Australian Superkarting

Tech Tips

By Evan Lyons

 

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G'day guys and welcome to our first tech tips article for this year. As time goes by I will add or pen tech articles aimed more or less at the lesser experienced or newer guys to superkarting. 

Some of the more experienced guys may do well to have a read as well!!

 

Tool and Spares

For those of you who have been competing for a while, ask your selves this question, "How often have I been asked for tools and other spares at race meetings by newer or less experienced competitors"?

Plenty I'll bet!

I know I have, and plenty of times too, and nobody wants to seem like an arsehole and dud anyone else out of a days fun and games due to their inappropriate tools or lack of spares, by saying no! Now, superkarts by their very nature, are fiddly creatures and require significant attention between events to keep them in tip top racing shape. So picture this, you are elbows deep into the bowels of your machine and for the umpteenth time Joe Bloggs comes up and says "Hey dude, have you got a such & such and a couple of hoosie whatsits onya"? Through gritted teeth and a very insincere grin "Yeah sure I have mayyyyt" you say, leaving that tricky chain adjustment or leaking coolant hose 'till later. Sure enough, you get involved in Joe Bloggs's kart drama and that chain adjuster, hose clamp or the spark plug you just pulled out and didn't tighten up gets forgotten. These are the simple things that can really easily ruin you day! And you can't really blame Joe 'cause he's a newer guy and doesn't really know his way around the subtleties of a 250cc single just yet and you did end up offering to help after all, albeit with an insincere grin and gritted teeth. So, out onto the track you go, warm up, grid up, flag drops, right foot buried to the hilt, clutch is dumped and about 12500 rpm and 90 odd horsepower tries to get from the gearbox to the back axle, and that chain adjuster that you forgot about decides to allow the engine to shift back on its mounts just enough to allow the chain to jump around the sprocket pulling the teeth off and then the chain gives up the struggle and snaps right at the joining link and bunches up against the crankcase. This usually ends up levering back the output shaft far enough to smash the gearcases to death resulting in the gearbox innards seeing the light of day for the first time and then all the hot oily bits falling out onto the floor tray! All of a sudden, that crankshaft whizzing happily about at about 12 and a half grand has very little resistance and decides to spin it self up till the pipe tuned length and ignition system refuse to allow it any more fun, usually about a zillion RPM's, effectively stretching the big ends about 20 thou out of round giving the needle rollers a little too much room to play with, causing the cages to chatter and break and allowing the bearing rollers to bunch up against one another and the conrod/piston assembly is allowed to move near enough to 1.5mm higher than usual. This activity results in the pistons clobbering the head enough times to mushroom the crowns of the pistons resulting in a nasty seizure and relieving the barrel of some of its nikasil or hard chrome plating!. Consequently, the piston sulks, decides it does not want to play anymore and so  stays right where it is and the conrod continues on its merry way down the bore again minus its little end. So, about 3 inches of solid, forged steel flail around inside the crankcase looking for any way out! This fun and games ends up with the crankcases sawn in half and the base of the barrel bashed to death. Irritatingly, the other cylinder didn't suffer any of this foolishness and is still happily producing half of that 90 odd horsepower, ensuring the untimely end of the first half! The engine locks up so rapidly from all the fun and games going on right next door that the still good crankshaft manages to continue to turn on the good side and twisting itself out of the cases, bending that rod and buggering the base of the good barrel as well. 

Now, all of this happens in about a poofteenth under 1 second! Not quite enough time for you to lift your foot off the loud pedal that you had buried thru the floor hoping for a good start for a change! 

You have just had a very bad day!

OK, so superkart racing engines tend not to rev up that much on wide open throttle with no load before the ignition/pipe length/porting/carby rev-limiting thing kicks in, but, and that's a big but, it has happened! I have seen a kart engine where they got the ignition stators, carbies, exhaust pipes off it and pretty much threw the rest into the garbage bin! This can be a rather expensive exercise if you happen to be running the very latest model RS250 Honda, Yamaha or BRC!

These occurrences can (and do) happen at race meetings due to lesser experienced guys not really knowing what to bring in their toolkit and inadvertently distracting blokes from their own preparation. I speak from experience here. I am the chief scrutineer for superkarting in Tasmania and one would think that I should know better. I have been sufficiently distracted from my own pre-race maintenance checks by help requests and offering to assist and managed to leave all my rear wheel nuts only hand tight on a 90hp twin cylinder F/E class superkart. Needless to say the bastard of a thing took all of 2 laps to destroy both rear wheels and studs and damage the threads in the wheel hubs and I was very lucky that I had spare wheels and studs and was able to complete the day!

Tools

So, what we have here is a list of stuff for your own toolbox that represents the bare minimum that should be taken to race meetings, indeed even to a private practice day! Remember, this stuff will often prove quite useful at home in the workshop as well.

This tool list can go on and on really and could conceivably end up including battery drills with bits, soldering irons to modify those pesky wiring looms, an engineers vice, oxy set, a small lathe and a partridge in a pear tree etc. etc.

Seriously tho, what I have listed here is a basic tool kit suitable for routine maintenance and hopefully repairing your kart at the track should a minor breakdown occur.

Spares

This particular list could go on into next week if you take into consideration every conceivable failure that may occur at the track so I will attempt to list the bits most likely to be needed.

This list is by no means a complete list of tools and spares and I know that many of you will be able to add item after item that you may feel is necessary. What I have listed here is a bare minimum of goodies that probably should accompany every racer to the track. 

Blow You Dough

It is very important to be well prepared before you take that 2 1/2 hour drive to the track and end up going home early because something fell off or broke and you didn't have anything to repair/replace it with. I have seen guys go home due to suspected ignition failure only to find out later it was a buggered plug cap and if they had had a spare they could at least have tried it before packing up! Figure it out for yourself, in Australia, race entry fees are usually at least 100 bucks, add in a couple of hours of traveling, food for the day etc. etc. and this can easily amount to quite a few hundred dollars and is guaranteed to piss you right off if you day is ruined by a breakdown that sends you home early 'cause you weren't or didn't sufficiently prepare. Don't ever rely on other blokes to have enough spares to keep you going in event of a failure. This is especially true if you are doing some private practice where there is the real possibility that you are the only superkarter at the track and if not you don't even know anybody there well enough to bludge some parts from!

I hope that some of this helps some of you.

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