Practice 8: a step backwards :(

Just when it looked like our issues were behind us too! I blame Junior – he was the one who commented on how we had run trouble-free last time as we were enroute to Dunkeswell. We left at 7:20am; 20 minutes later than I was hoping and got to the track just before practice started at 9:00am. It took a while to get our ‘new’ awning up, on which I had gone ‘halves‘ with another Dad and which we were using for the first time. Once the awning was up, tyre pressures set (annoyingly, I had forgotten to do over-inflate the tyres the night before), fuel added, carb primed and the kart started on the trolley I had missed not only the first session but there wasn’t enough of the second session left to make it worthwhile going out.

As it happened, I wish we had: we lasted only one lap of the third session as Junior came in reporting that the engine wouldn’t rev over 8,000rpm. What do I do about that? I’ve learnt a lot in five months of ownership but troubleshooting is an area where I really need to improve. I started the kart again on the trolley and it seemed ok but I wasn’t keen on trying to rev it excessively to see whether it would get into the upper range. Changing the carb seemed like a reasonable option and that appeared to do the trick as we ran for the whole of the next session – our only real track time (a whopping 10 minutes) in the first three hours! Things then took another turn for the worse as Junior crashed in the next session, running wide as he accelerated out of a corner, hitting the plastic barriers and putting a nice bend into a track rod. My spares package saved me once again 🙂 I had what I needed to fix the kart although during the repair a helping Dad noticed we had a fuel leak. I had semi-noted this earlier but put it down to fuel being spilt when it was being poured into the tank without checking it out properly. Note to self: investigate everything unusual – you’ve done this before!!! The fuel was leaking from a hairline crack in the tank which appeared to have been caused by my previously refitting the tank without a spacer between chassis and tank and then over tightening the tank fixing bolt. Without a replacement, I ran the fuel below the fixing bolt to minimise any spillage – I did have a spare fuel tank at home but hadn’t envisaged any scenarios where I would need it trackside!

It was 2:00pm by the time we were back on track. With only 23 laps in the bag we then managed to string back-to-back sessions together although our day ended at around 3:30 when Junior lost power and pulled off the track (at the far end of the track too!). The carb wasn’t holding fuel – you could see it was just running back into the tank. My good buddy/advisor and fellow Karting Dad tested the carb with a pop-off tester – it didn’t look great. My other carb (replaced in the morning) had a loose spring although that might have been a result of my botched attempt at checking it out earlier in the day. With some tweaking, we got one decent carb together but the engine still would not start on the trolley and we concluded that we were losing pressure because of the crack in the tank. And with that, our day was done 🙁

There were a few positives: I took the camera and got some decent pictures of Junior and some of the other lads who ran with us (I was one of four Dad/lad JTKM combos who had headed down for the day), we ran the Action Pro for a few sessions (although suffered from some pretty bad vibration on the nassau) and I also started to make session notes so that I could gauge the effect of any setup changes (I was experimenting with different exhaust flex lengths). They were mostly outweighed by the negatives though: only 55 laps done, 0.8s slower than our only other visit to the track, a fuel issue to take home to troubleshoot and the realisation that we definitely aren’t ready to race at Clay next month. I was also bothered by my reliance on others to help me get to the bottom of the problems which, I felt on at least one session, meant their lads were sitting out as they tried to help (if you read this – sorry, mate!).

I need to work on my understanding of the carb and engine workings. I know you only really learn when you encounter a problem but I really want reduce my dependency on others generosity in helping. Mechanically inept? That is pretty much still the case – I’ve a still long way to go!

Cost of day: £18 petrol, £7 fuel for the kart (still plenty left from last time), £40 practice fee

Bits and pieces bought since last update: hose clips for exhaust end can: £2.50, 4mm self tapping screws for end can: £5, file for getting rid of deposits on axle (especially around my sprocket carrier!): £6, half-share of 6m x 3m awning: £30

Total spent so far (ouch – we’ve just passed £3k): £3,086

And then there are the times when you just want to scream

Having prepared the kart earlier in the week, I wasn’t really planning to spend much more time on it before we take it to the track on Saturday. I needed to drill a small hole in the nassau that could be used to secure the ActionPro but the rest of it was done but with the hot weather almost guaranteeing grip I decided to lower the chassis. This is a bit of a pain as my sprocket carrier *really* likes my axle – you could say they are pretty much inseparable based on the only time I have removed the axle. I wasn’t looking forward to this and rightly so as it turned out – it took over an hour of hammer ‘tapping’, rotating and lubricating to get the sprocket carrier off (it wasn’t helping that the sprocket guard was cushioning my efforts). It was getting dark when I was putting the back end back together and it was only when the wheels were back on and I went to fit the chainguard that I realised that I had not fitted the chainguard mount brackets…

So tonight, when I should just have been nipping out to get some super unleaded, part-loading the car, relaxing before having an early night I’ll be irritating the neighbours with an hour of constant banging whilst cursing silently and continuously.

This highs and lows, eh?

An ActionPro CM-7200: Happy Early Birthday to me!

Junior knew the score when we bought the kart – as far as birthdays go, that was pretty much it for some years to come. His birthday was 7 or 8 weeks after we bought the kart and, from us, he got very little although we said the family could get together to buy a few karting luxuries that we wouldn’t have otherwise bought. The most useful advice you will be given when karting on a budget is to buy only what you need – it’s excellent advice and, looking at my expenses, I don’t think I’ve done too badly in this respect; especially given my impulsive nature. There is one are where I really do harbour burning desires to spend unwisely and that’s on technology – in this case, data analysis. Technology is my day job – I love it. I love gadgets. I would like to do as much as possible in this respect and the expansion options for the Mychron really do excite me! Of course,these really are luxuries that I cannot afford – we have the Mychron data key and I spend a fair bit of time post-session looking at Junior’s laps in Race Studio 2 but it’s hard to see myself ever splashing out £200 on a GPS module, second-hand or not.

My karting addiction meant I was looking around for toys that I could buy under the ‘Dad’s birthday present’ excuse, despite not really being able to benefit from them personally! I had looked into action cameras a few months back just to check things out (as you do). Obviously the GoPro HD Hero is the clear market leader but, at £200+, was not a justifiable karting purchase. It was at that time that I came across the ActionPro (or the Astak CM-7200 as it’s known in the US) – it was a cheaper rival to the Go-Pro HD Hero 2 and YouTube video comparisons looked very good, if the colours were a tad rich for my tastes. I didn’t really think more about it until I read of a new ActionPro model and, with my birthday coming up, I wondered…

The original ActionPro is no longer available in the UK although a quick search on eBay.com showed they are being sold off in the US and for as little as $100. A £70 punt on what was a very reasonable camera (720p @60fps or 1080p @30 fps, with remote, waterproof camera, several mounts and memory card) became very tempting. The company did seem to get some criticism for their reliability but I considered the pros and cons and took the punt.

It arrived a couple of weeks back and I took it for a test on The Swarm at Thorpe Park last weekend – I was quite impressed with the image quality although the sound is indistinguishable when the camera is inside the waterproof case (I’d have posted the video if I didn’t sound quite so drone-like in the footage!). The case is, however, the only drawback that I have come across in my initial tests: it cannot be powered on inside the case!!! The camera has three buttons on top – record, power on/off, take photograph. The case has only the record and photograph buttons! What bright spark designed that? Never mind, I will need to switch it on before mounting it at the start of a session and use the remote to start recording.

I fixed the mount onto the nassau yesterday evening and ran a few tests to see what angle/view I wanted. I’d really like to have gotten a view which showed Junior’s pedal activity but couldn’t do it without filling the picture with kart and obscuring the number plate on the nassau. This is the view I have settled on:

actioncam

Not sure the micro-SD card is large enough but it will be fine for testing. Looking forward to Dunkeswell on Saturday 🙂