Monday, September 21, 2015

The tale of the fart pants- and how I cleared out a K mart!

  Back in 2003 the wife and I were up at her mom's for the  Thanksgiving holiday.  This was the pre child era, where we could just go and do stuff like eat and shop on a Saturday afternoon.

We decided on Mexican, a place called Little Mexico in a local strip mall. The food's always good there. I am pretty sure I had the Guadalajara Cheese Steak.

Off we went to do some Christmas shopping. We went to the local K mart after finishing the meal and squaring up with the server. 

While in an aisle that had the glass case for the video games, I felt a stirring down below...I was getting rather uncomfortable! She just kept on talking about something and I was TRYING to act interested and all the while deal with the gurgling, churning pressure that was building and expanding....FINALLY my sweet lady said she was going to pop over an aisle to look at something there...

This was my cue! I quickly went all the way down to the OTHER end of the aisle we were on, and let my flatulence go.....oh it felt sooooo much better! I then saw my sweetie coming back over and HEADING RIGHT FOR ME!!!

Oh no.... we had not been married nearly long enough for me to subject her to this.  I quickly moved to make the interception.. she started to tell me what she had found when suddenly, her expression turned horribly sour!    NOT MY WIFE BELOW!!

She said "you!.....NASTY!!"   And I was trying to explain how I went clear down to the other end of the aisle to do this....but the voluminous folds of my loose fitting Ralph Lauren jeans (which by the way SHE bought me so there it's her fault!)  held warm pockets of the "fragrance" so rather than just being discharged at the other end of the aisle, I was sort of letting little puffs of poo air out with each stride.

Just then a group of teens popped in from another aisle to look at gaming systems..that did not last long! One of the teen boys said "Oh my GOD it stinks here!!" and they cleared which point I busted out laughing which of course made me blow out what ever gas I had left in me. I was laughing so hard I could not tell if the tears coming from my eyes were from the laughter or the gas!

Eventually, I caught up with my poor suffering spouse over by the check out, where even she had to admit it was pretty funny driving a gaggle of teens away from the game display.

From that day forward, those jeans became known as my "fart pants"  until they were retired from the "nice" drawer to the "work around the yard" drawer and eventually were so holed and thread bare they were discarded a couple years back. 

Years later, K mart closed that store down. I will always wonder if it was because of me! 

Sunday, June 7, 2015

The John Deere MT tractor abandoned on the island

A few weeks back on a Sunday afternoon we took a cruise in our 1969 Glasspar boat... now we had been to this part of the Skidaway river east of Savannah many times, but it was a low tide (we have a large tide swing in coastal Georgia) and my eye fell upon some submerged pilings....

I looked and saw the thing that grabbed my attention most...the un mistakable shape of an old tractor! Look just to the right of center on this pic, behind the first bark less large tree. I was only looking at the rotting pilings that normally can't be seen except at low tide, and wondering why a dock would have been on this low lying island when I spotted it.  Now I know, so a barge could transport things like this tractor on and off island.

The tide was very low, and the muck at low tide is like stinking quick sand. Having plans of pulling up on a somewhat firmer beach to play with the kids and the dog, I noted where the tractor was, and made plans to return when I had my actual camera and not my phone camera for a closer inspection.  

A few weeks later we had a few hours time and the tide was high at 11am on a Sunday. I spied the prize, and nosed the boat up staying somewhat to the south of the center, avoiding contact as I knew those rotting pilings were lurking just below surface level to gash a hole in our hull if hit hard. 

Once ashore, I took little time figuring out what it was. Partly due to my knowledge of post war John Deere tractors. It was a model "MT" standing for a model "M" with the "tricycle" front end arrangement.

    -With an attached disc harrow implement. 

And missing the cylinder head. I suspect the hood and much of the light gauge sheet metal disintegrated long ago.  A "Two Banger" of upright design.  A little research found me, revealing that it was a 100 cubic inch mill, with a 4" bore and stroke, around 20 horsepower.   

 You can see the remains of inner tubes, this machine had rubber front tires but the rear was on steel.

A casting number on the transmission case- the serial tag is long gone, I could see where the rivets used to be. Look up and to the left on this pic, you will see a rectangular place with a rivet where it used to be.
Here is a pic I pulled from the web of a somewhat more intact tractor of the same model-
And here is a short youtube video I made-
Hard to believe I have lived and boated here for 19 years and never seen this!  After making the video and going over the county GIS system mapping, I discovered this tract of acreage belongs to none other than the Univeristy of Georgia. Now, to see if I can find out when it went from private hands to the state! I love these mysteries.

Friday, February 6, 2015

Ressurection of a 1969 Ski Doo snowmobile- "Noisy" and some Appalachain vintage snowmobiling..

It's been far, far too long since I have put anything in print. I thought it time to update!

Back during the 2009 "tractor rescue trip" post, I pictured a couple old Ski Doo snowmobiles I picked up from my friend Ron "Goose" Thomsen while in Minnesota. Since then, Ron has turned his hobby in to a business selling and reproducing parts for vintage Ski Doo snowmobiles.  Shameless plug-

Back to the subject! One of the machines was a '69 Olympique 320. The more deluxe of Ski Doo's single cylinder offerings for that year, it had a pop-up hideaway headlight, and a wrap around chrome bumper and rear grab handle. Now I knew for the $100 I handed Ron that I had a diamond in the rough.

The machine on the right is a 1968 Olympique, that was thrown in free (engineless) and a useable hood and handlebars plucked for two twenties.  The 69 is on the left.

The 69's seat cover had been destroyed by the sun, and the rain soaked in the moisture, which rotted the plywood base and rusted the top of the track tunnel (sheet metal body to you non sledders out there) paper thin. It's rubber drive track wasn't in great shape, at least one of the internal steel rods was broken, and half the cogs on the left rear of the track idler sprocket were missing. 

The gas tank on these is "built in" as part of the front of the machine, and it had some foul smelling varnish that may have been gas in about 1980 or so. The 318cc single cylinder Rotax engine turned over with what felt to be good compression, and the carburetor had been covered with a plastic bag. 

The sled sat a year or so in Virginia at the inlaw's. The 68 machine was resurrected first, with a period correct Rotax 247 I had from a '67 Ski Doo I parted as a teenager, the engine stored in a friend's shed in MN all these years.  

Coming home summer 2010

In the summer of 2010, the 69 came where we live in snowless Savannah to get a little TLC.  However, I had other things going on and  never got to it. They had a good snow in January of 2011 up at the inlaws, so despite the fact I had done absolutely nothing to the machine since it was pulled from the pine trees in MN, I spent a long Thursday evening after work, I cleaned the ignition points, cleaned the carburetor, rigged up working throttle and brake cables, and I got 'er running. I just used a 5 quart oil jug as a temporary gas tank tucked in between the hood and running board on the left side. A wire clipped to the ground on the wiring harness for a "kill" switch.  Note that it has no ignition switch or key- more on that later!

In the truck and off we went on a Friday night, oh the kids and wife came too. :)

      I had done ONE step along the way in the fix up- I made a new seat. A couple inches thicker than the original, and not made of the nice, pleated factory reproduction material Goose makes his from, but comfy. 

   Enough of the original wood was there for a pattern, and I added a couple inches to the original foam.  I have not yet tried to use a sewing machine, and just fold and staple.

Anyhow...back to the trip! We got safely to the wife's mom and hubby Chris's at about 2am.  There was about 10-12" of snow on the ground. It fell on Wednesday night, but where they are (Wise county, VA) they get snow but it rarely sticks around as they are far enough south they don't stay that cold for long. 

The next AM I got up after too little sleep with a caffeine hang over (ugg!) and with Chris' help, got the yellow machine unloaded. A tad hard to start with no recoil starter on it (needed parts I did not have) we used a knotted rope wound around the emergency starting hub, which is a small diameter and harder to pull. After priming it with a squirt of gas she popped to life. A quick blast up and down the hard packed snow covered drive showed she had a lot more "jam" than my '71 12 horse Ski Doo Elan (another story in itself)  4 year old Cam and 6 year Old Chloe as well as my wife got rides around the yard and up and down the drive. The Oly was much more comfortable for two person riding, the Elan is shorter and really not made for it.

Once again machines were loaded up- we put 'em in the back of Chris' 2500 Chevy and we drove south down to Kristy's Aunt Debi's place, in Lee county. She lives down a narrow, unpaved road wayyyyyy back in the hills, beautiful country in an area called the Klondikes locally. We drove past her place about 1/4 mile to where the state maintanence on the road stops, and unloaded.  From there the road is narrow and used by folks with horses, 4x4's and ATV's, the road winds it's way to the top of the mountain where a load out area is from logging in years past.

Chris on the 71 Elan
Debi left, Chris right. The Olympique ran off a jug in the left running board, and I carried a gallon on the right. The five gallon jug on the ground was for refueling.

At the pond

Near the top

What a blast! We rode all the way to the top and back. There was a pond down at the bottom as seen in this pic. The Oly was hard to start, so once running I never shut it down. Chris hit a rock on the Elan, got a tad airborne and came off the seat knee first in to another rock... On the way back, we met some folk in an old shortbed 4x4 Chevy and a side by side ATV who were thought the sleds were pretty cool, having not seen them before.  But I guess not cool enough to offer up any of the beer they had on them...we got back to where we unloaded and Debi had driven down to where we unloaded. She got on back of the sled with me, and we rode back down to the pond and back again. I was about out of fuel, and lost about half a gallon from it sloshing out the holes where I poked the plastic gas tank lines in on my jug. At one point the oly started to backfire out the carb but I never let off... just hoped it didn't catch my coveralls on fire! Once we got back to the truck and I killed it, she would not re start.  Pulled the plug and the spark was weak.  

NOW.......back in Savannah and a month later, I pulled the engine, pressure washed everything, and then took it apart.

The aluminum skid plate on the belly looked like a factory accessory- until I took it off!

It wasn't....but you have to appreciate the backwoods ingenuity. The front two mounting holes I discovered were drilled through the nose of the built in gas tank, they had just sealed them with gobs of RTV silicone. 
The machine had taken a hit, probably a fence post or something to the left front viewed from the handlebars. Nothing I could not bang out and luckily the chrome bumper wasn't twisted, but enough to wrinkle things to where if a person was trying to do a "restoration" it would be hard to get straight. But my goal was a decent looking machine that I am not afraid to ride on old mountain logging roads, 

This sprocket was missing a few teeth before it's mountain ride. It came back with none!

A couple shots showing removal of the drive sprockets and chain case.  

Once the chassis, tub, tunnel, frame, what ever you want to call it was stripped bare, I got out a wire wheel on a grinder and assessed the rust. Under the seat was pretty thin. I had tried draining the gas tank, and sloshing gas and paint thinners about in there, but realized the only way to get it clean was to cut it open and scrape it out. I have a friend with a Plasma cutter- made quick work of it!

Yech! No way this was going to get flushed out. No regrets about cutting this open. 
In this second pic, you can see the line where the liquid level was.  

I cleaned it all out, first pic- then welded a plate over it, had to use solder to seal the pin holes in my welds as it was VERY hard to weld with my MIG even on a low setting. Then I pressure tested it to 2 psi and it held for days. Since it has held clean fuel with no problem. Had I not cleaned it out, I would be going through one fuel filter after another if it did not plug the suction tube first!

Welded it shut

Then I welded plate over the section cut out under the seat-

I did some bodywork- didn't go crazy trying to get all the dents from the belly out as I will just put in more...took a wire wheel on a grinder and took all the loose rust off.  Treated the rust with "Ospho" as I did on the utility trailer project, then a coat of primer or two, and I had the original yellow matched at the local NAPA- it is very close to their code MSU35A- in a single stage "Crossfire" enamel.  Also note in the first picture- I drilled new holes and moved the mounting for the front set of bogies (track support wheels/suspension) "up" an inch. One of the worst qualities of these old Ski Doos is they don't turn in low snow condtions worth a shit...if you move the wheels up, it allows the skis to bite better.   

The hood had about a million spider cracks in the 45 plus year old gel coat. I had to spend hours grinding them open with a vee bit on an air grinder, then filling them with flexible filler. I used a product called "Tec Flow"  but won't again. I used Evercoat brand filler on the Elan project which had an equally bad hood, and none to date have come back out. The Oly hood has had several reappear as I write this two years after project finishing... the Tec Flow does not handle the flexing and vibration as well.

Below is a pic of the "dashboard" area of the hood. There were 1972 and 1975 Montana registration decals on the hood, this machine has traveled a long way since it was manufactured in the summer of 1968 in Valcourt, Quebec! I felt it would be a shame to grind this off and paint over it. 

Then I painted the small parts, most of which I sandblasted in the cabinet at work. I used black Rust-Oleum sprayed with a small touch up gun.

Next, I moved to the engine. I probably did not need to tear it down, but in 45 minutes I had it all apart. The bearings, piston rings and cylinder wall were like NEW. I used new seals and gaskets and put it back together. The loss of spark I had the prior year was a combination of things- the spark plug wire had a lot of corrosion where it screwed in to the coil, there were small heat cracks in the outside of the coil as well. I probably did not NEED to replace it, but Goose had new old stock Bosch coils, points and a condensor as well as new solid core wire.

I had installed new reproduction plastic drive sprockets and idler (rear) sprockets on the drive and idler shafts, cleaned up the bogie assemblies, verified all the bearings rolled nicely with new grease, and reassembled with a used but decent track I got off EBAY for $40 plus shipping.

Odd as it seems, orange IS the original color of that secondary clutch...

And I put it all together-
See the exhaust I fabbed- my OE muffler had been patched once before, and I wanted to try this- so I got the smallest glasspack muffler sold by Summit racing, and welded a 45* elbow to it, then some flex pipe with a reducer to the head pipe off the original muffler. May as well be a straight pipe, I can assure you! 

Below- on grass testing. Except my front yard lawn is about 50x50, so all you can do is a slow oval..  

I put the hood all together, the hinge and mechanism for the pop up headlight took a fair amount of adjustment to get just right. I bought reproduction decals for the faux wood grain of the dash portion, and the "Ski Doo" emblems for the sides of the black stripe around the hood. I painted that stripe on, the factory used a decal. 

The "trunk" or backrest as I call it, is an original piece I got from a guy selling some parts when I was on another Minnesota trip- it's the part I used to match the rest of the paint to, and it had the correct decals on it to boot.  Making the cushion for it was tough, I had to cut the wood about three times to get it to open and close right. And because I made the seat thicker than original, I had to make the pad of the back rest shorter so it would still open. 

Anyway- in January of '13 they got a good dump of snow in south west VA, and away we went- here are some shots on the snow!

Note below the ignition key and switch....when I got this machine, I had a switch but no key. On the same trip where I picked up the two Ski Doos in 2009, I stopped by the home of an old high school friend who ended up with my first machine, a 1970 12 horse Ski Doo some time around 1984. The machine had gotten scrapped eventually, but a chunk of the hood was in a scrap pile. That part had the key switch with a broken off key in it. I was able to get a new key made from that, so in a way, the key switch from my first Ski Doo I got in 1980 at age 13 lives on 25 years later. There is always one part to salvage folks!

The first couple shots were taken in Chris and Cathy's yard, the last one and the next few just a couple miles away, on "High Knob" where there are forestry roads we took them on. What a day! Yeah, the snow was melting fast especially in the sun on the southern exposures, but man we used up a tank it each the Oly and the Elan. Both of them ran great all day. 

  - There's the elevation we started out at. 

More pics! The views were fantastic. :)

Chris on the '71 Elan.  
 Overlooking the town of Norton, Virginia

Above- me wearing an early 1970's era accessory helmet

At left, a natural gas well on the mountain.

Warm enough to ride bare handed..I like the way the smoked cut down windshield looks, and I polished the aluminum plate the headlight lever rides in. I also spent a lot of time sanding the rough cast aluminum engine cooling housing down and polishing it. 

You can see how there was more snow on the north facing sides of the mountain. The second pic is where I put the cam on a stump and used the timer to get us both in the shot.


We rode until it was time to go home. By the time we got down the mountain to where we had parked, a lot of snow had melted off.  Here are a couple vids of the fun- that is if I can get the youtube links to work...

And it appears they work!  

I hope y'all enjoyed this rather long winded tale. May your snow be deep and your gas lines free of ice.  :)