How often should i replace my primary drive belt? - Snowmobile World : Your #1 Snowmobile Forum

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post #1 of 5 (permalink) Old 01-11-2009, 04:54 PM Thread Starter
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How often should i replace my primary drive belt?

Ok, I finally got some snow and took the sled out for its first test ride. Everything works as it should accept for the CVT transmission changing sizes. When I would get on it real hard I would be doing around 40 and be at 8000 rpm. I could watch the rpm's go up and down a little and the sled would want to accelerate but it was just mostly burning the drive belt. The last time this sled was ridden before I bought it was in 1995, so the belt it 14 years old, and it looks to be a little bit dry rot. with the machine up on a stand the pulleys will change size no problem, but I'm thinking that the old belt just isn't being gripped and causing a lack of performance.

I'm going to replace the belt as a preventive measure anyways, but was wondering if there are any other gremlins that i should look at while i'm at it? I'm probably going to buy a Gates Xtreme since its a high horsepower machine unless anybody has a favorite that they swear by.

Also, how do you change a primary belt? I don't have the owners or a shop manual and haven't been able to find a website with it posed on it yet.

Happy Sledding


Newbie: 1987 Polaris Indy 600, Bored to 720 with billet racing pistons and high rev clutch, Gates Xtreme, Kimpex Plastic Skis, ODI Downhill Grips, UNI Pod Filters
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post #2 of 5 (permalink) Old 01-11-2009, 07:51 PM
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Put the brake on and then simultaneously push in (toward the airbox) and twist the inner sheave of the secondary clutch clockwise to open it up. Hold the sheave with one hand (or better yet get someone to hold it) while you pull the belt into the bottom of the secondary. Then you can work the belt out over the top of the clutch. Once it is clear from the secondary then remove it from the primary. Reverse the procedure to put the new belt on. It will be very obvious what you have to do once you start.

Replace the belt depending on age, distance traveled, and type of riding you do. I usually get about 4 to 5000 miles out of a belt but I maintain my clutches very well. This is on 600 RMKs with approximately 110 hp. I replace them more as a precaution rather than wear because I am worried about the belt "drying out" and grenading. I would not ride with that 14 year old belt on.

You can get a copy of a manual by checking this thread by j_lutter31
98 polaris manuals

Even if your sled is not in those years it will be similar in the clutching.

The older I get the better I was; In fact now that I think about it I am a legend.

Last edited by retiredpop; 01-11-2009 at 08:13 PM. Reason: add remark
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post #3 of 5 (permalink) Old 01-11-2009, 09:58 PM
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Pop gave you solid advice. I would agree that time has a lot less to do with replacement than use, but especially care of the belts. I usually run a belt for two or three years and get 5000 +/- miles out of them. Single incidents involving too much heat/slippage are far more important in their ruination than is the time they are used.

I tend to have as good or better luck with OEM belts as I have with aftermarket types. (You know you're getting a belt with all the right dimensions with the OEMs. The aftermarkets are usually sold by length and width with the angle rarely, if ever, mentioned.)

That old belt is probably a liability. Certainly a new belt is warranted. If that were my machine, I'd certainly at least pull the cover off the primary to check the untensioned condition of things there. I'd also pull the secondary apart to look things over inside.

Here's a link with some useful stuff about clutches if you're not completely familiar:

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post #4 of 5 (permalink) Old 01-11-2009, 10:57 PM
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When I change a belt, I take a chunk of old belt a couple inches long. As you push the belt into the secondary, put the chunk of belt in, that way when you peel the belt off, the sheaves stay apart, so when you put the new one on, there's no fighting to hold the sheaves open...

2007 RMK 700, 2008 RMK 600, 1995 AC Prowler 2-up, 1980? AC Cheetah
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post #5 of 5 (permalink) Old 01-13-2009, 10:48 PM Thread Starter
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Thanks for the replies guys. I pulled my drive belt tonight and took a peek at it. It was about to separate from a crack between two of the ribs, the tops of the ribs were burned as well as the sides. From what I read on the Gates snowmobile website it did (or was about to) fail from wear and old age.

I'm going to clean the pulley faces with some 600 grit sandpaper and clean them down with some brake cleaner to make sure they are clean and dry when I put the new belt on. I also am going to pull the air box and grease the jack shaft bearing and main shaft bearing, as well as hit every zerk i can find on it.

I was also taking off the remains of the worn out wear bars and discovered that the bottoms of the skis look like swiss cheese, and where they aren't holed are rusted and severely pitted. I ordered a set of kimpex plastic skis as there was obviously excessive friction preventing the machine from sliding freely.

Having read more about clutches and the cvt system, specifically the driven pulley and its "feedback" it is probably perfectly normal to be at 7000 rpm at 40 mph in foot deep powder because the machine is keeping its self "geared down" because of the load, it was just the burning worn out belt that was being a problem.

The track moves freely and will free spool at idle with the rear blocked, and with no load the pulleys will very quickly move through the speed range so everything is free. I have gotten the rpm's to drop on hard pack when I get on it, once the belt stopped slipping and hooked up

I'm going to be away for work for about a week so I'll have a project waiting when I get back, and I will update then, and try and get some pics with the low windshield that's coming with everything else:-)

Newbie: 1987 Polaris Indy 600, Bored to 720 with billet racing pistons and high rev clutch, Gates Xtreme, Kimpex Plastic Skis, ODI Downhill Grips, UNI Pod Filters

Last edited by Bored 720 Indy; 01-13-2009 at 10:52 PM.
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