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Thread: Cold weather starting

  1. #1

    Default Cold weather starting

    I wanted to see if my machines would fire up at 35 below. The indy lite 340 started well enough but my Trail 550 RMK was reeeeeealy stiff.

    I turned the 550 over by hand using the primary clutch to loosen it up but it was still pretty darned stiff. Pulling on the rope never got easy - just stiff. Pre-heating the plugs didn't work but I don't think the engine was turning over fast enough to fire. I am running the synthetic mix oil not 100% synthetic. No doubt 100% synthetic would help.

    What do you guys do to pre-heat your machines? Tricks, tips, methods...? A friend says he uses his MSR camp stove, a homemade stove pipe that goes up into the exhaust pipe to warm the engine.


  2. #2
    Member Jessals Fishing's Avatar
    Join Date
    Mar 2008
    Sterling, AK


    this is a trick I just learned of. you can use a popcorn popper if you have enough room in your couling. It's worth a shot. I had to do it on my truck when it got to 35 below. If you don't have one, I know just about any thift store probably will.
    Fishing is one part skill too two parts luck!

  3. #3

    Default starting machine


    When it is cold, I usually leave the ignition off and pull the rope. Sometimes it is VERY hard, but just keep pressure on it until it finally comes out. Then I keep doing it until it loosens up fairly well. Then I will turn the machine on, choke it and start. I have the same 550 and have started it way below -35. If you have one of those black cat heaters, you can get that under your hood and let it heat for awhile.

    Another trick someone mentioned on here at one time was when you park it, to shut it off by choking it and it would start easier in the cold. I HAVE NOT done this yet, but want to give it a try.

    PS, I broke 2 of those hitches on the last trip! I had an empty sled! First one broke in 8 miles and the next one broke another 8 after that. The second one sounded like a gun went off! It snapped the plate that the J hook is welded on at a diagonal! We have come to the conclusion that the POLARIS hitch is a piece of junk. We are going to "build/weld" one that can be bolted on and will last!

  4. #4

    Default starting

    I am pretty sure I would have NEVER thought of using a hot air popcorn popper!! I haven't used one of those for years. However, I was looking for a way to start it in case I was out on a trip w/o electricity.

    Northway: yeah, maybe I flooded it by having the key on while turning it over? I will play with it tomorrow. Think I will try putting my giga stove under the hood for 30 minutes or so. Maybe put my titanium pot on top to radiate the heat and keep the flame down.

    Hey, the hitch I made proved itself last weekend. A guy sunk his Tundra LT in Beaver Creek and we couldn't get it to run properly so we put his Tundra on my homemade "Siglin look a like" tobaggon, he sat on his dead machine, and he had a pull sled which we left hooked to his machine, I pulled the whole shootin match 20 miles back to the truck (600 lbs give or take). The hitch on my machine and tobaggon worked great. I could give you more info if you want and/or look at the pics I posted a while back.


  5. #5

    Default Hitch


    Yeah, I am sure the modifications your did were money! Those rotating hitches with that set up is garbage. Unbelievable that those J hitches would break like they did. I will see if I can pull up your post from before and take a look at it. Sounds like you got it figured out. Did you pull the other machine out with your Trail RMK?

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Feb 2008


    When you have the plugs out warming up pull the engine over a few times.
    It will make a difference. Never had a problem with a trail dlx or transport in colder weather.

  7. #7


    That's a good idea to loosen things up when the plugs were out. I don't know, I have started my work machine (skandic 600) at the same temps and it never pulled over this hard. I'm not new to dealing with equipment, but I have never seen a machine so stiff to pull over. I was afraid I was going to break the rope and that was after turning it over for a minute or so by hand using the primary clutch. Wierd.

    Northway: Yes, I pulled the Tundra, the guy, and his pull sled out at the same time with no problem. With that much load I could definitely feel the springs on my pull sled working on take-offs and braking. I think there a good idea to reduce stress and reduce the chance of breaking things. I was kind of glad to put my hitch to the test. Nice to know it will hold up when it's needed. I have a photo at home - maybe I will attach it tomorrow. The modification I did to the factory reciever hitch was pretty straightforward and cheap. Just some angle iron, flat stock, 2 u-bolts. Can send pics tomorrow if your interested. I can't believe Polaris, the dealer, or the guys behind the counter will sell that JUNK!

  8. #8
    Member alaskamace's Avatar
    Join Date
    Sep 2007


    I would also like to see what you have done to modify the reciever and hitch. I have the same setup on my trail rmk.

    I have a 08 trail rmk that I bought new last fall. the guy at the dealer said the harder starting is due to the changes they made a while back in machining the crankcase. Its been below -40 here for a few days and I haven't tried to start it. But warm the plugs on my old widetrak and its starts in about 10-12 pulls at those temps.

    I have tried shutting the rmk down with the choke or revving the engine just prior to shutoff to attepmt easier starting and really didn't notice a difference.
    ..."Tolerance is the virtue of a man without convictions." - G.K. Chesterton

  9. #9
    Member MARV1's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jul 2006


    I use a hairdryer if I have to for 5 minutes. But when I first bought a 700 I started choking it to get a bit more fuel into the cylinders/crankcase and thin out the oil, but don't flood it. Just do it until rpm's drop to about 1000rpm's and shut the engine off for the night.
    The emphasis is on accuracy, not power!

  10. #10

    Default Hitch

    I will start a new thread with some modified hitch ideas. Thanks for the cold weather start tips.

  11. #11
    Member atvalaska's Avatar
    Join Date
    Nov 2007
    camp-go-4-beer fbks

    Thumbs up use a tourch/ crack head unit

    heat up the y pipe......... from the bottom ........15 mins or so at 42 below an (my 05 800 rmk) she starts rite up..........
    Last edited by atvalaska; 01-11-2009 at 18:26. Reason: spellin

  12. #12
    Member tccak71's Avatar
    Join Date
    Apr 2006


    I've got a magnetic tranny pan/oil pan heater that says its recommended to snowmachine engines; don't know where you'd put it though, and you've got to have power. A cigarette lighter w/adapter would work.

    BTW, got two of mine started at -29, third one I didn't loose up the recoil enough and it never recoiled. One machine has EFI and took a few extra pulls to get going. My Polaris started fairly easy. I had to bring the kids machine into the cabin to get it warm enough to start.


  13. #13
    Join Date
    Jan 2009
    lava hot springs, id


    the 550's are terrible stiff in the cold. on the team secondary, i use my tool to loosen the belt and then pull start. lots easier.

  14. #14
    Join Date
    Jan 2007
    Southwest Alaska


    You guys....I suggest you start working out. A manly man doesn't have these problems. Try pulling over an 800 tripple.

    Hairdryer and 10 minutes is a charm, the camp stove is a good way to start a fire it won't work anyway due to the muffler in the way, and the choke thing works, only hit the choke at the same time you hit the kill button. Warming plugs is a waste of time as it is the drag of the rings on the cylinder that is the problem.
    Great spirits have always found violent opposition from mediocre minds. The latter cannot understand it when a man does not thoughtlessly submit to hereditary prejudices but honestly and courageously uses his intelligence. Albert Einstein

    Better living through chemistry (I'm a chemist)

    You can piddle with the puppies, or run with the wolves...

  15. #15
    Moderator LuJon's Avatar
    Join Date
    Mar 2007
    Palmer, AK


    yeah, first night out moose hunting in over new years in the interior. -35 over night and I got the joy of pulling on a big AC 800 twin! The EFI works like a charm but it took a bunch of slow pulls to past the friction so that it started turning easier. After that the last thing we would do each night is run the sleds for 20 minutes then tarp the cowling tight. Made all the difference in the world as long as you started them first thing in the morning.


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