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.