Monday, February 1, 2010
Brought back to life...
Tim checking the track and other aspects of snowmobiling mechanics...
Before my father-in-law passed, he found it quite important to make sure what things were to go where. All things hunting, fishing, and outdoors related would become mine unless I had no need for them. He often mentioned, "There is no reason for you to buy that, take mine and bring it back when your done". Unfortunately, there is no more borrowing of his items of "outdoor affection".
Some sporting items are absolutely priceless to me such as his Winchester Model 94 given to him on his 16th birthday by his father and some fly fishing rods that even I wasn't allowed to use. But much of his gear (as I'll call it) was everyday, basic equipment that was usually found under the "right" circumstances. If my father-in-law was anything, he was a fixer and imaginary who believe everything had value or could be modified to perform any service. In addition, he knew when a purchase was "right" and how it would help better achieve his outdoor pursuits.
Enter the 1988 Yamaha Exciter snowmobile. About two years ago, Papa picked up a snowmobile that hadn't been used for two years prior. He and a friend spent a day spraying into the cylinder to free up the pistons eventually to get the sled running. It never had been used hard, and Papa took the 570 cc snowmobile for a 30 mile jaunt with complete satisfaction. He knew it had another life in it, however that would be the last time he rode the sled.
Last May, he gave me the sled and proclaimed that it would make a wonderful "toy" for ice fishing, short trips, and entertainment for the girls. I accepted simply because it was so important for me to have it, apparently he knew that I would be able to put it to good use.
I didn't get around to getting it until this past fall. With the hectic summer and trying to deal with the consequences of losing a most loved man, time got by me and eventually it got to a point that I discover whether or not this machine would be of value. Papa's purchase didn't ever worry me, it was the two years it sat covered in the backyard. The Yamaha again had frozen up, and there was little I could do at that point.
One weekend after helping with the woodpile, I concocted a crude pulley system where I actually pulled the snowmobile onto a trailer, then anchored the line on the plow truck and while I drove forward the snowmobile slid up the ramp off of the trailer and perfectly into my truck. I'm not sure if I even understand what I just wrote, but needless to say I was quite impressed with my rough engineering.
I found myself visiting my buddy Tim, a gas engine aficionado who loves anything dealing with motors. We began the process of troubleshooting and quickly "unfroze" the piston with some PB Blaster directly into the cylinders as I continued to turn the starting key. Slowly but surely, things were moving and we got to changing the fuel to see if the sled would start. In a matter of moments and with a degree of anticipation, the snowmobile was running and sounding surprisingly "excellent".
With this good fortune, I forwarded the sled to a local ATV and snowmobile repair shop for a carburetor cleaning, new battery, and overall inspection. The feedback was dismal at first as the two carburetors were reckoned unfit for service, but one day later the mechanic called to inform me of better news. With some replacement parts and some hope, the sled was fully operable and running well. What amazes me the most is that this sled is 22 years old with 7,600 miles on it, these statistics don't coincide with the fact that it runs perfectly and looks well kept. I guess Papa saw a deal the day he picked it up.
I've put about 50 miles on the sled to ensure that my trip to West Grand Lake may not end in a breakdown. About 8 years ago, I discovered that problem in the middle of the lake about 7 miles from the cabin. We'll hope I don't perform a repeat of that great act again and these four days for perfect running. I'm confident that the old sled will do well, Papa didn't intend for anything different.