Need Some Advice About Our Remote Cabin Property

IMPossible

New member
Hello All! I've spent many hours lurking through these forums and really appreciate everyone that contributes to it!

We seem to be in somewhat of a pickle. We recently got a cabin property that is high up (9800 feet) in Utah. We're somewhat experienced to long snowmobile journeys because of previous cabin that we had, however, the path to this cabin is filled with crazy drifts and powder and it's proven to be difficult to get to on snowmobiles. This messes up a lot of plans because if we can't easily get there in the winter, there will be less reason to build a cabin up there considering there's snow on the ground 6+ months out of the year.
After doing as much research as I can on here, I personally believe that a snowcat will be able to get through it quite easily, but I wanted to gather some opinions from people that have a lot more experience than I do.
I will attach some files of the various paths that we can take on Google Earth. The below figures are from google earth.

Path 1: 5.8 miles, Max slope of 16.8%. This follows the highest point on the mountain basically the whole way up and so is the longest and gets a lot of wind and drifts.
Path 2: 4 Miles, max slope of 38.3%. We haven't taken this way yet on snowmobiles, but it is in a valley/canyon and so theoretically will have less crazy drifts.
Path 3: 2.5 Miles, max slope of 39%. This is just a shortcut of path 2 that goes up a small valley on the side of the mountain
Path 4: 1.6 Miles, max slope of 53.2%. This is just a short(er)cut that goes up a steeper small valley.

All paths are ungroomed and untraveled. We break trail on all of them. Paths 1 and 2 follow a dirt road while 3 and 4 break off the dirt road to go up little side valleys.

We're looking to only spend as much as we need to on a snowcat that can transport a lot of gear and people up one of these trails (preferably the shorter ones). We also don't want to buy one that is immediately going to break down or need a lot of work. We're willing to put in the work for maintenance etc. but would prefer it to run well initially. I thought a plow would be helpful if not necessary for all the drifts that we've run into as well as clearing the property a little bit once we have the cabin. I found one snowcat that's still available nearby.

It's a 1974 sv-301 SkiDozer with a passenger cabin and blade. It has 1965 hours on it.
Here is the link to that: https://classifieds.ksl.com/listing/62777400
We don't necessarily need to get a snowcat for this winter as its almost over, however if the above cat is a really good deal or a cat that meets our criteria doesn't go up for sale very often we might be able to figure something out.
If we don't get a snowcat this winter we would like to figure out how to get a snowcat out on the property to verify that it can make it easily. Any ideas on how to get someone up there with a snowcat to try it out or how to rent one?

Thank you in advance to anyone willing to give us some advice!

For those that have google earth pro downloaded to their computer, right click one of the paths and click on "Show Elevation Profile" to see the elevation.

(As a side note, we picked up an IMP several months ago, but it broke down on the property our first trip out, it still runs, just won't drive, hence our name IMPossible. Lucky us. We will likely grab it in late May or June when the snow melts and sell it to upgrade to a bettery snowcat)
 

IMPossible

New member
It wouldn't let me attach the path files as they were (.kmz files) so I had to zip them.
Here they are:

The property is located just above Clear Creek, UT (Scofield area). The shorter paths go up Finn Canyon Road. The longer path starts where hwy 264 and Tough Springs Road intersect.
-Connor
 

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redsqwrl

Bronze Member
SUPER Site Supporter
I believe the advertised incline is within the climbs you intend to make. The ski dozer is a stout machine. it appears to have the proper prep done and appears to be priced right for the market it is in. around here in the midwest that machine is not desirable due to its width and price. An imp is pretty competent machine. I feel for you breaking it first time out. Cats are not bull dozers and do take a bit of finesse to operate. I use the term operate as opposed to drive. enjoy the process of becoming a snow cat operator. I tried many types out to see what works for my needs. I found out they are like shoes. it takes many to be prepared for all adventures.
 

PJL

Well-known member
Agree with redsqwrl on the Skidozer, but pushing it up hill and trying to shove a pile of snow might be quite a challenge. The LMC1200 I operate has the same engine and transmission. It weighs about 8,000 lbs with crew and fuel. Just recently I had it completely stalled trying to push through 3-4 feet of fresh heavy snow on a gentle grade. No blade. Just ran out of power. That was about 2,500 feet or so. Now factor in 9,800 feet and you have even less power. But in your favor I think your high altitude Utah snow is much lighter than my low elevation "Cascade Concrete" snow which is very heavy and wet.

Not trying to talk you out of the Bombardier.
It's a heavy machine to start with, now add the blade and full cabin and wide tracks. The wide tracks will help with floatation some. Mine are narrow.

Some SV-301 discussion here.

Just my 2 cents.

Just had a thought....

Tracked UTV? Kinda spendy but much lighter.


RZR 800 is mine. AlryA has the Boss. No heated cab though. The RZR floated on top of the snow.
 

IMPossible

New member
Thanks for the replies!
I've looked into tracked vehicles, specifically a suzuki with tracks but it didn't pan out. I also looked into ATT tracks on a jeep cherokee as an option as well but with the limited info I found on tracked vehicles, it looked like a snowcat could hold more people and gear through deep powder. I have very limited experience with snowcats and no experience with other tracked vehicles.
I have thought of a tracked UTV however I didn't know how well they do compared to a snowcat in deep powder. We also eventually want a vehicle that can easily bring up large groups of people with the whole fam (little kids). If needed we can always run the cat up and down the mountain and make the path before loading full of gear to pack it down. Eventually I imagine that we'll have a tracked UTV as well.

So is a blade unnecessary? I've tried looking at youtube videos to see cat performance and most of them are groomers and so have a blade. If we don't need a blade then great. How does a cat go up a steep drift or down a steep cornice without a blade? Also if there is a large slant due to a drift, what kind of angle can a cat operate at?
 

PJL

Well-known member
I don't have a blade. Hopefully someone that does will offer some advice.
 

alryA

Active member
I have much expeince with tracks on UTV's, ATV's and we own a 6x6 with pods today, which is there real name. I've also operated a PB 400, 100 and a Panna. I also test operated a jeep equipped with America Track truck pods.. But I'm not sure what this makes me an expert of anything!!! I would say that Japanese mini truck's tend to be under powered for track usage. I see that SVX1000 does have 100 hp but I'm not at all familiar with that brand.
 

PJL

Well-known member
What about transport? Will you be trailering it? the 301 is heavy and over 8 feet wide. Will need permits to be legal.
 

Loneoutrider

New member
A thought to add to your challenges! Is there a trail going up the two short routes that is wide enough for the snowcat?
If not, will you be allowed to open one up? Is the property up the canyons Forest Service, BLM, state owned, or private?
Also what depth snow are you anticipating?
Your comment on the sloping drifts and the cat sliding sideways is something for owners of the different machines to respond
to. My Thiokol TrackMaster does ok on what I have been up against, I have not had my Snow Master on anything sloping and drifted yet, but I think the Herringbone track should do as well.
One last question. Will you be using whatever route enough to create a base or will you have to break a new trail pretty much every trip?
 

Cidertom

Chionophile
GOLD Site Supporter
My input: If you have significant sidehill drifts, then I would strongly suggest a blade. Or a pontoon Tucker. But with your desire to operate not repair/ rebuild, Tucker not so much. It's just too easy to have a hard layer under the surface of a drift, and by the time you know it, it may be too late.
 

Blackfoot Tucker

Well-known member
GOLD Site Supporter
Welcome to the forum!

In my experience with high elevation snowmobiling in Utah, I have never gone somewhere in a snowcat I couldn’t get to in a snowmobile. And I’ve been a lot of places in a snowmobile a snowcat couldn’t get to (I’m not talking about going through closely spaced trees). That experience is with Polaris RMK sleds, which have long tracks and big engines.

There was a forum member named Utah Wilson who had a cabin I believe in the general area where your property is. He had a Snow Master and never achieved what he wanted to with it. I think he would be a good guy for you to talk to. I met him when I looked at the Snow Master after he decided to sell it, but unfortunately I don’t have his contact information. You could try using the forum search function to find some of his posts, as well as potentially sending him a PM...

I own some property in NW Montana on a small lake and a neighbor had used a Polaris Ranger on tracks for a few years to access his home. He offered it to me at a very reasonable price, and I bought it. I took it to the same location in the Uinta Mountains in Utah my snowmobile buddy and I test our snowcats, and the Ranger on tracks was, in one word, pathetic. It’s performance was so poor I decided it wasn’t worth keeping... and I sold it. Maybe a RZR on tracks is better, but I sincerely doubt it has the deep snow capabilities a snowcat does, and I have yet to see a side by side on tracks with an effective blade.

When it comes to snowcats and blades, don’t think of it like a snowplow, or a bulldozer. Think of it as a tool for reshaping or contouring the snow. There are also different blade types. For example, straight blades and U-blades, as well as blades that tilt off the longitudinal axis of the snowcat. That feature allows you to cut a level path across a sidehill. Virtually all of my experience is with Tuckers, and within that brand I would strongly suggest you get a long track model. Tuckers have evolved over the years (maybe in some ways devolved) and somewhat obviously newer machines tend to be more expensive. They also tend to be heavier, which I don’t think is a good thing. Earlier Tuckers had steel tracks and “pontoons” which are very capable, but the parts for the track system are hard to find, and really expensive when you do find them. They are also maintenance intensive. I don’t think many steel track Tuckers were built with factory installed blades. The next series of machines used rubber belts and steel grousers, and these are the ones I have experience with. They were offered in different cab styles, different track lengths and different track widths, as well as different engine and transmission options. Six-way blades were a factory option, though they are fairly rare. Tucker then went to a cab forward design and “Terra” tracks which are all rubber. Due to customer demand, they again started offering the previous rubber belts and steel grouser setup instead of Terra tracks.

You didn’t mention this in your posts, but are you looking to carry more than one other person? If so, then you should give consideration for both how many people, and their comfort level. If the passenger portion of the cab is segregated, such as the Skidozer you provided a link to, is that rear cab heated? How will you communicate with them? I personally don’t care for that setup in that I’d like everyone in the same cab, so we can share the experience and talk. You did mention carrying “gear”. Can it be out in the open, or does it need to be in an enclosed area?

As far as buying a used snowcat, I would caution you not to focus too much on price. One of my sayings is “The cheapest snowcat is rarely the best value”, and I think that is absolutely true. In my experience you are way better off spending a bit more and buying one in much better shape. Parts can add up fast. Believe me!!!

Where to find them? Craigslist, ksl.com and ebay are sources, as are dealers such as Peterson Equipment in Logan, UT and Snowtrans in Weiser, ID. (There are other companies that sell used machines that I'm not aware of.) In the western US, Tucker sells direct to the customer and sometimes they have used machines they’ve taken in on trade. But that said, my impression is they ask TOP dollar for anything they sell. Further away you have the mid-west and east coast Tucker dealerships of Track, Inc. Used snowcats do show up on auction sites such as Ritchie Brothers, JJ Kane and various governmental auction websites. Unfortunately, there are some people who “flip” snowcats and they can be (in my opinion) overzealous in representing the condition and capabilities of the machines they are selling.

I understand your desire to get a machine to test in the exact conditions you’ll be facing. Honestly, it makes perfect sense, but it’s a tall order. I don’t know anyone who will rent you a snowcat for a couple of days at a low cost.

Lastly, and this is a touchy subject on the forum, many of the manufacturers are no longer in business. That can make getting parts challenging, to say the least. In some cases you are trying to source a part in marginally better condition than the worn out part you’re trying to replace. I think buying a snowcat made by a company that has been out of business for decades is something worthy of consideration in making the purchase decision. Others will likely disagree....
 

Cidertom

Chionophile
GOLD Site Supporter
Welcome to the forum!
Lastly, and this is a touchy subject on the forum, many of the manufacturers are no longer in business. That can make getting parts challenging, to say the least. In some cases you are trying to source a part in marginally better condition than the worn out part you’re trying to replace. I think buying a snowcat made by a company that has been out of business for decades is something worthy of consideration in making the purchase decision. Others will likely disagree....
BFT summed it up. Really Really well. The caveat I would mention is on older cats no longer supported. Most (?) of the engines you can get parts for. Some of the components are fairly easy to make. But, some cats used specific parts to that cat and nothing else. (read: ST-4 variator). Brake bands: you can redo or have done. Belt tracks same. Involved castings or similar, be handy with the lathe and mill. I figure 1 hr maintenance for every 10 operational. Some newer cats much less than that. some Kristies it is the reverse. You might want to look at small communication companies. Some rent usage or services. have them try to get you where you want to go. and see what works.
 

mtncrawler

Bronze Member
GOLD Site Supporter
I owned that SV301 years ago. It is heavy and wide. It also has aluminum powder grousers and a NP 205 transfer case that allows low range gears such that it never runs out of power. It has a strong steering differential. In Colorado powder it will out climb about everything but a ski area groomer, which of course it once was. If you don't have to transport it much, and you have the trail width, I think this would make a great cabin cat. I have no idea what condition it is in anymore, and I think all snowcat seating needs to face forward, but I think it's worth a look for your situation.
 

230 Pilot

Member
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1boringguy

Well-known member
GOLD Site Supporter
Welcome IMPossible,

There is some great knowledge and experience here on the forums and looks like some valuable thoughts already shared. I'm not in the same class, this is only my third winter owning snowcats, but I'll share a recent experience.

Last weekend I made the trip into an old mining town that some friends have cabins at. The route is just simply the blm dirt road, nothing a pickup has trouble with in dry conditions. There is a longer alternate route in that has to be used occasionally in winter because drifting and blowing makes the route over the top impassable. There was about 18 inches of new snow up there last week and wind had blown the summit almost bare and had caused drifting just down from there. The snow condition was not champagne powder, but fairly loose. An older couple, 60s, with two snowmobiles, one pulling a small sled, spent a hour a half getting repeatedly stuck and concerned about ending up in the bottom of a large bowl downhill. Behind them came an imp and a br100. The imp spend another couple hours going forward and back packing/building a path without a blade. A blade would have made this chore magnitudes of order easier and safer. Mind you these are people who have gone in and out of this route for decades and were never in any imminent danger, just a pia. Obviously a snowmobile like an RMK with an aggressive rider can go many places a snowcat never will, that doesn't sound like your intent use case though.

I have a long rubber belt tracked Tucker and a two track Patrol, 9000 lbs loaded, with 44 inch wide tracks. I haven't been able to have them out at the same time/conditions so can't offer a good comparison. But I can tell you the that I have been in conditions numerous times where the Patrol was sinking in 6-8 inches and to step out I would sink in over my knee and almost that even walking in the packed track path. Temps had warmed and the snow was a bit more consolidated the next day when I went up to see my friends, but I had no problem with the patrol even though the drifts were mostly rebuilt from the drifting after they had gone through. A blade adds weight to the front end that affects the balance of the machine but if you would use it most of time, I would definitely have it, with tilt capability. Another thought is that the grousers on the Patrol are twice the length of my Tucker or Skidozer, in marginal snow depths that's kind of a liability, in deep snow conditions certainly an asset.

I my limited opinion, the 301 seems like your thinking is on the right track. And I agree with BFT, if you're not into wrenching, spend a little more for one that's in great shape due to truly low hours or someone else's many hours rebuilding.

Another thought, it might be worthwhile to get ahold of someone in the area who works on snowcats and pay for a couple hours of their time to go with you to check out the cat you get serious about as they will be better at spotting issues.

They all get stuck at some point.

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Red130

Member
Good posts above. I groom cross-country ski trails in an area that gets a lot of snow and wind. When the snow is new and very deep, I break trail with the blade and grooming attachments up and make one more passes just track-packing. But if your chosen entry route is on a slope and prone to drifting, eventually those drifts might turn the road into a dangerous cross-hill. At that point the only way to safely proceed is to blade the road flat again. A U-blade can carry more snow and is the preferred tool,, but a straight blade will work for opening roads too. Also- I haven't looked at your Google Earth routes, but be sure to evaluate for potential avalanche problems, either locally or up above your route.
 

m1west

Well-known member
GOLD Site Supporter
I have much expeince with tracks on UTV's, ATV's and we own a 6x6 with pods today, which is there real name. I've also operated a PB 400, 100 and a Panna. I also test operated a jeep equipped with America Track truck pods.. But I'm not sure what this makes me an expert of anything!!! I would say that Japanese mini truck's tend to be under powered for track usage. I see that SVX1000 does have 100 hp but I'm not at all familiar with that brand.
My Mittsubishi mini cab van is Supercharged, makes 84 hp and 64 foot pounds. Fully loaded will take a 25 degree slope no problem, has plenty of power. I also use it for cabin access at 6500 feet. Im not sure about deep powder though. Heavy wet snow it floats no problem. It has Mattrcks EZ UTV tracks, there is about a 24" gap between the front and rear tracks. They also make EZ Maxums that are longer and would make it completely tracked. My Psi is .68 on the van. The Maximums would bring that down to about .5 Psi A good snow cat has about .5 psi.
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jo5

Member
My Mittsubishi mini cab van is Supercharged, makes 84 hp and 64 foot pounds. Fully loaded will take a 25 degree slope no problem, has plenty of power. I also use it for cabin access at 6500 feet. Im not sure about deep powder though. Heavy wet snow it floats no problem. It has Mattrcks EZ UTV tracks, there is about a 24" gap between the front and rear tracks. They also make EZ Maxums that are longer and would make it completely tracked. My Psi is .68 on the van. The Maximums would bring that down to about .5 Psi A good snow cat has about .5 psi.View attachment 135302View attachment 135303
I run in a similar area and have for years I’d stay with a snowcat gets pretty lonely when you have problems the wife screaming the kids crying
the other vehicles mentioned have their uses also have there limitations particularly in deep snow without a firm base they high center easily
had trackmasteres emps 1201 A 1201 C 1500
the 1201 C was really good
the 1500 with blade does really well I have that now
I won’t really want one any heavier are wider now
overall it’s doing me the best job
 
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