Clean snowmobile run set day too soon

Kurt Hauglie/Daily Mining Gazette Participants in the Clean Snowmobile Challenge get their machines ready for endurance testing Tuesday at the Keweenaw Research Center.

FRANKLIN TOWNSHIP — The participants in the Society of American Engineers Clean Snowmobile Challenge were supposed to ride to Copper Harbor on Tuesday, but trail conditions prevented that.

Jay Meldrum, director of the Michigan Technological University Keweenaw Research Center at the Houghton County Memorial Airport where the Snowmobile Challenge is taking place, said the endurance run to Copper Harbor was canceled because the warm weather the last few days have made the trails too soft for the competition.

This is the 14th year for the Clean Snowmobile Challenge, which was created as a way for engineering students at universities in the United States and Canada to work out methods to make snowmobiles quieter, more fuel efficient and produce fewer exhaust emissions.

Meldrum said there were 24 teams in gasoline, diesel and electric sled categories at this year’s competition.

Since the teams couldn’t make the run to Copper Harbor, Meldrum said the endurance run would be held on the KRC test course near the airport.

Andrew Palardy of Kettering University in Flint said his team was at its fourth CSC.

“In the past, we’ve done relatively well in the gasoline class,” he said. This year, Palardy said the Kettering team brought a diesel snowmobile, with which they’ve been having trouble.

“We had an engine fail yesterday,” he said.

The engine the team has in its machine is from a Smart car, Palardy said.

“It was designed by Mercedes-Benz, so it’s hard to work on,” he said.

Palardy said the diesel snowmobiles aren’t made for speed but rather to do work, such as towing heavy loads.

“The diesels are more for utility,” he said.

One of the teams in the competition was from the University at Buffalo in Buffalo, New York, and team member Andrew Kruger said the university has attended all of the Clean Snowmobile Challenges.

Kruger said the team is working on fuel efficiency, low exhaust emissions and reducing noise.

Much of the work the CSC teams do to reduce noise is more likely to end up in production for working in such places as forests, not for consumer models, Kruger said.

“The average performance enthusiast is not going to care about noise,” he said.

On Thursday, CSC participants will take part in noise and emissions testing, and Saturday the teams will be taking part in acceleration and handling events at the KRC test course.