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Thread: Ski alignment adjustment for dummies?

  1. #1
    Forum Admin Brian M's Avatar
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    Default Ski alignment adjustment for dummies?

    Let me preface this by saying that my mechanical skills are sorely lacking and I have very little experience working on snowmachines.

    I'm borrowing an older Polaris sled that hasn't been used in years for my friend to use on his caribou hunt this weekend. The skis are far out of whack - the left ski (when seated) is kicked out to the side at least 15 degrees. I'd like to adjust it before we head down the trail, but I'd rather get it right the first time rather than twisting and turning on the wrong bolts. Forgive my use of incorrect terminology, but do I loosen that top bolt that is pointing out, the one that is at the top of the shaft that leads down to the ski? Or do I need to adjust the length/position of the two bars that lead into the steering column? Or am I completely off track here? I've got to assume this is simple enough, but again, I'd rather get it right the first time instead of finding out 20 miles down the trail that I screwed something up.




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    Member sayak's Avatar
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    I'd look for a bent tie rod first. But anyway, your photo shows the lock nut you need to loosen to turn the rod to change the toe-in/out. If no bent rods, do both sides equally. You should probably look on Youtube for a how-to, but at the very least you should equalize the distance between the front and rear of the skis on the inside edges. I'm trying to remember if there is an inside adjustment under the pipe...
    If really extreme, you can (in a pinch) loosen the spline on one ski strut to reposition it inside the tube, but that is drastic. I'm sure someone else remembers better. It isn't hard.

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    Forum Admin Brian M's Avatar
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    I did look on YouTube, but didn't find anything that actually showed the process - just guys talking about what counts as proper alignment (1/2" toe out).

    Is the lock nut you're referring to the one at the very top that is parallel to the ground pointing out?

  4. #4

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    The ball stud just above the ski with a nut tighten up against the tube that goes to the steering shaft is the one that you will need to adjust,You will have to back off that lock nut in order to turn the tube. The nut that is up against the tube that goes to the steering shaft is a lock nut that keeps everything in place after you have made your adjustments .

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    Moderator bkmail's Avatar
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    Brian,
    Loosen the locknut that is horizontal on the top of thr spindle. Get the alignment darn close , as the splines will allw. Lock it down and use the tie rod to dial it in.
    Bk

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    Sorry, this is long! You’ve got good advice from the guys here on ski adjustment. I would just like to add some additional details and a word of caution. That ski is WAY out of alignment and it would be a good idea to try to figure out what is causing it. There are 3 probable causes: 1. bent or improperly adjusted tie rod; 2. improperly positioned splines between the spindle shaft and spindle arm; 3. splines on the spindle shaft and/or spindle arm are stripped out, allowing the ski to slip out of alignment. Number 3 is the one that I would absolutely verify before riding this sled. If the splines are stripped, that ski could rotate way out of alignment while cruising down the trail and cause a serious accident. The spindle shaft runs down through the head of the trailing arm and attaches to the ski. Tip the sled on its side or jack up the front about a foot off the floor. Remove the bolt from the spindle arm (this is the bolt that you referred to as "the top bolt that is pointing out". Pull the ski away from the head of the trailing arm. The spindle shaft should slide out of the head of the trailing arm. If it is stuck, you may need to use a pry bar to spread the ends of the arm that holds the top of the spindle. Wipe off the grease and check the splines for wear. The spindle arm is also splined. Check those splines for wear. If the splines look worn on the spindle or the spindle arm, do not ride this machine until it is repaired. If the tie rod isn't bent and the splines all look good, its possible someone didn't align the splines correctly when they installed the spindle and caused the ski to look like it does now. If that's the case, reinsert the spindle shaft (with ski still attached) into the head of the trailing arm. Now is the point that you can adjust the alignment. Make sure the ski is positioned as parallel to the other ski as possible and engage the splines on the spindle with the splines on the spindle arm. Insert the bolt and tighten it down to the torque specified for that machine. I usually just apply the German engineering torque spec (gutentight) to this bolt. Lower the machine back down and check the alignment. Point the skis straight forward and measure the distance between the skis about 10 inches in front of the spindle and 10 inches behind the spindle. The front measurement should be slightly wider (I usually shoot for a 3/16 to 1/4 inch). A slight toe out is what you are looking for. If you need to make an adjustment, now is when you use the tie rod adjustment process that Big Bend described above. Hope you can get out there and find your buddy a caribou! My daughter has the tag for East of the McLaren and we're contemplating going out to see if there are any still lingering around. Seems like most of the sightings have been West of the McLaren, however. Good Luck!

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    Forum Admin Brian M's Avatar
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    Thank you, all! I appreciate the help and will let you know if I have further questions once I attempt the adjustment.

    DGW - I know someone who took a caribou east of the Maclaren three weeks ago, and another that spotted a few in that area around the same time. There should be a few around, but again, those reports are a bit dated.

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    Old Polaris trick. Beg or borrow a 4' section of 5/8" steel dowel. Lift the front end, drop the skis, use the ski bolt holes to run the dowel through. Adjust as necessary to slide it through both spindles. make sure the bars are pointed straight forward. Tighten things up and re-attach the skis. Perfect alignment.

    I memory serves on the old Indys the only thing locking the spindle in position is the clamp and bolt on the top of the spindle. Loosen that and the ski will flop around to whatever position you want. Or yank on it hard enough.... That may explain why the ski is so far out of whack.

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    Member akriverunner's Avatar
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    The steel dowl trick works best if you can find one. If not just align the skis so they are parallel to each other. Best method is to use a long straight edge off each side of the track and parallel the skis to the track.


    Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk

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    Back to why the ski is so far out of alignment, notice the apparently new spindle clamp bolt? Compare it to all the other common steel parts. No rust. I'd bet that's where your alignment issue originated.

  11. #11
    Forum Admin Brian M's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Mr. Pid View Post
    Back to why the ski is so far out of alignment, notice the apparently new spindle clamp bolt? Compare it to all the other common steel parts. No rust. I'd bet that's where your alignment issue originated.
    Good point! I'm about to give it a shot, so I'll let you all know how it goes. Thanks again!

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    Forum Admin Brian M's Avatar
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    Well, turns out all of your help was for naught - at least for the time being. The trailer was left at my father's house since he had extra parking space, and while I was at work today he spent hours fixing the ski alignment. The funny part is that when I got there I spent 15 minutes measuring, looking, measuring again and just being plain confused as to why it didn't look like there was a problem anymore. Ha! Pretty awesome - I didn't ask him to do it, but he took care of it.

    Thanks for all the help, everyone. At the very least I know more for the next time I have to deal with such a problem.

  13. #13
    Member Music Man's Avatar
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    Buy him a bottle of his favorite and have a drink with him.
    When seconds count, the cops are just minutes away.
    '08 24' HCM Granite HD "River Dog"

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    Forum Admin Brian M's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Music Man View Post
    Buy him a bottle of his favorite and have a drink with him.
    Sage advice. Will do!

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