A Page on our
2003 F-5



  Arctic Cat Firecat F-5 STD

Our Old Light Weight 500 cc Hi Performance Liquid Cooled  Sled.
This little F-5 still has 'em 
"Scratching"  their heads.

Back in the day this F-5,
 was a runner, you know,
there had to be a time and a place,
Cross-country here we go
now your messing with,
the  "Hair of the CAT!"

Sitting out of fuel for several years on empty we put her
On the Hook!
Part of the F-5 speed was her monster sized fuel cap and gas gauge, and acting on SnowTechMagazines tip been calibrated with a felt marker. I never filled the F-5 up all the way unless I knew it was necessary. When you have a 50 Liter tank, it is pretty easy to run 50lbs lighter than Full. 50lbs is 50lbs. =SPEED!

Back Packed with bulrushes or cattails yea mowed 1 million of those down cresting banks surrounded by cattails!

 Tuning Adjustments

 -Out of the box

Dealership mechanic thru in new plugs and gave carburetor screws a 1/4 turn out! (*)


 Further Adjustments made

After our first ride 03-07 I knocked the main jets down 1 size, =SPEED!  this would be the last time I ever touched the main jets or had the bowls off in the next 16 years.

Fuel screw turned back to stock

Studying my new issue of SNOWTECH Magazine I examine the fuel screws.
Fuel screws turned in 1/4 turn to a leaner position instead of the 1/4 turn richer condition set at the dealership.

The secondary adjustment made

(*) It is important to note that this was Cats inaugural introduction to Mikuni Flat side carburetors.
Mikuni Round slide carburetors used for many years on snowmobiles have an "Air Screw". The Mikuni Flatside carburetor (which gain immense popularity until  wide spread fuel injection introduction), has a fuel screw in this position.  The initial error, in which the fuel screws richened the carburetors instead of leaning them was a factor for many years operation.
Note to self..."$^%#%$#"

(*) This adjustment was a mistake, there were other adjustments made to correct this that impacted the sled for several years to come.

 The Firecat Track & Drivers

--The STD Firecat and Sabercat series are all equipped with the 128" x 13.5" wide tracks. These tracks, especially in the 1" variety are truly part of the equation in this models fast acceleration and exceptional top end.   You may say ya ya but this was only a 500, a 500 that saw low 90's on the digital in the right conditions maybe even 95 once  ACCURATE ?
 -Yes a narrow track is going to push less wind and snow. =SPEED!

-Larger drivers allow the track to make a shallower curvature as the track rolls around. In a nut shell less rolling resistance..... =SPEED!












 Suspension Adjustments

--03-07 Day one in the Nisbet Forest area, I questioned my purchase. Man The sled felt narrow, unstable, infact mentally I compared it to the feeling I had many years ago when the handle bars "broke off" my SS540 at MACH speed while I was racing buddy's truck. I was in the ditch and had just cleared an farm field approach. The seat suddenly feels pretty narrow when you find yourself at 110KPH with the handle bars limp and unconnected in your hands. Riding it out, yup a pretty bumpy ride, and when she heads for the fence line I bailed, off we go. She rolled back down to a stop in the middle of the ditch! So I compared my new Firecat to that. Then my February issue of SNOW TECH MAGAZINE came in the mail!! And they felt the same way and experimented until they had settings that made a drastic difference. The adjustments made the sled feel like a completely different machine.

-- New slides and end caps were replaced often until the next adjustment is made. The result, never changed slides again.

-- Front straps were drilled for extra holes and skid was pulled up a reasonable "maximum" amount.

--- I was hard on the original track, not viciously spinning on dirt or abrasions but the nature of the sled being the sled was so light, was if you were standing on one side or the other, "to let ER rip" W.O.T. and she would stand on one ski for an eternity, these sideways take offs eventually chewed the outside lugs off. at 6000miles a like new replacement track had been procured and was waiting in the wings. I got a little lazy even noting that a couple track clips had parted company...should of just changed tracks ASAP but...nope I waited till it was killed and this cost me a couple other components all at the same time.
-ANY ONE NEED A 16T TOP SPROCKET? The front drive was also "Bent" in the sudden stop, a vibration that I noticed following the track change. Note to self..."$^%#%$#"

--Back to the drawing board out with the skid out with the drive and reinstall.

-- front straps were changed to factory provisions not in the owners manual and now discovered above on top of the rear skid.

-- With the skid out grease nipples installed on front arm-to-chassis bushings.

-- A suspension coupling scissor adjustment in  2004 A night and day change on the trails and a surprise benefit was the improved cross country speed and attitude in the off trail cross country snow, ride 04-08.  Feb. 7, 2004.
The change was very noticeable on the semi rutted semi frozen up Nisbet Forest trails, there was a way less ski lift and you could notice the settling down and more controlled nature of the sled. The sled reacted more like our old ZL 500 than a tall awkward feel that I felt initially on purchase.
More speed in the fields, less throttle required to maintain 60-75 MPH cross country.  =SPEED!


-- The primary clutch weights are re-bushed, then again every 600-900 miles. At least until the heavy '04 Saber Cat clutch with set screw pins was installed. This is the clutch I understood the sled was going to come with in the first place. Apon delivery it was apparent that the '03 Firecat clutch is the same P.O.S. that my '98 ZL 500 had O.E.M.

--This clutch was in full operation until I had the main bushing pressed in. Shortly after this the primary broke in half and exited thru the top of the hood landing "across the road" in a field.   09-03.Note to self..."$^%#%$#"
-- Just bite the bullet and change the whole clutch or buy a new movable sheave with the OEM bushing simply that OEM. Pressing in a new bushing is not Childs play, how much force did the 20 Ton press exert??

F-5 Belt Tension 

Do you have to shove your secondary "in just a bit" in the morning when your sled is idling thru its warm up...to say if you don't shove the secondary in a hair first thing during the longest engine warm up of the day...that "hamstring tight" belt is gonna just start (RIGHT CLICK)   squealing and squealing....when idling  extensively at warm up, the squealing will give away just how "tightened up" your set up is!!  =SPEED!


 Major Adjustment

---The secondary adjustment made during our ride to the open prairie after a warm weather blizzard, 03-19. The secondary spring was tightened "one notch" over OEM setting. NIGHT and DAY,  =SPEED!  The engine swung to 8700 RPM her power peak every time the flipper was planted, warm, cold, hard pack or powder, NIGHT and DAY, =SPEED!
--- On this day and for the life of the sled short of a secondary bushing failing and the resulting damage requiring the secondary to be completely replaced.