Monday, March 6, 2017

Odds and ends

I feel sorry for how few posts I put on here, there really hasn't been much to talk about.

So lets go back, during the short couple weeks we actually had snow I did get in a couple rides. First was the abortive ride when the '91 Jag was leaking gas. On that one we took a ride through an area where the trail passes through a deep cut in rock. Its old railroad line and a really cool spot. I got a picture there back in 2015:


What you can't really see in the picture is that right in front of the sled is a pipe or knee wall of some sort. When theres lots of snow you can ride right over and not know its there, with only 14" when we rode over there was a looong drop on the back side. I got the '91 up onto the bump and gently slid it over. I rode ahead a little and looked back, I saw the skis as Angie came over and thought she had it under control. In reality what happened is she grabbed a handful of throttle and stood the '98 Jag right up. When she landed she went over the windshield. She wasn't seriously hurt but got banged up and of course was really upset with me for "riding off without me". In reality I was gone for maybe 4-5 minutes, I looped around and back back behind her but she'd already ridden off. *sigh* lesson learned, look back more often.



There was enough snow for those two weeks that we groomed 3 times. I got more seat time than ever before but I don't think I did particularly well. I'm starting to tap the drag on posts as I go through and need to go slower and be more careful. I also haven't been utilizing the drag enough, I hadn't realized what an art there is to that. There needs to be enough snow in the drag to fill the bumps in the trail but not so much snow that the machine can't pull it. Also if theres too much snow in the drag it'll spill over the sides leaving boulders in the trail. The last time we groomed I rode with Chris, he works crazy hours and let me drive when he got tired. He promptly fell asleep and I made it my goal to run smoothly enough that he'd stay asleep. A goal like that helps me to become a better operator...

The last ride I took the 98 and went out on my own:

The '98 is a much more comfortable machine than the '91 at the cost of some speed. On the long straights the '91 maxes out at about 70mph, the '98 will only make around 60. Same 440 engine but the '91 is a little smaller/lighter and has dual carbs.
I think this summer I want to find a Z skid and track to put under the '91, with better suspension it'd be a sweet machine.

Friday, February 17, 2017

Gas tank welding

Went for a ride on Saturday and discovered that the repair I'd made to my '91 Jag's gas tank filler neck was insufficient. It leaked gas on my left foot the whole ride. Relatively safe, the exhaust is on the other side ;)

Anyway today I finally had a chance to attack the problem. I got a Harbor Freight plastic welding iron and began by cleaning the crack with the included wire brush. Then I repeatedly stabbed the iron into the plastic perpendicular to the crack. My idea here was to essentially stitch the crack back together:

That worked pretty well and when I was done I could no longer see a strong flashlight shining through the crack.

Then I took some of the filler material that comes with the iron and worked it into the repair. I'm hoping it'll add some strength. Fortunately theres a groove there anyway. Here I'm partway done:

I ran the filler material over all of the damaged part. I left the undamaged section alone, I may live to regret that...

Tested by putting in a few gallons of water, holding my hand over the filler hole and flipping the tank upside down. If I can manage to not screw it up during install it should be okay:

Right now its got a quart of denatured alcohol (all I had on hand) in it to absorb the water. I'll get more alcohol later today.

As a measure of safety I rinsed the tank with water yesterday. I'd tried to have the filler neck full of frozen water but couldn't get the water to stay in long enough to freeze. I did all the work outside, there was a good breeze and the ambient temp was below freezing. I wore a full face mask and had an extinguisher nearby. I sat in the middle of the driveway away from anything flammable and of course had lots of snow on hand.

Overall I consider this a success, I didn't get blowed up, in fact I never felt like I was really in any danger, no sizzling or fire of any kind...

Friday, January 13, 2017

A new season

After the washout that was the 2015-16 season I'm sure hoping for some snow this year. So far its been exciting and disappointing. Early season snow had things looking good and the Wednesday after Christmas I spent the morning putting up signs for the snowmobile club and the afternoon trying to get my old junk to run.
Right before Christmas I'd given it a shot and neither Jag would fire up. The '91 would pop a little but wouldn't stay running, the '98 wouldn't even pop unless I primed it with gas down the sparkplug holes. I figured dirty carbs.
The '98 has a single carb while the '91 has duals so I figured to try the single first. Access is tight but not impossible. The bowl had a soup of water and gas which was almost certainly the issue and although I did have to prime the engine with a shot of gas down the sparkplug holes it fired up and ran good. Its still got a weird bog but I *think* that might be because of how much sitting its done.

I ran out of light so the '91 waited until the next day. I pulled the carbs and found the filthiest bores I've ever seen...

See the schmoo down at the bottom of the bore? There should be a hole there, the carb on the left was totally plugged I ended up soaking it with carb cleaner and running a welding torch cleaning rod through it until I could get it to come out clean.

 The bowl from the left side carb. Both were gross but the left side was worse.

So knowing that the carbs were nasty I knew I'd need to do something about where the goo was coming from. I couldn't actually see anything in the airbox but I knew there had to be something in there. To remove the airbox the gas tank absolutely has to come out, then the steering column has to be loose. To get the gas tank out the seat has to come off leaving me with this:


Well that escalated quickly huh? I just wanted to clean the carbs and now...
While pulling the tank out of the way I realized the bottom of the filler neck was cracked. I wonder if this is why I was getting terrible gas mileage a couple winters ago.

So I got the airbox apart and evicted the mouse nest, and got it back together without breaking the old hardened plastic too badly. Then I ran some ThreeBond around the crack on the gas tank.


Threebond probably isn't the best stuff for fixing the crack but I cleaned the plastic good before I tried it and it seems to be holding well. The Threebond stays flexible and its strong against gasoline, we'll see how it lasts.

Finally probably the worst part of it all is that the seat wood is ruined and completely came apart. I'm kind of glad I found this now rather than bombing down the trail but I wish it hadn't happened at all. In retrospect the problem is I park my sleds pointed down hill which allows collected water to run under the seat rather than just running out.


A trip to the hardware store got a quarter sheet of 3/8" ACX plywood. The original stuff appeared to be 3/8" OSB but in retrospect (since the plastic trim doesn't fit) is probably 1/4"


The cut along the front is pretty important, it fits around the gas tank mount to hold the front of the seat down.

So I've got the seat base cut out and ready to go, the last step is to staple the base onto the seat and reinstall.

Meanwhile I got the carbs all cleaned and reinstalled and the sled fires up and runs nice.

Finally I wanted to at least try to prevent this from happening again or maybe mitigate the problem some. I got there by taping some hardware cloth over the opening to the airbox:


Thats quarter inch hardware cloth which is probably too big but its what I had. I usually use a couple yogurt cups of mothballs in the footwells. This spring I'll add more mothballs to the cup and I'll maybe add another cup under the hood.

Tuesday, February 9, 2016

No much happening but, the end of an era

So winter 2015-2016 is looking to be a washout. Probably to be expected really, we had 2 years of excellent snow, you can't count on greatness every year.

Obviously I haven't been doing much riding and having 7 sleds around doing nothing seems pretty absurd so last Saturday I finally said goodbye to an old friend, the 1995 Ski-Doo Grand Touring left the yard for the final time.


I accepted less money than I'd planned to but I still got better than 2/3 what I paid for the sled 7 years ago so I suppose I didn't come out too badly.

Friday I took the '91 Jag out for a spin, we'd gotten maybe 4" of snow and I just couldn't resist. The trails were rotten, the water holes had a skim of slush on them and were slippery as heck in the bottom, I had to keep hard on the gas to get through. The odo says I went 2.5 miles but I bet it was closer to 2 miles with half a mile of track slip. Still even a bad ride is better than no ride at all.

Finally I got the Wankel Panther going again. I'd gotten kind of disgusted with wrenching last winter and it was a challenge to get going again but I managed it. The change is nothing short of remarkable, the entire time I've owned it that sled was a challenge to run, I could never get it tuned well and it was just never happy. Once I got it back together and dealt with the fact that the gas line in the tank had melted it fired right up and ran pretty much perfectly. I think I could open the low needle just a little more but otherwise she's all set. I was so pleased I made a video:


Eventually I want to make a bunch of these where I show off the machine and take it for a ride, sort of like Jay Leno's garage but for snowmobiles.

Anyway, theres an update, we got another inch or two of snow last night so I reckon I'll get the '98 Jag out today and see what it can do. I've been fighting the carb on that one, it spits and dies. I think I had water in the gas so I finally bought an electric fuel siphon and drained the tank. With fresh gas it runs better but I think I need to go through the carb one more time. This summer I'll put a rubber glove on the gas cap in case its leaking...

Tuesday, January 5, 2016

Wrenching in the cold

Still no snow going into January and of course the guy's on Facebook are losing their minds. Relax fools we haven't had ride-able snow in central MA before the last week of January very often.
Today its cold, like 3F at 7am and just cresting double digits by 11am which is good, with no ice on the lakes and the ground not frozen even if we got snow it wouldn't do us any good...

The other day I tried and failed to get the '79 Polaris Cobra going. That thing is wicked hard on plugs, it'll wet one and nothing I've tried will make it ever like that plug again. It had a set of BR8ES NGK plugs in it which is what it calls for, the BR8ES is one range hotter than the BR9ES you see in most newer sleds like my Jags. Since its a points ignition I theorized that a B8ES plug, not having a resistor, might help give a hotter spark. My local Advance Auto (formerly Car Quest) had B8ES plugs in stock cheaper than I can order them from Amazon. I bought a set as a test and so far things look good, the sled fired right up and idled nice. Would it have done that with resistor plugs? I don't know... I've also bought a carb rebuild kit, I have a suspicion that the mag side carb needle and seat are leaking a little and letting gas into the bottom end of the engine while the sled is shut off which is why the plug is sometimes wet. The next warm day I'll toss that in there, fortunately I've got a gas shut off on it to mitigate the problem for now.

Then I FINALLY got around to putting the airbox in. Last year I snagged a complete airbox off eBay, it was filthy so I cleaned it up and just never got around to installing it. It didn't come with any mounts so I took a pair of hose clamps and cut a notch in them to fit around the boss on the carb, slipped the box in place and tightened the clamps.


Theres really nothing holding it in place which is pretty normal for a vintage sled. There is a little metal bracket under it though so I think I'll measure the space to that bracket and get a piece of hose that just fits between the airbox and the bracket so the hose can be a buffer. Then maybe wrap a piece of wire around the hose and the airbox so it can't bounce around. My experience riding this machine is that it bounces a lot...

Next step for the Cobra was to try out the new cover I got for Christmas:

Cobra on the left, '98 Jag on the right, '95 Ski Doo in the background under a tarp.

Traditionally I've used tarps but the '91 Jag came with a pretty nice cover. Using the cover last winter I realized how much nicer it is getting a cover on than fighting with a tarp, we'll see how they last, they're about 4 times as expensive as tarps so I think I'll end up using the covers only for wintertime storage where I'm taking them off frequently, in the summer I'll continue to tarp everything.

Sunday, December 13, 2015

Thats more like it

December when ones mind turns to snow. Sadly its not cold and theres no snow yet but whaddya gonna do?

Last weekend I tried firing up the '98 Jag but she was a no go. I farted around troubleshooting for awhile and finally found that the fuel pump was failing to chooch. This was a big setback, I'd intended to spend the day replacing the track but ended up troubleshooting the day away...
I guess this finally makes the '98 fit in around here, getting its chance to be a dead sled.

I was ordering Christmas presents on Amazon anyway so I added a Mikuni square, single output pump kit to the order. Tonight I finally had time to get the kit in place. Turns out the square single output pump is REALLY simple. There are 4 screws to take it apart, 2 gaskets and a diaphragm and that is it. I replaced a couple fuel lines while I was there, its amazing how long the original lines last. I put some tygon (yellow) lines on, we'll see how they last. The clear hose is usually the worst, it gets hard and doesn't seal. Blue is second best and yellow is supposed to be the best, we'll see. I need to get some clamps, they didn't come with them stock but you might remember a couple years ago on the trail with my El Tigre when the fuel line came off one carb. If I'd kept pressing on when that happened there could have been a nasty fire...

Anyway I got it all buttoned up and on the 15th crank just as I was about to lose hope it fired up. Ran rough for a little while but finally smoothed out. I think there might have been a hint of this problem last spring when I bought the sled, it would run but would occasionally stumble and the sled would about pitch me over the handlebars, now its much smoother. Next step is to put it on the trailer and get it over to buddy Chuck for a track replacement. I dunno what the previous owner did but the track is missing a bunch of lugs, looks like somebody got after it with a hot knife.



Earlier in the day I'd gotten the '91 Jag running, that one also needed about 15 pulls but no other real work. I think it needs some clutch work, it was awful hard on gas last winter. I'll ask Chuck to take a look at it too. Last Monday I got a SAM pass for it so that sled is ready and legal to ride. The '98 still needs to be registered, I'm hoping this Friday I'll get a chance to run down to Worcester...

Monday, August 17, 2015

Working on sleds in August?

So unlike me, I usually wait until it gets cold, then I have to rust to get stuff done...

Anyway last winter I tore the engine on the Pantera all apart and then lost interest since it snowed so much. Now I'm back to working on the tin.


Initially I tried to cheat this and paint it a bunch of times with high build primer and that did take out some of the rust pits but it would have taken a year of painting and sanding so I finally mixed up a bunch of bondo and filled the pits giving the whole surface a thin coat. I knocked that back and it it with the high build to fill the scratches from the 100 grit sandpaper I was using. Bondo clogs sandpaper bad but 100 grit works better. I need to knock back the primer with some 320 grit in a block and then I think I can prime it one more time and paint. I'm not looking for perfection here but something way better than what I had.

Need to do the pipe while I'm at it but I've found that high temp paint needs a good clean surface to stick to. I did my '70 Ski-Doo pipe back years ago and it just flaked back off quick...