Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Photos from Round 4

AJ Enns does his usual magic!

Full fairing will be a welcome addition for next round!

Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Pistons In (sorta)

Back in 2006 when I rebuilt my Ducati 900ss engine, it was recommended I get the cylindered refreshed by Millennium Technologies.  At the time they were sponsoring AMA bikes (Aprilia v-twins), and surprisingly, the Canadian reps were only a few hours away.  The end result was an engine that made 85 hp at the rear wheel -- pretty good for a carbed supersport.  I realized that these cylinders should receive the same treatment, and so I contact Fast Enterprises just outside of Winnipeg.  A quick turn around saw them back in my hands earlier this week.  Even better, Kelly at Fast gave me a racer discount, which of course is nice on the pocketbook.
Surprisingly, when I checked the ring end gap against the manual, none of the rings needed any adjustment.  I actually did each one 2-3 times to be sure, but all were within spec.  With that taken care of, I installed the pistons on the rods, with the rings.  I am now just waiting for a piston ring compressor tool to come in, and I will install the cylinders.
Would have loved to show the bore detail, but I am still using a crap camera for now...

Awaiting the proper tool.  I did try to install the cylinders without a ring compressor, but gave up... for about $25, it makes sense to have the proper tool on hand.  The manual calls for diagonally placed studs to guide the cylinder onto the case.  Makes sense!

Canadian customers call Fast Enterprises at:  204-895-1727.  The website is at the right...

Thursday, July 25, 2013

Race Report

The plan was to bring the camera and do some more documentation of what a club race weekend looks like for me -- the loading, the driving, where I sleep, the pits, etc.  Because I managed to leave it behind at the track at weekend's conclusion (thankfully Bob picked it up for me), the pics will have to wait.  Apparently there may be some video from my second race on Sunday around as well -- I'll post/provide a link if it surfaces.
Saturday saw a total of 7 novice trackday riders show up.  Novice trackday riders are a good sign, as some may eventually come out to race (we all started somewhere, right), or become frequent trackday riders regardless.  On Saturday I went out with them for 4 sessions, got some video of all of the riders (I think), and posted it to the MRA forum.  Francisco also worked with the riders... there was a pretty large discrepancy in riding speed, so a few were advanced to the quick group right away.  Towards the end of the day, I also got out with the trackday advanced group to circulate the track "at speed" in order to get comfortable for Sunday.  I turned a few 1"07s, but I had to admit I was a bit frustrated, as I did do a few 1:05s last season.  I thought about my shift points and other things.  Faster riders said they had nothing on me in the infield, so I needed to find some more speed through 1, 2, and 6... and perhaps (and I'm not really sure) the lack of a fairing may have had some impact on my lap times... hard to say, and I don't want to point the finger at a bunch of fibreglass as the reason I wasn't going that fast.  The conditions were ideal... I just needed to press on.  Saturday evening was a nice one - went in to town for some real food... I'd save the leftover pizza for Sunday's lunch.
It was even warmer on Sunday, and during first practice I finally got into the 1:06s for a few laps.  Practice 2 saw me only do a few laps again, and I saw a 1:06 on the timer.  Better, but more is in the bag I am sure.  I decided NOT to upshift to 6th in a few spots on the track -- holding 5th, and hopefully still accelerating, saved me 3 downshifts in 3 corners throughout the track.  Seemed to make a bit of a positive difference.
Race 1 was an up and down experience... on the upside, I finished in 2nd, albeit after a poor start (Geoff, the top novice rider a few rows behind got by me on the start... it took a number of laps before I could get by, and by then the leader was off in the distance).  The downside was that one of my competitors went down in turn 8/9, breaking bones and conking himself out.  Kinda a sick feeling coming off the track with red flags waving, and seeing a friend lying motionless.  The race was deemed done after 7 laps.  The rider made a trip to the hospital, and returned with his arm in  a sling.  While "that's racing", that corner claimed me last season, and the bike in question has some bad karma in it -- the previous owner of the machine crashed, in the same corner, and lost a tip of a finger... something is heinky about that bike and that turn.  The post-race benchracing also revealed that I nearly caused a pileup on the start as well.  Gridded in 6th, the riders ahead of me were moving to my right, so I deked left, and then cut back to the right when (I thought) I was past... turns out I cut off the same guy who crashed, and his front wheel touched my rear.  Of course I didn't notice it, but as a rider who considers himself "safe", a pretty silly move on my part... no, I didn't see anyone, but a bit less argy bargy on the start would have been the smarter move.

Race 2 was a bit lonely.  After a pass going into turn 3 on the opening lap, I held 2nd place again for 7 laps, until Glen powered by me on the front straight.  The eventual finish was much tighter between 1st and 3rd, and I was in the 1:06s again, but there was no real battling going on, and I had a considerable gap to 4th.  So, another 2 podiums in 2 races.

I drove through a torrential downpour on the way home, and Monday saw me work on the bike to make sure things were clean.  I happened to notice a few things... as I continue to ride the bike hard, it becomes apparent the stresses the machine is under.  I actually lost the left hand side woodcraft frame slider (and an engine mounting bolt) sometime over the weekend... I was sure it was during the last race, as I recall something hitting my left leg, but I was too focused on the riding to figure it out.  The rear hugger has cracked at two mounting points, and the clutch return spring on the RHS case slipped out.  The clutch still worked, but it seems vibrations are taking its toll!  Internally the engine is still stock, but it is living close to redline.

Next two rounds will be interesting; its been a tough season on the Thunder grid, with 3 riders now out with injury.  I anticipate 2 being back for round 5 in August; both are fast riders, so I will need to dig deep to maintain my podium record.  The new fairing should help my speed, but I'd be surprised if it means a second a lap?  I'm also tweaking my gearing slightly to allow me to hold 5th longer, to see if reducing the amount of shifting I do means some reduction in laptimes.  There were some photographers at the track on the weekend, so perhaps some pics will come my way so I can post them.

I'll be picking up my cylinders from Fast Enterprises tomorrow.  I'll be sure to have some information as well as another sponsorship announcement soon after.  I'll also begin painting the fairing in preparation for August.

Tuesday, July 23, 2013


I think I could have used this on the weekend...  sorry for the crap pics, used an iPod...

Fairing went on pretty easily -- used the stock stay, and cut it down some.  Learned a few tricks when we mounted a race fairing to Wilson's bike.  Basically did the same process here.  Will get some better pics up when I get my camera.  Got this fairing for 99 cents (!), but paid a bit in shipping.  Actually have another newer set to pick up as well, which I will do a proper (by my standards) job painting.
I think it looks pretty cool, IMHO!

Monday, July 22, 2013

Race Report

A good weekend, with a full report and hopefully pics to follow.  This is a Saturday trackday teaser....

Saturday, July 13, 2013

Quick Update

Got the alu parts back from the local machinist (a retired fella with a garage full of machines... the BEST guy to know in a situation like this... cash transactions, and a fraction of the price of a machine shop!).  I asked the round rod to be bored to 20mm for the axle, and then the plate opened up for an interference fit for the round rod.  Then I could take it home, and adjust the offset of the plate to suit the rear rotor.
It turned out the pieces fit so well that on the machinist's suggestion, I put the plate in the oven and the round rod in the freezer.  After 20 minutes, the rod slipped into the hole.  Wait another 5 and they weren't solid, but with a bit of pressure on the vice, they would move/slide back and forth.  The perfect scenario that would allow me to find the correct offset, and then have it welded in place.

I didn't take any pics, but there is an offset difference/variance between the stock ex wheels and the Carrozeria wheels.  Not enough to see with the large rear caliper (the pads likely adjust to suit), but it is noticeable with the wee AJP caliper.  Considering I need this caliper to work with both sets of wheels, the end result will likely mean some machining of the rotor mount face on the ex wheel.  Perhaps a fabrication tolerance, but it will make a difference... from my eyeball guess, about 1mm needs to be shaved off.  A wintertime project for sure.  While I might update this project, it won't be finished during this race season, as I will focus on other things, rather than running around getting things machined, especially something as big and complicated as a rear wheel!  Round 4 next weekend...

Wednesday, July 3, 2013

Rapid Prototyping

Well, it ain't autocad, or even one of those newfangled 3D printers... this is what passes for rapid prototyping in my world.
Step 1:  the idea...  fit an even smaller/lighter rear caliper to the racebike, hopefully shedding more weight off either end of the bike.  Considering I rarely use the rear brake, it makes sense.  Purchase an AJP caliper, and stare intently at photo.

Step 2:  make template out of cardboard.  Line up caliper mounting holes and (as best you can) determine location of axle hole.

Step 3:  do the same thing with wood.  Now you begin to really pay attention to the shape of the piece, the exact location of mounting holes, and where the axle will go.  Wood allows some test fitting, including the spacer sleeve that will be press-fit and welded into place once everything is set.  The key thing here is that the hub of the stock wheel is a different diameter than that of the Carrozeria wheels, so I did have to remove the wheel from the bike to double-check everything.
Step 4:  start on the aluminum piece.  It's 6061 3/8" alloy plate.  This is the same temper as the sleeve that will work as a spacer for the rear axle.  Drill holes, chamfer, cut to shape.  Grind, file, sand, and grind some more.
Step 5:  it's still pretty rough, but the shape is getting there.  The hole on the upper right will be tapped for an M8 bolt.  I think there are some nice alloy Ducati tie rods (originally for suspension linkages) that at 270mm will be the right length.  I'll need to get the round bar stock bored to a 20mm slip fit for the axle, and then machined down to the right width, based on the stock caliper bracket.  I've drilled a pilot hole where the rod will be pressed in for an interference fit. This will allow me to line up the caliper on the rotor, with the right spacer width, and then get cycleboys to tig-weld it secure, along with welding an alloy bracket to the swingarm for the other end of the tie-rod.  A bit of a hassle, but I am determined to have the coolest rear caliper EVER on an ex650...