Prepare For The Snow: 1975 Raider Double Eagle

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While snow is a months-ago memory for most of us, we can be ready for the next bout with this 1975 Raider Double Eagle, a rare snowmobile offered here on facebook Marketplace for $1700. This Raider is a project, and it’s located in Waupaca, Wisconsin, where snow in May is completely normal. Raider snowmobiles were produced by Leisure Vehicles, Inc. from 1971-1975. The man behind the company was Bob Bracey, who founded the Leisure enterprise after accumulating experience building race cars for Ford including the GT40. By ’73 or ’74 – depending on the source – a failed contract with Honda scotched the future for the Raider and Bracey left the company. The loss of its founder, poor winters, and emissions controls along with other regulations finally put Leisure Vehicles out of business. All 1975 Raiders were unsold inventory from 1974, except a handful. Idiosyncratic for its rear-mounted motor, twin tracks, and cockpit seating – collectively, hallmarks of Bracey’s theories about the best way to go snowmobiling – the Raider now has an enthusiast fan base. Thanks to Lothar… of the Hill People for finding this rare snow-goer for us!

Bracey equipped the Raider with Canadian Curtiss-Wright engines, though Kohler motors were found in a few of the last Raiders made. This mill should be a 440 cc twin-cylinder, the largest motor offered. It will run on starter fluid, which is promising, but its gas tank is missing. Tracks at the rear and skis at the front lend stability to the whole contraption. The Double Eagle received a better rear suspension than its two lesser siblings, the Hawk and the Eagle.

The Double Eagle was technically a two-seater, with one interior seat, and another behind the captain on top of the motor. The cabin upholstery is missing but shouldn’t be tough to recreate. The seat for the passenger is shown below – driving over a serious bump could send your passenger flying! The body is fiberglass on a tubular frame. The two gauges – a tach and a speedometer – came standard with Raiders running the 440 cc motor. Like a motorcycle, Raiders had a twist-grip throttle. Despite low production, parts are abundant on eBay and vintage snowmobile sites. Decals can be found here; a shop manual is here.

Bracey’s snowmobiles were modestly successful in speed contests. Bracey never gave up snowmobiling, moving on to create the Manta and the Trail Roamer. By now engine procurement was getting tricky so these new models largely ran Japanese motors. This Raider is certainly salvageable; when you finish its restoration, it could look like this!

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Comments

  1. Howard A. Howard AMember

    I’m a bit surprised this doesn’t have Scottys name on it. Fact is, if he sees this, he could be on his way to”Waupuka”[sic]. Kidding, nice place in central Wis. Picked up a lot of cheese in Waupaca. Not to diminish what a great article Michelle wrote, however, she forgot to mention the most important part of their failure. All the things mentioned, and they were downright unsafe. I’d say, the “Honda 3 wheeler” of snowmobiles. I had a friend that had one, and it was on its side more than on the skis. They just didn’t behave like a normal snowmobile, that requires body movement in certain situations. You have to throw the machine around, and couldn’t with this. The Kohler motor was a marked improvement, but just a poor design. Info is scarce, but one reason Honda didn’t go with Raider, was they were working on a design of their own, the White Fox, that never made it. I don’t mean to a negative nelly, but if you are even considering a hobby in snowmobiling, there are much better ways. This will bum you out as to the wonderful experience of snowmobiling. Street bike,,,too dangerous. Dirt bike,,meh, and dirty. Snowmobiling in the remote reaches of da’ Nort’woods,,,fresh, clean, BEAUTIFUL!! I miss that dearly,,,

    Like 10
    • Smokey Smokerson

      These were neck breakers when rolled. I grew up 20 minutes from Waupaca, the county with the highest car/ deer collisions in the state of Wai

      Like 1
    • Greg in Texas

      It totally appears to be a death trap for the driver. And launching a passenger fool enough to challenge the buck seat. On the other hand, lurking beneath is the recipe for replacing front skis with wishbone front axle steering, treads ditched for some fat golf cart tires. Ok, wait… Still a death trap. Except everything is a lot harder after the snow melts. Maybe the engine can be converted to a diesel power generator?

      Like 1
  2. Rw

    Snow machines of this era where like the dirt bikes, to ride you needed guts, these required snowflakes to ride,but snowflakes probably couldn’t ride this machine..

    Like 9
    • Rank

      No, you needed booze in your guts to drive them. Only a fool or a drunk owned a snow machine in those days, far too primitive.

      Like 1
      • Howard A. Howard AMember

        Sorry, not so. For me, and my trucking buddies, it was a family thing. We all had kids, and did slow rides through the woods, my kids absolutely loved it. The ex, not so much, but VERY few women enjoy snowmobiling. Farm girls do, mostly. Yes, drinking was a big part of riding when “just the guys”, but in moderation. We always said the sleds seemed faster after bar time. Like any of these “more dangerous than the recliner” sports, motorcycling, snowmobiling, scuba diving, you simply must keep your wits, as a momentary lapse in reason can be fatal. Can’t forget that.

        Like 5
      • Rank

        Howard, why did you leave Wisconsin, sounds like you had fun there. I know I sure did the summer I was there.

        Like 1
  3. JimmyinTEXAS

    What a unicorn. You probably wouldn’t meet yourself on the trail. It seemed that the restored one in the video needed a tune-up, or did they just run that poorly by design?

    Like 0
  4. Dave Schonhoffer

    Hopefully there has been minimal running on ether as 2 strokes get their oil from the gas/oil mix and starting fluid is as dry as it gets.

    Like 3
    • Greg in Texas

      Definitely BEFOREHAND would want to squirt some automatic transmission fluid in plug holes, carb and anyplace else and hand turn any dormant ICE engine, BEFORE any type of ignition test. And avoid starting fluid entirely. True of all engines. Starting fluid is actually a really bad approach for any engine as it can seep around rings and ‘start’ without compression, applying forces on moving parts in destructive ways. The only legitimate use of starting fluid is chasing vacuum lines leaks, but it’s risky if you’re not careful to avoid electrical connections and hot manifold and exhaust components. The real worst thing is starting fluid throws you off proper methods to resolve timing and ignition basic logic. And correct: It will damage an engine internally, any engine. Same goes for improperly used throttle body chemical cleaners: You might get the gunk out of the TB, but the gasses from TB cleaners can melt the catalytic converter if it has any particles of obstruction, they will form hot spots and melt particles in the honeycomb and make a slightly obstructed converter into choking exhaust. Throttle body cleaning can be done safely, but in moderation and intervals, making sure you turned it over beforehand to make sure engine lube is distributed FIRST. Back in the day before catalytic converters and throttle body intakes, starting fluid was just a way to imagine you’re learning something without doing too much damage. But it’s really always been a deceptive practice. An engine with spark and bad timing can fire with starting fluid. And give you bent valves, scored cylinder walls, stretched/broken timing chains etc. When all it might have been was a bad ground on the coil, bad plug or coil wires, bad plugs etc. A properly timed engine with good spark will fire with even small amounts of gasoline. If you’re dumping lots of gas to get an engine to turn over, and it doesn’t, spark or timing is where to troubleshoot. Assuming compression test was sufficient. I myself probably damaged some of my cars in my teenage years doing the exact things I’m saying not to do. I rebuilt the engine by myself for my first car, complete teardown. Taking components to machine shop for proper milling, lathing, glasspeening. Age 17. Careful by the book torque wrench everything to chart specs. 1970 Opel GT, everything drops out of the bottom, and has to go in same way. Fantastic if you have a car lift. I had bricks and cinder blocks. Sketchy at best. Got it all back in, bolted back in, new clutch etc, after a year and a half starting age 16. Almost 18, and couldn’t get it started. Someone recommend starter fluid. It made a lot of bad noises. Turned out a bad coil wire was giving spark, but yellow not blue. I know I did some damage but I got it running finally. With a lot of my careful carb overhaul work cancelled by tinkering. Solex exterior idle arm linkages had factory # of turns, as did everything else. Ignored what I didn’t yet know. I could smell and see the gas. Starter fluid wasn’t going to teach me anything. It would fire. Kept me tinkering on carb. Just old plug wires the whole time. That Solex was a decent carb, but by then I just set it to run rich to drive it. Having wasted a couple of months because someone suggested “try some starter fluid…”

      Like 1
      • Yblocker

        After reading all that, think I’ll take a nap. Just hope I don’t have a bad dream and relive it

        Like 2
  5. Rw

    They actually make 2 stroke starting fluid.

    Like 1
    • Howard A. Howard AMember

      WD-40 works as a starting aid for 2 strokes.

      Like 2
  6. George Mattar

    Great write up Michelle. Vintage sleds took off about 25 years ago. I got weary of loading the trailer, unloading at a show, loading again and unloading at home. I restored racing Arctic Cats to better than new condition and hardly rode them. Sold my last one, a near perfect 1972 Arctic Cat EXT 440 triple MOD sled to a collector. Used that money to.buy a 50 year old Corvette I get to drive. Bracey was a visionary. This sled has similar traits to the unsuccessful rear engine twin track racing Alouette driven by the late, great Gilles Villeneuve. Giles raced the Alouette Super with great success. If anybody has a 440 or 650 Super for sale, I’m ready with cash. Very few made and I realize they aren’t cheap in any condition. One of the best looking sleds in 1973.

    Like 3
    • Ron

      Hat’s off to those recalling Gilles!

      Like 0
  7. Tim

    George’s comment made me think of the last snowmobile I had before moving from northern New York to Indiana in 1981. It was an Arctic Cat EXT twin 290 (free air). Loved that sled, sometimes wish I lived where I could still ride

    Like 1
  8. Mike

    You sit in it? Plow into a snow bank and have a ton of snow fill up the interior
    with nowhere for it to go. Yuck.

    Like 2
    • Todd DeNio

      I have known a few people who had them and never heard of that happening to any of them

      Like 2
      • donald potts

        Had my raider hawk for 30+ years and what an odd enjoyable sled! Ran great even to the day I sold it and got a lot of looks wherever I drove it .In all those years it never filled the interior with snow? It went through the snow like a twin track tank! What a blast to own one!

        Like 0
    • Howard A. Howard AMember

      While I don’t care for the style, I suppose it did have a few merits. Sitting “in” the cockpit was more civilized than an open machine, a bit warmer, and for disabled folks, it was more stable than a regular sled, in that regard. Again, you had to know its limits, and were great for lake riding or pulling a sled, but not much else. The Manta, a similar design with a roll bar/light and L/C, was a bit of an improvement, and did well in racing, even Mario Andretti had one, but suffered many of the same problems.

      Like 1
  9. Yblocker

    Another failure from an era when everybody threw their hat into the ring, from the mid 60s to the early 70s, there were probably a 100 different brands come and go, even Sears and Montgomery Ward’s had their name on a snowmobile. These were a trail machine, no hotdogging or powder busting on a Raider. Unique collector now though, an eye catcher at any vintage snowmobile show

    Like 0
  10. J T

    Howard A. mentioned Mario Andretti in his comment,he has a shelf with arctic cat factory built, racing motors at his disposal. just one of the many perks of being a indy 500 winner and world champion.

    Like 0
  11. Shawn Dupuis

    Always wanted one of these.Way cool.Needs a low rider paint job and a hyabusa motor.Widen the tracks with modern suspension Double eagle resto mod.On second thought metal flake evel Knievel paint with matching snowmobile suit.If you like this style then you will like the sno bug.Rear engine big track single wide front ski with a aluminum cock pit made in sudbury Ontario or the ski doo elite.Two seater side by side

    Like 0

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