February 2007 Feature Steve Janes
Motivation is a strong force. It can turn losers into winners, failures into successes, goals into reality.
Last October a column in SnoWest Magazine was designed to motivate. At the time, three project sleds were somewhat stalled, each project leader stifled by delays of one form or another. So a simple column in White Out & Wide Open served to update the readers to the progress of each sled and motivate the builders to rejuvenate efforts.
You could say a gauntlet was tossed, challenging Ryan Harris and Dave Alexander to pick up the pace in building their sleds. And it seemed to work. Although Project Puff was already assembled and ready for snow, I hadn't "officially" made that first ride of the season. Perhaps I was waiting for the snow depths to stack up and the base to firm up to prevent unnecessary suspension damage caused by stumps, rocks or logs. Perhaps I was too busy doing important publisher-type work to take the time to get out of the office to ride. Or perhaps I was just deer hunting (it's that time of year, you know).
Regardless, Dave and Ryan figured there was a window of opportunity to beat me out on the snow. So being that I had scheduled Dec. 14 to go over to Pinedale, WY, to ride with Gary Neely, Dave and Ryan slipped out of the office on Dec. 13 to ride their sleds, just to say theirs where "ready" first.
No problem-if they want to claim a hollow victory, good for them.
However, in Dave's haste to have his sled ready for the first ride, apparently he failed to tighten all the bolts and he finished his first ride on the losing end of a tow strap with suspension parts scattered along the trail. As for Ryan, it wasn't tightening bolts that got him in trouble, it was a tight engine that forced him to complete his first ride tied to a short strap.

A "Ride"
And I'm not sure a snowmobile outing can technically be called a "ride" if you finish it under someone else's power. But that's a brief rundown of the other two project sleds. My first ride started and finished under the same power.
It wasn't that Project Puff hadn't been out on the snow. If fact, Sandy Sletten from Bucky's Outdoors had been tuning the sled for the past couple of weeks. Neely, owner of Bucky's, had also read the article and was determined to make Project Puff a great sled. The crew at Bucky's had put in countless hours trying to make things right before I could get over there and mess things up. By the time I got to Pinedale, there was nothing left to do but go riding.
And my first ride of Project Puff was quite exciting. Neely took me up into his back yard-starting at the Sherman parking area near Merna Junction and riding west toward Blind Bull. As elevations climbed, so did the snow depth. Over three feet of fluff was encountered in the north-facing slopes, challenging man and machine.
Naturally, for my first ride of this season, there was more challenge to man than machine. The snow was deep and continuing to stack. Visibility was tough due to the wet snow falling and the heat radiating from my body as I worked to get accustom to the ride of the sled.

Steeper And Deeper
During the first half of the ride, the only tracks on the snow in front of me were Neely's. So this gave me a great opportunity to test the EZ-Ryde rear suspension in the powder. And as I worked my way up the steep long climbs, churning snow out the rear as the sled fought to maintain flotation and speed, I realized there was no way Ryan would have been able to coax his shorttrack sled through such extreme conditions.
Once back on the trail, again it was comforting to know that I could grab a handful of throttle and allow the sled's suspension to deal with the bumps. Again, I realized that Dave's project couldn't possible handle the pounding through the moguls.
So when it comes to comparing my first ride with Project Puff to the first rides of the other two project sleds, let's just say there are no winners or losers . just two guys working late hours to rebuild their sleds, and me-ready to go riding the next day.
Being motivated is always a good thing.

Quick Summary
Bucky's Outdoors (307-367-4561)-The sled worked like a charm. The clutching was dead-on. Project Puff was responsive and easy to control.
Starting Line Products (208-529-0244)-Pipes help to bring the engine alive. This certainly doesn't feel like a 700cc sled.
Red Line Synthetic Oil (707-745-6100)-No complains there. We even use its gear lube in the chaincase.
Great Lakes Sound and Vibration (906-482-7535)-What a great ride . both in the powder and through the bumps. So far we're really impressed with this new design . not to mention all the weight we lost.
Fourbarr Industries (360-659-8182)-Great lightweight taillights.
Sportech (763-712-3965)-When you're riding in some wet conditions, it's nice to have the handguards for warmth and protection.
SnoBunje (877-250-2015)-When you're working in the deep and steep, it's nice to have a left-hand throttle. It just allows a little more leverage when you really need to pull your sled to the left side.
R&M Lightning Products (801-467-2442)-Who wants to risk trashing the pretty painted hood by Jeremy Thompson? Once the boondocking starts, I slap on a lightweight mesh hood and start thrashing through the trees. It's a great way to lose weight and allow engine heat out . and the hood really holds up to a beating.
Holz Racing (360-398-7006)-A lightweight front suspension works great both in the bumps and powder. And then, adding HRP's air vents and you're ready to ride. Right now we're experimenting between HRP spindles-trying to decide if we like the wide ones or narrow ones . we'll let you know.
Still to be installed-We still needed to get the final wiring complete on our Boondocker system. So for now, no NOS. We also haven't installed some of the "bling" like our rear wheel kit from Mountain Machines Performance. Also, we will have Sly Dog skis on for our next ride.  And we are waiting for a new front bumper design from Tri-City Performance. 

You'll be able to get the full scoop on Project Puff in the Mod-Stock I, due out this fall. So stayed tuned.
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