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By: Jason Giacchino

Sept 2007 - Off The Pegs

A Tale of the 12 Year-Old Headache

Remember the movie Money Pit? Much funnier when it's not happening to you.
Remember the movie Money Pit? Much funnier when it's not happening to you.

Much in the way it is wise for a recovering alcoholic to avoid the liquor store, I too need to be extra cautious in the early weeks of August.  Only itís not beverages I need to steer clear of. For whatever reason it appears that by the time July exits the scene with hot days and long warm nights, what little willpower Iíve exercised all summer suddenly ups and disappears.  The end result usually isnít pretty as I manage to show up at home after work one day with a new toy I donít need, donít have a place to store, and certainly canít afford.

I thought this year was going to be different--I really did. Iíve been testing some pretty recent equipment in the form of the KFX450 and helping my cousin fine tune his Suzuki LTR450 for the races.  As Iíve confessed in recent columns, I was even waiting patiently for the release of the new KTM and Can-Am 450s.  Theoretically I had enough on my plate to keep me from shopping around.  However, and much to my girlfriendís disappointment, fate stepped in one evening in late July when a classified ad in our local newspaper stopped me in my proverbial tracks.  Of all things, someone was looking to part with a 1995 Yamaha Blaster, and the price was south of a thousand bucks.

Now before you roll your eyes in disappointment, rest assured that I am all too aware of the performance limitations of the archaic 195cc air-cooled mill.  Not only that, but a close friend of mine used to campaign a Blaster back in 1993 (complete with purple plastic) so I can testify to the poor handling traits of the stubby chassis.  As much as logic attempted to sway me, there was something about the zippy 6-speed tranny, the flickable nature of the frame, and the smell of two- stroke in the morning that had me defying reason.  Besides, an amateur tuner by nature, I am always attracted to the possibility of taking the most unlikely of models and turning them into capable race machines.  It is hard to argue with the Blasterís potential as a starting point on which to build.

I quickly drained the bank account and took the half hour drive out to the city to look at the quad in question.  It was nearly 11p.m. when I arrived, so the entire deal took place under the shadowy beams of my headlights.  The plastics looked good, the motor had been built up by CF Racing, and the machine started in a single kick.  The clutch seemed good, but the rear tires were balder than Jesse Ventura.  The brakes were spongy but, hey! What can one expect out of 12 year-old manual drums?  I handed over the cash and accepted the seller (and his sonís) hand in loading it up.

"Tires are a little worn." Maybe if you plan to ride Supermoto.
"Tires are a little worn." Maybe if you plan to ride Supermoto.

The next few days were spent scanning eBay for parts. To my relief the aftermarket has been very kind to the little Yamaha (I suppose being unchanged for twenty years will do that to a model).  First on the agenda were new rear tires. Dunlop K-series just like the ones that grace the rear of my LTZ400. I picked up a pair along with new wheel bearings and seals for the front, fresh grips, and a set of brake pads for the rear. It was looking to shape up into a fun little project when without warning on the second day; the quad stalled out and refused to relight.  That sinking feeling had already begun to set in by the time I unstrapped my helmet.  After some diagnosing and many more stabs at the kick starter, it was determined we werenít getting spark.  Advice began to flow in from all sources:
ďItís got to be the coil, they go all the time.Ē
ďTrust me itís the ignition coil.Ē

Back to eBay and $40 and a few days later a new OEM ignition coil arrives.  I quickly install the unit and proceed to slam the kick starter once more. Nothing happens! There was no spark.  The sinking feeling I mentioned above returns big time.  Out comes the electrical meter and weeks of checking wire checking. Side note: For such a simple engine, the Blaster sure has a lot of wiring!  Eventually itís determined the wires are all okay and the problem is narrowed down to the CDI box itself.  Most of my friends insist that these things rarely go bad but I remember all too clearly replacing a dozen unnecessary parts on my 1996 Yamaha FZR600 when it turned out to be the very same thing. Well, back to eBay.  This time I was smart enough to use the opportunity to replace the stock unit with an aftermarket rev box (Hot Shots series from Rickís Electrics).  As claimed, the unit pushes the redline back 1000 rpm for added over-rev and was actually cheaper than the OEM replacement.  This coupled with the engine mods already done by the previous owner should have really pushed the Blasterís speed and power past the limitations of the chassis (not a bad thing when attempting to hang with 450s).  Once installed, the quad snapped to smoky life on just the second kick.  Life was good, real good.  Then about two minutes later the quad bogged down and fouled the plug.  It was running way too rich.  After fiddling with the carb adjustments for a while, it was determined the carb could use a good cleaning and perhaps an entire rebuild. Again, we go back to eBay.

At present I am anxiously awaiting for UPS to deliver my rebuild kit and jets.  Since buying this quad, I have spent approximately four minutes in the saddle and four weeks diagnosing problems.  When it is done and at the race track, I am certain I will long for the excitement of slapping on performance parts and probably buy something unnecessary just to be able to work on it over the winter months.

However for now, all I want to do is ride!

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