Tuesday, December 28, 2010

House Call - Boiler Cleaning

I have had a lot of calls for work on heating systems lately.  These things always come up during the worst weather or over the holidays.  Most of the jobs are pretty simple: plugged/frozen filters, wore out pumps, loose wires, etc. 

The one I worked on yesterday was a sooted up heat exchanger on an oil fired hot water boiler.  When an oil burner runs improperly (normally due to a bad nozzle) it produces soot.  The soot builds up in the heat exchanger and blocks the air flow.  As the air flow becomes restricted it causes the burner to burn worse, this causes more soot...  Eventually it gets plugged up so bad it won't run at all, that is when the home owner calls me.

To fix it you need to take the sheet metal covers off the outside of the boiler and open up the firebox.  On this boiler I had to remove the chimney to access the top of the heat exchanger .  Then you take a long wire brush and scrub the soot off the fins.  If it is really plugged up tight like this one, you may need to use a thin metal bar to make room to get the brush in.  Once you have it cleaned out you of coarse have to fix the problem that caused the soot buildup in the first place.  It is a very messy job.  This one took about 4 hours total.

Monday, December 27, 2010

Broken Fender

The wind blows a lot around here.  I don't think most people realize just how hard the wind can blow during a winter storm on the tundra.  The Yamaha Grizzly in this photo was parked in someones yard and the wind made it roll backwards across the yard.  It was moving fast enough to break the fender when it hit their cloths line pole.

The repair is pretty straight forward.  I cut a 1/16" thick piece of aluminum to fit on the backside of the fender and use pop rivets to hold it all together.  The trick to making the repairs last is to use lots of rivets and spread them out.  On this repair the rivets were inserted on the plastic side and set against the aluminum.  If you end up with a location where you have to put the rivets in from the aluminum side they will not set or expand properly against the plastic.  In this case you must put washers on the rivets or use "exploding" rivets (the kind that separate into petals when you set them.)  When done carefully the fender ends up almost as good as new.

Saturday, December 25, 2010

Tool Tip

Today I have a tool tip.  When I need to clean rust or crud from parts this is what I reach for.  This is a wire brush that is made for cleaning the inside of copper pipe fittings before soldering them.  You can find them in a few sizes in the plumbing section of any hardware store.  They have very stiff bristles that scrub well and they also fit into holes and small spaces. 

I also have a few that I have cut the handles off.  If you put them in a drill they make parts cleaning fast and easy.  The photo shows the end of an axle that I cleaned using one of these brushes.

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Honda 420 Rancher - Update

Here is a shot of the engine all apart.  I found a cracked piston and the cylinder was a little scratched up.  I'll have to replace the piston of coarse, but the cylinder can be honed out.  I also found a few wore out shift dawgs in the transmission.  The gears and sliders are rather expensive to replace, but I can salvage those out of the other wrecked engine.  The oil drain plug threads were also stripped out.  I will have to tap them out to a bigger size. 

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Honda 420 Rancher

My latest big project in the shop involves these two broke down Honda 420 Ranchers.  The engine in the green machine was another victim of a stripped out oil drain plug.  Normally when they get run without oil the piston fails and the cylinder gets a little scratched up.  This one wrecked everything, the piston, cylinder, crankshaft, and I think the case was even damaged when the broken rod flew around.  The red machine is a donor that I bought for parts.  It has some kind of  transmission problem.  I am hoping to to make one good machine out of the two.

The first step is too pull the engines out and take them apart.  I had some help in the shop today.  He needs a lot of supervision, but he works for cheap.

Here is the engine sitting on the work bench.  The Honda 420 is the same basic layout that Honda has had for years, single cylinder, overhead pushrod actuated valves.  It has now been upgraded with liquid cooling and a basic fuel injection system.  It also has lots of cost saving features like no recoil starter.  Like most ATVs, the engine and transmission share one common case and oil supply.

Friday, December 17, 2010

Yamaha Grizzly 550

Today's project was a Yamaha Grizzly 550 ATV that would not start.  This is a newer machine with a fuel injected engine.  When I turned the machine on it displayed an error code "33" on the instrument panel.  I looked in the service manual and saw that code 33 was for an ignition fault.

I had to remove a body panel to get at the ignition coil, and once I saw it the problem was obvious.  One of the electrical connections to the coil had corroded so bad that it fell off.  Most repair shops would probably tell the customer that they needed to buy a new coil (probably $75), but I decided to try and save this one.  

I used my Dremel tool to grind away the plastic case on the coil and exposed a non corroded portion of the connection inside.  I then soldered a wire to this spot and crimped a new tab on the end of it.  To finish it up I put the coil back on the vehicle and sealed all the connections with "Liquid Electric Tape".

The whole job took about an hour and I avoided the cost and wait of ordering a new part.


Arctic Cat TRV 1000 Cruiser

I had a 2010 Acrtic Cat TRV 1000 in the shop yesterday.  The machine had a slipping belt drive.  When I pulled the cover off the belt I found that it was covered in oil.  This was a very surprising discovery given the almost new condition of this machine.  I talked to the local dealer (in Nome) and found out that they have had a few problems with the seal behind the secondary clutch.

Removing the old seal was a bit of a trick.  If you have a seal that is easily accessible you can pry it out or drive a couple of screws into the face of it and use a claw hammer to pull it out (another trick that I learned from Dave). This seal was located deep down in a recess in the back of the clutch housing.  Being located in that narrow recess prevented any prying from the side.

This job was a great opportunity to use a tool that has been sitting in the bottom of my tool box for years.  This photo shows a seal puller that I bought at a rummage sale a long time ago.  I think that it is actually made for pulling packing glands in valves or traditional rear main seals in engines, but I figured it would work fine for this job.

I drilled two small holes in the face of the seal to twist the little "cork screw" into.  Then I simply alternated pulling on each side till it popped out.  Once I had the seal out it was a simple job to tap the new one in and clean all the oily mess off everything.


Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Arctic Cat F6 Sno Pro

Today I worked on a 2010 Arctic Cat F6 Sno Pro.  The owner brought me the machine because it would not start.  He suspected a fuel problem (normally I don't listen to what the owner says, but this time he got it right).  I pulled the rope a few times and the engine did not fire.  I pulled the spark plugs and checked for spark, then squirted a little fuel in the cylinders.  This time when I pulled the rope it fired up for a couple of seconds.  Definitely a fuel problem.

This machine has a modern engine with a battery less fuel injection system.  When you pull the rope the stator makes enough electricity to charge a capacitor and run the injection system.  I pulled the fuel line off the injector rack and checked for fuel pressure when pulling the engine over.  There was no fuel pressure so I decided to check the voltage to the fuel pump.  I found the wires going to the pump and checked for voltage when cranking.  I saw spike of 15 volts when pulling hard on the rope and it then gradually dropped off.   All these signs point to a bad fuel pump.

The pump is mounted inside the tank very much like a typical automotive system.  Just like working on cars, it is a pain to get to the pump.  I decide that I would like to do one more test to make sure it was the pump before I pulled everything apart.  In the photo you can see my temporary fuel system that I rigged up to run the engine.  I have a "Hudson" type garden sprayer filled with gas, I pumped this up to 15 psi (thanks Dave for the help) and connected it to the fuel rail using a few plumbing fittings and tubing.  With this setup supplying the fuel pressure the engine ran OK.  I later learned that the system is supposed to run at 40 psi, but 15 was enough for testing in the shop. 

Once I was sure that it was a bad pump I pulled everything apart and took the pump out of the tank.  Now I just need to find a replacement.  The Arctic Cat dealer only sells the complete pump assembly with the mounting bracket and fuel level sensor attachment for $450!  The pump itself is a basic Walbro like automobiles have, normal price $80 -$100.  Hopefully I can find a source that will sell me just the pump.  Any one have any ideas where to look?


Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Left Hand Drill Bit

The machine that I was working on today had a few stripped out screws.  Many ATVs and motorcycles have parts put together with small phillips head machine screws.  The screws are typically steel and they are threaded into an aluminum piece.  Steel and aluminum together leads to corrosion and stuck fasteners.  If the fastener is a hex head bolt it is normally not a problem, but phillips head screws strip out very easily.

The first thing I do to remove one of these is tap it on the end with a hammer and punch.  Sometimes the shock of tapping on it will break it loose.  If the head strips out a little you can get another chance at it by peening the cross closed with a punch and hammer, just hit it a little harder than you did the first time.  If you are careful the sides of the cross will bend over a little and make for a tighter fit on the screw driver.  The screw driver may need to be tapped into place.

If the previous steps don't work (or someone else has already wrecked the screw like my project for today) you need to take more serious action.  On most parts you can grind or drill the head off the screw and then use vise grips to remove the left over stud after the pieces are taken apart. I like to use my set of left hand drill bits for this job.  Frequently when doing this the drill bit will catch on the screw and the torque of the drill will back it right out. 

Saturday, December 11, 2010

Yamaha Grizzly 700

Today I have a 2007 Yamaha Grizzly 700 in the shop for an electrical problem.  The machine would run fine, but it was not keeping a charge in the battery.  I checked out the battery and the main electrical connections.  Everything seemed fine so I moved on to the voltage regulator and stator.  There is really no way to test the regulator, but it is easy to check the output of the stator.  With the engine running you should see 20 to 30 volts ac on the stator leads.  This one showed no voltage. 

When I pulled the engine side cover off it was obvious that the stator was bad.  In the photo you can see burned section on the right.  I did a little looking around on the ATV forums and discovered that these Grizzly 700s frequently burn out the stator at about 4000 miles.  This machine made it to 5500. 


Friday, December 10, 2010

Welding - Sled Hitch

A lot of my time spent in the shop is on mechanic work, but I also do a far amount of welding.  Today I made a hitch for a snowmobile sled.  This is a very common welding job for me.  I seem to make a few every winter.  Unfortunately I forgot to take a picture of the hitch.

I did take a photo of my home made "fish mouth" marking tool.  When you weld two tubes (or pipes) together you need to cut a "fish mouth" into one of them to make them fit together.  There are several different commercially manufactured machines for cutting these notches,  but they are all rather expensive or require a selection of cutters matched to your tubing size. 

Over the years I have found that it is easy to cut these notches with an angle grinders if you have the tube marked properly.  The tricky part is marking the tube.

This photo shows the tube being marked on top.   My marking gauge can be adjusted to a wide range of tubing sizes and can also mark tubes that intersect at different angles.  Once the tube is marked I use one angle grinder with a .045 cutoff wheel to take the big chunks out and then another grinder with a regular wheel to trim down to the line.  With a little practice it only takes a few minutes for each tube.

Hopefully next time I'll remember to get some photos of the notches and the welding.

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Kawasaki Bayou 250

I have a little two wheel drive 2007 Kawasaki Bayou 250 in the shop today.  I like this simple machine because it reminds me of my first ATV.  Back in the mid 1980s I had a brand new Bayou 185.  That is back when everyone else had 3 wheelers and I had a new 4 wheeler.  The machine seemed great back then, but it is laughable today.  Some of the special features it had were shaft drive, reverse, and electric start.  Some of the things that were missing are front brakes and rear suspension.  It had a solid rear end, I don't mean a solid rear axle like a lot of base models have today.  The rear end was solid, no suspension other than the tires!

The machine that is in the shop today has all the modern features.  It is in the shop because of a loose wheel  It wobbled around when you drove the machine.  I looked at it quickly a few weeks ago and assumed that it had a bad bearing.  I ordered a new bearing and shaft seal for it.  When I actually pulled it in the shop today and took the wheel off I realized that the hub was loose on the shaft. 

For some reason the hub was not seated all the way on the shaft and the shaft seems to have a lot of end play?.  I'm not sure what the problem is yet, I didn't get a chance to pull the shaft out.  As you can see in the photo the splines are a little wore out on the end, I hope I can get the hub back on far enough to engage what's left of the splines. 


Monday, December 6, 2010

Corroded Wire

I had a Honda ATV in the shop today that had a charging problem.  It took a while, but I eventually tracked it down to a corroded wire going to the voltage regulator. 

ATVs around here operate in a salt water environment and it leads to a lot of corrosion problems.  The voltage regulator on this machine is mounted under the rear fender near the tire.  It routinely gets sprayed with water and mud  in this location.  It appears that the insulation on the wire was cracked where the wire bent sharply going into the plug.  The cracked insulation let the salt water get in and corrode the wire.

It was a simple job to fix.  I trimmed out the bad section of wire and soldered in a new piece.  When finished I made sure to seal it up well.  I like to wrap connections like this with electrical tape and coat them with "Liquid Electric Tape."  In this case I was out of the Liquid Tape so I used tape a coating of RTV silicone.  Adhesive shrink tubing also works well, but you must have the type with adhesive inside.  The cheaper kind without the adhesive does not work as well.

Sunday, December 5, 2010

Frozen Honda Foreman

Today I have a newer Honda Foreman in the shop.  It went through the ice and spent a bit of time upside down and submerged in salt water.    The driver was cold and wet, but she is ok.

The top of the engine was full of water.  I pulled the spark plug and the water ran out of the cylinder.  I had to remove the exhaust to get the water out of the lower bends in the pipe and the muffler.  The throttle, choke and brake cables were also frozen.  The rear drum brake (that never works anyway on these things anyway) was filled up. The gas tank and the carb also needed to be cleaned out.  Somehow the oil in the crankcase and the front and rear differentials did not have any water. 

For most of the mechanical system being submerged is not a problem.  The real problem is the electrical system.  The machine was sunk in salt water, which is very corrosive.  Once that salt gets into the connectors there is no way to get it out.  It does not cause immediate problems, but I am expecting that this machine is going to have a lot of faulty corroded electrical connections in the years to come.  The salt can also be a problem in carburetors.  The salt deposits block up the jets and small passages and they cannot be dissolved, they must be scrapped or picked out.  Sometimes it is impossible to get rid of it all and the jets must be replaced.

Thursday, December 2, 2010

Flat Tire

After spending a few days in Elim doing building maintenace and a few days catching up on household stuff, I'm finally getting back to my regular mechanic work.  I have quite a few big jobs lined up but I decided to start the day off with something simple, a basic flat tire. 

I aired the tire up with my compressor and was able to locate the leak by the sound of the escaping air.  The leak was a small hole in the middle of the tread face.  This is a perfect candidate for a plug.  Plugs are so simple that they almost feel like cheating, but they are not.  For small holes in the middle of a tire they work great.  Large holes or anything on the side wall require patches.

To install a plug you just ream the hole out to clean it and make sure the plug will  fit.  Then put a little rubber cement on the plug (I only use the sticky covered string type, not the short rubber cones) and push it in.  Make sure you stop pushing when there is about 1/2 inch of plug left and pull the tool out.   If you are not careful you can push the plug all the way inside the tire.  That's all there is too it.  Total time 10 minutes. 

Monday, November 29, 2010

Field Trip - ELim Headstart

I have been in Elim for the  past week.  This has been a combination work and family trip.  If you want to see the family stuff check out the Rudstrom Family Blog.

Most of the work that you see me doing in other blog posts is for my business, Rudstrom Repair.  However I also work for Kawerak Inc. doing maintenance and repair on their Headstart facilities.  I take care of the buildings in Brevig and Teller and also occasionally travel to Elim, Gambel, and Shishmeraf.

The first project I  tackled on this trip was adding some more baseboard heat in the kitchen.  The kitchen has a 20' long exterior wall on the north side of the building.  This wall only had 6' of baseboard on it and it could not provide enough heat for the room when the cold north wind would blow. 

I spliced into the glycol line and added 8' of new fin tube.  In the photo you can see where the original flow came up through the floor, through the ball valve, into the zone valve (the one with the box on top), and on to the fin tube on the right.  The new flow comes from the floor and through the ball valve, but then it travels to the new fin tube on the left, returns underneath, and then goes to the zone valve and old fin tube.  It took a few hours to cut, fit, and solder all the new tubing in place.

The next project was to get our new oil hauling trailer and tank put together.  The building is heated with fuel oil, and there is no oil delivery service here.  In the past the oil was hauled in 55 gallon drums.  This is a back breaking and messy job.  With this new trailer it will be much easier and faster.

The trailer (but not the tank) was purchased as a kit.  Amazingly the whole trailer was shipped through the mail in pieces.  Assembly was easy, all of the holes were drilled already and all I had to do was bolt it together.  The oil tank  was purchased from Greer in Anchorage.  The tank came as a plain tank with threaded ports on top.  I put together the various fittings for the fill, vent and pump connections.  The 110 volt pump is mounted to the tank and has a 30' hose.  Most days you could get by with a lot shorter hose, but sometimes in the winter the snow drifts up and makes it hard to get a trailer close to the storage tank.

Most of the rest of my time was spent in this boiler room servicing the two hot water boilers and the oil fired water heater.  Annually I change the nozzles and filters and adjust the burners.  On this trip I also had to change a couple of oil pumps, clean the gunk out of a glycol circulation pump, and replace a burner motor.  The last few years we had some problems with the ph of the glycol in the heating system.  The glycol was acidic and it was causing some corrosion issues.  Last winter I added a buffer chemical to the system to bring the ph back to normal.  On this trip I tested the ph again and everything seems to be fine. 

Now it's time to get back to Brevig.  There are a bunch of broken ATV's and snowmobiles waiting for me.

Monday, November 22, 2010

Skidoo MXZ - Completed

Today I finished up the Skidoo MXZ 600 that I have had in the shop for a few days.  The total time for the project was 10.5 hours.  There was about 3 hours to take everything apart and pull the engine, 3 hours to fix the wiring problem on the stator, and 4 hours to clean the engine bay and put it all back together.

  Here is a closeup photo of the burned section of the stator wire harness.  The end on the right went to the stator and the other end went to a plug.   I assume that Skidoo buys the stator from someone else and it comes with short leads on it.  Skidoo then adds the longer wire with the correct plug to fit the wire harness.  If you look close you can see the original crimp connectors that came from the factory.  I suspect there must have been a faulty crimp on one of the wires.  This is the second machine that I have heard of with a problem with these wires. 

To repair it I simply cut out the bad section of wire and spliced in a few inches of new wire.  I used basic butt splice crimp connectors that I crimped and soldered.  The splices were then sealed up with heat shrink tubing.


Thursday, November 18, 2010

Ski Doo MXZ 600 - Update

 I removed the engine from the Skidoo MXZ 600 that I have in the shop.  It is almost 3 hours of labor to get the engine out.  This is not an easy machine to work on.  There are a lot of tubes and wires crammed into a small space. 

The wires that come from the stator are broken and shorted out where they exit the crankcase.  The red arrow in the first photo shows the location.
This second photo is a close up of the wire problem.  I am hoping that I can take it apart and splice the wires back together.  The stator is a very expensive part and I would like to avoid replacing it.

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Service Call - Boiler

This afternoon I went out for a service call on someones boiler.  All the heating here is done with fuel oil burners of some type.  A lot of homes are heated with a hot water baseboard and an oil fired boiler.

When I arrived at the house the boiler was hot, but the baseboard was cold.  There was obviously some kind of circulation problem.  The zone valves were all open so the problem had to be with the circulating pump.  I took the cover off the pump and found that there was no voltage going to the motor.  I traced the problem back to the relay in the aqua stat. 

I have seen this problem on a lot of boilers that use a standard Honeywell aqua stat.  The solder joints that hold the circulating pump relay to the circuit board are faulty.  It is a quick fix to pull the circuit board out and fix the bad connections with a soldering iron. 

Total time: less than one hour to diagnose and fix.

Saturday, November 13, 2010

Yamaha Grizzly 450

Today I am doing a basic u-joint change on a Yamaha Grizzly 450.  The owner changed a front wheel bearing himself, but did not want to change the u-joints on the rear drive shaft.  This machine has 9600  miles on it and the wheel bearing and u-joints are the only problems that the machine has had.

The drive shaft is very hard to get to, even after removing the skid plate from the bottom of the machine it is difficult to access.   Other than that it was a typical u-joint job, press or drive the cups out of the yokes, clean the yokes up (a round wire brush in a drill works great), then press the new cups in.  After finishing the drive shaft I fixed a leak on a front brake line (from the owners bearing replacement).

Total time on this job: 4 hours.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Ski-Doo MXZ 600

Today I have a 2006 Skidoo MXZ 600 H.O. in the shop.  This machine has some shorted out/ burned wires that need to be replaced.  Unfortunately I am going to have to pull the engine to get to them.  I have worked on this machine before and I have to say it is one of the most awkward and annoying vehicles to work on.  Everything is crammed into a very small space and it is hard get at anything.  It does run great and go very fast.  I guess that is the trade off, light weight and high performance versus easy to service.

I would also like to comment on snowmobile graphics.  Who designs the graphics on these things?  They take the most outrageous colors and styles from 10 years ago and splash them together.  Why do people like these things, and why do they buy very expensive jackets to match?

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Honda Foreman

The basic Honda Foreman is the most popular ATV in rural Alaska.  They are cheap and reliable.  They may not be the best machine for serious work or off road travel, but they are great for around town.  That is where most ATVs spend the majority of their time, going to the store, picking up mail at the post office, etc.  They get used the way most people use a car.

With all those short trips the electric starters get a workout.  The machine that I had in the shop today was about 2 years old and had 4500 miles on it.  The brushes in the starter where wearing out.  They were not completely gone, but every once in a while the starter would not go. 

This is an easy problem to diagnose.  When you push the starter button you can hear the solenoid click, but the motor does not turn.  If you hold the starter button down and tap on the side of the starter the brushes make contact and it runs.  If you tap on the starter and it still does not run, you should check for battery voltage at the positive terminal on the starter.  If there is full voltage the problem is definitely the brushes.

It is a quick and easy job to replace the brushes, about 1/2 hour of work if all goes well.  The only important thing is to make sure you get the rubber and fiber insulating washer on the positive stud assembled correctly.  Beginners sometimes misplace these washers and end up with the stud shorted to the motor case.

Monday, November 8, 2010

Honda Rincon

I finished up the cam shaft job on the Honda Rincon 680.  The total time for the job was 11 hours and there was about $500 in parts. 

I am always amazed at the amount of engineering that Honda puts into their machines.   Just take a look at this photo of the oil drain plug.  Could you have made a more complicated oil plug?  Note that there is a aluminium crush washer and an o-ring on it.  The service manual says that you are supposed to change both of them when you remove it!

Rather than spending all that time designing the worlds most complicated drain plug they should have figured out a better system for the oil filter.  This photo shows a typical Honda oil change.  The filter is a round paper element that goes in that hole in the side of the engine.  When you pull the cover off the oil pours out all over the place and dribbles down onto the foot well.  There is no way to change this filter without making a mess.

At least on this machine they have an element that is the same on both ends.  On some of the Honda ATVs the filter element can mistakenly be put in upside down.  If that happens it restricts all the oil flow to the engine.  I have seen a few wrecked motors from this problem (I didn't put the filter in upside down, I just fixed the engines when someone else did).

Homemade Tablesaw

I am working on insulating our house with rigid foam insulation.  I have 200 4'x8' sheets that I need to cut into pieces to fit between the floor joists and studs.  It would be a lot of cutting to do by hand, so I decided that a table saw would work better.

I had an old worm drive saw with a broken handle.  I removed the trigger switch and wired in a toggle switch.  Then I cut a slot in a piece of plywood and screwed the base of the saw to it.  Next I'll screw a 2x4 down to the plywood for a fence.  Then the whole thing is set up on a couple saw horses.

It might not be the fanciest table saw, but it will help speed up the insulating job.

Friday, November 5, 2010

Honda Rincon 680

I got back to work on the Honda Rincon that I started on a few weeks ago.

I am installing a new cam shaft in the engine.  The first step is to press the sprocket off the old one.  I do not have a hydraulic press, but with a good setup and a careful hammer you can get it done.  This photo shows the cam supported by a notched plate under the sprocket.  The yellow thing is my "anvil".  It is a large cast iron counter weight off of an old front end loader.  It weighs around 100 pounds and makes a great foundation to pound on.

A few careful swings with a 4 lb hammer and a punch and the sprocket came right off.  Next thing to do is move the bearing to the new shaft and "press" the sprocket on.

Tomorrow I'll install it in the engine and finish the job up.

Monday, November 1, 2010

Honda Foreman

I'm continuing work on the Honda Foreman from last week.  I got the engine reassembled today.  Tomorrow I'll put the all the other stuff back on (seat, fenders, etc.)

This photo is a shot looking straight down at the head under the valve cover.  The rocker arms come off with the cover.  The interesting thing to see here is the back and forth ridges on top of the head.  These engines are air/oil cooled and this is where most of it happens.  The oil that lubes the rocker arms and valves drains down on top of the head and flows around those ridges.  It then drains down past the pushrods and lubes the cam before heading to the oil sump.  Along the way it cools the top end off.  If you overheat one of these motors it shows up here first.  The oil gets cooked on to those ridges and makes a stinky mess.

I put the rest of the machine together today.  I had to drill out the oil drain plug threads and re tap it to a bigger size.  This is a common problem on machines here.  People seem to have a habit of stripping the threads on the drain plugs.  After finishing that I filled it up with oil and started it up.  The engine ran great.  There is a little bit of a rattle noise.  I suspect it is from a slightly loose piston to cylinder fit.  I did not replace the old scuffed up piston, I just cleaned it up with emery paper and honed the cylinder.  It makes a little noise but will run fine.

Total time on the project, 8 hours.

Sunday, October 31, 2010

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Honda Foreman

The new parts finally came in for the Honda Foreman that I took apart a few weeks ago.

Today I started putting the head back together.  I used my new valve spring compressor.  It is much easier than my old homemade "push real hard" tool.  Having the right tool for the job is great.

Monday, October 25, 2010

Torch Modification

I am still working on the refrigeration job at the local store.  The next step is to install new filter dryers in the suction and evaporator lines.  The dryers are silver soldered or brazed into the line.  To melt the high temp silver solder you need a good torch.

I have a nice "Turbo Torch".  Normally this torch would be run off of a 20 lb propane tank (like you have on a barbecue).  In rural Alaska propane is very expensive due to cost of shipping heavy tanks of flammable gas.  A 100 lb cylinder is about $275 and 20 lb tanks are just not available.   I do have a bunch of smaller 16 oz propane bottles, but they have a different type of fitting.

Today I rummaged around in my box of misc plumbing fittings and rigged up a way to connect the Turbo Torch regulator to a small bottle.  I cut the end off of a cheapo torch, stuck a piece of snowmobile fuel line on the end, ran that line to a hose barb fitting that I screwed into the regulator.  (The red arrow points to the regulator.)  It works fine and it sure beats hauling around a 100 lb tank.

Wednesday, October 20, 2010


There are 3 or 4 regional airlines that operate out of Nome.  Tim Henry is the local "agent" in Brevig for two of the airlines.  When the planes land here he hauls all of the freight that comes in and helps the passengers get to and from the airport.   He normally has 2 or 3 planes a day that he takes care of.  Many of the planes will have 500 to 1000 lbs of freight.  Some of the larger planes could have as much as 5000 lbs.  It all adds up to a lot of miles and abuse on his trailer.

Today he brought the trailer over to my shop to have it fixed up.  The frame is cracked in a few places and the tongue was almost ready to fall off.  I used my crane to flip the trailer up on edge.  I used an angle grinder to cut off the broken parts.  Tomorrow I will weld up the cracks and reinforce the tongue.

In this photo you can see some of the work that I have coming up.  There are three ATVs, one motorcycle, and a few outboard motors.

Finished the trailer today, 3 hours total time. I didn't get a picture of the finished job.  As I was finishing the last weld a large Ryan Air cargo plane flew over.  Tim stopped down to get the trailer just as I was putting my tools away.

Monday, October 18, 2010

Refrigeration Compressor

Today I started working on a refrigeration project at our local store.  The store has a large walk in freezer for all the frozen food that they sell.   I have worked on this system several times over the last few years.  The closest refrigeration company is in Anchorage and it is very expensive to fly a technician all the way up here.  I hated to see the store spending all that money for simple service calls so I decided to learn something about refrigeration repair.  Last year I actually took the test for the EPA refrigeration technician certification.  Now I can legally purchase refrigerants and work on refrigeration systems.

The cooler at the store has two separate 3 hp compressors.  One compressor is able to carry the load, the second one is just for back up.  One of the units has been broken for a few years now and I  have actually been taking parts off it to keep the other one running.  Now the store has decided to fix the second unit.

The broken compressor has a burned out motor.  In past years our electrical supply in Brevig was marginal.  When the 3 hp compressor would start the voltage would drop very low.  This of coarse results in a very high current and extra stress on the motor.  Thankfully our local electrical co-op has upgraded their distribution system and we no longer have the low voltage issues.

I am going to change the compressor, install new filter/dryers, install new condenser fan motors, and recharge the system.  Most of the work is pretty straight forward, some basic electrical connections, soldering copper tubing, and bolting everything together.

Sunday, October 17, 2010

Polaris Sportsman 400

Today I have a Polaris Sportman 400 in the shop.  This is the same machine that I put a new recoil starter rope on a few weeks ago.  This time I am replacing the electric starter.

It is a very hard starter to get to.  In the photo I added a red arrow pointing to the starter.  That end is easy enough to see, but the bolts that hold it in are on the other end.  I'll let you know how it goes.

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Honda TRX 420 Rancher

Today I have a 2008 Honda 420 Rancher in the shop.  It has an electrical problem, as soon as the key is turned on the ignition fuse blows.  The cooling fan also runs all the time.

I had to strip off the racks and fenders to get at all the wiring.  The machine is in pretty good shape.  There is no obvious signs of damage or abuse anywhere.  I unplugged everything that I could think of from the main wiring harness, put a new fuse in and started plugging things back in and checking the fuse. Everything seemed ok. The last thing that I plugged in was the ECM (engine control module, the black box that runs the fuel injection and ignition).  As soon as it was plugged in the fuse blew and the fan came on.  That of coarse leaves me wondering if the ECM is the bad part? 

I am going to look around for another used ECM  and see if that fixes things.

I found a used ECM and that solved the problem.  Total time in the shop, 3 hours.  Most of that was taking the racks and fenders off to get access to the wiring.

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Rincon 680

 I finally got back to work on the Rincon 680.  I pulled the top off the engine and discovered that the cam is wore just like I suspected. 

I am still not sure why it wears out?  In the first photo you can see the cam sitting in the "tin bathtub" full of oil.  It is definitely getting plenty of oil.  There was no noticeable wear on any of the other parts.
Here is the cam and followers removed from the engine.  You can see the follower on the right has a definite concave shape to the contact surface, it should be flat.  Both the intake and exhaust lobes were about .075" short.

I don't know why this is happening, but it seems to be a common problem on this engine.  An after market cam is available for about the same price as a new Honda original part.   I am going to recommend that to the owner.

Monday, October 11, 2010

Frozen Fuel Line

 It's that time of year, when I start getting more calls to work on home heating systems.  I was hoping to get back to work on that Rincon today but I had to fix someones heat first.

Everything here is heated with oil.  There is no natural gas, electricity and propane are very expensive, and there are no trees to cut down.  A lot of homes have an old 55 gallon drum for a fuel tank.  Notice how the fuel line and filter are mounted to this one!  The filter that should be mounted vertical to catch the water in the plastic bowl is mounted sideways.  I guess the bungee cord that is supporting it must have slipped.
In this photo I have removed the plastic bowl and you can see the ice stuck to the bottom of the filter.

I disconnected the old fuel lines and  remounted the filter to the drum with 3/4" iron pipe.  The old copper line was full of ice so I also replaced that.  Now that the filter is mounted correctly it will catch all the water that gets in and prevent it from getting into the fuel line or furnace.

Sunday, October 10, 2010

Hydraulic Press - Completed

I finished the hydraulic press that I started a few days ago.  My friend Cam is going to use it for jewelry making. The press will be used to squeeze metal through dies like in this video.

Some friends stopped by for a visit yesterday.  When they were leaving they offered to haul the press back to Nome for me on their plane.  That sure beats paying almost $1.00 per pound to put it on a commercial flight. 

Friday, October 8, 2010

Hydraulic Press

Here are the parts for a hydraulic press that I am building for a friend.