Tuesday, December 23, 2008

First ride of '08/'09!

Not strictly vintage but I took my '94 Ski-Doo Grand Touring for its inaugural run tonight. We had a good 14" of powder over the weekend and then a deep freeze so I was hoping it would have packed down some.
Some is the operative word, its still way too fluffy to ride for real but somebody else had been down the trail before me so I gave it a shot.

The Grand Touring really soaks up the bumps in a way I'm not used to at all. Stuff that was a real kidney pounding on the TX-L or Tigre (and absolutely brutal on the Olympique) is just bumpy on this, theres miles of suspension. Its also got tons of power. I've never had it over half throttle, don't know what I'd need that for.

At one point I hit a water hole which hadn't frozen solid (of course the GT weighs a million pounds) under the snow and thought I'd had it, I gave it some throttle and we made it through. I'd gone slower into the hole than I'd have normally because of a tree leaning across it. We had an ice storm a week ago and many trees are down or leaning badly.

Finally I had to turn back because the GT is too tall to get under a big tree down across the trail. I'd been under that same tree several times last year with the Tigre, TX-L and Olympique. I know theres a path around it but I couldn't see it in the dark. The reverse gear on the GT was super handy, I'm not sure I could have handled humping that sled around...

On the way back I carried some more speed into the water hole and had less of an issue, I probably should have given more throttle when I hit the water though.

No real issues to report, this is the first time I've gotten the sled all the way warm. The temp gauge got to just above level, theres no numbers but it was maybe 3/4 of the way through its swing. I'm not sure if thats normal or not. At some point soon I'll drain and replace the coolant...


Sunday, December 21, 2008

Uh oh - New sled

Heres one for the uh oh file. Picked up my newest sled yesterday, a '94 (could be a '95 I forget) Ski Doo Grand Touring SE 670. We've had a good 14" of snow so I took it for a spin tonight.

First impression is that its a MONSTER. I brought it home on the trailer because I couldn't imagine hauling it back out of the pickup. It DOMINATES my trailer. I'm reasonably sure even with my extensions (assuming I make a second one) that I can't carry this sled and the Tigre at the same time.
Its got electric start which is VITAL its dammed near impossible to start without it, it'll rip your arm clean off, but you wanna hear about power? This is a fasssst sled even if it does weigh a million pounds. I only had it up to about 40mph because with the way the snow is still coming down I couldn't see anything but this is easily an 85mph sled, maybe 100 but as I say its heavy...

Features: Electric start, reverse, 2up seating, liquid cooled 670cc which supposedly puts out around 100hp, heated grips with thumb warmer, kiddie bars with heated grips. ~8 gallon gas tank.

Downside: Its huge...

So you don't think I've completely gone to the dark side I did have the Tigre out and buzzing around the yard yesterday. Much more fun to throw that around our little back yard than the GT. If I'd had more mix gas I'd have run it some today. We're going to Maine on Thursday, will probably take the Tigre with us.

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Gets me excited

Took the dog out around 10pm last night, it had been sleeting and we had maybe 1/4" on the ground. Buster (my dog) has never seen snow before (he's from Arkansas), he thought it was great, licked it off the pavement.

Anyway today I found a cool clip on Youtube:

Makes me want a beater sled. Somehow I always get caught up in making my sleds "just a little nicer" until I don't really want to beat on them anymore...

Saturday, November 22, 2008

Tigre runs!

Again proving that putting sleds away correctly is a good idea I fired up the Tigre today. It took maybe 10 pulls and then a little rough running before it settled down and ran nice. I took it for a spin around the yard and put it back. I'm well pleased with it. Need to get a chance to haul the TX-L over to Randy's. I should check when he's open next week...

Randy still doesn't have my Grand Touring ready but he checks with me everytime I'm in. I think next time I should bring some money for a deposit, that should get him moving. Turns out its a '95, manufactured in '94 which is the year I graduated high school. It'll be interesting having a sled so new.

It was in the 20s all day today, spitting snow too. It won't be long.

Monday, November 3, 2008

Going to the dark side

The awesome thing about last winter was the boatload of snow. The sucky thing about last winter was that I didn't get to ride very much because of nearly constant breakdowns.
Thats pretty much been my pattern. The last time we had huge snow was '01-'02 and it was all I could do to keep my '70 Ski-Doo running reasonably well. Even then I had issues with headlights and such.
I guess all portents say this year is supposed to be big snow and deep freeze so I've decided its time to get a newer sled. I hit Randy's on Saturday and told him I want to sell off a couple vintage riders and get something newer, he showed me a Ski-Doo 670 Gran Touring (think thats what it is anyway), mid '90s sled. IFS, heated grips, port for a helmet warmer, reverse, electric start, blah blah blah. It wouldn't start when I was there but it hasn't been run much and the battery died. It was a bugger to pull over so a good battery is critical. Randy's gonna put a new battery in and I'll go back this week and check it out. The price is right so I'll probably grab it. It needs a couple idler wheels but I can surely handle that.
In exchange I'll be selling at least one sled, probably the TX-L since its my most valuable machine. It needs new crank seals so I told Randy to come get it and put them in. I haven't decided yet if the Tigre will go also but it probably will. I'll wait for the snow to come since that one isn't as overtly valuable...
Staying with us will be the '70 Ski-Doo and the '71 Arctic Cat Panther rotary. I've never gotten to really ride the wankle panther so it'll be high on the project list. Thats the other part of this is to reduce the number of projects to a more manageable number. with only 3 sleds I've reduced my potential projects by one... I hope anyway.


Saturday, August 23, 2008


Customer appreciation day at Randy's today. The pig roast was very tasty and as usual came off without a hitch. I spent a lot of time eyeing the Yamaha 2up that hauled the TX-L out of the woods last winter...
Old Joe has a lot of time on his hands, he hasn't had much work since Randy isn't very busy. I think I'm going to haul the TX-L over there and have him put in a seal kit. Look over the inside of the motor while he's there, fix any little fiddly bits. Get it running perfect and then sell it off...

Yeah sell it off, I know. The thing is last year when I was trying to sell the Centurion I had lots of offers to buy the TX-L, its the most valuable sled I've ever owned, apparently way more popular than the Centurion, I can see why of course.

Although smart money would keep it and the Tigre, they're my newest most reliable sleds, get rid of everything else.

I dunno, I should have Joe go through those two, maybe they'll be super reliable and maybe I should just sell off the others and maybe there'll be so much snow that work gets closed.......


Friday, August 1, 2008

The dog days of summer

Its the dog days, the days are starting to get shorter but the worst of the heat is here. I'm starting to think real hard about hauling the TX-L over to Randy's, this is his least busy time of the season. The motorcyclers are mostly worked out, the dirtbikers will ride less because its too hot and nobody is thinking about snowmobiles yet but me. I'm going to have the motor on the TX-L resealed, maybe new rings and piston if he thinks its worth it but compression is still up around 120#, I don't think there are a huge number of hours on that engine. I resolve that this season I'm going to get the speedo to work and figure out the tach and the lights. I'll also pull the seat and restaple it and probably replace the board.
I'm also thinking tomorrow I may start the Tigre, I put a good dose of fuel stabilizer in it when I shut it down last spring but I'm thinking a little fresh seafoam and let it run long enough to warm up good and dry out the condensation. Its been very wet here lately...
Youtube has TONS of vintage snowmobile videos although it makes me laugh when I see "vintage snowmobile footage, 1998"...


Sunday, July 27, 2008

Too many projects

You'll see the same post title in both blogs if you read them but the content is different in each...

I've got too many projects, on the snowmobile front every sled is a project. It'd be nice to have a newer sled (sacrilege!) that I could just hop on and ride up to Keene without any fear that it'd crap out on me. Angie and I have talked it over and a 2up would be the best choice. Randy still has the Yamaha 600 that pulled the TX-L out of the woods last year... To do that I'll need 2 things though, money and space. A nice sled like that ought to live in the garage full time, not out in the weather. So I figure to sell off 2 sleds and keep 2 vintage riders and one newer sled. That way if friends come over we'll have plenty of riders.
So, For Sale:

1. 1971 Arctic Cat Panther 303 - The Wankle Panther with it's push pull primer setup. Its got a brand new seatcover and a reasonably good seatback. The exhaust is holey but I can spend some time making it reasonably solid. Its biggest problem is that its got no spark. Somebody who is smart about points should be able to fix it quick. - $300 which is what I paid for it before the primer upgrade or the new seatcover.

2. 1970 Ski-Doo Olympique 12/3 - The Yellow Bullet - Heavily documented on my site. Good running 300cc motor, reasonable chassis with some relatively minor rust. Decent hood with one small break and some spider cracking. New Camoplast replacement track, new seat and seatback covers. Needs wood for the seat and the carb will need cleaning, I rinsed the gas tank last winter. - $300 which again is what I paid for it as a non-runner with a bad seat and track. The track alone is worth $250.

If you're interested drop me a note: curtludwig@yahoo.com

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Old sleds on TV

My wife is a MacGyver addict... I loved the show when I was a kid but unfortunately I find that the shows haven't grown old with dignity....
Anyway we were watching season 3 the other day the episode is "Mask of the Wolf". Mac and Jack Dalton end up chasing some bad guys up into the mountains. The bad guys rent snowmobiles, of course at the time they weren't old snowmobiles.... Its a Phazer and a Jag.
I don't know much about Phazers but the Jag I've seen many of, its the wedge hood and 2up seat. From what I can find the episode would have been shot in '87 or '88 so I'd guess the sled is the same.
Anyway it was pretty cool watching them ride around in what looked to be pretty good snow conditions. Although its foggy so I suspect it was probably pretty warm.


Friday, June 27, 2008

No truck? No problem!

In this time of high gas prices maybe these guys have the right idea. http://youtube.com/watch?v=p1_Ny5iuMmo&feature=related

One time a pair of guys from New York showed up at Randy's to pick up a '73 Ski-Doo TNT hulk Randy had. It didn't have a motor so it was no big deal to load into the back of the Dodge Caravan they'd brought. Yeah, a Dodge Caravan with all the seats out. It was after we'd loaded the '73 that I managed to sell them a '72 TNT 295 (I think it was a 295. It was a single anyway.) that Randy had hanging around. That one was mostly complete but without a seat. Both sleds fit inside the Caravan with all the doors closed. The guys said they'd brought the van because it was such a long drive and gas prices were so high. That was 2 or 3 years ago, gas was half the price it is now!


Thursday, June 26, 2008

Hiatus stinks don't it?

Figure I'll try to get over here once a month maybe. I just got back from California, I spent almost 2 weeks in Burbank. No snowmobiles there...

One of my students knew about snowmobiles though, had a Sno-Jet he said. Of course he's from Michigan. Very few people are actually from greater L.A.


Wednesday, May 7, 2008

Another blog

So since its summertime and I've got a pretty wide array of interests I've started another blog, creatively titled "Curt's Other Blog" http://curtsotherblog.blogspot.com/ it'll focus on stuff I don't think is on topic for this. Realistically it won't focus on anything and thats the whole point.
Have no fear I'll still be posting here as time and activities permit. The idea is that I won't clutter up this blog with stuff old snowmobile people don't care about...
Also with any amount of luck people will actually click on the ads on the other blog and I might actually start paying the bills on time...

Tuesday, April 29, 2008


Well friends it happens, you write enough and eventually you offend somebody you like.
Glen Mallory dropped a note the other day, apparently he'd seen my VSCA post (which I'd actually forgotten about) and was hurt. I took a look back and apparently " Glen Mallory has the best article in the whole issue" didn't balance "too bad the pictures suck". Yeah, I was probably overly harsh on that one.

Glen wrote a nice note explaining that the pics that left his camera were better than those that were printed and his captions got deleted. I'll take him at face value, everything he's ever said to be before has been spot on. That still leads back to those who publish the VSCA mag as either having low standards or being a bit..... I can't come up with a word other than inept and thats a fairly harsh word but it'll have to do. If you're insulted by "inept" think up a better word and substitute it.

Anyway, Glen did mention that with proper jetting my Tigre should be safe even in warmer temps, I asked for clarification on that, we'll see what he comes back with.
At the risk of delugeing him I've got questions about the points on my wankel Panther, we'll see.

The snow is gone, the grass is green, the birds are chirping, the snowmobiles have been put to sleep for the summer. The motorcycles are awaiting parts, I ordered them a week ago yesterday, they shipped today. I'm not happy with the vendor, I've emailed them with my complaint. We'll see what they do. If nothing good happens I'll let you know and you can avoid them.


Tuesday, April 1, 2008


Is anybody else in the VSCA? What do you think of it?
It seems like in the last couple years the quality of the VSCA magazine has plummeted. I'm thinking back to the end of the Charles Pluddmann (oh lord forgive me for butchering his name) administration when the pictures were very high quality though black and white. Then the crooks bought it and things got colorfull and exciting and then missing entirely.
I'll give the new crowd credit the magazine comes out reliably. Here its the first of April and the March issue has just arrived but thats okay, it got here...
Still the quality of the images is generally pretty poor the stories are at best lightweight and the copy editing (for spelling and typos) is terrible. In the latest issue the title for one story reads "Eagle River Vintage Wold Championship". Not to mention that they've run the Widowmakers article AGAIN.
I like the Widowmakers article, the thing is I've read it. I read it once on Ev Regal's website, again in the VSCA magazine, again in the VSCA magazine and now a THIRD TIME in the VSCA magazine...
Glen Mallory has the best article in the whole issue, too bad the pictures suck. If I didn't know what I was looking at I'd be hard pressed to figure it out. Its not the angle or lighting its the low quality digital photograph. The publishers needed to send Glen a disposable FILM camera and not accept the digital pictures that were sent. I'm all for digital pictures on websites but they are generally NOT acceptable for print. To make a good print picture you need at LEAST 5 megapixels, nothing less cuts it.

Anyway consider that I'm being generally postive here, Glen's article is good. Theres a Cheetah build article thats totally lightweight but interesting, the Widowmakers and of course everything else is show coverage... This is an improvement over previous issues where it was basically ALL show coverage...
I dunno, I've been thinking I'd let my membership lapse, but this issue shows promise. I hate to write a critical note to the VSCA people, after all what have I ever written to go in there? Still if they could improve just a bit...

Wednesday, March 26, 2008


And the quiet of spring hits. The email traffic to the dswnewengland@gmail.com address dies off to almost nothing, the Yahoo groups I read has almost no traffic and as always I feel that quiet sadness for another winter passed. I think of the good rides I had and the frustrations and failures (stupid wankle Panther). Last weekend I put some fuel stabilizer in the Tigre and parked it. The Ski-Doo got parked dry. This weekend the wankle Panther will get pushed into the back of the garage and my Honda CB900f motorcycle will come out so I can replace the valve cover gasket.
The TX-L is an exception, I'm really pissed at how badly its performed lately, stranding me in the woods was a dirty trick. That one I think I'm going to pull the motor for a full rebuild. Its got reasonable compression now so I think it'll be just rings and seals but I won't really know until I get inside.

Aside from that I've got a 1965ish Snapper Comet rear engine riding (RER) mower that I brought south from my farm in Maine last fall. The 8hp Techumseh on it has like 10psi and parts are NLA (no longer available) so it's going to get a brand new drop in replacement. I want to get it going because the K161 Kohler in my Cub Cadet is starting to smoke alot. So once the Snapper is running right I'll put a piston in the Cub Cadet... It never ends.

Monday, March 24, 2008

Stupid kill switch

You may have read me ranting about Arctic Cat's stupid throttle switch thing. I think I've finally figured out how it worked and why it fails, I need to take one all the way apart this summer to really know for sure though. That'll be a destructive proceedure so I'll need one off a junker, I'll let you know more later when I do it.

Anyway on my Tigre I'd pulled too hard on the kill switch knob trying to take it off and broke it into two pieces. the top of the knob came clean off. Its some wicked hard to use like this...
Glue didn't work. Duco cement stuck some but not enough, super glue wouldn't stick at all.... Finally I was reworking the hood straps (more on that later) and it occured to me.

An 1/8th inch hole and a pop rivet later and its pretty well fixed. I should have routed out the hole just slightly, the rivet expands and slightly stretched the body of the switch and made it a bit of a tight fit. Still it works and shows no sign of coming off. I severely dislike not having a kill switch, its your only friend in case of disaster like a runaway motor...



As you might guess I didn't go on the ride... Angie and I are going to Las Vegas in a couple weeks so we went to Keene to go shopping and get new clothes for the trip. I didn't even work on sleds hardly at all that weekend.
I did manage to figure out what shut down the old Ski-Doo, its a bit hard to see but that filter is just totally plugged. I hadn't replaced it since I'd sealed the tank on the sled and that was almost 6 years ago. I filled the tank with vinegar and left it for a week and what I found is not so good. The sealer must have been thin in some spots and it looks like the rust has come through. I think it may even be coming from outside. I'm not sure what I want to do. I bought some more sealer to do my camp stove with and there was lots left over. The tank is clean and dry now so I'm thinking I may put an ounce or two of the sealer in and see if it'll stick. It says it need an acid presence, the vinegar was and acid, so maybe...


Friday, March 14, 2008

Tough decision

Theres a vintage ride in northern New Hampshire this weekend, its a free one and you don't need to be registered to go. The thing is its about 3 hours away from my house... The weather report isn't great, high temp of 38F with a rain/snow mix...
My Tigre runs fine but its the only running sled I've got. I can bust my butt tomorrow to get the TX-L or Ski-Doo going, grab the wife when she gets out of work and head up, ride for a few hours the next day, get home late and go to work tired on Monday. Skipping work Monday is NOT an option...
Of course this would be the only vintage ride I've ever been on, its sponsored by some really good people and should be a real good time for small money. It'll also surely be the last time I ride this season...
I gotta talk it over with the wife, maybe see if Randy's got a sled I can borrow....


Monday, March 10, 2008

The squeeze....

So Sunday I drained the tank on the old Ski-Doo. What came out didn't look too bad but its hard to really tell while its draining past you. I put the plug back in and added a gallon of vinegar, I'll leave that this week, if the weather is nice Saturday I'll drain it and rinse good with water, dry it good and with a new fuel filter we should be ready to go again once I clean the carb back out. I should stop by Randy's this week and see if he's got welch plugs in stock. I don't need a full kit but as I'm reasonably sure the jets will be plugged I will need welch plugs...
Here's the disassembled squeeze bulb primer that was giving me trouble.
The tan things are the check valves. Its a bit hard to tell in the picture but they're quite clever little devices, theres a little cup inside tube thats crimped to keep the cup from falling out. Blow on the cup and it presses up against the hole behind it. I can't get them to stay in the input and output bits anymore and I don't dare use glue... I'll just buy a new primer if I need one.

On a side note Mitch says its wankle since its inventor's name was Felix Wankle. Silly me of course it is...

Tuesday, March 4, 2008

The down day

Saturday was the down day last weekend, everything fought me every inch of the way. The idea was to ensure the TX-L was running correctly so I could take it up Kmart hill. It wasn't running correctly, it kept quitting on me, just like before. I noticed frost on the fuel shut off and thought maybe it was getting gas leaked onto it so I decided to replace the gas lines down to the pump. I found that the filter was kind of gunky so I replaced it too. Everything was going fine I was taking my time and zip tying the lines on. Then I got to the tank itself and the port going into the tank which is plastic broke off... Enough stub was left on that I could hook up my siphon hose and drain the tank into a bottle...
Fortunately Randy had a tank from a Puma (I think, a Cat anyway) that had a metal port. I put a wrap or two of teflon tape on and threaded it in. I also put on a new pickup, the old one didn't have a check valve. I don't think thats a big problem on this sled except when parking on an upslope. I've noticed in those cases you loose suction from the tank and the sled can be hard to start.
Anyway with that all installed it took a squirt of go juice to get the sled to start, thats never a good sign. When it started it roared to maximum rpm, also not a good sign... I shut it down with the kill switch before it could take off. Perplexed I cleaned the carbs, it does seem like one needle had some crud on it and may have been sticking open. Perhaps the belly of the engine is full of gas. With the carbs back on my problem was unchanged...

So now I need some time to pull the impulse line and pump the gas out... Its very warm today, in the 50s and heavy rain is predicted. With luck I'll get to this just in time to not ride any more for the season... :(

Monday, March 3, 2008

Handwarmer switch

This is the new handwarmer switch. To get an idea of its location think where your legs are when you're riding. Its just above and in front of your left knee. The old switch had been a toggle switch and somebody's knee must have hit it because it was broken clean off. Its one of those where in retrospect its in a really bad place. This switch is in exactly the same spot but only 1/4" or less thick so other than turning off the handwarmers hitting it with my knee shouldn't hurt anything.
While installing the switch I found that the low power connector was badly wired. I cut it back a little, tinned the wires and soldered on the connector. Both high and low power settings work fine now.


Here's the Tigre and Ski-Doo just after coming over the snowbank. The hood is open on the Tigre because I was worried about heat. I never built up a whole lot of speed while towing because I was worried about the Ski-Doo falling over. So I figured when I got out of the woods I'd pop open the hood while I loaded the Ski-Doo on the trailer and let any extra heat out. The Tigre started right back up to go on the trailer and again to unload so I don't think I did it any harm...

What a weekend!

Okay busy weekend, no Kmart hill but I did ride and I've got some pictures (none from the trail though).
“If you can't be a good example, then you'll just have to serve as a horrible warning.” - Catherine Aird

So today my knee is the size of a grapefruit and hurts like the dickins... How did it get this way you might ask? Well after fixing the kill and heated handlebars switches on the Tigre (yay!) and reviving the Ski-Doo (yay, yay!) and using the Ski-Doo to haul wood (whoopie!) I realized that this might be my last day for snowmobiling this season. So since the Ski-Doo was running well I decided it was the machine, the TX-L could wait in limbo awhile longer.
We set off the sled was running great, I made a couple speed tests and got to ~25mph which is FAST on that sled... Then I hit an off-camber section and found out that the strap I'd put on the seat had come off, so the seat fell off the sled, and so did I! I must have twisted my knee some in that fall, but did it deter me? Not a bit of it.
I rode up into New Hampshire and over to Rindge, I haven't checked the GPS yet but I probably went 5 miles out which is a big deal when you average ~8mph. In fact I fell off twice more, there are sections where the trail goes from nice and flat to very lumpy and I was slow to stand up instead of kneel. Needless to say I'm going to weld some good seat hold downs on soon. Reproduction hold downs are available and should be better than the junky things I made and bolted in.

Finally I ran out of gas. Doing so sucked up some crap from the bottom of the tank and now the sled won't run. I recovered it with the Tigre which went pretty easily, I've got some pics. Guess I need to flush the tank again, hopefully it'll go easier now than it did last time...

More pics tonight.


Friday, February 29, 2008

Wow, late season snow!

March is really late into our riding season, usually I figure President's day to be about the end of it. However the weather guessers are saying 4-8" tonight and 3-5" tomorrow.
My problem so far has been that when I want to go riding the temp usually spikes into the 40s or 50s. Above about freezing I get nervous about riding the Tigre with its freeair motor. The TX-L I don't worry about since I can always pack snow onto the running boards and its got coolers mounted underneith.

Am I just being a scaredy cat? Anybody got big experience riding a freeair Tigre at 35-40F? I'd sure like to hear about it.
Never the less our predicted high temp for Sunday is 32F and Angie is away at a conference. I'm going to see if I can get the Tigre up the infamous "Kmart Hill" in Leominster.
Hopefully I'll have pics for you Monday.


Thursday, February 28, 2008

I've got a reader!

I've got a reader! Thanks for the note Peter that makes me feel better. It also makes me feel responsible, I've got to knuckle down and write.

I should note that last weekend I put the trailer extender on and put the TX-L onto it. Its pretty good but I wish I'd made it 5-6" longer, the rear of the ski really hangs out in space. It seems to balance okay and doesn't look like its falling off. I'll see if I can't get a sled on it this weekend and get a pic.
It snowed on Tuesday, then rained Wednesday... Fortuately I pulled the TX-L off the trailer Monday night, rode it around a bit and covered it. While I was riding I was getting a ton of white smoke. I hope that was just condensation or water in the gas....


Tuesday, February 26, 2008


Have I ever mentioned how much I don't like points? Not on here I don't think but if you go back and read my posts on the Yahoo board theres bound to be lots. My '76 TNT needed points (actually it probably only needed a condenser) and it never ran again. Well I've learned alot since I had that sled and I'm probably alot more hard headed now. I'm going to get that blasted wankle to run again come hell or high water.
It seems like Randy has the points and condenser in stock but it also appears that you need a special puller to get the flywheel off... This weekend I'll investigating that one for sure. Maybe it'll be an excuse to use the welder.

On a side note, does anybody actually read this thing? Drop me a line dswnewengland@gmail.com if you are. Sometimes it seems like I'm just talking to myself.


Saturday, February 23, 2008

TX-L rescue

Headed to Wheels in Motion today, Allen and his little boy Alex came out to help. Randy loaned us a Yamaha 600 2up. Fortunately my Tigre seems to be running fine so we headed back into the woods and strapped onto the TX-L. The Yamaha doesn't have many picks so it was touch and go but Allen is a good rider and he really romped on it. We forgot to take the belt off so he dragged the TX-L sideways the down the trail.

One thing I hadn't considered was getting into the parking lot since they'd plowed and the banks were ten feet tall. I showed what happens when you don't carry enough momentum into a bank like that.
Fortunately the Tigre is light... I made it on the second try, got quite a bit of air for my trouble. Going back I took air again and managed to fall clean off the sled, good times. We went back and forth a few times to make a good hole because we both knew this was a one time shot. Allen really romped it hard and both sleds got through with no big issue although the Yamaha got totally stuck on the ice in the parking lot...

I got my truck and hauled the TX-L back to the shop, new plugs got it going right away, weird... I rode it around the shop a couple times and then headed back out. I didn't get too far before it died again. Then it died 3 times on the way back. I did get all the way back though which I considered a victory.
Joe blamed water in the gas for all this which makes alot of sense. Randy sells "Sta Dri Fuel Dryer" which is basically a plastic tube with a bag in it. The bag pulls water out of the gas. I bought one and stuck it in the tank. Will it work? We'll find out. Joe says it only really needs a few hours. I'll let it sit overnight and see what happens.

Tomorrow we might be riding with some other folks so heres crossing my fingers...


Friday, February 22, 2008

Big delays and bad luck

The thing about not updating for awhile is that when you finally update theres a ton to say so you think "well I don't have time for that right now I'll just wait" which just makes it worse. This update is pulled from a posting I put on the Yahoo "Vintage Snowmobiles" group.

Anyway quick update on the NHSMA show last weekend. My Tigre was still in the shop so we took the TX-L and Olympique. The TX-L was fine the Oly ran like crap. I think it was a case of water in the gas. Just as we were leaving it started to run better.

So today I decided to run the Oly until I burned the water and bad gas out. Bad idea, it rained HARD Monday so I think now theres A LOT of water in the gas. It ran even worse. I was lucky to get home. So I figured to take the TX-L to Randy's (Wheels in Motion, Winchendon, MA) to get some gas line so I could siphon (squeeze bulb primers make great siphons) the gas out of the Ski-Doo. Sled started
hard but it'd been sitting, it ran fine until I was trying to cross a little stream when it did its old trick of bogging down and quit. I waited a couple minutes and it started back up and was fine the rest
of the way to Randy's. On the way back in EXACTLY THE SAME PLACE it did it again. Worse this time, it was hard to restart. It did it again before I hit the main trail and finally I got about 10 feet down the
main trail and it quit for good. It doesn't fire hardly at all now. By which I actually mean it doesn't get any gas so it doesn't fire up, its got good fire...
Of course I didn't have a light or anything but I can feel that the filter is wet with gas. That filter was new in December I think although it was there when I rubbed a hole in the gas line when I had it routed wrong.

Anyway its too late tonight and I'm too tired to do anything about it. I pushed it off to the side of the trail and walked out, fortunately it wasn't far. Tomorrow I'll put the Cub Cadet on the trailer and haul
it as close as I can get. If need be I'll ruin 300 yards of trail by plowing my way in. The worst part is the ice underneith the powder snow which will undoubtably make things not fun. Maybe I'll see if
Randy has a sled I can borrow that would be big enough to haul the TX-L out...

The Tigre is done, it was the coil like I said to begin with.


Thursday, February 14, 2008

Have you hugged your sled today?

Happy Valentine's day. For the second year in a row I'm away for work on Valentines day. This year I'm in Toronto, Canada and boy is there snow. 10cm the first day I was here, my little Nissan Versa rental car doesn't have snow tires and its been quite an adventure. I haven't seen any snowmobiles in the center of the city I can tell you that much!
I did see Chip Foose this morning at breakfast, apparently he's here for the Canadian Auto Show which starts today. My hotel is attached to the Sky Dome and the Ford booth (section, whatever) is in there in view of the hotel restaurant. In person he looks exactly like he does on TV. He had a "power breakfast" cereal and yogurt. Seemed like a nice enough guy but I didn't bother him.

Anyway not much to report sledwise since I'm here. I'll be sponsoring the NHSMA show again this year. Thats Sunday Feb 17. If you're anywhere near Concord, NH come on over and check it out. I'll have my '80 TX-L and '70 Ski-Doo Olympique 12/3 and hopefully the Tigre if Randy can manage to get it running in time, I sure hope so!
I was about to write that this is my favorite show but then I remembered its the only show I've ever been to...


Sunday, February 10, 2008

Tigre to the shop and more sparkplug ranting

Well the Tigre is in the shop. I've got to go to Toronto tomorrow so I'll have no time to work on it and the NHSMA show is Sunday (a week from today). I think its probably got a bad coil. If it sits it'll have spark for 15-20 pulls and then spark goes away for 2-3 minutes. Could be a bad CDI, Randy has spares of both. I told him when he figures out what it is order a new one.

3 out of 4 for the show won't be bad...

It snowed last night so I fired up the Cub Cadet to plow the driveway, it appears that my cleaned spark plugs carbon back up faster than new ones, it started pretty hard. No big surprise I guess. I could also maybe use a wire brush on the bench grinder to get it cleaner. I think I'd want a brass brush for that so it doesn't scratch up the plug too bad. I also think its about time to rebuild the carb on the Cub Cadet, its probably running a bit rich (which I haven't been able to adjust out) which would make it carbon up. I could also try NGK plugs instead of Champion.


Saturday, February 9, 2008

One out of three is not so good...

Today's mission was to finish the Wankle Panther. I got the new primer in and got the wiring in. It sparked once and now won't spark again. I think its a points issue, I'm only seeing 4-5v at the coil... Crap I hate points. I took a look through the flywheel and everything looks okay. I shot some contact cleaner on the points but it didn't help. I need to pull the flywheel and have a better look.
But wait, voltage doesn't actually pass through the points, the points just remove the ground allowing voltage from the secondary coil to the primary... Bad coil? Could it be I'm only getting a couple volts because I can't crank very quickly? I wish I knew what to expect.
On the Tigre I rebuilt the fuel pump so it doesn't leak, I think it was assembled incorrectly which explains the leak. Anyway it seems like I've got flakey spark now. I need to find the spare coil from the Panther debacle and see if that helps. If not I'll have to borrow the spare CDI back from Randy...
Finally I took a try on the TX-L. It started easily and ran good until I let it idle down at which point it quit... It restarted hard, I had to choke it to get it to restart. So I pulled a spark plug which was nice and tan. I'd never seen a tan sparkplug before.... Then I noticed a little drool of gas down under the airbox, well whats that doing there? It turns out the gas line was leaning on the jackshaft and had worn partly through. I'd guess air was getting in.
I put a new gas line on and this time made it longer so it routed around the airbox instead of going under it. The line won't lean on the jackshaft now. The sled wouldn't idle good, it was too low so I gave the air knobs a little tweak. Its better now but should probably go up a little more. Anyway I'm glad, this sled is ready for the NHSMA show next weekend. At the worst I'll be able to take the TX-L and the Ski-Doo. I'm thinking to haul the Tigre to Randy's tomorrow and see if he'll take a crack at it.


Wednesday, February 6, 2008

Cleaning sparkplugs

Ahh back to an old favorite. I still haven't bought a compressor or a sparkplug cleaner but I have discovered a technique. I took the plug off my Cub Cadet tractor that wasn't starting good, it was carboned up badly, probably because I run the tractor on old snowmobile gas (no sticky valves!). I took a stainless steel brush about the size of a toothbrush, soaped up the plug and went at it. In a couple minutes most of the carbon was gone. I rinsed it good, then hit with some compressed air and let it dry for a couple hours. Reinstalled and promptly forgot about it.
Started the tractor up the other day and was amazed at how easily it started. Success! So my plan on that machine is to have 2 plugs and keep one scrubbed. Same thing as I'll do with the snowmobiles. I've got to get at the TX-L this weekend to make sure its running well for the NHSMA show so it'll get brand new plugs which will hopefully cure it's ills. The old ones will get cleaned and go in the trunk.
The Tigre pee'd a bunch of gas out through the pump the other day. Stank up the garage something awful. I disconnected the line and plugged the tank end so that'd quit. I'll hit Randy's tonight for the pump kit. Hopefully have time to do that tonight or tomorrow. Shouldn't take more than an hour.

Snow on the way which is great because its raining now... 2-4" tonight and then snow or winter mix in the forecast right through the weekend. Hope it stops Monday long enough for me to get out and Saturday long enough for me to get back!


Tuesday, February 5, 2008

Wankle wrenching

Got in a good hour of wrenching on the '71 Panther 303 last night. Got the carb figured out, the needle and arm from the HR carb on the Ski-Doo fit just fine and stick a whole lot less so hopefully I won't have any problems in there. The carb looked pretty clean which is a good sign. I bolted it back up with a new intake gasket from the HR kit for the Ski-Doo. The kits come with alot of extra bits you don't use on every carb which is pretty handy. I always keep all the extra bits just in case.

Once the carb was bolted up I hit the wall. I'd pulled the primer off this sled to put onto the '86 Panther because the one on that sled didn't work. A month later that one still doesn't work. I tried to pull it apart but I can't get the plunger out. Eventually I'll try cutting the handle off to see how it works inside but in the short term I'm just going to replace it. Unfortunately Randy is closed Monday and Tuesday so it'll be Wednesday before that gets done. Thats okay, tonight I need to work on Valentine presents for the wife. I'm going to be away in Toronto on Valentine's day this year. I was in NYC last year so you betcha I gotta make this a good one. She already knows that shes in for a Valentine's scavenger hunt week...

Oh, BTW did you know you can post comments? Comment on some of this stuff, I'm interested to know what you think.


Monday, February 4, 2008


Busy day yesterday what with the Stuper Bowl and all. I did manage to get the mystery wire soldered together. I'll put some liquid electrical tape and a piece of actual tape on tonight and that'll be sorted. I'll also retrieve the carb and get the needle unstuck. The last time I went through that carb I had to use a Kimpex kit which doesn't have the "don't get stuck" type needle. I kept the old needle from when I did the Ski-Doo carb the other day, its perfect I only stuck the new one in because I had it. I wonder if the HL uses the same needle as an HR? I'll find out I suppose. If it'll fit I'll give it a shot. With any amount of luck I should be able to fire this thing up tonight, it only needs about 2 hours of work before it'll go. Then another hour or so to make it right before I'd ride it any amount...

The weather is depressing for awhile anyway. Rain through Wednesday then changing to a decreased likelyhood of snow. Our track record for snow over the next week is pretty good though. Plus I'm headed out to Toronto a week from today. Last year in April when I went to Vegas we had a vicious storm...

Saturday, February 2, 2008

Wrenching on the wankle

Today's mission is the '71 Arctic Cat Panther 303, thats a wankle rotary engine in there...
I'd dis-mounted the engine last year because the exhaust was no good. I've been working on a replacement from a Cub Cadet tractor muffler. The problem is its too danged long, I can't make it fit correctly. I cut the pipe down where it goes into the exhaust but it still won't work. Hmmm, that'l require thought. Best thing I think would be to cut the muffler down, I'm not sure if I can cut that accurately with my grinder, maybe I'll try a hacksaw.
In the meantime to practice welding I'd welded a sheet of stovepipe around the old pipe. Interestingly even after I'd cut the pipe down it still fit the old exhaust correctly. I may have to use some RTV to make a gasket but I think it'll work, at least for awhile.
The problem now is I don't remember how the wiring works... There are a couple plugs but then there are a stack of wires that if I remember correctly all go to a common ground. I'm not sure about that though. I also don't remember where the wiring hold strap goes or how. From what I remember the ground wires were all just stuck under a screw...
I guess I could get the sled started and start grounding things...
The last problem, I found that one wire (one of the ground wires I think) pulled out of the main harness, it was butt connected. I HATE crimp on connectors, they're forever coming apart. I'll solder it back together. I can't find any solder though which is obnoxious. I used it just the other day to tin the hood cable for the Tigre.
Ahh well, I'm sure theres some in the basement, I'll try again tomorrow.


Friday, February 1, 2008

Spencer ride canceled

I just checked the Spencer club's site and the ride tomorrow has been canceled.

'70 Ski-Doo is back

Put a carb kit into the '70 Ski-Doo yesterday. The only thing I didn't do was the adjustment needles. I'm pretty sure the problem was the welch plug under the low jet. I've never been able to reseat one and have it work. I should probably lay in a stock of welch plugs and try just replacing them.
I had to replace the fuel return line, the existing one had bad surface cracking. I probably could have kept it, it didn't leak as such but if it broke gas would spray all over me, I'd really rather not have that happen.

The Tigre has a leaking gas pump. I'm not sure if thats the problem but it sure seems like a valid issue. I don't think it has leaking crank seals, I sprayed all around the seals and it doesn't start or run any better than it does when I don't... Randy didn't have a kit for the pump handy but he's going to try to pull one out of another sled today. The kit won't arrive until early next week.

I'm not sure about that Spencer ride, I thought Eddie was going to be riding tomorrow but it looks like he isn't. I have my doubts that the Spencer ride will take place at all, theres not much snow down in the lowlands. I may just go riding on my own.

Wednesday, January 30, 2008

The Tigre is down yo.

So I cleaned the carbs on the Tigre, they were nasty dirty outside not bad at all inside. Now it doesn't start at all. It'll pop sometimes and run for a second but never stay running. Word on the street is thats bad crank seals... I don't have the proper clutch puller or time for this. The NH show is in 1 1/2 week. That'd give me 1 1/2 day (Saturday and a half day Sunday before the Super Bowl) to get it fixed. The TX-L is exhibiting some of the same symptoms, I'd say its a safe bet its got the same issue.
The thing that bothers me is that the plugs are always black, or at least the B8ES were before I swapped 'em. That doesn't say sucking air and leaning out to me. When the TX-L was having trouble before we tested for crank seals and didn't find 'em bad. Of course spraying carb cleaner is not an absolute test but its a pretty decent one, at least for the PTO side.
I'll stop by Randy's tonight to get a carb kit for the Ski-Doo and see what he thinks.

Tuesday, January 29, 2008

Time out for safety

I set safety rules for myself, the big one is that I get a timeout after 2 stupid decisions. I figure 2 because if I let myself get to a third I'll get seriously hurt or killed. As I write this I'm in timeout...
I'd pulled the carb off the '70 Ski-Doo because its bogging really bad. I should have redone it last year but we didn't have much snow and I thought maybe if I put some Seafoam in and rode it hard it'd get better. I did that a couple weeks ago and it did get better but now its worse again.
So I got to spraying it down with carb cleaner and remembered I ought to move outside and put on rubber gloves, carb cleaner BURNS like heck when it gets in any little cut. So I did that and started spraying again when it occured to me I ought to have safety glasses on, well the very next squirt splashed back and I got a good hit of it in my left eye, gawd don't that burn!
I knew I'd hit my mark for stupidity so I put everything back in the garage and came inside. Washed my eye out good, it seems okay, doesn't hardly hurt now but I know it was probably a close thing. I'll hangout in here for an hour or two, maybe have a nap and go back to work refreshed.


Monday, January 28, 2008

Spencer Ride update!

Andy Holland sent me an update, the $25 is if you already belong to a club. From what I can see that means it's$50 for those who don't...

Hmm, $50 is sort of substantial money... I think I'm still going but we'll see.


Things to do...

My projects list for the wankle Panther:
Remount engine, fit new exhaust pipe intake, cut down outlet to fit, rework hold down straps. Rebuild carb (Tillotson HL, should just need the needle free'd up, hopefully...) remount primer (got stolen for the '86 Panther but I think the one from that sled actually was good), add fuel, fire it up. Tune carb, replace seatback with better spare one.

Can I do that all in a day? Maybe, I think it only took at day to dismount the motor...


Vintage Sled ride

This weekend Feb 2 theres going to be a vintage ride in Spencer, MA sponsored by the Spencer Snowbirds. It looks to be a pretty good time you can get more information on their website http://www.spencersnowbirds.com/phpweb/ its right there on the main page.
The deal is each rider needs to be a SAM member, thats Snowmobile Association of Massachusetts for those not in the know, this is an insurance thing and non-negotiable. I've been told that married couples would be covered under family membership.

I intend to be out there and have invited a couple friends. Sadly Angie has to work and probably won't be able to go. I *might* have the wankle Panther ready, I've got Tuesday off for the chimney sweep to come and should have some time to spend working on it. I bought a propane heater to have in the garage so it should be alot more pleasant working there.

Yesterday I had a little time so I put a different cable on the hood for the Tigre its much shorter and attaches to the stock position. This is just generic cable from the hardware store looped around the stock locations and clamped. Will the clamps hold well enough alone or should I double them? We'll find out! For the hood end connection maybe this summer I'll take it off and solder the cable, the clamp looks ugly but yesterday I just wanted the job done, to do it right will take some more time and a pop rivet, god forbid I waste a pop rivet!


Saturday, January 26, 2008

Now I've done it.

You may notice ads by Google in the blog now. For the moment they're just public service ads but as time goes on they'll try to sell you stuff. I'm sorry about that, I really hated to do it but I just don't have the extra cash to play around with like I used to and if I want to be able to keep putting out cool articles I need some way to pay for it.
So what is this buying us? First thing will be an Arctic Cat sled with a Walbro carb. I'm thinking a '73 or '74 Cheetah 440 preferably with electric start. That'll let (force? ;) me write an article on cleaning and rebuilding Walbro carbs and maybe another on converting to a Tillotson or Mikuni.
I also want to try putting a Mikuni carb on my '71 Panther 303, the Tillotson HL it originally came with was only ever barely up to the job and is really tough to tune.
The Cheetah project machine would also give me a platform to do more testing with Amsoil Saber 100:1 oil. I got a note from a reader that says he's using it which makes me want to give it another try but I want to do it on a machine I don't care so much about, just in case ;)

Anyway if you really hate the ads don't forget to drop by the website www.deadsledwrenchers.net and make a direct paypal donation. If I get a consistant stream of donations I'll discontinue the ads.


My new best friend

I want to take a moment to introduce you to my new best friend.

Its an inline spark tester and is invaluable for troubleshooting ignition issues. You plug one end in to the sparkplug cap, the other onto the sparkplug itself. The center bit glows when there is spark present.
I'd decided today was the day for my '86 Panther, its been around for about a month and thats money sitting in the yard... So I farted around and around. Borrowed a coil from Randy and the sled started, but it would bog badly when I hit the throttle, it would smooth out around half throttle and run okay wide open, weird. So I cleaned the carb again to be ABSOLUTELY sure it was okay, it is.
With the spark tester on I fired it up again, hit the throttle and the light GOES OUT! WTF? Oh wait, this is an '86 Arctic Cat added a stupid throttle position switch in the early eighties, jumper the killswitch and throttle switch out and we're okay...Dagnabbit!

Its hard to see in the picture but I've soldered a jumper across the terminals of the switch. The jumper takes this switch out of the equation but leaves me with a working kill switch. I want to sell this sled and I don't want whoever gets it to get hurt because of not having a kill switch.

Anyway I'm now pretty sure that the coil that was on the sled was fine, the carb was probably fine too, this stupid switch had gone bad and that was the problem. I'm also 99% certain thats why the kill switch is jumped on my Tigre. I'll pull that apart sometime soon, I hate not having a kill switch.


Friday, January 25, 2008

Its baaaack

The Tigre appears to be okay, last night it fired up on the second pull and ran fine, weird...
I decided I'd pull the carbs and replace the flanges, one looked pretty bad and I didn't want the engine sucking air.
For kicks while the carbs were off I did a compression test.
150# is pretty much like a new engine. I'm pretty pleased with it.

After I got done with the carb flanges I put the new headlight lens in. Its interesting, the glass of the lens doesn't seem to be held in by anything other than the pressure of the metal frame to a plastic material bonded to the glass. On the new lens I glued the plastic to the metal with flexible gasket cement, I also wrapped some electrical tape around the edge on two sides. I dunno if either will make any amount of difference but its worth a try.
You can also see in the picture I've routed the wiring to the headlight differently to keep it from leaning on the pipe. I managed to use one mounting bracket that came with the wiring from the Jag I got it from. I also used two zip ties to the hinge.

I put a new hood wire on last weekend, you can see it in the picture. It came from a '90s Cougar and is too long so it loops around the engine bay. I wanted to use it because its got nice loops but I need to do something else. I bought some cable last week, tomorrow I'll try making something shorter.

Wednesday, January 23, 2008


Since Blogger is a Google website its been suggested I could add Adsense ads to my blog or website...
The other day I added a link to my ISP to the bottom of my webpage. I did that because they'll pay me if somebody uses that link to buy webservices from them. Its pretty inobtrusive and no big deal. I also added a link for people to donate money through paypal. Nobody's done it yet and I don't really expect them to but I figured I'd give the option.
Why did I do that? Well basically I could use the extra cash, having a website isn't free... Also if I had some extra cash I could use it at least in part to help write more articles. For instance I've said for awhile I'd like to try the Amsoil 100:1 oil at 100:1 but I don't want to do it in anything other than a sacrificial sled. If I had some extra cash I'd pick up something cheap that I don't really care about and if it blew up it'd be no big deal. I'd also find it easier to spend more time in the garage, lately I've spent alot of time in the house working on a project for a dance studio which will bring in some extra cash. The problem is time working on that is time not sledding...

I'd LOVE to make enough money playing with sleds to not have to work a real job. Dream on kid, thats not happening....

Anyway, if you've got a strong opinion about ads on my site drop me a note dswnewenglad@gmail.com

Not much

Not much to report, I get home from work at night and I'm not much interested in suiting up and wrenching. I got invited to a car show on Saturday but I think I'm not going to go so I can spend time redoing the carbs on the Tigre. The NH show is in 3 1/2 weeks but the week before the show I'm in Toronto for work so I've got 2 1/2 weeks to get it running correctly. Same for the TX-L.
I'm starting to wonder if the TX-L's gas tank has crud in it. I was thinking that the problem's Angie saw while we were riding where it'd just cut out sounded like the carbs were drying up for some reason. I need to take a look at the filter although I did replace it in December when I did the carbs.
Also on the Tigre and Panther I think I'll redo the fuel pumps. They don't take long to do and once I'm sure they're good its something I won't have to worry about for a long time...

Tuesday, January 22, 2008


I ment to have some pictures of Saturday's haul by now but haven't gotten to it. Its funny (not funny ha ha) how life keeps coming up with stuff that needs my attention other than snowmobiles.
Anyway a trip to Randy's (Wheels in Motion, Winchendon, MA, 978-297-0000) yielded a new headlight lens for the Tigre, another headlight wire so the burnt one can go back to the '86 Panther, and 2 loaner CDI boxes.
It turns out the CDI box on the Panther is okay, the problem was the kill switch. I cycled that about 30 times and it works again. It really needs replacing but the wiring is tough to match.
The Tigre is down for the count, it starts runs for a second and dies out fuel starved. I think its probably a plugged pilot jet. Randy had new carb boots for it so I just need the time to get out and pull it all apart. I also need a can of carb cleaner which means I need time to stop at the dollar store... Angie works late tonight so maybe...

Friday, January 18, 2008

One thing leads to another...

Okay, note to self. When cleaning plugs use a metal brush dummy...
So that got me looking at spark plug sandblasters, Harbor Freight has one for $17 that appears to be exactly the same unit everybody else has. So I want one. Randy at the snowmobile shop has a compressor. Oh wait, I want a compressor too, Big Lots has a little one for $70, seems reasonable. However Harbor Freight has a big ass 23gal 3hp unit for $150. Okay it comes with zero accessories and its a Harbor Freight compressor so its obviously not the highest quality. That said a couple people on an email list I belong to have them and say they're pretty good. I got $200 for Christmas so there we go.
So wait, if I get a big ass compressor I ought to get some air tools while I'm at it since that thing will cost some $$ to ship... So lessee, die grinder, tire inflator, connectors, hose. Well theres my $200 gone without any shipping. Wow.

Gotta talk this one over with the wife, if I just go and buy it I'll catch hell... Still it'd be nice to have significant air to air up tires and whatnot. The ability to run an impact wrench would be great, not to mention the die grinder, sanders, polishers, paint guns, maybe a small sandblaster.....

Thursday, January 17, 2008

Gas, oil and shops

I run pretty much nothing but premium gas in small performance engines, that includes my snowmobiles and motorcycles, but not my lawnmower. I find that it seems to make 'em run just a little bit better, start just a little bit easier and just be a bit more pleasant overall to keep around.
I also try to use good 2 stroke oil. This is one of those things that the folks over on Snomowbileforum.com will debate endlessly. I'm using Castrol GoSnow right now which seems to be a good oil, I've also used alot of Arctic Cat oil. Both are about $20/gal which I consider pretty reasonable. There are those that say the cheap stuff from Wal-Mart is fine and it probably is but I don't want to chance it.
The other thing is I buy oil from Randy at Wheels in Motion just down the road from my house. I know Randy and if I'm in a bind he'll let me work in his nice warm shop with his nice warm tools and use the compressor and air tools. Thats a real bonus that I get from giving Randy all my business. Sure I could order parts cheaper online but then I wouldn't get all the advantage working with a local shop provides.

Support your local businesses, Wal-Mart doesn't give a damn about you no matter what they say. The local guy wants you to come back and spend more so he's going to be alot more likely to treat you good and do right by you.

Wednesday, January 16, 2008

To spark or not to spark?

I've heard that you can clean sparkplugs. After my troubles the other day I thought maybe I'd give it a try. I've got (and have thrown away) a bunch of used plugs over the years. If I could get even a couple extra rides out of each that'd be big money saved. So last night I took a BR9ES I found in the garage and had at it with a toothbrush and dish soap. That technique worked really well for the threads on the plug but didn't seem to have much effect on the electrodes. I've seen sandblaster type plug cleaners but I dunno if they're worth it...
I'll find another plug and get 2 cleaned up good, see what happens and report back.

Monday, January 14, 2008


Ahh, 2 posts in one day, craziness...
14 inches of new snow today... Angie and I went for a ride, she took the TX-L and I took the El Tigre. The Tigre is acting bad for reasons I don't totally understand, its really hard to start. Eddie had raved about how easy this sled started... Its got B8ES plugs in it though, book says BR9ES. The R is for resistor, how has the CDI on the Tigre been affected by the lack of resistor? Today I got the sled to run by swapping in a BR9ES that I'd swapped out of one of the other sleds some time ago. After running the machine for a minute or two I swapped the B8ES back in so I'd have matching plugs. Later on I shut it down and it would NOT restart. Swapping in another BR9ES got it running again. According to NGK the B8ES is a hotter plug than the BR9ES. It makes sense to me that a freeair sled would want a colder plug...
Anyway here's the carnage, or at least half of the repair of the carnage. This is the wiring to the headlight. It'd leaned on the exhaust and 2 of 3 wires had melted. I've cut away some of the melted insulation and coated in liquid electrical tape, thats the shiny stuff. I'll wrap with tape and split loom tubing once the liquid dries.
For more carnage I broke, or at least lost the headlight lens. I suspect that happened when I took a flying leap over a mound of hard snow. Probably one of the biggest jumps I've taken yet on a snowmobile and I managed to land it without hurting my knees which is pretty unusual. Either my knees are getting stronger (particularly the right one which I blew out pretty badly in my youth) or I'm getting better at landing...

The snow today was fairly lousy, at least for the trailbreaker (me). Its a fine powder but is also quite sticky as it was only around 26F. I ended up taking alot of snow in the face and the Tigre took alot in the main vent which pluged 3 frickin times! I'd find out it was plugged by loss of power. I'd have to shut down, get out front and clean it out, wait a couple minutes for cool down, and then we're off and back to normal. Finally I'd had enough, theres a section of trail thats tight through the woods and I was worried about overheating, it was warm remember.

The return trip was pretty good, I could open up the sled more frequently and cool things down.
The TX-L mysteriously quit on the road coming back, great place especially as the plow guy wanted to come by. I pulled one plug and sparked it a couple times (to confirm spark) and it fired back up to go about 400 more yards. While Angie was making that 400 yards I was fighting with the Tigre as described above. The plow guy said "This is why I don't snowmobile". Thanks plowguy...

So step 1 is new plugs and a good shot of seafoam for both sleds. We're supposed to get more snow on Thursday (a Nor'Easter) so maybe this weekend I'll register to ride in NH. If that happens we'll be able to get a good long ride on which combined with good fuel might just clear things out... I hope anyway.

As promised

Here's the finished bracket. I've drilled this one to fit on the drivers side of the trailer. I might have made it a bit small width wise (3") but 15" seems like a good length. I haven't loaded a sled on it yet since it was warm enough to paint I figured I'd better get that done while I could.
Snowing like crazy today, gotta be 8" on the ground by now. I tried going to work but quit when I got wondering if I'd be able to get back home nevermind all the way to work.
Should get some riding in today. I got a new camera for Christmas, this'll be a good day to break it in.

Friday, January 11, 2008

Am I the only vintage sled blogger around? I've never seen any others... If you're a vintage sled blogger drop me a line.

I'm totally bummed by all this rain but the weather report says snow Sunday night through Tuesday, that sounds like real good fun except that I need to work... Stupid work always getting in the way of my fun.

I spent some time the other day listing all the sleds I've owned. You've got to remember I bought my first sled in December 2001...
'76 TNT 340e, '70 Olympique 12/3, '72 Olympique 335, '71 Nordic 399, '69 Panther (380?), '80 TX-L, '80 Centurion, '80 Blizzard 7500, '80 Blizzard 5500MX, '80 TrailCat (dang I've had alot of '80 sleds), '71 Panther 303, '81 El Tigre 5000, '86 Panther 500.

13 sleds in 7 years...
That doesn't even start to take into account sleds I almost bought or should have bought. Like a '69 Panther 440 that had 160# of compression in each side... That sled was part of a 2 machine deal, the other was a '74 Panther 295 rotary which is the sled I really wanted even though it had almost no compression to speak of...

Anyway its pouring, the rain makes me depressed think how much snow this would be...

Thursday, January 10, 2008

Plans plans plans

All week I make weekend plans so on the weekend I can run around like a madman trying to get stuff done. Fortunately last week I got to scratch putting away my wife's motorcycle from the list. That only took an extra month...

Years ago Eddie and I went out to NY to pick up an old Nordic he'd bought. I don't remember what year it was, '73 maybe? Big brown beast of a machine that came all in bits. The 640cc engine was an absolute monster that took both of us to lift into the back of Eddie's truck. Somebody had tried to replace the points in it and had gotten so far as pulling the points out and throwing them away... Eddie and I didn't at that point have the skills to get the thing going again. I'd like to find another sled like that now, I think Eddie paid $100 and other than the engine being a basket case the sled was mint.
I'd try to find a newer 500cc f/c motor to put in, that old 640cc was a beast but relatively low horsepower for its size...

Wednesday, January 9, 2008


52 degrees when I got up this morning, rain too, the snow won't last long at this rate. Its times like this I get angry with myself for not riding as much as I could have. If only I'd registered my sled for NH I could have ridden a ton more miles by now. If wishes were snow we'd have a hundred feet...
The good thing about the warm weather is I should be able to get into the garage this weekend and get the pipe welded up for the Wankle Panther. That sled is so cool its a drag I haven't been able to hardly ride it at all in the 3 or 4 years I've owned it. With any luck I'll be able to get it going Saturday.
Then my attention will turn to the '86 Panther with no spark. Is the CDI really bad or did I troubleshoot it poorly? I wish I had a good wiring diagram for it that showed the wire color. I also wish there were troubleshooting steps for the CDI. Most places say that if you don't know how to troubleshoot it take it to somebody who does. Well gee thanks...
I need to go back to basics, now that I've got some idea how the thing works I'll put my meter on the power coming into the CDI and see whats what...

Tuesday, January 8, 2008

Well well well.

Hmm, a blog.
Well why not. The thing is that I don't get to update the website as often as I'd like and ideally I'll be able to update this from work so more stuff gets up here. I've been told that my sledding stories are reasonably entertaining so this should be a good forum for that.

So for my first post I'll tell the story of.... Seems like I ought to tell one of the really cool stories. The problem is the really cool stories are long and as a story teller I do tend to make for long stories anyway. Okay, it'll be a short one, in fact I'm just going to talk a little about my trailer and my welder...

My sled trailer is a '72 Cox, its quite small as trailers go but very low to the ground which is handy for loading and unloading sleds but not so handy for going over rough terrain. The problem with it is that its really too narrow for two newer old sleds. I can put the TX-L and Olympique on it fine but I can't put the TX-L and El Tigre. Thats a drag because the Olympique is the smallest/lightest sled and therefore the one I'd most like to have in the back of the truck.
In the past I've worked around this problem by hanging a ski out in space which is obviously a bad idea, or by putting a 2x4 under the ski hanging out in space which isn't alot better.

Recently I've gotten a MIG welder and even more recently a good welding helmet so I'm now working on out riggers to help get that extra space. I'm making 3"x15" rectanges from 1"x1"x1/8" angle iron. The rectangles will bolt to the outsides of the trailer near the front. So to load we'll pull one snowmobile onto the trailer and then slide it sideways 3" so one ski is actually off the trailer proper and supported by my rectangle. I'll put a cross beam in the rectangle so I can strap the ski down which should make strapping the sleds down alot easier.
So far I've got 1 rectangle 75% finished, I ran out of angle iron.... Once I finish it I'll bolt it up for a test. In actuality it'll probably stay on there until spring, then I'll pull it back off and slap some paint on.
I'll post some pictures once I get something installed.