A Jeep parked near the convenience store and gas bar at Profit’s Corner is causing many customers who pull into the lot to take a second look.
The Jeep’s owner, Scott Profit, has replaced the tires with a set of tracks to enable it to drive over snow.
“If you walk in the snow and you sink six inches, the jeep is going to sink six inches,” said Profit in explaining how the wider footprint of the track redistributes the vehicle’s weight.
Profit, who has had his Trackit brand tracks on his jeep since late December, admits they are generating lots of looks and enquiries.
The tracks on his vehicle are a prototype. Version Three, he calls them. Many of the parts were sourced through local snowmobile dealer, Daniel Christopher Sales and Service.
He designed the system himself. Computer-aided design was by Coltin Gray and Profit had parts cut out on a plasma table at Acadian Machine Works in Tignish. Local welding teacher Duffy Chaisson welded the components together and the powder-coating was done in Dieppe.
Profit had designed and built tracks while running Westisle Ltd., a welding shop in Alberta. The tracks were in demand for ice-fishing hobbyists as it allowed them to drive their vehicles out onto the lakes by replacing the tires with tracks. Versions one and two of the design were also used some in the oil and gas industry. He subsequently sold Version Two to a company in Montana.
Since moving back to Profit’s Corner, P.E.I., Profit has come up with a lighter design, which weighs about 180 pounds per corner compared with 250 pounds for each track previously.
Profit hopes to be in production later this year and have his company, Westisle Special Projects, ready to take Trackit orders by fall. He will handle marketing and promotion. In the meantime, he continues to test drive the prototype. While he is projecting modest sales for the first couple of years, he anticipates much of the interest will come from Western Canada and the American snowbelt.
It makes sense starting out to outsource components of the project rather than invest in a building and equipment, he suggests.
A full set of tracks, ready to install, is expected to retail in the $9000 range, but Profit said he hopes to market parts so that customer can assemble the parts and save.
“What I want to do is get guys who are working on Jeeps in their garage onto this, and part of doing that is making them affordable,” he said.
The main difference in changing from tires to track is the vehicle has to be jacked up higher, Profit explains.
In hopping in with Profit for a test run, the first observation is the ride is rough. The jeep is still in the parking lot when Profit explains there are 28 boogie wheels on each track and they all make contact with the ground, meaning every bump is felt multiple times. Besides, the track is not made for hard surfaces. “You’re just, pretty much, burning them up.”
He offers assurances the ride will smoothen out when the jeep reaches the snow. He aims it at a cutting and the Jeep goes up and over. It’s a quieter ride now.
Take-off also takes a little more effort, similar to leaving with the E-brake engaged, Profit said, but that levels out with momentum. It is beneficial to have a four-wheel drive vehicle, he adds, and important to learn the capabilities of the track. He’s doing that with the prototype.