Old Sled Zone: 1969 Yamaha—351cc: Remembering when $700 bought a new snowmobile

Now retired from the sport, Bill Hammond owned 24 different sleds over the 35 years he was involved with snowmobiling.

Bill Hammond's 10-year old son, David, on a brand new 1969 Yamaha.
Bill Hammond's 10-year old son, David, on a brand new 1969 Yamaha. Photo courtesy Bill Hammond

This week’s vintage snowmobile story once again comes from an interview SnoRiders recently did with Bill Hammond.

We have to say we love this old vintage photo of Bill’s 10-year-old-son, David, who is all ready to ride as he straddles this brand new 1969 Yamaha.

“Back in 1969, Bill Hammond purchased the first Yamaha sold in western Manitoba, a 1969 Yamaha 351-cc with twin dual carbs and oil injection system. It cost $722. You may be envious of the price tag, but riding a snowmobile at that time brought on a bevy of issues,” said Bill Hammond in a recent SnoRiders interview.

“I burned seven left hand pistons that first winter,” Hammond said. “All machines in those early years had dependability problems—especially for long-range riders. Gas consumption was heavy, thus you carried extra fuel. You almost had to carry a machine shop with you for repairs. The old expression back then was ‘you ride an hour and fix all the next day.’ I was always towing someone home.”

He added, “Engineering, technology, electronics, four-strokes, suspension, weight and traction have all come a long way in the sport. Looking back, we had 14- and 16-horsepower, single-cylinder Jlo, Hirth and Rotax engines burning a 20-to-1 oil-to-gas ratio,” said Hammond, “multi-heat range spark plugs, no jack shafts, bogie wheels, bogie springs, two-inch travel front and rear, 36-inch ski stance, practically no padding on seats, small windshield—no rider comfort whatsoever. I often wonder how I ever rode these bucking broncos. Riding on farmland, rivers and backcountry where there were no trails was extremely challenging, even for an experienced rider.”

Bill Hammond retired from riding in 2004 at age 71 due to health problems. However, all in all, he’s owned 24 snowmobiles over 35 years of being involved with the sport. He’s seemingly seen it all as an early leader on the sledding scene. 

Thanks again to Bill Hammond for sharing his snowmobiling story with us at SnoRiders.

Read the entire story here.

Got an old sled story/photos? Share them with us at [email protected]

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