Friday, February 8, 2013

A trip on the '73 Ski Doo in central Minnesota on a sunny February day

I made a pilgrimage to visit the folks in Minnesota. Though I reside in coastal Georgia and have spent nearly 27 years between Florida and Georgia, I still love to make a trip back in the Minnesota winter.  I grew up around snowmobiles, tinkering and riding when I could keep the 50 and 100 dollar well worn machines I had running.   Now I'm better at tinkering! Well, maybe......

I have a 1973 Ski Doo Olympique 340cc machine, 23 horsepower I believe, maybe 2 or 3" of suspension travel. Modern machines have well over 100 horsepower, and suspension travel in the 12" range.  But I like the simplicity of the older machines, and as seldom as I can ride, can afford them. I bought this Ski Doo for $175 in 2006, and have maybe $300 maximum in it.  In preparation for a long vintage machine poker run the next day (I'll blog that too) I felt I should do a shakedown. After all I last rode the machine in 2011, two years ago!

I left mom and dads, who's property borders on a groomed, marked snowmobile trail maintained by the Swanville sno drifters (apologies if I did not get the name correct) snowmobile club.  The trail runs through sections of woods, frozen swamp, over fields and on old railroad bed in places.

I stopped off the trail a tad to get some shots of ice fishing houses on Long Lake. My family used to go swimming in this lake when I was a pup.

No need to get out of your warm truck until you are right at your door! The lake has about 20" of solid ice and is very safe to drive on as I compose this.

I arrived in Swanville, 10 miles by my GPS, which cost more than I paid for the sled :)  To the left, Pepin Lake. To the right, Swanville.  Not sure the population, around 400 or so. Arch rivals to Grey Eagle, just ten miles down the road. I went to Grey Eagle. 

Here I am, at the back door of Red's Irish Pub.  Too much bare asphalt to park in front for me! I had a quick draft beer, and went back out. Had to be home by 3 to run some errands with my Dad. Well, didn't have to, but I wanted to!  Oh, the yellow bungee cord is holding the console door shut. The latch does not work well, it flops open over rough terrain and then the noise level from the open throated Tillotson carb going WAHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH gets to ya!

When I came back out, I looked the machine over to see how things were. Not good! the front bogie wheel assembly had the screws/nuts come out that hold the rubber idler wheel to the flange, and the flange was digging in to the rubber of the track.  I had a 1/2" wrench in my pocket, tipped the machine on it's side, and pulled out the assembly.  However, I really needed a 9/16" to tighten the track up more to compensate for not having an assembly in there. I did not, so I took it really easy going home on the acceleration and braking as the drive cogs would slip and "ratchet". 

BELOW:  To the left is Burtrum, to the right, back to Grey Eagle.
Not another soul on the trail this Friday afternoon!

On the way back, I saw this rig in the parking lot of the Bruno's Hub Supperclub (great food and drink specials folks, overlooking scenic Long Lake!) and thought I'd get a pic to put the differences between modern snowmobiles and my '73 in perspective.  Look at the suspension travel on those things! But I bet I don't have the payments they do!

Look at this old bus! I started elementary school in 1973, and the busses were orange. I do not know at what point yellow became the standard color. This may well have been a bus I rode, I recall the first couple years driver Walt Baird at the wheel,  a 48 passenger "THOMAS" bus. F700 Ford, two speed rear axle. And the inside was always that sky blue color. The windows all rattled, we had more miles of washboarded gravel in our township than paved for sure.  This one was clearly taken from bus duty long ago, and appears to have some sort of a hunting camper type conversion done to it.  Did not see a license plate, but she looks to have not seen the road in years.

Home again! I went 19.43 miles, and hit a top of 44.6 mph along the way. 

The rest of my collectibles (har har) a 1976 John Deere "300" in the green and a 1971 Moto Ski "Capri 338" in orange. The Moto Ski came to me missing it's original "Hirth" single and had a single cylinder Rotax 10 horse, 247cc in it. Ran great but topped out at about 17mph!  I bolted in a 335cc Rotax, 20 rated HP.

The camper is an old 12 foot "Mallard" brand. Has some water damage inside, may fix 'er up one day.

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