How Did I Get Here?
I don’t know how it happened. But it happened all rather suddenly. We became an ATV family. I’ve always felt the same way about powersports as I’ve felt about exercise. If there’s not a destination, if you aren’t GOING somewhere, then what is it all for? You go around and around, end up in the same place then, big whoop. It’s not for everybody, but turns out it’s for us.
It began probably almost two years ago. A friend of ours bought an ATV, she rides along the river with her family and kept sharing all these fun stories. “You should get an ATV! You can come ride!” Yeah, yeah. That’s a lot of money, and more work keeping things running just to go tear it all up. It didn’t sound that fun. But… here in town, several people have ATVs and they putt around town on them. Now THAT’s more my speed. I don’t need anything super sporty. I’d just like to have one I can roam around on and take off the road once in a while. And then maybe someday go down to the river and pretend I know what I’m doing.
So we bought the Green Arctic Cat. It’s 18 years old, but it was 4×4, and ready to roll. Not too pricey, plus we already had the trailer… so…
It had been a long time since I’d drove an ATV, so I wasn’t too sure of myself. But it didn’t take long to get used to driving it around the neighborhood. It’s a “farmer’s ATV” I called it. Not fast, not flashy, not cool. That checks a lot of boxes for me! Eventually I loaded it up on the trailer, and took it down to the river for a little fun with Lucas!
It was all going great, until Andrea was out riding. It was her first time out and I probably should have given her some guidelines. But she’d taken Luke with her to ride, so I figured, “She won’t get too crazy with Luke on there.” Well they didn’t get dangerous, but she got into some deep water. I think maybe she was thinking of those Youtube videos of crazy people taking their $10,000 ATVs through 4ft deep water. Except that this was an almost 20 year old ATV that was maybe 1/10th the cost!
Long story short, the starter went out. ATV out of service. It wasn’t her fault, but she still felt bad that it happened while she was riding.
Even still. With one broken ATV, Andrea was still hooked. We figured we’d get this one fixed quickly (spoiler, it’s still not fixed) and she now wanted one of her own. Still dumb to the world of power sports we went to look at another smaller ATV in our price range. It was more of a sport quad than mine, which she liked. Ended up buying a two stroke Yamaha Blaster that was even older than the Arctic Cat!
Never buy anything from a redneck. You’d think my Blazer experience would have been enough to teach me “never again” but NO! Only problem. It smokes a little bit. Okay… a lot a bit, and would sputter when the RPMs got high. I know that two strokes smoke, at least old ones do. But this one was too much. But it was a great DEAL right!?
So let’s tear it apart and see what the problem is. It’s just parts, right!?
So what was the problem? Ok, quick 2 stroke engine school. There are two seals on either side of the crankshaft. Those seals have to be air tight otherwise the piston will suck transmission oil into the crankcase and burn it. No sweat, change the seals… good as new, right? Nope.
See that. SEE THAT!? So, that is a gouge by a SCREWDRIVER into an aluminum engine case. The engine case. That of which the entire engine is built upon. Not by me. Not by my screwdriver. Somebody else. Maybe the guy who sold it to us. Maybe somebody before him. But some cheap bastard who didn’t want to spend FIFTEEN DOLLARS on a seal puller jacked this engine up real good.
So options, what are the options? Sell the Blaster for parts. Take the loss. Put the new seal in and just let it smoke and keep a spare spark plug in your pocket at all times. Or, try to fix it.
Welp. It’s all I could do. JB Weld, we’ll see if you bring another miracle. I filled the crevasse, pressed in the seal, and put it all back together. I didn’t even know if it would run. I let it cure for a whole week. Not because it needed it but more because at least then it was Schrodinger’s 4 wheeler. Until you try to start it, it both runs, and doesn’t run at the same time. Finally got up the nerve. It took several kicks, but eventually, it came to life!
I took it for a test drive, and it scared the CRAP out of me. For a little 200cc, I didn’t expect as much power as it had. It literally scared me. It still smoked a bit, but eventually, the oil that had gotten into the crank case burned off, and it now just smokes “a lil bit”.
Since then it’s been a really fun ATV for me to drive. That’s right… me. This was originally Andrea’s remember? But she never did get comfortable with the high revs of a 2 stroke engine. A bigger 4 stroke has more low end power and is more forgiving about what gear you’re in. She didn’t like how once you got into the higher RPMs the Blaster wanted to take off like a puppy ready to chase a bunny.
The plan is to sell this one, but nobody here likes it, which kinda makes me like it. I’ve put a lot of work into it and it’s taught me a lot… so… I’m kinda attached now. Maybe, I’ll keep it? No matter what, It’s brought a lot of joy to us and the people we’ve been able to share it with, so I think it’s worth what we paid already.
So let’s do a head count. 1 broken ATV, 1 fixed ATV that no one wants to ride except me. So what happens next… Andrea gets what she REALLY wants.
So here’s the secret to what Andrea likes: anything cooler than yours. Haha! She ended up getting a Honda TRX 450er. This is a big girl 4-wheeler for sure. Big size, big engine, fancy pants electric start, and finally… a helmet. She likes it! And she likes to ride it! And it’s officially the newest vehicle we own, including the ones we drive everyday. Haha. She’s content and I think we’re finally set on the fleet.
Wait? Whut? Oh… no. What about Lucas! Heaven FORBID he be subjected to just riding with us. Andrea found a little used electric powered on on the local classifieds. Just his size. Just his speed (slow). Now we have another.
But remember that trailer?…. Too small. Big enough for one. That’s it. Good greif… what a freakin’ hobby. One thing leads to another and now we have a trailer big enough to haul all of this old junk around on. FINALLY, we’re done, right? RIGHT? Gawd I hope so.
So what is so fun about it all? How did we get in so deep so fast? I mean the riding is fun, don’t get me wrong. Even though I’ve only been down the trails a good distance only a handful to times. With Emma being just a baby, we have never been able to go out as a family. But the best part by far has been sharing the experiences with people. Friends and family coming over and taking off for a ride with me or Andrea. Watching people learn how to drive them, killing them, giving them crap about it, then watching them putt away once they finally get it down. And then the big smile on their face when the get back to home base.
So with it being the middle of winter, and the holidays over, I have some work to do to get ready before spring. Ranging from little things to big things. The red one just needs the carb cleaned out and chain tightened. The green one needs the engine put back together and new bushings all the way around, and the white one needs a new head gasket, exhaust flange, and a bunch of other stuff.
It’s been a lot of fun! I hope that this summer we can spend more time riding, and a little less time shopping and fixing, haha!