Some of Phil's custom snowmobiles over the years...
The 1989 Formula MX 462 twin
The ’89 formula MX was a pretty hoo-hum, pedestrian sled built for the budget minded, her, and ice fishermen. I found one for $300 in very good shape and thought with some cheap tweaking it can be made to look fairly cool. So it’s going to be the next personal project for 2021.
It will remain stock. Bumper up is where the changes will be made. A cut-down shield like vintage oval racers. The color scheme is a dead rip-off of the 1975 Skip-Doo TNTs, which was one of the best looking models of the era. I’ll paint the hood and have the seat and tank reupholstered in orange and black. I don’t know if I’ll do that yellow seat panel.
That’s about it. If I have more than a thousand in it, I’ll have goofed. (P.S. I goofed!)
12/27/21 - It's Done!
This little guy took 14 months from start to finish. Just needs a few doodads like hand guards and it will be ready for the snow.
The Build Process
I spotted this rare Blizzard seat from 1973. I lusted for it. I could have bought it but didn’t have sled to put it on. Instead, I cut the stock Formula foam as close as I could to the Blizzard shape-the taillight had to be considered. I moved the butt hump 4” forward and cut a chunk of foam for the void. Then I slanted the whole back portion to look Blizzardly.
Now I’m working on the hood. There were nasty cracks on the right rear corner which were patched ‘back then’ but were weakening. I ground it all out and laid multiple layers of new glass on the inside so the surface crack will not open up again.
Painting will follow. All the magic marker squiggles are my sanding guide. Once they are all gone with 400 w/d I can prime. However, the sides of the stock hoods weren’t straight so some filler comes in to play.
Entire hood has been sanded in 400 w/d. With a bit of sanding it will be ready for paint.
Now the base colors are down. The clear coat and graphics are next. I am pleased with the results thus far. Hood really wows folks. The custom race style seat will answer the hood so the rear is not a dead zone. Now the color scheme is established. Next, I turn to mechanicals, mostly handling with modest performance updates.
A note about PRS windshields
I read on the net that the front three tabs of PRS windshields didn’t last and broke off. I don’t know whether this was just an aftermarket issue or applied to Doo OEM shields too. The problem is there is too much pressure on the tabs from the slots in the hood.
Heat-bent tab and wide mouth pliers
Here’s the solution
Use a narrow and long (about ¼") Dremel grinding bit and use it to grind more angled slots in the hood (mostly the upper side of the slot). Then grab a piece of wood, a wide mouth plyers and a heat gun. Place the wood over the shield as a heat block. Heat up just the tab and bend it down with the plyers. You’ll futz with it a time but it will work out fine.
Grand Prix Snowmobile
I was the advertising agency exec on the Boatel account when they developed the Grand Prix luxury sled—mid 70s I think. I was enamored with the project. I stupidly recommended the butterfly steering for it which wasn’t necessary and the casting must have cost a ton.
I got my hands on a 440. I maxed out the engine with the likes of a stuffed case, alcohol injection and megaphones to the tune of $970 in yesterday’s dollars. I sold it after my first race. It had bogey wheel suspension which couldn’t handle rough terrain at speed. It blared and bucked then kicked the hood off. I made all of one lap with a steaming engine. Sometimes you lose.
Custom 1999 MXZ 600
Project started in 2017. A Craigslist buy at 500 bucks with a blown engine. After three years and between $2,500 and $3,000 it is now complete in 2020. The sled is a visual custom and basically stock. The color theme was stolen from Doo Blizzards in the 70s. Essentially a brand new 1999 MXZ, it will my primary winter rider. Sled was built by Wayzata’s Davey Supplee--the Ski-Doo Guru.
This sled with 340 jugs and a twist grip throttle was my trail sled in the '80s. It was the best handling sled in the world in the tight stuff and trees. Even today it would blow the doors off a modern sled in the trees. Paid $1000 and sold it for $2500. Wish I had it back but really I don't. I have a more reliable tree sled in my ET250.
There is no better woods sled than the ET250. You stud it up with 40 or so picks, widen the skis with other steering columns of that period and hang 8" long carbides on the skis so the sled over-steers and I flat guarantee there is nothing faster through the trees... not your 600cc this or 800cc that. The only faster sled between the trees is a Ski-Doo 250RV.
You blast the ET to a corner, slam on the brakes and the back end slings around and points you in a new direction at which time you nail the throttle for the next turn. Mind you this is all in the trees and makes you a pretty fine rider (or one in a cast). A heavy and powerful modern sled just can't handle quickly in the tight stuff. The ET was a great sled. I sell this SnoPro hood for 250s, 300s, and the 340.
Custom 340 RV Ski-Doo
I got really carried away with this project. Even launched into my first big piece fiberglass hood mold. I cleaned up the sled and made a custom seat.
I put twist grips on all my sleds because I'm a bike guy. They give better gripping, the thumb doesn't get cold and all the little pinkies stay warmer. Never had a single problem with them-ever.
I still have the three molds (hood and two scoops) if you want to build one like this. Note it's an involved fitting project and the three fiberglass parts will not be cheap-I suppose something on the order of 500 bucks. This sled made SnowWeek magazine back then.
Custom 500 Indy
I selected the fan cooled 500 Polaris because it's one of the lightest full sized IFS sled at the time. This is a bunch of junk yard parts painted and polished with a custom seat, my own Velocity hood and a paint job which was created before Polaris introduced a similar RMK paint scheme in 1999.
Featured in American Snowmobiling and Michigan Snowmobiling.
Custom 340 Snojet Astro
The original 340 fan cooled Astro was designed as a trail sled. I selected it to meet racing rules for VOLS racing in Minnesota. It met the class requirements of 'older than 1985-fan cooled engine-under 400ccs'. It was extremely light at something like 330 lbs and was/is probably the lightest sled available for that class.
I blew a total wad on it and discovered in its first race (as we were lapped quickly) that you can't build a nice stock sled and expect to win. My competitors were really dialed in on clutching etc. or they were cheating like mad. I never went back and sold the sled at a huge loss (what's new.) Here is what I did to it.
Polished the aluminum. Added giant non-boot grabbing aluminum foot stirrups. I had stainless steel spreaders made. And we deleted the ski shocks as they were not needed for oval racing.
New track with hard-to-find old style short pick studs were used for traction without being so long they would destroy the tunnel. The suspension was thoroughly rebuilt. I used the best new bearings, new slide material, cleaned and painted aluminum pieces. Small idler wheels were added to compensate for low snow conditions and to take pressure off the slides.
My business is making fiberglass tanks and fenders for motorcycles so making a custom tank to replace the broken plastic tank was not all that difficult although it took a ton of time. I had the top covered in carbon fiber and the sides were painted to match the seat. It was coated on the inside to withstand the leeching effects of ethanol. A quick-read site gauge was added for racing. (The team AARP sticker is a tongue-in-cheek adornment as my racing brother and I are old.)
I custom made the entire seat; wood, foam and trick custom cover.
I made a carbon fiber dash board to match the tank and added graphics to give it and the sled a professional look.
The stock hood had some great lines but was hidden buy an ugly windshield and a protruding headlight. I did extensive glass work to mask the old hood. I made a super low black windshield and painted a three-color scheme.
Since I am a motorcycle guy I used a twist grip and motorcycle style brake lever on broomstick bars. I have used twist grips on all my snowmobiles to and never had one problem with them.
Engine was professionally built to my specs. Porting and all internals were bone stock to comply with the rules. The engine's exterior is coated in Swain's BBE-a black body emitter which draws heat out of the engine. I used the stock exhaust chamber. The engine was painted so the under hood looked as good as the exterior.
Ski-Doo 340 TNT Custom
In 2001 my brother Ric and I decided to go back to snowmobile racing, something we both dropped 29 years ago in 1972. With vintage sled racing coming on strong, we built these racers.
His was a 399 stock, mine is a '70 292 TNT fan cooled. My engine was modified to the max. Suspension was Yamaha. Custom seat, paint and graphics.
Featured in Snowtech, October 2001.
This was one of Ski-Doo's best looking sleds. I had to have one. In 2007 I found a 462 MX, the one with the white pearl hood. We rebuild all the steering and replaced the entire power system with a 617cc Rotax.
While that was happening, I redesigned the rear portion of the seat so it had a more rounded profile. It was covered with vinyl colors to match my hood design. I had decals made which name it an MXR so I could have guys scratching their heads outside the restaurants..."I didn't know Ski-Doo made an MXR".
The project was finished in late January 2008. As a spin off to this project I am offering a low black windshield, vent screens and belly pan boots because these items are so hard to find.
I always do a drawing prior to starting a project as a visual guide.
2001 500 L/C Edge
We can have umpteen vintage and custom sleds but when it come to daily riding you gotta have a sled that you can pull the rope and ride without worrying about this and that.
This Liberty 500 Edge is my trail sled. Fast enough for me and it handles okay with high zoot suspension and C&A skis but it's on the heavy side. I did my own retro graphics, paint job and cut down the shield because I hate anything stock. This one has very few miles-under a 1,000 I think but can’t be sure. It’s extra clean and virtually perfect. I’m selling it for $2500 until next October then the price goes up to a market price.