Area51 Project Argo - 2022 Update, Repairs & Adventures:
The 2nd half of 2021 was a pretty quiet year for project 6x6 at least as far as Moose hunting adventures go. The French's finished their season early, and the Bassan's were busy in the early season and I was busy in the late season resulting in no moose for our crew.
We got out for a couple fall runs near the Gun Club mostly for berry picking which was awesome. Even Sandra got in on the action realizing how fun and unique these classic machine are to operate!
In October project 6x6 had a rare opportunity to become a star of one episode of a UK based travel tourism show, Griff's Great Canadian Adventure. Host Griffith Rhys Jones is travelling across the country taking in all things Canada. What better way to explore outdoors Newfoundland than in a Canadian designed and built all terrain vehicle, and a classic one at that!
It was a very unique experience and great to have been a part of. At the end of the episode Griff himself actually got to pilot project 6x6!
In January tackled some much needed maintenance, a lot of it caused by not being used as frequently, some due on hours of operation. Such was the case with the fuel filter. The tank was 90% cleared of debris during the rebuild in 2019 but I'm still capturing some sediment in the filter. Better in the filter than in the carburetor!
Next it was finally time to replace the battery. I had "temporarily" installed a new battery originally destined for my garden tractor when I rebuilt the machine in 2019. Time passed and it worked well so replacing it with the proper size battery slipped my mind.
The main limitation of the garden tractor battery was cold starting in the winter. It is less than 150 cold cranking amps and often required a booster pack to start the Argo after sitting for a week. The new battery is a whopping 480cca which should work quite well even on the coldest days.
Next the machine was due for an oil change which I perform every 25 hours not so much due to oil quality (I run synthetic oil) but this engine is splash lubricated and has no oil filter. Changing the oil often is necessary to remove contaminates and maintain reliability.
In January the machine was getting increasingly harder to start and was requiring the choke to be left on to idle even after running for awhile. I knew it was time for another carburetor deep clean.
I disassembled the carb completely but re-used the gaskets and fuel pump diaphragms as they were in good shape and only 2 years old. I soaked all metal parts overnight in Kleen-flo 651 metal parts cleaner, my go to heavy duty solvent.
While the carburetor was soaking I moved on to installing a fresh set of spark plugs making sure they were gapped to the specification outlined in my Briggs and Stratton repair manual.
Next up was drive chain lubrication which I continue to do every 10 hours of run time.
With the machine running as good as new, it was now time to install my winter snow tracks which are Argo OEM Accessory 13" plastic tracks. I inspected all the hinges & segments on both the right & left tracks and found them to be in great shape.
Its been a terrible winter constantly waiting for snow only for it to be washed away by torrential rains within a few days. 2022 has been a true Boston Massachusetts style winter, and poor project 6x6 has yet to dip its tracks in fresh powder.
I waited until mid February to install the canopy and windshield as we had 40cm of snow in the forecast. Unfortunately by the time the weekend rolled around even that huge snowfall was washed away by yet another torrential downpour and gale force winds.
Thankfully I did get to test and see if my new hot tent would fit inside the Argo for our eventual camping adventure, which it does. It will be a tight fit for all the gear I want to bring but it will fit. Fingers crossed for better winter weather!
Unfortunately winter 2021-2022 was a complete bust. We never got enough weather to safely go ice fishing with the Argos, I managed just 2 trips walking out on 4" of ice. I managed one snow run leaving from the house in March which was fun but well short of the past 2 winter seasons!
So project 6x6 was de-winterized with only 2 hours of run time on the clock.
After a very busy summer with work and Gun Club projects, project 6x6 still only had 2 hours on the clock since its last service as I began preparations at the end of August for Moose Hunting next month.
For repairs/mods I decided to finally ditch the last of the cold rolled steel shear pins on the centre axles after finding another pair broken on the left side. Older Argos used shear pins where the axles connect with the chain/drive cog, these always break at the most inopportune time. Beginning in the early 1990's Argo ditched them for an updated design without shear pins. Both my front axles and one rear axle are the newer updated design where the drive cogs are permanently engaged to the axle shaft via splined shaft.
To replace the pins I took a long shank grade five 5-1/16" bolt, cut it to the length of a shear pin (which removed the threaded portion).
Next I tapered the end and ground one side of the head flat so it could slip in place in the outer shear pin location.
Then I drilled a hole in the opposite end and installed a cotter pin to prevent it from falling out while driving.
Then I installed an ordinary shear pin in the 2nd (inner) location on each of the 3 axles mainly because the holes were already there. This design makes for a strong permanently locked gear to axle, but the pin is still removable which is necessary for removing the axle while replacing wheel bearings/seals.
In August I also picked up a 2nd machine for a great price, its a '95 Vanguard 6x6 with 16 HP Briggs & Stratton V-twin, hydraulic brakes and came with windshield and the roof portion of the convertible top. Time will tell if I can repair this heavily rusted non running machine, or keep it for valuable parts for my machine, particularly the transmission.
Before we knew it, opening day arrived and project 6x6 was put to work carrying crew and equipment as we have 3 sets of tags to fill, myself, Matt French and Mark French.
On the second Saturday, just 7 days into the season I harvested a beautiful 8 point bull moose on a solo hunting adventure while the rest of the guys had other commitments. Project 6x6 was an invaluable tool for rigging my harvest for solo field dressing!
Reinforcements arrived just as I had field dressing complete to help life the heavy animal aboard the machines. The rear half was strapped to Bassan's Honda Foreman while the Front, Head and gear was loaded aboard the Argo along with my Father for the ride out.
Project Argo punched nearly a full week in the country opening week logging quite a few hours and never skipped a beat nor caused an ounce of trouble!
Copyright © 2011 Michael Smith