116 3rd St SE
Cedar Rapids, Iowa 52401
CEDAR RAPIDS — On a blustery afternoon in Cedar Rapids, it was the weather 400 miles to the northwest that had Lynn Williams’ attention.
“The U.P. got a foot of snow today,” Williams said, referring to Michigan’s Upper Peninsula. “It’s just getting hammered up there.”
Winter’s imminent arrival means things are about to get busy at A-Maizing Kustoms, where Williams helps customers prepare their snowmobiles for the season.
“If we get an early snow, they’ll really start to come in,” Williams predicted.
“The first part of November is when everybody starts getting on it. Then it will be 40 hours at Toyota (Financial where he works his day job), and 40 to 60 hours here in the shop for me.”
It’s a familiar seasonal pattern in Williams’ southwest Cedar Rapids garage, where he launched his business in 2006. A certified automotive mechanic before he left the shop to work at Toyota Financial, Williams always enjoyed customizing his rides, whether for street or snow.
“The guys I rode with always did the same thing,” said Williams, who grew up in Oxford Junction. “Those guys got me into modifying the snowmobile stuff.”
He’s built full-custom sleds for customers, but it’s component renewals and maintenance that keeps Williams busy these days.
Renewing and repairing snowmobile shock absorbers and other suspension components has become his specialty.
“I started building those customs, then I started building them for people,” he said. “When you figure it out per hour, it doesn’t work out to very much. I’d always done my own shocks, so I kind of went off on that. I can do four of them in about an hour.
“I just do the custom stuff for myself now.”
A bit smaller than the automotive kind, snowmobile shocks keep the machine’s powered track in contact with the ground while maintaining a smooth, controllable ride. The hydraulic fluid inside breaks down through continued use, prompting their replacement — or a cheaper renewal at A-Maizing.
“After about 2,500 miles that’s what the shock oil looks like,” Williams said, indicating the muddy glop in a nearby bucket.
“These have got blown seals, so I’ll put new seals in them, get them all cleaned up. They’ll look almost like brand-new when I’m done with them.”
Owner: Lynn Williams
Address: 318 11th St. SW, Cedar Rapids
Phone: (319) 540-2775
After making the late-summer “snow show” circuit in Iowa, Wisconsin and Minnesota, Williams prepares for the coming avalanche.
“Once the snow season starts, it’s pretty much repairing stuff that people break,” he said. “It’s not as heavy, but it’s constant.”
Manufacturers make it easy for avid enthusiasts such as Williams to keep their machines up to date.
“This is actually a 2009 sled,” he said, pointing to one of his personal rides. “It has all the updates for a 2022.
“The new stuff is really starting to get technologically advanced, and starting to meet EPA standards.”
Williams prefers the Canadian Ski-Doo machine, “but they all have their pluses and minuses. It’s like Chevy and Ford.”
A-Maizing is one of an informal regional network of snowmobile specialists who cooperate on major components such as drive trains, suspensions and bodywork.
“There’s stuff we trade back and forth,” Williams said. “If they need something I’ll do it for them and vice versa.”
That’s common among snowmobilers in general, as local clubs make their own preparations for winter.
“Right now they’re going out and marking all the trails, and that’s all volunteers around here,” he said. “They’ll build bridges over creeks and stuff like that, and they’ll go in with the trail groomers.
“They have swap meets and that kind of stuff, and it’s all family oriented.”
Business remained healthy through the pandemic.
“The last couple years have been probably my best,” Williams said. “I thought the way things were going with COVID and stuff it would drop off, but it just didn’t.”
Once he’s through the anticipated early-winter rush, Williams’ plan for the season?
“Just hope there’s snow and hit the trails,” he said.
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