Getting the Ranger ready for cold weather
October 21, 2014
First came the cabin frame from Black’s Corners Motorsport to replace the original “roll bar” and screen on the Ranger TM. Turns out the stock cabin frame on early 2000’s Rangers wasn’t ROPS certified, so dealers had to install more robust frames for commercial use. Steve had three still in their original packages in his warehouse, so he sold me one for $250.
Then came a Kijiji purchase, a leftover metal roof ($150) from the dealer in North Bay. A centre-mounted mirror came from eBay for about $60.
As summer faded into fall I started to look for a windshield. The cheapie I picked is built from 3/16″ Lexan, ($256 from Extreme Metal Products). Then the exhaust fumes forced the dog to hang her head out into the slipstream, so the rear half of the enclosure was in order.
I had used spring clamps and red duct tape to hold the stern cover off our old sedan cruiser in place on Tony’s Ranger 500 last winter. This worked surprisingly well for ice fishing, so I ordered a pair of rear windows online at the lowest price I could find, $40 USD. The rather flimsy plastic in the new rear cover led me to suspect that it will likely break from impact during the winter, but if it does I’ll sew in a heavier vinyl panel from a boat canopy shop. The canvas portions and velcro straps should work well to hold a more durable rear panel.* (See update below.)
The Ranger’s definitely more liveable now on dog-walks in rainy or cold weather.
A new battery from Ward’s Marina in Kingston ($165) gives the starter a lot more torque than before and should help in cold weather. The guys at the counter were surprised when I asked for parts for a TM. They had thought their red 2004 TM was the only one in the area. Used on the lot as a tow vehicle since new, theirs has 1300 hours on it with just normal maintenance.
“They’re bulletproof,” the owner commented.
*UPDATE: 7 November, 2014
I had to move the rear window down a couple of inches on the cabin frame in order to block exhaust fumes which were permeating the cabin from below the seat back. The $40 rear window is a couple of inches too short-waisted to do its job properly. When I get around to it I’ll screw on a 9″ strip of plywood or metal to fill the gap between the bottom of the cabin frame and the lower edge of the rear cover. Then it should work fine. With the device lowered to where it shows 3″ of air below the cabin roof the fumes are no longer a problem, though it’s not a viable long-term solution. Next time I’d buy a more expensive model ($65.) which appears longer in the illustrations online.
UPDATE 7 December, 2014
It took a piece of 1/4″ plywood 59 7/8″ X 16″ to seal up the stern cover. The plywood sits on the frame and just under the black canvas of the stern cover. It does not interfere with the operation of the dump box. I drilled two oblong holes for the lower velcro straps of the stern cover to go through and over the plywood and still hold the roll bar in a death grip.
UPDATE 13 December, 2014
My friend Tom Stutzman handed me a roll of boat-cover-vinyl left over from the top on his pontoon boat. It looked to be about the right size and shape, so I clamped it into place to block air flow on the right side of the cabin. Next stage was to trim the small amount of excess vinyl and fasten it into place. The hex screws which hold body panels to the frame of the Ranger didn’t mind another layer of vinyl beneath their broad heads. The clamps stayed in place for now. Black duct tape presented a visual barrier for the spaniel who objected to losing her access route to the Ranger’s seat.
This may seem a bit extreme, but it’s a lot warmer in the cabin for the dog. As long as I don’t take the Ranger onto a lake, what’s the harm?