Snowmobile

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Basketball season is pretty much over for me, so I’m going to see about doing a little more “writing” again. I had taken my websites offline for awhile. I am going to leave my coaching one offline for a bit yet still, but this one can be dedicated to random thoughts…just like it was always intended to be. I might update the layout at some point, but I still thing this one holds up.

I spent a bit of time the past few weeks getting my brother’s old sled running again.  I choked it and pulled my guts out…and did manage to get it fired up.  It ran like shit, but it started and proved there was life there.  Over the course of the next couple of days I took the carbs off and cleaned them out.  I didn’t pull out the jets but did spray cleaner through everything to open it all up and she then ran quite a bit better.  As I was running it around the yard checking things out, I noticed the handle bars got looser and looser.  Checking stuff out, I saw that the top plate that the handle bars bolt to was cracking off of the shaft that goes down to the tie rods and ultimately the skis.  Well I had gotten a welder for xmas, so I decided this should be my first project!  Needless to say, it didn’t work out so well… I don’t know how to weld, and it showed quickly.  Some of the sparks even went down the hollow tube and started a fire in the gas and oil at the bottom of the engine compartment.  I got it put out, and decided I needed to find a different solution.

A co-worker volunteered to weld it up for me, so I drug the sled on a trailer and hauled it up to his shop.  He welded it, and did a much better job than I did…but unfortunately that didn’t hold either.  He was only able to weld around the top, and couldn’t get the bottom of the plate welded unless we took the shaft out.  If we’re going to do that, we might as well just replace the shaft.  Which, after it broke the 2nd time is exactly what I did.

So the shaft comes ($100) and I knew that I was going to need to tear out the airbox and probably the carbs.  A pain, but no biggie to get things working right.  I tore that stuff out…then saw I need to remove the engine as well.  WTF!  The people that design this shit need to spend some time working on things.  I downloaded a service manual ($5) and saw that yes, in fact the engine was going to need to come out.  It’s a pain but should be doable.  I started tearing things apart…and got down to the primary sheave (clutch).  I pulled the bolt out, and I was stuck.  The clutch is usually stuck on pretty good, but I thought I’d be able to pop it off without much hassle.  No dice.  I tried the “water” trick, nope that didn’t work either.  I finally just ordered a “clutch puller” from dennis kirk.  This ran me another $45 shipped to my door.   The money wasn’t a big deal, but losing 2 more days sucked.  A bunch of guys were going riding that Sunday and I was going to miss it…again.  Pissed me off.  So the part arrived on a Wednesday.  I figured it would be a struggle to get the clutch off even with the tool…but nope.  Dipped the end in some standard engine oil, threaded it through and used a + shaped tire iron to turn it.  A couple of grunts and the clutch popped right off.

Now the engine was disconnected from all the hardware.  I decided to leave the oil injection connected to the oil tank.  I didn’t want to drain oil all over and didn’t want to get a “bubble” in the line (this is very relevant later).  I used a metal bar to hold the engine up and started pulling out the steering column.

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After the steering column was out, it was just a matter of reversing the removal process to get everything back together.  I thought originally this would take me two nights, but as I was working I decided to just power through.  I finished bolting things together about 1030pm, 4hours after I started.  All together with the 2hrs from the weekend it took me 6hrs for this project.  I fired the sled up, it started fine, ran well for a couple min…and then I shut it down.  Tired and sore I was going to mess with it more over the weekend.

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steering shaft brackets under engine

steering shaft brackets under engine

So Friday arrives.  I hooked the block heater up to the bobcat and then wanted to give the sled a short shake down.  I drug it out of the garage and ran it around the yard.  I made 1/2 a trip around and heard a loud squealing that let me know something was amiss.  I made it back to the garage and opened the hook, but couldn’t hear the same noise without me on it.  At first I assumed it was the clutch or belt, so I propped up the back end and wound the sled up a bit.  It seemed alright…right up till the engine stopped dead.  No sputtering, no coughing…died instantly.

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I grabbed the rope, gave it a pull..and damn near separated my arm from my shoulder.  I pulled the plugs and tried to pull it over again…this time it turned over like I expected.  I didn’t hear any problems.  Still thinking I might have a problem with the clutch/belt (the true problem should have dawned on me…pulling the plugs was a huge clue).  I fired it up and gave her some onion.  Ran for a min or so, then blamo, engine stops dead again.  Can’t pull it over again.  I pulled the plugs and my stomach just sank.  Looking at the bottom of the plugs, they looked just like they should have…for a normal gas engine.  Since this is a 2 cycle engine there should be some oily wetness on the plug ring.  Nope, this one was bone dry.  I now had a stuck engine.  I knew why and it was all my own damn fault.  When I pulled the engine, I tipped it a bit.  Doing this caused the oil to flush back a bit in the line and there got to be an air bubble in there.  This caused the engine to not get oil…and she stuck.  I dumped oil in to the cylinders and hoped they would magically become unstuck.

This was Friday.  I had a ball game saturday afternoon and had to move snow saturday morning.  I did check the sled, and she was still stuck hard.

Sunday evening I decided I’d try the sled again.  I pulled and she was stuck.  I decided to pull on it as hard as I could…maybe the rope would break.  I gave it a good pull and it popped free.  I pulled it a few times and didn’t hear any clicking or noise out of the ordinary.  This time I dumped oil in to the gas tank and shook the sled to mix it up a bit.  I left the plugs out and pulled it over about 25 times.  The theory was doing this would force the unmixed gas out of the carbs and replace it with the oiled up gas.  I did mix it very heavily with oil.  Standard now is about 50:1, I went more along the lines of 32:1.  I was guessing because I couldn’t be certain the amount of gas in the tank.  The gauge shows 1/4, so I dumped in oil for 3 gallons.

I pulled a few more times and she fired right up.  It was smoking like a bastard, as expected, but it didn’t stop dead on me.  I was able to wind it up and didn’t hear any noise that was unexpected.  It did backfire some, but I’m expecting that is because of the heavy oil mix…at least I’m hoping it is.  The temp light did come on while I was running it.  I will have to drain the coolant system and refill because of when I tipped the engine.

With any luck, I came out of this with just a lesson and not a huge bill.  Before I ran it I should have bled the oil line just in case, then I should have put some oil in the gas until I could verify the oil level in the tank was getting lower.  I should have also just drained and refilled the coolant before I even started up the sled.  I’ll have to get myself a compression tester to check the cylinders.  If they are shot, I’m not even going to look at it until the spring/summer.  It’s not worth messing with in a cold garage.

This is a lot of work for the privilege of spending quite a bit of money on gas and beer while freezing my tail off.  What fun!

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