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 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.