Wednesday, March 24 - My Temporary Home, a Ramada Inn
I planned on getting the parts for the engine Monday. Wrong. It seems that none of the motorcycle shops are open on Monday in Seattle! It figures. So...I got the stuff ordered Tuesday and decided to go back and work on the engine in the car, seeing if I could figure out the problem. I set up shop in the Ramada parking lot and went after the demon inside my engine.
Now, from what I could tell, something inside the spare engine was dragging somewhere. The thought was that the crank bearings may not have seated correctly, binding up the crankshaft. I called up Jay at ATV and talked to him a while. Going down a checklist we decided to pull one of the covers and see what we could find. The motor turned over by hand fairly easily, but when you hit the starter button there was definitely some sort of dragging going on. I pulled the cover, hit the starter and the engine spun at a normal speed. Interesting! I put the cover back on, tightened it down and there's the dragging sound again. What in the world? So I loosened all the bolts, hit the starter and there it was again, cranking at speed. AHA! I was on to something. I started at one end and began to tighten sections of the cover and crank the engine each time. When I got to the final two bolts the drag came back! I had found the problem! I pulled the cover loose again and then went through the tightening sequence again and this time when I got to the last bolts, the motor spun freely. It looked like I may just be back in business. I finished putting the rest of the motor back together, hit the start button and the thing started up almost immediately! Why couldn't I have found this in Vancouver?!? Let's see what happens this weekend now that I'm race ready again.
I pick up the parts to get the old engine back together today so it looks like I'll have a project for tomorrow. Also, to kill time, I brought my remote control helicopter with me and had a good time flying it yesterday. I may just have to go back and play with it some more later today. (By the way, getting to fly my helicopter INSIDE the Kingdome was a BLAST!!! Too bad the P.A. speakers were hanging so low in the middle. I would have been able to pull a few loops in that dome!)
Friday, March 26 - Still in the Ramada
Thought for the day: "I don't know why the West Coast dislikes me so".
Because I have the new engine in the car, I go up on the jet size and take it easy for the first practice today. So far, so good, first practice goes well. The engine runs a bit rough, but I expected it to. My clutch is not quite right, but that's not a big problem either.
For the second practice, I change the jetting by one size and redo the clutch. I head out on the track and things are working great. It feels like the jetting is pretty close and the clutch is spot on. I'm having a good time running around the track checking different lines and dicing with a couple of the other lites on the track. Then it happens. I come out of a tight right hand corner, push the throttle wide open and the motor goes brrruuup and then goes quiet. I've seized it. What? How? WHY? I get towed back to the pits and pull the head off the engine. Not a good thing. The piston is smeared up the exhaust side of the cylinder and this motor is done. I pull the engine apart and get ready for my evening of cylinder repair 101.
Fortunately, I have spare parts. I gather up the cylinder that seized in Vancouver, a bunch of tools and head off for the hardware and auto parts stores for more supplies. I get back to the hotel and start damage control. Using muriatic acid and a tooth brush, I am able to pull up the aluminum deposited by the piston during the seizure. I have always bragged on the ceramic bore process that Bore Tech does, but until I actually got to work on the cylinder I had no idea just what a wonderful process it is. Every bit of aluminum was removed with very little work. A touch up with some 1000 grit sand paper and I had a cylinder that was 100% usable without any traces of nicks or scratches. I'm truly amazed with the ceramic process. I'll put it all back together tomorrow and see how it goes.
Saturday, March 27 - I'm tired and ready to go home.
During my work this morning I discovered the cause of my seizure yesterday. It would seem that when I was trying to get the engine running last week I managed to tear the base gasket just a bit when I changed starters. This caused an air leak and that lead to the end of the motor. I get the newly cleaned cylinder and parts all put back together and the engine starts right up. This is a great sign, maybe there's hope for today's race! We go out to practice and the motor is running great! I clear the double jump and when I land I suddenly have no steering - NOW WHAT? I pull over and discover that I've broken a tie rod end - great, just what I needed. I go back to the pits, put a new rod end on and go back to the line behind the buggies and beg for a chance to practice for just two laps. I'm cleared for the practice and wait my turn. When I finally get to go back out on the track I head into the corner before the double again and suddenly the front right wheel locks up! I almost roll the car and go sliding off the track. I just can't win!
Back at the pits, I discover that I've lost both bearings in the wheel along with part of the brakes and the hub where the bearings ride is cracked too. I put new bearings in and hope for the best. I now have the heat race as my next time on the track and I don't have a clue what my setup is going to be like.
The heat race started really well. I found myself in a three way battle for second place. Three laps into it, I hook a barrier with my left tire and loose a couple of spots, but I think I can hold my position anyhow. Of course, the car had different ideas. I suddenly start hearing a popping sound coming from my front wheel again and it starts to stick like the brakes (which are gone on this side) are hanging. I deal with it for a lap and then the motor goes brrraaawww and fades. I ask the great racing god what I've done to make him so mad and pull off the track and head back to the pits for the last time.
I get to the trailer and the Pilot dies, never to start again for the night. I don't even bother trying to fix the front wheel now. I put the Pilot in it's stable (the trailer) and I'm done for the night and the season. These last two races just didn't go like they were supposed to. But, as they say, "That's Racing" and I can accept it.
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