The Pickle: In the day of early snowmobile manufacturing, the name of the game was coming up with distinct shapes and colors. Skiroule first started building their distinctly green snowmobiles in Wickham, Quebec in 1966 and did so for 11 years. They produced around 20,000 units for the 1970 season. When you see Skiroule green coming down the trail or at a show it’s very eye catching. Many of the old timers called it a snow-pickle.
The RT-500 came with a nice flip-top fiberglass tilt forward hood so you could service the drive train. Skiroule’s hoods were held down by coiled spring latches. Sometimes old plastic hoods got very brittle just like a lot of the plastic fuel tanks, but not so with the fiberglass hoods. Also, the plastic hoods were hard to fix well enough to make them look good again if they ever broke. Another plus on the Skiroule was the 5.6 gallon plastic forward-mounted fuel tank which is easy to clean and service.
The power came from a German-made Hirth 493cc 28 hp 2-stroke air-cooled twin cylinder motor. Fuel was supplied through a Tillotson HD 28-A carburetor with a fuel return system. The steel drive clutch used four kidney-style weights. When starting the engine, the drive clutch made a loud rattling noise until the motor was up to speed.
A three-angle cam-driven clutch provided great power transfer to the track. The 1.5-in. wide drive belt was great for better cooling and durability. Most other snowmobiles came with a narrower drive belt, but as clutch systems got better it was determined the use of a wider belt with more durable material worked best.
The clutch guard was made of fiberglass which really worked well. There was also a nice aluminum chain case. The brake was a wide pivot-mounted friction pad pushing on the stationary driven sheave. This worked fine until grease or oil got on the pad.
One noticeable difference was a coil spring on the lower part of the steering post to absorb the shock load, a unique creature comfort for its day.
All manufacturers were trying to figure out the best size track for all applications. They ranged from 7 to 30 inches wide. This one has a 19-inch wide 6-ply rubber track with steel rods and clips to drive on. This was a heavy, inflexible track which took a lot of horsepower to make it spin. With this wide track they marketed it as a safer snowmobile, less likely to tip over.
They put together three sets of greased bogey wheel assemblies with about four inches of travel in the rear suspension. A nice wrap-around rear bumper made for easy holding on for passengers. Up front, the shocks were mounted on the front skis making for a better ride, but the ski loops were very small with just a 1-inch by 4.5-inch opening. This made it very hard to get a glove or mitten in it to pull on the ski if the sled was stuck.
Skiroule’s warranty lasted for a whole season. Suggested retail price was $1,245 in 1970, and many slogans said safety was No.1 on their agenda. Moms liked that marketing!