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 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 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

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 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.