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10/27/03 - Jets
Friday, September 10, 2004, 10:53 PM
First of all, we had a baby !

I've been working on getting the engine to run with the carbs from my parts sled. It was running great with the carbs from my running sled, but when I put the parts sled carbs on, it was nearly impossible to start. I took out the pilot jets and they were marked "40" which is what the manual calls for. I then checked the pilot jets from the other carbs (the ones that work) and one was 65 and one was 70! I put those jets in the parts sled carbs and the engine started fine and behaved just like it did with the working carbs, so obviously it's the jets and not the carb bodies. Now, why the heck will it only run with larger than standard jets, especially when it's warm outside? That one had me scratching my head for quite a while. I asked the experts and they were stumped too. Then I wrote to Snowjacks, a guy who has been vary helpful to me in my sled repair adventures. He said that Deere used non-standard jets in their carbs and those parts are no longer available. He said to add 20 to Deere's recommendations. That sounds about right based on my experience because with my 65/70s, it idles just a little rich. It seems odd that the numbers on those Mikuni jets would have changed, but it certainly does explain what's going on. I haven't ordered new jets yet, but that will answer some questions.

9/25/03 - Vroom
Friday, September 10, 2004, 10:52 PM
I got her to run! I spent the day hooking up the cooling system, installing the clutch, oil tank, fuel system, and cleaning the gas tank. I filled the tank with pre-mix and gave her some pulls. It wouldn't suck gas no matter how many times I pulled, so I resorted to some starter fluid in the air box. That got her to pop a few times and the gas started flowing. I had to really open up the idle to get it to start up strong, but once she finally went, she really ran well. I hooked up the tach and found that the idle was pretty consistent - between 1500 and 1700 - and that the clutch engages at about 5200. This seems high for B weights and a purple spring, but hopefully it'll be okay. I could rev it up and let off the throttle and it drops right back down. I also sprayed some carb cleaner at various spots on the engine while it was running and it never revved, so it at least passed this rather questionable leak test. After running with the muffler off for a while (which I LOVE), my wife made me put the muffler on. Oh well, it was still a big thrill. I have a movie of the big event here.

9/24/03 - Almost Ready
Friday, September 10, 2004, 10:50 PM
I went out to our land today where my other sled is and took the carbs off to use on my new sled. I won't use them permanently, but I know they work so it's one less thing to troubleshoot if the engine won't run. I rebuilt my choke assembly and the throttle valves and put the carbs back together and installed them. I got some new bolts for the recoil and installed that. I reassembled my clutch with the B weights from my beat up 108 - but it's only temporary since I need new lock nuts. I'm soaking my gas tank with mineral spirits since it's pretty gunky inside. I got as far today as checking for spark, but it was too bright for me to see if they're sparking. If the rain stops, I'll have my wife come out and take a close look. When I installed the plugs it was very hard to pull the rope, so that's a good sign. Tomorrow may be the big day! I can't wait to hear it run.

Update 7:00 PM - I have spark!

9/23/03 - Spinning Studs Of Sadness
Friday, September 10, 2004, 10:49 PM
The previous owner of this sled put some pretty large studs in the track. This shredded the front portion of the tunnel. Didn't he hear them hitting the aluminum? Anyway, I decided to patch it. First I drilled out all the old heat exchanger rivets. I got a sheet of aluminum from the lumber ard and cut it into strips. I applied JB Weld around the edges and stuck them on over the holes. That stuff works great! They're on there for good. I riveted the heat exchanger back on and she's good as new. I mounted the engine and gave up for the day.

9/21/03 - Engine Done!
Friday, September 10, 2004, 10:43 PM
I finally got the whole thing back together. I broke two more bolts but they came out pretty easily. Instead of using a flywheel puller, I just bolted on the starter cup and stuck a big screwdriver through the side of it so I could hold it while I was tightening. I also took the thermostat out and put it in hot water. Sure enough, it moved. I soaked the gear case crank seal with Liquid Wrench and it finally pounded out of there. Now I'm just working on things here and there that need doing.

9/19/03 - A Little More Progress
Friday, September 10, 2004, 10:42 PM
I got my oil pump on today with all the gears and I also found the lock washer for the flywheel which is very lucky. Unfortunately, when I was mounting the coolant pump, I broke a bolt, so I'll probably have to wait until Monday to get the broken half out. I'm also a little stuck on removing the gear case oil seal. Hopefully I'll get that licked tomorrow.

9/18/03 - Slowly Making Progress
Friday, September 10, 2004, 10:42 PM
Over the past month I've been putting hours in here and there on various parts of the sled. I've got it all taken apart and yesterday I started putting the engine back together. I've got the case together and both cylinders on. Tomorrow I'm going to do the gear case, oil pump, and hopefully the flywheel. I've also been working on my clutch situation a bit. I've got a damaged 108 with B weights and a 102 with weights for a 70s Deere. I'm going to take the weights off the 108 and put them in the 102, but I'm a bit stuck because the 102 has the old style weight pins with the little pins in one end to hold them in place. They're a pain to get out of there.

8/19/03 - New Crank
Friday, September 10, 2004, 10:41 PM
Got the budget crank today. It’s in EXCELLENT shape! The center seal is complete with the o-rings and there’s no rust at all. It’s straight and the bearings spin freely. It has that same crack in the center seal though! It’s not as bad as my other one, but that must be a casting thing since they both have it in the same place. I took apart my 102c last night to clean it up and inspect it. I’m trying to figure out which arms it has. The spring looks to be silver or unpainted, but the paint may have just scraped off. I started taking the drive shaft out of my parts sled to get the track off and just generally get all the piecesoff of it, but gave up after a while as it’s really hard to do with one person. The tunnel is totally shredded up by the heat exchanger. It looks like the track studs really did a number on it. Some is just chewed up but parts of it are completely worn away and jagged. It probably won’t hurt anything, but I’d like to patch it up.

8/13/03 - Score!
Friday, September 10, 2004, 10:41 PM
I got a good used crank off Ebay for $11! At least it says it’s good. Even if it’s not, I’m only out $11. The guy spelled Liquifire and John Deere wrong, so I guess nobody saw the auction. He had loads of good parts and few of them sold. I also scored a complete set of electronics for $10! Still soaking and scraping...

8/8/03 - Stripped Screws
Friday, September 10, 2004, 10:40 PM
I couldn’t get the screws that hold the fuel bowls on one of my carbs off even after a few days of soaking since they were so stripped, so I took it up to the marine/engine shop and the guy got them out in about 2 minutes. I have no idea how he did it. Man are these carbs dirty. I’ve got them soaking in carb cleaner now and then I’ll have to scrub and scrape later. I’ve also been soaking and scraping my cylinders and other parts to get the old gasket material off.

8/6/03 - Chokes Out
Friday, September 10, 2004, 10:40 PM
I finally got my choke plungers out. It just took a few days of soaking and then pulling with all my strength with my foot on the carb. The choke assembly is ruined, but luckily I have an aftermarket replacement that I never used last year.

8/3/03 - Carb Work
Friday, September 10, 2004, 10:40 PM
I took the carbs out of my old parts sled and started trying to get them into shape. The sliding cylinders were stuck in both and they were very dirty and oxidized or something. One came out with a good tug, but the other took a few hours of soaking in carb cleaner and then lacquer thinner before it would pull out. My choke plungers are still stuck, so I’m letting them soak overnight. I noticed that the c clamp on the needle was in the #2 position from the bottom rather than in the middle.

8/2/03 - A New Addition To The Family
Friday, September 10, 2004, 10:39 PM
I bought a third! Or it may be a second, depending on how you look at it. My cousin Shawn and I were driving around and spotted an engine shop/junkyard that’s only about a mile from where I grew up but I’d never really noticed before. We poked around for a while and spotted lots of cool old sleds (and great parts) and some three wheelers, jet-skis, mowers, mo-peds, and so on. I wanted to buy everything there. Right before we left I saw a great looking Trailfire and decided I’d see if it had any parts I needed. The hood looked almost new, but it was missing the windshield, seat, and handlebar and brake lever. I opened the hood and we saw that it was liquid cooled! A liquid cooled Trailfire? Obviously a Liquifire engine. The carbs and drive clutch were gone, but more or less everything else was there, including the CDI, very good looking track, like-new carbides, and a perfect recoil. Immediately I started thinking about how between this sled and my parts sled, I could build a pretty nice working one, and then began adding things up in my head to see how much I should offer.

I found one of the employees and asked what he wanted for it, to which he said “$100 or $150.” I said I could swing $100 and he said he’d ask his boss. I came back later in the day and was told that he wouldn’t go below $150 because that Trailfire hood was so valuable and worth $150 alone. Not really, but okay. He said that it was actually a Liquifire that someone painted up like a Trailfire as a sleeper so seemed like a really fast Trailfire and you could blow away some unsuspecting Trailfire owner if he pulled up next to you! HA!! That’s a long way to go to beat a guy in a race. Anyway, I said “what if you keep the hood?” He went and asked and said they’d let it go for $100 without the hood. I then added a Comet 102c I’d seen in the yard to the deal, as well as the use of their trailer to haul it back to my folks’ house (only a mile or two away). He countered with $120 and I accepted. Not bad for a good condition transgendered Liquifire!

My plan is to turn it back into a Liquifire since I have a decent Liq tunnel and two extra hoods at home. It’s almost perfectly complementary to my parts sled. I have two carbs (which may or may not be salvageable), a spare 108c (plus my new nicer 102), and a seat (which needs recovering). The previous owner of the “Trailfire” did an amazing job painting and decaling the tunnel and it looks factory perfect from the sides, but it’s pretty beat up underneath.

Shawn and I set forth taking it apart. I decided to take what I could off of it and haul that back up to Minnesota and leave the body and whatever else at my folks house until Thanksgiving when I can get the rest. The first thing we noticed was a Nitrous system! We laughed for about a half hour. This guy was serious about embarrasing some poor Trailfire owners! Most of the parts were in really nice shape. We yanked the engine and as we were carrying it noticed something else in addition to antifreeze pouring out. Out of the carb boots and pulse line flowed an ample amount of rusty water. Why had I just now realized that it had been sitting outside without the carbs on? “Is that bad?” said I with a nervous voice. “It’s not good” said Shawn and my Dad who had now begun watching us. We popped a head off and it looked okay. We spun the crankshaft and it moved. At this point it was getting dark so we decided to take her downstairs to the shop to have a look. “I say we pull an all nighter and get this thing apart and see what’s inside” said Shawn. I like the way he thinks.

Shawn started on the job while I packed up my stuff for our trip home the next morning. When I got done he had removed the stator, electronics, oil pump, and so on and was just ready for the fun part. We first removed the cylinders and got a bit nervous when we saw some thick brown sludge on the pistons. However, when we cleaned them off they looked good. Next up was the crankcase. We split it open and found a whole lot of rusty sludge. And I mean lots. We looked at each other and made a face and I just about started crying. However, upon further inspection, it started to look more positive. We wiped some of the sludge off and it looked pretty decent. We got the pistons off and removed the crankshaft and started scrubbing with carb cleaner. It looked pretty good when we were done! There is some slight damage here and there which Shawn said was due to running hot. Mr. Nitrous seems to have really been a speed demon. The plugs were a bit on the white side when we pulled them out.

We got done tearing down the engine at about midnight and got up early the next morning to finish tearing apart the sled and pack it all up. After some frustration, we got the drive shaft off and then carried the rest of the body down to the back yard where it will sit until Thanksgiving.

5/03 - Season Over
Friday, September 10, 2004, 10:39 PM
I had a great time working on my sled and riding it all Winter. What a blast! I can't believe how much fun it is. Since my last update, I've done a few 40+ mile rides with no problems other than breaking off my headlight/grill while jumping on Burntside Lake. I'm up to almost 2,000 miles on the sled now. That's all for now. I'll be back next Winter!

3/5/03 - Woohoo!!
Friday, September 10, 2004, 10:38 PM
Woohoo! I got my new needles and seats yesterday and put them in. When I took the old ones out, I could see that the hole had been worn into sort of an oval. It was subtle, but obviously more than enough to not seal up. I hooked a carb up to the gas tank last night and let it sit in a glass bowl. I went out and checked this morning and was thrilled to see that not a drop leaked! I put everything back together and gave it some pulls. Nothing. I choked it and it started right up. That's a new one for me - having to choke it! :) I hopped on and went for a ride. It still lags because I've got a Kawa Invader clutch that engages at around 3,800, but the sled still had much more go from a stop since it didn't first have to burn off a pool of straight gas. It felt like it had quite a bit more power. At first I noticed a slight kind of burning smell which worried me, but it may have been that I was riding with a windshield for the first time, so I didn't have wind in my face to blow away smells. Anyway, I rode a few miles and then shut the engine off and it started again first pull. I rode a little more and checked the plugs. They looked a bit white, but not too bad. I put them back in and it started right up, but died right away and then wouldn't start. I tried choking it, WOT pulls, etc., and nothing. I pulled the plugs again to see if I had spark, and when I put them back, it started right up. Weird. No idea what happened here.

I rode probably another 20 miles and had no problems at all - not going fast across the lake, not going slow on bumpy trails - no problems at all. I pulled the plugs again and now they looked a good deal more brown. I let it sit for about 10 minutes and then gave it a pull. It started right up on the first one! WOOHOO!!! I put on about another 30 miles and then pulled into my back yard. I shut it off and started it 3 or 4 times, and each time it only took one pull. I pulled the plugs and now they looked a perfect golden brown color. By the way, it was about 9 degrees today.

Last time I rode when it was this cold, I went about a mile and had to quit because I was so cold. Now that I have the windshield, I was perfectly comfortable the whole time. When it gets super cold, my camera freezes and won't focus. That happened today, so I know it was cold, yet my fingers were warm. WOOHOO #2!

Moral of the story: It's more fun to ride with a windshield and an engine that doesn't flood.

3/3/03 - The Leaky Valves That DO Leak
Friday, September 10, 2004, 10:38 PM
I went out just now, about 20 hours since I set the carb in the bowl, and found probably half a cup of gas in there. Half a cup per 20 hours x2 carbs = a badly flooded engine. I just ordered new valves, so hopefully my problems will soon be over. My windshield arrived today! It's an original super-short one. It has trail stickers on it that have been there since 1985. I used my freeze spray (electricians stuff for finding overheated elements - I use it to remove mylar from pinball playfields) on it and managed to get the stickers off. Tomorrow I'll get some Goo Gone to remove the remaining adhesive. It's in pretty good shape, but it has a few scratches. I set it on my hood today and my sled finally looks complete.

3/2/03 - The Leaky Valves That Don't Leak
Friday, September 10, 2004, 10:38 PM
To my surprise, my sled started right up today. Phew! I sure was glad something major didn't happen. I took apart the carbs and checked the valves again. I hooked one up to the gas tank without the float bowl attached. Gas flowed right through but I was able to totally shut off the flow with the lever. They sure seem to be working! Of course, I've been told that blowing air and pushing the lever with my finger isn't a good test. I then reassembled it, hooked it up to the tank, and let it sit in a glass dish at the same angle it is when it's installed. I checked in two hours, and no gas had leaked out. I'll check again in the morning. I'm totally confused at this point. I guess I just have to order new needles and seats since I don't know what else to do.

3/1/03 - Major Malfunction
Friday, September 10, 2004, 10:37 PM
Today I installed my spare fuel pump (which I had apart and checked) to see if it would make any difference with my flooding. The sled started up on the first pull since I had the fuel shut off all night. I rode over to the little lake I ride on a lot and turned it off and waited 10 minutes to see if it would flood. It sure did. I actually had to change the plugs this time because it wouldn't even pop. I got it going and it seemed fine, so I went decided to keep riding. I went out on Shagawa, and then Little Long, and then Bass Lake. The trail to bass was very rutted and slow, but my engine never quit (I expected it to die). There was one spot where I had to get off the sled and walk it down because it was an icy hill and I started to spin out on the way down. I rode across Bass Lake and all the way to the end of Low Lake. I was having a lot of fun, but it was pretty snowy and the visibility was awful. On the way back, I had to go up that icy hill. Sled Zeppelin was having no part of it. I made it 3/4 of the way up, and then the track started spinning. The smell of burning track and belt just about made me cry. I let it slide back down and tried going on the other side. 3/4 and it coudn't go any further, but this time I was able to drag it up. Even through all this violence, the engine never died. About 2 miles from home, and while running at about 60 mph, the engine quit. It would NOT start again. It wouldn't even pop. I tried to call my wife and the phone was dead. Excellent. It was getting dark and we were having a blinding blizzard. I tried changing plugs, WOT pulling, putting the plugs in the hole and pulling, etc., and nothing. It just would not pop, even after 300 pulls. This has never happened before. I was about to walk home, when 8 extremely nice people came by. They stopped and tried to help me get it running and then offered to tow me home. I glady accepted. He towed me off the lake, and then let me ride his sled while he rode mine since he wasn't familiar with Ely (they were visiting). This is the first time I've ever ridden a sled other than mine. I was too annoyed and embarrased to even get the make, but it was brand new, and huge. I actually like my sled better! The new sled was all smooth and the steering was very easy and so on, but it just didn't have the coolness of my sled. Riding my old Deere is more natural. You feel closer to the machine. You feel every bump. I like that better. Anyway, these people couldn't have been nicer. As soon as we pulled into my alley, two of them jumped off their sleds and dragged mine up into the yard. There are nice people in the world!

2/28/03 - Flooding
Friday, September 10, 2004, 10:37 PM
First of all, my Liquifire is now named "Sled Zeppelin."
Seconedly, I'm still flooding bad. Every time I go to start it after it's been sitting a couple of days (and the tank is pretty full) it won't start and gas pours out of the exhaust manifold. It usually takes 100-150 WOT pulls before it'll go. I'm told that it's either the needle valve in the carb letting gas in constantly, or the fuel pump is letting gas in the crankcase. I've determined it's not the pulse line because I pinched it off with a vise grip and it still flooded. I've also taken apart the carbs and checked the valve and it seems to be okay. I can't blow air in with the bowl full. The floats are floating, but it doesn't seem like they're strong enough to push the lever up, but like I said, air can't get through. I adjusted the lever to let less gas in, and it's still flooding. This is getting really annoying.

2/17/03 - More Mud Creek/Vermilion Riding
Friday, September 10, 2004, 10:37 PM
Today I drove back out to our land and went for a ride. As has been happening lately, it started very hard the first time. It wouldn't pop at all, so I choked it and pulled a few times. Still nothing. I looked under the hood and, as usual, saw a bunch of gas dripping out of the exhaust manifold. About 40 pulls with the throttle wide open and it began to pop. Another 15 pulls and it got started. Both days, it ran weak for about 30 seconds (almost like it was on one cylinder) and then would finally clear its throat and roar. Sometimes when I shut it off and start it again, it goes right away. Other times it acts like it's flooded. What really concerns me though, is that today and the other day when I rode out there, it died while riding it. It only happened once each day, and both times it happened on a trail at relatively low speed. The first day it started right back up. Today it took 20 pulls or so with the throttle wide open. Once it starts again, it works fine. I noticed today that the grill on the front (the part that holds the headlight) has broken off of the hood. Most of the tabs are gone. Luckily the one on my parts sled is fine, so I'll be swapping them. Check out the movies page for a new movie of me riding on Lake Vermilion.

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