YORKTON - Sometimes when you want a certain snowmobile model they are near impossible to find based on age and rarity.
At other times you have a vision for a certain sled, but a model suiting that vision was never produced.
So what do you do at that point?
Well if you are John Kweens you get out some paper and start designing what you want.
The Churchbridge area snowmobile guru has shown a knack for creating unique sled designs from the ground up, as well as being something of a master sleuth when it comes to searching out parts to simply recreate certain sleds from the snow up.
Kweens had one of his more unusual creations at the second annual Tapps Sports Lounge & Grill car show on the weekend.
Looking a bit like some off-world scout vehicle for traversing the surface of another planet, the machine was actually a scratch built dual track snowmobile.
So why fashion a sled like that?
“I like two track snowmobile. The first snowmobile I ever drove was a ’68 Alpine (Ski Doo) with twin tracks,” he explained.
The sled on display was not his first foray into building a twin tracked sled.
“I built my first twin track snowmobile in 1980,” said Kweens, adding it was largely a flop.
“It weighed too much say,” he said with a smile.
So it was back to the drawing board, the unit on display weighing in at a sleeker 500 pounds.
The ride is also better, with a suspension Kweens said is much like a car in the sense the driver is nestled between the suspension units.
The sled features two 7.5-inch-wide by 114-inch-long lugged rubber tracks made from an 83 9700 Blizzard 16.5-inch-wide track, with 1 1/8-inch strip cut from the middle of the track to centre the drive windows, the tracks flat clips are removed from each track and replaced with upright clips in the opposite way to the other upright clips.
“This allows to have one rear slide rail suspension per track with doubled up wheels, tightener and shock from an 81 9500 Blizzard Plus,” detailed a leaflet on the sled.
For power Kweens turned again to a Blizzard, utilizing a 1981 original 9500 Blizzard Plus Rotax L/C rotary induced engine – type 454. Cooling the engine are two ‘81 9500 Blizzard Plus tunnel heat exchangers.
The driver slips into a go-cart race seat, the effect looking not unlike an F1 race car, with an aftermarket home bent windshield, trim, and motorcycle mirrors.
There is also an aftermarket rear spoiler.
The sled looks sleek, but has its limitations. Kweens said because of the narrow tracks and still somewhat hefty weight once the driver is seated, he sticks to groomed trails, usually only taking it out for the occasional vintage snowmobile derby.
There have been offers on the sled, but Kweens has held on to the ride.
“It’s my favourite because I ride it,” he said.
Other sleds he has built have come and gone over the years.
“People want stuff I build,” he said, adding some of the sleds he built end up being raced, while several have gone into private collections.
So what is next for Kweens?
He’s building a 1978 Ski Doo from the ground up.
“I’m building it for myself …I’m kind of a diehard Ski Doo fan,” said Kweens, adding it will be all original, but put together from parts acquired all over the place – many stateside because there is simply more inventory of original parts to find there. He estimates it will take $15K to access all the parts.
Retired as a millwright, Kweens said building snowmobiles uses his past training and keep him both busy in his tiny shop, and happy with what he creates.