Short back story. I bought my three wheeler about three years ago, in relatively unknown, but running condition. It’s supposedly an ‘83 Honda ATC 200x, but nearly every part has been modified or replaced from a different machine, so it’s a Frankenstein trike. The engine in it is an ATC 185s engine, with pull start and an auto-clutch, instead of the 200x’s original kick start manual. The original engine had met it’s demise at the hand of a previous owner, who I believe used to race it. I have pictures of the destruction, but I’ll save them for later, otherwise this will become a very long post.
I rode the crap out of this machine for three years, it usually started first pull, ran hard, and only showed the puff of occasional smoke. I knew it was getting tired, but it had a good amount of life left in it.
Recently however I sucked whatever life was left out after an ATV poker run that was 45 miles of high speed cruising, a deep mud run, and a mud pit that would be the machine’s ultimate demise.
This mud hole was a deep one, at least 3 ft deep, which is well over the intake height of the wheeler. I did my best to keep the front end up and nearly made it through, right until the engine started to bog (I was not geared for those big tires) I hit a hole and the front end went down. Water in the carb, water in the oil, mud in the stator, I was done for the day.
I did what I could to get it running without pulling the engine completely apart, cleaned everything I could, drained the oil, ran some kerosene through the engine, and put fresh oil back in. After a while of pulling, it started! Huzzah!! Trouble is, it smoked like a mother, I’m talking fill half the neighborhood with a light haze bad. I figured it was just some left over kerosene mixing with the oil, slipping past the rings, and burning off. So to be extra cautious, I changed the oil at very very short intervals. Three times with no more than half an hour run time on each. As the oil cleared up, the smoking continued to get worse, so I prepared myself for the worst, and ripped the engine out.
The diagnosis wasn’t good. Clearly I’d been burning a lot of oil.
And if didn’t notice from the picture above, here’s why.
Them rings are shot. And the cylinder doesn’t look much better. Ring gap for this machine is supposed to be around 0.008" -0.016, about 2-4 pieces of paper. My actual ring gap? 0.17. Amazingly it still ran, and quite good really, the only thing it wouldn’t do well is idle, well that and all the smoke. So go Honda for building a machine that could really give no shits about clearances or ring gaps, they just run forever. If you want a machine for the post Apocalypse, buy a Honda.
This isn’t the end of the world however, so parts are still available, and this thing needs to be rebuilt, especially because my Dad wants to go trail riding in one week. So I’ve got to get this thing put back together in a matter of days, and get some run time on it to make sure everything is good to go before I take it into the wilderness. (This should totally be a reality show, Discovery, call me up.)
Days are hardly long enough to get a new piston in, have the cylinder machined, and get the engine assembled and tested, so I’ve come to a tough decision. I have to rob Peter, to pay Paul.
A while ago I posted about my ‘82 XR200R. A scrapyard special, left for dead, rescued by my friend, given to me, and resurrected with parts I had laying around, which happen to be shared with my 3 wheeler.
Well, I just got this bike running right (after noticing my timing was way off) and have less than an hour of run time on it. That hour of fun was the most fun I’ve had in a long time as I’ve never had a dirtbike, and always wanted one. Now I’ve got to strip the piston and cylinder, rendering the XR useless, so I can put them on my 3 wheeler and use it next weekend. (For those wondering, the tuning isn’t %100 on the XR, the tire has a slow leak, and there is no front brake cable so I don’t trust it yet for a weekend full of riding, hours away from the truck if something breaks.)
Of course there’s always a silver lining. Now I can order a big bore for the XR, which is something I’ve wanted to do from the start, and eventually bore the 200x out to around 212cc with a high compression piston as well. And at least with the engine out I could pressure wash all those pesky tight spots that haven’t been touched in years.
Knowing what I know now, different gears are in order, and a lot of waterproofing needs to be done. Bring on the next mudhole! I ain’t scared.