2009 trail deluxe 550 engine rebuilt - Snowmobile World : Your #1 Snowmobile Forum
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post #1 of 25 (permalink) Old 10-09-2011, 01:16 PM Thread Starter
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2009 trail deluxe 550 engine rebuilt

I just got my 2009 tail touring deluxe with the 550 fan cooled engine back from a top end rebuild at the dealer. The engine blew and he put new cylinders and pistons and other small mods to it. It was done on warranty and I have zero miles on it since. I am thinking of trading it off as I do mostly solo riding in remote areas and I dont feel I can trust it. I was told when I bought this new that the 2009 that Polaris had the problem fixed with lean mixtures and overheating and the engines were bullet proof. This was not the case. My question is how many of you have had the newer sleds and had these problems and would you trust the rebuild on the motor
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post #2 of 25 (permalink) Old 10-10-2011, 09:47 PM
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Well, there are many many posts all over the internet that these motors are fragile. It's pretty hard to know what the percentage is though - this is a pretty popular engine. If I was stuck with one I would increase the main jet size by 2 sizes and make sure the idle air screw is on the rich side. On a hot engine, if the idle hangs and takes more than a few seconds to drop to 1500 RPM, it's lean. For maximum safety, it probably shouldn't hang at all. Judging idle mixture like this can be misleading becuase if your belt is tight the idle won't hang even if it is lean, the belt quickly drags down the idle, but it's a pretty good rule of thumb.

To directly answer your question, I would ditch the 550 because fan-cooled engines are so low in power compared to liquid cooled. A liquid cooled 600 will give you double the horsepower with acceptable gas mileage and, in my opinion, much better reliability.

But if you like the fan-cooled advantages (primarily being able to run on ice and hardpack snow without overheating the motor), I would rejet richer and keep what you have. I don't think any of the other fanners are any more reliable. The only thing that keeps these things from blowing up is the jetting, and if your fuel isn't fresh and of top quality, you're not going to last long no matter what.

Which brings me to one of my personal soapboxes. If you're not running at least 87 octane in there, and the fuel isn't all fresh, you're in trouble. I always use 91 octane or better in all my sleds ever, and I have yet to burn a piston in hundreds of hard rides. Higher grade fuel burns cooler and more controlled, period. Some people claim it causes problems like hard-starting, but I have seen no evidence of this ever. Premium only costs 10% more - I strongly recommend it, especially if you are not comfortable with changing the jetting yourself.

In any case, get your fuel from a high-volume station. Getting a bad tank of gas will put your right back in the shop.

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Sleds -
2015 Summit SP 600 E-TEC 146"x2.5"
2000 RMK 800 @ 151"x2.25" soft paddle, 19/40/9T
1999 RMK 700 @ 151"x2" hard paddle, 19/41/9T
1992 Indy 500 Chassis, piped 700 engine, Mesh Hood, RMK Skis, 136"x1.75" hard paddle, 18/40/9T

History -
1990 EXT Special 530 @ 136"x2.25" finger, 18/39/8T, Camoplast skis.
1996 Vmax 600 Mountain Max

Last edited by Beaxch; 10-10-2011 at 10:00 PM.
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post #3 of 25 (permalink) Old 10-11-2011, 10:13 AM Thread Starter
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Thanks for the reply Beaxch. My engine had the typical blow up, running steady at 35 MPH for about 6 miles, then a different sound like a rattlle or knock. I let it idle for a few minutes and limped it home. The compression had dropped to around 120 PSI and would no go into reverse with out dieing.Most of my riding is done on lake riding in powder snow at 30 to 40 MPH and no high speed stuff. The 09 had the oil pump vented to the oil tank, vent in the lower cowling, insulated muffler, and whatever else Polaris did to fix the problem. I am 60 years old and this sled has never been riden hard or abused so why the problem. I run regular gas that is 87 octane in Canada and up to 10% alchol.and Polaris oil. For 2000 ft ALT the jet size calls for a 260/#4 main jet. I am not sure what is in it from the factory. I thought I was buying a reliable sled for my type of riding, Has anyone got suggestions for a replacement sled that is "bullet proof" and very reliable. I ride in a wilderness are and dont need a 20 mile walk to get home.
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post #4 of 25 (permalink) Old 10-11-2011, 11:33 PM
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No high performance engine can survive running too lean and/or detonating. So anyone who tells you that a certain sled is bulletproof is giving you misinformation. Some people might suggest a 4-stroke model, but I guarantee you bad fuel will kill them too. If you want an extra 100 pounds and half the horsepower, go for it. It won't solve your problems but all the extra weight will tax your body and hurt your ride quality in almost every way.

A rattle or knock at the top end means detonation/preignition. This is usually from fuel quality but can easily be jetting. Combustion temperatures slowly built up over your ride until the overheated piston/cylinder/head began causing the fuel to ignite too soon. If the fuel was more than a few months old, if it came from a bad gas station, if there was water in it, if there was varnish in your carbs from leaving gas in them over the summer, any of these could have caused it. Simply being jetted too lean from the factory is a real possibility. 120 PSI isn't far from stock - and compression testers vary so you may not have lost much or any compression. It sounds like it didn't overheat but rather began to preignite the fuel, causing damage to the heads and pistons. But preignition can be caused by excessive combustion temperatures too, which again can be from bad fuel or lean jetting.

My point about premium 91 octane or better is it's a bit of a safety buffer. The engine runs cooler all the time, ignition is at a lower temperature, so these "heat buildup" conditions are far less likely. Even if you get a gulp of water in the gas, it's not already close to the bleeding edge so it's more likely to survive a temporary lean condition. If it loses an octane point from sitting too long, you're still at a safe number. Premium's main purpose is to prevent preignition/detonation and you had preignition/detonation. Problem -> solution.

The jetting charts and factory jetting are lean so that they can pass emission standards. They are jetted intentionally borderline. I would bump those jets up. The jetting chart *still* may not take E10 into account, which requires 2 jet sizes bigger. The alcohol also allows water to be absorbed, causing it to run even leaner. The #4 is the needle position. You might want to verify that it's actually at #4, which is the second richest.


Here is a quote from page 61 of your owner's manual:

The carburetors are calibrated for an altitude of 0-2000 ft. (0-600 m) and
ambient temperatures from +5 to +25 degrees F. (-15 to -4 degrees C.).
Carburetors must be re-calibrated if the snowmobile is operated outside
this production temperature and/or altitude range. The main jet installed
in production is not correct for all altitudes and/or temperatures.


So if you were riding at temps below -15C, you were jetted too lean from the factory.

The fan cooled sleds are the cheapest and most prone to these problems. I wouldn't buy one, but they can be made reliable if you want to put in the effort. If you are willing to spend more money, most of the liquid cooled models have EFI nowadays. If you don't want to mess with carbs this is your best bet. These motors blow pistons becuase they are running lean, or else bad gas causes detonation. They are extremely simple, this is not a mystery. All of today's fan cooled snowmobile engines are basically the same, based on old and proven technology. You didn't break a crankshaft (that would be a design flaw), you overheated and/or detonated a piston. It's not an engine flaw, it's either fuel quality or carbeuration. Blowing a piston has never happened to me because I set up my sleds slightly rich and always use premium fuel (yes, with E10), per the advice of my wise professional mechanic friend many years ago.

It sounds like an EFI or SDI liquid cooled sled, pretty much anything you like from Skidoo, Arctic Cat, or Polaris would be better. The computer does the jetting for you with EFI or SDI. If you don't like computerized injections, you need to take charge of your jetting and start doing plug tests to ensure proper jetting. You may not think you need the extra power of a liquid cooled motor, but more power means you don't need to push the throttle as hard so the engine doesn't work as hard and lasts longer. But bad fuel and/or improper storage will always cause these problems.

Believe me, I understand your situation. Most of my best riding areas are a 25 mile trail ride away from anything but bears and cougars. Check out any of my 100 Youtube snowmobile videos - I am well aware of the extreme risks involved. That 10% extra fuel cost doesn't seem like much in that context. But I also would never ride alone. I suppose if there were really no alternative I would, but I would stick close to civilization. Even with an indestructible sled, this sport is too dangerous to ride alone.

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Sleds -
2015 Summit SP 600 E-TEC 146"x2.5"
2000 RMK 800 @ 151"x2.25" soft paddle, 19/40/9T
1999 RMK 700 @ 151"x2" hard paddle, 19/41/9T
1992 Indy 500 Chassis, piped 700 engine, Mesh Hood, RMK Skis, 136"x1.75" hard paddle, 18/40/9T

History -
1990 EXT Special 530 @ 136"x2.25" finger, 18/39/8T, Camoplast skis.
1996 Vmax 600 Mountain Max

Last edited by Beaxch; 10-12-2011 at 12:38 AM.
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post #5 of 25 (permalink) Old 10-12-2011, 10:03 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by pinemartin View Post
Thanks for the reply Beaxch. My engine had the typical blow up, running steady at 35 MPH for about 6 miles, then a different sound like a rattlle or knock. I let it idle for a few minutes and limped it home. The compression had dropped to around 120 PSI and would no go into reverse with out dieing.Most of my riding is done on lake riding in powder snow at 30 to 40 MPH and no high speed stuff. The 09 had the oil pump vented to the oil tank, vent in the lower cowling, insulated muffler, and whatever else Polaris did to fix the problem. I am 60 years old and this sled has never been riden hard or abused so why the problem. I run regular gas that is 87 octane in Canada and up to 10% alchol.and Polaris oil. For 2000 ft ALT the jet size calls for a 260/#4 main jet. I am not sure what is in it from the factory. I thought I was buying a reliable sled for my type of riding, Has anyone got suggestions for a replacement sled that is "bullet proof" and very reliable. I ride in a wilderness are and dont need a 20 mile walk to get home.
After changing my jets for the 50th time on my '87 El Tigre I made a vow that I would NEVER buy a carburated sled again - only EFI. The price for having the wrong jet is either bad fuel economy and fouling plugs if it is too rich or burning up the engine if it is too lean. The colder the air going in the more oxygen it has, so the more fuel (richer jetting) you need. The warmer it is the smaller of a jet you need - mine I needed to change about a 20F temp change. What a pain!

With EFI they have a computer that controls how much fuel goes into the engine based on sensors. The computer also monitors the engine temps and starts to play with the timing and can give you a warning light when things start to go bad. Much more reliable for a just jump on it and go kind of application.

Of course with the new EPA regulations the days of carb sleds are done anyway.

You may want to check out the new 600 ACE engine that Doo put out last year - 60hp 4-stroke. I haven't heard of many problems with that one. One of the reasons that I went with the 600sdi when I bought mine was the track record of reliability for the engine. I have 4150 miles and my only real problem is a small leak on the pto seal - 2 hours of work to replace the seal (not knowing what I was doing) and it was good to go again. The 600 e-tec from doo is also supposed to be very reliable.

The yammi 4-strokes all have very reliable engines but they are very heavy sleds. If you are off-trail by yourself a long ways from help that may not be a good thing. If you only do trail riding they may be worth checking out.

I don't really follow the Polaris or Cat engines - I know some of their bigger engines have some reliability problems (ie Pol 900cc twin) but I really can't say on the rest of them. Cat has switched to almost entirely 4-stroke this year but I think that is for EPA emissions reasons, not reliability or performance.

I still really like my 600 Renegade - it is a really good all-purpose sled that only breaks when I hit something...

Good Luck!
dave

Waiting for snow again...
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post #6 of 25 (permalink) Old 10-12-2011, 07:27 PM Thread Starter
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thanks for the information

I am 61 years old and started snomobiling in my teens. This is the first engine of the many makes and models I have ran over the years that has had the total top end done on it. I do check the plugs often and have had a nice tan brown color of proper combustion, ie: fuel and jets correct size. {It has a 250 main jets in it now and #4 slot}. I was doing nothing different than any other day. The temperature and conditions were no different than any other ride. This seems to be something that seemed to happen out of the blue. It was more like an air lock in the oil pump and was starving on oil. I always keep the oil tank topped up on oil after each ride. The is a common problem with this motor and has happened to lots of other people as well. This is why Polaris changed the whole top end weather it need it or not. Any Polaris I owned in past years has been well engineered and trouble free. My sled before this one was a 96 Polaris XLT 600. Not a lick of trouble in 13 years and still going strong for the new owner. I have been looking at a Yamaha Venture lite 500cc 4 stroke 2012 model but have not closed the deal yet, Anyone have warnings or suggestions on this sled.
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post #7 of 25 (permalink) Old 10-13-2011, 11:28 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by pinemartin View Post
I am 61 years old and started snomobiling in my teens. This is the first engine of the many makes and models I have ran over the years that has had the total top end done on it. I do check the plugs often and have had a nice tan brown color of proper combustion, ie: fuel and jets correct size. {It has a 250 main jets in it now and #4 slot}. I was doing nothing different than any other day. The temperature and conditions were no different than any other ride. This seems to be something that seemed to happen out of the blue. It was more like an air lock in the oil pump and was starving on oil. I always keep the oil tank topped up on oil after each ride. The is a common problem with this motor and has happened to lots of other people as well. This is why Polaris changed the whole top end weather it need it or not. Any Polaris I owned in past years has been well engineered and trouble free. My sled before this one was a 96 Polaris XLT 600. Not a lick of trouble in 13 years and still going strong for the new owner. I have been looking at a Yamaha Venture lite 500cc 4 stroke 2012 model but have not closed the deal yet, Anyone have warnings or suggestions on this sled.
Sorry - could not tell from your posts how much 2-stroke experience you had...

I have nothing specific to that sled.

I have a friend with 3 Yammi 4-strokes - an '04 RX1, '06 Attak and '08 Nytro MTX. He has over 25,000 *hard* miles combined on the three sleds. The only engine problems he has had were self-inflicted. The major one was with the '04 - he threw a stud through the cooler and ran it out of green juice in the middle of nowhere. By the time he limped it to somewhere he could pick it up he had overheated it so badly it burned up the valves and gaskets. (He was trying to treat it like an overheating 2-stroke - didn't work). He rebuilt the engine and it has run like a top ever since. The '06 he ran into a tree and the voltage regulator (mounted WAY in the front of the nose cone) disconnected itself and quit charging the battery. Just like a car when the battery ran down he was done until he connected it again and got a jump start. Always interesting to have to jump-start a sled!

I think the Yammi 4-stroke engines are as bullet-proof as you can get. If you don't mind the weight they are not bad sleds. Keep in mind the rest of the sled is still just a snowmobile. In that 25,000 miles he has had plenty of the 'normal' breakdowns - jackshaft bearings, chaincase seal leaks, cracked heat exchangers, worn out bushings, burned off hyfax, broken arms in the rear suspension, etc.

dave

Waiting for snow again...
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post #8 of 25 (permalink) Old 10-19-2011, 09:15 AM Thread Starter
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Thanks for te information Dave ,I appreciate you input and the report on the yahama 4strokes. I am concerned about the weight factor, it is 56 lbs heavier than my Polaris 2 up trail and that thing is heavy, although I never did get it stuck enough I couldnt get it out by myself, it had good traction in deep snow.Do you have any other recomendations what might be a good sled for my type of riding?
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post #9 of 25 (permalink) Old 10-20-2011, 10:00 AM
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Just my take on things right now...

Arctic Cat is going through a transition where they are starting to make all of their own motors instead of using Suzuki - at the same time they are switching almost exclusively to 4-stroke. They have been making their own 4-stroke engines for their atv line for a while - not sure if the same engine/line are going into the snowmobiles or not. Personally I would wait a couple of years to see how things shake out before going with a cat again. For what it's worth I was die-hard cat back in the late 80's and early 90's.

Polaris you have already looked at - I assume you are not interested in going with them again.

You may want to take a look at the Doo Tundra or Skandic. They have some models that come in the 600 ACE (4-stroke) model that are under 500lbs dry. I think you can get a 2-up seat for them as well. You can check out the forums at dootalk.com - there are a couple of forums you can search for reviews on the engine/sleds. Here is one for a review of the Tundra 600ACE (you need to create a login to see pictures - well worth it) - http://www.dootalk.com/forums/index....owtopic=408708 I think the 156" track versions come with an articulated rear suspension - you can actually back up in deep snow without getting stuck! Or maybe it is the Skandic - I don't remember...

Yammi makes good sleds with really good engines but they are heavy and don't handle as well as the other sleds. There is a reason they added power steering last year - they need it! Also added something else that can go wrong and another 18lbs to the sled. I wouldn't get one but lots of people like them. Try really hard to get a test ride on one before you buy.

Good luck and let us know what you decide to go with!
dave

Waiting for snow again...
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post #10 of 25 (permalink) Old 10-21-2011, 08:24 PM Thread Starter
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I bought a brand new 2009 artic cat bearcat a week before I got the Polaris Dave. The starter drive didnt work from day one. almost impossible to get into reverse, and when the side cowling melted and dripped all over the muffler, That was the last straw, stopped the check and returned it to the dealer and got the polaris. That may not have been the best decision but seemed right at the time. I have been looking at the tundra too, so may be an option. I wish honda would get into the sled industry. I have a honda goldwing 1800 motorcycle, what a reliable machine that is.
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