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...