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.