Snowmobile Steering Tests

Tests were conducted by grooming clinic participants in a hard surface controlled test. 2 people were used on the machine to simulate pulling a load. Circles were measured to the outside ski center skag.

Test 1 With 2 people on the machine in the seated position, no braking or motion

Snowmobile Turning diameter
Polaris Wide track Powder skis with bumper weight 40‘ 2”
Polaris Wide track Powder skis stock 58’ 6”
Skandic SWT stock skis and bumper weight 25’10”
Skandic WT 25’6”
Skandic SWT with flexi skis 27’8”
Skandic SWT with 144 studs in center and bumper wt 44’0”
Alpine II with bumper weight 26’
Alpina Sherpa 35’5
Bear Cat NA

Test 2 With 1 person and body motion

Snowmobile Turning diameter
Alpine II with bumper weight 22’9”
Skandic SWT with flexi skis 25’10”
Alpina Sherpa 35’3”

Tests results compiled by Dick Langer

2002 ABR Grooming Clinic Wrap Up

This year ABR again hosted the Midwest Grooming Clinic endorsed by the CCSAA on January 16th and 17th, 2002. We had 122 groomers and vendors turn up for the occasion…. from Canada to lower Michigan, from Montana and Colorado to Italy.

Next years clinic is scheduled for January 15th and 16th, 2003

A video was taped and is being edited of the clinic. Call or email for details.

Who was there?

  1. Pisten Bully by Track Inc with a new PB 100 demo equipped for Nordic 952-888-7372
  2. Bombardier by Aspen equipment with a BR 180 800-888-2773
  3. Tidd Tech with various groomers and new innovations 877-843-3832
  4. Yellowstone Track Systems with the new Ginzu Groomer 406-646-7603
  5. Alpina with the NEW Twin Track Snowmobile and powertiller 906-932-3502
  6. Trakor by a new track-setter 231-526-7120
  7. Ski-Doo by Ave’s Sport Center 715-561-2720
  8. JACA by First Tracks of Thunder Bay Canada 807-345-0162
  9. ASV’s Track Truck by Duffy’s Sales 715-537-3259
  10. Bachler by YTS with a renovator 406-646-7603
  11. Cragin Groomer

There were many sales as a result of the Clinic. Vendors came with trucks and trailers full and left empty. Please support these vendors and tell them you saw their equipment at the clinic.

The heated “Race Building” was used for vendor’s displays with boards for used equipment for sale and innovative ideas.

Who did we hear from?

  • Doug Edgerton, president of Yellowstone Track Systems and  the Chief of Course Preparation for the 2002 Olympics in Salt Lake City
  • Russ Alger of The Keweenaw Research Center at Michigan Technological Univ.
  • David and Phil Zink of Tidd Tech in Fraser, CO
  • George LeFeuvre of JACA in New Brunswick, Canada
  • Dave Forbush of Forbush Corner in Frederick, MI
  • Ing. Quirino Tironi of Alpina in Italy
  • Jay Richards of Maplelag in Callaway, MN
  • Greg Toomire of Pisten Bully, Track Inc, in Bloomington MN
  • Erik Petersen of Bombardier of Aspen Equipment, in Duluth MN
  • Jim VanderSpoel Supervisor of Operations at Mt. Zion and faculty member of The Ski Area Management Program
  • Eric Anderson of ABR Trails.

What did we hear about?

  • Snowcat safety and maintenance by Jim VanderSpoel
    • Do not get out of your snow cat with the tiller running and always set your parking brake.  Thermoses on the front dash may end up breaking a $1500 windshield.
  • Keep your Snowmobile from burning up by Rick Slade
    • There are 3 suspension adjustments to make your Skandic SWT steer better, or a front weight rack and flexi skis. If your lights get bright and or your handle grips get hot, your voltage regulator is on it’s way out, turn off the machine and replace it (the regulator). Carry a fire extinguisher under your seat.
  • There really is an Alpina dual track snowmobile and power tiller! Quirino Tironi
    • We saw and test drove  the Alpina dual track snowmobile. It has tons of torque and traction plus it steers like a dream. It was built for hard work. The pull behind powertiller tilled some man made ice and set tracks like it was butter. The Alpina pulled the 8 foot wide Cragin groomer though deep snow with 4 men (1000 pounds) on the Alpina and steered as it climbed a hill! Orders for the Alpina should  be made this spring for October delivery. These specialty machines are built to order similar to snowcats. Alpina now has ABR Trails as the  Midwest dealer and Importer for the US. Call ABR for a demo of the Alpina. A video is available.
  • Grooming from a skiers prospective by David Zink
    • We saw a video/slide show on why to groom wide on hills, put a radius edge on the striding trails, alternate side grooming etc. This was an excellent presentation and very well done, especially for the non skiers
  • How to get the most from low snow conditions
    • Various discussions on how to conserve snow by not grooming, using JACA grabber wings to pull snow in or just scarifying the surface lightly so not as to bring up dirt. Use your snow cat with a compactor bar and have the tracks loosen up the hard pack. Be sure the ground is frozen or you will bring up dirt.
  • Snowcat grooming in low snow by Dave Forbush
    • Dave explained how he only uses snowcats and grooms in low snow. He only opens weekends and holidays and saves the weekday snow. He pulls moulding plates and rollers behind his snow cats and he runs a very reputable, professional and meticulously groomed private trail system with an $18 trail fee 1 hour south of the Mackinaw bridge in Frederick MI.
  • An open session discussing various grooming scenarios for different conditions.
    • This was a particularly interesting open discussion, coming up with solutions and ideas for grooming in different low snow conditions.
  • Powertilling and snow density by Doug Edergton
    • Till deep enough to set tracks, keep your shaft speed down to not over till and have a rock hard surface, use “up pressure” on  hill crests and intersections. Use summer tracks for early season grooming. If you overgroom your snow you end up with “sugar snow”.
  • The compact Nordic version of the Keweenaw Snow Paver Groomer by Russ Alger
    • The miller is under development for Nordic ski trails.
  • Where to find used equipment and how to know if it’s any good by Track Inc
  • Grooming for races and hi level competitions by Eric Anderson
    • If it’s snowing at midnight the night before the JO’s sprints, you will not get any sleep. These young athletes deserve the best course possible. In a open windy golf course sprint course pack channels upwind with your snowmobile to catch the blowing snow and keep it off the course. Don’t forget the warm-up loop, groom it as you do the course.
  • Grooming with a snowmobile in freeze/thaw conditions by George LeFeuvre
    • Bring out the snow fence drag and snowmobiles when your course turns to mush and the 3 snowcats are stuck at the 6 km mark of a World Cup event during warm grooming temps. Groom when the air is cooling and moisture is evaporating.
  • Automating your drags and attachments
    • Make sure your battery and alternator can handle the loads of your actuators and aux lights. Always fuse the aux equipment.  Cole Hearsey makes a nice 2 pol;e self centering switch with a long handle.
  • Grooming with a Track Truck by Duffy Anderson
  • Snow Characterization by Russ Alger
    • There is no black box to evaluate snow conditions.
  • How to evaluate your groomed trails
    • Talk to your skiers and ski your trails. Try hard with 100% effort, but remember you can not please everyone, try to please 80% of your skiers and 20% of the coaches.
  • Grooming for efficient skier flow by Jay Richards
    • Test your grooming by skiing it and look at the tracks of the skiers skiing them. Alternate the track from the left to right in dual tracked trails on down-hills. Do not track through your intersections.

What did we eat?

We had a nice banquet dinner at Tacconelli’s with the social hour paid for by Track Inc /Pisten Bully Dealer. Russ Alger followed with a 1500 Mile Trek Across Antarctica Slide Show. Alpina hats, Pisten Bully hats and a Pisten Bully jacket were given away to some technical question answers.

A pasty lunch was sponsored by CCSAA from  the Pastry Kitchen

An authentic Pizzocheri (hearty wholewheat pasta) and grilled Cottechini (Italian mountain sausage) was prepared and sponsored by Alpina dual track snowmobiles.

What did we see, touch and drive?

The  Bachler renovator and tracksetter and the new ginzu groomers from YTS, the full Tidd Tech line up including new 8 foot roller, super flaps and actuators from Tidd Tech, the full line of JACA equipment including a set of grabber wings, renovator and hi speed tracksetter, the new Alpina dual track snowmobile and powertiller, The tracksetter,  the 8 foot wide aluminum Cragin groomer,  The PB100 and 070, Bombardier’s BR 180 and Prinoths T2S, ASV’s Track Truck,  Ski-doos SWt and WT’s, an older Alpine II, and various homemade attachments.

2001 ABR / CCSAA Grooming Clinic Wrap Up

Thank you for attending the grooming clinic. When we started planning the clinic, last April, we had hoped for 30 attendees. We ended up with 124! The idea was prompted after I attended a grooming clinic at Frisco and Breckenridge Nordic Center, 1400 miles to the west. The clinic cost, with transportation, lodging and hotel, was over $2,000. There were 15 –20 participants, including 3 presenters, and the clinic was 1 ½ days. I still thought what I got out of the clinic was worth it, but I did see a need for a clinic closer to the Midwest.

According to the registration forms, we had 986 years of grooming experience gathered in one room.

We are already planning another clinic for next year, tentative date  Jan 16-17, 2002. We have enclosed an evaluation form to help us improve the clinic, please fill it out and return it. As a wrap up I would like to summarize the events over the clinic and the vendors that attended. Email me if you are interested in future grooming clinics, workshops or publications.

Wednesday started out with 8 inches of fresh snow and about 20 degrees.

9-12, we had on snow demos from Piston Bully with a new  9 foot PB100 and Bachler /YTS Front Renovator, a 9 foot tiller and twin Bachler tracksetters. I also demo’ed  ABR’s  PB 200 with a 12 foot tiller.  Bombardier demonstrated the new BR 180 with a front blade. Snowmobiles and grooming attachments were available for demo during this time.

The Race Building/Wax room was set up with brochures from vendors, product samples, groomer innovations, homemade accessories, a “For Sale Board”  (see below) with used groomers, and  videos playing grooming tapes.

1:00-4:00 we met at the Erwin Town Hall (just down the road) and had a sit down lecture/discussion. Our first speaker was Russ Alger from the Kewenaw Reasearch Center at Michigan Technological University who spoke on “snow” from a technical level and on the research they are doing. KRC has a research tool that compacts snow to .68 density. Paul Swanson spoke on power tilling and on the models of Piston Bully, Eric Peterson spoke on Bombardier. Doug Edgerton of Yellowstone Track Systems and George LeFeuvre spoke on grooming for races and some of their experiences grooming Olympic Events around the world. Eric Anderson of ABR spoke on buying a used snowcat.

4:00-6:00 we returned to ABR and had open grooming and open skiing, the skiing was not too good since most of the grooming demos occurred close to the trailhead!

7:00-10:00 we met at Mama Get’s  Restaurant and enjoyed dinner and drinks we had some casual grooming discussions.


9-11 we observed some on snow demos. Doug Edgerton demonstrated setting tracks in the parking lot with the Bachler/YTS renovator and tracksetter pulled by an Artic Cat Bearcat 550, liquid cooled. With multiple passes a track penetrated the hard pack. Phil Zink of Tidd Tech set tracks with the Trail tenderizer and David Zink of Tidd Tech demo’ed the features of the groomer and the most recent innovations. We also saw the new roller, and packer tracker. Bob Cragin of Cragin Machine demonstrated the Cragin groomer (aluminum) 8 foot wide and 12 feet long weighing only 300 pounds. ABR trails were groomed Thursday AM with  this drag pulled by a SWT . Rick Slade of Ave’s  (Ski-doo Dealership) demonstrated the suspension adjustment on the Ski-doo Skandic SWT and  initiated discussions on steering the SWT.

11-12 Show and Tell, we looked at some homemade drags and accessories brought by participants. Make sure to judge the best homemade idea on the evaluation form.

12-1 lunch consisted of traditional “Yooper Pasties”.

1:00-3:45 Lectures/discussions at the Town Hall. We heard from David Zink of Tidd Tech on early season trail prep and getting the most out of your snow.  Eric Anderson of ABR led a discussion on grooming costs for Snowcats and snowmobile grooming. The final costs were, snowcat grooming $60/hour or $15/mile and snowmobile grooming costs were $5/mile. Eric also spoke on deep snow grooming. Doug Edgerton and George LeFeuvre spoke on setting a good track, while Jim Waters, a physics teacher and classic skier, expressed what makes a good track.

Open skiing was held after the clinic was concluded. I enjoyed a groomer/non-skier (never been on skis) comments as he came in after skiing a 3 km loop with a big smile “it all makes sense now, wow, did I learn a lot on that short loop!”

Other Grooming Clinics/Shows

MSAA Show  Jan 29-31 2001; Vail CO, 651-638-9658

Snowcat Training Class Jan 3-Mar 27th 2001 various classes; Littleton CO 1-800-485-SNOW

CCSAA  Conference and Grooming Show April 8-10, 2001; Homestead Resort, Heber City (Park City) Utah 877-779-2754

ABR / CCSAA Grooming Clinic & Workshop January 16-17, 2002; ABR Trails Ironwood MI 49938 906-932-3502

Some Interesting Ideas on Grooming from the Clinic

Grooming with a snowcat costs $15/mile grooming with a snowmobile costs $5/mile

Groom for 85%  of your customers, you cannot please everyone.

Hard to steer the SWT? Buy $400 aftermarket skis, add weight to the SWT bumper, or adjust the suspension,  there are 3 suspension adjustments.

Use a renovator to mix old and new snow.

Install an actuator on your Tidd Tech, or drag, to snow farm from the sides

To pack 20 inches of snow in 2 passes you need a snowcat and tiller

You need weight, slow speed, and proper snow preparation to set a good track.

Pack track with your snowcat before tilling deep snow.

Snow density measuring is an objective method of determining trail firmness

Spray your equipment with a diluted Anti-freeze mixture to eliminate snow sticking

Extend the exhaust on your snowmobile to exit the rear to eliminate fumes on you

Do not finish groom  (lay corduroy) over a surface that is not compacted properly, it will freeze a superficial layer with a soft layer below. Drag/roll and compact the surface first!

Grooming for races, remember athletes have trained extensively, give them the best course that you can even if it means not sleeping,  and make it a fair course

Use a pintle hitch on your snowmobile and implements

Pack the pole plant area well on striding trails

To set tracks in boiler plate, you need to till, scarify, or renovate to loosen the ice first, then set a track with heavy weight (down pressure) and multiple passes if needed

Snowmaking on Nordic trails is expensive!

NEVER get out of your snowcat with the tiller running!

Keep your classic track out of the brush, a  minimum of  20- 24” is recommended

Grooming for Olympic events, grooming cost is not considered

Mount a 12 volt ATV winch on your snowmobile to lift tracksetters and winch your groomer back on the trail when you get stuck

Artic Cat Bearcats are liquid cooled but do not overheat like liquid cooled Skandics

Bearcats steer better than Skandics

Use wood chips to cover tree roots that radiate heat and melt the snow

Alternate your passes if you groom with a smaller (8-10 foot) snowcat to pack the center

Use SOS (oil sampling) to check equipment for wear & when buying used equipment

Use a shear pin to protect your drags

8 feet is not wide enough for skating and striding

Install carbide studs for grooming on icy conditions

The best grooming is done at night as the temperature is dropping and less skier traffic

If you use hay to cover wet spots, hide it from the deer and elk

Groom when you need to,  not on a regular set schedule

Grooming is an economic decision, make your grooming choices accordingly to survive

Summer service your snowcat and keep it out of the sun