By: Jason Giacchino
Sept 2007 - Off The Pegs
A Tale of the 12
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
"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!