Friday, March 3, 2017

New Project...

This May will be five years since Dad passed.  And four years since I raced the Red Devil, which this blog was dedicated to document.  What started as a project to learn how to rebuild the Mac engine, and to spend time together, turned into a full-fledged restoration. I raced it at a Grattan event, and Mid-Ohio for three events... and had a BLAST!!!   Arguably, I was always the slowest guy of the event, but that was fine with me since I was just learning.  

Now it is time to put the Red Devil, and the Mac engines, on the wall.  Rick Chapman had been suggesting that every summer, especially last year. Then I saw some video of me being passed by two other Piston Port karts... I was a moving chicane!!  In one race I was able to draft behind a modern kart for a few laps which the most competition I had ever seen.  

The Red Devil has been a wonderful project.  Fridays in the barn with Dad will always be precious.


*    *    *

This post initiates a new project:  The restoration of the 1979 Hartman enduro which I received free from Colm Higgins via Rick Chapman in 2013.  

It has several important pieces missing, but thankfully the hard-to-find parts were included.  I am especially blessed to have the complete front brake/hub/wheel assemblies and tanks. 

On the way home in Dad's truck - July 2013

ID# on steering hump: SD79   SD=Steve Derkson who welded all the enduro frames    79=the year-1979

Along with the frame and tanks came a couple motor mounts, a vintage Digitron and a box of loose bolts

and the Rear brake disk with bolts and springs

Ready for disassembly

I am getting great help from Rick, but have also received Hartman help from Greg O'Dell, who has been racing for decades and owns a couple Hartmans.  We are working on getting an engine, clutch and pipe from him.  Here's one he ran at Mid-Ohio: 

I have also reached out to the karting legend Steve O'Hara for help.  Here is his Hartman:

That's what I am shooting for!  The Hartman karts all left the factory with polished, bare metal frames.  Mine has been powder coated. I will be stripping the paint and trying to polish it up, though I doubt it will anywhere close to the original.  SteveO has recommended chemically removing the paint with Aircraft Stripper (insert humor here) sealing the metal with SharkHide.

Aircraft stripper on tank for just a few minutes. It is heavy duty stuff!

Just as I found out with the Red Devil, this kart is also just bent metal tubing with pieces of metal and plastic added to it. BUT the design and technology comparison is huge. The Hartman demonstrates the summit of 1979 kart design. 
  • The frame tubes are larger
  • The axle bearings are industrial with locking collars and steel pins assuring the axle will not slip
  • The fuel tanks are linked together with fuel line to allow fuel levels to remain the same over a stint
  • All joints use Hyme joints
  • Front brakes which feature tiny springs to control the brake disk floats 
  • Brake linkages designed scientifically for front/rear bias
  • Two piece wheels without tubes and only THREE bolts  
  • Pressed in splined kingpins  
  • Floorpan is thick steel, heavy enough to stand on
  • Floorpan bolts every four-to-six inches
  • Everything is bigger, thicker, and more rugged
  • Everything is safety wired!! 

 It's NOT IndyCar, but I will take it.

Right rear axle bearing without axle or collar. Double fuel/air tubes can be seen

The rear bearings were designed for industrial housings with lube zerks.
This is a detail of the small hole for adding lube.

What next?  😀😀😀

Thursday, June 23, 2016

Mid-Ohio 2016

The last week before Mid-Ohio was not what I expected.  I had hoped to have lots of time to assemble the second engine, then get both engines started.  That didn't happen.

Before last year's Mid-Ohio race I decided to rebuild the brakes and change the brake fluid to DOT5 because it is easy to find and I didn't know for certain which o-rings had been used (wrong o-ring with wrong fluid could be very bad). Due to my mistakes rebuilding the left caliper, it was not a good result (see prior posts). After rebuilding the calipers all I needed to do was bleed them, but it just would not work.... bubbles would not go away...even with the kart standing upright against the wall for 24 hours.  Very frustrating!

Also, I did not like the look of the left caliper.  The space between the puck housing and the platter was not consistent which made me think it would pinch. The brake system on the Hartman frame had been set up for the mineral oil RED fluid, so I decided to replace the left caliper and both master cylinders with those.  Disassemble, clean, dry, buy o-rings, change o-rings, reassemble, install, bleed. All that took most of a day.  And the bleed was still not working. ARRRRRGGGHHHH!!!

Then on what should have been packing day I decided to call Rick Chapman about the clutch sprocket being angles differently from the axle sprocket.  They were visibly off.
The sprocket on clutch was off about 2 degrees
Level on Axle

Level on engine mount -- high to the right

He agreed it was a problem, so I used a level and confirmed it was way off, and pulled out another motor mount and mount support from Dad's stash.  As I compared the used and "new" support, I found out the old one was bent just ever so slightly.  The new pieces were perfectly level!  YEAAAA!!!!

I had noticed about half the shoe material a clutch arm was missing.  It worked fine last year but still wanted to replace it. I found a piece of old shoe material on a vintage, unused arm.  To use it I had to drill out the rivets, then rivet it into place on the good arm.  I went through all this because after last year I contacted Steve O'Hara and asked him to check out video of the four-cycling and he suggested I add four teeth to the sprocket and also add weight to the clutch arms.  The sprockets came at Christmas and then I added three washers to each arm.

With that done, I finally got to packing which went on until near midnight.

We were fortunate to be able to use HI-LO camper borrowed from friends in order to stay at the track... right in front of the garage...and save hotel money.

We went through a huge hail storm near Athens, Ohio, but it was a good trip.  Just as we arrived at the track, another line of storms hit. This and electrical issues made getting the camper raised a long, wet slog and wasted my evening garage time reserved for final tinkering on the kart.  We were soaked and tired that evening.  We drove up to the shower building and found out "this is not KOA!"  Let's just say they were adequate... for that night.  The bright point was receiving the kart stand from Rick. Such a huge help!!   Thanks Rick!!

Practice day Friday morning was wonderful... just roll out of bed and walk 20 steps to the garage. No 4a.m. alarm, hotel breakfast, and 30 minute drive to the track. After the 7:30a.m. drivers meeting I spent the morning safety wiring the brakes and bleeding the brakes.  Bleeding was still not working well, so I asked Rick and Colm Higgins.  Colm suggested replacing a brake line which had a coupling in the middle of it, so I did the change with a piece from... Rick.  I had been trying to do the bleeding as shown in earlier posts, but it just would not work.  Rick suggested bleeding the old way... like on a car... takes two people... pump peddle-crack bleeder-let out air-close-pump-until all air is out.  Pam helped and it was done in under five minutes.  Finally, I was all ready and only missed a couple practice sessions.

Rick started the kart at the garage just to make sure it would fire.  It actually idled! After we pushed down to the grid, Pam used the new starter to start me...fired right off and the engine was strong... until I headed down the pits... and it slowly sputtered and died.  I was very frustrated... The next practice session I set the needles to my normal settings and it was very strong down the pits and onto the track, up the hill and around the Keyhole. Then down the back stretch it four-cycled, as normal, then strong up the Roller-Coaster to the left hander. CLANG-CLANG-CLANG... Just like last year...Chain off again... same spot!!!  I had to wait out that practice behind the guardrail.

The new sprocket hub must have moved!  I tightened the crap out of that thing and added thread-lock to it.  Back at the garage I was cleaning the grass off and studying the dang sprocket hub.  The space between the sprocket and the tire seemed not to have changed... but.. but.. that doesn't make sense.  DING!! then it all became clear: The motor mount had moved!  All the problems last year and this year were due to FORGETTING to put locking collars on the axle on either side of the engine mount when I rebuilt the axle bearings OVER A YEAR AGO!  I looked through early photos from the kart restoration blog and found this photo of Dad's finger... explaining locking collars!
That is Dad's finger, the motor mount, and one of two locking collars - during disassembly

UGHHHHHHHH!!!!  I felt so stupid.  Another huge, big lesson.  Then I spent a while walking around to different garages asking and begging for two 1" locking collars. Finally, I found ONE in Rick's stash and just moved one already on the axle over about 1/8".  The mount is not moving now!!!  It was about this time Rick suggested I retire this kart and engine to upgrade to the Hartman and a Yamaha. He told the same thing to Pam after she expressed her frustrations.

Is that a locking collar...YES!

I got out one session and it ran great and the chain did not come off!!!  That was all for Friday. Lots of frustration, but things got worked out.  That's what practice days are for, right?!

Saturday started like Friday... roll out and go to the garage.  After the driver's meeting I was getting the kart ready in the garage and saw my brother Steve trying to find a parking place, just before the first practice.  I pushed down to the pits while Pam was still getting ready and a karter (Low Budget Racing) from the next group started me just as Steve walked up.  A practice without a hitch!!!  After I pulled in and got parked in the pits, I greeted Steve then tried to be a real karter by "cutting the plug" to check how rich the fuel mixture was.  Maybe just a bit rich. Steve tried to start me for the next session but it would not fire... In the excitement I had not tightened the spark plug!!  With that taken care of I was able to get out a little.

Just before my first race Pam left to see her family nearby in Columbus.

I was all ready for my first race, which was Race 2, in the Vintage USA Piston Port class for 100cc engines.  This class combines the vintage McCulloch engines and vintage foreign engines, but, as always, we are in with modern karts.  This class was affectionately called the Geriatric Ward!

It started right up on and pulled great off the line and up the hill.  Being the slowest and last kart off the grid, I had a great view of dozens of karts heading into the Keyhole - dodging and weaving for position.  I ran two laps very strong, then I in anticipation of the four-cycling on the back straight, I leaned it out, but the needle felt like it had moved.  I tweaked it going down the straight but had to stop at the right hand turn heading up the Roller-Coaster... but the throttle did not get any response and by the top of the hill all I could hear was the piston - fooop foooop fooooop foooooop foooop.  OH Crap!!  I finally stuck it!!  So again I watched the rest of the race from the same spot... last year when the chain came off.

Back at the garage I told Steve all about it... running great... getting hot temps... loose needle.  I was thinking about pulling the engine when he suggested we see it would start.  Fired right off!!  Thank the LORD!!!  I was so relieved... so we pulled the Hi needle and I got out the needle gaskets and talked about it over lunch.  Before the next race we consulted with Rick on the needle gaskets, which he said to double up. Then I told him there was gunk in the fuel line.  I showed him an in-line gas filter I got from Comet Kart Sales and asked if it was good idea?  He asked if the engine was being effected? "No."  Then he asked if I wanted to get rid of the gunk?  "Yes."  "Then close your eyes!" he said back.  He reemphasized what he had told me several times... "don't over think it!" and "if it's working, don't touch it!"  So we went back to garage and relaxed.  Pam got back in time for the second race. As we waited I got up to do something to the kart and Pam shouted, "NO TINKERING!!"
Waiting in line for the scales after the race. John Copeland just ahead.
My second race was Race 5, the Vintage Unlimited for vintage engines up to 125cc.  My Mac is 100cc so I still count, but I am even more slow than the rest of the modern karts in the race. As we waited in line to get to the starting grid, I noticed a man and woman on the garage balcony waving at someone behind us. They looked like team owners. I slyly told Pam about them, then noticed her cousin Deana weaving through the karts towards us! What a great surprise!!  She had just been with them and they trekked up to the track to see me race.  Very special!!

I started strong, worked with the Hi needle every lap, and finished strong!!  Seeing friends and family cheering on the wall is sooo enjoyable!!  It ran so very strong, but I had to watch the temperature.  But I noticed the heat depended on the type of track I was on and how aggressive I was.  A-HA!  I figured out I could lean the Hi needle on the back stretch then clean out the carb before the turn to get the power back.  After the race lots of people gave me congratulations and we hung out with Mike and Deana in the garage.  He had lots of questions... which I was happy to answer!! He seemed to really enjoy this new experience.  I enjoyed getting to know him a bit better.

After they left Pam made spaghetti, and we had a few hours of talking with Steve before he headed home.  It was so very enjoyable to have him there to share the experience.  It's nostalgic but very different as adults.  And living several states apart, it was the most time we have spent together in decades.
Steve and Me from last year

Sunday started like the other days, but before the first practice Rick asked how it was running. I told him about tweaking with the Hi needle, but he seemed not to like me doing that.  He leaned down and turned both needles ever so slightly... probably 1/16th!  Every lap was very strong and NO four-cycling on the back stretch!!  Just that much changed the whole day.

Race 1 was very strong!!  I did richen the mixture just a bit to keep the temp down, but my best times decreased by FOUR SECONDS!!  VERY FUN!!!  I was able to draft with a slow kart from the Briggs and Stratton class until I had to worry about temps.

As we were on the grid for Race 2, I looked down and saw a clutch cover bolt sticking out!!  YIKES!!  Then another bolt was missing!!  Thankfully, Mark d'Elia ran to his pit and brought back spare parts and tools. THANK YOU, MARK!!!  Although "NO TINKERING!"  is our new catch phrase, we found out there is some necessary tinkering between races.  A couple people suggested that I use Lock-tite on the bolts, but I told them that I did!  That probably meant the clutch was super hot and melted the Lock-tite.

The whole race the engine still was pulling strong but I could feel heat on my shoulder and the readings were getting up to 400*F and beyond.  I wanted to finish so I allowed the engine to relax on the backstretch a bit.  And I did finish!!  That was 3 out of 4 finishes!!  Amazing how well it all runs when the kinks are worked out!!

Then it was clean up time.  We packed up and headed to the hotel for a relaxing evening and nice, hot, long (and private) showers.   AAAhhhhhhhhh!!

It the started out with some frustrations but ended up very well.  The Dart Kart Club offered a Package which I took advantage of: one price and I was able to get a Pit pass, Friday practice, and any race I could enter.  I doubled my races and saved some money.  Thanks DKC!!

Before last year's season, Dart Kart Club decided to quit WKA and go with AKRA as the sanctioning body. I really like the leaders.  The seem to genuinely want enduro/road racing to flourish.  This year they invited CES (Championship Enduro Series) from the Illinois-Oklahoma-Kansas area to Mid-Ohio.  They were set up in massive party tents in the paddock.
 That gave quite a boost to the number of entries.  It was reported there were over 500 entries! Best numbers since 2012.

With the bolts being loose or missing, I was afraid the clutch oil would be all gone, causing the hi temps.  After getting home I pulled the clutch cover and discovered most of the oil remained. Burnt and smelly!!  But some of the new shoe was missing... ground to a pulp by the rotating arms.  There were some chunks but most of it was a powder in the oil.  No wonder the clutch was hot!  Friction Friction  Friction!!!

I am carefully considering Rick's suggestion about putting Dad's Red Devil on the wall... it's a real trophy... for all the work with Dad, to all the races... finished and unfinished.  I have pulled the Hartman kart out and placed it on stands next to the Red Devil.  I can't wait to see what happens next...