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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
So, I just picked up a '96 Grand Touring 580 with low compression for an insignificant amount of money - mostly because of the positive responses from members on various forums. Previous owners have indicated that they felt this sled was solid with a reliable engine. We did a top end on our '84 Polaris Indy Trail 440 with marginal results, so looking at doing a top end on this sled didn't seem like such a big deal. But, after talking to the service manager at a highly rated shop, I somehow feel less confident. The first question was, does the sled have sentimental value? He quoted $100 to estimate the repairs, and if it only needs the top end, $700-$1000. He said if the bottom end is burned up, then it may be more reasonable to look for a used replacement engine to swap.

My thinking was that a quality model sled with a new top end is a better option than a used sled with an unknown condition engine etc. Comparable sleds in our area will get about $1500. So, I'll put it to the community. Is it worth fixing? Seems that most people who buy sleds and ride all the time are accustomed to doing this kind of work on their machines; it's part of the experience. High performance machines need maintenance and require rebuilding.

I need a machine like this one, with electric start and reverse to haul people and stuff up to our cabin in the winter, one that is reliable and relatively inexpensive(I am not interested in the cost of a new snowmobile).

Is it worth fixing?
 

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Top end for that sled, even if you had to replace the cylinders, should be at most $800 for parts. The key there is how bad the cylinders are, simple hone and new pistons/rings and you're looking at less than $400.

Yes, anything that involves crank work is likely to cost $500 just for the crank work and could drive the cost up to $900-1400, which would not be worth it in my view since you can get a running 583 machine for less than $1000 that would require less work.

There is one thing that needs to be figured out, is why it lost compression. Until you get the pistons out, you may not be able to tell.
 

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I picked up a '95 GT 580 because it was mint. Sat in a barn for 15 years. Needless to say the o-rings were gone in the head, I needed to rebuild the carbs completely, I opted to replace the pilot and main jets just for peace of mind. The sled runs o.k. but the compression was uneven from side to side. It will be getting a hone and some NOS rings this summer. That being said it's a joy to ride and I find it's my go to sled even with the old enhanced C7 suspension and being a little down on power. The carbs and top end work are cheap compared to a new sled. So if you like to tinker and don't mind investing in an old machine I say go for it. I've since added a '94 GT XTC to my fleet, I'll have to wait for snow to see how it rides.

Sent from my SM-G930W8 using Tapatalk
 

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How long has it been since the engine ran reliably? Crank shaft seals and rotory valve shaft seals are common failure on those engines. And then what if you get it apart to find out that the crank bearings are bad? I'm not trying to be all doom and gloom, but I've been so through it with these barn finds and such. If you can do the work yourself it may be worth it, just know what you could be getting into. If you have to pay someone to rebuild the bottom end of the engine... unless they're working real cheap it's probably not worth it. Hopefully it truly does just need a top end. That's super easy on a RV motor.

My advice is if you can't do it yourself, part ways with it, take what money you would be willing to put into an engine job and put towards a good running ZX chassis or even a 550 REV.
 

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Considering the recession we're into, the sled has no value. Only way to do this is to do the work yourself. Get a service manual and Take motor apart. Decide from there.
 
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Discussion Starter · #6 ·
Hey guys, thanks for the advice. I have no way of knowing how long it's been since the thing ran reliably. It has 2019 registration on it, and the guy I got it from said he rode it in January/February 2020. Of course, that means nothing. It took some coaxing to get it started, and we drove it on and off of the trailer. The compression tested at 100/100 when pulled by hand with the throttle wide open.

Since I'm not into turning wrenches any longer, any sled that I get will be in the shop when it needs work. So, the short answer is to get it in there and discover what needs to be done. For a hundred bucks, the guy said they'd get the top end apart to have a look at the cylinders etc, and put a camera in it to check the bottom end. Seems reasonable to me.

Keeping things in perspective: my wife buys $200 worth of plants, planters and dirt in the spring without batting an eye, and a brake job on the 18 year old Toyota took $700, so spending up to $1000 to bring a good sled back doesn't seem so bad. Any sled will need work at some point, right?
 

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$3k is probably the worst it could be to get everything right but you will have a sled that is somewhat reliable
 

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How long has it been since the engine ran reliably? Crank shaft seals and rotory valve shaft seals are common failure on those engines. And then what if you get it apart to find out that the crank bearings are bad? I'm not trying to be all doom and gloom, but I've been so through it with these barn finds and such. If you can do the work yourself it may be worth it, just know what you could be getting into. If you have to pay someone to rebuild the bottom end of the engine... unless they're working real cheap it's probably not worth it. Hopefully it truly does just need a top end. That's super easy on a RV motor.

My advice is if you can't do it yourself, part ways with it, take what money you would be willing to put into an engine job and put towards a good running ZX chassis or even a 550 REV.
This. ^^^^^^^^^^^^

Need to be able to do the work yourself to make this workable. You could also part out the sled you got on the chaep for some extra cash to put towards a running sled.
 

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Discussion Starter · #9 ·
Anyone have a solid running 2up sled with a new track that they want to sell for $1000? I need one by December.
 

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That is true, any sled will eventually require repairs. IMO the real question is what is the condition of the rest of the sled? I guess it must be fair enough for you to consider fixing it. The fact that it has recent registration is a good sign, it's much easier to revive something that ran recently as opposed to several years ago.
I guess maybe I misunderstood your first post, I thought you were considering the work yourself.
I don't think I could bring myself to pay 700-1000 for a shop to do a top end on one of these. It could be done in a couple hours. Top end kit less than $300. Even if the cylinders need to be bored oversized that should be under $200. Not trying to knock your shop, they need to make money. But I do know some shops will quote high prices on work that is less desirable to them, such as engine jobs on 25 year old sleds.
 

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Hi Stealth Bomber, thanks for the thoughtful reply. The sled is in pretty good shape for it's age. The track looks like it's nearly new, no tears in the seat, electric system seems to all be working(only an indicator light for one of the hand warmers is out, or not working). May need a battery. Skis will probably need some work. Though, I don't go out on 30 mile rides, so the skis are less urgent and I will do those myself. The thing crunched something on the front end and the hood has a little damage at the hinges, but it doesn't appear to have damaged anything in the engine compartment. The hood opens and stays open just fine, and is not otherwise cracked. This would be used to transport people and gear to our cabin up a third of a mile road. Once the trail is packed in, it's a no-brainer.

I hear ya'. I used to do my own brakes on the car too, and it kills me to drop $700 on a brake job. Things here are expensive. The economy is stronger in Colorado than most parts of the country, even with the current events. Obviously, that shop isn't hurting for work.

I can't believe that everyone who rides is also a mechanic. Certainly there are people who take their snowmobiles to the shop. Perhaps, I need to look for another shop or a mechanic that needs the work.
 

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I think many people on here are mechanics on their own toys, that’s what brings them to this site. Average Joe might be a dentist by day, but on the weekends he wrenches on his own older sleds because he’s paying his kids way through college. His coworker doesn’t have kids so he buys new sleds and has never heard of dootalk. Get what I’m saying? I think you would do well if you could find a local gear head that does it for a hobby more so than a living. In my shop a top end on that sled is $100 plus parts and we have a couple beers when ya pick it up. But I’m a long, long way from Colorado, lol.
 

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I didn't see any mention of mileage. That would be a key bit of info on the decision concerning overall condition. Also you might consider a second opinion. The opinion of compression that is. Many gauges are not accurate. I guess if you could ride it for a short time, and was able to get it running ok, you could just ride it as is. The lower compression it might have is not going to just kill the motor on ya for the short trips you intend.
 

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Hi Scott, the mileage is 47xx. Once I can charge the battery, I'll check the compression again. Were you suggesting that my gauge was reading higher than it actually is, or lower? It's terribly difficult to start. The guy said he'd cleaned the carbs, but I question his abilities based on his seemingly lack of knowledge about snowmobiles.

@Stealth Bomber, I guess what I was looking for was more input on the quality of this model of snowmobile, whether it could be a reliable ride for our purposes. According to Saber it will take $3000, though I don't know if that means to the level of reliability to take on a 200 mile trip, or up a third of a mile road. Frankly, I have friends that wouldn't be caught dead on a sled like this. They take their sleds backcountry in tons of feet of snow to ski. I'll ask him if he knows a mechanic.
 

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Discussion Starter · #15 ·
Charged the battery today, pulled the plugs and retested compression. Got a little over 110/110 on the starter. Found another shop that sounds a little more interested in working. We’ll see what happens.
 

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Saber here - when I said 3k$ I was putting out a # for has high as it could get. See when you start restoring a sled you just always find more and more issues like a new track or the crank has to be replaced.

Have someone pull the top end and check the ring end gap and cylinders. Make sure the person has the factory specs. Your compression is on the low side so correct bores, new pistons and rings fixes that. Disassemble carbs and thoroughly clean especially the pilot jet. Fresh plugs and fresh gas. She should start easily. Less than a grand.

Use non ethanol gas with stable from now on considering how little you use it.
 

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Discussion Starter · #17 ·
Sure, I got it. I wouldn't say that I'm restoring this sled. I'd like to bring it back from the heap and make it useable for my needs. It looks to have a near new track. Don't think I have the nerve for a full rebuild, so it comes down to the diagnosis.

Thanks for the sound advice.
 

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Let us know how it goes
 

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It sounds as though the OP realizes everything costs today and doesn't mind spending some money to have it fixed. As in the example with the brake job, yes a significant amount can be saved doing stuff yourself, otherwise someone needs to make money doing the job. Considering the sled was picked up cheap and is in good shape otherwise, spending money on a rebuild makes sense. A reputable smaller shop should be able to save you some money over a dealer, and honestly my local dealer would not be very interested in the job. Three years ago I had a question about a 99ish sled, and the guy told me they hadnt had anything in that old for a long time. People won't spend the 100 an hour range, and usually do themselves or find a small shop or side job guy.

Since the engine hasn't actually "blown", this is a good candidate for a top end, and no need to worry about any contamination or damage to the bottom end. Get the best price from a shop you feel confident in and go for it. Beware of the fly by night types that advertise on local classifieds and are working for cash etc. Without taking the bottom end apart, you will be taking a bit of a risk as there is no way to know for sure its full condition, but chances are good you will be OK. In this case, thats what I would do. Still a cheap sled in the end, and if it does what you need it to do, thats all that matters.
 

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Discussion Starter · #20 ·
Thanks, turbopete. Great advice, and thanks for the pep talk. Buyers remorse sets in quickly with broken stuff!
 
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