Real Riders: Be Bold, Ride Old! (Mel Scuderi)
While most snowmobilers want to be riding the latest and greatest, hot, new sleds my buddies and I prefer the challenges of driving the old stuff. Three of us, Wally Black, Bob Gagnon and myself, were riding in the DAR State Forest in Goshen one Sunday morning, the trails were so smooth we could sit down. That’s a challenge on an old sled with just a few inches of primitive suspension travel. About 30 minutes into the ride, Wally’s “Silver Bullet” started backfiring. We figured it was jetted too lean and stopped to replace the jet with a fatter one. We looked through our assortment and found nothing bigger than the 380 that was already in the carburetor. So, like a nice guy, I offered him the 400 I had in my carb. I had run a 380 in my Puma last year and it was okay. So we swapped jets and powered down the trail. About two miles into the woods my sled didn’t feel right. It would actually go slower as I gave it more gas. Just as I realized the engine was running lean, it stopped dead and was almost impossible to pull over. There was BBQ sauce boiling out of my “hot dogger” canister. I had filled it with drumsticks and BBQ sauce that morning and clamped it to the muffler. It was well done. The exhaust was so hot it actually overcooked the chicken in no time. It would have taken at least a half hour for the crank temperature to cool enough to start the machine again. Instead, I pulled the carb off and stuffed the intake with snow and pulled the rope. It sounded like french fries getting submerged in boiling oil! After 5 or 6 handfuls the crackling stopped.
Next, I had to get the melted snow out of the crankcase. Even though I removed the spark plugs and pulled rope until I was staggering, water kept coming up into the cylinder, preventing combustion. We decided gravity was the answer and flipped her upside down, then pulled 70 or 80 times until no more mist came out of the plug holes. It was now time to put the plugs back in and see if it would run. To my surprise, the engine fired and ran MINT! I was expecting reduced power from a piston meltdown but it was all there! You gotta love that synthetic oil. I demanded my jet back from Wally and we rode the rest of the day. While we were doing all this, two guys on new sleds stopped and watched. They couldn’t leave until they saw the outcome. They asked where they could possibly buy old sleds and join the fun. Fun?
This is just one story, from one of many rides on these old girls. If you’re not willing to put up with a little turmoil on the trail and many hours in the garage working on these antiques, then you’re not ready to join the fun!
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