My interest in the restoration of Vintage Snowmobiles started in 1989 when I acquired a 1975 Arctic Cat 340
Z. This sled took about two years for me to complete and shortly after that I became acquainted with other
vintage snowmobile restorers. It was from then on that snowmobile restoration took on a new meaning to
me. To date, I have restored 14 sleds and I have spent considerable time looking for the ever-elusive King
Kat. In January 1999 I found a 1971 800 CC, 4 cylinder King Kat within 7 miles of home. The sled had
apparently been left out in the weather for at least the last 15-20 years. It was not a pretty sight! The pipes,
gauges, clutch and outer cylinders were missing. Other parts, seat and cover, windshield, skis, belly pan and
track had to be replaced.
I was extremely fortunate, as the previous owner had been able to find enough engine parts to almost
construct a new engine. They were purchased with the sled, and the building of a new engine commenced.
Everything went well until it came time to install the last cylinder and it would not fit into the crankcase. The
connecting rod was bent. The engine was disassembled and the crank was taken to an expert to have the rod
straightened and the crank re-balanced. The second time the assembly was completed without any problems.
The job of restoration was started by first removing every rivet, nut and bolt. The salvageable parts were
degreased, sanded and painted. Rust and deterioration of the internal parts are always a challenge. All 4
diaphragm Mikuni's came with the sled but the internal replacement parts were badly rusted. i.e. the welch
plugs had all rusted and had actually fallen out. NOS carb kits were obtained and with many hours of soaking
and cleaning, the carbs were made serviceable.
Tuned pipes were purchased. These pipes were reproduced to original factory specs and are no doubt better
than the OEM. A NOS track was located in southern Ontario, a used seat cover was located, and after a trip
to an Upholstery Shop, was suitable for use. A repro fiberglass belly pan was purchased in Minnesota.
The biggest problem turned out to be the hood. The hood had suffered severe damage and after sitting
outside in the weather for countless years, the fiberglass had begun to separate. All the damaged area had to
be cut out and reformed, this time consuming job was done at a shop in Winnipeg, Manitoba and took
numerous hours. The sled had to be taken to the shop 3 times for "fittings". Finally, the bodywork was
completed and a beautiful paint job applied.
Small parts, odds and ends were either found on the Internet, or through word of mouth. It is amazing the
number of NOS parts or good used parts that are still available, but it does take time to locate them. Quite
often the only way you can make a deal is by trading one of your much-prized parts for the part you need to
complete your job. The barter system is alive and well in vintage snowmobile restoration.
Due to the limited production of this particular sled (124), it wasn't too difficult to trace the original owner of
the sled. This sled was originally purchased in Steinbach, Manitoba and raced by a local gentleman. After a
year it was sold and went to Dryden, Ontario where it remained until about 1995 when it was purchased by a
man who brought it back to Manitoba. The sled spent the next four years in the back of a parked semi
trailer. It was there I first seen the sled and later was able to strike a deal for it. I was able to track down
the first owner of the sled and contacted him. He was very interested when he learned his old sled had been
restored. He attended the Canadian Power Toboggan Championships in Beausejour, MB., March 2000, where
the sled was on display, and numerous pictures were taken of him with his old King Kat, which he had raced
in 1971. I can still hear him saying "I SHOULD NEVER HAVE SOLD THAT CAT!!!"
This article was submitted to the Canadian Snowmobile Historical Museum and it was published in the first publication of the
MEGAPHONE. Names have been omitted for internet web site use. DON McLENNAN
|Canadian Snowmobile Historical Museum
To be a community of people dedicated to leadership, in the collection, restoration,
preservation and the displaying of Snowmobiles, along with the History and all related
memorabilia. Click on the logo to email for more information on this association.
OAK BLUFF, MB
|This page last updated February 22/2015
|Restoration of My 1971 King Kat 800 4 Cyl
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