Thursday, 12 February 2009

To the Dyno and beyond....

Having successfully fired up the engine it was time to take it for a run on a dyno.As I've used them before I gave Jerome at Readspeed a call and booked the "Flying Carrot" (as it had now been christened-cheers Hampy!) in for a session.
I'd booked it in mid week,to ensure I got it sorted in a couple of hours.If you've ever visited Radspeed on a Saturday you'll know what I mean-busy is an understatement!!!
I took the day off work,loaded up the hire van and set off.I may have been at little too eager as I had to wait an hour for the shop to open.The early bird goes to MacDonalds for breakfast!
I got the scooter out and gave it the once over-it was at this point I noticed the fuel filter was clogged solid with rust.Fortunately I'd taken my tools and box of spares for that "just in case" moment.Two minutes later the filter was changed and we were ready to go.(It took about a dozen or so tank flushes to eventually cure this problem.Old steel tubing that has spent it's life outdoors is great for rust-not so good for fuel tanks).I had already given Jerome the engine and carb specs over the phone so he had a very good idea as to what jets and needles would be needed.I would advise anybody to have a proper chat when booking an engine in as it may save you half an hour on the dyno..and time is money!
Once on the dyno he warmed up the motor for a few minutes,then gave it a short run just to see how far out the carb settings were.Not as bad as I'd thought,but no where near right either.He got out his magic tools and waved them over the carb.Low and behold twenty minutes later it was running like a champ.Just under 25 bhp and 20 ft/lbs of torque.It wasn't going to set the world alight,but considering this was a ROAD tuned motor I was more than happy.So was Dave at SES when I rang him-"get used to the bike and tracks,then we can play with your engine and get it flying next year."(can't wait!) Jerome also suggested running AVGAS fuel at 2%,as it would give me a bit more scope for ignition advancement due to its cool burning/high RON.It also has to be strictly regulated (has to keep planes in the air!!!!) so should be the same where ever I buy it from.He has seen quite a few motors that have suffered damage as a result of using poor fuel.You don't know what the big fuel companies have added to eek out the fuel supply at the refineries!A chat with John Woods pointed me in the direction of a flying school in Liverpool where AVGAS is readily available to the public to buy.(Remember-you must use a commercially available pump fuel for racing)
So there we have it.It runs properly and it should pass scrutineering.Right then,lets sort out the race license,my BSSO membership and get some safety equipment...
I contacted BSSO secretary Paul Green to find out what was needed from me,and what I needed to do to get out and play.The relevant forms were duly downloaded from the BSSO website,filled in and sent off along with a cheque and an SAE.Some two weeks later my membership card turned up along with my race number-#77(Barry Sheene twice-when I say twice I don't mean talent,just weight!!).
From here I got in touch with the ACU,who regulate and govern scooter racing in the UK.To get a novice race license you must attend a classroom based course,successfully pass a test at the end,then send off a cheque for £47 and the license is yours.I chose a course run by the Wirral 100 club,which was held in a hotel near Runcorn.I wasn't the only one trying to get their license to race a scooter-Mark Hardy and his son Joe,or Bullet and Pellet as they are better known,were there to get Joe sorted.We had a chat and a catch up,then headed upstairs to the conference suite where the course was being held.With the exception of Joe(only 18),everyone else attending was about my age.It was like being at a "Mid Life Crisis Anonymous" meeting!The course lasted a couple of hours,and ran briefly through the aspects of safety,track behaviour and bike preparation.Well worth doing.A short exam at the end consisted of multi choice questions,and was very straight forward if you'd been listening.I'm sure Pellet tried to make his pass easier by giving teacher an apple at the start!Ten minutes later after swapping papers with those behind for marking we found out if we'd passed or failed.Mine was border line,but once I'd thanked the examiner and slipped a crisp £50 in his shirt pocket my marks shot up!Get in there!!!!!
The pass certificate was sent off,and a week later the license dropped onto the door mat.
I now needed to sort myself out with some leathers-about two cows worth was the guestimate.
I decided to get myself a second hand set,as who knows,I might get out on track and think this is not for me.I kept my eyes out for a couple of weeks,then came across a set on Ebay.Only worn a couple of times,and still like new.One slight downside was no knee sliders,but I think the only time that I will get my knee down at the moment is when I'm praying to stay upright!£120 secured them,and a few days later the postie delivered them for me.They're a bit snug,but that's how I like 'em!As for a helmet and gloves-I had only recently bought a new Roof lid for the road,and had picked up a pair of gloves when at Oulton Park watching the BSB's.I have a mate who happens to have size 11 feet,so he kindly donated last years boots to the cause.
I think that all the boxes have been ticked.We seem to be ready.Now if I could just get some sponsorship.
I had been wondering what oil to use for a while.I run Silkolene in my road going TS1 so thought I'd give them a call.Unfortunately they had allocated all funding for the current season,and couldn't help me out.Oh well,it was worth a try.Then purely by chance,whilst at work a truck parked next to me.Written down the side was Morris Lubricants.Now I had used Morris oils years ago after reading an article in Scootering/Scooter Scene(not too sure now-must be fifteen plus years ago),and it was really good.The only reason I stopped using it was it was getting hard to find at the time.Nothing ventured and all that,I picked the phone up and gave them a ring.I had a good chat with their head of marketing who thought the idea of racing a scooter was mad as cheese.He loved the notion of these aerodynamically challenged,underpowered shopping bikes racing and said yes to help!!!Welcome aboard.My shoestrings have just been lengthened....a bit!!

Now we can go racing.......

Monday, 9 February 2009

From acorns......

This blog picks up some way into my foray into racing.I have now completed two race meetings,and am looking forward to many more.This should fill in where I got started and where I'm up to now.
Here we go then..
I've been involved with scooters and the whole lifestyle for over 24 years.Like most people who have done the same,have over the last few years started to find the rallies a bit boring.After all,a hangover is still a hangover, no matter which seaside resort the tent happens to be pitched in!!
Having always ridden to the rallies,the quest to get there a little quicker was at the forefront of my mind right from the off.I have tried and successfully broken most tuning kits over the years.I have come to realise that tuning a road going Lambretta to the max does not make for reliability over long distances.
Still wanting to go faster than I should, I began to think back to the mid eighties when I used to go and watch scooter racing at the Three Sisters circuit.I remember thinking that I'd love to have a go,but never getting round to it-beer and women were still higher on the list of priorities back then!Now some two wives and three kids later,I weighed up the pros and cons of actually doing it.The pros-I could go out and go as fast as I wanted,it would be cheap(oh how I laugh now!),and there would be no nutters in Transit vans/buses/etc coming the other way.The cons-I'm pushing 40,weigh 18 stone and don't have a clue what I'm doing!
I decided to go and watch some racing again and was instantly hooked.The cons went out of the window.That only left pros-HOORAY!
So where do we go from here and how do we get out on track?

I made the decision to run a cutdown Lambretta,based on nothing more than I loved the look of the Group 5/6 scooters back in the eighties,and had built similar over the years for use on the road.That and the misguided belief that less bodywork would mean less expense!!
I set about sourcing a frame and came up trumps with an Indian GP 200 one at a bargain price.
Not knowing exactly where to start I sought advice from lads that were already racing.It surprised me just how much help was available,and how readily it was given.John Woods and Paul Green among others helped with the rules and regulations.Top lads.John Howe from JAHSPEED pointed me in the right direction bike wise,and also gave me a seat unit,exhaust and a pair of rearsets,all for the princely sum of a few pints!

All I needed now was a motor,wheels ,forks ,handlebars..........
During a conversation over a pint a mate brought up the name of SES Tuning in Sutton in Ashfield.I had never heard of them,but after a bit of digging decided to give them a call.Dave Betts,the owner, answered the phone and an hours chat later agreed to build an engine for me.The criteria was big cc's with lots of torque,but not to over tune it as I was completely green when it came to track riding.I have ended up with a steel lined TS1 225 barrel,opened up to 70.5mm.The crank comes from Worb5 in Austria,and is a 62mm fitted with a Jap rod.A new set of engine casings were sourced from AF Rayspeed and the spigot was opened up to 78mm.Scott from AF also came up trumps and supplied the 6 plate clutch kit which works an absolute treat. Final drive is via an Li 150 gearbox.
So now we have a motor and frame.We can go racing can't we??Nope.We have the small matter of putting it together,getting some leathers,joining the British Scooter Sport Organisation,getting an ACU race license and getting out on track!!

The frame was duly attacked with an angle grinder,and all surplus fixtures and fittings were removed.Three inches were also cut off the steering stock to enable me to get more weight over the front wheel.I was left with what appeared to be no more than a bent bit of scaffold tube.To this seat rails were fitted.I decided to get rid of the fuel tank after a lengthy chat with Dave Webster,who suggested using the frame itself as a tank which would help to centralise the weight of the bike.The back of the frame was extended vertically by 9" to give added fuel capacity.This now enables me to get 5 litres of fuel on board,hopefully enough to finish a race!
To this,a set of Vega fibreglass legshields were added along with the TZ style seat unit Mr.Howe kindly supplied.It was now starting to look the part. The forks were fitted with Taffspeed uprated springs,and the dampers have come from the tailgate of a local council bin waggon-I kid you not!!! (they work well too)Rear suspension comes from Yamaha;an R6 shocker has been used.It needed re bushing to fit the frame and motor,and I have changed the spring for a 225lb one-the standard spring was rated at 400lbs and was way too stiff,even with my lardy butt on it!
The engine was then collected from SES tuning in Sutton in Ashfield.Dave had done a fantastic job.The TS1 barrel ,which came free via Ital Scooters(Nick I still owe you a drink)has been steel lined,had a port opened up into the top of the crankcase/back of the inlet and given a mild road tune.The barrel is fitted with one of Daves own centre plug heads.Fuel is fed into the motor through a 38mm flatslide Dellorto(thanks Guy Topper) via V Force Delta reeds and block.As the fuel now resides in the frame, a small vacuum take off has been added to the crankcase to operate a Mikuni style pump(this pump again comes by way of blagging-cheers Scotty Chapman).Finally the flywheel was put on a diet.600 g was taken off the already lighter than standard AF Rayspeed item.All lighting coils were taken off the stator to lessen drag too. All this for 5 bob,a pickled egg and 10 Woodbines!!
I raced back home to marry the engine to the frame-Ah,I might need a hub to mount the wheel on.Only a small oversight.Fortunately I have ex sidecar racer and Scooter Crazys proprietor, Graham Woodfinden,20 minutes down the road.Whilst there,as well as the hub I also got a blanked off chaincase side that had been on one of his outfits(kickstarts must be removed for safety reasons).Graham also came up trumps by giving me the stuff by way of sponsorship.Over the next few weeks he also gave me numerous other little bits and pieces that you always forget that you need.A true gent.
Now the bike was a rolling chassis and looking,to me at least,like the dogs danglers.
A set of handlebars from a Laverda Jota have been used.These bars can be adjusted five ways allowing you to get the seating position just right.Unfortunately the rear footrest/brake set up John Howe gave me didn't suit my long legs(you know about me being 18stone,I omitted to tell you I'm also 6'4"!!),so had a local engineer make me a set.The wallet is still in hiding after the hit it took getting these done.Note to self;invest in a lathe and a welding course!
Now that the dry build was almost complete I started to think about an exhaust.I had the one that John gave me that would do,or I could have one tailored to my scooter.I settled on the last option and took everything down to Guy Toppers,where he made me an up and over pipe that suited the engine perfectly.Guy's another one of the now rapidly growing list who found nothing too much trouble,and he's a bit of a genius to boot!
Everything was collected two weeks later and taken home ready to be painted.
Painting was originally going to be done by a local lad,but having spent a bit too much on other things I thought I'd have a bash myself.So off I set down to B&Q,armed with £20 and a rough idea of a colour.That rough idea was what ever I could get for £20!!!Five minutes later I returned home with three cans of orange enamel paint AND £5.03 still in my pocket-RESULT.The finished thing wouldn't get me a job at Rolls Royce,but from thirty feet away it looks orange and shiny.That's it done.All we need to do now is see if it'll fire up.
The moment of truth was here .Had the last six months hard work paid off?I pushed the scooter out of the shed and out onto a quiet side street.With my youngest son shouting encouragement,and my best mate pushing I gave it a handful of gas and dumped the clutch.....Nothing.I was gutted.Fuel was on,coil was wired up,plug was in,new NGK cap.Why wont you work???"Have you flicked the ON /OFF switch to ON Dad?" No one likes a smart arse,especially when they're 9 years old.I flicked the switch over,pulled it into gear and pushed as fast as we could,dumped the clutch.Cough,splutter then WIIIINNGGG.It sounded fantastic. There's nothing like hearing a motor run for the first time.I stood there blipping the throttle grinning like the Cheshire cat. "Turn that f***ing thing off,I'm working nights!" OOPS.
At least it runs...
Next stop the Dyno.