Sunday, February 24, 2013

Cooling Overkill?

For those of you who have been following the blog for some time, you recall that last season I was able to make a significant impact on the overheating problem of the 650 by installing an oil cooler.  At time the process tested my patience, as with a lot of custom applications, there were no part numbers readily available.  I pretty much had to go about it on my own, albeit with some advice from Alex Hutchinson in the UK.  With the fitment of the larger R6 rad, the cooling should also be a lesser concern, but I didn't want to walk away from the oil cooler mod as even if the engine was running cooler overall, the benefits of a slight increase in oil capacity and the possibility of the oil itself maintaining an optimal temperature cannot be ignored.
With this in mind I went about trying to find a different oil cooler design than version 1, and once again, Ducati parts seemed to fit the bill.

The cooler lines still run off an adapter plate which will fit behind the oil filter.  The cooler itself is temporarily mounted underneath the R6 rad, using a long 1/4" bolt for now; a proper m6 solution is in the works.  I also snagged some aluminum screen material from Dad in order to protect the oil cooler itself.  The cooler is from a ducati 999/749 series of bikes, so the adapter fittings for version 1 still work.  I did test the forks under full compression, and they "just" miss the cooler (and the rad for that matter).  And the cooler itself is mounted asymmetrically, as the lines need to clear the exhaust pipes.  Form follows function, remember!

You can also see that the bellypan is finished.  Looks pretty good, in my opinion.  It would be neat to make the whole thing out of real carbon fibre... maybe a winter project for next year??  Or perhaps give it an industrial look and make it out of polished aluminum?  Or maybe leave the bloody thing alone and move on!  It will be interesting to see how well the vinyl graphics hold up, located where it is, and subject to abuse.

It was a bit difficult fitting all of the sponsor decals I have on the bellypan... a very good problem to have!
You can also see the hollow rear swingarm axle, to go along with the hollow rear wheel axle.  I might even switch that one out for an alloy 675 triumph item -- this is a steel one from a Honda vtr1000!

I was also able to come up with a better rad hose solution for the lower rad-engine connection.  This was the first mock-up, and while it worked, it had 3 (count 'em, 3!) 90 degree turns in a very small package.  Someone told me once that every 90 degree bend was equivalent to 3 feet of hose.  Yikes!

This piece is from a silicone hose kit from a RMZ250.  Hours of internet searching allowed me to realize this kit had the "perfect" part.  Luckily I got it cheap, used on eBay.  A slight dogleg right plus 1 90 degree bend makes for a far smoother and more direct connection.

The bike as it sits right now.  My friends at Speigler modified the rear brake line to work with the thumb brake assembly, so that is good to go, just needs to be bled (like the front).  Still patiently awaiting warmer weather to mount the tires onto the Carrozzeria wheels... then it is add fluids, and fire it up.  Hopefully the used and modified rad doesn't leak, the oil cooler is intact, and... everything runs as it should!

Monday, February 18, 2013

Team Swag

Some internet searching found a company in Montreal that custom-makes shirts, based on jpeg pictures sent to them via an online program.  A few clicks here and there and voila -- the end result.

Considering new shirts from the shops in corporate colors and designs cost around $25 each, and are sold by the thousands, under 30 bucks each for 3 is a pretty good deal.  Decent quality, and the colors are correct!

Even was able to put my race number and design on the back.  Sizes of the logos themselves can also be adjusted.

I also took my first crack at using vinyl wrap, this time on the belly pan.  A 50/50 job, and not too terribly bad considering it was my first time.  (it looks good at 50 feet at 50 miles per hour).  I also installed some edging around the trim to finish the part.

Will post some more pics shortly.  I've temporarily mounted a 999 oil cooler below the radiator, and have cut the hoses to fit the new location.  I also scored a better silicone rad hose solution for one connection between the radiator and the engine.  I will also make an oil cooler guard out of some material I snagged off of Pop when we were by for a visit.

World Superbikes starts next weekend!

Saturday, February 9, 2013

End of Test 1

Is it 2009 all over again?  After the Sepang weekend:
1.  Pedrosa
2. Lorenzo
3.  Rossi

Marquez is close behind, and Crutchlow is the fastest of the non-factory prototype bikes, on the same "second" as the aliens.  The departure of Stoner leaves room for someone to step up; one would think Marquez will make some rookie errors to allow others, like Cal and Stefan Bradl, to approach the podium.

Its funny how people see Rossi's failure to perform on the Ducati as perhaps more than it actually is -- remember that Stoner's success peaked in 2007, his first year on the bike and the first year of the 800cc formula.  The engines were different, the tires were different... so when Rossi finally took over, Stoner had gone from winning 7 races a year to winning only 3 in 2010, all at tracks he and the Duke were known to do well at.  In the interim, all the other bikes had changed drastically, MotoGp had gone to a control tire, and Ducati had gone from a steel frame, to a carbon frame, to an aluminum frame.  Realistically, the entire MotoGP game had moved on.  Comparing Stoner in 2007 to Rossi in 2011 (and 2012) really isn't fair.
And Casey wasn't the "only" rider who could win on the Ducati... Capirossi won 5 or so races, and a certain Troy Bayliss jumped on the bike and won a race the one and only time he was on a MotoGP desmo.

Whatever -- Casey's skill is without question, but Rossi's persona is something special, and I am happy to see him back at the front, even if it is just testing.  This argument could go on forever, but really requires a group of bench racers, some beer, a big-screen TV, and some racing... when is Qatar???

Tuesday, February 5, 2013

MotoGP testing

Like most, suffering from racing withdrawal... thank goodness the testing season has started. 
1.  Pedrosa -- no surprise, a continuation of his fast form from 2012
2.  Lorenzo -- right behind, although in a race situation he finds his way to the front
3.  Marquez -- in third at this early juncture is either moot or an indication to come...
4.  Rossi (!) -- considering he was never a good qualifier nor known to be fast in testing, we might see him return to the podium regularly this season
5.  Bradl -- making steady progress

The top 5 were covered by .6 of a second.  Notables in the rest of the field see Hayden in the top 10, but 2 seconds off the pace; Bradley Smith ahead of Dovi; Spies 4 seconds adrift and behind a few CRT bikes; and finally, Edwards at the back of the pack, managing only 25 laps and trailing newcoming Aussie Bryan Staring.

Who knows what day 2 will bring?  More of the same, or will riders continue to come to grips with their new or new for 2013 machines?

Sunday, February 3, 2013

Memory Lane

In the process of cleaning up my office/computer room/crap room/ etc. I came across some old racing photos from long ago.  Waaay back in 2004, Doug, Wilson and I competed on Wilson's EX500 in a 3-hour endurance race.  I'm pretty sure the bike used to be mine -- my first ever streetbike that I converted to a racer when I got tired of running the RD350/400 at the back of the pack (and having it seize, the ignition fail, the carbs gum up, etc..)
The plan was to use the 500 because Wilson (if I remember correctly) was going to be purchasing a new machine for the following season -- a TZ125.  We had the only non-600 / 1000 in the race, so a back of the pack finish was a guarantee.  Even though I had raced the bike in the past, I was running a 1999 zx6r that season, so it was like I had forgotten how to ride the wee 500.  During the race, the exhaust broke at the collector and so the muffler was made essentially redundant -- you can see Doug in the upper left hand pic checking out the damage.  The lower left pic was our entire team -- no pit crew, not umbrella girl, just us 3.  Our strategy was to go out for 20 minute stints so we all got to ride, and not crash the bike.  We called ourselves "Team Wallowing Kaw" due to the couch-like quality of the suspension.
The main goal, of course, was to have fun.  As a larf, I thought we should all strike a stupid pose before the start... Wilson brought us all breath-rite strips so we could mimic Rossi.  I thought it would be funny for us all to "pick our nose" with the strips on; however Wilson obviously disagreed and Doug had his helmet on, waiting for the start.  Soooo, I just am picking my nose in this pic.  Another strategy was not to get collected by bigger bikes.  I'd like to say the upper right hand shot is me going around the outside of an R1, but the truth is, the rider is looking for an opportunity to exploit his 100hp advantage on the straight.  On the lower right, Doug leaps off while Wilson jumps on for his stint.  With my green Joe Rocket Leathers I looked so factory!  We ended up in 7th place.  Not last, but I still dispute it.  I think we were actually 6th, and the 600cc team that finished in front of us was just too embarrassed to admit it.  The race was scored without the benefit of transponders... just a hardy group of volunteers braving a grey and windy (of course) September day counting numbers as bikes went by.  Regardless, we had a blast, and finished.  We did have the full factory look as well... Transcanada Motorsport lent us their cube van and canopy (you can see it in the nose-picking photo, behind the truck).  I think we made less than 10 mpg that weekend in that beast!
Of all the bikes I've raced before....  The top row is my old zx6r, 1999 vintage.  I bought it at an autopac auction, with 13,000 km.  It was a nice bike to ride, dead reliable, and fast enough for me.  At the time there were a few novices with 600/636 bikes (the 2003/4s zx6r had just come out with the USD front end), so I had lots of guys to race with.  More bike than I could handle, and I only ran it for one season, I think.  I sold it to Doug (who called it evil... I think it spat him off a few times) to fund my first kx500 supermono project (which was an evil bike in its own right!)
In 2006 I campaigned a 1998 Ducati 900ss.  It was a sweet machine.  You can see it was considerably tricked out, with airtech bodywork, Marvic wheels, a single EBC brake, and 748 forks.  When I purchased it as a write-off (on Ebay, in Kentucky!) the plan was to turn it into a street bike.  It became a racer when I spent all of the 2005 season dumping money into a tz125 which ran for maybe 20 laps.  This cured me of 2-strokes for good.  The 900 had a ring issue (only making 69hp on a dyno), so I rebuilt the top end (in the office I am typing in) over the winter of 2005-06.  The end result was 966cc, and with cylinder head work and 41mm fcr carbs, an 85hp "monster"... both of these figures were obtained on the same dyno, and was my first "built" engine.  It had some good pedigree, as Bruce Meyers did the head, and Martin Brickwood Performance sold me the Mahle pistons.  I won the 2006 expert championship on that bike.  Granted, I was the only expert in most of the races, but at times I did have some good battles with the faster novices, most of whom I race now.  Of the bikes I have owned, I do regret selling this one... it was actually a limited edition FE... I actually regret putting it on the track!  Just before I gave up on the tz, I had meticulously rebuilt the bike, had it all fly yellow, with a twin round headlight upper fairing.  Considering how long it took me to find these panels, it was (in hindsight) foolish to sell them all.  It was a great race bike, which would still be competitive today.  However, when I did sell it (parted it out), the rings were failing and it would likely have needed a rebuild every season!
So that brings us to today.  I am really liking the look of the bike as is.  Fairing-less it has a "bullish", short-coupled appearance to it.  I may regret not running a fairing, but the rs125 upper will be a good backup if need be.  The neat thing is, I am now turning laps faster on my 71 hp race bike than I did on the 99 hp 600, or the 85 hp 966.

Still not the fastest, but I have some goals for this season... mainly to get into the 1:04s, and to try another new track -- this time, Motorsports Park Hastings.  April long weekend will hopefully see me trying out this track to get some experience on other courses.  Should be a nice warm-up to the season.  I hope a big part of lower lap times (and ideally fewer crashes) will be the front end.  Along with the cartridge kit added, Racetech also added some stiffer springs... no wonder I was bottoming out the front forks!

That being said, I almost have a brand-new bike under me this season... new forks, new shock, lighter wheels.  Will the rad work? (or will it leak -- have to wait to try it out).  In my favour, however, this is that for 3 seasons in a row I am on the same machine.  Aside from the ex500, this is the longest stint I have had with the same bike.  The great thing about the Thunder Class is that a 2006 ex650 can be made competitive with a 2013, or a new Glaudius Suzuki.  I envision racing this bike for a few more seasons for sure.  The ongoing project, of course will be a stronger engine.  Also note the Cox Radiator guard installed on the R6 radiator.  Excellent insurance for what is now a custom part on my machine!

Saturday, February 2, 2013

Shock and Bellypan

Despite the frigid temps again this morning (-21C) I threw on the layers and headed out to the garage to mount the rear shock.  Since swapping out the Penske, the bike had been propped up via the old standby, the "hunk of wood".  Nice to get rid of that and put the new shock on.

It went on quite smoothly -- the alloy spacers were a perfect fit into the swingarm and the frame, so  the whole process was smooth as silk.

The next step was securing the remote reservoir; again, fairly straightforward as the supplied rubber bushings are a nice touch, isolating the reservoir from the frame.  Even the  hose clamps were stainless steel jobbies.  Nice.

According to JRi, this is the first EX650 shock they have built.  If mine is anything to go by, they know their stuff!  Click on the link to the right to check out their site and the products they have to offer.

While I was at it, I mounted the bellypan, which was taking up some space inside.  It is the final "test fit" (once the exhaust was reinstalled) before I finish it.

The plan is to use vinyl wrap... I got some pieces of "proper" automotive stuff from eBay. After watching a few videos on youtube, I think I could do a half-decent job.  I decided on this route considering the beating the bellypan will take, as well as the fact that even though I use spray cans, I am out of clearcoat, and the smallest amount costs me north of $70, not including gun cleaner, etc.  The bellypan shape is pretty simple, so perhaps a good first project for using wrap.  The pros can do some amazing things with the stuff!  The white hue is the microspheres I had applied to smooth out the fibreglass finish.