Tuesday, December 28, 2010

First ride of the new season!

Last night I took the '95 Ski-Doo Grand Touring on a worldwide tour of the goat path to NH. 6 miles round trip and I could hear the rocks slapping the skis the whole way. A trip not without excitement, the little trickle of water I usually cross was a veritable TORRENT! Three feet wide and maybe 4 inches deep. On the way back I hit a rock on the upslope and tipped the sled on its side. For an IFS sled this machine is VERY tippy. Angie and I had it on its side way back in 2008 trying a similar maneuver after crossing a smaller brook.

The '78 Pantera will start but won't run. I'll get Angie's help to tow it out of the backyard and haul it to Randy's. I'll have to borrow his trailer though, after the last run last spring on the return trip home the tongue ripped out of my trailer. Turns out all the metal that holds (held?) the pivot is GONE, rusted away completely. Further inspection shows tons of rust perforations all over the thing. I could probably weld it back together to get through this season but instead I'm going to junk it (maybe weld it back enough to use on the farm) and get something new. After months of searching I finally found an 8x8' trailer out west of here for a good price. Its funny I followed all kinds of Craigslist ads but got nowhere. Then I finally posted an ad on Craigslist and one on the NHSMA board and got 2 good leads... An 8x8 will be nice to have, my 6x6 was really too small for 2 sleds.

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

End of the season

So I'm going to have to call it...
We got a goo 6" of nice wet snow on Thursday so Saturday Angie and I decided we'd try to ride Leominster State forest. I've ridden there a ton in the past and there aren't too many places where all the rain we had on Tuesday would cause serious troubles.

Well I got about 100' behind my friend's house when I found a water hole I didn't know about (it'd never filled up like that before) and sank the big Ski-Doo to the running boards in knee deep slush... Half an hour of digging the slush out of the way and the sled came out easy peasy. Then I rode another 50' before realizing that the trail to be main trail was totally clogged with treetops that fell during our ice storm in '08. The trail was COMPLETELY impassible. Even walking it took us an hour to go 300 yards to the big trail. Too bad, the big trail looked pretty good.

Anyway, its the second of March, the chances of us having any more ride-able snow are slim and even if we do the big trails won't be opened again this year... So its about time to drain the gas out of my bike so I can finally replace the choke cable and get ready to ride that.

Saturday, February 13, 2010

No snow - Maintenance

Since theres no snow I figured I should catch up on some maintenance. The throttle on the '95 Ski-Doo is HEAVY, my thumb aches after 5-10 minutes... I could replace the cable but it doesn't appear to be worn and the housing is still in good shape so I decided to lubricate it instead. The best way to do that would be to disconnect everything and spray it off the sled. At that point you might as well just buy a new cable. Instead I shot the spray in at each end. I had the airbox out anyway so I took the tops off the carbs and sprayed in from that end too. While I had the spray out I did the cables (both throttle and brake) on the Pantera. The Pantera brake cable had water in it when I first got the sled and was frozen so bad it wouldn't work at all. Its been getting better as every ride melts the ice and more gets out. Today I got the engine good and warm and sprayed both ends of the cable and tried to work the spray into the housing. That seems to have worked well, I'll know more tomorrow if it refreezes. If it does I may take it off completely and hang it over the woodstove for a couple days.

The primer on the Ski-Doo has always leaked down overnight. When I did the fuel lines I replaced the line from the pickup to the primer and things got better, it would only leak down on the carb side but thats still a hassle so today I replaced all the remaining lines. Good thing too considering how easily they came off. That should make starting the sled easier.

Finally with the brake cable moving better on the Pantera I tightened the brake. I'd had to loosen it when I was dealing with the cable and it takes time to figure out exactly where it should be set. Should be good now.

If only we could get some snow. For the first time in 9 years I'm not planning on going to the NHSMA winter rally. Its a long drive, we don't have anybody to take care of the dog, I get cold quickly now and theres no snow so there won't be any riding.
I feel bad about not going but...

Monday, January 25, 2010

The Wankle Rides Again!

Installed the new muffler on the wankle Panther: Success! Much quieter than before and the engine seems to run better. I'd always had trouble tuning out a flat spot mid throttle, thats noticeably lessened now. I think the added back pressure of the new exhaust has helped.

I still need to take it back apart and adjust the output pipe to fit better into the flex pipe leading out of the engine bay, to do that I'll need to weld on a flange but in the meantime I'm quite pleased with this.

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

3 years later...

Witness friends the accomplishment of 3 years of ignoring a problem and 2 nights of work! Here before you is the new and improved Mark 1 Mod 2 Wankle Panther replacement exhaust!

Seth used his metal cutting bandsaw to section the pipe last night, we took out almost exactly 1/2". Inside I discovered this is whats apparently called a "gun" exhaust. Inside it had a perforated tube running the length of the pipe with another short one running down the stubby end. I cut some disks of computer case that had holes all through it (think cheese grater) and welded those into the pipe and then welded longer perforated tube back into place and finally welded the two halves back together. Took about 2 hours each night.

To finish I need to come up with an input pipe, I thought I had one but its marginally too small. I'll need to stop at the auto parts store tomorrow and pick up another. Hopefully this new design will be quieter than the old one...

However Seth and I came up with at least 2 more designs last night....

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Wankle Panther muffler

So after selling the El Tigre I've been jonesing to buy another sled. Then I got a $2300 credit card bill. The Christmas season was expensive this year, my car needed 2 new tires, the pickup needed ball joints ($700, curse you Ford!) of course I had to buy presents and so on and so on.

I decided the $400 from the Tigre was better spent on bills. Instead of buying another sled (although theres this John Deere...) I'm working on the poor old wankle Panther. The sled runs pretty good but is really loud. The muffler on this machine was ONLY for this machine, no other AC muffler will fit and every one I've found has rusted to pieces. Unfortunately its basically a coffee can and moisture can pool inside and rust from the inside out...
A couple years ago I'd bought a Cub Cadet muffler which is basically the right shape but it turns out to be about 1/2" too long... Its also still pretty loud. So tonight I'm going over to Seth's shop to borrow his metal cutting bandsaw. I'm going to hack 1/2" out of the middle of the thing. Then when I get back home I'm going to work out some baffles which will hopefully cut the noise some more. As a final step I'm going to pack some steel wool inside to eat up even more sound. I expect the steel wool to oxidize out pretty quickly but with luck my system of buffers should make that not matter.

Tonight's cutting is really step one, Thursday night I should be able to start welding. I've got some old computer cases hanging around. Computer cases are heavy dense steel so I'm hoping they'll make good baffles inside the muffler. Time will tell on that one. Time will also tell if my welding skills have improved enough to make an airtight buffer around the muffler...


Sunday, January 10, 2010

A good day out!

I've become a member of the Coldbrook Snowmobile Club and gotten the big Ski-Doo and the Pantera registered in MA. That lets me ride around the Lake Dennsion area and Coldbrook's good trail system down the center of the state.
I'd done 30 or so miles so far on the Ski-Doo so today Angie and I took it and the Pantera out.

We made a quick loop up to the lake to have a look at this little plane that had landed on the ice:

I don't know anything about it other than its cool looking and was pretty small.

I wasn't sure how the Pantera would do so I rode it first. The first mile or two were a little rough but then we burnt through the old crappy gas and it got better and better. About 5 miles in I handed off to Angie and then couldn't get her back off it! She likes how small and light it is and the fact that since it only has a single carb there isn't much pressure on her thumb. I need to lube the throttle cable on the Ski-Doo, its pretty brutal...

Unfortunately my little trailer isn't wide enough for both sleds so I tried using a 2x6 to widen things enough to hang a ski off the side, I'd built an widener but its not wide enough. The 2x6 works but I found a week point in one of the Pantera's skis...

The ski straightened back out (mostly) when it was back on the ground so no foul. I think what I'll do next time is use 2 2x6 pieces bolted to the frame you can see underneith, that'll give the ski better support. At some point I should see if I can rustle up some newer skis...

Anyway it was a great day, we did about 20 miles in around 2 hours. We'd worked in the morning and had more work to do when we got home so we decided to call it quits before we were too tired. I think thats good anyway, leaves us wanting more.