Gearing up for snow season

by • October 18, 2016 • ASSA IntroComments Off on Gearing up for snow season146

Dust off the winter toys and be ready to play

Another season of snowmobiling and SnowRider is fast approaching. Welcome to the Alaska State Snowmobile Association’s periodic vehicle that we utilize as a tool to communicate as much information about snowmobiling in Alaska as possible.

As always when you see the first seasonal edition of SnowRider, you know summer has wound down. I am writing my first column at the same time I am working on which fishing tales of the Seward Silver Salmon Derby to tell. Once again, the closest I get to the leader board is to take a picture of it as I curse the weather and fish gods. But I digress.

Cindy and I are fortunate enough to have a cabin close enough to the river system that we only trailer our boat about 500 yards per trip, and we ride our snowmobiles right from the yard. When we are talking about taking a boat to Seward, that is another subject altogether. As I inspected the boat trailer in anticipation, I discovered that the brake system was completely rotted away. I can only imagine the entertainment that I would have provided oncoming traffic up and down Turnagain Pass as the boat shoved my pickup truck wherever it decided it needed to be at that moment. So this weekend will be dedicated to gaining OJT experience in replacing entire brake systems on a large boat trailer.

What does my neglected boat trailer have to do with snowmobiling, you might ask?

It’s a reminder that preseason maintenance matters. As I mentioned, we snowmobile right from the front yard. But on the occasion that we do go outside our Susitna River envelope, we load the snowmobiles on the trailer and tow away. Hmm, wouldn’t it be better to take a look at your snowmobile trailer while it is still light enough and warmth warm enough to make repairs while you can’t see your breath? That stroke of genius hit me as I was paying for the neglected boat trailer parts. (In my defense, this boat/trailer is new to me, so my liability is limited. I am sure that would have reassured the oncoming traffic I mentioned earlier.)

After becoming an expert on the brakes my boat trailer utilizes, or will utilize, the next project will be a complete inspection of the snowmobile trailer brakes, axles, tires, undercarriage and hitch system. It may even get a new jack if my memory from last year’s trip to Arctic Man is correct.

Since the snowmobiles are stored on the trailer as well, it is a perfect time to give them the once-over as well. We all know that they were perfectly fogged, greased and washed after last season, but still. In the past, I have advocated making this a family event with everyone being tasked with either one complete machine or having responsibility for one or two items per machine. That used to be a good idea when a) the kids were smaller and still listened to you and b) when the better half was only semifamiliar with the mechanical and maintenance schedule the factory sends with the unit. These days, I am faced with a) kids who disappear the moment a grease gun or soap bucket comes out and b) a wife who knows enough to make sure you have done every item in the service manual up to and including pulling the secondary clutches and greasing the speedometer sending unit on every sled in the neighborhood, including the neighbor who argues with you on the best way to carve powder. Counter steer, don’t counter steer, you know that guy.

End of rant.

For those folks who belong to associate clubs in the ASSA family or have individual memberships, welcome to another year. I hope I don’t bore you too much. SnowRider will be appear regularly in your mailbox this season. Thanks to the Caribou Cabin Hoppers and the Anchorage Snowmobile Club for supporting this exercise in patience that comes with reading my ramblings.

I have been asked what was involved with being an associate club. The associate club program was developed to spread this newsletter and our membership as far as possible. Normal dues for ASSA membership are $20 per season. When a club elects to become an associated club, they agree to add $10 to the local club membership, which is sent to ASSA. In return, ASSA covers the other half of the dues and enrolls each club member into the membership listing. Each club member is automatically sent SnowRider, and can hold his/her state association responsible for advocating their position on statewide and local issues. Additionally each associate club has the option to stake out a page or two in SnowRider to trumpet the club accomplishments as well as highlight member stories. So, please, send us your happenings, so we can give them the publicity they deserve. Photos are always appreciated, too.

For those folks who don’t belong to an associate club or have an individual membership, this may mark the last SnowRider you get. We will be editing the membership role on Oct. 1 to make sure we are as current as possible. I would encourage you to encourage your club to become an Association Club with ASSA so that SnowRider, insurance benefits and your representative voice continues. I would appreciate an opportunity to visit each club to enhance this communication, so if there is a chance to visit and gather information, please let me know.

— Kevin Hite, president Alaska State Snowmobile Association

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