Sunday, October 31, 2010

Skidoo Mini Z 120

Harold and I are getting his snowmobile ready for the season.

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. 

Friday, October 1, 2010

Honda Rincon 680

Today I have a 2007 Honda Rincon 680 in the shop.  This is supposed to be one of Honda's biggest and best ATV's.  It has a big fuel injected engine, independent suspension, and an automatic transmission.  The transmission is an actual automatic with a fluid torque converter and computer controlled solenoid shift valves.  It is just like a mini automotive transmission.  I can't imagine what it must have cost to engineer that thing!

The engine on this model is kind of odd.  The basic Hondas use a simple air cooled engine with pushrod operated valves and a cam down low in the block.  Other manufacturers high performance machines have overhead chain driven cams that operate the valves or rocker arms directly.  One the Rincon Honda decided to put a chain driven cam halfway up the cylinder and use short pushrods to move the rocker arms. It's not an "overhead" cam, it's an "along side" cam?  I guess they had to have a cool chain driven cam but just couldn't give up their traditional pushrods?

This particular machine was in my shop about 18 months ago.  Back then the machine had around 2000 miles.  The problem was that it would start and run fine at idle, but when you revved it up it just would not go.  It acted like it couldn't breath.  I checked everything out and discovered that the lobes on the cam had wore down so far that the valves hardly opened.  Everything else checked out ok.  I eventually came to the uneasy conclusion that the cam shaft must have been defective (not heat treated properly?) and it simply wore out.  I replaced the cam and everything worked fine.

Now the machine has around 4000 miles on it and it is running the same way.  I have not tore the motor apart yet, but at this point I am assuming that the cam is bad again.  Before I open up the motor I figured I should check the oil pressure.  The only place that you can access the oil system is at a small bolt with a sealing washer under it.  You are supposed to use your Honda factory authorized pressure tester with a banjo bolt fitting on it to connect to this port.

I don't have the Honda pressure tester tool so I had to improvise.  I had a few odd banjo fittings that I have collected from other machines, but they are all to big.  I made a banjo fitting out of a left over scrap of HDPE.  I also had to drill out a standard bolt to turn it into a "banjo" bolt.  In the photo you can see these two items next to a manufactured banjo fitting that is just a little bit to big.  The homemade fitting worked great, but the 1/4" hose that I stuck on the hose barb with no clamp blew off.  Turns out the machine has lots of oil pressure and a good pump.  It made a big mess in the few seconds that it took for me to turn the thing off.

Does anybody have an idea why this machine is wearing out cam shafts?