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Friday, December 17, 2004, 09:55 PM
I finally got to ride! I took a short ride the other day and a much longer one today. I've been busy getting my Indy going, but I've given up on that until after we get back from our Christmas trip. I rode out on the Tomahawk Trail and then the 13 Corners trail to Fall Lake. Fall didn't look very safe, so I turned back, went to White Iron Lake and then came home. The Tomahawk was very bumpy. The Taconite was better and I probably would have been better off riding it, but it was late in the day and I was alone and the Tomahawk is closer to civilization in case I were to break down.

After about 5 miles, I noticed that my windshield was flopping around pretty good. I opened the hood and found that every o-ring had broken, I guess from sitting out and getting brittle. I found two of them and put them back on through the hole in the tab rather than around it. I then found two zip ties in my box and used them for two more of the tabs and finally a short piece of wire for another. It worked! You've gotta be resourceful. :)

The other problem is that my rear suspension shock is totally dead. I hopped off to take a picture and noticed the sled was sitting low. I tried to lift it up and it wouldn't go any higher. I bounced on it and realized that it was all spring and no dampening. I'm not sure when this happened, but I do remember at one point thinking the sled felt different. Actually, it felt better! When I got home, I fliped the sled up and got a closer look. The rear arm is very low and the shock is totally depressed and I cann't lift it up at all. I'm not sure what it's stuck on unless the shock is jammed and holding it. I guess that's what I get for riding on such a bumpy trail. One of the springs had also jumped out of it's proper channel and was resting on one of the cross bars.

The sled ran well though I've still got that low end bog. Sometimes it's better than others though I can't tell what makes it better or worse. It's got mid-range power to burn though. It can really snap your head back.

Great Sadness
Friday, October 15, 2004, 09:51 PM
I guess my piston rings are bad. I got the new heads installed and torqued down properly last night. I went out today to see how she ran expecting to happily watch it rev past 4500, but no. It wasn't to be. I never really got it to run. It would pop a bit but wouldn't keep running. I pulled the plugs and found some antifreeze in the mag cylinder. :( Uh-oh. I don't know if it's a gasket or head problem, but I'm guessing head since it didn't do this with the used gaskets and now I'm using brand new ones. This is my old head that is a bit nicked up, so I guess there's a crack or hole somewhere. I tested the compression and found I had 105 on the mag side and 113 on the clutch side. Uh-oh #2. So the only explanation is bad rings since I'm consistently 7 or 8 lbs different between the two and I only had around 130 even with the higher compression heads. The big problem is I'm out of money and I still need to get stuff for my other sleds as well. I don't think it's possible to get new rings for the original pistons, so that means I have to buy whole new pistons at $53 each. I do have one aftermarket piston in my parts box, but I have no idea how good the rings are. I also have a junk cylinder out there with two pistons stuck in it. I'm not optimistic about it, but there's a chance I could salvage one of those. At this point, I'm going to focus my time and money on getting my Indy running since I think (and hope) that will take less to do, and frankly I'd rather have that one ready to go than this Liquifire since I have another good running Liquifire in my stable. On the other hand, I'm very anxious to be done with this project and even after all the setbacks, I'm sure it'll feel great to ride it for the first time. Sigh.

Almost there
Tuesday, October 12, 2004, 11:58 PM
I took the Invader heads off today. Sure enough - one of the coolant leaks was from the cracked head. The other one (the one that was there last time too) is still a mystery. I sanded down my Liquifire heads (got the second one from Ebay) and they're all ready to go. I tried washing them to shine them up a bit and it wasn't really working, so I decided to paint them with my chrome paint. They look amazing. I'm hoping tomorrow I'll have a chance to put it back together - hopefully for the last time. If this doesn't work, I'm selling it for scrap.

Better compression
Wednesday, September 29, 2004, 08:33 PM
Just for the heck of it I tested my compression with the spraypainted gaskets and it was 10 lbs higher on both sides. It looks like I did have some leakage with the other gaskets and probably still do have some. It also appears that my rings on the one side are indeed a little worn. I ordered my new head today and I should get my gaskets tomorrow. Hopefully by early next week I'll be ready to put it together for good.

Two heads are better than one
Tuesday, September 28, 2004, 07:35 PM
I went out to look for my second head today and couldn't find it. All I found was one other cylinder also, but I knew I had two. Then I kind of remembered selling a cylinder and head on ebay. I just checked and sure enough - I sold the pair for $22.50 back in December. A new head plus shipping is $21, so that means I basically sold my cylinder for $1.50. Oh well. You win some and lose some.

Still Leaky
Sunday, September 26, 2004, 08:09 PM
I started by sanding the heads. I taped a piece of emory cloth to a thick piece of glass (an old monitor glass from a Qix arcade game) and sanded and sanded. They were definitely bowed up in the center because when I got the outsides totally shiny, the insides hadn't been touched. Finally I resorted to using a coarser piece of paper and then used a really fine piece to finish up. I spray painted the old gaskets (the old green ones that came on the engine), put them on wet, put the nuts on, tightened down the water manifold, tightened down all head nuts except for the ones under the water manifold, removed the manifold, tightened the final two nuts, and then reinstalled the manifold. I started it up and ran it for a while and then tightened the nuts down a little more. I saw that some coolant had leaked out the front outside corner of the PTO side, where it did before, and now also out of the rear outside bolt hole on the mag cylinder, which it didn't do before. I stupidly didn't pay attention to where the crack in the head was before I put them on, so I'll have to see when I take them off again. I'm going to get a new head and new gaskets, and try again. This time I'm going to take the cylinders off and give them the same treatment with the sandpaper - if I can get the studs out of them.

And if that doesn't work, I'm going to shove it off a cliff.

Cracked Head
Wednesday, September 22, 2004, 06:53 AM
I took my heads off yesterday. Before I began, I noticed that the PTO side had some coolant leaking out of it. Hmmmm. I drained it, removed the water manifold, and then popped the heads off. The gaskets were pretty rough which surprised me since I just put them on last Fall. I brought the heads inside to clean them up and noticed that the mag side one had a slight crack. It's not horrible and doesn't go all the way through, but it still should be replaced. It's always something...

Leaky Head Gaskets?
Saturday, September 18, 2004, 12:30 PM
I think I really figured it out this time. I tried replacing the belt and that made no difference, though I confirmed once again that it'll rev up past 4500 easily with no belt on at all.

I started it up and let it run at 4500 while I sprayed carb cleaner at the engine. When I got near the head/jug seams, she revved up past 5000, nearly to 5500 before I let off the throttle. I guess I've got leaky head gaskets.

I just don't get it
Saturday, September 18, 2004, 12:25 AM
I finally got my flywheel off using the harmonic balancer puller I got from AutoZone. I replaced the stator and put everything back together, and... NOTHING. Same problem as before - hard starting, won't rev higher than 4500.

I decided to put the carbs on from my other Liqufire, and while I had them off, I also installed my spare CDI. This time it started okay but still wouldn't rev up. I got it up to 5000 a few times, but then it would drop right back down to 4500. I don't know if the starting problem was fixed by the new CDI or the carbs, but I'm guessing the carbs obviously.

I just have no idea what to try now. I still haven't checked the timing with a light, but since my marks are lined up on the stator, I can't really see that being the problem. The only other thing I can think of is replacing the carb boots, but I just can't see that being the problem either. I'm just really stumped.

I just had a thought - maybe it's the clutch or belt... My other Liq had a 4500 problem and a new belt fixed it, but that one would stall when it hit 4500 whereas this one keeps running. It's easy to do though so it's worth a try.

Trailfire Stator?
Thursday, September 16, 2004, 01:11 PM
I still haven't had a chance to replace the stator yet, but I did find something interesting. Apparently the correct reading for the exciter coil on a Trailfire or other non Liqufire Kawasaki engine is 125 ohms, which is what mine reads. I guess I'm using the wrong stator then. This is the stator which came with Liqufire #3. When I got it the flywheel was off and the stator was just sitting in there. Maybe the guy replaced a bad stator with that one thinking it was the right one, could never get it to run right, and ended up dumping it at the salvage yard where I was lucky enough to find it. Who knows.

Problem Found?
Tuesday, September 14, 2004, 10:10 PM
I think I figured out why she won't rev past 4500.

I was told to check my timing (by the folks on jdsleds.com). Since I don't have the equipment to do that I figured I'd check every other electrical thing first. I finally got a decent multimeter and checked out my coils. My pulser coil reads 24 ohms (manual says 23.5), but my exciter coil only reads 123 though the manual says it should be 195. Now I'm no expert, but here's my guess: that coil is producing power, but not enough. The CDI is still attempting to send juice out to the ignition coil, but either it produces a weak spark or maybe no spark at all if the capacitors don't have enough stored up when the pulser coil is telling it to send it's stored juice.

I have another stator that checks out from my original parts sled. I wanted to replace it tonight, but I ran out of daylight and then a small army of bats started dive bombing me, so I called it a night.

Coming Soon
Tuesday, September 14, 2004, 10:07 PM
I finished building my Liquifire! More later.

2/25/04 - Shaping Up!
Friday, September 10, 2004, 10:57 PM
I got some new blades today and cut the strip off. I got the whole suspension back together and even got it installed by myself! I got the two front holes attached and then I set a log under it and put my weight on it to compress the front springs enough to make the rear holes line up. I have the shock attached to the bracket on the front arm rather than the little bar between the two center wheels. This is supposed to make it a little stiffer, but from what I understand, the difference is minimal. I'm only doing it because it already has the bushing installed in the shock and in order to mount it to the bar, I'd have to take it out. Once I got it installed, I bounced up and down on it and it definitely feels stiffer than my other Liquifire. I set my gas tank and seat on there, put the hood on, and took a couple of pictures. It's finally looking like a snowmobile!

2/24/04 - More Work
Friday, September 10, 2004, 10:56 PM
I got the whole suspension back together except for the shock since the guy who modified it welded a strip on to it which made it not fit in the correct arm's bracket. I tried to cut it off but my hacksaw was way too dull so I didn't get very far.

2/22/04 - Ride To Vermilion
Friday, September 10, 2004, 10:56 PM
I rode to our land and back today. The sled ran better than it has been, I assume due to the warmer weather. I topped out at about 73mph today! That's a new record. It only went that speed for a few seconds and then started to die. I guess it ran out of gas in the carb bowls. I don't know if my float arms are set too high or what. It finally has that sort of floating feeling when you punch it over slightly bumpy terrain. I feel like I'm skimming over the top and the front of the sled is almost weightless. The new clutch makes all the difference. I rode up near our driveway on the plowed road, but couldn't take the sled into the unplowed section. The snow was up to me knees and the Liquifire just buried itself. I walked up to our screen house and back and I really felt it in my legs after that. When I got back I did a little more work on the new Liquifire. I already got the chain case put on and the engine re-installed. I don't have my main clutch yet and I waited on the secondary since my brake disk is welded to my jackshaft and I don't know if I want to use that as is or get a replacement. I tried to put on my suspension, but there was no way the holes would line up. I'm using the suspensioin from the Trailfire painted Liquifire but the tunnel is from my original Liquifire parts sled. I got out my tape measure and found that the suspension had been modified. The rear pivot arm was longer than normal. After a lot of soaking in Liquid Wrench, I got most of it apart and I'm putting on the rear arm from the parts Liq's suspension. It's basically wrecked, but luckily that one arm was okay.

2/12/04 - White Iron
Friday, September 10, 2004, 10:55 PM
I rode out to White Iron Lake today after replacing my bad fuel line and turning the idle screws a quarter turn to attempt stop the engine from dying if I really punch it from idle. It didn't seem to make any difference. I went through the alleys in town to get to the Tomahawk Trail, which was very well groomed and beautiful. Since it was so smooth, I was able to go pretty fast and I made it to Silver Rapids Lodge in no time. I went out on White Iron, but it was really bumpy due to the wind blowing drifts everywhere, not to mention it being really cold with the stiff breeze, so I quickly turned around and rode home. A short ride, but fun and successful. The sled ran great and I had no problems. When I got home, I worked on getting the crooked ski off my '72 Panther.

2/10/04 - Woohoo! And Uh-Oh
Friday, September 10, 2004, 10:55 PM
I was out on Shagawa Lake today and since it was nicely groomed, I was finally able to test my top speed. I got her up to 103 kph which works out to about 65 mph. Not bad! It's not quite up to what a Liquifire should be able to do, but really, how fast is pratical on an old sled with narrow skis and such poor suspension. I wasn't really comfortable going that fast and I'd never routinely go that fast, so I'm happy with the performance. I wish the low end bog would go away though. The weird thing is I was only able to get up to that speed once, and all susequent attempts stopped at around 90. That may have been due to a little problem I had though. While riding, I looked down and noticed that some sort of liquid was shooting out near the oil tank and soaking my leg and boot. I stopped and opened the hood and saw that one fuel line had been rubbing against the secondary clutch and was nearly severed! I looked in my box for my spare tube but it wasn't there - of course. Luckily I just BARELY had enough line between the pump and the hole that I could cut it off at the hole and stretch it to the carb. If it had been 1/4" shorter, it wouldn't have made it. Anyway, it worked well enough for me to make it home. It ran great otherwise, except that if I nail the throttle from idle, the engine dies. I have to slowly get past about 3500 and then I can punch it. Too rich? Too lean? Not sure. I'm going to try messing with the air screws to see if that makes any difference.

2/7/04 - Update - Finally
Friday, September 10, 2004, 10:54 PM
I wish I'd kept up to date with my diary here. Oh well. I've been riding quite a bit. Let me get caught up on what's gone on. I got my seats recovered by John's Upholstery. He did a great job and his prices are great. It sure looks a lot better than it did. I had to pull the engine out of the other Liquifire I'm building because I decided to replace the bent steering shaft. I had to also remove the heat exchanger I'd installed because the bolts were stripped and the only way to get them off was from the back side. So in order to replace that stupid shaft, I had to undo nearly everything I'd done in terms of reassembling the machine. Emily got me a nice new balaclava and leather gloves for Christmas. I rode to Chainsaw Sisters Saloon for the first time which was really fun. I was getting increasingly frustrated with the poor acceleration and low top speed the Invader clutch was giving me, so I decided to do something about it. I got a used 102c and had Joe's Marine install it. I would have done iut myself, but since I don't have a puller or an impact wrench, I fiigured it was worth the $20-$30 they charged. What a difference! It's like a whole new machine. Now instead of feeling like I'm putting in a request for more speed and then waiting until it's delivered, it actually feels like I'm controlling the speed! My acceleration from a stop is better (though still not fantastic) but once you get going it's just so much more lively and responsive. Top speed is much better too. I was riding through some powder one day and my engine died. I couldn't get it to pop no matter what I tried. I pulled the plugs and saw that I had no spark. I disconnected the main plug that connects all the gauges and lights and then I got spark. When I got home, I plugged it all back in and it started right up. So it fixed itself. It happened again since then and again it fixed itself after another half hour of riding. The other day I noticed that one of my skis was further back than the other. It turns out the bolt that holds the spring to the back of the ski was missing which allowed the ski to shift backward in the bracket. I got a new bolt from Ace which should hold for the rest of the season. I've also made some progress on my new '72 Panther. Check it out here.

11/15/03 - Skis
Friday, September 10, 2004, 10:53 PM
I took the skis off my project sled today. I actually started soaking the nuts and bolts with Liquid Wrench yesterday, and today, with the help of a torch, I got them off. I broke a socket wrench and a screwdriver in the process. One ski's pivot bolt nut was almost all the way off, but the bolt was (and still is) stuck in the bracket. The other's nut wouldn't come off and I ended up breaking my wrench, but I finally got it after heating it with a torch. One of the nuts that hold the spindle arm tight was very stuck and I rounded off the nut trying to remove it, so I took a hacksaw to it. The bolt came right out and it popped off the spindle with just a little tapping. I loosened the other nut and pounded and pounded until the spindle would move up and down in the arm very freely, but it just wouldn't come off. I spent probably an hour and a half pounding on it, spraying it with Liquid Wrench, heating it with a torch, and so on. I couldn't figure it out because it moved freely, but it just wouldn't slide all the way out. Now here's a lesson I've learned many times but I never seem to remember: when you're stuck, take a break and come back. I went in and had lunch and as soon as I got back outside, it hit me: the bolt! I figured I could just leave the bolt in there as long as it was loose, but what I hadn't realized until I took a break is that the spindle has a cutout that fits around that bolt, so even if it's loose, the bolt needs to be completely removed from the arm for the spindle to slide out. Lesson learned... again. The skis on this sled are in rough shape. They're very rusty and loose and parts are broken. I hope the skis from the new sled are in better shape, but I'll have to wait until I get down to IL in a week to see. I sanded my muffler with emory cloth and I plan on painting it and my exhaust manifold with high temperature paint tomorrow. That should make the whole engine compartment look a lot nicer.

11/5/03 - I Rode Today!
Friday, September 10, 2004, 10:53 PM
We got about 4 inches of snow last night and I decided I couldn't wait anymore. I drove out to our land (where my running sled is stored) expecting to be able to walk in on the public snowmobile trail (.5 miles) like I did last year. When I got there I found it wasn't frozen yet and since it's on a marshland, it was too wet to walk on. That meant I had to walk in on - and back out of - the old logging roads which are about 1.2 miles long, all while carrying my carbs and airbox. By the time I got to my sled I felt like I'd been walking all day. I installed my carbs and she started up on the 5th pull! I was impressed. It was a little shaky for about 30 seconds, but then it sounded fine. My seat is off at John's Upholstery getting re-covered, so I had to sit on the aluminum and ride back out to my car to get the couch cushion I'd brought along, and my helmet. There wasn't really enough snow and my skis were scraping quite a bit, but it was still a lot of fun. I have a movie of the whole ordeal in the Movies section.