Dear Ralph: My cousin and I own Arctic Cat Powder Special sleds, mine is a ‘99 and his is a ’98, but are nearly...

Dear Ralph:
My cousin and I own Arctic Cat Powder Special sleds, mine is a ‘99 and his is a ’98, but are nearly identical. Both of us have had issues with the rubber knobs on the inside of the track breaking off in chunks. It is only affecting the two inside rows and is opposite the side the driver grabs hold of. Could there be a problem with the metal suspension rubbing on this area? I have looked it over and find nothing rubbing in this area. Is this track useable long term or should I install external drivers to save the track for it full life use? The paddles are in good shape and no bars are showing. It happens at about 2000 miles on both sleds.
Dan Gross

As far as I know, this is not a common problem on those sleds. The first and most obvious would be improper track alignment causing physical contact somewhere that is leading to the damage. If the alignment is proper and you’ve inspected the suspension to verify that there are no clear mechanical interference issues, I’d really tend to think it is due to the track being too tight. This is more likely since we’re talking two sleds, not just one. If this was the case, the track could be bowing in the middle as it comes past the upper rear idler wheels, and then these lugs are contacting something in the suspension. Since it is only happening on the inner sets of driver lugs, this seems logical. Also, since you state it is “opposite the side the driver grabs hold of”, the trailing edge of these lugs would be the leading edge on the return path up in the tunnel, and up top where the upper idlers are is where this bowing would occur. I would believe there should be some sort of “witness marks”, evidence of rubbing or catching, somewhere up in the suspension. This is my best guess. Chances are when you were looking for interference or contact, you were looking at the bottom of the suspension, not up in the tunnel.
As for the track tension, there should be about 1.75” of free hang in the middle of the track when you raise the rear of the sled off the ground. A good rule of thumb is to loosen the track until it ratchets lightly, then tighten up the adjusters a couple of full turns and tighten the axle bolts (re-checking alignment, of course).
As for continuing to use the tracks with external drivers, I’d be concerned with the ends of the rails contacting the extroverts at full compression, as this is a known problem with pre-2004 Cats using external drivers.

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