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Thread: Starting old 2 stroke in extreme cold

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    Default Starting old 2 stroke in extreme cold

    Okay, I have old skandics two late 90's (97, 98) and one late 80's. Does anybody have any tricks to starting these old 2 cycle machines when it is extremely cold out (40 below). I know I am not the first to have this problem. I don't have a warm garage to put it in. I am looking for field practical means to getting my snow machine started when the mercury drops. Thanks

  2. #2

    Thumbs up Cold Starts

    Remove and throw away the OEM plunger type Primer, they suck air when temps are that cold and they wear out pretty quick as well. Put on a Quality (not a cheapie) Bulb type, in line Primer.
    Remove the OEM Spark Plugs and throw them away. Put in some Denso Irridium Fine Wire Spark Plugs (No Others).
    Pull the starter rope thru a few times to build compression and loosen things up, before you prime it and attempt to start it.
    Squeeze Primer Bulb about four times.
    Crank it up.
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    Member Dirtofak's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Akres View Post
    Remove and throw away the OEM plunger type Primer, they suck air when temps are that cold and they wear out pretty quick as well. Put on a Quality (not a cheapie) Bulb type, in line Primer.
    Remove the OEM Spark Plugs and throw them away. Put in some Denso Irridium Fine Wire Spark Plugs (No Others).
    Pull the starter rope thru a few times to build compression and loosen things up, before you prime it and attempt to start it.
    Squeeze Primer Bulb about four times.
    Crank it up.
    Are you referencing a boat style primer?
    I don't mean to sound bitter, cold, or cruel, but I am, so that's how it comes out.
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    I used to run my old 69 634 Polaris out of Talkeetna up the rivers in the 80's every weekend hauling wood for cabins. It seemed that my machine was about the only one that would start when it was cold in the AM some times down to -45. For plugs I ran the recommended heat range for the engine (K10) manufactured by Champion or ones by NGK. The trick that I used (and this is with the old Tilitson HD carb) was to flip the choke on and pull it over about 3 times before I had even turned on the key I would then pull one plug and just tickle that cylinder with gas (a sqeeze bulb like they use for priming a r/c model airplane worked great) after that flip the choke off turn on the key and after the first pull and it was idling.

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    Switch to synthetic oil. Get to know your primer and how many strokes a machine likes. There's a fine line between enough fuel and too much. Be patient and pull the machine through slowly a few times to loosen things up before you attempt to start it. Once you've loosened it up and primed it a few times your machine should start just fine at -40. You may need to feed a little primer to keep it running at the beginning. Just be careful not to flood it. If you do flood it don't waste a lot of time pulling on it. Just change the plugs and pull the engine through a few times while the plugs are out. With new plugs it should fire right up.

    I disagree with the plugs and primer change. Not necessary. Guys have run SkiDoos in cold temps since SkiDoos were invented. It may be a good idea to keep a new primer in your tool kit. They do fail occasionally and they're really simple to replace.

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    If you have power you can put a KAT battery heater or smaller on the bottom of the block and plug it in.

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    Also disagree with changing the primer. The plunger type primers work just fine... perfect in fact, for a snowmobile. There is nowhere for them to "pull air" from anyway.

    Keep your carbs and chokes perfectly tuned up. That's the real secret to easy cold starts. If your cold idle isn't perfect, you'll have problems starting the machine. It's that simple. Spark is spark, regardless. But fuel mixture is key.
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    At extreme cold temps, the plungers don't work, they suck air around the packing/o-ring. The quality silicone bulb primers are sealed, with a one way check valve. No Possible way to get air in the system.
    Spark ain't Spark. There is weak spark and hot spark.
    -45, is different than most deal with. And on an older machine, with inherently weak mags and coils, you need to compensate for it, by upgrading the simple stuff.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Akres View Post
    At extreme cold temps, the plungers don't work, they suck air around the packing/o-ring. The quality silicone bulb primers are sealed, with a one way check valve. No Possible way to get air in the system.
    Spark ain't Spark. There is weak spark and hot spark.
    -45, is different than most deal with. And on an older machine, with inherently weak mags and coils, you need to compensate for it, by upgrading the simple stuff.
    I agree. Use the iridium plugs, they work. Champions are a joke. Spend some time on the real snowmachine forums Hardcoresledder and Snowest and the wannabe's will learn.

    When shutting down your machine, pull the choke on at the same time you hit the kill button. This'll coat the cylinder walls with more oil so the engine is easier to pull over.

    If you are near juice, you can pre-heat the engine. Simplest approach. Plug in a small heater or use a hairdryer pointed at the motor. Close the hood and cover it with the snowmachine cover. Have a cuppa joe. It'll fire right up.
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    Kerosene Reddy heater and a blue tarp over the cowling. Keep the heater far enough from the machine to avoid melting the cowling...

    Mr Pid's advice is right on, IMO too.

  11. #11

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    If it fires easily in the summer, then just carry a propane torch and heat the base of the plugs and she will start with ease. If it is hard starting in the summer you could have a whole host of problems that should be addressed. I have an old (91) Formula MX Skidoo which is a pain to fire-up, but with the torch, first pull!

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    Member Rod in Wasilla's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Tombo View Post
    ... just carry a propane torch and heat the base of the plugs ...
    Good luck getting any heat out of that propane torch at -45, unless you can keep the propane warmer than that.
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    When it really got cold, I got in the habit of pulling the belt and plugs and bringing them into the cabin with me overnight. Always worked for me along with tipping it on its side to run the track in in the morning.
    "If your not the lead dog.... the view never changes"

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    When we go riding, the coldest I can say that we had to start the sleds was around -38F And we have been riding them shn***y new RMK's. All we needed to do was pull the rip cord slowly a few times, pour in a few caps of heet (didnt even have too, but we used it in the red bottle) And squeeze the throttle a few times to get some gas flowing and started right up.

    We have had some of the old 500 indy trails starting great in the freezing cold, but only if the suspention and riding position changed.
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    Member Dirtofak's Avatar
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    I stay home.
    I don't mean to sound bitter, cold, or cruel, but I am, so that's how it comes out.
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    A couple of years ago my wife decided our no-go temperature should be -30. I swear it was like -28* every time we went for 4 trips in a row. On the fourth trip I was saying how much fun it sounded to just stay home. She told me to man up and load the truck. We never had a lick of trouble with machines. Take good care of them and they'll take good care of you.

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    although i like the "i stay home" response i usually hand turn the clutches just to loosen things up before i start yanking on the cord when its that cold. dont want to break your pull start with a harder than hell to turn over engine.

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    i got 14 thousand miles on my tran sport and when it was cold we'd take some boiling hot water and dump a little bit on the head and a little bit on the carb boots, and it'd fire right up every time, me and my dad trapped forever and did this lots to our sleds and never had any problems always got high mileage out of them, tran sport is still running out in mcgrath to this day, lots of people would say oh ur gonna crack heads this or cause this or that damage, but in probably 40 thousand miles between 3 sleds never had any problems from doing that and when you run a trapline in the interior your routinely using the sleds at -50 and colder on the rivers... don't think i'd do it on something new though, but wouldn't hesitate if i had another sport sks or tran sport or cheetah or something like that, my sleds fire right up nowadays ones arctic cat batteryless efi and other is ski doo etec so they pretty much fire no matter what, we'd also bust out the popcorn popper and pop it under the hood for 5-10 minutes pointed towards the carbs/head and it'd fire right up, or u could do blow dryer for longer also, but them popcorn air heaters are bomb dizzle also, other then that i used to figure 10 cranks for each 10 degrees below zero on my old sport sks haha, 30 cranks at 30 below and 40 cranks at 40 below, that was just wide open choke, colder than that would either use popper or lil boiling water, oh even used to do that to my kitty cats when i was like 3 or 4 we'd put boiling water on them and i rode it till i was 15 (for fun, had other sleds as well) anyways good luck, also you can buy a super strong balistic pull cord for ur sled too.... last forever almost...

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    Quote Originally Posted by Mr. Pid View Post
    A couple of years ago my wife decided our no-go temperature should be -30. I swear it was like -28* every time we went for 4 trips in a row. On the fourth trip I was saying how much fun it sounded to just stay home. She told me to man up and load the truck. We never had a lick of trouble with machines. Take good care of them and they'll take good care of you.
    Give one of your rep points to your wife. I love riding in the cold, the snow is great, it is usually nice and sunny and there is no one else on the trails. A space heater or a Buddy Heater and a tarp work just great.

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