11 Helpful Tips On Storing Your Sled

You can’t put it away wet and expect it to be ready next fall

April 2020 Feature Steve Janes Web Exclusive

            We’ve all hear the phrase that applies to horses: Ride hard and put away wet. It also applies to snowmobiles. We do ride them hard. And at the end of the ride, when they are usually still caked in snow and ice, we often put them away wet.

            But as the snow gradually melts in the mountains, how often do we put off storing our snowmobile away hoping there may be one more ride left in the high elevations. And come summer, when we’re tired of constantly working around our sled, we finally accept the fact that it’s time to put our sled away. Then how often do we rationalize that since it’s already been sitting idle for a couple of months and winter is likely right around the corner, why bother summarizing the snowmobile this late in the game.

            After all, if we fire the sled up every couple of weeks, that should be good enough to fool it into thinking that it’s still in active use.

            Well, that is one approach … perhaps not the smartest or most logical.

            Perhaps a better way is to take a little time in late spring to clean up and stow away your sled. An hour now will prevent problems in the fall when the snow starts to stack and your buddies are ready to go riding. Newer sleds have procedures listed in the owner’s manual to suggest OEM recommendations for that particular sled. However, if your snowmobile is a little older, here’s what we recommend.

11 Summerizing Tips

1)         Drain your fuel. Fuel will go bad … and fuel that has been exposed to sever temperature changes and moisture will go bad quickly. Even if you add fuel stabilizer, bad fuel is still bad fuel. Only you’ve increased the cost of the bad fuel by pouring another $8 into your tank. By draining as much out of the tank as possible, you are ready to start the next season when you can add a complete tank of fresh fuel. Besides, your lawn mower has been sitting idle all winter and likely needs some fresh fuel … so it becomes a win/win. With as little fuel possible, you may now add a few drops of fuel stabilizer with an ethanol neutralizer in it and then let your engine run for a few minutes so it gets circulated throughout the system.

            Note: Some will recommend that rather than removing your fuel, you should fill your tank full with high octane non-ethanol fuel and then add a fuel stabilizer. This way you know what you have in your tank in the fall and since it was full there would be little moisture condensation in the tank.

2)         Fog your engine. This is the best way to prevent corrosion while your sled is setting months in idle. You can remove your airbox so you have direct access to the carb. Start your engine and let it idle for a minute or so. Then spray a little fogging oil in each side, alternating sides, to allow the engine to continue running while thoroughly circulating the oil throughout the engine. Either the snowmobile will eventually stall out or you will notice a white smoke coming from the exhaust. This indicates you have done a thorough job in fogging and can eliminate a future problem of rusty crank bearings.

Another method is to remove your spark plugs and spray your fogging oil directly into the cylinder. If you do this you will want to spin your primary clutch by hand (or pull your starter rope slowly) while spraying to allow full access to the entire cylinder. Then in the fall you will want to add some fresh fuel and start your snowmobile to burn out the fogging oil before you install new plugs and perhaps even replace your fuel filter for the approaching season.

3)         Clean clutches and belts. Now is a good time to remove and examine your drive belt and spare belt. It would also be a good time to wash it with soap and water and then store it in such a way that it can maintain its natural oval shape. This solves two problems: It prevents belt memory and it eliminates oxidation forming on the clutch sheaves.

            With the belt removed, you can first clean your clutches first with compressed air to remove all belt dust, and then with Isopropyl alcohol and a clean shop rag to wipe down the sheaves. Also, take the time to see if your clutch springs are still intact and if there is excessive wear on your bushings and/or buttons.

5)         Change your chain case oil. Over the winter the chain case oil is abused with multiple contaminants, including water and gear shavings. Now would be a good time to examine your gears and chain and to add fresh oil. If not, the chain and lower gear will be sitting all summer in some real grimy sludge.

6)         Remove battery (if applicable). If you have a battery, remove it and store it in a cool, dry environment. You will want to use a battery tender to maintain a full charge. Inspect and clean your battery connectors. This may also be a good time to check all your electrical connectors and add dielectric grease—silicone-based to repel moisture and protect connectors against corrosion.

Also check your spark plug caps to make certain they are secure. (In the fall you will want to install new plugs and add dielectric grease and insure the plug caps have a snug and secure fit.

7)         Eliminate tension. Start with your track; back the tension off a bit so it can hang loose. Next, consider blocking up the front and rear of the sled so there is no spring/shock compression. You will also want to store your snowmobile with the track off the ground (to prevent your track paddles from sitting all summer and acquiring a “folded over” memory) and your skis off the ground (to prevent wear bar rusting). You want to prevent your track or skis from being in contact with dirt and weeds (where moisture can really cause things to rot and rust).

8)         Grease your sled. Now’s a good time to get all the moisture that has been working its way all winter into the inner parts of the suspension out of the fittings and ball joints. Not only are you refreshing the grease, but you’re eliminating the main culprit that causes your grease to break down and moving parts to seize together.

9)         Clean your sled. Now is the time to remove all the winter grime, grease and dirt from your sled. And if you like the polished aluminum look, now is the time to clean and buff your tunnel. This will make polishing it up in the fall much easier. You may also want to spray a “never-rust” agent on all metal parts of the snowmobile.

Also, you may want to plug your exhaust port and strategically place some “dryer sheets” under the hood of your sled (rodents don’t like the smell). If you’re wondering what a dryer sheet is … it’s the static-free tissue your wife puts in the dryer with the clean laundry (just steal them from your wife’s laundry room.)

10)       Check all potential wear parts. As you go through your snowmobile, check your hyfax, idler wheels, wear bars and any other wearing feature and make a list of what you may need to do in the fall to get your snowmobile ready for the season. Make sure exhaust springs are all intact.

            You will also want to take the time to go through all storage compartments of your sled and remove everything inside. Not only will this allow you to collect tools, gloves and other objects that could be ruined if left to rot, but also eliminates items (banana peels and candy bars) that could attract unwelcomed visitors to your sled during the summer.

11)       Inside or outside. Perhaps the most critical aspect of your sled storage stems on where it will be stored. Will it be in a nice clean shop, stuffed into the woodshed, dumped out under a tree in the field or left on the trailer (open or enclosed). Each situation will require a little different approach. You have to determine how much access nature will have to the snowmobile, how much sunlight or exposure to wind, rain, dust, etc. The more rustic and exposed the conditions, the more care you need to make to wrap, cover, elevate and secure its summer resting spot.

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