ATV Ride

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Every year for quite some time a buddy of mine has had an annual ATV ride around the hills.  I have only gone on it the past couple years.  Around his place and through the hills there are trails for the sleds, horses and hiking.  Recently the state has cut trails for ATV’s.  I assume they are seeing this as a hobby that is gaining a lot of ground with people and they want to do something so riders don’t randomly go around stomping their own trails on the state land.  The theme before this was “don’t ride on the sled trails” because they didn’t want them tore up for horses and hiking.  Now they are opening more and more of them up as well as cutting ATV specific trails.  They try to limit the speed that you go flying through the brush by cutting some sharp turns in to the trails and they only cut them 60″ wide.  That is quite  a bit for a quad, but it’s tight for some of those side by sides…and some of the bigger models won’t make it through at all.  The states reasoning for this is “they are not building hi-ways” and I would tend to agree with them.  Sam and I went on a ride last year in the middle of the summer.  It’s really enjoyable and I hope they cut more trails out.  I’d like to see them go from Dalen (the state land that butts up to my land in the hills) all the way over to Bottineau.  Sooner or later, I think they will.

The pre-easter ride takes place over a couple of days.  The first smaller group goes out on Friday to kind of scout out the trails and address whatever really problematic areas we find.  Then the main group will go out Saturday.  For friday’s run we only had 8 machines, maybe 13 people.  For Saturday there was only 18 machines and about 15 people.  This is much smaller than the previous year, but it was also much colder as well.

I’ve mentioned on here before that I spent most of last year getting machines working around the farm.  The ATV was about one of the only ones that ran pretty good.  It did need the carb cleaned and I put on bigger air, opened up the exhaust as well as bigger jets…but these are things that are not “vital” to it’s running.  They gave it a bit more power and let it run cooler.  The tires on it though are wore down pretty good.  That’s not due to any abuse or lack of maintenance, it just happens over time.  I also have a very old yamaha big bear 350 that doesn’t run for shit (carb issues).  I figured I could swap tires between them and be good to go.  I didn’t want to remount the tires on to different rims…since they were both yamaha I thought a straight swap would work out.  The rear tires went on fine, but the front would not fit over the washer holding the hub on.  I could probably down size the washer, but at the time I didn’t feel like screwing with it.  Now I had big knobby tires on the back end, but the less aggressive and wore tires on the front.  I figured this would help a bit and was better than going with the completely bald ones I had.  Beyond that, there was really nothing to do to this thing to get it ready.  I could have changed the oil, but I didn’t have a filter.  I use synthetic oil, so I wasn’t worried about it being broken down…it’s just good practice to change it at least every year.  The mechanics at the shop say every 50 hours…but screw that.  If I get beating on it quite a bit then I’ll look at doing it at some point over the summer…but yearly is good enough.  I put around 6k miles on the bike last year and I still only changed that oil 1 time.  I’m not sucking in more dirt and dust to the crank case on the quad vs a car so I’m not sure where the 50hrs came from.  Actually, thinking it about…it bet it’s based on using regular engine oil in the quad.  The engine oil on most of these (not sure about the really new ones) also lubricates the transmission.  Maybe they figure that gives it more wear and tear.  I use Rotella t6 in all my small engines, and that stands up really well.

Thursday I pack everything up (I’ll put up some pictures of my rig).  I broke down and ordered a hard case for the front end of the quad.  I had been using a soft canvas case, but it leaked through…which sucked.  I had looked for something around the farmstead that I could use, but nothing was the right size.  I finally went with the Kolpin Scout Box for 50 bucks off amazon.  The one I bought was used, but there was nothing wrong with it.  I assume someone bought it, opened the box and decided they didn’t want it.  Going used saved me almost $20.  I’m trying to get by cheaply on these ATV’s because it’s purely a “fun” thing and not a “necessary” thing.  After the trip last year, I decided I needed to modify my cooler setup for the rear rack.  I used tarp straps to hold it down, but it flopped around still and the top came open at some point throwing beverages everywhere.  After that run, I ran one eye bolt through each side of the cooler towards the top.  I then used a turn buckle style clamp on each side to attach it firmly to the rack on the quad.  To old the top closed, I took a latch off of a window and screwed it in.  This lets just just flip a leaver to lock the lid down.  After a few field tests, this setup works pretty damn well.  I still have a 1 gallon gas jug strapped on the rack with a tarp strap.  I’d like to do something a little more elegant, but for right now that works.  You can get fuel packs and mounts for the racks, but the packs run $60/per and the mount is about 20 bucks.  My 1 gallon jug is “free”…so that’s where I’m at.  I also needed to do something a little different to cool the cooler.  Last year I used a bag of ice, but that punctured cans with the sharp edges.  This year I took some PVC pipe, cut it down to size, filled it 90% with water and sealed both ends.  I then throw them in the freezer over night.  This gives me reusable ice tubes that fit in the bottom of the cooler to almost the exact size.  They won’t bounce around and are not a hard sharp surface to puncture cans.  It worked out surprisingly well.  I used 1 1/2″ and 2” PVC as that’s what I had around the farmstead.

I’ve put these pix in another post, apparently I’d forgotten that…probably explained everything from above in that post too…oh well, here’s the pix again!

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Ice Tubes

Ice Tubes

Friday I took off to town to get gas and beer.  I decided to just stay on beer for the run as whiskey goes down too easy too fast.  I picked up 1 case and an 18…because that’s all the Miller Lite in cans the gun had.  The case was actually 2 1/2 case boxes…which I found out by the end of the run do not work as well as 1 full case in my cooler.  If I have the full box in there the beer stays together better and doesn’t jump around as much.  The 2 halves bounce around all the time.

I was damn near the first to arrive (as always…no one is ever on time).  I’d thrown 1 back on the way up, and was in the middle of another when the first obstacle reared it’s head.  Another buddy had just bought a used 800 rzr a couple weeks prior and was bringing it on it’s inaugural run.  About 1/2 way up to the meet up point, the belt went out on him.  Luckily he did have a spare so we could try to fix it.  Having never taken one of those apart before, neither of us was sure where the belt was.  We reasoned out that it had to be in a fairly easy place to get to, and up out of the potential muddy areas…so we popped the seats out and removed the cover behind them to find the belt housing.  With both of us working it probably took 20min to have it apart and back up again.  We did get a little jammed up getting the belt back on, it’s such a tight fit.  I used some Norwegian know how…and used a pry bar to push the belt around the pulley.  It’s not exactly how you are suppose to do it, but it’s how I always put a belt back on…so much easier.  One guy didn’t think we’d get her going, I told him we’d have it together before everyone arrived…I was right.  Several of the people there had never done this before and probably never looked to see where the belt is on their rigs.  This is something that can go to hell on the trail and is easy enough to fix, so riders should really carry a spare and enough tools to change one.  I carry enough tools to tear apart everything on the quad.  Most people think I’m a bit paranoid, but for most of my riding I’m alone or with the kid.  We’re not really in areas that are easy to get help if need be…so it’s pretty important to at least have the tools for stuff you can do by yourself.  I carry jumper cables, a toe strap (winch on the quad as well), hatchet, plugs, decently stocked tool box, air compressor, tire repair kit…all sorts of shit.  If I thought at some point “It would be handy to have…” it’s in my box.

The ride itself was cold.  We spent some time on the prairie first, went to Souris.  We stopped in the bar for lunch, a few beers (and a couple of glasses of whiskey) then off again.  We got back up in to the hills early in the afternoon and it was much nicer.  The sun had come out a little bit and the trees block most of the wind.  The ride from there was a blast, but I’m not going to go in to detail about stuff.  The tires helped the old kodiak immensely.  I don’t think I’d have been able to get through 1/2 that shit without them.  There was 1 big slop hole that the bigger machines were getting buried in.  I was able to push through it with no problems at all.

I’ll put some videos in at the end of the adventure.

At some point on Friday, at the end…I f’d up my quad.  I had a front tire pointing each direction.


I also had this little gem in my left front tire…


How the hell that got there I have no idea.  If the picture doesn’t show it clear enough, there is a chunk of wood wedged between the rim and the bead on the tire.  The tire was up and seemed good…but then I drove it 100 yards and it went flat.  Good thing I have an air compressor!  It didn’t take too long for the wood to work it’s way out and things to be fine there, but I still had the misaligned tires to deal with.

The quad was manageable in 2wd, but in 4wd it pulled me all over the place.  I was having all kinds of problems in even simple little slop holes.  I damn near flipped it once, and another time I went over the front of the handle bards, planted my arm in the mud and pushed the quad back in line…talk about a cluster fuck.  The alignment made the whole ride pretty crappy (couldn’t have been the case of beer I drank friday…).  Steering the kodiak was pretty much like wrestling a bear.  The big slop hole I was able to push through the previous day saw me stuck.  By “slop hole” I mean creek and by “stuck” I mean flowing water up to the gas tank…  On the plus side though, being submerged for 10 min did not cause the quad to miss a beat.  She still ran perfectly, the belt didn’t slip…everything worked like it was suppose to.  Things like that keep my loyal to yamaha.

After I got a chance to look at the quad I saw that I had bent the tie rod on the left hand side.  It was bent forward, meaning I had to back over something that rocked it pretty good.  Hell if I know what it was.  A new rod was 20 bucks and easy to install.  Doing that though, I found where the grease leak was…and I see now that I have to replace the bearings and seals on the front differential.  I was hoping I could avoid this, but if I don’t I’m going to have big problems later on.  It’s going to be time consuming, and kind of a pain…but it needs to be done.  I found parts for about 35 bucks.

Below are some videos from Friday.  I removed the sound to eliminate anything incriminating.  The quality is reduced to save some bandwidth.






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