Tech's IC sled goes through the course for the handling event.
Michigan Tech’s Clean Snowmobile Challenge teams were taking a break from the action last week, showing off their sleds to the public. It was a good competition so far, especially for their internal combustion (IC) entry.
It was one of only four out of twelve to complete the endurance run of forty miles at the Keweenaw Research Center (KRC), then a Copper Harbor run. This boded well for overall points in the international competition. (The other schools were UW-Madison, UW-Platteville, and Clarkson.)
Warm weather this night and over the weekend is not a good thing, according to IC team leader Dylan Truskolaski, a third-year ME from Rush City, Minnesota.
“It hurts the cooling,” he said. “We have to work to keep it cool, which is important.”
Truskolaski got to drive the machine to Copper Harbor and said they had worked out many of the bugs in the sled, which was a holdover from last year.
The team had taken a base Polaris 750 CC two-stroke, made is lighter with better ergonomics and aerodynamics, he said. The team of twenty-five had spent many hours (“working every night”) on custom exhaust and intake mechanisms, among many other modifications, including one major change. (They would hit a few bumps in the road and not finish in the money Saturday.)
“They took a four-stroke engine and put it into the two-stroke chassis,” said advisor Jason Blough, ME-EM associate professor. “It was a really good effort.”
The four-stroke would make it quieter, and their result, and the zero emission (ZE) sled, both were impressive to Blough, and the judges, he hoped.
“They are really first prototypes, raised to the production standards of the companies,” he said. “And the rules were changed substantially this year.”
Not surprising, then, that all the ZE sleds had to be retooled to pass muster for the judges after the technical inspection. Four schools were cleared to continue, including Tech’s entry.
Greg Smiarowski, a fifth-year ME from Lapeer, Michigan, was the ZE team leader and one of four ME’s and four EE’s who teamed up on the machine. They worked out the bugs by working late into the night.
“We want to show them what we can do, instead of just talking about what we can do,” he said.
Greg emailed me after the competition was completed.
"We made it through two events Saturday morning but then broke down for the last," he said. "We ended up getting third place overall."
"We have a lot of work to get done for next year's competition," he added. "We want to show up with a very competitive snowmobile next year that may place in the top two. We do have a lot of work ahead of us, but we are a very hard-working group that doesn't give up and will strive to do the best we can."
I'm not surprised, and I wouldn't bet against them.
Snowfall Totals UPDATE
Total to date: 130.5"
On the ground: 25"
In the last week: 3"
Total last year: 150"
On the ground: 14"