Project Mid-Life Crisis is exceeding our expectations as a means of escaping the reality of adulthood. If you need a refresher, here's what we've done: We picked up a 2011 Polaris Pro RMK 155 in mid-October. During the Intermountain Snowmobile Show in Sandy, UT, in October, the sled received a Boondocker pump gas turbo system complete with Electronic Boost Control, Skinz Protective Gear AirFrame seat and front and rear bumpers, an ArcticFX wrap, SLP Powder Pro skis and a handful of powder coated parts. Three weeks later at the Idaho Snowmobile Show in Boise, the modified Polaris got a Holz Racing Products front end with Fox Float Evol shocks. Timbersled Products installed a rear arm kit, which is now being swapped out for a full Mtn Tamer rear suspension. RSI Racing installed a set of 5-inch rise handlebars (2-inches lower than stock); bar heaters and gel wrap grips.
The sled has been on the snow every week since late October, and we've worked through whatever bugs that have risen on Project Mid-Life Crisis, from suspension setup to alimony payments.
Late-season changes to the sled include the new full Mtn Tamer rear suspension from Timbersled and the installation of Redneck Racing's Gizmo, a bypass thermostat. Boondocker has also upgraded the programming for the turbo to the new 3D mapping.
We've also given the sled a good beating for the last three months, though not intentionally. There was a rock garden in Colorado that left its mark on the running board and edge rail and claimed some track lugs. It rolled on a big slope in Cabin Creek in Montana, but its rider was selfless enough to never let go and the sled only went over his body once when it could easily have gone over a dozen times. We're tree riders, and Project MLC has become one with trees. In fact, bits of the wrap, grips, bumper, side panels and skis have been modified with wood accents. We've bent one set of handlebars, twisted one ski to the point where it won't come back in and turned the running boards into tweaked, dented, oil-can popping ribs of sharp aluminum that cake on snow and ice. For that, we've turned to Better Boards for a solution.
Boondocker broke into something new early this year with its 3D programming for the Pro RMK turbo. Fuel control has typically been limited to two parameters: RPM and throttle position or boost pressure and throttle position. But now Boondocker is able to tune on all three parameters, boost, RPM and throttle position. The 3D programming lets the Pro RMK run up to 12 psi boost pressure on the stock injectors. It's been a breakthrough in tuning for Project Mid-Life Crisis. The sled runs like a stock Pro RMK on the bottom end and throttle response is super-crisp. And the power delivery is broad and very rideable. After all, it is a tree sled, so it must be quick and controllable.
The Redneck Racing Gizmo is designed to bypass the tunnel coolers when the engine is warm but the water in the tunnel is cool, like when you've been riding and stop for a drink. The water in the tunnel coolers can drop about 80 degrees lower than the water in the cylinders. So when you fire the sled back up, that cooler water starts circulating around the hot metal in the cylinders. It (cold shock) can cause the cylinder to shrink around the piston and scuff the piston. The Gizmo's internal thermostat closes off the tunnel coolers from the rest of the cooling system and slowly bleeds the cool water from there into the operating-temperature water in the engine part of the system. The cooling system's operating temperature also raises about 15 degrees over what the stock cooling system runs at, so the tunnel stays cleaner and lighter.
While we were waiting for Timbersled to finalize its 2011 Mtn Tamer skid specs, we ran Project MLC around on the stock rear suspension with a Fox Zero Pro front arm shock and a Fox Float Evol rear arm shock. The Float Evols are lighter than the Walker Evans coil over shocks. And we were able to dial in a plush ride with great bottoming resistance through adjusting air pressure in the shock's main chamber and the Evol chamber, and adjusting the rebound damping clicker. The main chamber pressure determines the ride quality of the shock, so that pressure is low compared to the pressure in the Evol chamber.
Timbersled has long had one of the lightest rear suspension packages available, and the 2011 version of the Mtn Tamer skid comes with updates and new options. There are three shock packages to choose from: Fox Float, Fox Float X and Exit Shocks by ZBroz Racing. The Mtn Tamer skid is coupled, which should be a good feature for the turbo setup we're running on the Pro. On the stock skid, we've experienced a little too much weight transfer. We don't want any kind of ski pressure or heavy steering on it, but we're looking for a setup that can keep the transfer in check. Our Timbersled skid was set to be installed just days after this story went to press, so we'll have that full report in the next update.
Same goes for the Better Boards. While we've used them before and know how well they work for snow evacuation, we're more anxious to try them this year. Better Boards has a new design with a lower profile, so that the boards don't raise your feet to the same height as the edge roll. We think that this new design along with Better Boards' superior snow evacuation will give us better rider control on Project Mid-Life Crisis.
Keep up to date with Project Mid-Life Crisis on the SnoWest forums in the General Snowmobiling section. We'll have the full project wrap-up in this Fall's issue of Mod-Stock.