Sunday, 30 October 2011

Straight Lining It - Scooter Shootout

Ocober 2nd saw the inaugural Scooter Shootout event at Elvington Airfield.  The event was to be for scooters only and with a wide variety of classes .... there was something for everyone!

I hadn't actually made up my mind to go until the day before, so the scooter was untouched from Cadwell Park the week before!  Arriving at Elvington about 9.30 there was a good number of people already there, and for me a nice mixture of old and new faces.!

Scrutineering done and checked.... it was nice to have Miles around for a change and he helped out pushing the scooter around to scrutineering ( Wayne Rooney!)

It seemed that the organiser were a little overwhelmed at the numbers to sign on and it took me almost an hour to get to the front of the queue!  Once done however there was noise test (!!!) which recorded me at a whisper quiet 99db (!) I doubt the noise tester will go to heaven!

So......   as I lined up for my first straight line sprint since around 1989 it all seemed a bit strange and I really didnt know how it would go!

There were some familiar faces among the spectators as I shuffled forward to the starting position.  The race organisers had told us that we were not running the 'pro' lights system, which meant that the lights would be;
White - to show we were in the correct position.
Yellow - Prepare to start
Green - Go - in our own time.

This meant that you didn't actually have to try and anticipate the lights.... once green then the timing wouldn't start until we actually broke the beam.  I don't think this info had made it as far as the spectators as there were several comments about various people ( me included) being slow off the mark....  but we were racing the clock not the other guy!

The first couple of runs went ok, but under full power i missed a gear - the selecter is a little worn really which didnt help!  The first run felt flippin fast as I passed the finishing boards.... the runway was a bit bumpy in places and was different at speed compared to the smooth circuits we normally race on and somehow felt faster than road racing.

Once the runs were done, we got a card which gave us the quarter mile time, or just past the 1/4 mile markers was second set of markers which was the 500metre terminal speed trap.    I was 83 mph on this on the 2nd run.  The 3rd run was after a break to let the engine cool.......  this one seemed to hook up well and I was chuffed to see 86.2 mph on the timing card!

A couple more BSSO group 4 bikes had now turned up so what was a bit of fun seemed more serious now! As the scooter had been untouched since Cadwell I had left the gearing as it was.  Sprinting seems to be a black art as far as gearing goes and it feels like if you talk to 3 people you'll get 4 answers!   So at lunchtime i figured I might try dropping the gearing by a tooth on the front.... thinking acceleration would be quicker........

Trusty Martin Clarke was around to dive in and help with the gearing switch so it was compelted quickly during the lunch break.

In the afternoon there were much longer queues as everyone was now signed on so the turnaround was a bit slower!

The runs completed on the lower gearing were not any faster though!  All I was doing was revving out a bit too early and whilst I could match the top speed and did slightly drop the 1/4 mile times I couldn't go any faster.

Upon reflection I  reckon I should have actually highered the gearing slightly with dropping a tooth on the clutch bell and concentrated on start technique!  I could possibly have downjetted a little too......   I tend to run on the 'safe' side, so that could have made a difference.   No matter...... despite this I did actually get the fastest speed of the BSSO Group 4 bikes , the fastest speed of any 200cc Lambretta, and was quicker than all of the fast road scooters!  This was the bit that really surprised me as there were some very well prepped RB and TS engined scooters there including 230's and 250's  so I was actually quite surprised that not one of them was close to the top speed of the Grp 4.

Coming away from the Scooter Shootout I have to say it was a top day and I thoroughly enjoyed this different form of scooter sport.  The day had been a brilliant success for the organisers with over 100 people taking their scooters down the strip and over 600 people in attendance on the day! This is certainly enough to show the demand for the event and as a first effort it was great!  in 2012 a weekend is on the cards and I fully expect Scooter Sprinting to be a big thing next year!   There was a huge buzz about the day on the forums afterwards and I have been in touch with the organisers to co-ordinate dates for 2012 so theres no clash with any BSSO race dates.

I was certainly buzzing myself and I must admit the event has made me rethink things.   Chalky has some ideas for a new engine and I have bought a engine casing to start work on a sprint specific engine for 2012.  I fully intend to do much of of this straight line stuff in 2012!
The basis of a new 2012 Sprint Engine!

Saturday, 8 October 2011

Giving It A Miss...

After the run of bad luck and non-finishes in the first half of the season, coupled with some health issues that weren't going away I took the decision to miss the remaining races.

I also stepped down from my organisational roles with the BSSO and decided to concentrate on getting my health back to where it should be.

I had a huge amount of support from my fellow riders and had some wonderfully touching emails and messages.  I went to Pembrey, Lydden and Mallory as a spectator and managed to spend a fair time stripping engines and gearboxes for Chris Geyton!

The engine casing was repaired and the bike checked over for any other issues.

I spent the summer trying to relax a bit and get better.  I started cycling again and changed diet, and after some professional assistance started to feel much better by the end of September.

So half a stone lighter and feeling much better I decided to enter Cadwell as a last chance to be on track.  Unfortunately I managed to find myself banned from the race by the BHR committee which was a bit of a shock and somewhat of a storm in a teacup.  Its a whole subject on its own.... but lets just leave it that its now been sorted with a small apology from me and a big one back to me !

So I was allowed a race at Cadwell ahead of their committee meeting where I got the chance to put my side.....

I concentrated on just getting finishes.  The tablets I have been taking mess around a bit with balance, and after a summer off and the lack of track time, I really struggled with corner speed but the engine felt strong with good straight line speed so hopefully the mag housing problems are now cured!

This was the final round of the 2011 Championship and was my worst year yet !   Oh well...... its behind me now and I have 7 months to concentrate on health and wellbeing for 2012.

6 times back to back Champion Charlie Edmonds has retired so Group 4 will be wide open next year!

Cadwell Park....... only bad luck continues!

Sorry to have been so long before another update ........   but I have had a couple of months scoot free!

So...... after rebuilding the engine after Donington I was hoping for a bit better luck...  but alas... no!

We were racing on the full circuit and after a trouble free practice,   we lined up for race 1.  i was midfield on the grid of auto's and geared scooters at the right hand side of row 5.....  in front of me was fellow Replay Rider Rob Sumner, in front of him was Tony Rudd who was also behind his teammate - James Campen.

As the red lights went out I got a great start and went right at the edge of the track and was immediately past Rob Sumner and fast approaching Tony Rudd.  As I did Tony suddenly slowed and then the next thing I knew he had slammed his brakes on......  Bang!!!!!   nowhere for me to go but smack into him under almost flat out acceleration.  I didn't have time to brake myself and Tony was just launched into the air!

Watch the video below to see more!

I managed to stay upright after what felt like a pretty big impact but sadly Tony was headfirst into the track!  i slowed and saw him get up which I must admit was a pretty big relief!  I was now flat last but carried on and made up a bit of track space......  adrenalin was flowing for sure!

As I came across the start line at the end of the first lap I saw Tony on his feet having moved his bike so i breathed a sigh of relief!

As the last lap approached.... something didn't feel quite right.  There was a vibration and then shortly after coming over The Mountain, and going through the left right left flicks of Halls Bends the back end stepped sideways and there was a screeching noise and I stopped rather suddenly... but managed to stay somehow upright!

I pulled off to the inside of the track where a check at the rear end revealed the rear wheel at a crazy angle to the bike!  The rear hub had sheared and had an almost perfectly formed hole in the centre, leaving the nut attached to the layshaft!

How about this for something that could really mess up your whole day!? >>

I had to push the stricken bike down to the start line and await recovery back to the paddock!  Phil reaney obliged with the recovery van and after a lengthy delay I was back in the paddock!

The sheared hub was a source of amusement and interest to many people..... having such a failure certainly makes your bum tweak I can assure you that much!

Luckily Rayspeed had brought a couple of hubs for Chalky and I was able to borrow one of this in order to get out for race 2.

I went off to find Tony Rudd and make sure he was OK.  He was a little battered and bruised as was his scooter - which had a smashed headset and damaged hydraulic disc.   oops!

In the evening I did find a good use for the holey hub though!

Best use for a holey hub!?

Race 2 - well...... a smooth start!   If a little over cautious!

The scooter was still vibrating and didn't feel right at all.......   on lap 2 down park straight a misfire started, so I nursed it around to the track exit by the mountain praying it would keep going as its a chuffing hard push back up there and I didn't want two recoveries in one day!

Pulling up by the van the motor popped spluttered and died!

Game over!

I dejectedly started to strip it to check it out.  Sure enough the mag housing gasket was yet again blown out and the casing covered underneath in fuel......  i spun the flywheel off and sure enough, stair plate was hanging off!   After removing all the nuts by hand(!) the maghousing just pulled straight off too! No need for extractors here!

The cause was now clear to see!  There was a rather large crack in the crank casing on the transfer port behind the maghousing!

Rather Large Crack That Really Shouldn't be there!

I must have missed this crack on previous inspections, but at least it explained why I had been having the problem with the mag housing coming loose.  Previous engine inspections had been carried out with the barrel off the engine, so there was no tension on the casing.  With the barrel on the hairline crack opened right up ..... with it off you can hardly see it!

So....  bad luck continues - no race finishes!