Monday, 23 June 2008

Take It Easy.......

Take It East They said - So I Did...... very!

Heres how it went! >>

Tell you what …. After 13 years away is F^%$ing scary! The corner speeds they are carrying now are simply amazing! The tyres are so much better…. You can really feel the grip straight away.

I think I was getting carried away before the race with my over expectations! In my mind I was going to make up 2 rows from the start and then hold that place ……. How wrong was I !

First off……. I REALLY should have done a track day! The bike has been ridden up and down our road for 500 yards…. That’s it! I had no idea about how it would handle or anything…. So there I was……. 4 whole laps of practice and then race! Bit silly really!

So……. I don’t know what it like in your neck of the woods, but it was bloody windy at Mallory Park – 50mph + gusts that were coming at you on the straight, turning into cross winds through the first big long sweeping bend…… so I set off down the straight…. Flat out… into the wind grinning like a cheshire cat as the power came in……. which quickly turned to ‘ Oh Fuck!’ as the wind catches you – front end goes light and I’m wavering all over the place in the wind!

Tip into the right hander – but I’m all wrong – is it 3rd or 4th? Has to be 3rd….. not carrying enough speed to make it 4th,….. oh yes… and practice is mixed, so I got bikes all around me…… so I’m very very tentative around Gerards….. it seems to go on for ever……. As I try to put power on, back end wavering… is that wind or suspension? Get to the straight and off we go again, cruise past a couple of bikes…. Then where the hells the braking point for Edwina’s chicane? I’d been warned about it…… I brake way way too early – over cautious – hang on… back brakes not right – no pedal!

Wobble through the chicane and look down – pedal is just sitting against the floor board doing nothing! Oops… oh well… press on…….. just use the front – cast it from your mind!

So now the real tight up hill hairpin is looming fast – out brake a bike into it which I was quite chuffed with first time into it….. wobble around it, bikes flies past me out of it into bus stop chicane… I have no idea of best line through that so get it all wrong and exit cranked over on rumble strip that nearly chucks me off, then its downhill left flat out back onto start straight and off we go again!

3 laps of that then its back into pits, each lap feels a little better, but I know I’m real slow with corner speeds!

So….. in the pits Jane and Miles arrive – they’ve missed practice by about 10 mins!

The rear brake problem is down to the link pin coming out or shearing off, so I fix a new bolt and nyloc nut through it… check fuel – bugger – I’d used tons! That’s one thirsty motor!

Checked plug….. a bit rich….. will just leave it like that – hopefully in race I’ll be using more revs…

So…… an hour passes and our race is called…… man… I was shaking! Got to the dummy grid then realised I’d not got the orange newcomers bib on…….. back to the van…….. good job I realised in plenty of time!

Back up to the dummy grid…… about a minute passes and we’re off …. I was going to go straight to the grid… forgot all about the sighting lap!... so whack the throttle open again and off we go……… man it feels even windier down the straight, especially at the end of it the front end’s going real light, and we’re drifting all over!.

Now I’m just with scooters I get a chance to see instantly I’m way too slow through the bends…. Straights are fine – but then anyone can go fast in a straight line! – so its all the way around to the start…… take up my grid slot right at the back……. Red flag is held……. Dropped …. Watch the lights…….. hell – where are they? …. There they are …. On …… off after 2 seconds….. away!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Nerves just disappear and I’m almost alongside the row in front of me through second gear, third gear, gain slightly…….. just catch 4th, then I’m backing off way way too early for Gerards…. How the hell are they going through it that fast!.... I’m messing round with the rear end weaving, then onto straight, damn…. could have been way earlier on the throttle, stay with them on the straight, and then I’m braking way too early again for Edwina’s and wobble through it. Up to the hairpin for the first time… that felt great…. I was always good on brakes into hairpins, still can’t get the right way to be quicker through the Bus Stop…… but its feeling better, then around for second lap… by now I’m on my own …. Where have they gone?

I’m so slow around Gerards, just no confidence or corner speed……. I’m trying to concentrate on lines and trying to get smoother, after another lap, I venture a look back in the vain hope that theres someone behind me…. There isn’t , but Guy Topper is approaching fast to lap me! Bugger! This early! He’s flying with Charlie Edmonds in hot persuit. Shit…. Now I have to think about being smooth and predictable so the rest know where I’m going … slowly!

All too soon I got Lambretta’s and zips flying round me……. Especially around Gerards, man they are quick.

All too soon the race is over, I’m lapped by most people and I have to say somewhat disappointed and a little pissed off… I expected to be around the back, but not flat last and lapped my most people!

In a funny way Ed Hocking cheers me up as he comes over and immediately bounces the rear end of the scooter – way too soft he says! Well at this point….. maybe I should mention two things I was not 100% confident about with the bike……. One was the front suspension – I’d fitted Taffy springs with 12mm bushes, making it very stiff but was it too stiff? The second was the rear suspension…… the Yamaha rear shock from my road bike still has the original spring, so is more or less solid – way to stiff, so I’d just been left with a standard shock, as I’d run out of kitty really for building the bike,…… the Escort shock was just way to soft really…. And yes – squirming all over. It had felt like that, and Ed said it was just very visible from track side. So I kind of felt better ( slightly) that a squirming rear end was really not going to be helping matters. As it was first time out with the bike, its difficult to tell with some of these things how much is bike, how much is wind because its still blowing a gale!

So for the second race I put on a borrowed Bitubo shock from Chris Geyton ( cheers Chris!). I add a bit to the tyre pressures, after talking to a couple of people it seems a few run tyres pressures way higher than standard, so I added a little to mine.

So… off to the start….. determined to get a better strat this time, I select first as the flag is carried off… wahey… the bikes going forward,,,,,, clutch not freeing…. I’m edging forward… sure no-one will notice as I’m at the back row for goodness sake, flag drops and we’re away….. exactly the same pattern as the first race……. But rear end does feel better! This time I’m a lap further on before Charlie comes flying by first this time on the exit of Edwina’s closely followed by Guy.

James Campen is now watching from the hairpin, and Chris Taylor is now stopped after the bus stop and watching from the bank! Second race I generally feel a bit more confident, but not by anywhere near enough…….. I’m still lapped, but not by as many people – so that must be progress!

The last couple of laps are tricky as gear selection is all over the place – the clutch is not freeing and changing down is really hard. After the race – can’t even change down at all as I’m back in pits….. new cable has either stretched or trunnion slipped. Will adjust / fix for next time! Oh and I have an oil leak from the gearbox gear selecter arm……. Not too bad… but will need a new ‘O’ ring to seal it I reckon.

Its an over simplification, but I just need to feel confident to corner way way faster than I am ! Oh how I wish now I’d done a track day! So that’s it! £110… 4 practice laps, 12 laps of sort of racing……… a track day suddenly seems cheap - £49 for 3 or 4 hours of practice and confidence building. Should have done ….. am definitely going to do it now!

So…….. after 13 years away from the track…….. what do we now know?

Did I enjoy it?……. Well yes – I loved being back on the track and at least trying to get round quickly

Was I happy ? …. Well not really as I was pretty fed up with myself……for being too damn slow

What do I need for next time? ….. some practice at a circuit…. And some bigger testicles

Will I be doing it again…….. well…. Hell yes…..

The main positives – I finished – mechanical reliability is always good, and I was glad I’d prepared the bike well and not rushed and skimped. Other than the rear brake issue, and stretched clutch cable there were no real issues with the scooter ( oh yes… and a new rear shocker will be added for next time! ). The scooter was bright and shiny, and stayed that way! Got some good comments from people seeing it which is always nice. It was rewarding to see it standing on its paddock stand glinting in the sun.

The negatives…….. myself really……. Need to quickly find confidence to go around bends quickly! The cost to do 16 laps!

So……………………….. that was how my first race back after 13 years away went!

Saturday, 21 June 2008

Twas the night before!

Well.............. here we are then.............. the night before the first race!

Scooter is all packed in the van, with (hopefully) all the essential gear for its first excursion.

A few things have hit me this week as the day got closer!,... maybe just nerves creeping ... but......

it occured to me that the scooter has covered only maybe 5 or 600 yards .... has only had third and fourth gear selected at walking pace just to make sur ethey work...... has only been run for maybe 10 minutes in total...... has gone no faster than a brief acceleration in first.....

So it's going to be interesting to just get a handful of laps practice and then straight into the first race.
I've never raced at Mallory Park before, although I did once do a few laps in a car! So I don't know the circuit really..... i just wished I'd got my ass into gear a couple of months ago and got the bike ready for Three Sisters which I know really well.

So its going to be a massive learning curve for me for sure! A newly built scooter to bed in and get used to, a new engine to learn, no wet tyres ( courier not delivered!), so basically I'm a long way out of my comfort zone!

So I've decided that best plan of action is to just try and finish the practice and the two races, in actual fact that would be quite an achievement anyway all things considered!

I've spent the last few days putting finishing touched to the scooter, footrests, grip tape to the flooor boards, seat foam, changed the bolts holding most of the bodywork to stainless steel, sorting out my toolbox in readiness......... so although theres a couple of things i intent to change before the next race, it's finally ready to go!

Hopefully scrutineering will pass ok, and I really hope that practice goes on ( will no doubt be very cautious (i.e. slow!) and it will take a while to build my confidence.....

Anyway........................ watch this space as they say! ............................

Thursday, 12 June 2008

Update Progress - Tyres!

Well, Things are really coming together quite nicely now.... which is just as wel because time is ticking down!.....

First off...... Tyres! Chris Taylor has been trying the Schwalbe Pacemans, I really wanted some feedback on them, as I've not really heard of anyone else using them....... unforunately Chris is not stopping on long enough to give a proper feedback ( LOL.,,,,, he'll slag me off for that! No change there then! ) The Schwalbes were a great price at launch (£21.90) but as they are now getting established, the price has gone up to £32. Unfortunately efforts to get a price deal from MB proved fruitless ( would have thought race bikes using Schwalbe tyres and carrying their logo's would have made a good advert!) so Corrado came to the rescue with the tried and tested Dunlop TT92's at his BSSO Racers deal price of £30 each - Cheers Martin! ( Contact Corrado on BSSO race forum)

So the TT92's are now fitted. They have a really firm side wall construction, but the internal ribbing is quite sharp, which would normally be no problem as they are designed to be tubeless really. The problem with fitting them to Lambretta standard rims is that the sharp ribs cause rubbing on the inner tubes - potetially rubbing partially through and risk of punctures. Charlie Edmonds has a fantastic tubes rim from Tino Sacchi....... not cheap..... but would be better suited to these tyres. At the moment tubeless rims are not legal in standard class racing, but I can see Charlies point. Trouble is.... allowing any old tubeless rims allows some very dodgy far east rims which are made from monkey metal and probably more dangerous due to ease of damage whilst fiting rims! I've a feeling there could be a healthy discussion of tyre rims at this years AGM!

Anyway ........... back to the plot! Oil plugs all lockwired now, a few small bits and bobs done and sorted..... and excitement as Signs Express delivered some logos ( bargain price!)........ so tonight was spent putting them on!

They are advertising a new website I'm starting shortly - unashamed plug ! - - due to launch in July OfficeX will be an online office supplies superstore! Pricing to beat Viking - that well known office supplier..... and printer cartridges at PC World beating prices! - If you can't wait till Officex launches - drop me a message with what you want and I'll sort you out some special prices!

Back to the plot...... logo's all applied (well - except for one big one I forgot to order!) This Sunday is a car / bike show at Grantham Carnival, so it will be nice to get the scooter on display looking like a race bike......

Only main thing misisng is the floor boards ( just awaiting a final coat of paint) and the seat - en-route - fingers crossed it gets here for Sunday else its gonna look silly without one lol

Sunday, 8 June 2008

Bodywork On!

Sunday broke nice and sunny! Went off on the road bike ( any excuse) to Halfords to find some blue paint for the number panels ................ mask them out ( why does that always take so bloody long??) and on with the paint.

Hang on a minute............ why is that blue not very shiny? Its dried in a matt finish! Examine the can ................ oh silly me .............. its one that needs lacquer!

So......... w
ent off on the road bike ( any excuse) to Halfords.......... (deja vu!) and got some lacquer.

Couple of hours later its dry enough for careful handling, a bit of manhandling and levering the legshields into place ( well actually quite a lot!) and its all now starting to really look like a race scooter!!

Paint Dust

If you've ever done any spraying you'll know that paint dust gets absolutely everywhere. It just seems no matter how you cover up the work bench and stuff in the garage......... it will still end up covered in dust.

Saturday ............ the panelwork needs a final coat of primer before applying the top coat.

So Saturday morning was spent creating lots of grey dust everywhere!.

Then Saturday afternoon, I nipped over Newark to see fellow blogster Chris Taylor and laugh at ... sorry ... inspect the damage to his crashed bike. Oulton was an eventful weekend for him ( check out his blog! ) and I'd offered to try and help him straighten out the rear frame, so there we were in his garage, with a Spear & Jackson lawn edger (nothing but the best) wedged between tyre and rear frame.

Chris held it solid whilst I applied some gentle leverage (!) and in a flash it was all more or less straight!..... Will the panels fit though? Well bizarrely the left hand panel now seems to fit a little better, whilst the right hand would fit, except that the exhaust muffler had been bent in and dented the panel right near the clip bracket...... so...... a hammer, and couple of blocks of wood soon sorte dthat out...... although in the process I managed to find a thick chunk of filler on Chris's panels, which cracked, split and fell off.

He was actually not really too bothered as long as his name was still in tact! Theres vanity for you. I think its so the marshall know his name as they pick the bike up.... again.

So.............. Chris's bike straightened then its back home to apply the green top coat....... should really have left to dry a little longer, but patience is not my strongest point at times!

So............. mix up the two pack paint............. dust sheets everywhere, heater on, lights on, compressor on and away we go!

Brakes !!!!!

Well....... brakes were the thing last week....... well lack of brakes anyway!

The front brake had been sticking on..... which of course is not a good thing!. The ScootRS/ Nissin set up was rand new, but had been sat in teh garage for 18 months...... to cut a long week short, I'd tried all sorts, bled, re-bled, stripped teh caliper, all to no avail.

I really needed to get it fixed as it was preventing progress and stressing me out. Trouble was it was Oulton Park........... do I miss Outon to try and fix the brake? Well no.... what I decided to do was get the van from work and take the scooter up to Oulton...... may as well work on it there as at home!?

So Staurday morning came and there I was trundling up to Oulton with the scooter in the back. Jason Frost was taking me a spare caliper to try, and obviously theres a paddock full of brake experts so i felt confident we could get the damn thing sorted.

Plan A - remove the caliper and replace with Jasons spare..... rebleed and see what happens............ guess what ........... no difference!

hhhhhhmmmmmmmm so, a new plan is needed, and up pops young PJ McLaverty.... a brake guru........ after initially much scratching of heads, we decided it simply had to be the master cylinder. So we stripped out the pin and checked the seals, they looked ok - new obviously - so we rebuilt it to what happens...... no change!

The lever just didn't feel right, and then PJ had a light bulb moment - it had to be the seals..... there are two of them, one was working, one wasn't! That just had to be the answer. It was logical to what was happening...... the brake stuck on and then gradully released as the fluid crept back around the seal that was faulty........... had to be the answer!

So back in the van and off to watch the racing............ wow............. just how bloody good was that! Awesome racing all through the field!

Steve Conneely volunteered a loan master cylinder - he uses Gilera Runner ones witha simple modification to allow use on the Lambretta headset. Simply find myself another one to give Steve one back and we'll be sorted!

So, a couple of days later - Gilera cylinder is fitted, brake is bled! PERFECT BRAKES!

So now is time to add the rear set brake and I have a full compliment!

Not too sure I'm going to keep the rear set brake though as I'd also made up a heel operated brake setup..... but was a little unhappy withthe amount of flex, so will probably work on a version 2 in time for Anglesey.

So............................ all ready now for paint!