Father and Son Snowmobile Project (Dan Gould)
Published on Friday, February 28, 2014 in News & Updates, President's Message
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Over the past few years I’ve spent umpteen hours with my two boys working on their snowmobiles. Short of an engine overhaul, we’ve taken apart, cleaned or rebuilt just about every mechanism on their wedgie-style Polaris sleds, an ’87 Sport and a ’91 Trail. The machines are crude compared to a 2014 snow-stallion but they are easy to work on. Like an old pickup truck, once the hood is open you have access to every single component. You can actually see the spark plugs!

Dirty snowmobile carburetor.

I always thought a fixer-upper would make for a classic father and son project and in that respect, the Indys were perfect. The three of us could hunker down in the garage and have some fun. They’d learn a few things about mechanics, there might be a belch or two, you know, male bonding. I also felt it was vital that they have at least some understanding of how the contraption works.

There were moments of frustration. The amount of work was more than we’d bargained for, which is typical for these kinds of projects. It seemed every time we fixed one thing, we’d find another fragged part somewhere else. I repeatedly ignored the comments about being a cheapskate and not buying them brand new gold-anodized snowmobiles.

When the snow finally fell, we rode and rode. That’s when they really appreciated the effort. The sleds were theirs in every way. They’d still talk of owning a newer sled and occasionally steal rides on my MX-Z, then ask if I’m planning on upgrading soon (hint-hint) or if they could they have it if I unexpectedly died. Unexpectedly, as if I would plan such an event?

I was leading the family during the second ride of the winter when I lost sight of the headlights dancing in my mirror. No kids, no wife in sight. Hmmm, did I die after all? I pulled over and waited a minute, then spun around to figure out who was taking an unscheduled bathroom break. The trail was pretty much a straight shot, so they couldn’t have taken a bum turn.

Father and Son Snowmobile Project studding a track

I found them to the side of the trail looking at the rear suspension of the gray Indy. End of this ride, I thought. Before I could get my helmet off the boys had diagnosed a track derailment. One of them searched for a short log to use as a bumper jack while tools were being extracted from the trunk.

There were five of us on this trip, all muscle I might add, but we still couldn’t sneak the track back on. There wasn’t a crowbar big enough in Berkshire County to coax it. The boys knew exactly how the suspension came apart and in a few minutes the track tension was released and the rear wheels were off. I wouldn’t compare our speed to Penske’s crew at the Indy 500 but we had the sled back together and properly adjusted in 20 minutes. Everyone chipped in.

The sense of pride was deeper than the snowpack. The boys smiled like magicians that just sawed a bikini babe in half. We all knew that the time spent in that cold garage wasn’t all about snowmobiles. It was a lesson in responsibility, self worth and most of all, working together as a family.

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