Snowmobile Cooling Modification Project
This project comes from Russ Barkman of the Tumalo Langlauf Club in Bend, Oregon.
There are some snowmobiles, in particular those with liquid cooling systems that seem to have trouble staying cool at low grooming speeds. But even the most popular fan cooled snowmobile used for grooming, the Ski Doo Skandic, also will overheat when pushed far enough.
Russ’s project involves the following three parts:
- Adding a pyrometer (engine temperature gauge) to enable an operator to monitor engine temperature so that he can do something BEFORE damage from overheating occurs.
- Adding a supplemental electric cooling fan attached to the grill opening under the hood to supplement the engine driven fan. This fan is manually switched on when the pyrometer indicates that the engine temperature is getting too high.
- Enlarging the air intake opening in the hood for the Skandic’s engine driven fan.
The supplemental fan and the enlarged air intake should allow an operator to do more work while keeping the engine temperature at a safe level. If you are reluctant to make these sort of modifications to your brand new machine, then at least consider the pyrometer. Look at it this way: Why would anyone NOT spend around $200 for a gauge that could prevent an operator from burning up the engine on a $7000 snowmobile? Once you can monitor your engine temperature, you will be able to see the particular conditions that may be causing your machine to work too hard and overheat. Perhaps that information will enable you to change the way you groom, or convince you to make the changes to the snowmobile that Russ has. In any case, without the pyrometer the only way you really know for sure that the engine has overheated is when it seizes up.
In discussions with Russ, I asked him a few questions about his project:
Q – What experience have you had with your Skandic overheating prior to the modification and how does it work now? Any comparison to other snowmobiles? In what kinds of conditions do you experience the overheating – ambient temp, snow conditions, terrain?
A – Prior to making these changes we experienced two engine seizures, in both cases the temperature was 40 plus. The first time the operator was pulling the tracksetter in fairly soft snow on a steep uphill. The second time I was pulling our roller over fairly gentle terrain and at that time there was about four inches of new snow over older hardpack. We have made some changes in our grooming procedure. We never start grooming if the temperature is over 40. The problem is that often the temp goes up after we start so it’s necessary to monitor ambient temps. We have also been stopping the machine every hour or so for one of the aforementioned cool downs. We have also switched to 100% synthetic oil. These modifications and changes are not the cure-all for overheating the engine but should help reduce the risk.
Q – Was the pyrometer a stock dealer item specifically for the Skandic, or was it an aftermarket product? Any idea which model/brand so that if someone walked into a dealer they could ask for the same one?
A – The pyrometer is an after market product. I don’t know the name. It was one of several in the dealer’s parts catalog. They are commonly used by snowmobile racers. Because of the work load we put on these machines, the mechanic says they need some of the same modifications and the same treatment that racing machines get, thus the cooling modifications, synthetic oil, and the after use cool down. The after use cool down is very similar to the process of letting your diesel engine run for a few minutes after prolonged use to cool the turbocharger cooling oil to prolong the life of the turbo bearings.
The installation of the fan and other modifications took approximately 2 hours. The total cost was around $280.00 which includes the dealer installed pyrometer.