Monday, July 13, 2015

Answer to Frustrations...

Hey Everyone,

The last post described my frustration trying to get on track at Mid-Ohio.   OI-Vey!!!

I gave the gas I had mixed with Blendzall to Rick Chapman to burn at his shop.  He called me last night to let me know that there was a problem.  He used the fuel at a sprint race last weekend and could not get the engines to run.  Lots of frustration until they changed out fuel.  BINGO!!  Another kart he prepared went to a race in Michigan with some of my gas and they also had problems until changing fuel. BINGO!!

Then it clicked.... My problems at Mid-Ohio, his problem this weekend, the problem in Michigan... all using my fuel.  Something must be wrong with it.  He opened it up and it did not smell like good fuel.  Then at the end of the day they poured it out on the brush pile to burn.... and it would not light!!  Nothing!!

I filled both 2 gallon tanks at Westerville, OH, with Regular Unleaded on way to Mid-Ohio.  Maybe the tank was near empty so I got bad gas.  It was raining on way to the track from the hotel, so maybe the rain worked into the tanks.

With this info I have learned another lesson: Check the fuel; buy fuel at the track; use only fresh gas.

Tuesday, June 23, 2015

Mid-Ohio 2015


This past weekend was Mid-Ohio hosted by Dart Kart Club.  Several family members came from Indiana to see us and experience a kart race.. some for the first time... some first time in 40 years.  Great to see Ann, Steve and Becky, Dad Glenn, and Scott.  Steve was a great help getting some things done on the kart. And he was the official starter... He did great, even after a 40 year hiatus.  It was a thrill to have him share in this.  Some brought hot dogs and burgers. Others brought chips and desserts.  Saturday was full of sharing about family and even meeting up with some old friends. John Copeland had lunch with us and told several stories about the old Indy Kart Club days.  Bill Willis had helped me some with the engine and called his wife, Linda, for Ann to talk to.  They had not talked in about 30 years.  Then as I was packing up on Sunday a classmate of mine from Brownsburg came in and introduced herself.  She had seen me on Friday and thought it was me but saw it was not a good time to interrupt.  She is married to a 2nd generation karter who runs 125 Laydowns.  Becky asked lots of good questions.

Enjoying the rain... well... family

This photo is of our group watching the rain Saturday.  Racing in the wet started, but many decided not to attempt to run.  One race had one kart for the entire half-race.   We were cheering for him to at least make it to the checkered.  Dad Glenn had the comment of the weekend: "Weeeeeeeeeee" when describing the driver's excitement.

I had spent the last couple weeks trying to catch up on two years of not working on the kart: rebuilding breaks to make sure all fluid was consistent; building the engine; timing the engine; replacing 40 year old bearings.  I ran out of time and did not even start the engine.. but it had good spark on the first try!

We drove up on Thursday to unload into our garage. Friday practice day was cool and rainy, but I was not able to get out due to engine problems. Looking back it was my own fault.  I had a great spark at home but when I tested for it in the garage it was not there, so I tore the engine apart to re-time.  But I was in such a hurry and I confused myself to the point of not thinking right.

After getting help from a couple Mac guys the test start failed with John Copeland controlling the carb.  He said it sounded like there was an air leak.  Pressure tested and it was fine.  So we looked at the carb.

Rick Chapman spent about 2 hours trying to get it running with no success until 5:30pm Friday when he suggested the oil mixture was too much.  I drained the fuel and made up a batch with Zoomie's No Castor Mix.  Then he rebuilt the ignition and traded out the coil and condenser, set timing, stretched out the needle spring a bit... FINALLY, it started and ran great.

I bought a gallon of Zoomie's no castor magic oil blend. At 4oz per gallon of gas... that should work for a while. :-)  I had been using Blendzall at 16:1 or 8oz/Gal, which should be right.  The Guys from Boston said that would be great if it were in the 90s... but wet and cold makes the castor settle to the bottom and little gas makes it to the carb.

Saturday I was scheduled for the first race but it was raining.  When they did open the track many did not want to chance it on a wet track.  I skipped the race and spent time with the family expecting the rain to keep coming.  But it cleared up late and after some prompting I entered the Vintage piston port class. Yep, a illegal engine but should get some track time.  But my chain came off/broke after the Keyhole (turn 3).  GGRRRRRR.  On the tow line heading back in my brakes seemed really spongy.
Heading to the grid...with an illegal engine

Waiting for green flag for my class.  I'm at the far right. Steve is at the starter and Becky taking photos.


The guys from Boston in the next garage were very interested to help and had all kinds of good suggestions.  The best was bringing in Van Gilder. OH MY!!  What a personality and tremendous knowledge!  He found the left brake caliper was catching and not retracting.  He suggested several things: brake tethers should be loose; loosen the brake bolts; add washer to separate disc sides; change brake bias to the good brake and allow the second to add some more braking if needed; go back to the more sturdy chain oiler to help support the sprocket.  After getting dinner with family, I headed back to the garage to do those changes.  I finally headed out at about midnight.

On way back to the track

Sunday morning I was very down because when I left the night before I couldn't get all the air out of the brake system and anticipated not running practice.  BUT.. I say Van and asked his opinion.  He said it all looked good.  And all the air bubbles were gone!! I was flabbergasted! Van pointed out the vacuum pulled them to the master cylinder overnight.  I was psyched.  Then Rick helped resize one of my old chains but he ended up giving me one of his space chains.

Then I thrashed for a while to get all the stuff done to get to practice: change to oiler, add washers to axles to keep tires tight. I was just hurrying.  When was get to the grid for practice I did all the same things and signaled Pam hit the button on the starter.  I choked the engine and gas just poured out. The cranking engine would have pulled the gas in just fine.  JUST LET IT FIRE!!

Rick came to the rescue again and instantly knew the plug was wet.  We used his starter and a new plug and out I went and ran a couple sessions.

Race 1 & 3 were combined so I had to come in to get gridded.  We used an extra modern starter from Rick.  The old belt starter just does not have the umph to get the engine to fire right off. At the start it pulled right off the line and pulled great.  I was having fun going fast and sliding around some corners. Felt great!!  I was even staying in sight of Rick with his Piston Port engine. And the brakes worked well, but a bit spongy.  Then on the third lap the chain came off at the top of the downhill from turn 5 and ended up watching from behind the barriers of turn 6.  In my hurry to get in practice I had not lined up the sprockets. AND had not greased the sprocket, so it probably got hot, expanded and easily slipped off. CLANGCHHDHHHDCHALLANANG

Here are a couple things the Boston Guys have engineered:

I was running 60/14 and 61/14 sprockets but my RPM would not get above high 9,000s. Rick suggested using a 64 or even 66.

Not the type of race weekend I wanted, but there were good things.  I got to see family; some hopefully saw me in a new light; some might want to come back to another race!; Even in the frustration, I had fun and learned a tremendous amount of lessons.

Things l learned:

  • Carb gaskets (especially 40 year old ones) should not have cracks
  • Blendzall is not good for Macs in cool weather
  • 16:1 is way too much oil for Macs
  • cut triangles in the top holes of the outer manifold gasket
  • use Zoomie's oil at 4oz per gallon (32/1)
  • change to grade 8 bolts on brakes
  • check brake caliper
  • when done bleeding brakes, PUSH THE BRAKE WHEN CLOSING THE CAP!! this creates a vacuum which will suck up any remaining air in the system
  • add a bolt, washer, and spring to the caliper to make sure it retracts
  • DON'T CHOKE THE ENGINE!! unless the engine is freshly rebuilt or bone dry!!
  • get a modern starter
  • let Pam design the starter platform; she's the one using it!
  • When you test for spark, just briskly move magnets back and forth under coil.  No need to flip all the way around.
  • make an official pre-start check list for Pam to go through
  • use the feeler gauge under the right coil to flywheel at XXXX 
  • Push coil to the right then tighten
  • Have lots of condensers; learn to test them.
  • Maybe move to electronic timing
  • use feeler gauge for points break -- .018"
  • Grease the sprocket!!
  • properly align the sprockets!!
  • make a new push stick like the ones the Boston Guys have!!
  • it's OK to use modern spark plugs... the 40 year old Autolites are great but unreliable
I'll think of more as I go....

Friday, April 24, 2015

I am Back!

It's been over a year since my last posting.  Life has changed dramatically.

New City
New State
New home track! :-)

I can be in the pits at VIRingia International Raceway in under 45 minutes. And it is a great track!  The WKA race this summer is the same weekend I am going to Albuquerque with my wife for a conference, so will have to wait another year to get on track near home.

The plan is to go to Mid-Ohio for the June 19-21 weekend.  It's a 9-10 hour trip... but the bonus is many family members will be there for a visit.  So not just a racing weekend.

Here's the kart shop now:
Good sized bench and space

Yea, I have some work to do.... But with two engines

The waiting... 

Tires need a good scrubbing the first couple laps

Wednesday, March 12, 2014

Karting in 1960s and 1970s from 8mm films

Greetings... I am still here!

It has been a long time since I posted to this blog.  Many things in life have happened to push karting the background.

However, I have have been working on transferring our family 8mm films to digital form.  Nearly two years ago I happened upon this video ( ) showing how to project the images directly onto the chip of a DSLR camera.

I created a similar set-up.  The videos below are a part of the project.  The results are not perfect as there is a flicker which I could not totally work around.  I hope to make it better in the future.

Most of the video was shot by my father, Lyle Giles, and feature other karters, Pete Evans and Larry Goie from the Indy Kart Club.  Thankfully, my mother, Wanda Giles, also controlled the camera some so we can see Dad racing and flagging.

You can watch the videos on this page, but I STRONGLY suggest clicking on the Youtube icon and watching it there.  If your connection is fast enough, change the resolution 720HD video.

I hope you enjoy the videos!

Indianapolis Raceway Park - May 1967

Indianapolis Raceway Park - 1967

Indianapolis Raceway Park - 1967
BONUS! Indy500 practice

Indianapolis Raceway Park - October 1967

Meadowdale International Raceway - 1967

Greenfield Street Race - 1967

Blackhawk 1969

Louisville Street Race 1969

International Karting Federation Nationals 1969 - Indianapolis Raceway Park

Grattan, Michigan enduro race - 1969

Quincy Sprint Race 1968

Indianapolis Raceway Park - 1973

International Karting Federation Nationals - Indianapolis Raceway Park - 1974

Indianapolis Raceway Park - 1974 - WRECK

Indianapolis Raceway Park - October 1974 
Last race and Restoration

Tuesday, August 6, 2013

Engine#2 rebuild and Christmas in July!

One of the fun things about the kart restoration process with Dad was listening to him explain new tools to me.  We used the tool below as a piston-stop, screwed in place of the spark plug.  I always thought it was odd that the round end, which pressed against the piston, was a metal ball instead of a soft material.  I have seen modern ones with a nylon tip.

Then after Mid-Ohio, I was tearing down the main engine, the tool did not fit correctly in the plug was too small by a smidgeon.  GREAT!!! I warped the head!  But the spark plug would tighten just fine.  

At the same time I was needing to tear-down the clutch, but it was "bonded" to the crank on the taper. As Dad showed me, that is the best way to bond surfaces (don't make a bit of sense at first, but it is).  You can use a big screw driver to put pressure on it, then tap the crank (hard... with a soft brass hammer) to get it to free up.  BUT, that will ruin a clutch.  The guys on the Mac forums said I would need a Foreign Fly Wheel Puller.  Well, what is that??  I looked all over... nothing.

Then one day I was looking at this tool, the piston stop.  the lower end looks like it would fit into the clutch.  I walked out to the garage, grabbed the tool and the spare clutch arms.  BINGO! I own a Foreign Fly Wheel Puller!!!!  

So I put it onto the clutch, tightened it down, then slowly cranked the outer edge... BANG! off came the clutch!!

The project that had to be put on hold after finishing up the kart restoration has been to rebuild the second McCulloch engine.  As far as I know Dad had never ran that engine, so it is Pete Evans-vintage.  I found lots of old, dried grass...even a couple pieces in the cylinder!

I won't go into all the details on the tear-down (check the blog entries from fall 2011).  

I had taken off the black cover already.

I tested the ignition in the spring, should be fine.

I will be replacing the original bolts with cap head hex bolts...much easier to remove and put back and torque.

 I ran into one snag, the upper right bolt was very tough!!  It is a 1/4 head in a very tight spot.  I tried to JB Weld a socket to it, but it popped off with light pressure.

Dad's back-outs were all too big, so I went to our family-owned hardware store for a tiny back-out. Lowes had nothing.  I drilled it out and screwed it in... then put some "Breaker" on it, twisted.. did that a few times and it finally broke loose.

 Then on to the cylinder head. One, two, three, four, five... five... five...    No sixth head bolt. Then I noticed the piston and head were very black with carbon, which concerned me.  The head gasket looked somewhat good, except it was rippled around the hole for the missing head bolt hole. appears either Pete or Dad ran the engine with only five bolts!!!

I got some good advise from Rick Chapman on the carbon and state of the engine.  He showed me how  to clean up the piston and head with a Scotchbrite pad.

Then the bottom end and stuffer.  It took some work and a razor blade to work it loose.  

 I am always amazed at the longevity of grease.  Both engines had clear grease, still moist, on the rod pin bearings.

I was worried about this piston, but it will be just fine.

I needed to do some post-race testing on Engine#1 which included a pressure test.  Before racing, it would hold 15lbs for an hour with no leaking.    This time it would take 15lbs then quickly lose it in about 45 seconds.   I sprayed soapy water on it, but could only hear bubble formed by a leak.  After taking the black shroud off I traced it to the boss which holds the main crank bearing.  The leaks were on either side of the ignition area (see arrows).

Flipping the cover over, I noticed a hairline in the boss (see arrows)

Rick took a look at it and said it is very common to have cracks and leaks at that point.  He said many were caused by too much pressure on the crank when starting with a v-belt and pulley (cup) .  He recommended changing to using a socket starter since his cracks stopped when he went that route.

Christmas in July!

Late in the week after Mid-Ohio I noticed a post on a vintage kart online forum.  Rick was GIVING AWAY a Hartman enduro kart, but it was already taken.  I was a bit bummed because after seeing the vintage Foreign karts and driving one a short bit, I was interested in possibly thinking maybe in the future trying to find one.  It would mean new tools, and more to learn, but it intrigued me.   

Then about a day later Colm Higgins put one of his Hartman enduro karts on the same forum, for the same price - FREE!!!  I jumped! and immediately sent him a note asking about it.  I was the first one to reply and he would be pleased to give it to me.  WOW!  The kart was at Rick's in Ohio, so I had to make arrangements with him.  Colm has another Hartman a few years newer and stated he would be taking some parts off the kart I would get.  No problem.... Rick's was a bare frame, too, it would just take a bit to get parts.  So in early July I took a trip to Rick's to pick-up a bare frame.  I brought both my engines, both tore-down, and he took a look at them and gave me some great pointers and advice.  Here is how I found the Hartman!

 I was thrilled that the head rest was there, along with floor pans, and ALL the brakes...and even a set of front hubs and wheels.  It would take some time tracking down the rest of the big parts.  Then Rick said there was more in his trailer...BOTH TANKS!!!  and a couple engine mounts, and a box of small parts.

I still need some major pieces like axle, engine, pipe, clutch.... but those some what easy to find.

Here it is in the bed of the truck... just fits, but probably not with a pipe.

Here is another Hartman in all its glory at Rick's (sans camping gear). 

If you know anything about karting, especially in the 1970s and 1980s, you will likely know the name Hartman.  Kathey Hartman won practically every karting championship in North America running karts designed and built by her husband and brother-in-law (need to check my history).   They are known for being beautiful crafted, with wonderful welds, and for being rare.  There are a couple registries for Hartman karts online showing the serial number and who now owns it, and sometimes its full history.  Some actually have Kathey's initials proving it was her personal kart.   Here is the forged piece on the steering column showing "SD79", which denotes the welder and the year.