Monday, December 29, 2014

Bustin out the busted up Ski-Doo

Last winter when I went on the full tank ride Allen pointed out I had a bent trailing arm. My '95 Ski-Doo Grand Touring uses trailing arms for the front suspension which is an old school method. Today everything uses A arms which are lighter and stronger. The original trailing arms on the sled got bent up after an unfortunate encounter with a big concrete block at a gate on our local trail system. I'd had them replaced with aftermarket models which everybody told me weren't as strong as the originals. I guess thats true since I'm really not sure how it got bent this time. These replacement trailing arms are two pieces of stamped metal welded together and when the bend it makes a kink:

I'd already pounded it straight before I took the picture but with the kink there was no way it was going to be strong enough to last, the first good bump I hit with it the kink would bend again and maybe break. I don't want to waste any more money on replacement trailing arms so I figured I'd splint the kink with some angle iron which should be stronger than the original.

Here I've welded on two pieces of 1"x1/8" angle iron. This is the backside of the kink which was worse than the front. I think I must have hit a stump or something and just glanced off of it.

The front side I plated, you can see the dent here where I've left the paint on.

And the finished product:

This should be much stronger than the original, the replacement trailing arms are maybe 1/16" thick, the replacement metal on the back, top and bottom is twice as thick, the plate on the front is the same as the original. It'll be interesting to see if this fix lasts or if I end up remaking the whole trailing arm. If it comes to that I'll get some square stock the same size as the thin end of the trailing arm, run that the whole length and then run a stiffening bar underneath.

After I reinstalled the trailing arm I checked the alignment, for proper steering the skis need to toe out just a bit, if they don't the sled will dart all over, this is a lesson I learned the hard way last winter.

No snow yet but the Ski-Doo is one step closer to being ready. Next up is to repair the exhaust. I've welded on it some before but never really put much time into it. Tomorrow I'll give it a good going over.

Friday, December 19, 2014

Wankel Panther brakes

Tonight I reassembled one of the crank seal holders with a new seal and o-ring. I need to check in with the Vintagesled boys and see if I should put some goop on the o-ring, my first instinct is no but its good to check.

Then since it'll be a couple weeks until I get a new clutch I turned my attention to the brakes. The brakes on this sled have really never worked, I'd adjusted them six million different ways to no avail, they either didn't work or they stuck on. I finally ordered new pucks and when I compared the old to the new I found that the stationary puck is pretty much the same but the old moving puck is less than half the thickness of the new one.

I can also see where the brake caliper was rubbing on the rotor from over adjustment.

I had to spend some time cleaning up where the edge of the caliper had been ground into the opening for the puck so the new puck would fit.

With everything installed the brake feels good for the first time ever. It'll be fun to ride this sled with everything working for the first time.

Thursday, December 18, 2014

Aww geez!

Finally got some inspiration and decided to get after that Wankel Panther. I grabbed the impact gun and pulled the bolt from the clutch, the outer sheave of which fell off. I was left with this:

Heres the other side:

Whoops! That probably explains why occasionally the sled felt like a freight train on takeoff. It might also explain why I had such a hard time tuning the thing properly, although bad crank seals might have caused that also.

Anyway I made a post on and got a kind offer to help me out, if I send him whats left of the clutch he'll combine it with his half and send me back a working clutch.

With that part worked out I got back to the remaining piece. I hooked the big puller onto it and ripped it to pieces before it finally came off:

Heres the engine with the clutch off:

That big counter weight smooths out the odd shape of the rotor, if you look directly behind it you can see where the seal has been leaking. I'd guess this side has been leaking longer than the other.

The seal carrier has an o-ring around it, that o-ring and the seal were both in terrible shape, its surprising the sled ran at all. Again I have high hopes that the engine will run much better with new seals.

Anyway, next step, put the new seal it, get the clutch shipped out, then on to the mag side!

Monday, December 8, 2014

CDI is in, the season begins!

Well kinda...

I got home from work today and the CDI for the Jag had arrived. I'd about given up hope and the place I'd bought it from didn't help by sending me a shipping notification or tracking number.

Its super easy to install, there are 3 plugs and 2 bolts. Here in place:

After that the sled started on the third pull. That was after priming it with maybe 60 pulls a couple weeks ago before I'd realized the CDI was missing. It even idled well which I think means it wants a bunch of Seafoam gas additive. Last year when I first got it it was hard to get it to idle well cold, once it warmed up it was fine though.

After that I put the windshield back on. I'd ordered some new screws and nuts and covers since I'd busted a couple last year.

They're actually a kind of cool system, the tubes on the left have nuts at the bottom, you put the screw in and tighten and it draws the nut up in the rubber which keeps it from coming loose. I shot a little cable lube on each screw as I put it in so I can get them out again in the spring. I also glued the rubber thing into place with a little form-a-gasket which will hopefully help them not turn in the hole while drawing up the rubber, seemed to work but we'll see. I took the windshield off since I don't have garage space for the machine and don't want the windshield ruined by the tarp pulling on it. I built a foam brace for the windshield on the Cobra, we'll see if that worked out. The Pantera and Wankel Panther both have windshields bent back from the pressure of the tarp.
There were a few screws I couldn't get into the nuts because some water had gotten in and frozen. Those were the ones on the front around the headlight. The tarp had come loose and we'd gotten a little rain. I put another bungee on the tarp so hopefully it won't come loose again.

Anyway I'm super excited, I got a couple of rips around the yard and it ran well so I feel confident it'll be good. Now all we need is snow.

Friday, December 5, 2014

Pantera clutch pucks

Speaking of the Pantera I never did talk about the new clutch pucks. This is a Comet Duster 94 clutch, its an aftermarket clutch pretty common to these older sleds. Its actually not supposed to be a good match to my Pantera, its not really supposed to be used on sleds of more than about 40HP, the Pantera's engine is closer to 50HP but this clutch has been on it since my friend Ed bought the sled back in 2001 and everybody has always been happy with the clutch engagement so I figure even if I have to fart around with it every 13 years thats acceptable.

Here's the object in question:

The black one was taken from my sled, the white is a replacement. Notice the scar on the black one, I think thats from the time the sled was frozen to the ground and I tried to break it free with the engine. The way the clutch works is these pucks normally at the bottom of an incline plane. When the engine is revved up centrifugal force tries to force the outward up the slope. The clutch cover resists that since its bolted to the end of the crank. This forces the inclined plane in toward the engine, this causes the outer sheave of the clutch to grab the belt transferring rotational force from the engine to the belt and then onward to the secondary clutch and finally the track. The scar is from the side of the track the puck rides in.

On the scale this one is 23.3g which was essentially what they all were. New pucks are sold by weight with nothing around 23g. The next closest was 25g so thats what I ordered.

All the replacements come in around 25.4g which could just be variation attributable to my scale.

The problem I was fighting was a clutch which wouldn't disengage. I hope thats caused by the pucks not sliding back down the incline due to the scar. Just in case I also bought another stock size spring. Its possible that the old spring has lost some of its sproing and the replacement will do better.

This '78 Pantera is one of the best riding leaf spring sleds I've ever been on so I hope this fixes it. If it doesn't I do have one more trick. Randy scratched up and possibly bent the clutch cover getting it off without the proper puller. The clutch performance actually got worse after that debacle so if the new pucks and spring don't work out I'll get a nother cover and see if that helps.

The snow is here!

I wanted you to see that the predicted snow actually did arrive. We got around 8" of heavy wet stuff. No riding for me, what with Thanksgiving and going to my parent's and then a work trip to Washington D.C. there hasn't been time. I promise that when I get home I'll see about firing up the Cobra. Hopefully the new CDI for the Jag will arrive and I'm also equally hopeful that the new clutch weights will make the Pantera clutch work right again.

Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Time to RIDE!

Big snow forecast here in north Central MA for today and tonight. With about 3" of good wet white stuff on the ground I went out to start up the '91 Jag Special. I'd tried to start it a few weeks ago and failed but later realized I hadn't turned the gas on. Today with the gas turned on I pulled it over 20 times and nothing happened. Thats when I noticed the CDI box was gone.
About two months ago buddy Randy called me and asked if he could borrow the CDI to try on a customer's machine. I said sure. Buddy Randy then never covered the Jag back up. That irritated me slightly but whatever, it happens. Today I'm extra irritated, my CDI never came back and buddy Randy's shop has gone belly up...

Fortunately its relatively easy to get a replacement CDI and they're relatively cheap. I'll be away next week so I wasn't going to be riding anyway but still.

As a second best maybe I'll go see if the Cobra will start. The Pantera is missing half its clutch. I did finally order new clutch weights and a spring and I finally got them installed in the outer sheave but I've never installed that on the sled. Since tomorrow is Thanksgiving I'm unlikely to get to it before December. Oh well, so it goes...

So the list:
'78 Pantera - Needs clutch installed, hopefully new weights and spring fix engagement
'91 Jag - Needs CDI
'95 Grand Touring - Needs trailing arm straightened and a stiffening bar welded on. Probably ought to weld a stiffener on the otherside too. Chuckie did warn me about that when I bought aftermarket arms.
'71 Panther - Needs crank seals, seals and o-rings are here as is the clutch puller, just need to have at it.
'79 Cobra - Shouldn't need anything
'70 Olympique - needs a lot...

Not a promising start.

Friday, April 18, 2014

Puttin 'em up

Its that time of year again... The snow is gone, well mostly. We had an April surprise storm this week that gave us 2 more inches and its been cold enough to keep that snow around but its doomed.

Saturday I gave the Cobra and Jag their last of the year attention. Each got an added slug of Seafoam gas additive and moved to their summertime parking spot.

One of the problems with parking sleds outside under a tarp is that the tarp is hard on the windshield. It gets warm under the tarp and the tension pulls the windshield in. This is very prominent on my Pantera and the Wankel Panther. The Cobra has a big windshield and I didn't want that to happen. A longer term fix is a snowmobile shed that I'm planning on building later this year. For now though I cut a piece of foam insulation to fit the Cobra's windshield which I hope will help. Not helping is the too-small tarp I bought for it. I have no idea why I flaked out and thought a 6x8' tarp was big enough, its not, it needs an 8x10'.

The Jag's windshield is held on my a bunch of screws that have little plastic covers. I managed to remove all the screws only ruining 1 of them although another one will also need replacement since its rusty. I'll put the windshield in the garage along with the one from the big Ski-Doo.

Its always sad parking the machines but we had a pretty good winter and my plan right now is to register the Jag and the Ski-Doo to ride legally in MA next winter. Plans are always subject to change of course...

Sunday, March 9, 2014

The twin carb tour

This has turned out to be a pretty good winter, first week of March and we still have around two feet of snow on the ground.

I loaded up the '95 Ski-Doo Grand Touring, '91 Arctic Cat Jag and '79 Polaris Cobra, all three sleds having twin carbs I named this the "Twin Carb Tour".

We headed out to Leominster State Forest. This is a return to our roots, the scene of our earliest sledding adventures and still a favorite. Theres a good variety of terrain and all relatively low skill required riding.

My friend Ed lives on the edge of the forest, his house is where I kept sleds before I had a house of my own. Fortunately he was home and could join in the fun. He wanted to ride the Polaris and I put him in the lead worried that our more powerful, plush newer machines would let us take right of without him. Boy was I wrong about that! He set a blistering pace, other riders had already created a trail but with no grooming it was very bumpy and icy. Even with basically no rear suspension travel Ed got the little Polaris up to 30mph, riding the big Ski-Doo even I was sometimes having a hard time keeping up.

Actually the big Ski-Doo was the downer of the day. With no picks in the track when we rode on icy trails I wasn't getting enough snow onto the coolers to keep the engine happy and several times we had to stop and let it cool down. I'd experienced this before and I think its in part due to having too much coolant and not enough water in the system. I really need to drain the coolant and replace it with a proper 50/50 mix. I'd drained the overflow bottle once or twice which helped but not enough.

Anyway we rode about 14 miles which doesn't seem like much but considering these are ungroomed trails thats actually pretty good for a couple hours riding. Everybody got a chance on every sled and I was pleased to see that Angie was happy riding the new Jag.

The next day I went back alone and took the Jag out. My goal was to reach the coveted "KMart Hill" a feat I've only managed once back in 2003. I'd tried and failed another time so it'd be a big thing to make it now.
I found the start of the trail and somebody else had already been in to break trail for me but I lost the trail about halfway. Theres a lake crossing which I didn't particularly want to do, its pretty remote and I worried that if I broke through the ice I'd die before I could get back to help. I know theres a trail near the lake to avoid going on the ice but I couldn't find it and even managed to get the Jag stuck. After I got stuck I figured I was better off giving up now, with its extra rear suspension travel the Jag was tough to get unstuck and I was pretty blown from the effort.

I did manage 18 miles that day which again is pretty epic considering the terrain.

So the ride count for 2014 stands at 4 for a total of maybe 60 miles which again doesn't seem like much but considering the 2012-2013 count was 2 for a total of maybe 6 miles this is a big step up.

I'm off to California for work today, I might get another ride next week but I wouldn't count on it. We'll see.

Tuesday, March 4, 2014

Wankel Panther with the wah wah trombone

This post was supposed to be about the triumphant return to life of the Wankel Panther but life of course took a different turn. Rewind back to December/January when I got the Panther running after cleaning the points. When I got back from LA in February I was disappointed to find that it wouldn't start and considering it didn't even pop I figured it was without spark again. I figured this failure was due to me not doing a good enough job cleaning the points. For reliable operation the points need to be clean clean clean. So I quickie cleaned them again. For a test I just did a little cleaning and the sled fired right up nice as you please. For once in its life I was able to get the sled to run good both while moving and at idle.

So that was Sunday, and yesterday I decided it'd be fun to make a little video of starting up the Panther since the Wankel makes such a cool sound, so I started the camera and of course the stupid sled wouldn't start. Again no pops or anything so once again no spark... AAARRRGGGHHH!

Well what have we learned about points in the past year boys and girls? Considering how well the Polaris Cobra has been running we've learned that clean points require good crank seals. So the Panther needs crank seals, theres just no way around it. Fortunately the guys on the Vintagesleds board knew what I needed and got me a link to Dennis Kirk. Unfortunately I'd placed an order to Dennis Kirk YESTERDAY for brake pads for this stupid sled and a clutch puller for the Pantera. I KNEW in my heart of hearts I'd need something else, why didn't I just wait? I hate placing an order just for one thing, the shipping is going to be more expensive then the part...

Oh well. While the engine is out I'll be able to finally replace the helicoil in the spark plug hole which will finally allow me to change the spark plug. Whoever did the helicoil last time didn't get it to stay attached to the hole as well as it attached to the spark plug so it comes out every time I remove the plug. I'll aim to get the hole cleaner, use more locktite and use the kind of helicoil thats made for a spark plug hole and can be swaged into place.

Friday, February 21, 2014

Well thats not going to work!

After the excitement of riding the Polaris Cobra around the yard I figured I'd go all out and take it out on the trail. A quick ride down the street (love living in a redneck town) and I was off onto the trail. I didn't do too much riding, just to the snowmobile shop to hang out and show off. On the way home the headlight quit working which is a common occurrence on this sled, I need to play with the wiring some and see whats up with that.

Anyway the biggest issue with the sled right now is that its really loud. Part of that is the exhaust which I think may have had baffles removed, theres a suspicious weld around the side of the can but mostly its because theres no airbox. Carb noise is a particular whoosh kind of sound combined with a noise similar to the exhaust.

When I got the sled it came with an airbox but the airbox boots were trashed so I built some new ones, the existing clamp inner diameter was about the same as a piece of foam hose insulation so I built new boots with RTV using the foam as a guide. Unfortunately that proved to not fit the carbs so I spent a minute today and actually you know MEASURED things... Turns out the carb mouths are just about 42mm and I happened to have some 42mm radiator hose so my plan was to use RTV to graft the hose onto the existing stubby boots.

Here you can see how the old boots didn't make the gap to the carbs, it was hard to tell at first that the boots wouldn't actually fit over the carbs at all...

Heres my pile of supplies, the airbox, a piece of radiator hose, my micrometer for measuring and other assorted tools and cutters and whatnot.

I cut two short pieces of hose, the one for the PTO carb I cut a little longer than the inner, my intention was to sit the airbox slightly cocked to get away from the clutch.

Okay, confession time, its not gonna work, here you can see the carbs with my new boots installed, I even notched them to fit close on the carb but now I can see that to miss the clutch I'd have to offset the airbox half an inch to the mag side of the engine.

This will require some thought. My immediate thought is to buy a couple pod filters and it looks like I can get them for about $4 each. That would help with the noise a little and would also filter the air going into the engine but I think the PTO side is still going to be a problem.

The other thought I have is to take some PVC pipe and make my own airbox. 42mm is 1.65 inches so I should be able to take 2 inch pipe and fit the rubber boots inside, then mate that to a 4 inch piece of pipe in which I could install some baffles to reduce noise.

My final idea, and the one I think I'll end up with is to stop in at the shop and see what is available for airboxes, maybe they'll have something I can modify to fit.

Cobra rides again!

Okay its been weeks since I replaced the crank seals on the '79 Polaris Cobra and while I'd started it and run it around a little bit I'll admit I was kind of afraid to run it much for fear of it breaking again. That is of course a really lame fear, if it breaks it breaks, I'll fix it again and learn something. So finally after one of our run of storms while Angie was finishing up cleaning the driveway I pulled the Cobra out of the garage. I did this with some trepidation, the last time I'd ridden it I'd had trouble getting up on top of the snow and this latest batch was all soft powder, would I be able to even move in this? I'd sunk the Pantera the other day after all.

Well my fears were totally baseless, the Cobra with its low gearing is very quick off the line and with the good base we had there was no problem plowing right through the powder. I looped around the yard for awhile and then gave Angie a shot. At that point it was tough to get her off the machine, she rode all over. I even convinced her to drive we me on the back. Typically for her we got stuck, she hasn't ridden enough yet to build confidence in the use of power to stay out of trouble. Shes tentative with the throttle driving more like a car so she gets hung up often. I put her on the back and showed her how it was done which got her squeaking as we bounced around the backyard.

Our snow is excellent, probably 3 feet when we took the ride.

Thursday, February 20, 2014

Might be the end of the Ski-Doo

Went on a huge 5 hour ride last Sunday. Met up with some friends and rode all over the place. 3 different lakes, even made an unplanned open water crossing.

The old Ski-Doo ran flawlessly, the only problem was failure to go into reverse when I screwed up a water crossing and fell off the trail. If I'd been alone I'd have been in trouble as it was I had help and got back on the trail quickly.

That said this sled has some serious issues. A few years ago I bent the trailing arms and replaced them with aftermarket. At the time I was told that the aftermarket arms weren't as good as OEM and thats proven to be true, without even knowing I'd done it I bent the right side arm again. I plan to weld on a piece of angle iron so it won't buckle completely but I spent some time making a complete inspection of the sled:

Bent trailing arm
Buckled frame - from the first time I bent the trailing arms
Broken speedo - probably the plastic drive
Broken gas gauge - no idea
Broken thumb heater - probably just a bad wire
Torn seat - like all of them
No studs - its rotten on ice

The one thats a real killer is the buckled frame. I don't remember exactly what I did but just under the driver's feet the sled is creased. I don't think theres any way to effectively fix this, best I could do would be to drill and bolt some big pieces of angle iron into place to stiffen the frame. This would of course add weight. Alternately I could ask my welder cousin to weld in some aluminum angle brackets but the issue is that we're talking about an old, fairly undesirable sled. Riding the little goat trails we were on I was getting a real workout keeping up with the others on much less powerful machines.

A couple of the others in my group were riding Jag 440 machines (Arctic Cat Jag 440cc engine for the uninitiated) from around 1998 and I was very impressed. They're light, float good on the snow (we've got at least 2' and went through some drifts of 3' or more) and have plenty of power. I decided on that ride that I wanted one. Yesterday I went down to the shop and Randy let me try one and I realized I was right.

So Saturday I'm going to look at a '91 Jag, its a little older than the ones I was so impressed with and has a little less suspension but the price is right and the guy is going to hold it for me. I'd been looking at 2 up machines a lot earlier this year but most of them had been sold by the time I could go look at the sled. This guy is a champ...

We'll see how it works out, I feel like this is kind of a win, although I'm going to another modern machine its older than that which it will replace. 23 years old isn't quite vintage yet but it won't be long.

Friday, February 14, 2014

A great ride!

Last week we got 10" of powder snow but I was in California so no riding for me. Then yesterday and last night we got another 10", this time its heavier stuff and there was some rain in between snows which makes for just perfect snow.

After lunch I dug out the big Ski-Doo and headed over to the local snowmobile shop, he's got a good trail in but had packed snow against the trail into a huge pile. I'm not usually the trailbreaker and didn't judge how the pile was built, ended up on a pile with one ski hanging out into space. If the pile hand't been built so strong I'd have rolled right over.

Its hard to tell in the pic but the top of the seat is 6' off the ground...

Managed to get the sled off the pile by tugging on the ski and turning the machine down hill instead of rolling it. Then it wouldn't start until I realized I'd hit the kill switch when I thought it was rolling over. Heading back out I did an X-Games style jump back over the pile and fell ass over teakettle as the sled landed funny. Fortunately it didn't take off without me.

The rest of the ride was pretty uneventful until on the return trip I lost the trail on a frozen pond where the wind had drifted the snow. Out in the 20" unpacked snow the sled tried to bog. I got way back on the seat and piled on the power. The sled has a 670cc liquid cooled 2 stroke which makes something like 90HP which is plenty for a 700# machine. With the weight shifted back and the power piled on the skis lifted and we made it across the pond no problem.

So anyway, my 4th good ride in 3 years, planning on another ride tomorrow.

Sunday, January 26, 2014

What a rotten winter

But I'm still out there anyway. Yesterday we had a veritable heat wave, it got nearly up to 30...
I pulled the Polaris Cobra out of the garage for a little video, it started on the first pull which is very satisfying. I've always had a little trouble with this one flooding and I've gotten so gun shy on it that I start it with the gas turned off (I put an inline shutoff) and only turn the gas on after its running.

Then pulled the big Ski-Doo into the garage, got the alignment worked out finally. That took a lot more farting around than I'd expected. Step 1 was to lay at 2x4 along the track up past the ski and get the ski STRAIGHT. Then cant the tip out 1/4" which gives 1/2" total toe out as the Vintage Sleds guys said. There isn't enough snow to do any serious testing but a blast around the yard suggests it handles better.
While I was under the hood I noticed the battery hold down had broken, it was just a thin metal strap which hooked into a little slot, I welded an old computer slot cover onto the strap, had to cut it a little but it fit pretty well. Very ugly, but I shot some paint on, it should hold. Ideally I'd pull the gas tank and engine out and weld a nut onto the bulkhead for an automotive type hold down but that'd be a lot of work...
Farted around with the speedo a little, on the last ride it wasn't working. The cable is good and I can spin it with a drill to make the speedo go. I think it might have just come out of the drive a little, we'll see. I forgot to check as I rode around the yard.

Finally got the other carbide installed. That one I'd welded poorly and broke a weld. It took me 3 tries to get the stud welded on correctly, I just couldn't get it aligned straight. Sled steers very sharply now, this is something I'll want to keep up with in the future.

I'd bought new runners for the Polaris but it turns so well I didn't bother to install them. Still need to go back and put the other runner on the Pantera but I've had a cold and overdid it yesterday, need to take a day off.

Friday, January 17, 2014


Finally got time and energy to get the engine back in the Polaris Cobra. I've had a cold and its just sapped my strength. When I hauled the engine to the sled I realized right away that I'd put the motor plate on backwards. I'd been paying more attention to which way the tabs went than to the cutout that allows for the steering shaft. I got that rotated around and went to drop the engine in again and realized that the plate was now upside down. DOH! So I'd put it on as wrong as you could, upside down and backwards...

Got that all sorted out and then got down to the million little things it takes to get the engine back in. Actually compared to a car this is a cinch but you still need to go slow and be careful. Got the motor aligned back where it was by matching the bolt markings. This is something I should have marked when I pulled it as clutch alignment is important. While I was right there I decided to put the belt back on, this was a bad idea as it made it much harder to put the fuel pump back. This sled is odd in that the fuel pump sits right on the block. With that finally in I could plug in the electrics, which gets zip tied together. I don't know why, it was like that when I got it. I assume because it came loose on a previous owner. Then get the carbs installed, the recoil starter and finally the exhaust.

Ready to start, kill switch on, key on, pull. Pull again, choke on, hmmm, choke feels weird, like its not all the way on. Well, lets worry about that later. Pull again, it starts! Recoil rope stays out, crap. Does that mean its stuck on and ripping itself apart? Better shut it down and check. Turns out the rope had come loose inside the starter, the rope I used was slightly smaller than original and my knot was too small.

Got that all fixed and found a couple small gas leaks which required some more zip ties. I think I might get some of the spring loaded gas line clamps like they use on lawnmowers, the zip ties really aren't cutting it, I'd used small ones and now most of those are doubled up.

Anyway gas leaks fixed fire it up again. It starts really easily now, good compression, no leaks, good gas, clean points, and new BR8ES sparkplugs make for a good package. Ran it for a couple minutes to be sure both sides of the engine were getting warm. I engaged the clutch a couple times but the brake is sticking again so we didn't go anywhere.

Shut it down and reinstalled the hood. Ran it again, the light still works which is nice.

So just a couple things left on the list, I need to loosen up the brake again. It'd be awesome if I could figure a way to fix that permanently. I think some riding some miles would help a lot. I also ordered new runners for the skis, hopefully these won't fight me like the Arctic Cat did. I think I'll run back out right now and put some penetrating oil on the nuts...

Thursday, January 16, 2014

Exhaust manifold

One thing I noticed about the '79 Polaris Cobra is that the front of the engine was really greasy. This extended down into the belly pan. At first I thought the exhaust manifold gaskets were leaking but then I happened to look into the exhaust manifold while holding it up to a light:

See the light peeking through in the middle of the pic? The manifold was made in 2 halves pressed together and tacked. It would appear its separated in the middle. I ground out the joint and welded it back together until I couldn't see light anymore. Then painted with some high temp.

While I had the grinder and the paint out I figured I ought to clean up the exhaust pipe some. Thats when I found:

A line of welds where one had pulled through the metal. Again and easy fix but then I discovered what I think is a cleanout plate on the other side that had been booger welded all around. You can see in the pic above where it looks like the plate as been swaged or tacked to the rest of the pipe. Apparently the other side leaked so somebody ran weld all around it. It looks awful but weld is really hard and after 15 minutes of grinding I'd only cleaned up maybe 1 inch out of 24. I'll work on it again in the spring. In fact I'll probably keep the pipe out of the sled all summer and just nibble away at it.

Anyway I did finish putting the engine together last night, took longer than expected because the fan housing was really dirty both from the leaking exhaust and the leaking crank seal. Then I realized I'd put the motor plate on backwards. That was the last straw and I gave up for the night...

Tuesday, January 14, 2014

Couple little updates

Got to spend some time with the big Ski-Doo. It turns out the right side ski was trying to make a left turn which was causing my weird handling. I adjusted it out but in retrospect gave myself way too much toe out, about 2 inches instead of the recommended 1/4", the sled looks very odd. Next time we get a day without rain I'll bring it back in.

While I was at it I decided to replace the carbides. I'd bought new runners a couple years ago but never installed them. So I pulled the right ski and then pulled the runner, that was actually easier than I'd expected and surprisingly I didn't break any of the attachments, but...

So top to bottom we've got the original runner, one I'd modified to fit and what arrived in the package. Fortunately these aren't hard to modify, cut the incorrect stud off and weld it into the right place. Unfortunately while I was welding the first studs into place I didn't notice that my welder was on low power (it only has 4 settings) and when I went to attach that runner to the ski one of the welds broke. No big worries, I only had one ski off anyway so I just attached the stronger runner, I'll fix the other one later.

So now I'll have better steering and hopefully better handling.

Thursday, January 9, 2014

New belt, fixes problems?

Stopped at Troy Arctic Cat the other day and picked up a new belt for the '78 Pantera. I was pleasantly surprised that they had one right in stock.

Its got some signs of having been on the shelf for a long time but I don't see anything wrong with it. I did get an email back from Carlisle saying they were surprised their belt didn't work and wanting to confirm both what I had on the sled previous and what the original spec was.

I spent some time with the 2 belts and realized that the Carlisle belt is about one inch smaller internal circumference than the Cat belt, interestingly the outside circumference is the same.

Today I got a note from Carlisle saying the MAX1107M3 is the correct belt, its apparently a half inch larger than the 1078, they're going to send one out. I'll give it a shot and let you know when I get it.

Monday, January 6, 2014

Steering the Ski-Doo

Yesterday's ride made me think about the steering on that big Ski-Doo, its always been a little weird and lately it darts all over the place. I asked about alignment over on the Vintage Sleds board and got:

Never toe in, I always use a bungee cord to pull the ski's together and set the alignment about 1/8" toe out. then when the cord is released pull the ski's apart, the slop in the bushings and pins will be apparent, then measure again. Usually I end up with about 1/4"- 3/8" toe out.
Which is good, I couldn't remember if it was toe in or toe out.

I'd intended to get to it today but it rained all dang day, sometimes real hard, theres flooding in some of the low areas and our sump pump came on once or twice. Tonight its supposed to turn real cold, with luck my sleds won't all be frozen down tomorrow...

Sunday, January 5, 2014

Woo Hoo! A nice ride

What a weird winter, we had snow, then it got warm, then it got wicked cold and we got snow again, tonight its supposed to rain...
We had stuff to do today but I found a little time to sneak out and run the big Ski-Doo. Alan had told me about a new trail out to the Winchendon water tower. I'd ridden over to Randy's on Friday and then up to New Hampshire and back but didn't see the trail. Most of the way I was the first sled through which isn't so surprising on a weekday.

So today I found the little cut over. I didn't realize before but the railroad bed I'd been riding parallels a road that isn't plowed in the winter, the cut over trail is a goat road but its short so I had no problem muscling the big Ski-Doo through it. The summer road had been driven by a truck with is a pain in the ass because you bounce from rut to rut but again that part is pretty short. After that it was a short ride through a clear cut and then another good trail. I didn't go to the water tower because it was getting dark and I didn't want Angie to worry. I ran up to New Hampshire on that good trail (which I think is also a rail bed), turned around and headed home.

The speedometer has quit on the Ski-Doo, I think the drive had water in it from sitting, I'll need to pull it apart to be sure. So I don't know how far I went, I was gone for maybe half an hour so I'm gonna guess 5 or 6 miles, its only 3 miles to New Hampshire and back on the direct path and I don't think I did all that much more. So not a terribly significant ride but a good one none-the-less and it did a lot to restore my confidence in the big Ski-Doo which hadn't seen any miles at all in 2 years.

On another note when I ran over to Randy's the other day I found the big Ski-Doo very hard to turn. Turns out when we replaced the front suspension 3 years ago we forgot to put in grease fittings so the spindles were all dried out. I shot some PB blaster in there to drive out the ice, got a couple grease fittings at Randy's and pumped in some grease. Its better now but needs more grease, the steering is still pretty stiff. I also need to pull the throttle cable and lube it some more. This sled has always had a wicked heavy throttle which is weird because its a Ski-Doo 2 stage throttle which is supposed to be lighter. I was going to replace the cable last year but Chuck talked me out of it, he said the new manufacture cables are junk and I'd be better lubing my really good. I've found guys online saying you can soak the whole thing in a can of oil to lube it. I think I'll just hang it and run cable lube down into it until it runs out the bottom, then do it again for the bottom half.

Saturday, January 4, 2014

New belt, new problems...

You might remember last year when I had the Pantera frozen to the ground and had to tow it with the Cobra to get unstuck, you can read all the gory details here. Well in all that messing around I managed to put a flat spot on the belt. In looking at it you wouldn't think there was much, 2 teeth have a little spot worn off one edge but you can feel it any time you take off and that spot is on the engine side which is about half the time. So I figured we were due for a belt, I don't think I've ever put one on the sled so who knows how old it is.

I got Randy to order me a new Dayco MAX. The MAX series is their hardcore strong belts, figure I'll not need to worry about it for a good long time, its spendy but I really like this sled. I picked it up the other day and installed it yesterday.

I noticed that after I installed it the sled started hard, well thats odd... Rode a lap around the yard and then out to head to the trail. Got to the trailhead and stopped to adjust my helmet, when I did the sled quit. Thats odd too, this sled has been running very well. When I tried to restart I realized the engine was pulling over really hard. I pulled the new belt off and reinstalled the old one.

Got going again but the engine sounded BAD. Oh man, old gas and crud in the carb yet again. Oh well, turned around and headed for home. I'm happy to say I made it home without help but I was frustrated so I left the Cat and took the big Ski-Doo out instead.

Today I pulled the carb (brrr its cold!) and although it looked fine I cleaned it again, even took the jets out and ran them through my ultrasonic cleaner. Reinstalled and the sled started right up but still ran weird, didn't sound right and stalled out. Pulled the plugs and they were both wet. Put in new (well new to this sled) plugs and it started right up with no choke and ran great...

I posted about it on the VintageSleds board and got:
I ran into the same problem with a 85 El Tigre 6000.  The cogs on top of the belt seem to make the belt either shorter or wider and it engages the side of the clutch.  You will have to see if you can find a old stock belt.  I put the original back on.  If you have the dimensions of the new belt look for a slightly longer one.
He goes on to suggest  a Dayco HP3006 but hasn't actually used one himself. MFG Supply suggests a Dayco HP3012.

So now I'm all confused. Fortunately theres still some miles in the old Kimpex belt. I'll spend some time looking for one of those and maybe call Troy Arctic Cat and see what they suggest. If they can get a real Arctic Cat belt for not too much money I'll do that. With luck somebody will come on VintageSleds who has figured this one out.

Thursday, January 2, 2014

Engine out

Got some time to pull the engine out of the Polaris Cobra. Actually an easier job than I'd thought. The last engine I'd pulled was the Wankel Panther, a job made more difficult due to no sockets on the wiring. This one maybe took me 20 minutes start to finish.

With the engine out I made sure to mark the stator, I don't want to lose the timing settings, I don't have a timing tool to reset them with and don't really want to buy one. When I rebuilt the 300cc in the old Ski-Doo I used my multi-meter but thats a single cylinder engine with the simplest points system imaginable.

I hauled the engine down to the shop to pull the clutch. Randy and I messed with it a little but this is something I really want Chuck for, he pulls a lot of clutches and knows which tool to use just by looking at it. I left it there the day after Christmas but haven't had time to get back yet. I intend to go today, hopefully they're open, we're in the midst of the latest "storm of the century" which promises a good amount of snow. Once I get the engine home it should be no big whoop to get the oil seals in and get it all back together. Then let the Three Bond set overnight in the warm basement and have it installed and running tomorrow...