Catching up

buy Pregabalin powder A rather poor effort on my part has meant a lack of blog articles of late. I blame the Karting Dad Facebook page for the most part – it’s very easy to type in one liners and move on (although I do recommend it for the little things that don’t get written up here!).

Pregabalin 150 mg purchase So what has been going on in my world? I’ve really just been trying to get everything sorted for the new season. I’ve mentioned before my deliberations over what to do with our chassis, in the end I decided not to get it blasted and powder coated – it just didn’t seem worthwhile. I also came to learn that it (what I thought was a 2010 EVR) was really a 2009 EVR! If you’ve been here a long time, you’ll remember that my original 2009 EVR was suspected to be a 2008 EVXX! There is a lesson to be learned here – remember, you can always ask Strawberry when they imported a chassis. So with two 2009 EVR chassis (I was given one in 2013 that was bent and that I had straightened but never used), I have decided that I’d quite like to test them against one another. We won’t be replacing either anytime soon so I might as well see if Junior finds any difference between them. I sanded, primed and sprayed both (after breaking the nozzle on my first can of OTK paint and covering the lawn) – and they look pretty good unless you get up close so good enough for me at least.

The ‘spare’ has also gone to the welders to get the front torsion bar welded in. In the meantime, I’ve built up the chassis that we used at the back end of last season and it’s pretty much ready to go. I was hoping to get to the track at the weekend but Llandow’s owner/driver availability can be patchy, especially at weekends and they were mostly full with arrive/drive bookings.

No bodywork - the extremists would approve ;)

No bodywork – the extremists would approve 😉

We’re also sweating on our MSA licenses after my tardiness in getting them sent off – the MSA quote a 15-day turnaround and we needed them 14 days from the day of postage! Fingers crossed…

Costs since last post: £28 – 2x OTK spray paint plus something else that escapes me! £20 – wedge for OTK steering boss; £15 – Strawberry Mychron/Alfano support for OTK wheel.

Total spent this year: £235

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

Practice 11: best laps and breakages

The second of back-to-back Saturdays. Once again I found myself awake in the early hours, brain totally engaged thinking about the day. Having found the benefits of an early arrival (i.e. plenty of time to get ready for the first session without rushing) to my liking last week, we arrived an hour before the track opened. Unlike last week however, I hadn’t really been able to do as much of the preparation at home the night before owing to the poor weather (the garage has insufficient space to actually work in it and the lighting is awful) so the tyres (a fairly decent ‘new’ used set bought from the forums some time ago) hadn’t been inflated, I hadn’t gotten the new carb gaskets fitted, nor check everything over properly after I had stripped the back end down to dry it last week. The preparation hour was a bit of a rush; I put the new 3l fuel tank on, corrected the kind of mistakes you make when working in the dark (i.e. a front wheel with three wheel nuts but only two bolts used!) and got everything set. We were on the grid when the cadets came off at 10:10.

Our first problem of the day: the kart wouldn’t fire. I gave it a couple of aborted push start attempts but there wasn’t even the hint of it starting. I took it back to the pits and checked the ignition box wire connectors were ok and then checked the spark plug and found that we were not getting a spark. I whipped out the new plug that I had bought in the week for just this purpose and things looked more promising. Hastily, I tossed the old plug in the bin and we went for another attempt at getting on track. Once again the kart is showing no signs of starting so back to the pits again – it seemed the sparking was intermittent. I had used my only spare HT lead at a recent practice at Dunks. Good job that Clay has a shop… only the shop didn’t have one! Fortunately, I was able to borrow one (from my good friend also known as KartingDad’s Karting Dad!), swap the lead over and get the kart starting reliably on the stand and running fine (shame about the plug I threw in the bin full of wasps but never mind).

Junior was on the grid for the start of the second session but only managed three laps before coming in to complain about his brakes. I could see that one pad was rubbing the disc engine-side and there was quite a gap brake-side but assumed, as he had been running ok, that it I could just adjust it at the end of the session. He did another 15 laps but with a slow best time of 39.3s and still complaining about the brake. Back in the pits, I was surprised to see the brake-side pad was rubbing the disc and the gap was now engine-side. If you are thinking “grub screws”, you would be correct: the grub screws had abandoned ship! Pleasingly, I figured that one out straight away too. Disappointingly, this was a mechanic error – I wasn’t overly tightening the grub screws knowing grub screw damage can severely weaken an axle. I have to admit that I hadn’t checked the grub screws at the start of the day so it could well have been that I hadn’t tightened them enough (even for my liking) after refitting the axle. Everything else was still aligned and looking good so it was just the grub screws required – you’d think these would be in stock wouldn’t you? As far as shop stock went, today wasn’t my lucky day so they gave me the only one they had. Having lost a couple at home recently, I only had one spare and my Karting Dad had one also. Cue wandering around the pits trying to buy spares! I managed to get some but it wrote off the remainder of the morning with only 18 laps under our belt and a best (and faulty brake affected) time of 39.1s.

The third session was more like it: 23 laps with a best of 36.6 and lots of time still evident in Junior’s lines. The fourth was better again: running with the camera on-board for first time of the day, Junior managed a 36.5s before the camera mount snapped :S See if you can spot the moment in my YouTube video. I am not convinced this punt on the camera is working – the camera itself is fine but the case and mounts haven’t looked up to the massive vibration that karting poses. For this session we were also running with the MyTach GPS watch. I’ve still not really read up on this but the watch gives you top speed readings and we were looking to test sprocket sizes. Running a 78 sprocket (what we had always run at Clay although I know the quicker guys run a fair bit smaller), we did a fastest lap of 36.57 with a top speed of 64.6mph (ironically analysis at home showed this was not on the fastest lap, which included a top speed of 60.8mph). With our problems seemingly behind us, we switched to a 76 sprocket and ran the GPS again. This time Junior put in a 36.42, the top speed on that lap was 63.8mph and his maximum speed during the session was 64.7mph. Not much in it, I am sure you will agree – I put this down to inconsistency, particularly out of the Top Bend but there was some interesting data in there: he was 3mph quicker down the straight into The Hairpin on the smaller sprocket.

The track then seemed to cool a little and I think my not increasing the tyre pressures a fraction may have cost us a few tenths as we drifted in the 36.6/36.7s laps before we encountered our biggest problem of the day: Junior had been holding up a couple of RotaxMax’s for a few laps and ran wide at The Horseshoe, matey decided to stick his nose up on the outside and, as Junior moved wider to get a line for the bend, they hit – flicking our back end up and causing Junior to run onto the grass. He rejoined the track and ran for another 8 laps. I was very surprised when he came in and I took the chainguard off – the chain looked blackened and dry (it had been freshly lubed) and was missing a few chunks, then I noticed the teeth on the rear sprocket (a brand, spanking new one that day) were wrecked which lead me to a front sprocket with some nice sharp spurs! At this point I needed KartingDad’s Karting Dad (again) as I had no idea how to remove a front sprocket and have learnt I need to buy some new tools :S With hindsight, either of two changes I made during the day may have contributed to this: I removed the sprocket protectors after deciding to use 6 sprocket bolts instead of three (it looked like the front sprocket alignment was a little uneven as the rear sprocket was rotated so I add the extra bolts in case this was the cause and the protectors have three warped holes that no longer easily facilitate the extra bolts) and the chain was running a little looser than I normally have it (on advice!). We went back to the 78 sprocket (now my smallest), a 110  chain (also now my smallest) and fitted a spare front sprocket (thanks again, spares :)).

The track was quieter now and Junior spent the last couple of sessions racing his friends. His lines through the afternoon had really come on – a screech and a lift entering Billies always looks good, taking The Esses with a decent amount of kerb was becoming more of the norm and, although his exit from The Hairpin was still a little tight and he had acquired a new, slower line through The Horseshoe, he was carrying [a little] more speed into and out of the Top Bend. New PB!!! 36.11 🙂 Racing was obviously paying off. For the final session of the day, he spent a few laps following the South West Junior TKM champion 😉 until said champion decided he had enough and wanted to put Junior in his place. Junior didn’t mind though, he was chuffed to bits with another new PB – 36.06s.

So we got off to the worst possible start, endured a pretty expensive day, breakage wise but ended up clocking 166 laps and Junior making further progress.He is definitely quick enough to race. I have no lofty goals/dreams about exactly how competitive he will be, it would be nice to be close enough to the pack to race someone but I doubt that will be the case initially. Whether I am ready to race is another question. I am still making mistakes but I think that is just human nature – I’ll make more than most mechanics, I just need to make sure I learn from them! The troubleshooting is a worry as, if things go wrong, there is no second engine to pull out the trailer, nor is there likely to be for some time. We’re just going to have to see how we get on 🙂

Cost of day: £12 petrol, £7 fuel for the kart, £35 practice fee, £5 grub screws

Cost of replacement stuff: £10 ‘new’ chainguard from eBay, £100 new spark plug cap/spark plug/HT lead/6 grub screws/10-tooth front sprocket/Talon size 76 rear sprocket/Panther (I know I could have spent less but I am keen to see if it is stronger and longer lasting) 108 link chain (from Kart Parts UK/Spellfame)

Total spent so far: £3,396

I plan to limit outgoings to race weekends and associated running costs/repairs only for the remainder of the year so kick me if you see me post about new bits and pieces!

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 🙂

 

Visor protector: Racing Optics Shield Protector

Junior got a red mirrored visor for his Bell KC3 helmet for his birthday a couple of months ago. I subsequently realised the importance of some kind of visor protection and so the visor has been shelved ever since pending me sorting something out. Bell make tear offs for the KC3 but I wanted something a little more protective and could find little alternatives on these fair shores. In searching, I came across the Racing Optics range of shield protectors. It seemed like just the job although there were no reviews to be found and Racing Optics declined to respond to my email asking about their suitability for use on a KC3.

I took the plunge anyway and a friend picked up the 3421CP3 Clear Shield version for me on a recent trip to the US. Each packet comes with three protectors (one missing from the image below, which was taken after fitting!), each with three removable layers and are fixed to the visor via a small adhesive strip around the protector. IMG_4942

 

I removed the clear visor from the KC3 and then noticed that the mirror visor had a small scratch on one edge. It definitely wasn’t there when we got it and the visor has been sat on a shelf in it’s protective sleeve ever since! I took a deep breath and counted to ten… 😉

I assumed that, being generic, the protectors would be undersized: the opposite proved to be the case – the protectors are about 10mm too tall. Now I’m not the best at fitting adhesive covers, as Junior would vouch with the cover I stuck to his iPhone, so the thought of having to cut and fit the protector didn’t fill me with joy. The bottom of the protector was a nice flush fit along the bottom of the visor so I decided to trim the top. This might pose an issue if and when water gets between the visor and the protector but we’ll cross that bridge when we come to it. I marked the centre of the protector so that I could position it centrally on the visor and mark the cutting area. It took a few attempts as I didn’t cut enough off initially but it looks ok:

IMG_4945

It was then that I realised the new visor does not have a visor sticker so Junior may have something to say next time he is driving into the sun! Not having thought about this sooner was a bit annoying and I might get one and stick it over the top of the protector – I am undecided on that. It will also be interesting to see how easily the final layer of protector comes off although I am not banking on having to remove layers all that often. I think it looks ok – like so much of the past four months, it’s a learning experience!

IMG_4947

Cost of shield protector: £20

Total spent so far: £2,442

Birthday boy

Question: What do you get for a boy on whom you’ve spent over £2000 in the past month? Answer: Absolutely nothing! Ok, that isn’t strictly true – we gave him a karting t-shirt, a small Toblerone, a small packet of jelly beans (Jelly Belly, of course) and a large packet of Parma Violets!!! Having received his next 20 birthdays worth of presents last month, he wasn’t ever getting much from us. We did allow him to have presents from other family members which basically consisted of something he wanted – a mirror red visor for his Bell KC3, and something I wanted – a Mychron 4 USB data key. I’ve wanted to sit down and play with the AiM Race Studio 2 software so now is my chance. And as these things weren’t funded out of my now-empty coffer, I’m not adding them to the total cost 🙂

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)