "modifies" the signal sent to the injectors.

In simple terms, your snowmobile has a fuel map that was created to do two very important things-make the snowmobile engine produce a significant amount of power and to not burn down. And manufacturers really like that second part . to the point of perhaps compromising power for engine longevity.

The Boondocker Control Box gives you the flexibility to signal your injectors to either deliver more fuel or less fuel at various stages of the mapping. These stages are broken into three programmable segments at various rpm ranges-3000 rpm, 5000 rpm, 6700 rpm, 7800 rpm and 8100 rpm. Initially, each stage setting starts at 0 (basically your factory setting for the fuel map). If you want to add fuel, you push the up arrow and the 0 will go to 1, 2, 3, etc., until you've added the amount desired (making your mapping a little richer in that segment). Or you could push the down arrow and go to -1, -2, -3, etc., until you've leaned your system down. Remember, however, by adding numbers you run the risk of fouling plugs. By decreasing the numbers, you're pushing for a lean burndown.

So this is how things work: Say you find a spot on the bottom end of the throttle (3000-5000 rpm range) that just isn't crisp. You start adding fuel to see if things clean up. They either will or will get worse. If they get worse, you decrease fuel (but make sure you keep track of your plug burn . you don't want to get too lean). And you can repeat this process throughout the rpm range as you're tuning. Remember, though, that you really don't need to get hog-wild in punching numbers. For the most part your map should stay on 0.

There are five different programmable maps available. This means you may have one map designed specifically for hillclimbing, one for boondocking, one for drag racing, one for trails, etc. (Last year on our project sled we had a separate map for high elevation and low elevation.)

The other practical advantage with the Boondocker Control Box is with the NOS application. Although it is designed to allow you to add more fuel when you're injecting nitrous oxide, it also can be programmed to automatically inject nitrous oxide at certain rpm/throttle position ranges. Again, this allows you to program your sled to create power at very specific times.

On last year's project sled, we programmed our Polaris Dragon to inject NOS whenever the throttle position was greater than 90 percent and the rpm range was between 3500 and 7500. (This translates to whenever anyone grabbed a handful of throttle, a burst of nitrous would zing the rpm past 7500 in just fractions of a second, literally providing instant performance.) With this automatic setting, you could boondock all day and your snowmobile would be responsive and spontaneous. Also, without the concern of a "heavy" thumb on the nitrous button, your NOS tank would last all day.

What is NOS?

According to Rocky Young, owner of Boondocker, a common misconception about nitrous oxide is that it is explosive or flammable.

He explains that nitrous by itself does not burn, nor is it explosive. At 565 degrees F, nitrous oxide (N20) breaks apart and forms two parts nitrogen and one part oxygen. Inside an engine, this added oxygen speeds up the combustion process (the nitrogen plays an important part in buffering the reaction). Whenever nitrous is used, additional fuel is necessary, otherwise the added oxygen will act as a blow-torch inside your engine. When used properly, nitrous oxide provides the same benefits as turbo charging or supercharging your engine (extra power is made by burning more fuel and oxygen), but without the added cost or complexities.

Young says the simplicity of the Boondocker system makes it the most reliable, easy to tune and easy to install nitrous system available.

The nitrous manifold makes the Boondocker nitrous system so unique. It allows the nitrous to be naturally aspirated into the cylinder instead of being forced, which is much friendlier to the motor and allows the nitrous to be used in a much wider range of throttle and rpm settings.

Boondocker systems come with thorough instructions. Young has done a good job to make installation and tuning instructions as complete as possible. Just the tuning instructions for the Control Box is 18 pages long and walks you through each part of the process. Installation instructions come with photos and diagrams to facilitate the process. Boondocker also provides a good support program for those who need additional information.

It may sound complicated and/or intimidating. But for those who like to play a more important role in their snowmobile performance, this is a very simply and effective way to go. And after all, before to start crossing that threshold of "no return" when playing in the mountains, don't you want the confidence that your sled won't let you down.