Sunday, 16 January, 2011:
Nice day out there with four or five inches of dry, fluffy snow on top of a couple of inches of similarly soft, older stuff. Bombed around the field with the Ranger. Erin the yearling coyote/wolf came out to see if I might possibly have a squirrel or fish for her. Sorry, Erin. Can’t feed you. You’re too tame already for your own good. (Regular visits to the orchard most of her life will do that. She was the only member of her family that preferred pears to apples.) Go hunt mice.
Out in the middle of the field a bird had left wing-marks where it had picked up mice in two spots. Looked like a small hawk or owl.
The Ranger was running at close to full speed in the fluffy snow when I lost power or traction. Slowed down. Engine caught up with the clutch and away it went again. This is the first time I have noticed snow blowing up on the drive belt and causing slippage. Of course there isn’t usually that much powder still dry enough to allow the machine to plunge through it.
The Ranger seems to run a bit better in cold weather with high-test fuel. On starting it still turns over a couple of times (as indicated on the dash stickers) but it’s less hesitant once it catches. I’m beginning to wonder about that 2004 battery as in very cold weather the starter hesitates for an instant before collecting more amperage and flipping the engine over. Again, this doesn’t seem to affect its starting ability.
Winter applications may in fact be better for the machine’s long-term health than those of the rest of the year. Ice fishing and cottage visits involve runs at full speed of several miles at a time. Needless to say, snowmobile attire, helmets and face masks are essential for this.
The engine responds better after a few of these than when it’s been poking around from garage to workshop with a load of boards in the back for a couple of hours per week.
As the ice grows thicker and the weather colder, the trucks will gradually supplant the utv’s on the lakes, but until the ice hits a foot in depth, the Ranger’s a better choice than the Tacoma.