Changing the Steering

The ski has been running for three or four weeks, and is living at Allen's house, where it is easy to put in the water. I duct taped my GPS to the handlebars and got a 36.8 at full throttle on rough (but not choppy) water. Allen has had visitors, so between them and me the ski has gotten a lot of use. The visitors are all gone, so now is a good time to bring the ski back over here, check it over, and make some mods.

Everything looked fine under the seat. No loose bolts or hose clamps. I thought the engine mounts might be loose, but the low-rpm engine shake is apparently just how a two-stroke runs. There was a little water in the hull, so I cleaned it out and will keep an eye on the bilge in the future.

Now on to the fun stuff. I had bought a UMI steering setup off eBay months ago, but I had wanted to run the ski for a while in stock form, to see how well it worked. It seemed to run fine, but the handlebar cover was ripped and torn and looked pretty bad, plus the new steering would let me sit further forward for better weight transfer. First thing was to pull off the old steering. Not too hard, and here it is ready for sale on eBay. Although I'm not sure if I should bother.

The ski looks a lot cleaner without it.

I also got a billet throttle and killswitch holder off eBay. This lets you reverse the stock thumb throttle and use it as a finger throttle. It also allows you to bring the kill switch over from the left-hand side, to the right-hand side next to the throttle. It should have been a simple bolt-on, but instead it required some soldering. Here's Rob making it happen:

Also from eBay were a set of UMI handlebars, and a pair of WestCoast handgrips. We assembled everything, and then I sat on the ski and moved things around until it felt right. Then I locktite'd everything in place, and glued on the the handgrips. You can sort of see the finished product here:

You may notice that the seat isn't visible in any of these photos. That's because it's off being recovered. In yet another eBay purchase I found a white and purple HydroTurf seat cover, and got Kevin's Trim Shop to install it for $35. It looks great, although it doesn't quite match the yellow decals on the front sides. I will try to get a picture up here.

And yet more work to be done. When Allen dropped off the trailer, one tire was completely flat. I could inflate it, but it would go flat within minutes. It had a hole worn on the inside sidewall from rubbing on the trailer frame. I went to pull the wheel off, but found one of the studs had spun in the hub. So I cut off the nut with a grinder. Then I found that the hub would go "clunk" in and out about 0.5 inches (a lot). This explained how the tire could rub on the frame. Fine. So it was off to Pan American tire to have a new tire mounted, then one auto parts store for bearings and seal, and a second auto parts store for a stud and nut. Replace the stud, drive out the old races, in with the new, pack the bearings, mount the wheel, pack the hub, and it was ready for the road.

So it was sitting in the carport ready to go back, when Rob stopped by again and played with the steering, and said it seemed to rub at full lock on both sides. Well, he was right. Pull it off, and find the nozzle bushings are shot. Off to the SeaDoo dealership, only to find they're out. Okay, time to head to PPG, because I know they'll have them. Two hours later we're home with new bushings. Install them, and find the rub is still there. Finally we find that the nozzle is actually rubbing on the pump. A little work with a file, and we have really smooth steering.

We take it back over to Allen's and put it in the water for a test run. But it just won't run. It will fire up for a couple seconds and then die. Lots of headscratching, and Rob finally reminds me that it is just like the same his airboat got sunk and got water in the fuel. It would run for a couple seconds, and then die. Well, while I was working on it this time I kept dropping bolts and washers that would roll under the fuel tank, so I pulled out the tank and let it sit for a day while I worked on the ski. Apparently that is enough for water to condense inside the tank and contiminate the fuel. But it was time to go, so we pulled it back out of the water and left. Now I need to get some isopropyl alcohol, or some Dri-Gas, and head back over, and get that sucker running.

The next update should feature shots of the ski with the seat installed, running on the water. Oh, I also put on a Tiny Tach, and we worked out a way to temporarily ziptie a GPS to the handlebars. So next time I should have speed and RPM numbers. I can't wait.