What I learned about putting a Gator 825i on tracks
I was considering purchasing tracks for my 2012 Gator 825i. I had some atv tracks from a CanAm atv I had and sold late last year. I was thinking the tracks from the CanAm might work on the Gator. So I actually made the anti-rotation brackets for the front end, and never drove the Gator with the tracks on it, but had it sitting on tracks in the shop for a couple weeks. Then I thought I better ask some questions in case my engineering was going to cause damage to the tracks or the Gator. I called the guys in Oregon, ATVtracks.net. Talked to Kevin.
First, I told him about attempting to adapt the ATV sized tracks to the UTV, for snow use only. He said (roughly quoting now) that the tracks would be undersized for proper flotation. Sure, that made sense to me, but not a real show-stopper cause I can always keep the trails groomed anyway so flotation is secondary to traction for me. Next he pointed out that the weight of the Gator would be harder on the lightwgt ATV tracks than the ATV was. Makes sense, not as many boggies, not as wide of boggies, half as many bearings, etc. He said "think pizza cutter" because eventually the track would have grooves from the boggies and the pressure. OK, another slight drawback, I thought. Then he pulled out the big guns. It seems that the Gator has a differential action from back to front. When it is set in 4wd, 5% slip by the rear axle causes power to be transmitted to the front axle. This explains why, when going uphill in snow, I look down at the front wheels and they are not spinning, but the rear ones are spinning. And if I drop out of 4wd, the rear ones spin more and I stop if the snow is deep enough. If I put tracks on, the rear ones would do most all the work. My old CanAm atv had a gear-connected rear-to-front driveline, so when in 4wd, both axles were driven at the same speed. Kevin looked something up and came back and told me that the way Camoplast works around the Gator differential issue is to ship tracksets with different size drive cogs in the back compared to the front. I think it was 18 teeth rear, 17 front, which is about 5% faster in the back, conveniently. This way, both rear and front axles pull about equally thru the tracks to the ground. I thought that was really good thinking, and convinced me to sell the CanAm Atv tracks, and later buy the Camoplast Tatou 4s UTV tracks for the Gator. Perhaps I could make the ATV tracks work, but perhaps I would ruin something in the Gator driveline or prematurely wear out the ATV tracks. so the decision is made.
Thought it would be good to document this stuff this Spring, before I forgot most of it. Now I know where to look it up when I wonder "why did I do that?"
Re: What I learned about putting a Gator 825i on tracks
I'm amazed at how well my buddy's Polaris Sportsman goes with tracks, it's an absolute animal in groomed snow or not. 99% of the time he is in 2 wd even in ungroomed snow so I'm not sure that the 4WD issue would really be one. I can see the tracks getting cut up and not enough bogies but I think the differential issue would be OK.
That being said I was on the fence about buying a set of tracks for my 825i myself, after a lot of thinking and drooling I decided to go with a separate snowmobile instead....the Gator on tracks will be very slow....unless you have a cab you'll freeze half to death and they sit so high on tracks that clearance begins to be an issue on some less than perfect trails....going around corners with a sled coming the other way also concerns me. Although I'm very impressed with his 4 wheeler with tracks I think having a SxS and a dedicated snowmobile is better for my application.