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.

Saturday, August 3, 2013

Mid-Ohio 2013

It has taken a while for me to finally write up my experience at Mid-Ohio.  Even though I was off for June and July, every day seemed to full of something.

Sandwiched between Grattan and Mid-Ohio was a vacation to our favorite place: The Outer Banks of North Carolina.  I just have to share...

Our rental cottage in Rodanthe

Night view to the east from our back balcony

Day view to the north
Pam gave her Dad and me an airplane tour. Here is me, Pam's brother Scott, and Don, her dad.  What a great time!

Don is a pilot, but has not flown in 20 years, but the pilot let him take the controls.  He had a ball!!

The tip of Cape Hatteras

The tip of Cape Hatteras...up close
The famous Hatteras Lighthouse

Pam and I at the Bodie Lighthouse which we had not visited since our honeymoon in 1995

OK... back to karting....

For Grattan I had lots of nerves and had no idea what to expect.  Mid-Ohio was to be my second race event and I was very pumped to get there.  However, I had some work to do before hand.

Due to WKA and Dart Kart Club rules I had to alter my brake system.  Two brake systems are required   for safety reasons.  I did not know that at Grattan and the tech was not as stringent.  Thankfully, again Dad had saved all the parts for the kart and I was able to add the second master cylinder after cleaning it up and trading out the O-ring (I had already purchased about 100 O-rings).

I also have the two other calipers for the front wheels... if I ever add a second engine.

This is the part I was dreading that I had not brought from Dad's:  the connector between the master cylinders.  This image was taken before the second MC was installed.

Another good thing was the rear axle already has two caliper units.  So all I had to do was take out the "T" in the line and add a second complete line.

I also had discussions with Rick Chapman concerning other safety rules.  He strongly suggested using a  driving suit instead of the leather jacket I used at Grattan.  He graciously let me borrow a suit for the week-end.  He also noted I must wear gloves. He took my deer skin leather work gloves as my hands.  I got a chuckle out of that one.

So we packed up and headed out on Thursday afternoon to be able to pick-out a pit area in the paddock, unload, and be ready for practice on Friday morning.  We picked a spot in the main paddock conveniently next to a port-a-potty, however as the weekend progressed it got a bit rank.

I found Rick at his garage and he gave me the driving suit and then headed for the hotel.  The hotel was about 20 minutes away so we had to get up around 5 to get cleaned up, eat breakfast, and make it to the  morning driver's meeting.  We timed it just right to arrive just at the final call.  Pam would catch a few more winks in the truck.

Here I am trying on the driving suit.  The weather warmed up and I quickly found out wearing shorts is a good thing.
 The other addition for Mid-Ohio was a push stick.  I used aluminum conduit from Lowes and screwed them together.  Not very elegant, but it works.  Moving the kart was sooooo much easier!!!

In one of the emails with Rick, he mentioned he has a in-line fuel filter.  I had never seen that before, but had noticed crud in the carb, so I added one.  It was a simple one from Lowes for riding lawn mowers.  Bad choice!!  I could not get the engine to fire at all.  I changed the plug and checked the arm in the carb.  Still nothing.  By this time I had missed a practice or two, so I headed down to ask Rick for help.  He came up and looked at the carb, which looked good.  I suggested tossing the filter.  He agreed and brought up some new fuel line since I may have caused an air leak by using metal hose clamps.  So he showed me how to used zip-ties to secure the fuel lines.  Double up the ties and pull very tight.  Guess what...It started right up!!

I got one practice in when Rick came up and asked if I would take out one of his vintage foreign karts. The driver would not arrive until later and the engine needed some time on it.  I reminded him I had not driven anything besides a McCulloch.  He just laughed and said I would be fine.  I accused him of giving me a taste of a faster kart.   A bit later I traded my numbers to the kart and headed for the hot grid.  I was a bit nervous and was asking Rick questions on how to drive it, when he gave a rather humorous instruction... I better not repeat it here... but it made me laugh and broke the tension.  Basically, he said I would be fine and to run it hard.  He started the engine and off I went.  First thing I noticed was how smooth the ride was.  I got to the end of the pits and punched it a bit and it was very responsive and fast.  Got off it for the chicane and the Keyhole, then full throttle for the back straight....very fast... then silence.  The engine just quit.  It was sooo smooth as I coasted then pulled off into the grass.  Here is the kart as I waited to be picked up.  I had not turned on the GoPro so I don't have any other images.  

I was able practice a few more times in the afternoon and found out what "dieseling" is.  Apparently at Grattan I never got the carb rich enough to start.  The first time it did it was on the back stretch, gaining speed and RPMs and BANG!  It felt like someone had bumped me from behind and I lost momentum.  Fortunately, I remembered the forums talking about it and leaned the HI needle a touch.  Every lap it would do the same thing.  Finally, on the last practice on Saturday, I made it all the way down the back stretch before it dieseled, which is what should happen.

Rick's wife, Monique, fixed up a wonderful lunch for all the vintage guys and gals.  Then I was able to finish up with lots of practice.  The track is very demanding on many levels.  Again, I was the slowest guy on the track, but it was exhilarating to be on the same track where Indycar runs... and where Dad ran.

Saturday morning was rainy so practice was delayed, but racing got going pretty quickly.

Grid for Vintage USA on Saturday
 I love talking with the guys around the track, especially at the grid.  We get to talk about our kart details and history. It is all very friendly.
Me wearing Rick's driving suit. Feels good.

The orange dual kart is David Youn's, which was his father's in the 1970s, and only ran a few times.  It's running original Goodyear Blue Streaks!!!

The race started good, but it seems like such a long time to get up to speed from the grid.  Just the nature of the clutch and engine.  It is just so cool to be on track with other guys and their karts.  The views are all that I ever imagined, but soooo much more.  

I was running behind Herb Dickle through the chicane and keyhole when he slowed down on the backstretch.  I did not realize it, but he had lost the bolts holding his right rear on and lost the whole tire and hub at the end of the straight without any ill effect.

A lap later the steering was a bit sloppy in the Carousel, the last sweeping turn before the main straight. Same in turn 1 and the chicane, but really wobbly on the Keyhole.  I had a puncture on my left rear, but took it easy and make it back to the pits.  Bob Kurkowski came to check on me and Rick gave me a an "Good Job" pat on the back.  It was good to be out there for a few laps, but felt some accomplishment that I handled it well.  Pam took this shot as I watched the rest of my race. Then off to fix the flat.
 I took the tire off and found a little hole in the tube and asked John Copeland for help looking for tire damage, but found none.  I brought extra tubes, so all I had to do was replace it, and put the wheel back together.  It took about 30 minutes.  The thing would not seat, so I took it back to John and he used Windex as a lube and high pressure to seat it just fine!

Sunday morning was warm and I took full advantage of the practices.  Here are three photos that I love.    
"All right, helmet, kart, starter."

"Yep, I am ready to go."

"Guys?  Guys? Hey, guys!"

Mark Hicks was showing me how to use his wheel balancer during the first race when a helicopter flew over.  Pam instantly asked, "why is there a helicopter?"  I looked and saw it was green and white, so suspected it was a corporate helo for Savory/Green, the track owners.  However, I was very wrong.  A karter had a bad accident, causing a red flag.  The helo was on the ground for about an hours while he was stabilized, then transported him to Columbus.  That set a somber tone for the rest of the day.  He suffered head trauma, but after extended hospitalization, was able to go home and seems to be heading for a full recovery (last I heard).
This is actually before the race.  It was hot so I dowsed myself with water.  Sexy!
 The race went much better, not problems.  The dieseling would happen everylap at the back flagstand, but I decided to just lean it out a little, and pump the accelerator to clean it out, instead of going too lean.  I wanted to finish!!  The last few laps I was feeling so good I barely used my brakes and would go deeper and deeper into the turns before lifting. That is fun!! BTW: there is a heck of a hole on the inside of the apex of the Carousal.

Amazingly, all four of the Vintage USA guys in Sunday's race finished.  Mark D'Elia said it was the first race he had finished since he got back to racing.  We had a great time celebrating!

I always love this part.  I try to pose just like Dad.
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