1969 Arctic Cat Panther Restored – Part 1

This here is a ’69 Arctic Cat Panther which we’ve had in our family pretty much since it was new..


This here is a ’69 Arctic Cat Panther which we’ve had in our family pretty much since it was new. It’d been in pretty much dis-repair for decades. And I’d decided to go ahead and restore the thing and see what I could learn from it rather than taking what was left of it to the dump. It was kind of hard to do that after all the years that we’d had it. I’m posting this video because there were a bunch of videos I watched that other people had shared that benefitted me in this project. And I should also mention there are a number of web sites and forums and stores that helped out greatly in this project, if you’re interested in doing something like this. A few of which, off the top of my head: There’s a place called arcticrestoration.com that produces, or at least sells quite a number of replacement parts that you’re probably not going to find anywhere else unless you get them New-Old-Stock, you know if somebody has a stock that they never sold from a dealership or whatever that were never unpackaged, basically brand new parts. You find those on eBay a lot of times, but… …a lot of times you don’t. And another outfit that had quite a number of parts for these going back to like 1962, I believe, was alpha-sports.com And there’s High Performance Engineering. It’s hiperf.com And I got some parts from an outfit called Babbitts that I buy a lot of powersports parts from. They have a parts lookup and you can find stuff there. denniskirk.com is another one. I got some good information from a forum called Arctic Chat. And eBay, obviously…a lot of used parts there. This was what they called a P19J It was a 19 hp JLO Rockwell motor It was a single cylinder motor which is long gone now, I decided to replace that with a Kawasaki 440, which would have been out of a ’73 machine. It’s a T1B440S1A And that was the only year they put those in Arctic Cats, so I presume that’s what it was out of. I bought the engine from a used sled place, actually I bought a couple of them and one of them had been obviously full of water at some point, so the crankshaft was ruined so I had to buy a New Old Stock crank off eBay for that one and the other one, the good one, the rods were a little bit sloppy so I got some rods from an outfit called Hot Rods, that sells cranks and rods for powersports equipment motors These were out of a 440 Jet Ski which was a liquid cooled machine but they were the same dimensions and everything and they worked. Just walking around it… The graphics, these stickers here were from an outfit I found on eBay they produce those and when you apply those you have to clear coat over the top of them so they don’t peel like the original ones tended to. That fiberglass hood was originally black gelcoat and I painted over that. Wherever I had to repair it, there were some places the hood had been cut for other motors that had been in here over the years, and I used regular polyester resin like the original stuff, and that fiberglass body filler. And the paint was Omni, or Omni Plus, base coat/clear coat system. It’s acrylic urethane, and I used that instead of polyurethane because you have to clear coat over those stickers anyways. It’s what they call a “Value Conscious” product, or, its place in the PPG product line. It’s less expensive than using polyurethane and other stuff, so… The little plastic louver things here are chromed plastic which are kind of broken up in places and the chrome is lifting but it’s just about impossible to get somebody to chrome stuff nowadays because it’s so environmentally hazardous or whatever. I did find an outfit that’d repair and re-chrome those, but I didn’t bother; I presumed it was going to cost quite a bit to do that and I didn’t need to, so… The parts on this like the tub there and this bumper and the rear bar assembly …the taillight bar thing that’s all powder coated; that’s not polished aluminum like it may appear. This had been sitting out a lot; it was kind of rotten and corroded and marked up in places, so… I had them powder coat that and they said that Super Chrome, which is what that silver-looking stuff is, That will not stick well to parts that had been originally chromed so I had them do any of that originally chromed stuff in black, which seems to be holding up fine. And of course that had to be done because it was rusting through the chrome. On these taillight pieces, those had also been originally lost and I got those off eBay and they were in good enough shape I didn’t mess with those. And the snow flap there is from that Arctic Restoration outfit; this sled hitch was from High Performance Engineering The tank I got off eBay. It was used and it had been rusted you know, the water gets in the tank from various means, condensation and whatever. and it’s steel so it just rusts through it and somebody had put this stuff called Red-Kote in it, and it’s this gunk you pour in there and slosh around and then it dries and fills in all the pits and seals it, and then it’s impervious to gas. And this cap is one of those float type things with the gauge. I got that off hiperf also. The squeeze bulb there is for the Mikuni carburetor I put in it. It’s a float-type carb, so you have to pump it up to fill that float bowl with gas when it’s cold, unless you want to sit there and have a heart attack pulling on the pull start or crank it forever to get it to fill before it’ll start. The track is original These things were original. I got them New Old Stock, but… You can see right there, maybe if the camera will focus, right there is one of those “Cat Claws;” it’s got four points to it, and it bites into the ice. Otherwise, these cleats are like ice skate blades and you just spin around. They’re basically the studs of their era, and they work well. Let’s see, what else? This seat cover was made by an outfit called Atwood, and they’re in Vermont. They did a really nice job on that and they have these little… I don’t know if the camera will focus on that… but they’ve got those little cat head buttons like they used to have. The toolbox I made; it’s a Power Madd ATV box. It hinges to the side instead of the front like the original ones with the cat head on them. And the original ones had a tunnel and the fuel line ran under the seat through this console here, through a hole, or through two holes. There was a line for the return and one for the send, or the pickup. I routed it around through this stainless steel bulkhead fitting here. These engines were originally installed in the machines like the ’71 through whatever at an angle they sloped this direction and they had a Tillotson or a Walbro or whatever pumper carburetor on them. And it would just pump the fuel. This one sits in there vertically, which is what the Mikuni needs, because it’s a float type. That’s the original driven clutch. The original system had a brake that pressed from a cable and lever against this sheave, and it didn’t really work very well. That Comet clutch I got off eBay; that’s a 94C, I think, was the model, and I don’t know what the part number was, but it’s the tapered shaft one obviously to fit on this Arctic Cat motor. Other ones had a spline, I think, and others still were basically screwed on, counter to the crank rotation. This one has six 25.5 gram pucks and I think it’s the orange spring. And basically the way that works, if you’re not familiar with it, is that the center spring is overcome through centrifugal force by the weight of the pucks and vice-versa. And it sends this sheave into the belt and pinches it and turns that, and on both of them with the springs and sheaves, it will actually change the dimension. It’s kind of like an automatic transmission, so the faster you go, the gearing will change to match it correctly. And those were a popular clutch, very simple and they work well. This one here is set up, you know…it was sold as an assembly, and you could just buy it with those same components that I’ve got in there now. And it engaged at a certain RPM and it works well on this machine. If you’re racing you have to take it apart and change those components around. They make different weights and springs and you figure out how to get it to engage at the right RPM for what you’re doing. Moving around here… The machine did not originally have these little footrest things. I put those in there because I put this hydraulic brake system in this because I prefer that. It’s like a modern machine. And this brake perch and master cylinder was… it’s basically what they have on modern Arctic Cats. Same part number as on my F-570. And the line of course had to be custom built for this application, for this length. And the rotor here and the caliper would apply to a Kawasaki KX-65 dirt bike, you know, the youth sized dirt bike. These machines originally did not have a spline shaft. The shaft did not extend outboard of that bearing off the jack shaft so my brother had the idea, we had some old Ski-Doo jack shafts that were actually tubular. They were not a solid shaft, and we just put this jack shaft on the lathe and turned it down to the inner diameter of that tube cut the tube off and slid it over, welded it on inboard of the sprocket on that side, the track sprocket. And this gear is off an early ’70s Arctic Cat, it’s the lower, jackshaft gear that would be, you know, like down here in the bottom of this drop case. And that just so happened to have the same splines as that Ski-Doo shaft, so we turned the face of that gear to match the hub hole in this rotor, and that centers the rotor on the gear. And with a jam nut like this, you can get this rotor to sit on those splines just so that it’s not wobbling. The battery box right there is something I made. It’s got a rubber strap that I think applied to a Harley Davidson motorcycle of some ilk or another. The original ones, if you had the electric start kit, they would sit this way, obviously it’s not going to work with that air filter there. The choke, this lever type… I had a two position plastic lever thing that you flipped up and down and it didn’t work because you can’t put a loop in those it just breaks the plastic and you couldn’t make a short cable that would go from here to here. It didn’t work that way either. This carburetor had to miss this steering tube, so it had to go in there at an angle. And that caused a problem. The engine was not developing much power, and it seemed this spark plug here was really wet and this one was real dry and it’s usually the opposite, because this the fan side and it runs cooler usually, so it’s wet and it fouls easier. My brother claimed that Ski-Doo had a service bulletin that said to put a hotter plug on this side, so… It appeared when you looked through this, that it was pointing directly at the intake port on this cylinder. So, I had to make a stainless steel plate to go in here, and I cut and bent in a shape so there was actually like a diverter so that the air-fuel mixture would hit and be directed into both cylinders and that seemed to fix that. It had more power and the spark plugs looked normal after that. This exhaust is off a ’71 machine, and I got that off eBay and it fits in there just perfect. There were different sizes and shapes of them depending upon what machine it was in and what year and all that. But this one worked well in this case. The electrical system basically follows the wiring diagrams I found for this motor. And I don’t know if you can see it, but there’s a voltage regulator right there. And there’s a flyback diode, and a starter solenoid. I just basically bought ones, I mean, those parts are basically universal anyways, and they work. The throttle is a Moose Dual Gasser. And it gives you a twist throttle and a thumb throttle. And you can take this little button here and push that in and lock out this in case you just want a death grip on there as you’re going fast or… accelerating away from you I don’t tend to like twist grips. They’re like a positive feedback loop. The faster it goes, the farther you pull on the grip to open the throttle until it’s going away from you to the point where you fall off of it, and of course that’s no fun… So, you can switch that back and forth however you want. Kind of neat…I think those are mainly sold for ATVs. My brother has an aircraft maintenance and rebuilding outfit so he had the ability to make these types of cables for the throttle. That little Kawasaki logo, and this data plate, I made those with a process called Decal Pro, that’s made by an outfit called Pulsar Pro FX. If you’re interested in doing that type of thing, it’s a process that basically enables you to do things like a silk screening process. Especially nice if you’re doing a one-off thing. You know, silk screening, I think, I’ve never had it done, but my impression is that it’s kind of expensive, And it’s expected that you’re going to be making quite a number of things. The process is basically a toner transfer system, from a laser printer, or a laser copier…though I don’t know about a laser copier, but a black-and-white copier, or anything that will deposit toner, I think you can use. And you get this special paper, you copy onto the paper, and you put a mylar carrier sheet over the paper and run it through a laminating machine, and it statically transfers the toner from the paper to the carrier, And you separate the two by just letting it sit in water, kind of like those model airplane decals that they used to have. I don’t know..it’s been a long time since I’ve done one of those, but.. You used to be able to just drop this sheet in some water, and then these things would kind of slide off and you’d apply them and then they’d just dry up and then it would stick to whatever you stuck it to. The caveat is that it’s kind of a hit-or-miss thing in my experience. I sometimes have to do it like five times before it transfers correctly. It may depend upon a bunch of factors like the humidity and that sort of thing. But that again, like these stickers here, in that case I always put a clear coat over the top of them so that your fingernails and stuff aren’t scratching it. Anyways, that’s something you might want to look into if you’re interested in that sort of thing. I had to put different hood latches, these rubber things… The original latches came off to the side here and ran into that and it didn’t work. I got this trim…that’s another one of those things you get off of that Arctic Restoration site that you might not be able to find anywhere else. This windshield with this chrome trim and this strip…same thing. And I don’t know if there is much else to say…It’s about the middle of October now, and raining. So there will probably be some GoPro footage of riding this thing this Winter, later on… And I guess I’ll continue then. There’s something I forgot to mention…Also, there’s a web site called bosscatlegacy.com You can find a whole lot of information about old Arctic Cats, and maybe newer ones also. They have all kinds of data and pictures and things about the production numbers, and what motors came in what machines and when and how many of them were produced of each, and a lot of interesting information, and there were a lot of pictures that I looked at to see how these things had been built. and what went where and all that sort of thing. So you should check that out if you’re interested in that sort of thing… Another thing about this that I didn’t mention because I wanted to show this part, but if you’re messing with these old Kawasaki twins, they had a problem with the center seal on the crank, which basically isolates the crank case between the two cylinders so that when it draws in the air-fuel mixture before it pumps it through the port, you don’t want that mixture to be going back and forth between the two cylinders. It doesn’t run right if that happens. And they put out a service bulletin so that you would have to cut this one-piece rubber seal that they put on there And replace it with this two-piece aluminum seal that you could, without splitting the crank apart, you could just put these two halves together and there are two slots here for O-rings. The problem is that unless you split the crank apart, you have to stretch the O-rings over the rods and the lobes of the crankshaft, which basically is going to stretch them way out and not fit right. So there’s available these O-ring splice kits that you can get that are basically rolls of O-ring material that you can whack off a circumference and glue them together with this glue they give you, which is basically cyanoacrylate, which is Super Glue. You can put this on there and get your length and then glue it together and just slip it over this piece here. And that’s another one of those things I learned from that Arctic Chat forum. People were talking about that and I was able to download the bulletin from a link that someone provided. That didn’t apply in my case because I had a machine shop split a crank apart for me to replace some rods, and they just put a New Old Stock seal in that I had been able to buy off eBay, but those are kind of hard to find, and so you generally you get this one that comes with these two O-rings that are a little small; they don’t have much meat sticking out so when you put the two case halves together it doesn’t really seal it that well. I’ve heard people complain about that. They had some problems where they’d installed that and not long after that the machine would not run right. So they concluded that was the problem with it. So that O-ring splice kit is nice for all kinds of different applications like that if you ever need it.

8 thoughts on “1969 Arctic Cat Panther Restored – Part 1”

  1. Restoring and improving simultaneously …. at it's finest …. Nice … I'll bet this took a while to accomplish ???

  2. Nice example! I rode a '72 399 Kawasaki Panther of my Dad's when I was a kid. I forgot about the leopard/cheeta print seats, I would love to do a seat cover like that on my 2000 ZL 550! Nice Job.

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