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the Moskito & The Deztaz

(9/14/00) - Silver Lake

The Moskito ready to runAfter busting butt all week long building a completely new front end for the Moskito - new lower a-arms, new (design) spindles, and just general "making it better" stuff, I was ready to attack Silver Lake on Saturday morning. I still didn't have paddle tires, but I had a spare set of wide rear tires that I was able to groove heavily, hoping they would work.

Just in case, I already had the YZF loaded and ready to go, but the Moskito was what I really wanted to run in. I spent all day Saturday driving up to the north west coast of Michigan and got to Silver Lake's state park with about an hour of ride/play time left. I met up with the guys that were already there - Hoser, Kiowa, Dune Pilot, Gottaride and her husband Steve, Livewire. Time to pull out the Moskito and see what it would do.

Silver Lake RidesI quickly discovered two problems: 1) No paddles is HORRIBLE!!! The power of the 500 pretty much spun the tires at will and because my clutch was still set up in "race mode", it hit too hard and just added to the spinning. 2) The rear end wasn't set up for the dunes AT ALL. It was sitting too low and if I ran through a series of whoops, the rear end would start to "pack" - meaning that the rebound was too slow and that the suspension didn't have a chance to fully extend between hits. This quickly lead to a spine jarring rear end beating as the back end bottomed out and then just stayed there. Needless to say, it wasn't a lot of fun. Still, it gave me an idea where to go in getting the suspension set up correctly. Surprisingly, the new front end seemed to be pretty much spot on.

We headed back to camp and I revalved the shocks, added a lot more preload to the rear springs to get the back end up and adjusted the clutch so it came in sooner, hoping this would help me out. A couple hours, a couple pork chops and a couple beers later, it was time to get horizontal and get some sleep.

Sunday morning was great. A little rain helped pack the dunes, so my lack of traction wasn't so bad and the rear end and clutch mods helped out greatly. No more harsh rides through the whoops. Instead, the rear end wanted to bounce up over the lips of the dunes. I'm not sure if it was the fact that I couldn't keep the power to the ground to get the front end light, if I had too much compression dampening or not enough rebound dampening (which is what I lightened the night before). Still, the Moskito was pretty darn quick thru the dunes. If I had paddle tires, there wouldn't have been anything out there that would have been able to keep up with it. On one run back to the "dune section" - it's pretty much a flat out gently rolling dune area - Dune Pilot and Hoser took off WFO and I was able to reel them up, pass them and pull away without ever even getting into full throttle (still too rich and the needle and seat are still too big). Dune Pilot pulled up beside me and announce quite excitedly "That thing's ^%$#(*& FAST!" - made my day! As the dunes began to dry out, the traction went (farther) away and after almost getting stuck and then having the Moskito 'bite' Dune Pilot's front bumper (sorry dude!), it was time to go four stroking on the YZF. We headed back to the pits for a break.

Me changing my YZF's rear tire - again....Being that I was getting tired of switching the paddle tire and the motocross tire back and forth on my YZF's rear rim, I purchased a second (used) rim. "Oh don't worry, the YZF400 rim will fit right on a YZF426. No problem." - I was told by the guy I got the rim from. So, I'd mounted my paddle tire up on my new spare rim, expecting to just pull the axle, switch rims, adjust the chain and go. WRONG!!! I pulled the rim off the YZF, aligned up the paddle tire rim, pushed the axle through the swing arm and then, "thud" - the threaded end of axle went into the rim and when the smooth part got to the bearing, no more movement. What the heck? I pulled the rim off and tried to put the axle through the rim again (off the bike). Nope, it DOES NOT GO THROUGH!!! CRAP!!! So, here I go again, not just switching the paddle tire with the motocross tire, but I had to pull the paddle OFF the spare rim! I'm getting tired of changing tires - and I HATE changing tires too! ARGH!!! I've discovered that I need to change bearings, seals and the spacer inside - they're on order....

I finally got the YZF's 'sand sneaker' on and we were ready to go ride again. The rest of the day was spent cruising around the dunes and in general having a good time. Hoser and I planned on staying through Monday, but the rains came in about 9:00 a.m. and ruined the ride for Monday. We decided to throw in the towel about noon and I was home about 7:00 p.m. A great weekend had been had by all.

(4/11/01) - New Parts to Test at Silver Lake

After fighting with screwy axle and cv problems, REALLY bad steering, too much front brake and not being able to run 10" rims, and a myriad of other problems with the Moskito, I had decided that I was going to scrap it. There were some design flaws that had shown up, it weighs too much, the cockpit's too small and the lack of paddle tire availability for a 13" rim just pushed it over the edge for fun. I turned my attention back to the Gecko and decided that I'd worry about the Moskito later. I was working on a new design to replace the Moskito that was based on the old Pilot chassis that I had.

Well, after mention of this to a couple people I was told "DON'T DO IT!!" So I sat back and took a long hard look at what I've got and started thinking: "I wonder how hard it would be to adapt the Pilot's rear carriers? That would let me run 10" rims and PADDLE TIRES!!!"
"I know what's wrong with my steering - I screwed up the mounting location of the steering arms - and since I want to make the spindles a bit different, well, I can redo the brakes too so that they fit inside a 10" rim."

5-link Pilot carrier w/paddle tiresI started out by pulling the rear suspension off the Moskito and then started fitting up the rear axles. So far, so good. Heck even the lower traverse stock links are close. But the upper mount of the carrier is about six inches too tall and I have no way to adapt the rear a-arm assembly to the Moskito's frame either. So, I decided that I could just adapt the stock upper traverse link from the Moskito's 5-link and figure out a new place to mount it on the Pilot carrier. To get the location right, I had to make sure that I had clearance on full compression. A quick check and I'd found my point. It's about half way between the lower link mounting points and the stock upper link (where the a-arm attaches). As I took the suspension through it's travel, I noticed that I was getting huge amounts of camber introduced. By moving the upper traverse link's mounting point (on the chassis) down and watching the suspension's movement, I was able to get the rear end set up so that it induces about two degrees of negative camber at full compression and has zero degrees at full extension. Perfect.

Next were the drag links. The lower link fit just about perfectly. It was a bit too close to the chassis so I bent the angle out a bit, cut the mount off of the plate and then relocated it a bit farther out and down. I now had four of the five links in. The upper drag link was the problem. I couldn't figure out where or how to attach it. Finally, I put the shock on the carrier, dropped the upper drag link down on top of the carrier and, guess what, it had a perfect spot. All I had to do was make new ears to mount the link to. A little work with the plasma cutter and the drill and I had my suspension mounting points in. Now all I had to do was relocate the upper shock mounts. The Pilot's carrier mounts the shock to the upper part of the carrier just above the axle. The Moskito's suspension had the shock mounted to the front lower traverse link. There was a difference of about four inches. I cut out the old mounts, bent up some new tubing and built new mounts. Everything on the rear end had come together perfectly and I could now run 10" rims with PADDLES!!! I think my valving is too stiff, but I'll find out this weekend - and I have my old Pilot vavling charts and all the shim stacks and nitrogen I need. (:

Next was the new (for the second time) front end.

My first front end - spindles & brakes were pretty cool - all aluminum, good handling characteristics, good steering effort - good breaking. The first set of a-arms weren't quite right either. The brakes were awesome - too much and I couldn't get enough dialed out. I cut pads, I cut rotors, I biased everything to the rear and still had too much brake power up front. The other problem was that when I broke the steering arm off the spindle, the caliper went with the steering arm and I had no brakes or steering! Oh, 10" rims didn't fit either, so I was stuck with my heavy 13" rims and no ability to run ATV tires.

Round two: New steel spindles and modified steering arms. The calipers now mounted to the back of the spindles and the steering arms were welded on. Problem was that I really screwed up the steering geometry and had HUGE amounts of bump steer. It also was a BEAST to steer. Still had too much brake power and 10" rims didn't fit yet either. Oh, the mounting bolts kept coming loose too. After it tried to kill me at Topeka and then again at Silver Lake, I had pretty much decided that the Moskito was going to the chop saw and I was planning on starting over using the bottom half of a Pilot chassis. I had mentioned this to a couple people and they all said "Don't Do It!" It was enough to get me thinking. I really wanted to be able to run paddle tires, so that meant fixing both ends so 10" rims would fit. The rear end was a "no way" as the carrier just barely fit into the 13" rims that I was running. The front end seemed like it would be pretty straight forward.

New front brakes & spindleAfter looking at a couple other spindle designs, I came up with the latest version on the car. It was going to require new upper a-arms, but that was ok, the arms on the Moskito didn't work right anyhow. I pulled the old caliper and rotor setup off of one of the spindles and then dropped it into a 10" rim. I now knew how much area I had to work with - Not Much! I went to our local Yamaha/Honda dealer and started measuring different rotors on the showroom floor. I looked at all the quads, but the inner diameter of the rotors was all to large for what I have. I finally looked at a Yamaha Zuma 50 scooter. Perfect. I walked to the counter, ordered two rotors and a set of calipers off a Honda 400 EX Quad. I had my parts - so I thought. I got a call a couple days later saying my calipers were in and the rotors were on back order! Damn!

New front brakesAll I can say is that I'm impressed. I called Braking and explained what I had. I needed a rotor that had a maximum diameter of 160mm and a minimum diameter of 55mm. The guy I talked to, Tim, was extremely helpful and started naming off different sizes. We finally settled on a Beta Trials Bike's rear rotor. The rotors and pads showed up on my door step a couple days later. I had all the stuff I needed to do a new front end.

Installed new front endA little machine work on the front hubs (took off the mounting tabs for the old YZ 80 rotors & drilled new holes for the Beta rotors) and it was time to build the spindles. I made a modified box setup that uses a large through bolt for the upper mount and the lower mount is a big bolt that goes directly into the body of the spindle and then is locked in place with a set screw. Should hold quite well. Mounts for the calipers was next and then the steering arms went on last. I got both spindles finished up and then mounted them on the lower a-arms. After positioning the spindles in the correct location, I made new upper a-arms and the Moskito was ready to run on 10" rims. Can't wait to get it up to Silver Lake this weekend! I'll report back when I get some seat time in the new setup!

(4/11/01) - Tested at Silver Lake???

What a KILLER WEEKEND! - never had sore elbows before...

Ready to rip!I arrived at Silver Lake early Friday evening. The dunes were still open, but I didn't bother unloading. I still had a couple small things to take care of on the Moskito - tighten a couple things up, check a couple other things, etc. Hoser, Dunepilot, RolinFrctn, Gotta Ride and her husband Steve were there wrapping up the day's ride. I followed the crew on back to the camp ground, we had dinner, Live Wire and his wife Ruby finally rolled in and we called it a night.

We all met for breakfast on Saturday morning and then headed on over to the dunes. It was a bit on the cold side, but it would be perfect for riding. While everyone got ready to ride, I finished tightening and checking and then headed out in the Moskito.

We had 3 dnf's right off the bat. - Bet you can guess who went down first!

Going down the entrance road let me know three things. 1) The front suspension felt PERFECT. Even with massive bump steer, the wheel didn't feel like it was fighting me and the brakes were finally right. 2) Paddle tires are AWESOME in the sand! The Moskito would lurch forward with traction like it does on hard packed dirt and 3) The rear end was WAY too stiff, but I knew it would be because it was still valved for old suspension. But that was okay, because I already had planned on changing it before the day was done.

At the end of the entrance road I unleashed the little monster. Pound, Pound, Pound - boy the back end was gonna kill me quickly, but Paddles ROOST!!!! Oh, and one other thing - I forgot my neck brace - OH MY!!! Never realized how much those things HELP!!! I had to hold onto the chin brace of my helmet in the really rough stuff. I headed up the first dune ridge - no problem. The Moskito cruised right up it. I launched it a couple feet in the air at the top and it seemed to fly pretty well. Cool! Dropped off the back side and headed towards the next dune ridge. I was taking it pretty easy and just getting the overall feeling of the car as it jumped and landed. Front end was perfect, rear end was stiff! It still went through the dunes a lot better than I imaged. I went on over the next three ridges - jumping a little and feeling pretty good about it. One other thing that I knew I would have to change was the amount of weight in the clutch. I had too many, the engine wouldn't ever rev out and it hooked up too soon.

At the downside of the last ridge, I turned right and started to head back towards the face of the first dune ridge. I was cruising along about 1/3 throttle taking in the scenes, and thinking about what I would do with the clutch and shocks. Brrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrr over the little ridges and across the flats. Brrrrrrrrrrrrr a bbbbbrrraaa uuuu mmmm ppppppp. Oh No! I had just stuck a ring! Well, it was the little car that could have!

I got out and checked the compression by spinning the clutch - nope nothing. The Skito was done for the day - no, make that weekend. I had no intention of even trying to fix it. I don't do engines on non-racing weekends. Time for some YZF time instead. I sat on the roof until a guy on a quad came by. He called his buddies over and they towed me on back to the pits (getting the tow vehicle stuck in the process!). We parked the Moskito behind the trailer and it was there for the duration.

A dead and wrapped MoskitoThe next vehicle down for the weekend was RolinFrctn's ride. It decided to eat its engine - not sure what the deal is. Sounds like its timing is off. Hoser, Dunepilot and Rolin worked on it for a while and finally decided that his Pilot was a lost cause for the weekend. Two cylinders down!

By now, I've unloaded the YZF, hopped into my boots and I'm ready to let loose on the dunes with a vehicle I KNOW will work and be fun on! I head out and catch up with Hoser, Dunepilot & Live Wire.

Dunepilot's Pilot (the '90) was the next in line. We stopped after a couple runs through the dunes and shut the engines down so we could talk. When we got ready to head back for a couple more laps, Dunepilot's engine didn't want to start. He finally got it fired up and we headed on. It did this a couple more times and he finally pulled back to the pits for the last time. Sometime during the day, it decided to loose the piston's upper ring locating pin.

The pin worked its way out of the piston, caught a port lip on the way down, turned 90 degrees and then got shoved up through the lip of the piston. Next, the pin, sitting in the crown of the piston, was shoved into the head. From there it probably took a couple hundred rides on the piston (judging by the number of marks in the head) finally making its way out. The piston had been slapping around in the cylinder for a while - the ports were beat back worse than any jug I've ever seen. It's no wonder the pin finally got knocked loose. So, dunes 3, dune riders 0.

I rode a few more laps around the dunes finding better lines and then finally headed in for some liquids and rest - VERY happy with the way the bike was working.

Sometime during my rest period, the dunes claimed another one of our vehicles. Live Wire managed to tear his left rear suspension off! Boy, Saturday morning was not friendly!

As stated earlier, after the Moskito swatted itself, I pulled out the YZF and proceeded to roost the dunes for the day. Being that this is the Moskito's page, and I'm switching vehicles, It's only fair that I take the rest of this tale to the YZF's page. So, click on the smiley face and be transported!

(5/22/01) - Bad Gas = Dead Piston

My frustration level with the Moskito is pretty much at it's end. I've posted on a couple boards more than once that if someone gives me $10K, they can have EVERYTHING - the whole enchilada. I'm tired of it, tired of messing with it, tired of it breaking, blah, blah, blah. Even with the upcoming race in the new off road series that's trying to get off the ground, I was pretty much done with the thing. Then I came to my senses.

I finally got over my frustration enough to think about repairing what I thought was a stuck ring. I still wasn't quite sure why it would have stuck a ring in the manner that it did (partial throttle, easy running) but then engine did have a history (back when I was first getting it up and running correctly) of dying in just such a way. Boy was I surprised when I pulled the head.

Burned PistonThe death of the engine was from detonation! Yes, detonation. I've NEVER had any of my engines suffer from this fate. In years of building, killing, modifying and working on two stroke power plants, I've never seen anything like this from any of them. I was pretty much baffled. The last few times I've run the Moskito, the engine's not been an issue. It's been "Honda Reliable" and as long as it was getting fuel, it would run. I was very confused - what causes detonation?

After a little bit of research (asked a bunch of questions on the Pilot-Odyssey Board) it was decided that the cause of the detonation was OLD FUEL! Of all the silly things, I killed the Moskito with neglect!. You see, the last time I put fuel in the tank was back last year at Heartland Park in Topeka (don't know where the link is to that race - I'll dig it up and fix it) - at least eight months ago. The stuff had deteriorated and caused the detonation.

A new piston, a change of jugs from the spare motor and NEW FUEL and the Moskito's engine is race ready. I'm headed to Spring Valley, Ohio this weekend to join up with approximately thirty other Stadium Lights. I've revalved the shocks, done some more suspension tuning and hope to be in the thick of it all on Sunday. As soon as the weekend's over, I'll update.

Spring Valley - (5/28/01) click here to go to it.
(11/25/01) - Frustration that went beyond fun, I'm done with it!
No, nevermind, It's fixed.

Go back and read the very first paragraph of the section just above this one. It happened again....

It's been a while since I've updated this section of my web pages. You see, the Moskito had completely broken my spirt on it's last outing. Nothing major (well, if you call loosing all braking ability major, I guess it was), just a simple smashed banjo bolt. Easily repaired, but not a quick fix. Regardless, I was DONE with the damn car. Every time I'd take it out, it would thrill me with how well it seemed to work - basically teasing me - and then SOMETHING would happen. More often than not, it was something really odd, like loosing a nut off the clutch pack inside the tranny or smashing a fitting or bad gas eating the piston. Always something. After the umpteenth time, you begin to get tired of this sort of crap.

Well, during my second time at Coal Creek it burned me again and I was done. Nope, not gonna fix it, not gonna do anything but swear at it and walk away - I don't even want it in my shop, it's gonna live in the trailer. Stupid car! It had become such a sore spot that I was ready to walk away. In fact, I had the Moskito sold, sort of - even removed the front shocks and sent them on to its new owner.

So what was the big deal that killed the Moskito? A simple banjo bolt being smashed against the lower a-arm. Yup, a banjo bolt. You see, when the suspension moved thru it's travel, at full lock the lower a-arm made contact with the spindle. This normally wouldn't be a huge deal, as it's all pretty stout and all I needed to do was make a steering stop, but in my remake of the front carriers, I managed to overlook the fact that during full lock and suspension movement, the banjo bolt that attaches the brake line to the brake caliper gets smashed, releasing brake fluid and ending the ability to make the car stop. This is not a good design, to say the least!

I was following a group thru the woods and we came to this really tight left hander. You had to graze a tree to make the corner. I clipped the tree w/the front wheel and started on down (down hill) the trail. Time to slow down a touch, push on the brake pedal and UH OH Batman! It went right on to the floor. This isn't good! I was fortunately able to get it stopped before we made the next corner. Anyhow, to make a long story a bit shorter, I was able to fix the problem enough to limp home with a couple of zip ties and a stick - amazing what you can do in a pinch! My buddy Steve (Red Rider)followed me back to the camp and we decided it was bike time. Red got out of his Pilot and unloaded the sewing machine (his XR-250) and I pulled out my trusty steed, the YZF, and we went back into the woods to see if we could catch up with the group.

One thing that still sticks in my mind about the trail (this all happened four or five months ago) was when we got back to the spot where I lost my brakes, and then made the next corner, it was nasty! This would have been one scary down hill run with no place to get off, no place to stop and nothing but trees and tight trail ahead. I got LUCKY!

So, as I've stated, the Moskito was now in mothballs, er, more like mudballs, as I never even cleaned it up. I just left it in the trailer and forgot about it. It stayed there pretty much all thru the summer and up to about four weeks ago. When I did pull it out of the trailer, still mud covered and broken, it just made me that much more upset with it. I wanted it GONE! I even went as far as putting it up for sale on the Pilot Oddy Board. Just make it go away. I sort of sold it to a buddy, we hadn't actually "done the deal", but I sent him the front shocks, so I pretty much had planned for it to go on to the next victim. I was done with it, it was going to go away and I was pretty happy about it all. The Moskito story had come to a sad end.


I don't know what got into me the Friday after Turkey Day, but I decided to pull the Taz out and take a few pix of it in the yard (even managed to run over a fresh pile o' dog sheet while parking it in the yard). I pulled it back into the shop and parked it in it's spot next to the Moskito. As I was getting out, I looked over at the Moskito and got "weird"... Don't know if I felt pity on it or what? There it was, all dirty, neglected, sad looking sitting next to the brand new clean, shiny Taz and something inside went "fix it you idiot". So I pulled it out from it's spot and started my "observations".

There were really only two things wrong with it. First, as we all know, the brakes needed fixing. I don't have the banjo bolts yet, but those are easy to come across. (by the way, the other side had been slightly smashed and was leaking). Second - which actually ended up being "first order" was the fact that as the suspension when thru it's travel, I had a toe change that was insane. I pulled off the tires, pulled out the struts (in place of the shocks for now) and started watching what was going on as the suspension moved. There they were, three things causing my grief - 1) tie rod was working in a different plane than the lower a-arm. 2) tie rod was too short 3) inside mounting point of the tie rods was too far out.

After moving and watching, moving and watching, I came to the point that I realized that it was the place that the tie rod attached to the carrier that needed to be moved. At first I thought "Man, I gotta make new arms for the carriers, and I don't wanna get that involved. Then it struck me - this was an easy fix. I took the sawzall to the top half of the mount and cut it free. Then took my friend, Mr. BFH and persuaded the lower half of the mount into the correct position. I'd bang on it, then move the suspension and see what had happened. About 5 minutes of this and bingo, maybe an 1/4" of toe change. Then I worked on the inner mount's location. Once that was done, I cut the old tie rod in two, added about 1.5" to it and fit it all back up. Worked great. Screwed the inner mounts all the way in (they move about 1.5") and my toe change was less than an 1/8". Did the same to the other side. After I had them both like I wanted, I pulled out the welder and fixed it all up. Bump Steer Problem Gone.

Two nice things also happened when I made this change. The steering's effort is about 30% easier, as I'm not having to fight the wheels fighting each other. And now the steering stops before it smashes needed items. (:

While I was at it, I also did a bit of rear carrier bracing - put the rear bolts in double shear. The Moskito's done enough for now, I think... I'm just waiting on my shocks and I'll go terrorize the driveway!

In retrospect, I think the key factor in my change of heart towards the Moskito was going to Little Sahara (In Oklahoma) and meeting up with the Pilot Group. I got to hop in a very sweet Pilot and roost around with the guys. Let me just say that you can go so much longer in a Pilot in deep sand twisty trails than you can on a bike. It was a blast. And, I knew that with a bit of suspension dialing, the Moskito would absolutely RIP thru those trails. My Tazcar would have been too big and I don't think that I would have been comfortable trying to follow the Pilots thru those trails in it. For the type of playing we were doing, a stadium lite size car (Pilot) is perfect - and I had one that just needed a bit of attention. I'm glad it happened.

Guess I'll probably need to make a larger fuel tank now. Damn. It's never finished! (:

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