Nicholas Fluhart

December 26, 2010

Tire Change: 27″ SwampLites on the Foreman

Filed under: Project: 475 Foreman — Nicholas Fluhart @ 9:21 pm
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I recently experimented with a tire change on my Omni Recovery Foreman. As previously discussed in my first Tire Change Post, I’ve been running a set of 26″ Dirt Devil XT’s which are no longer in production. They are essentially the most aggressive of the Dirt Devil family. Overall, I’ve been happy with the Dirt Devils, but there are a couple of areas I’d like to improve in. One, is performance in wet sand such as that found in creek bottoms and on banks. In many cases I have to climb steep, wet creek banks, but I don’t want to compromise too much in mud traction, so finding a balance is difficult. Second, is overall driveablity. My Dirt Devil combo, although superb in mud, is a heavy and rougher riding set. I’d like to try something a little more nimble and smoother riding. I recently got an opportunity to try something different…

I purchased a Foreman to part out, and it happened to have a nice set of 27″ SwampLites on ITP steel wheels. I had to give them a shot on my machine. The rims they were on had gotten a bit rusty, so the first thing I did was strip them down and paint them low-gloss black. Then I installed them on my Foreman.  You can see the difference one inch in tire diameter can make as seen below:

SwampLite on the left, Dirt Devil on the right.

The SwampLite on the left is taller, and the Dirt Devil on the right is wider. I’ll discuss the pros and cons at the end of the post. Here is what the finished product looks like:

Conclusion:

Shortly after installing the new tire combo, I took it on a good night ride and developed some conclusions. In comparison to the Dirt Devils, I found that the SwampLites certainly rode smoother overall, and the larger diameter gave my Foreman a better top cruising speed. Also, I was surprised at how much the additional ground clearance helped. In wet sandy conditions, the improvement was moderate but not as much as I had anticipated. And for the cons… I immediately noticed that the SwampLites didn’t get near the traction on most surfaces that the Dirt Devil XT did. This is due to a combination of the less aggressive tread (in soft terrain) and the more narrow footprint (in all terrain) of the SwampLite. I wouldn’t mind that too much if the combo was lighter than my Dirt Devil setup, but when I compared them, they were both about the same weight so I really didn’t gain anything there. And finally, I learned that 27″ tires, a bit taller than the 26″ (and certainly taller than the stock 25″), proved to be a bit much for the stock suspension geometry. The front tires rubbed the fenders when the suspension flexed heavily, and I could feel some pops and tweaks in the chassis that I didn’t normally notice. My synopsis: I believe the SwampLite is a decent all-around tire, but if I were to run a set, I would downsize to a 26″ and place a wider size on the rear for better traction. I actually think they would be a good combo for my machine. But at the end of the day, the 26″ Dirt Devil XT is a better fit for my machine and riding style than a 27″ of any brand. So that’s what I’ll stick with for now. If I can find a deal on something a little less aggressive but keep the current size, I think we’ll have a winner.

Oh, and I’m still keeping an eye out for a set of factory style aluminum rims…

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December 5, 2010

Crossing a Beaver Pond

Filed under: Project: 475 Foreman,Trips and Fun — Nicholas Fluhart @ 9:03 pm

I had a fun outing to my land lease shortly before hunting season. My brother and I were riding our ATVs when we came to a section of the road that flooded a couple of years ago due to beavers damming up a nearby creek. We weren’t far from our destination. To turn back would mean adding another hour and a lot of additional miles to the ride, and it was a hot, dusty day; I really wanted to get into the water. There was a lot of seaweed and lily pads making it impossible to see the bottom and judge the depth. My main concern was a possible under-water trench from a culvert that had washed from under the road and was now floating at the shoulder. There is a swamp to the right of the road and a deep creek with moving water to the left, and water from the creek is now moving across the road into the swamp. Since I cannot see the bottom I could easily drive into a trench, drop out of sight, and loose my quad.

At this point most people would turn back….but I’m not most people. I love a challenge, especially when there’s a little danger involved. I had a plan. I began looking around for a tool that I could use to give me an edge, and then I found it: an old tree branch. I eagerly snatched it up to carry with me across the abyss. I would use the precision instrument to gauge the depth of the water in front of me as I drove along.

 

Selecting my precision instrument.

 

And then it begins. I inch my way out into the water. I look ahead to the other side to guesstimate where I need to be in order to keep myself centered on the road. It’s a little more difficult than it looks. As you can see, I don’t have my rubber boots on (at that time it hadn’t rained in two months so I wasn’t expecting mud or water) so I climbed onto the seat of my ATV.

Putting In

 

It’s relatively easy at first, but then the water starts to get deeper. However, it’s not so much the current depth of the water that gets my blood pumping, it’s the unknown variables. I absolutely cannot see through the murky water. How deep is it in front of me? Where are the shoulders of this narrow old road? If I get too close to the edge, which I cannot see, I could slide off the road into chest-deep water. There’s nothing I enjoy more than this type of riding!

Further into the unknown.

 

The water is getting deeper, naturally, but I could still turn back before this outing turns into a travesty. ….Not a chance. At this point I’m hooked; the only way I’d go back is via winch-line. I keep moving…

 

A little seaweed.

Past the point of no return now. As my depth gauge encounters an indigenous life form, I feel some obstacles on the ground beneath me. Probably a log? An old pipe? Who knows what’s down there considering I’m riding in a WWII era munitions depot. I try to correct…

 

At the edge.

…aarrrgg! Too much! I almost slid off the shoulder of the road. It’s narrow and impossible to see. I slow to a crawl as I use my stick with the value of a life preserver.

 

The half-way point.

As I reach the half-way point I’m encouraged to continue, however, the deepest section is yet to come. As I pass a flower on a lily pad I notice there is a slight current and I’m approaching the area where I believe the culvert was. With nerves of steel, I press on.

 

Approaching the deepest part.

With my exhaust pipe soundly under the surface gargling creek water, I realize I’m right in the deepest section where the culvert was. Fortunately there was not a deep trench there, but there was a bit of a dip. I pushed through and the front of the ATV bobbed as the water rolled up on top of the front fenders.

 

In the deepest section.

As I traverse through the dip I see light at the end of the tunnel and I know I can make it. At this point in a challenge I tend to get a little excited so I picked up the pace a bit. Before I realize it, the water is getting shallow and I near the bank. Alright! I did it.

 

 

Success!

 

On to the next one…

 

February 28, 2010

Tire Change: Dirt Devil XT on the Foreman

Filed under: Project: 475 Foreman — Nicholas Fluhart @ 10:27 pm

A few years back, I acquired an old Yamaha Big Bear 350 4×4 that had a nice set of GBC Dirt Devil XT’s on it. The XT is basically a more aggressive version of the standard Dirt Devil, but unfortunately GBC no longer has them listed in their product lineup. They caught my eye because they were very aggressive, yet the tread pattern was arranged in such a way that would offer a fairly smooth ride. I bought the bike to part out, but I set aside the tires in hopes of one day trying them out on whatever ATV I happen to have.

Fast forward four years…

I finally got around to trying out the 26″ Dirt Devil XT’s. As seen in my Foreman post, I’ve been running 25″ tires on my ATV, Gators on the rear and standard Dirt Devils on the front. This was an excellent performing combination as I discussed in the Foreman post. However, the ATV is geared so low I think a taller tire would help the performance while also providing additional ground clearance. So when my dad needed a set of good tires for 12″ rims I volunteered the tires on my Foreman and decided to install the Dirt Devil XT’s. Since I recently rigged up my tire changer, we were able to do the tire work at my shop.

While I had it down, I took the opportunity to clean and paint the rear axle housing, hubs, and repaint the rims.

Pros:

So far I’m pleased with the performance of these tires. Having the extra height has improved the driveablity by slightly raising the gear ratio. As for traction, they are absolutely awesome in the mud. I have gone through some unbelievable stuff with these. The added ground clearance has also proved to be helpful when climbing over large logs.

Cons:

They don’t seem to do that great in wet sand such as that found in creek bottoms, but no aggressive tires do. I’ve found that factory type tires tend to do the best in the wet sand of creek banks. Another thing is the ride quality is not quite as good as with the other setup. Also the machine is not as nimble with these big tires, but that’s to be expected since these tires are heavy and mounted on steel rims. Overall, these issues are relatively minor.

I think my next tire/wheel experiment will be a set of factory type tires on aluminum rims. It should offer a very smooth ride and make for good driving performance as a result of the lighter weight. However, I’ll be giving up some in the mud, but maybe I’ll get a gain in the sandy creeks. That’s if I ever get around to it…

UDATE: See the next tire experiment here>

January 21, 2010

Honda Foreman in Action

Filed under: Project: 475 Foreman — Nicholas Fluhart @ 9:50 pm

My Honda 475 Foreman posts tend to get the most traffic, so I thought I’d post a few pics of it in use. Now this is what I built my ATV for.

Pulling small trailers is necessary for my purposes. This is a weighty machine, so it handles trailers very well.

Winching is another requirement. I put my winch through the paces. Generally, it’s never a good idea to tow with a winch as you risk snatching against the cable and shattering the gears. However, I sometimes tow relatively easy loads when I can keep the line tight. In terms of winching, sometimes I have to block on to something like a tree or post when pulling something that requires a lot of tug. Tying to a tree or post keeps the ATV from skidding into the item you are winching but it can be hard on the winch.

Below I’ve posted some pics of me winching up an old fence post and section of fence. I have the winch mounted at the rear of the ATV and I had to tie up to a large post to keep the front of the ATV on the ground and to keep it from skidding backward when winching.

Sometimes I have to trek through swamps…

…but I always keep it clean and serviced.

UPDATE: There will be lots of other posts with the Foreman in action here.

September 17, 2009

UPDATE: Warn 424 Select on the 475 Foreman

Filed under: Project: 475 Foreman — Nicholas Fluhart @ 7:15 pm
Tags: , , , ,

After having used the Warn 424 Select 4WD selector on my 475 Foreman for over a year, I now have the benefit of offering my experience with the equipment for your consideration.

Pros:

The functionality of this part is actually very good. It is ultra heavy-duty and I have had no problems with the drive mechanism. It disengages and reengages with ease.

Cons:

The control mechanism. Specifically, the control mechanism is susceptible to corrosion. Some of the parts are brass, which is helpful, but the other parts are galvanized steel and corrode rather quickly making it impossible to operate the unit.

Concerning the control mechanism, the first sign of corrosion is that the knob begins to be hard to push and pull, but the worst part is the spring-loaded push button in the center of the knob. When you pull the knob out, the push-button is supposed to pop out and ‘catch’ holding the knob in the extended position giving you 2WD. It does this by utilizing a spring-loaded steel ball bearing that rolls on the inside of the control unit housing until it encounters a notch where it nestles nicely into place holding the knob in the extended position until the button is pushed releasing the ball from the notch allowing it to roll back down the length of the housing as the knob is pushed in and the 4WD is engaged. When the internal parts, such as the spring and notch, corrode the notch becomes full of junk and the spring is not powerful enough to hold the ball bearing in the notch. This results in the inability to hold the unit in the 2WD position, leaving it in full-time 4WD.

Maintenance:

I started to entitle this section “Solution” but as of now, I haven’t yet established an effective solution, however I plan to readdress the issue in the future and perhaps modify the spring and/or other components to achieve a permanent fix. In the meantime, here’s what I’ve done in the way of maintenance:

First, I soaked the unit in penetrating oil and began disassembly. This was harder than it sounds. The corrosion made it difficult to disassemble. Also, as you can see, I was working in tight quarters. My shop was full of operations with the purpose of making me money, so I had to settle for working on my hobby project out back.

Removing the Unit

Below I’ve laid out the individual components of the mechanism. The brass center section and the housing seen setting just above it were the components most hampering operation of the unit. This was due to the unit becoming dry and developing corrosion and junk between the components.

Components Laid Out Before Cleaning

Components Laid Out Before Cleaning

There really wasn’t much I could do other than to clean each component. I started by polishing the parts with a wire wheel on my 6″ bench grinder.

Cleaning the parts with a wire wheel

Cleaning the parts with a wire wheel

I then washed each part clean in my wash vat which uses clean solvent (mineral spirits) as seen below. Once I washed the parts I used compressed air to dry them before applying a coating of grease and anti-seize compound to prevent the corrosion issue from occurring again.

Washing the parts

Washing the parts in solvent

Applying Compound

Applying Grease and Anti-Seize Compound Accordingly

Now I was ready to go back together with the unit. You can see the cleaned parts laid out below. Note the mounting bracket bolted on the fender. I had to readjust it to keep the headlight guard from catching on it during tight turns. To the right you see the finished, mounted mechanism.

Ready for Reassembly

Ready for Reassembly

Finished

Finished, Mounted Mechanism

Conclusion:

The unit worked perfectly after the maintenance I performed. However, after a few weeks I began having an issue with the push button. Although the mechanism still operates smoothly due to the enhanced lubrication compound, it appears that the main push-button spring isn’t quite strong enough to pop the button out when the knob is pulled out to the 2WD position. As of now, and until I have the time to reevaluate the parts, I carry a small pair of pliers and simply grab the end of the button and assist it by gently pulling out until it catches. This sound silly, and it is, but it’s actually easy to do on the fly.

Until next time…

UPDATE:

I removed the pull knob and found that corrosion from the steel push button had built up in the aluminum knob. I cleaned and oiled the parts, and now the entire mechanism works as it should. This is great because I was getting tired of the carrying around the dumb pliers.

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