Nicholas Fluhart

January 8, 2015

Project: Bayou 300 4×4, Clutch Repair

Filed under: Project: Bayou 300 — Nicholas Fluhart @ 11:39 am

So after riding the Bayou 300 4×4 a few times, a problem with the centrifugal clutch began to be evident. These clutches are very expensive to replace, and often when buying a used one online, you receive one that is just as worn out as the one you are trying to replace. So…I’ve come up with a solution (I’m sure other people were doing it long before I discovered it) for extending the life of a worn centrifugal clutch.

First, there are a few things you need to know. There are two clutches: the main clutch, also called a primary clutch, which engages the engine to the transmission, and the centrifugal clutch, also called a secondary clutch, which operates the main clutch by engaging it when the engine reaches a certain RPM. This is how the engine can idle while in gear and operate at low RPMs without stalling.

The centrifugal clutch is mounted to the engine crankshaft and uses a series of spring-loaded shoes. When engine RPM reaches a certain point, centrifugal force overpowers the springs, the shoes move outward, and they contact and lock to a drum which is geared to the main clutch. When the centrifugal clutch shoes are worn, the clutch generally slips at low RPM at the point of contact with the drum.

The main clutch is mounted to the transmission input shaft and uses a series of spring-loaded friction discs and steel plates. When the springs are engaged, the plates lock together and allow the transfer of power from the crankshaft of the engine to the input shaft of the transmission. When the components become worn the clutch will slip, usually in high gear or under heavy acceleration.

Both clutches are “wet clutches” meaning that they run in engine oil. The oil keeps them cool and helps them last longer. The friction materials in these clutches displace the oil when engaged and allow the clutches to “grab” and work properly. When worn, the parts do not displace enough oil and they slip. Specifically concerning the centrifugal clutch, there are grooves cut into the shoe linings so that oil can dissipate when the shoes make contact with the smooth surface of the drum. Over time, grooves begin to form in the smooth drum surface and the grooves in the shoe lining become shallow as the lining material wears; both conditions lead to less oil displacement which causes slippage.

With the symptoms my ATV has, I’m pretty sure my problem is the centrifugal clutch…well, that and the fact that Bayou 300’s are well known for eating centrifugal clutches. So the work begins. I start by removing the right heel guard and foot peg so I can remove the clutch case cover as seen below.

Bayou 300 Clutches
In the photo above, the main clutch is the one on the left and the centrifugal clutch is the one on the right. To remove the centrifugal clutch, remove the center nut, turn both clutch assemblies until the indentation on the main clutch basket lines up so that the drive gear on the back of the centrifugal clutch drum will clear, and it should slide off. If it doesn’t slide off easily, sometimes a little persuasion from a rubber mallet helps.

Once removed, I start with the shoes. I use a Dremel tool with a small, high speed cutting wheel and I simply trace the original grooves in the shoe linings. I do not recommend cutting all the way to metal. The idea is to make what is left of the existing grooves a little deeper, giving the oil a good path of escape. If you do not have a Dremel, this can also be done with a small hack saw blade.

Regrooving Clutch Shoes

Next, I address the drum. Place the clutch drum in a fixture such as a vise and inspect the contact surface. If the drum is worn, there are usually groves in this surface. To correct this, I use a high speed abrasive wheel like the one shown below…in fact, I actually used this exact one. These can be found at a welding supply store and work great in an electric drill or pneumatic tool.

Abrasive Wheel
With the drum in the vise, I chuck the abrasive wheel in a drill and go to work smoothing out the grooves. Sorry, I don’t have a “before and after” shot, but I do have the pic below which shows the drum after. You can still see where the grooves were, but they are much less deep. I didn’t take it any further because I didn’t want to risk going too far and rendering the drum useless.

Bayou 300 Clutch Drum
The final step is one that most people either don’t know about or don’t do for some reason, but it’s actually the most effective. Once the drum surface is smooth, I use the Dremel tool with the same cutting wheel mentioned above, and I cut diagonal grooves in the drum surface. Determine the direction of travel when the clutch is in use and cut the grooves from the inside of the surface diagonally toward the outside. Don’t cut all the way through, just cut them about as deep as the grooves in the shoes.

Cutting Clutch Drum

As the shoes engage the drum, these diagonal grooves give the oil an easy exit path.

Grooves Cut In Clutch Drum
Some people may be leery of cutting their drum, but what’s the alternative? Buy a new one? If the clutch is already junk, what have you got to loose? Whatever the case, it works great. So at this point you are ready to reassembled the ATV in the same manor it came apart. Once I had it back together, I took it out for a good test drive. The clutch has never worked so good…at least since I’ve owned it.

June 9, 2014

Project: Bayou 300 4×4

Filed under: Project: Bayou 300 — Nicholas Fluhart @ 10:54 pm

These days, I rarely have time for a ground up ATV project, but that’s what this turned into. I bought this Kawasaki Bayou 300 4×4 a few years ago. Like the Moto-4 project, I had initially planned to part it out, but after closer inspection, and seeing the decline in the parts market for Bayou 300 parts, I determined that this one may be good enough to fix and keep it as a whole unit. Besides, it’s always nice to have a spare four wheeler around. I could use it if I needed it, or I could sell it. Not as in-depth of a blog post as the Moto-4, but moderately informative nonetheless.

Overall, the quad looked pretty sound, but the one thing I knew about it was that it didn’t fire. From my experience, the Bayou 300’s are notorious for eating CDI units, so I guesstimated that was the problem. I rolled it behind the shop intending to get it running within a couple of months or so.

Four years later: Well, I finally found time to address the Bayou 300. I found it out back in the bushes as you see it below.

Bayou 300 (Before)
So I rolled it up into the shop to pick up where I left off: the CDI. I’ll note that one thing that made this project feasible was the amount of parts that I had in stock for these quads. I parted out over 15 Bayou 300 4×4’s around the time period of owning this one. So when I ran across a part in my inventory that I thought I might need for this ATV, I set it aside. One such part was a CDI unit.

So once I changed out the CDI, the firing problem was solved; it had a good, blue spark. After that, it was just a matter of cleaning the carburetor and putting some new fuel in it and it started right up. The good news is it runs, the bad news is the cam chain is sloppy and it smokes. Fortunately, I have another engine for parts, and I have a new set of piston rings on the shelf. I replaced the cam chain parts, reworked the cylinder head, honed the cylinder, and installed new piston rings.

While I had it down this far, I decided to go ahead and inspect/service the chassis. I removed the plastics and began on the front end.

Getting Started Front Axle Removed

I noticed the front differential axle seals were leaking. If oil is leaking out, then water can leak in, so I replaced the front axle seals. While doing that, I noticed the front drive shaft u-joints had slack (a common problem on these, due to the joints being so small and light-duty) so I replaced them. Next, I noticed the front brake calipers were frozen, so I replaced them with a couple of used ones I had on the shelf.

While on the front end, I decided to address the potential for mounting a winch.  I located an aftermarket winch bumper at a local ATV shop. It will be an easy winch mounting solution, after all, a utility ATV is not fit for use without some type of recovery instrument. I also had recently bought a Bayou 300 parts quad with a fairly new set of Carlisle AT 489 tires, so after I painted the front part of the chassis and the front hubs, I painted the rims and installed the replacement wheels and the winch bumper.

Front With Tires Front With Bumper

I had a Warn 2000 lb winch on the shelf from a previous part-out. It worked great but needed a new cable. While cable shopping, I saw a synthetic winch rope that advertised twice the strength of steel cable, so I decided to give it a shot. The advantages of the rope is that it is light-weight, easy on your hands, it floats on water, is highly visible, and is supposedly exponentially stronger than steel cable. The down side is that it can be cut easily which is why it comes with a three foot lead of rope-protecting housing at the end of the rope (hook end) so the rope will not be cut when winching from around a tree, etc. I bolted the winch to a universal mounting plate with provisions for a fairlead, then to the bumper. It’s important to note when using a synthetic winch rope, it is generally recommended to use a hawse style fairlead. That’s the smooth metal one shown below, as opposed to a roller fairlead commonly used with steel winch cable.

Bayou 300 Winch
The last thing I addressed before leaving the front end was a set of CV boot guards. I found an old set of Oxlite boot guards under a tree by the junk pile behind the shop. They were removed from a Bayou 300 4×4 some months previous and were apparently discarded because they were in need of paint. I grabbed my angle grinder with the cup brush, cleaned the rust off of them, and gave them a shot of paint. With some new u-bolts purchased at home depot, they were ready for installation as seen below. Now, as a side note I must say that on this particular model these make it next to impossible to service the front differential oil. However, I’d rather have to use a series of universal joints and extensions to reach the fill cap on the differential than to constantly have to change axle boots. So…

Front End
On to the rear end. The two things I initially set out to address on the rear was the brake, which on the 4×4 model is located on the right hand side, and the axle bearing and seal on the left hand side. I noticed the left seal was leaking, and generally if the seal is leaking it is because someone ran the hub loose allowing it to move and waller out the seal. Then once the seal fails, it allows dirt into the bearing, and within one ride, the result is bearing slack. So, as I began to dismantle the rear, I notice a significant amount of greasy mud in the axle housing. Once again, the project snowball continues to roll. I decide it best to dismantle the entire rear end for cleaning and inspection.

Rear Dismantle

My inspection of the rear actually brings some pretty good news. Despite the mud, it all looked pretty good. The axle splines were in good shape, the differential was good and tight, and last but most certainly not least, the rear drive shaft was actually in good shape (which is rarely the case on any Bayou ATV). So after lots of cleaning, blasting, polishing, and a little paint, I laid out all the parts and threw it all back together.

Rear Cleaned Rear Assembled

So now it’s time to stab the engine and install the exhaust, carburetor, intake, etc. This all went pretty smooth. I was then able to grab my makeshift iv bottle and a hot battery and see if this thing was going to run.

Test Fire

Of course it did, so now we can bolt this thing up, get the fenders on, and start on the accessories. For fenders, it had a pretty good set to start with. However, someone had gone wild with an automotive paint gun and clear coated them. This of course is never a good idea because the fenders flex, the clear coat bubbles and flakes off, and you are left with a dull set of fenders with sanding scratches all over them. I had another black set from a previous tear down, and while the graphics were decidedly less flashy, I used those. When the fenders were on, I could install the rest of the winch wiring, my auxiliary lights, and my batteries…yes, plural.

I’ve always wanted, and often needed, a dual battery setup on my ATVs. With all the winching, lighting, and miscellaneous electronic equipment, I sometimes find myself with a low battery on a long night ride. Also, when I go a couple months without starting the ATV, I find the slightly low battery makes for a difficult start. I can’t help but wonder if having two batteries would solve this…so I give it a shot. It just so happens that the Bayou 300 is a perfect candidate for it. It has the normal battery mount under the seat, and a dry storage box in the rear fender behind the seat that is the perfect size for another battery, and in this case, the winch solenoid. Below is a pic of the two batteries installed, along with the scores of wires needed for all my accessories.

Dual Batteries

To finish up the wiring for the winch, I use a momentary 3-way toggle switch mounted on the upper left side of the gas tank below the handle bars. I also place a toggle for the rear LED light I will be mounting on the back of the ATV. Now, if you’ve bought a toggle switch at a part store lately, I’m sure you’ve noticed the sub par quality of most part store toggle switches. This is why I will never buy one again; they are total junk. If they can’t hold up to interior use on a vehicle, they most assuredly will not hold up to exterior use on an ATV. For most of my switches, I turn to Del City. Friendly service and great stuff. Anyway, below you see the two toggles, one with the weatherproof rubber boot which works great for ATV applications.


So once the internal wiring is completed, I install my accessories. I use two LED flood lights up front wired directly into the headlight harness. The Bayou 300 4×4 has provisions for a lot of Genuine Kawasaki upgrades. One such upgrade offered at dealers was a handlebar mounted headlight similar to that on the 2×4 model. For wiring, there is a set of bullet connectors on the headlight harness under the front fender. These tie into the headlight switch on high beam only. So these are what I used to wire in my flood lights.

Also, I installed a 12v power port on the upper right side of the gas tank under the handlebars. I mounted it flush in the fender bezel. This is the power supply I use for the CB radio that I mounted on the front rack in front of the handlebars. It also works great for recharging cell phones and digital cameras on the trails.

For the CB Radio, I go with the simple Cobra 19 Ultra III. As I’ve stated before, you don’t want an expensive radio on an ATV where it is susceptible to weather and theft. Besides, the 19 Ultra III actually talks pretty well. For the antenna, I use the same type of 64 inch steel whip bottom loader that I use on everything. It seems to do well. I use a short coax and mount it to the rear rack.

And at last, possibly the most useful accessory on a night ride, the rear backup light. For this I use an LED flood purchased at Northern Tool. Now for the pics!

Finish 1 Finish 2

Finish 3

Finish 4 Finish 6

So that pretty much wraps up another long, drawn out ordeal of an ATV project…or does it? I feel an update coming on.

September 15, 2013

Loadstar Supplemental

Filed under: Project: Loadstar,Trucks & Equipment — Nicholas Fluhart @ 8:07 pm
Icy Loadstar

Icy Loadstar

Just when I thought I was about finished with this project, an unexpected issue has surfaced and needs attention. This one is rather serious, but this whole thing has to be a labor of love…it has to be.

After I finished the lighting, rebuilt the carburetor, and cleaned up the interior, I took it out for a good road test. The truck performed great, considering it’s age, wear, and tear, and the fact that the engine could use an overhaul. The brakes worked good, all the lights worked good, and the transmission and two speed rear end shifted properly. The engine even ran surprisingly strong. For the first time in probably 20 years the truck seemed road-worthy, at least to the extent of my plans for occasional, limited use.

However, about 10 miles into my country drive I noticed it had become hard to downshift for a curve. I pulled over into a friend’s driveway. The transmission began rattling loudly and I could barely keep it in gear. I shut it down and crawled under the truck for a look. It appeared that the seal on the PTO plunger had failed. This caused the transmission to loose about a quart of fluid. I wouldn’t have thought that loosing one quart would put the nail in the coffin of a manual gear box that holds 6 quarts, but that may be the case. Of course, with a transmission this old, it could have been on the brink and this may have been just enough to finish it off. Whatever the case, I filled it back up with fluid, and the rattling stopped…good news. Tried to drive it…bad news. Second gear is a grind, and it never recovered 3rd gear at all which makes the truck almost impossible to drive.  Even with the 2-speed rear, the jump from 2nd to 4rth is too difficult, especially when loaded. I limped it home.

So now it sets and will remain so until I have time to pull the transmission and open it up to see what’s going on. If there is no major hard parts damage, I can get an overhaul kit (synchronizers, bearings, seals) and rebuild it for about $150 and a ton of time. Alternatively, I can replace the transmission if I can find another one for a decent price. So we’ll see.

In the mean time, here are a couple shots of the truck at this point. I was saving the overall photog until I finished it completely, but who knows when that will be.

Right Side
Left Side
Loadstar Interior

September 8, 2013

Project Loadstar: Lights

Filed under: Project: Loadstar,Trucks & Equipment — Nicholas Fluhart @ 5:35 pm

Now that the paint work is done, I’ll finish off the exterior with new lights. Lights are probably my favorite part of any project. While I’m not in to lights for bling purposes, I love finding period correct marker and signal lights as well as functional utility work lights. Often times I find myself working at night, whether it be to beat the heat in the summer or because I’ve run out of daylight in the winter. Whatever the case, I prefer to be prepared with functional lighting. This turned out to be a big part of the project because of the old, damaged wiring, bad relays, and blown fuses which are a result of years of neglect. Nevertheless, I traced down all the wiring problems, fixed them, and began the process of hanging the lights.

First I address the headlights. They are typical 12V sealed beam lights. The headlight switch only worked when it wanted to, so I replaced it with a used OEM IH unit I found on eBay. Next I had to replace one bulb which I found at the local parts store, and I noticed both bulbs were not adjusted properly. Once I pulled the chrome ring off of one light, I was able to see why. On one side of the housing there is a spring, and at the other side, as well as the top, there are plastic retainers that the adjustment/mounting screws attach to. In this case, the plastic retainers had long since become brittle and broken, so there was nothing to hold the light in straight. To solve this, I put a self tapping screw in the side opposite the tension spring. The shell around the bulb slid in and rested behind the head of the self tapping screw, and the spring tension from the opposite side holds the bulb in place. To adjust, I wedged pieces of rubber at the top and bottom of the headlight shell which wedges the light one way or the other and holds it in place.

Screw located opposite spring side.

Screw located opposite spring side.

Headlight Installed.

Headlight Installed.

Next I address the parking light lenses and the turn signals on the front. The parking light lenses below the headlights (these are not turn signals as commonly thought) were destroyed from years of sun light. These were only on the first few years of Loadstar models; a Loadstar guru could tell you which years, but that I am not. The parking lights only come on when the light switch is pulled out to the first notch which turns on the front parking lights and the running lights all over the truck. The front parking lights go off when the headlights are turned on which is the second notch on the light switch.

These lenses have long since been discontinued by IH, so the best you can do is hope to find good used ones. This is no easy task as they are now very, very rare. However, after hours of online research and running part numbers, I hit a major score. I found a guy up in New York who had five new old stock lenses on his website. He has some kind of truck parts and salvage business. I don’t think he knew what he had because he listed them as GM lenses when they are in fact IH lenses. I called the place and immediately secured the purchase of all five lenses. I will use two of them on the truck, keep one for a spare, and sell the others on eBay where I should be able to recover my cost on all five.

For the turn signals on the front fenders, I found some vintage Signalstat round turn signals. These are period correct, but I don’t know if they were the original type on this truck; I’ve seen many early loadstars with square and rectangular signal lights. However, I think these look the best so I went with them. They are amber in the front and red on the back. They are single-wire lights that function as signals only, they are not running lights.

Turn signal, headlight, and parking light.

Turn signal, headlight, and parking light.

To really set off the front of this truck, I wanted some period correct driving lights or fog lights. As I looked through old photos of trucks from this era, I noticed that many of them ran amber colored Unity fog lights in chrome housings. These are very expensive, but after months of searching during this project, I found a set of new old stock Unity lights which were actually made for Navistar. I quickly bought the lights for half of retail and I put some amber bulbs in them and they look perfect!

Unity Fog Lights on Loadstar

Loadstar Front

Next I address one of my favorite parts of an old big truck, the cab clearance lights. Back in the days of this truck, there were primarily three available configurations for clearance lights. Two lights: one on each cab corner, most common on very early trucks. Three lights: three in the center of the roof, which is the configuration I have. Five lights: three in the center and one on each corner, or all five evenly spaced across the top.

For these, I found some new Signalstat units that are exact matches to the original IH clearance lights. Although these were used mainly on IH trucks, I’ve seen them on many different types of trucks, including fire engines. I thought about changing these up and going to a five light configuration, but upon deeper thought, I decided to leave it with just the three in the middle because later I plan to add unity spot lights to the roof at the corners.

Loadstar Cab Clearance Lights

Now we have the side marker lights. For these I wanted to go back with the exact same light that came original on my Gar Wood dump bed because they look and function perfectly. They are armored marker lamps. As seen below, they have a built on rounded guard that protects the lens, which is great for a dump truck, and they are kind of like a bee hive style that looks vintage and really cool. Apparently, the patent on these passed through the hands of about three or four different manufacturers so I had to trace and cross reference part numbers, but much to my surprise, they are still made today. I found them through NAPA. I even went back with the original round reflectors. For the lights and reflectors, I used amber on the front of the bed and red at the rear, just as it came originally. Since the bed is so short, there is no need to put lights in the middle.

Front marker light (amber).

Front marker light (amber).

Rear marker light (red).

Rear marker light (red).

Last, I’ll address the tail lights. This was challenging because there is no good place to put lights on the back of this truck. There is nowhere to put them on the dump bed itself, so I have to look on the chassis. However, someone installed a heavy duty hitch plate on the end of the truck frame and mounted a pintle hitch. This lowers the height of the hitch and makes it easier to pull a trailer than having the hitch all the way up on the frame. The hitch plate mounts over the area where the original tail lights probably were, and the width of the plate is from one mud flap to the other leaving no room for tail lights. Someone cobbled together some lights on the outside of the frame behind the mud flaps and then cut slots out of the mud flaps so the lights could be seen. This looked ridiculous, but I had to do something along the same lines. I mounted some round Peterson lights to the side of the frame and neatly narrowed the mud flaps so the lights can easily be seen. It actually looks pretty good. I then installed some antique running lights under the tail/brake lights. Similar to the marker lights on the bed, they are a bee hive type light. The wire you see above the left turn signal is actually a ground wire I had to use to ground the bed to the frame in order to make the side marker lights work properly.

Tail Light Rear Lights

That’s pretty much it for the lights, at least until I mount the spot lights on the cab. Until next time…

June 16, 2013

Project Loadstar: Painting the Cab

Filed under: Project: Loadstar,Trucks & Equipment — Nicholas Fluhart @ 3:54 pm

Time to paint the cab. Like on the bed and chassis, and most all of my old equipment projects, I decided to go with an oil based industrial enamel. This type of paint works well on rough trucks and equipment as it tends to fill in scratches and it’s not quite as glossy as automotive paint. It’s less sensitive to oil that may be on the surfaces, and it’s quite easy to use. Add a catalyst/hardener when mixing, and the paint is very durable and fade resistant. It’s available in various grades of quality and price, and certain types do not require primer. Since it’s not worth fixing every little ding and scratch on this old truck, this paint works well for me.

The first thing I want to do is strip off as much of the old paint as possible. Previously I used a 6,000 psi pressure washer to remove much of the paint. The next step was to use a high speed wire wheel to remove as much as is feasible. Now these wire wheels are available in fine, medium, and coarse. On thick, rough metal, like that found on the bed, course is effective. For the cab, which has thinner sheet metal, we use fine and medium. This will remove the paint without gouging the metal and leaving unsightly scratches visible after the truck is painted.

Getting Started

Front Stripped

Back of Cab Stripped

When I removed as much of the old paint as I could and knocked out some of the bigger dents, I cleaned all the sheet metal surfaces with thinner and began the biggest job yet: masking the windows etc.

Masked, Front

Rear, Masked

Once the glass was masked up, I primed all the surfaces. After the primer had dried, I took a scotch pad and went over the whole cab by hand. This smoothed out the rough texture of the primer. Then I went back and cleaned all the surfaces with thinner and a clean rag. Then I mixed up satin black, like was used on the bed, and painted the front bumper, front fenders, step boards, and mirrors. While that dried, I took the grill in the shop and painted it an awesome looking silver, the same silver I used to outline the rims on the truck. When the black dried, yet another round of masking began. I masked everything that I had just painted black.

Black Masked, Front

Black Masked, Rear

Now for the green. The closest thing I could find to the original International green in industrial enamel was a hunter green in an Ace Hardware brand. It suits me fine.

Green Front

Green Rear

Now I pull the masking off, and we have a pretty good idea of what the finished truck will look like. Of course there is still more work to do, but it’s coming together quite nicely.

Front Painted

Rear Painted

Still yet to come, the lights, interior, and whatever else crops up. Until then…

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