The Story Behind the Finger Throttle and Munster Innovations
You’ve probably heard of the Munster Finger Throttle. No, it isn’t some kind of “Goldy” left-handed finger thing. It’s the real deal. Regular Joes and the top riders in the game are using the finger throttles to help achieve their riding goals. But where does an idea like that come from? And who comes up with this stuff anyway?
You might recognize the name “Munster” from the lineup of products that bears its name; from images of a guy whipping out a 165″ long-tracked sled; or maybe from the film series which first aired last year. In all cases, it belongs to Andrew Munster, who grew up and currently resides in Whistler, BC.
Here’s the story behind the Finger Throttle and Munster Innovations.
Munster Innovations today produces a handful of unique products specifically designed to improve the snowmobiling experience. But in the beginning, Munster’s first stab at running his own business was called Munster Precision Metal. His efforts went into specialty, one-off furniture, sled decks and other custom metalwork which he built in his machine shop at home.
“Custom stuff is a lot of thinking and designing, but it’s a one-off product that goes away to a customer. I really liked the idea putting more of my time into the design, and designing something really well and having it available for the masses,” said Munster.
The Story Behind the Finger Throttle and Munster Innovations
The finger throttle idea grew out of the recognition for a better way, and the desire to build products on a mass-production level.
“There’s been a few riders who flipped their throttle around. I knew that Geoff Kyle spun his throttle around. Dan Treadway as well. I tried it out one day—I was a little skeptical—and it felt really uncomfortable the first day, but I definitely saw the advantages of it.”
So Munster went to work designing something better, starting with a block prototype of what would eventually become the Finger Throttle.
“Basically I just designed a block that used the normal thumb flapper and made the geometry a little better so it pulled straight to the bar.”
Munster used his prototype for half a season and got really comfortable with it, but still found that it wasn’t quite the solution. Snow buildup was an issue that needed to be solved early on. But by that time, Munster was fully set on the finger throttle, so he went to work designing a few more prototypes.
Once he had proved to himself the advantages of the throttle, he became set on bringing it to market.
Working on variations of the Finger Throttle allowed Munster to improve his skills with 3D modelling. The lever was challenging to design because it was a full, molded 3D sculpture to model. The first couple of renditions looked great in design, but were too thin when machined into physical form.
Munster described some of his early attempts: “The first model was a little bit too thin and it failed on me. The first day I tried it, I went up on a mission with Sam Standing. We went way up in the bush and I just smashed a branch and the whole throttle exploded. It was quite the mission to get out. So that was kind of a learning experience.”
The kinks have long since been worked out, and in the years between, Munster Innovations has developed a reputation for high-quality aftermarket parts with excellent fit and finish.
Ski Bushing Saver
The Munster products as a general rule have come to life each as a solution to a perceived problem that exists. The Finger Throttle was closely followed up by a product Munster calls the Ski Bushing Saver.
“Tom Walker and I were talking about ski performance, and how we felt the ski rubbers could perform a lot better, especially in deep, heavy snow conditions.”
The solution Munster devised was to brace the spindle and spread the load out over most of the bushing. The idea was to stiffen up the ski, but a useful side-effect was the preservation of the ski bushing on their Ski-Doo sleds, which had a tendency to become torn and rendered ineffective.
Arctic Cat Brake Lever
Occasionally, a Munster product will come to life in an unusual way, as happened with the Arctic Cat Brake Lever.
“While I was designing the Finger Throttle for the Arctic Cat, I had Tyler Blair’s sled in my shop, and I just couldn’t stand looking at a big, ugly brake lever. I was motivated, so I made a Cat Brake Lever, just because,” explained Munster.
“A lot of the aftermarket killswitches on the market—I’ve seen so many of them fail within the first month of using them. I know nobody really likes the big [factory] one, so I just wanted to design one that actually lasted.” Although seemingly a straightforward product to manufacture, Munster explained that was not the case.
“The Killswitch is definitely one of the products that has given me the most grief. When I first released them, they didn’t have a second seal so water would get in behind them and freeze. I’d only released a few of them at that point, so right away I changed the designs so that there was an o-ring in there which sealed it.”
Growth and Moving Forward
Munster Innovations has grown past employing just Andrew himself, and with growth came other struggles. Larger scale manufacturing, new processes and training of new employees required enhanced quality control. “We keep refining our systems—every year I learn a little bit more.”
But Munster has learned to take his time with R&D of new products.
“A few of my products that I’ve released in the past I’ve done in the same year, and I realized that was a big mistake. So every product I release I try to test for at least a full season before I bring it to market. I usually do that through testing it myself, giving it to friends, getting some people on it.”
“I’d like to expand our product line to more machines. I’d like to do the Rail Brace for the Polaris as well as the Cat. We’ve just released a t-motion Delete for the Ski-Doo Gen4 850. It’s basically a solid brass bushing with a solid sleeve that presses in place of the heim joint in there, which doesn’t allow any side-to-side motion. We’re doing an XM version that will be available in a couple weeks.”
Munster is also looking to the next step forward for his company. He’s on the lookout for new shop space in the Sea-to-Sky area, with plans to bring some more of the CNC manufacturing process in-house.
In the meantime, Munster and gang will continue to ride hard, test products and enhance their presence with epic content creation.
The Munster Films crew is getting more organized this year, with a goal of upping the already impressive production value in the web edits. The plan is to produce four to five edits, each one showcasing two riders out shredding the steep and deep of the Coast Range. The videos will be hosted on munsterfilms.com. Those will be supplemented by some shorter social media clips here and there to keep viewers amped between full edits.
The first episode of 2018 will drop in the next few weeks, with other to follow throughout the winter. Here’s a teaser from earlier this season, offering a taste of what’s to come:
Having fun exploring big mountains and pristine terrain… This is a mini edit showcasing what we're all about.Riders: Wilson Prewitt & Andrew Munster
Posted by Munster Canada on Wednesday, January 3, 2018
To check out some of the Munster Innovations products, check out their website here.