New Toys and Becoming a Better Mechanic

By Blaine Howerton, Publisher
North Forty News

Over the past several weeks, I have written about purchasing a second-hand ATV. Who knew it would change my life? That may sound dramatic, but it’s true.

A few weeks ago, I installed a snowplow and took it on a trial run as a mean snow removal machine along the 1/4 mile of steep roads on my property in the mountains. It did a fantastic job of snow removal. Together, the Xplorer and I finished my portion of the road and two of my neighbors’ within an hour! Better yet, it was fun! Looking at the photos, I look like a kid on a new toy! Well, that’s the truth!

While preparing for another round of snowplow fun, the strap on my winch broke, and the ATV started spluttering. I put it back on the trailer and headed for home with repairs in mind. After a call to the manufacturer for the winch, we determined it was a faulty screw. They sent me a new drum under warranty — repair number 1. Check!

The next repair was not so easy. I spent hours trying to troubleshoot why the ATV was cutting out when I pressed the accelerator. Online forums posted several potential problems. I followed up on almost every suggestion — basics like a fuel filter, air filter, spark plug, gas treatment, etc. As an amateur ATV mechanic, I wanted to avoid the ones that might cause damage to the engine.

After two weeks of working on the ATV in cold and snow and spending a significant amount of money on new parts, it was time to contribute to the local economy — the ATV repair shop.

Dean over at Fort Collins Motorsports was super helpful. We went through all the repairs and troubleshooting I already did. Together we came up with a list of things that might still be wrong. Within a few days, Dean and his trusty mechanic ruled out the rest of the list. We decided it was time to pull the carburetor. They found the problem (a clogged fuel jet). The mechanic fixed the jet, adjusted it for altitude, and had me on my way (with a list of additional suggested repairs). It was great to hear that the engine was in good shape with no other significant issues.

With years of experience dealing with mechanics and shops that try to sell you things that you don’t necessarily need immediately, Fort Collins Motorsports is a class-act. They won my future business, for sure. We will tackle other items on the list when it’s time.

But trust me, I love learning and this is my new toy with a purpose! I will take pride in fixing it when it breaks and then works again due to my efforts and increasing skill as a mechanic.

Now, it’s time to build a heated garage — cha-ching!

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