Scorpion History

A couple things from back in the late 60's and early 70's.

Prior to '65, Trail a Sled made propeller driven snow sleds that looked like the cockpit of a Cessna with a pusher prop. People in the Crosby, MN area probably still have them.

There was a '65 Scorpion Trail, a Sled that had a fiberglass hood and hull. The '65 was in the light green color and came with only a single cylinder 10 HP engine. You could even get a wheel kit for this machine that bolted on to the skis and allowed riding in the summer. The wheels were very small, looked like grocery cart wheels.

In '66 they had 10 HP machine with the JLO engine. The hood was pop riveted on to a metal hull, which made service very difficult. Also it took two men and a boy to pull the JLO engine over. Once a primer was put on the sled, it started fine.

'67 was the first year for the black hull and hood with a red stripe. In '68 Scorpion went to the black teardrop hood. This was also the first year with an 18" track in the lineup. By this time, they finally got the design of the bogies right so that they were reliable.

On some of the machines, you had to take the clutch apart once per week and oil the bushings on the weights and grease the needle bearing on the bottom of the belt groove. If you didn't, the clutch would fail with the weights flying out of the housing. Also, the machine tended to pull in snow to the carburator in deep snow. This would cause the carb to ice up and make the machine suddenly backfire, blowing the mesh in the air horn out at the driver. Since everyone rode kneeling in those days, it felt like a swift kick in the crotch.

They also used Wankel engines. It was a good machine. It sounded different, sort of like it was turbocharged. It was very smooth to ride.

The '71 machine had the 400 cc CCW twin engine, not particularly fast, but a sweet running, good starting engine. This was the first machine that tried to hide the engine behind some cowling. The wedge hood was not very good at shedding snow in deep running. Snow built up in front of the headlight at night. Also, this was the first year of the cast plastic gas tank and they tended to crack a lot.

The nylon recoil ropes on the CCW's tended to break or wear out easily. It was a mess trying to get the recoil rewound. A lot of people just left the recoil off and wrapped a rope around the recoil hub.

Scorpion went back to JLO for some of its engines in 1972, and the twin was a very good engine. The firm in Germany that made JLO engines was owned by Rockwell, thus the JLO-Rockwell nomenclature for similar engines.

The Cuyuna engine, named for the Cuyuna Iron Range in Minnesota, near Crosby, was a buy out by Scorpion to build their engines internally. They bought the tooling from the engine manufacturer in Germany and set up a line in Crosby to cast and assemble the engines.

In the early to mid 70's, Scorpion was the number three selling sled, out selling even Polaris. They became especially popular after the ParaRail suspension, which at the time combined the best of bogies and slide rail suspensions. The advertising slogan at the time was "Look out Cat, Look out Ski Doo, the Big Red One's coming through!"

There was a Stinger nameplate in 1970. It had a red flecked teardrop hood with a small vent grille in the front and was a very hot machine for its day. The Stinger line introduced the cast Urethane track with internal lugs. This track provided much better adhesion to the snow than the rubber tracks. The 71 Stingers could go places no Ski Doo, Cat, Polaris, or Moto-Ski could even touch. It also did a very good job of pulling in other makes of dead sleds. In those days when you went on a ride, you carried lots of parts, tools and a good rope along.

There was one teardrop hull model left in '71. It was on the deep snow machine with the 24" track and was metal flaked red. That machine wasn't very fast, but it could climb a tree.

The fuel crises in the 70's and several winters with very poor snow conditions spelled hard times for Scorpion. In 1978, they were bought out by Arctic Cat, reportedly to give them access to the ParaRail suspension. The line was discontinued at that point, and Arctic Cat almost went under a few years later.

A special thanks to Bruce Kettunen for helping us out with the History section.

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