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OPINION | ARKANSAS SPORTSMAN: Four-wheeler back in fall lineup

by Bryan Hendricks | July 22, 2021 at 2:14 a.m.

I’ll bet you didn’t know that a superhero writes this column.

That’s right. When I’m not fishing or hunting, I am Captain Carburetor!

I am he because everything I own is old and broke.

My four-wheeler was my latest bit of gear to fall ill, again. It last happened about this time last summer while I was working at my deer hunting lease. After a day of cutting brush and repairing box stand siding, I fell for the old Suzuki’s siren song.

“Let’s go off trail and ride through the thickets,” it said seductively.

As soon as I got to the roughest, most remote place I could find, the machine quit. It taunted me for a good while, starting and idling but dying as soon as I applied the throttle. Then, it quit for good.

The first time it happened was during the 2019 gun deer season. It quit in the dark on the way back to camp. I went to town and got spark plugs, a new fuel line and fuel filter. After installing all those new parts in the light of a headlamp, I did what I always do. I called my friend Mike Romine, who dragged himself out of a warm bed to come rescue me.

The machine is a 2006 Eiger 400. I bought it new. It has hauled a lot of deer out of the woods and given me many hours of entertainment. It’s the same ride that survived a collision with a four-door sedan when my son Daniel took it for an unauthorized trip to a fast-food joint in Malvern many years ago. The collision flipped it, and Dan’s helmet cracked on the pavement. Miraculously, he was only mildly injured, but a bent frame makes the machine looks like it’s going three directions at once.

I rebuilt the carburetor after the first breakdown. Since it was my first attempt, I made it a lot harder than it should have been, but it worked. It continued working until the day it lured me back out into the woods.

Besieged by horseflies, I did what I always do. I called Mike Romine. To make me feel better, he brought a 40-cal. semi-automatic pistol and some soda cans for us to shoot.

Back home, I rolled the Suzuki off the trailer and into the yard, and there it sat for a full year in rain, sun, sleet, shine and snow.

With the experience of having rebuilt the dual carbs on my Yamaha outboard, I tackled the job anew, sure that the problem was varnish buildup in the needle valve channel. This time, the job was much easier, and yes, the needle valve channel was gummed to resistance.

Actually, that was one of two problems. On a test drive, the Eiger took me to the farthest corner of my property and quit again. The reservoir in the clear fuel filter was empty. I turned the fuel valve, or petcock valve, to the “prime” position. Fuel filled the bowl, and I drove the thing back to its cave.

Petcock valves are expensive, but I bought a rebuild kit from Reynolds Suzuki for about $35. It contains all new gaskets, seals, springs and screws.

The top of the valve contains two tubes, one tall and one short. Both have filters, and both filters were caked with grit. After cleaning those filters thoroughly, I deconstructed the valve assembly. First, I installed a new diaphragm and O-ring for the plunger.

Then, I replaced all of the components in the fuel sending assembly on the other side. The entire rebuild took 15 minutes.

The inline fuel filter is not a factory item. I installed one because I don’t want grit anywhere near my carburetor.

It cranked right up, and I took it for a jaunty joyride around my little corner of Hot Spring County.

My ancient Eiger looks like a junkyard refugee, but it runs like a top. At least it does today. Who knows what it has in store for our next trip to the woods. I believe I have resolved all of its grievances, and I look forward to it hauling a few more deer out of the woods this fall. It’s a whole lot better than the game cart I used last fall.

If it continues to have an attitude, Captain Carburetor will come to the rescue, confident that he has Mike Romine on speed dial.

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