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Discussion Starter #1
Hello all! I would consider myself a very novice snowmobiler. I have a 1987 Phazer that I use mainly for towing my ice fishing gear, which is pretty heavy. This past weekend the lake I was fishing on had at least 18 inches of snow and some areas of slush underneath the snow making foot travel very difficult. My phazer definately struggled pulling my shanty and a smaller sled at the same time and it finally broke down. I only have about $400 into my phazer so I think it's time to buy a newer sled instead of dumping more money in the old one (which has over 11300 miles).

My question for all of you is what sled should I be looking at for an upgrade?

I have a small trailer so my next sled can't be too big. Something about the same size as my phazer.

I just want something that is dependable and is capable of pulling my gear through adverse conditions (heavy snow and slush).

Any suggestions?

Thanks for your help!
 

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Obviously you know fan cooled vs liquid, etc. I'm suprised the phazer had trouble. That 485 motor is a decent motor in a light sled. The phazerII I think had the regular 121" track. Could be wrong on that. Heck we used my ovation 340 to pull our shanty and myself and MDH out on saginaw bay one time last winter. Little guy suprised us.
 

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Discussion Starter #3
Obviously you know fan cooled vs liquid, etc. I'm suprised the phazer had trouble. That 485 motor is a decent motor in a light sled. The phazerII I think had the regular 121" track. Could be wrong on that. Heck we used my ovation 340 to pull our shanty and myself and MDH out on saginaw bay one time last winter. Little guy suprised us.

Actually, I do not know the difference between fan cooled vs liquid. I just make sure there is gas, oil and good plugs in the sled. I think a phazer with a studded track is the right option for me. I like how light the phazer is and i've heard many good things about the motor. My buddy's 600 vmax was also struggling last weekend and I think most sleds would have with the thick snow/slush conditions we had. I absolutely hate being stranded or broken down. I will upgrade soon, but I really haven't looked at anything other than phazers. That is where I need input. I want a shanty pulling work horse that is dependable. I could care less about trail riding. Should I look at Ski-Do's, Polars? I know enough to stay away from Artic cats.
 

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I'm also pretty novice so take what I say lightly, or don't.. I'd say stick with Yamaha.. Anytime you buy an older sled, make sure the carb boots are good cuz the rubber has a tendency to rot and cause it to run lean. If you want light, look for an older Enticer, Exciter, or Bravo. I picked my Enticer 250 up for 300 bucks and am putting a little work into it. It's got pretty good acceleration for being only a 250, and doesn't go much faster than 50-60 topped out which you don't need more than that for ice fishing really. It's light enough that if I need to load into the truck alone, I can. And I only weigh 135 soaking wet. Everything I have heard about yamaha's reliability is awesome. The only problems I know of so far is the carbs on the late 70s early 80s yammies (Keihin) suck. That's what I'm dealing with right now is swapping the carb over to a mikuni. Should have it done by Monday or Tuesday after all my parts get here :D
 

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As far as liquid cooled versus fan cooled, a liquid cooled engine is like a cars. It has a closed cooling system that runs coolent through the cylinders and head to cool the engine. Most snowmobiles use a heat exchanger instead of a radiator to keep the coolent cool. A fan cooled engine uses a belt driven fan to blow air across the fins on the cylinders. The whole engine is usually encased in a shroud on fan cooled sleds. Now, as far as a new sled for you, another phazer, which is fan cooled, would be a great choice. Almost any 500cc sled would work for your cause. My buddy just picked up a 94 Indy 500 for a grand, it had like 3500 miles. Also check out some of the older utility models such as the ski doo skandic. They are purpose built for work. Yamahas are light years ahead of the other manufactures in build quality imo. I have had both arctic cats and yamahas, and trail ride agressively, and both held up well. For your purpose I would imagine that any brand would fit your needs without a problem. A little maitenence goes a long way. Snowmobilers are very brand loyal, but I have seen them all being towed in. If you find a good deal, go for it.
 

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Personally I think the reason your sled was struggling was due to wieght. Lack of wieght, studs, and on ice. That will cause your track to spin and not grab. If you like your phazer then maybe look at getting a new track for it that is designed for ice travel. You will pay around 500 dollars for the track new. But you could upgrade your sled and still have the same problem.
 

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I'll chime back in...

For an ice fishing sled a fan cooled is better because of two reasons...

1) It should be lighter. No coolant, piping, etc.

2) There are times when we have ice for fishing but no/limited snow. A liquid cooled machine relies on snow being thrown up on the heat exchangers (typically under the running boards and depending on the machine, across the rear of the sled.) When there is low/no snow a liquid cooled sled may run hotter.

There are some con's to a fan cooled. Typically limited in size of a motor. Probably the largest fan's are around 500cc. A liquid cooled motor may put out more power when equal cc motors are compared. Fan cooled motors shouldn't be left to sit and idle for long periods of time as they rely on air moving through the engine compartment to cool them.

Regardless of engine type, rear sled suspensions of modern sleds rely on snow/water to lubricate the slide rails where the track contacts the rails on the hyfax. When you heat up hyfax, you usually can smell the plastic melting. You can install ice scratchers that through up a bit of ice onto the track/hyfax to help. They may also help with a liquid cooled by getting some onto the heat exchangers.

If like big suggested it's a traction problem, a deeper lug track helps in deeper snow. Are you studded? I know my ovation has little to no lug, something like 3/4" maybe less. But I do have studs. If you have a phazer I, I think that's a 116" track. Can't remember what drivers are on it. My Ovation has a 108" track with a goofy driver set. If you have a PZII then I "think" that's a 121" track. You should be able to find a little better (deeper lug track) used without breaking the bank. Studs are expensive. I picked up a couple bags of the screw in studs made by Bergstrom Skegs a couple years back at the snow show but never used them as I was thinking that my Ovation didn't have studs, but it does. So I still have them.

Take a look at your track and let us know which Phazer you have.

That's my 2 cents. I'm sure there are lots of other opinions.



ND

PS...I'm a Yamaha guy, but that's like the Vex/Lowrance/Bird debate. I also have a 2000 Yamaha SRX and had a 1996 Vmax 600xt. With clean carbs I haven't had a problem with any of them.
 

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Discussion Starter #8
My 87 phazer is not studded. I looked at an early 90's phazer last night that was studded and it ran pretty good, but I ended up passing on it because the seller mentioned it was a rebuilt motor and the spedo didn't work, so the milage wasn't known. I'm sure that sled would have worked out just fine for me, but it was a gamble without knowing the actual miles or who rebuilt the motor.

My 87 phazer motor has over 11,300 miles and it's still running good, which makes me want to stick with the same motor. My sled is at the point where little things are starting to go wrong (like the starter rope just broke). Like I said before, i want a trouble free shanty pulling workhorse. I'll continue my search for a phazer, exciter, venture and see what I can find. In the meantime, I'll fix my phazer and see what I can get for it on CL.

Thanks everyone for your input. I feel pretty comfortable sticking with Yamahas.
 

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Venture...now you're talking... My wife's g'pa had one and I should have bought that for ice fishing. But now it's a niece's... Two-up seat, reverse, e-start and the phazer motor...
 

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I ice fish the Saginaw Bay daily. I have ran everything from old Yamaha's to a 2001 Arctic cat 2 up 440 fan cooled now. I have found that newer sled has more track travel which, along with a studded track, can get you through just about anything. The studded track also kicks up small ice chips when running on bare ice, which keeps your slides lubricated. Fan cooled is always my preference, but if you stay with a smaller liquid cooled motor, that shouldnt be bad either. All name brands are good. Every sled brakes once in a while.
 

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Obviously you know fan cooled vs liquid, etc. I'm suprised the phazer had trouble. That 485 motor is a decent motor in a light sled. The phazerII I think had the regular 121" track. Could be wrong on that. Heck we used my ovation 340 to pull our shanty and myself and MDH out on saginaw bay one time last winter. Little guy suprised us.
I'll add some insight for you too.

We've been riding with phazers in our group for years. That's what I relearned riding with.

1. Out of a variety of sleds, touring, ski doo, polaris and articat, and non touring sleds alike the phazers have always been the best for "busting trail" other than my former old polaris 340, (early 80's with cleated track).

2. Swapping tracks will help. Yes the phazer has a 121" track. I just put a mxz 7/8" lug on my 94 Venture which is merely a phazer with a two up seat and still having the 121" track. it does now bottom out with me on it (215lbs) but not with my 130lb son on it. It does alot for traction. and I"M sure it'll break trail better yet.

3. My old 380 ski doo was our favorite lake sled. deeper lugs, lighter. It was the al around best sled in the fluff, as long as we had speed going. The phazer is better at low speeds, the light ski doo 380 is great at higher speeds.

we have yet to test drive a newer Venture. The older sleds, late 70's early 80's are just plain awesome work horses and with the boggie wheel system are great for breaking trails and toting loads.

If you are lucky you can find a used Scandic or something similar. Ski resorts use these and often times have used ones being replaced. A phone call is great
the older Scandics had high/low range and reverse with electric start. a longer and wider track with narrower ski stance. They were made to work in a variety of ice/snow conditions.

Articat has their version of the Scandic, but other than the under seat storage I couldn't find notable advantages.

The other brands do also, but I don't remember enough to talk intelligently about them. The point being that the ski doo scandic is designed for what you are looking for, but are hard to find due to low production demands, and longevity.

the key: the lighter the better, the deeper the lug the better, the wider and longer the track the better. Electric start and reverse are hard to pass up.

it's okay if your sled hangs out on the rear a little bit on your 8ft trailer.
or even 9 foot.

Air versus, liquid. I like them both for different reasons. 1. if you have an older sled that is air cooled tie a small piece of yarn to the air outlet, so you know when the fan belt breaks so you don't fry your engine.

some folks say liquid aren't as good in warmer weather, some say air cooled isn't as good in warmer weather. the bottom line, I've never seen a stock tuned liquid cooled sled over heat from too warm or not enough snow. I have seen more than one air cooled engine fried over not knowing the fan belt broke. Air cooled is normally more fuel efficient and baring a broken fan belt have proven engine longevity. All of the triple cylinder engines have been questioned for their reliability. The polaris fan cooled 500 class has a reputation for poor fuel milage. My polaris 500 touring (liquid) gets 8 to 11mpg depending on riding style. My ski doo 500 grand touring gets 9 to 13 mpg, the 94 Venture got 15 two weeks ago and 11 last weekend. The articat 440 liquid got about 12mpg, the 2006 Mxz gets 17, my ski doo 380 got 17 my ski doo 440 fan got 12/14, the ovation gets around 15mpg. The articat 500 liquid got about 11/13. All of the sleds have notably better fuel milage when being ridin hard versus putting around.

I"d find another phazer if I was in your situation. They are just plain hard to beat. the last of the mohecains kinda deal.

I may be parting with my 94 venture if I buy new sleds this spring. but that's a big if. it's an awesome phazer with electric start/reverse and two up seating.
 

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Discussion Starter #12
What do you mean by "busting trail"?

Sorry for the dumb question....I'm still learing.
 

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I'd like to comment on slush. Slush will the suck the power and life out of most sleds, most any sled will labor terribly when going thru slush and that goes double if your towing anything.

Yamaha Phazers: IMO one of the top 10 sleds of all time. Everyone I know that has or had a Phazer loved them. Were they fast? not so much but adaquate for they're size. Were they dependable? One the most I've ever seen! Were they a good trail sled? Again, one of the best bang for your buck sled ever built.

I've owned three, 87, 90 and 2001. The 2001 (1999-2001) models were built on the SX chassis platform but had the heart and sole of the old (84-98) pogo stick, head light on the handle bar wonders. If I knew they were going to kill it in 2002 I'd bought another one and saved it.

We also recently purchased a used 2001 Venture, 500 twin but its a liquid. The Venture's are also awesome sleds, ours mirrors the Phazer as far as the chassis and looks go but the electric start, reverse and 2 up seating makes it a favorite around the barn. Depending on the model year I've seen Venture's with the 485 Phazer fan cooled engine, a 500 or 600 liquid twin and even with 600 or 700 liquid cooled triples! :D

Yes, I'm a Yamaha fan, I've had more than a few Yamaha's over the past 30 years and only ever really owed one other kind of snowmobile and those were Rupp's. :yikes:

I've always liked Cat's for looks, ride and performance but get tired of working on them. ;)
 

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What do you mean by "busting trail"?

Sorry for the dumb question....I'm still learing.
Busting trail is making the trail. Riding where nobody else has left usable tracks before you.

some sleds "snow plow" and take time getting up on plane much like a boat in water. Other sleds get right up on the fluff and float across it so to speak.

Another thing to consider is how well a sled swims if you are ice fishing. Some snowmobiles swim well under power, others sink. if you go through the ice being able to swim becomes critical.
 
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