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Thread: H2O vs Air Cooled

  1. #1
    Member Bullelkklr's Avatar
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    Default H2O vs Air Cooled

    Just starting my research for snowmachines - new to Alaska and want to be able to get out and play during the winter.

    My uncle lives up here and recommends air cooled for his type of riding. I will be going with him a lot. He mostly trail rides and they haul in gear to remote cabins for winter stalking of fuel food and such.

    What are some advantages and dis-advantages of Air vs. Water cooling systems?

  2. #2
    Member Erik in AK's Avatar
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    Default

    Air-cooled machines:
    Pros--mechanically simpler, and generally lighter, and easier to fix if you break down in the boonies. They do not need much snow to run on--just enough to keep the hyfax cool (plastic wear strips on the rails). Less expensive to buy and maintain.

    Cons--They don't come much bigger than 550 cc so they tend to be a bit under powered. Power limits the size track they can turn so a/c sleds are generally not as good in really deep snow

    Liquid cooled:
    Pros--the dominant technology. All manner of accessories and aftermarket performance parts available. Coolant allows motor to run at much higher RPMs generating far more power. Wider variety of motor sizes and track lengths/types available. 4 strokes available in l/c. Todays l/c sleds are super reliable. The deep snow/mountain class machines can go virtually anywhere.

    Cons--More costly to buy and maintain. Heavier. More complicated and difficult to repair in the field, generally. In most cases they require several inches of soft surface snow to run properly or they overheat.

    There are many models out there that are decent utility machines and capable enogh to be fun off trail.

    -What kind of work do you expect the machine to do?
    -What kind of riding do you expect to do most?

    Good luck

  3. #3
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    A 550 fan motor has about 1/2 the horsepower of a 600 liquid-cooled motor. All snowmachines used to be air cooled and now very few are, just like dirt bikes. You can tune the performance up a great deal when you eliminate overheating. There's nothing wrong with fan cooled machines, they just can't keep up with the liquids.

  4. #4
    Member Bullelkklr's Avatar
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    Default I don't know

    for sure yet. I know for sure that I am going to want to play in the powder some. I also know that I will want to go on long trailrides pulling gear into remote cabins.

    Sounds like I have some work cut out for me in my research - doesn't anyone offer a hybrid (just kidding)?

    I haven't ridden much - but I rented a 600 cc machine in Colorado - I would not want LESS power than what it had - I just would not be happy with less. Definately don't want be sitting and letting my sled (sorry - lower 48 term) cool down whilst everyone else is motoring down the trail.

    What about fuel consumption? I am hearing that H20 is much less efficient - do they make up for that by having a larger tank?

  5. #5

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    You shouldn't have any issues with overheating unless your riding in April or May or there's not much snow. We own 2 600 Summits and have had no issues with overheating but we don't tow anything either. If you want to play in the powder and want power then i'd say that narrows it down to a liquid cooled machine.

  6. #6

    Default depends on what you are..

    using it for and where you are at. For me, I trap with my machine and I have fan cooled machines. My partner had liquid cooled and as long as it was cool out, he was good. Come spring time, he would over heat as we don't get much snow then and the trail is hardened. It is a toss up for sure. Just get one of both and you can decide which one to ride!

  7. #7
    Member Bullelkklr's Avatar
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    Default Two -

    Make that two of both - the lil gal has to keep up ya know- good idear though.

    We won't be able to buy 2 right away anywho - so I'll git one this year prolly air cool, water cool next year, see which one works best for how we ride - and get a third of that flavor.

    Thanks - you fixed my most difficult dilemna (I wish

  8. #8
    Member Trail Boss's Avatar
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    Smile Buy what you need!!

    Look I been riding for 40+yrs. and now with the new Yamaha and Arctic Cats 4 - Strokes you can go farther, haul more, and get good gas mileage! Throw a set of ice scratches on it and it don't matter what time of year it is! Check out a Yamaha Nitro 144 and it will do all you have in mind!
    Alaska House of Yamaha in Big Lake is having a Open House Saturday the31st.
    Note: FREE FOOD AND DRINK!!! I am going just to check it out.

    Buy the way I do 6000 to 10,000 miles a year on all types of sleds. Some grooming trail and a lot for just seeing where this trail goes!!!
    Trail Boss
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    ALASKA'S Winter Park Cabins
    To boldly make trail where no man has gone before!!!

  9. #9
    Moderator LuJon's Avatar
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    Trail boss do they have a real hitch for the Nytro now? It is on the top of my list but I was going to keep my mountain cat for towing. If they have a real hitch for the Nytro the cat will be gone come October!

  10. #10

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    Keep in mind that Skidoo also has several models of 4 strokes available. You might want to take a look at them as well.

  11. #11
    Member big_dog60's Avatar
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    I like the fan cooled, because winters are so unpredictable. I have a 550 short track and it does fine playing in the powder. It will haul a pretty good load on a trail. I have had some difficulty hauling loads in powder, but I think that that is because of the short track.
    Now I am the kind of rider that almost never gets above 60mph. Ultimatly I think it will depend on what you like. Last march when it was 30 degrees on hard packed snow the fan cooled was realy nice.

  12. #12
    Member JOAT's Avatar
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    Default Seriously, let's have a show of hands...

    ... how many of you have ACTUALLY had a liquid cooled machine overheat to where you had to stop and cool it off? No "stories" or "heard abouts", just 1st hand experiences. I've been riding both fans and liquids since the 70's. I've yet to significantly overheat a liquid, but I've certainly had heat problems (and a multitude of other mechanicals) with fans. The fan cooling system has more moving parts and is much weaker than a liquid cooled sled. If you bust a fan belt in the field (been there at least twice that I can remember), you're pretty much grounded. Water pumps are direct mechanical off the crank shaft (usually) and they just don't fail. Liquids are not very much heavier and they produce much more power giving you a better power-to-weight ratio. If you ride in marginal conditions, you're going to melt your hyfax before you overheat the motor anyway. If you're riding hardpack, just bust off the trail and into the snow at least once a mile and you're good to go.

    I can't speak for other manufactures, but the long track Cat's usually used the same heat exchanger on both long and short track models, leaving a bunch of room for expansion of the heat exchanger, so we'd cut them in half and weld in about 7 inches of additional heat exchanger length and never have a problem with the temperature climbing toward red-line anymore when you get stuck on hard pack.

    Scratchers are the greatest thing ever if you have to running icy or hard-pack trails... like when you're towing a heavy load and can't bust off into the snow very easily. Of course, you can still probably kick up enough snow by just kicking one ski into the trail's edge snow frequently. It's all about riding technique as much as the machine.
    Winter is Coming...

    Go GeocacheAlaska!

  13. #13
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    Default

    Actual experience? Me. Many times. Dozens. Always with Polaris machines. Always attributed to hard snow conditions. I never overheated a Yamaha liquid machine but I have had to stop to let Vikings cool. Lots of times, in fact.

    Under a good rider there's no way a fan machine can keep up with a liquid in high performance riding. When it comes to pulling loads I prefer fan machines because I don't like pulling several thousand pound sleds into the soft snow to cool the heat exchangers. I also loved my Tundra for the light weight and easy ride in the deep but I no longer need one.

  14. #14
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    Default a few times

    I have overheated my 02 600 Summit numerous times, but all were while traveling over long distances of glare ice or bare tundra. 5 min. to cool off and take back off. And yes it's hard on hyfax.
    Never had any trouble on hard pack though. I love that rig- it pulls, busts, powder, and can skip over water all day long.

    I like the new rev chasis, but the hitch sits way higher, and I have to take the track off and plug up a bunch of holes that allow water to get on the belt so I can get over more than 20 yards of water at a time.

    I have a fan as well, but I prefer my liquid.

  15. #15
    Member big_dog60's Avatar
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    Default

    I've only had machines I was rideing over heat a couple of times. But I have seen it first hand when riding with groups many times. (usually when pulling a load on hard conditions)

  16. #16

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    never had it happen to me. seen hi fax melt lots though.
    have burned lots of belts though!

  17. #17
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    Default Liquid Cool

    I have had a liquid cool for several years. The only time I've *ever* overheated it is when I've run into extended stretches of area with no ice or snow - like grass or tundra. Then I've just waited for a short while and moved on until I got to snow. If there's even occasional snow, I'm fine. As far as hard pack, I've got studs on my track and that kicks up enough chips to keep the engine cooled with no problems. I've seen other devices that carve up ice behind the skis to throw up chips on the exchangers but don't know how they work. On warm wet Spring days, Liquid Cool reigns - as long as I have something wet (snow, slush, water) to go through, I'm fine while my air cooled buddies are taking their cowlings off and overheating. In short, I've had very little problem in overheating.

    Liquid cool machines are noticeably heavier though - at least the older one that I have.

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