and Tech Section

Change a Belt in Under a Minute

Dyno Testing

Belts & Clutch Tuning


Bleeding Your Snowmobile Engine Oiler

Suspension Tear Down

Secondary Clutch and Wheel Bearing Service

Track Removal

 Track Removal
Pulling the Suspension out of your sled . . the easy way.

My sled is broken, beat, and neglected. It needs some serious TLC. As I go through it and get it back up to snuff, I will keep the old camera on the toolbox, and will be putting how-to pages out here. Call it "What I did on my Fall Vacation".

Today's column will deal with how to remove a snowmobile suspension and track.

Years ago when I was working at the snowmobile dealership, one of the brands had a suspension recall. This company paid warranty based on book time, and they gave us 45 minutes to deal with the customer, pull in the sled, pull the suspension, tear it down, replace the shafts and bolts, reassemble it into the sled, tension and align the track, fill out the warranty form, wheel the sled out, and deal with the customer again. How nice and generous of them.

As a result, I learned how to do the job pretty fast, and a few tricks along the way. Most people don't want to know what goes on under the seat, and it just doesn't need to be that way. Pulling your suspension is something that should be a 10-15 minute job in a reasonably equipped shop. Getting it back in takes a little longer, but that is a different day's column.In my case, I am pulling out the suspension to service the wheel bearings and the shafts as a normal part of fall maintenance and to pull the damaged drive axle. As a result, the first thing I did was loosen the track adjusters and remove the back axle, wheels and all. I will be servicing that anyway, and it makes pulling the skid frame easier. You can get the frame out with the back axle moved all of the way up, there is just less room and more wrestling.

 So after I pulled the back axle and springs, and impacted the 4 shaft bolts out, I tip the sled up on it's side, using a block of wood under the running board to support the back of the sled. Grab the far handlebar, put a foot on the running board, and give it good tug. Once it is resting on the block and the ski, it is actually amazingly stable. The red arrow points to a block of wood holding up the running board.

Once the sled is up on it's side and well supported, you will want to check for coolant, gas or oil leaking out of anywhere and deal with that. On electric start models you should pull the battery first. The acid is a real mess if you don't.

Once you get the sled on it's side again, swing the suspension out so that all 4 arms clear.

At this point you should be able to slide the frame forward and lift the back of it right out. For those that insist on leaving the back wheels on, this is where you wrestle them past the nubs on the track.

After a little wrestling, you should have the skid frame out and ready to service. 

On this repair, I have to go a step farther. The chain case went into reverse at wide open throttle, and in addition to blowing up the chain case, it twisted the drive axle pretty bad.

Pulling this shaft and subsequently the track is no joy, but it can be done without turning it into an epic adventure.

I had it sort of easy when I pulled this because I had already pulled the chain case. The sleds that I have done this job on varied. On this one, pulling the lower chain case bearing looked like it would have been enough to move the shaft. Some have a chain case side bearing with an outer eccentric clocking collar that are a pain in the butt, like the one in the picture. Almost all sleds have this arrangement on the clutch side where the speedometer drive is.

These bearings can be really easy, or they can be hopelessly siezed. Assuming the track is lose and the Chain case side is lose, remove the speedometer drive, the outer flange and the bolts. You can see that there is an Allen key set screw that needs to be removed. There are actually 2 of them about 60 degrees apart. It is best to break them lose, but they can be drilled. That pretty much junks a $30 bearing unless you have the ability to rethread the holes.

Once the setscrews are out, you still need to deal with the eccentric locking collar. The collar that the bearing is mounted on has an out of round inner bore. When rotated, it binds against the shaft and locks the bearing in place. On this bearing I unscrewed the set screws enough to get a pry bar on it, held the shaft from behind, and tapped it lose. The screws are easily replaced at any hardware store, so you can pound on them, but be careful to thread them in far enough before you pound or you will booger up the threads in the bearing.

I have seen a lot of these bearings that just don't move after 10 years on the trail. In my case, the course of action was an easy one, the shaft was junk anyway, so I would have just cut it with a cutting torch/sawzall/cutoff grinder. Generally you want to save as much as you can. Unfortunately, Polaris does not have an on-line parts look up yet, but looking up a same year ZRT shows that the shaft/wheels assembly is $222, The bearings are $29.95 each. Like I said, save as much as you can.

Once I had the chain case and the clutch side bearing out, I just slid the shaft right out, and took the track off. You might want to mark the track or take a picture of it so you put it back on the right way.

Pulling your suspension isn't bad. A weekend mechanic with a compressor and an impact can do this. Pulling the track and drive shaft is a little more involved, but not impossible by any means. It probably took me longer to do this write-up than to get the sled to this point.

Total project time at this point is about 2.5 hours, and that includes pulling the damaged chain case. Pulling the hood wasn't part of this procedure, I did that because of the amount of work to be done in the belly pan. That is a different day's column..

I will be covering more topics as I work on my neglected and well beat 95 XLT Special. I keep the camera by the toolbox, and will catch what I think will help you. The cool part is that for the first time in 4 years, it wasn't snowing when I was working on this. Give it a week..

Have a good weekend, and thanks for visiting!

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