Every little helps

I’ll point out at the outset that I haven’t started buying my sprockets from Tesco! This has been an expensive month and the realisation that we needed much more wet practice (I still cannot believe this hadn’t dawned on me sooner) meant the expenses for October weren’t finished.

Most importantly I needed waterproof clothing – the Weise motorcycle jacket ordered from a vendor on eBay arrived one day after ordering and fits very nicely thank-you. Hopefully the trousers will arrive soon also. Secondly, I have ordered a used OTK engine mount to replace my mount which does not appear correctly align with the engine – not much flexibility there in terms of retailers (eBay again) but, when it came to the perishables (restocking on replacement bolts and getting another set of mechanics gloves), I started looking for opportunities to save some money. I spent an hour or so scouring everyone’s favourite auction site looking for some of the things that aren’t specific to motorsport and therefore can be bought without paying the ‘motorsport tax’ (ok, so it’s not a tax – more of a premium). Prices vary but I saved a few quid – 30% on mechanics gloves, 20% on high tensile bolts. Shame they were low cost items but it all helps, right?

Purchases: £20 Weise Waterford motorcycle jacket, £20 IXON motorcycle trousers,  £39 OTK engine mount drilled for TKM, £4 Maxiflex Ultimate gloves, £5 20x high tensile M6 45mm bolts (for sprocket carrier), £3 20x M10 high tensile screw bolts 40mm, £3 20x M10 high tensile screw bolts 45mm (for chassis/bearing carriers)

Total spent so far: £3,825

The great garage/unwanted toy/crash helmet clear out

In a bid to recoup some of the not-budgeted cost of the Bell KC3 and to clear some space in a now very crowded garage, I’ve been having a bit of a clear out. Gone are the petrol hedge trimmer that I hated using because of the fumes (ironic, huh?) and the kids bikes that have sat unused for three or four years. That’s £50 back. Going are a couple of fantastic items on eBay 😉

Firstly, a mightily impressive Traxxas E Revo 1/10 Monster Truck that has sat on top of my son’s cupboard for over a year. Pleasingly that soared to £170 in the first three days and has over 50 watchers. Unfortunately, with every desirable item you get any number of people enquiring as to whether or not you have a Buy It Now price in mind – I have sold a lot of desirable stuff on eBay and only once have I turned down an offer and not made at least as much by letting the auction run. I added a comment stating I’d let the auction run but that hasn’t deterred the bargain hunters…

Secondly, I have listed my son’s first crash helmet – a Nolan N62 Melandri Replica. I searched high and low for a decent, not bland, extra small sized lid that my son would really love and found it in this Melandri replica. Everything about is cool – the colour, the number, the skeleton teeth… 🙂 Anyway, my son is not happy about it as he prefers this to the plain white Bell but it needs to be done. Currently going for £9.52; it’s always interesting to see the random amounts people bid – is it that they think a little extra over the exact pound or 50p will seal the deal?

Total funds raised for the cause: £229.52 (guaranteed)

All these bits soon add up!

Three orders placed with Spellfame inside the first week – that’s planning for you! I ordered:

  • Spark plug spanner – £7.50 (the handle is too short for my liking)
  • T-Bar socket for wheel nuts – £7.50
  • Mechanics gloves – £4.75 (hands still freeze in them)
  • Carb cleaner – £3.45
  • 3m fuel pipe – £3.45 (fuel pipe on kart was very brown and hard to see where the fuel was so it’s been replaced)
  • Pulse pipe – £1.56 (seemed like a good idea to replace the piping but that little wire tie on the engine looks delicate – not yet installed)
  • 3x Fuel funnel filters – £2.25
  • Fuel tank brass filter – £9.50 (recommended by a friend to help avoid getting dirt in the carb)
  • 9v battery – £2.50 (spare Mychron battery, necessary to make up minimum order for free postage!)

Including VAT, Spellfame are £50 better off for my custom. In addition, I have also splashed out on:

Total spent so far: £2068!!!!!!!!! (£568 over budget – hope the missus isn’t following this blog)

 

Buying a kart (part 1)

There is *so* much to consider when buying a kart. You need to set a budget and pick a class (see ‘How Much Does Karting Cost?‘). Having spent two months watching karts sale on the karting forums and on eBay, I developed a reasonable picture of how much things would sell for and the kinds of questions that must be asked when enquiring about karts for sale.

Which class – rotax or TKM?
My budget (£1500 in total – £650-£700 for a complete kart, moving upto £1000 depending upon how comprehensive the spares package was and £500 for a trailer/towbar) essentially ruled out rotax so I only looked at Junior TKMs.

A complete kart with spares package or a rolling chassis on which to build the kart?
I settled on a retirement package – they seem to come up frequently enough that finding one within reasonable travelling distance should be possible and they offer great value for money when compared to buying the necessary bits individually (rolling chassis, complete engine (airbox > exhaust), slicks/wets, Mychron, trolley, starter, a spare carb and a few chains/sprockets – it soon adds up even if you decide you don’t need all of the above) although I was wary of over-valuing any spares package (as sellers tend to do) given I might not end up ever using some of the bits (or even identify them!). If you know what you are doing and are happy to wait for the right prices then the rolling chassis route may be more feasible for you than it was me!

Which engine type – direct drive, clutched or TAG?
I favoured direct drive as they are cheaper (a bit less than clutched and a lot less than TAG) and require less maintenance. Some say they are quicker but cost was the primary consideration. The only downside is bump starting – I rented a direct drive kart from a member at the local track to satisfy myself that this would not be a problem so never really considered the alternatives.

Where to buy?
I’d recommend the local kart club first of all – they may know of members selling up or changing classes and I found them *extremely* helpful (thanks, Derek!) and full of very good advice on what you might want to be looking out for. I definitely would not have decided to go for it were it not for the help of the kart club and members whom I met in the karting forums. Failing that then the best sources are the Karting.co.uk Market Place and the Karting1.co.uk For Sale forum (the former seems to get more items listed) and, of course, there is eBay. I watched a lot of karts go on eBay; the impression I get with is that you really need to know what you are looking for here as, whilst there may be the odd bargain to be found, there is probably an awful lot of stuff that nobody else wanted (although it’s a great source for spares and some of the little things that you will find you need later on). Your best bet is to find something that the seller is happy to bring to your local track, where you can try it out, see what you are buying and hopefully have one or two friendly members pore over it before you hand over your money.

Questions to ask when buying a kart/chassis:
Where/when was the kart last used/raced? (you can lookup the previous results on the club’s result page and check for DNFs if you are as paranoid as me!) but also be a little wary of a championship winning chassis – they won’t necessarily have had the easiest of lives
What is the serial number of the engine?
When the engine was last rebuilt and by who? (you can verify this with the rebuilder)
How many hours since the last rebuild?
Is the chassis straight/when was it last checked?
Does the chassis have any cracks/rewelds/rust/flattening? (any chassis issue will heavily impact the value of a chassis)
What sized seat is included?
In what condition are the tyres?
What is the condition of the bodywork?
Exactly what spares are included?

If I was going to spend my full £1000 budget, I wanted to ensure that my spares package included a decent set of slicks and wets both on rims (the MSA approved wet tyres changed for 2013 so, whilst you can practice on anything, you need this year’s wets to race in any MSA events after April 1st), a Mychron 4, a trolley (*essential*) and a remote starter.