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Adhesives offer secure fastening for competitive snowmobiles

Adhesives offer secure fastening for competitive snowmobiles

Competitive snowmobilers, Snocross racers and XGames athletes have come to rely on snowmobiles from Polaris Industries to help them dominate in extreme racing, long-distance jumping and freestyle competitions that involve dangerous backflips and extensions. The sleds used for these sports are designed for terrain domination, enduring the punishment of full-out driving manoeuvres, high loads and even crashes. As a result, the engineers who build the sleds must be sure they will function reliably under severe conditions and hold tight under stress and at high temperatures.

To ensure that Polaris snowmobiles are able to endure wide temperature fluctuations, hard landings, vibration and extreme impacts while continuing to perform reliably, the company's engineers trust Loctite anaerobic adhesives - specifically threadlockers and retaining compounds - to ensure the safety of the sleds and eliminate any risk of assembly failure.

Threadlockers are used on all threaded fasteners throughout the snowmobile, eliminating any possibility of loosening under vibration. At critical interfaces such as engine mounts, these adhesives permanently secure the threaded fasteners that attach the engine to the chassis. Failure here could mean disaster.

Retaining compounds enable engineers to design robust, lightweight interference-fit joints at a lower cost and in less time than traditional interference fits by reducing the required dimensional precision. They provide strength and reliability, and are being used increasingly in general industry to secure interference-fit parts.

Pro Snocross racer and freestyle rider Levi LaVallee, along with his gold medal winning Snocross race team, relies exclusively on Polaris as his racing machine of choice. LaVallee holds nine Winter XGames medals, including six golds, and holds the world record for the 125.7 metre jump achieved on his snowmobile in 2010. LaVallee attributes much of his success to the reliability and performance of his Polaris sleds.

"The one thing that makes you feel good about doing crazy things like distance jumps and double back flips is knowing that, when Polaris is putting their sleds together, they're using," says LaVallee. "The racers that we're running now are the Polaris IQR600. We've had that chassis for the past few years, and we've had phenomenal results with it, from XGames gold medals to the world distance jump, to winning Snocross championships. It's just a great machine, and it says a lot about Polaris and how strong their equipment is; how well they build their machines."

Polaris engineers specify Loctite products throughout their manufacturing process. In addition to the threadlocking adhesives found on every threaded fastener assembly on the snowmobile, Polaris also has a number of retaining applications. For example, these adhesives are critical on the main bearing interfaces. For bonding the snow drive clutch cover bearings and the moveable sheave bearings, the clutch has to operate reliably in an environment with temperatures ranging from -40°C to +90°C. In this case, Polaris engineers specify Loctite 648 to ensure that the bearings are fully seated and that they retain their position throughout the life of the machine. Loctite 648 high strength bearing retainer provides excellent performance for dynamic, axial and radial loads. The adhesive cures on metals without an activator and cures through contaminants.

For applications in the engine that reach operating temperatures of up to 230°C, Loctite 620 retaining compound is able to endure temperature extremes. Designed specifically for engine applications such as retaining crown shaft bearings, Loctite 620 is formulated to survive higher temperatures than the engine is likely to achieve at its hottest. To accelerate cure time during assembly, Loctite 7088, a non-aerosol primer stick, is applied to the fitting before adhesive is applied.  

When LaVallee attempted his world record distance jump on New Year's Eve 2012, he blasted off the take-off ramp at 100mph, launched through the air across part of San Diego Bay, and touched down forcefully more than 120m later. The sled was fine, despite having come down hard at 111mph from a maximum altitude of approximately 21m on to a landing platform made of metal and wood. After his celebrations, LaVallee jumped back on to the sled, which started up immediately and ran in top form. He credits Loctite threadlockers and retaining compounds for the health of his machine.

LaVallee also shared a very personal application for Loctite retaining compounds that he considers critical to his safety during freestyle competition. During freestyle events, LaVallee defies gravity, flipping his 227kg snowmobile high in the air while performing unbelievable jump flips. In 2013's gold medal winning performance, he completed nine jumps in 75 seconds and nailed huge extensions and perfect landings on a no-hands backflip, a no-feet backflip and a backflip with his hands on the handlebars but his feet off and fully extended to his back bumper. To control his snowmobile and launch solid extensions during flips, LaVallee maintains a death grip on the handlebars.

"If your handlebars rotate forward or back, even just a little after you've clamped them as tight as you can, you can be in major trouble," he says. "Before the competition, I asked Henkel if they could help me stop my handlebars from moving. They suggested using a retaining compound to lock the bars in place, and I haven't had an issue with movement since. Loctite is as good as gold."

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