A Year Long Project

A little over a year ago I came across a Bearcat for $100. I figured “how could I possibly go wrong at that price?” Ohhhh, little did I know.

Checking out the sled, it was obvious that it needed a motor, a seat cover, a rear bumper, and a good going over, but once I got it home, it was clear that it needed a lot more than that. The deeper I dug into it, the more it needed. I was amazed that anyone could’ve kept riding the sled with all the things that were worn out.

Right off the bat, I found a used motor for it. But it wasn’t local, and as it would take time to get it here, I turned my attention elsewhere.

I decided to take care of some easy stuff. The rear bumper was destroyed, so I pulled it off, straightened out the rear of the tunnel, reinstalled the snowflap, and fabricated a new bumper.


A good solid bumper that won’t bend with any load that this sled can haul.

Upon closer inspection I discovered that the driven clutch was completely toast. The previous owner had just kept riding the sled with no maintenance, and there was no way to rebuild the clutch, it had to be replaced.



Finding a clutch for a Bearcat was no easy task. Some of the used parts dealers in Ontario were asking upwards of $600 for a used clutch. Just crazy. But eventually I found an older style button clutch in Deer Lake for a decent price.

The same scrap yard had some used shocks for me, which came in handy. Pulling the skid revealed a host of issues to be dealt with. In addition to a bunch of bearings, plastic inserts and wheels to be replaced, there were cross shafts and shocks, as well as some welding.

New spring blocks.

Time was ticking by, as I picked at the sled every now and then, would get fed up by how much it needed, or stuck searching for used or hard to find parts. The Bearcat spent a lot of time simply being in the way, but eventually I got back at it and made some more progress.

Taking off the primary to remove the old motor.

Ugh, what a mess.

The “new” motor.


New seat cover.

Once the motor was installed and running, the seat covered and reinstalled, the hood painted, different skis mounted up, belly pan back in place, the one thing left to get it mobile was the primary clutch. And oh, what rough shape that was in.

The weights, totally trashed.

Nothing left to the bushings at all.

The Spider, completely destroyed.

I bought a bundle of new parts, and a friend had an old clutch with a broken sheave I could cannibalize, so after a few weeks of tracking down parts and getting them to Goose Bay, I finally was assemble to a functional clutch.

Good as new

Finally, just before Christmas, and a little more than a year before dragging the thing home, I was able to take it for a ride.

The Bearcat seems to be running well. It starts easily, idles nicely, and pulls strong on the trail.

I’m looking forward to getting out on it, working out the last few details and seeing what it can really do.

Working on it over the last year there were lots of times when it had me soured on project sleds completely. I would never have believed that a snowmobile could be run so far into the ground, and there were several times when I swore I’d never take on another project again. But I’m sure it won’t be long and I’ll be dragging some other piece of junk home to work on.

Since taking it for the first ride, I haven’t used it much, but when I do get out on it I’m impressed at how well it works. It purrs along, is quite comfortable at 50 mph, and once it’s warm it starts with 1/2 a pull.

I have it for sale, but I’m not overly anxious to see it go.

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Travel ‘boggan 2.0, 2.1 and 2.2

A few years ago I built a small sleigh for hauling behind the Ski-Doo. It works great, and I love it, but it’s a bit heavy, so this year I decided to build a smaller, lighter sleigh for cross-country, off-trail travel.

What you’ll see here is my initial version, which worked well, but had some “issues”, the temporary second version, and, what I hope will be the final version.

The idea this time was to take the best characteristics of a Karyon boggan and the advantages of a tub-sleigh, and make something that would be able to haul the gear necessary for back country travel over unbroken snow.

This is the basic, commercially available Karyon Boggan.

They’re light and haul really well, but they’re also expensive, and I don’t like the lack of sides. So my plan was to start with a teflon sheet, a minimalist metal frame, and plywood sides that would keep my gear secure. I also think that a rigid frame hauls better than a sleigh that’s following the contours of the terrain, but that’s a personal preference.

Travel ‘boggan 2.0

This was the start.

I also wanted a rigid hitch. Relying on the teflon alone would be lighter, but the sleigh would be bending the teflon every time I came to a stop or was going downhill, and I don’t like that idea.

Because the teflon was all one solid piece, it couldn’t be fixed to the hitch, as the hitch needs to pivot. So I used u-bolts that allow the hitch to slide on the teflon as it pivots.

Next, I was worried about attaching the runners to just the teflon, and also worried about the amount of flex that 1/4″ teflon would allow, so I decided to put a plywood bottom on the sleigh as well. This made for a nice solid sleigh, but it was adding significantly to the weight.

Using t-nuts I was able to mount the teflon with a nice flush finish on the inside, important to prevent chafing of anything that’s loaded in the sleigh.

Next up was the sides.

A coat of paint and it was starting to look pretty good.

I then put on the runners. These aid in tracking, and protect the main sheet when doing road crossings and bare ground

Working out the tie down points for securing the gear on Travel ‘boggan 2.0.

The sleigh was working out great. It’s first real test was a big one, a trip to Nain and back, which was going to be some 1200-1500kms. First impressions were really positive.

It was sized right to carry everything I needed, was easy to secure gear too, had enough versatility to allow me to add extra stuff as necessary. Off-trail is floated well, was fairly good at backing up, and felt nice behind the sled. There were a couple of things I wanted to modify, but mostly was really happy.

When we hit the coast I was happier still. The sleigh hauled so well I couldn’t tell it was behind me.

That ended up being a disadvantage, as I never noticed when the hitch broke, and I rode on for over 10 kms without noticing that it was no longer behind me.

What were we going to do with a broken sleigh? Well, we hauled it in to Hopedale and found someone with a welder who could come to the rescue.

Allan was a saviour, and in no time he had us mobile again. Off we went to Nain.

Then, just minutes out of Hopedale, my sleigh just came apart…

Uggg! The bolts had pulled through the sides, and as everything was strapped to the plywood, the works of it just let go. I was left with a flat bottom and nothing to strap to.

We rearranged the load and limped our way back to Allan’s place.

We really just wanted to stash some gear there for the night, and to borrow his welder the next day so we could put some attachment points on it to get us home. Allan told us to go on our way, and that he would have something figured out for us by the time we got back.

Travel ‘boggan 2.1

The next day, Allan was gone getting a load of firewood, but we found the sleigh repaired and ready to go. What a great guy, we were lucky to meet him.

So this is my Travel ‘boggan 2.1.

We loaded it up and we on our way in no time.

He had used some scraps of extruded metal he had to make some new sides. It actually worked really well, and I figured that with a few modifications, it might be a good permanent solution.

We got home with no further mishaps, and a couple of weeks later on go to work on version 2.2.

Travel ‘boggan 2.2

As long as I was going to be modifying the sleigh, I figured I’d fix the couple of things I didn’t like.

From the beginning the approach angle of the front bothered me. The hitch attached right at the bottom of the sleigh, which made for an abrupt angle at the front. It didn’t seem to affect how it hauled, but I didn’t like the look of it, so I stripped all the plastic off, cut and welded the frame so that I’d have a bit of a rise at the attachment point.

It was a similar story at the back. When I had initially made the metal frame, the angle iron across the back was lower than on the sides, making for a slight, but noticeable drop at the back. I think this was creating unnecessary drag in soft snow, so I cut that out and welded in a piece of flat bar slightly higher than the side rails.

Next was the sides. When Allan put on the mesh he put foam over the tops to prevent wear and tear on the gear in the sleigh. That worked, but it wasn’t a very durable solution, so I decided to go with flatbar along the edges.

And, I needed better tie-down points. Something I could run a bungee cord through, not simply something I could put a hook on. So I welded a row of u-bolts on each side.

Frame all painted up and ready for plastic

The main sheet is bolted to the frame, and the runners are bolted to the sheet, again using t-nuts with the bolts grinded off. Not quite as flush as they were with the plywood, but hopefully I won’t get too much abrasion.

Hitch back on and the sleigh is ready for another adventure. I actually put this one on the scales, which it tipped at 98lbs. Not too bad for a sleigh that measures 24″x72″ and that can easily haul gear for a week long trip into the country.

Looking forward to testing it out on an overnight trip somewhere.


Update –

Since posting this, I’ve done two trips, totally over 1000kms with the sleigh in tow. Working great now, and gets around really well. A couple of little things I might change, but I don’t want to do anything that would add too much weight, so I’m going to keep it simple.

Log skidder

This is a small project a did a couple of winters ago. Just a little sleigh for getting firewood at the cabin.

Typically, a sleigh full of wood is heavy, and means you have to beat in a trail really well before attempting to haul wood on it. I wanted something that would be light as could be, allowing me to get my wood with minimal chance of getting stuck.

I decided to use a simple bunk made on a pair of old skis. A skidder, which would let the log drag on the snow behind the sleigh.

I started with a simple triangle hitch

The hitch mounted between the runners

and those runners were tied together with with a couple of cross beams.

The finishing touch was a serrated metal bar across the rear bunk and an additional 2×4 running lengthwise that the chain wraps around.

A close up of the hitch attached to the sled.

Getting a load of dry wood

Best dry wood you can imagine is standing timber that’s been through a forest fire. Knock it down, drive by picking it up, and it’s ready for the stove that day.

And a big load of birch.

The sled works really well. It’s best with two chains and load binders. If strapped tight there’s no worry about losing wood while hauling.

Push-sleigh for the young fella

With the arrival this fall of a new addition to the family, I thought it would be nice to make a sleigh for walking him in the winter. Basically a stroller with no wheels.

First step was deciding on the size and shape, so I made a cardboard template.



Next was cutting out the pieces and putting them together.

Cut out the runners

Taking shape

Painted up and making the push-bar.

Pretty much done

And it’s ready for Christmas.

And here’s the boy out enjoying a walk.

Bottling Birds

With a freezer full of birds I’ve been spending a bit of time this spring bottling some up. Bottled anything makes for a simple and tasty meal at the cabin or camping.

Start by defrosting a couple of bags of birds.

Chop up some salt beef and onions

And then chop up the birds.

In the tall jars you can get 3 birds in each bottle easily. Add a bit of chopped garlic and some water, and it’s ready for the pot.

Fill the pot up to just cover the lids, boil for 3 hours, and you’re done.

The finished product, ready to eat. To make a meal of it, heat it up in a pan, maybe add a bit of gravy to thicken up the sauce, and serve with some boiled potatoes and carrots. Yummy!

Basket-case VK

Don’t ask me why, but just before Christmas I bought this old beater sled as a project. It’s a 2007 VK540 that’s been used hard, and I’m going to try and make it into a dependable ride for snaring, hunting and getting firewood. I wonder if I wouldn’t have been better off spending more to begin with and getting something ready to ride, but I’m trying to convince myself that fixing it up will be half the fun.

We’ll see about that I suppose.

Here it is the day I brought it home.

When I picked it up it was running on one cylinder, so I knew it would need an engine rebuild. The list of everything needing to be done grew quickly.

Engine on the bench, ready to be opened up.

The top of the pistons looked brand new.

But not so the skirts.

Obviously the motor had been running very rich, washing the domes clean, and washing the oil off the skirts, leading to premature wear.

Unfortunately, when I split the cases I find that the crank has some bad bearings. Not good.

I ended up finding a second motor that had a good crank, and with some new pistons and seals, I put together a motor that should be good and reliable.

New pistons…

After assembling the motor, it was time to clean up the carb.

Once the motor was reinstalled and running, I turned to the rest of the sled. First up, I needed a seat in order to be able to ride.

Despite much effort, I could not locate an actual VK seat, or a piece of foam, so I decided to use the spare seat I had for the Touring. It would require a bit of cutting.

A hand saw works perfectly.

And for the foam to sit on, I made a frame that could then be bolted to the lid of the storage compartment.

Once the seat was done I had to do the bumper, rack and hitch. Using bits of what where there along with some new metal, I made a rack with integrated bumper that gives me enough room for two 5gal Jerry cans, along with snowshoes, etc. Combined with the under-seat storage and the box mounted behind the seat, I’ve now got loads of room on the sled.

Also on the rack I had to made a tail-light bracket, and I used a regular trailer light for the tail-light.

Now it was time to start test riding, and that led to a whole series of repairs, hopefully which have turned the sled into a fairly reliable beast of burden.

There was a clunking somewhere in the drive train, so I pulled out the gear box but didn’t find anything wrong. I eventually decided that it was the driveshaft, so decided to change that, and swapped in a better track while I was doing it.

When I opened this up the first time, I saw nothing wrong. In hindsight, there is an issue, one that I should have picked up on. More on that later.

I brought home another scrapped sled to get a driveshaft and track out of.

Not so fun hauling parts out of a sled like this.

New track in, reinstalling the skid.

Well, it turns out that it wasn’t the driveshaft. The clunking I was feeling was a result of an incorrect drivebelt that became notched, so ┬ánew belt took care of that. But I was soon to realize that the chain case did indeed have issues. So it had to come apart again and have a couple of bearings replaced.


Everything seems good now though, and I’ve had the sled out for a good run. It’s amazing in the snow, like a real tractor. I think it’ll make a great work horse.

First trip to the cabin

Setting a few snares

Homemade alcohol stove

I heard about making an alcohol stove out of an aluminum beer can, and decided to try it out myself. Simple and easy to do.

Take an aluminum can and cut the top out.

Then cut the bottom off, about three fingers high.

Do the same with the top. It should be about the same height as the bottom piece.

Using a pocket knife, indent the upper part of the can a finger width apart, all around the can. You also need to put a tiny hole near the top of the upper part of the can for ventilation.

Then you take the upper part and put it into the bottom part of the can. Add some alcohol and you’re ready to light it up.

I only had 70% alcohol, and it was a little difficult to light. The higher the alcohol content, the better it would be.

When you put your pot on the stove the flames will come out the ports on the side, and it should burn nice and blue.

I tried with a second top, with more pronounced dents on the side, and it burned better. It took a little under five minutes to bring this small pot of water to boil.

Here’s the link where I got the idea from, and they have a video with very good instructions on how to make one.