Our first test day!

We had our first test day during the recent school holiday. I spent the evening before getting everything together. When I bought the kart, I was struck by how much harder bump starting had been compared with the Venom we had rented for the day. I had started the Venom with relative ease but the EVR was another matter altogether – the seller and his son had done all of the pushing after my initial lightweight effort merely repositioned the kart at the pit exit but it was hard work and the sight of them disappearing around the pit straight bend (a misnomer, if ever there was one) was a little concerning. Also concerning had been the need to lift the back end high, nose dragging, bumping it down hard and push harder for as long as it took! My previous starting experience had been so much nicer – lift a little, drop down and run 10 yards. Anxious to avoid any ball busting push starts, my friendly local expert (cheers, Mark!) had come over to check out the carb and recommended leaving the butterfly (throttle valve???) very slightly open to ease any starting woes. With the remote starter battery charged and my two 5l cans of fuel filled with Shell V-Power (after I had verified with the pump attendant that V-Power was the Shell Super Unleaded!), I figured I had everything set.

It’s funny how all karting preparation takes so much longer than you think; I had planned to set out at 08:00 so that we could get down to Clay by 09:30 and be ready to roll when the track opened at 10:00. My pre-flight trailer checks took an eternity and we arrived 45 minutes later than planned, making four unscheduled stops enroute: one to remove the kart and trailer covers, which were clearly not planning on staying on the trailer for much of the journey, and three to shift the kart after it kept hopping sideways on the trailer. Note to self: do the ratchet straps up as tightly as they’ll go otherwise the kart will move (I had been trying not to stress the frame overly). We got the track in glorious sunshine – it was probably the nicest day of the year so far and I was hugely relieved to see my aforementioned friendly local expert, who had decided to bring his lad after all – thanks again, Mark 🙂 It was a day for the noobs – my son has two other friends who have started karting this year and we arrived within 10 minutes of each other and set up camp. Fearful of screwing anything up, I had typed up the following list of things to do!

1. Fuel mixing (5l:300ml):
1. Add 300ml oil to 5l petrol and shake well
2. Put a paper filter into my filtering jug and fill the 3l tank

2. Carb settings:
1. Run the low jet at 2.5 turns
2. Run the high jet at about 10 mins past

Note: The low jet is screwed in at zero and then rotated clockwise in half turn movements. The jets screw IN clockwise then OUT anti-clockwise. Screw it clockwise until it touches, then just wind anti-clockwise.

3. Chain/sprocket:
1. Use the 82 sprocket unless he is passing 15k, 79 might be more appropriate in dry conditions

4. Tyre pressures:
1. 14psi for slicks in colder conditions and 24psi for wets
2. Go up a psi or two if it gets colder, down if it gets warmer/lap times drop
3. Minimum 9psi for both

5. Starting:
1. Remove the spark plug and sit it on top of the engine
2. Remove the airbox
3. Remove fuel pipe from carb
4. Blow the fuel through until it’s almost at the carb
5. Replace fuel pipe
6. Cover the carb whilst rotating the axle and hope to see the fuel being sucked into the carb
7. Replace everything
8. Start the engine on the trolley using the remote starter

6. Bump starting:
1. Lift
2. Run
3. Drop
4. Push
5. As kart starts to fire – light acceleration
6. Lightly choke if still not going
7. Couple of stabs on accelerator if needed

I know that some of the above would be considered sub-optimal – we ran a large sprocket when we bought the kart as my son really struggled to get the revs up on the straights and the tyre pressures fairly high as he wasn’t getting any hat into them.

Prepping a kart seems to take 90 minutes regardless – this was the case at the Clay Open Day where my son trialled a JTKM and Junior Max, when we rented the Venom and when we bought the EVR so I shouldn’t have been surprised that we weren’t ready to roll until 11:45. So on to the big moment (as per Section 6) –  I set myself up at the back of the pit lane to give myself maximum pushing time before I got to the point I’d be running around the bend under waved yellows! Lift – run – keep running – something isn’t right, it doesn’t sound like it’s firing – we stopped at the bottom of the pit exit. “Dad, the spark plug isn’t in”!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Oops! With the spark plug in, it started perfectly – minimal lift, 5 yards and he was off 🙂 I watched from the centre of the track with the *hugest* smile of satisfaction – all the effort, hours reading online, watching kart sales, hassle of towing, haggling, buying – were forgotten. It was open track and, with no more than eight karts on track at its busiest, we were able to kart, kart and kart. My son’s previous times were massively off of the pace – 10 seconds off in the Venom, 8 seconds off when we bought the EVR but his early times now were in the 42s. His revs were > 15k so we moved down to a 79 sprocket and let the tyre pressures down to 11psi as the track warmed. His best time was a 37.5 until he lost a wheel (Lesson #145: always check your nuts) and then things got colder and the wheel loss seemed to create some doubt in his mind as he never broke 40s after that. It was a fantastic day though – I only forgot to put the spark plug in one more time and he’d have carried on all night if he could have (as it was we used the 10l of fuel we brought and it was getting time to think about leaving). 140 laps in the bag, a kart than ran beautifully and started every time, no offs and 8 seconds quicker than his previous best. I even had a chance to take some nice pics too courtesy of Greg, who lent me a very, very nice piece of glass 🙂

Cost of day: £12 petrol to get there, £15 petrol for the kart, £35 practice fee, £40 Clay Pigeon Loyalty Card

Total spent so far: £2170

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