Category Archives: Formula TKM Column

News, insight and updates from Sidney Sprocket, the man in the know when it comes to Formula TKM karting

The TKM Column

Tal-Ko's sprocket protector
Tal-Ko’s sprocket protector

By Sidney Sprocket

Let’s start this month by looking at a nice easy way of avoiding probably the most common way of failing to finish a race within the TKM classes – the chain coming off.

Chain guards
It always staggers me the number of people who have this happen because it is such an easy and inexpensive thing to avoid. All you need to do is use sprocket protectors and fit them correctly.

Now a lot of people make fun of the guys doing endurance racing with Prokarts, but it was from there that I first saw the use of sprocket protectors and realised just how effective they are. And in countless hours of racing I never once had a chain come off.

The original protectors I used were plastic and they worked fine. More recently people have been using alloy ones but they have two big downsides. First if they do ride over a kerb and make contact they bend – permanently. That makes them worse than useless. And second, some clubs have banned them because of the damage they do to kerbs.

But there are some great plastic/nylon types around like these pictured which Tal-Ko sell which are perfect for the job. They are accurately machined to a choice of three diameters to suit all normal sprocket sizes and fitted with the right length bolts and washers will provide outstanding service.

They allow you to have the chain nicely free for minimum drag but at the same time prevent it from popping off while under strain. Simple advice – use them, use quality Gold Gold DID chain and forget about chain problems!

Racing in the wet
Now let’s address a subject which crops up from time to time – whether adjustable castor and camber should be allowed on TKM karts. Aside from a small minority the call has always been to avoid them because it can be very fiddly to set up unless you have all the right equipment, and knowledge is vital in order to make use of them effectively.

The latest call to use them comes from a few people struggling to learn the ropes of wet racing within TKM having come from Cadets. The vitally important thing to note here is that a simple change of castor/camber will probably make little or no difference.

In reality castor/camber adjustment and wet tracks don’t automatically go together. You can dial in or out various characteristics with such adjustment but that is spread across any conditions. If you don’t know where you are going then you can dial up a real bag full of problems, wet or dry.

And the basic plain truth is that the grip and speeds round corners relies very largely on tyres. The TKM wet Maxxis tyres have been designed to give long life to keep down people’s costs. That is what everyone says they want. They could be made softer – but then they will wear out quicker. Who wants that?

So since it looks very likely the long standing commitment to simple no castor/camber will remain, let’s have a look at what the key point seems to be for the request to allow it for wet handling.

Making a TKM (or any other higher-powered kart) go round corners in the wet is quite different to driving a low-powered Cadet. Cadets have low weight, little power, a short chassis and most importantly narrow and soft compound wets. So soft that you can easily destroy them in one drying heat.

So for set up, widen the front track as far as you can and narrow the rear as far in as you can go making sure you are legal. Ideally then raise the ride height at the front by moving the spacer washers at top and bottom of the king pin so that all the spacers are at the bottom. Also raise the ride height at the rear (this option not available on early TKM-homologated karts)

Most vitally give the steering a big dose of toe out – up to 15mm in very wet conditions. And if you have time then also raise the driver’s seat maybe an inch or so. The quick guys will already have holes drilled ready for this.

If I only had time for one or two jobs it would be reset tracking and wind on toe-out. You need to be able to do these things ultra quickly and efficiently and always take the gear to the dummy grid for this if it looks even slightly possible to rain.

Tyre pressures and wheels are important too. The wheels need to be narrow – maybe 110mm at the front and 150 mm at the rear. That gives a better shape to cut through water and find maximum grip. On pressures you must experiment. In very wet conditions I have used 40psi to try to generate some heat. In drying conditions, as little as 12psi.

Then it comes to technique. You need to learn to get the kart pointed into a corner. Once it is pointed in you balance the understeer by giving the engine a stab of throttle to get the rear sliding – and from then on you steer the kart through the corner by the amount of spin generated by the rear wheels.

So brake, off the brakes and then flick the front in and then power out with the rear sliding all the way through a bend. It takes a little practice but once you have mastered the technique then you’ll find it makes you a better driver in the wet in any type of kart or car come to that.

Just for the record you will always find that lap times close up dramatically between classes in the wet. The Cadets are still able to lap close to their normal dry times. But the TKMs and other classes will lose a lot more time because of their greater weight and much more powerful engine causing wheel spin etc.

So there you go – splash out and learn your wet weather skills. Once mastered you’ll find it is fun!

[STRIP AD HERE]

Formula TKM: June, 2011 Formula TKM News

Written By: Grahame Butterworth

Last month’s very informative round-up in this magazine on the various Cadet and Junior classes available to younger age drivers could leave the uninitiated with the view that TKM classes only exist at club level. And actually that is far from the reality.

At national championship level, while some MSA classes have actually had to be cancelled through lack of entries, on the Junior TKM front the numbers are actually up this year on last. A healthy sign indeed.

TKM Clubman
Meanwhile just looking around at Shenington a few weeks ago there seemed to be so many TKM karts racing that it was one grid after another and some great racing too! Lots of them there testing ready for the next S1 round.

Shenington has always been a staunch supporter of the TKM classes over the past 20 years and that support has also been matched by local kart manufacturer Jade, whose Mark Allen has nurtured many a race winner at top level.

That club enthusiasm for the TKM class has this year produced a sub-class of the Senior TKM Extremes with a set of regulations that specifically helps those who are wanting to race on a very tight budget and it seems to be working.

Their TKM Clubman class is aimed at making racing as low cost as possible, yet still retaining the essence of highly competitive close racing. The special regs allow only TKM-type karts with no torsion bars, 30mm rear axle, fixed rear sprocket and no data logging or rev counters.

For tyres they use the normal latest type Maxxis tyres but they are second-hand ones given by Super One racers and available at just £30 a set from the club.

Throw in with that a special deal on Saturday afternoon testing and you end up with a budget for racing at £100 for the weekend all in, including entry fee, testing and the rest. The second-hand tyres last at least two events and what a contrast that is to some classes where new tyres barely last a day!

Now of course not everyone wants to be restricted on things like set-up and they enjoy the complexity of studying data logging and trying to find those extra fractions of a second.

But in these tough financial times it is a very practical way of helping keeping people racing who might otherwise not be able to. The Clubman class has a healthy grid, and one that is growing with novices joining month by month.

And interestingly if you compare lap times then the front of the Clubman grid is only a few tenths off the absolute cream of national drivers running full spec karts.

So hats off to Shenny for following through a good idea and maybe a good point for other clubs around the country to ponder as they start to think about 2012 events.

At which point I hear you cry “next year!” as if it was a mile off. Well, of course it is still more than six months away, but in reality the time for any changes to the rules is now, so that means if any of you out there have bright ideas or think existing regulations need some review then now is the time to do it. TKM have their special drivers email address – ideas@TKMdriversclub.com.

TKM Festival
Next let’s move a few miles across from Shenington to Kimbolton – soon to be the scene of this year’s Maxxis TKM Festival. Those of you with some years in the sport will know this always was the home of the Festival and only moved away due to a planning complication.

Those returning to the circuit for the first time since the last TKM Festival will find some significant changes. Aside from the paddock layout, the real changes are out there on the circuit itself.

First and foremost the whole track has been resurfaced at a very considerable cost, and in doing so the club and contractors have done a very good job at getting rid of a few lumps and bumps on the track. A nice smooth surface will hopefully avoid the rib injuries that occurred at last year’s event at Whilton Mill.

But on top of that the club have also smoothed out the radius of its bus stops and tidied up some kerbs so the whole track flows better now which should doubly make for the superbly close racing Kim and the Festival have always enjoyed.

It is an event not to be missed with full details on how to enter on the event ad in this month’s Karting Mag.

Tyres
And talking of Maxxis, a quick reminder on how to get the best from them. The latest Maxxis green label tyres give an incredible combination of performance allied to long life. While brand new tyres will be a shade quicker, the drop off on used tyres is quite remarkably low.

And you can make their life even longer and more consistent by following one rule: when you put on a new set of slicks then do it during testing when you can just do two or three gentle laps before coming in and letting them cool off.

That bedding in and acclimatisation run will maximise their life by preventing the initial wear which can be caused if they are instantly given maximum stress.

The TKM Column

TKMClub_JamieAndrews (4)Last month’s very informative round-up in this magazine on the various Cadet and Junior classes available to younger age drivers could leave the uninitiated with the view that TKM classes only exist at club level. And actually that is far from the reality.

At national championship level, while some MSA classes have actually had to be cancelled through lack of entries, on the Junior TKM front the numbers are actually up this year on last. A healthy sign indeed.

TKM Clubman
Meanwhile just looking around at Shenington a few weeks ago there seemed to be so many TKM karts racing that it was one grid after another and some great racing too! Lots of them there testing ready for the next S1 round.

Shenington has always been a staunch supporter of the TKM classes over the past 20 years and that support has also been matched by local kart manufacturer Jade, whose Mark Allen has nurtured many a race winner at top level.

That club enthusiasm for the TKM class has this year produced a sub-class of the Senior TKM Extremes with a set of regulations that specifically helps those who are wanting to race on a very tight budget and it seems to be working.

Their TKM Clubman class is aimed at making racing as low cost as possible, yet still retaining the essence of highly competitive close racing. The special regs allow only TKM-type karts with no torsion bars, 30mm rear axle, fixed rear sprocket and no data logging or rev counters.

For tyres they use the normal latest type Maxxis tyres but they are second-hand ones given by Super One racers and available at just £30 a set from the club.

Throw in with that a special deal on Saturday afternoon testing and you end up with a budget for racing at £100 for the weekend all in, including entry fee, testing and the rest. The second-hand tyres last at least two events and what a contrast that is to some classes where new tyres barely last a day!

Now of course not everyone wants to be restricted on things like set-up and they enjoy the complexity of studying data logging and trying to find those extra fractions of a second.

But in these tough financial times it is a very practical way of helping keeping people racing who might otherwise not be able to. The Clubman class has a healthy grid, and one that is growing with novices joining month by month.

And interestingly if you compare lap times then the front of the Clubman grid is only a few tenths off the absolute cream of national drivers running full spec karts.

So hats off to Shenny for following through a good idea and maybe a good point for other clubs around the country to ponder as they start to think about 2012 events.

At which point I hear you cry “next year!” as if it was a mile off. Well, of course it is still more than six months away, but in reality the time for any changes to the rules is now, so that means if any of you out there have bright ideas or think existing regulations need some review then now is the time to do it. TKM have their special drivers email address – ideas@TKMdriversclub.com.

TKM Festival
Next let’s move a few miles across from Shenington to Kimbolton – soon to be the scene of this year’s Maxxis TKM Festival. Those of you with some years in the sport will know this always was the home of the Festival and only moved away due to a planning complication.

Those returning to the circuit for the first time since the last TKM Festival will find some significant changes. Aside from the paddock layout, the real changes are out there on the circuit itself.

First and foremost the whole track has been resurfaced at a very considerable cost, and in doing so the club and contractors have done a very good job at getting rid of a few lumps and bumps on the track. A nice smooth surface will hopefully avoid the rib injuries that occurred at last year’s event at Whilton Mill.

But on top of that the club have also smoothed out the radius of its bus stops and tidied up some kerbs so the whole track flows better now which should doubly make for the superbly close racing Kim and the Festival have always enjoyed.

It is an event not to be missed with full details on how to enter on the event ad in this month’s Karting Mag.

Tyres
And talking of Maxxis, a quick reminder on how to get the best from them. The latest Maxxis green label tyres give an incredible combination of performance allied to long life. While brand new tyres will be a shade quicker, the drop off on used tyres is quite remarkably low.

And you can make their life even longer and more consistent by following one rule: when you put on a new set of slicks then do it during testing when you can just do two or three gentle laps before coming in and letting them cool off.

That bedding in and acclimatisation run will maximise their life by preventing the initial wear which can be caused if they are instantly given maximum stress.

Formula TKM: May, 2011 Formula TKM News

Written By: Grahame Butterworth

Well Spring has sprung and with it comes the excitement and expectation of forthcoming events – and for some that means digging the kart out of the garage or shed and getting it ready to race.

So that means time to ensure that your kart not only looks clean and tidy, but is in good mechanical condition to perform at its best. Let’s face it no-one should turn up at a race meeting with a kart that isn’t in tip top condition – but some do!

But before we get into that let’s start by bringing you up to speed on a minor tweak to the regulations which has become effective as of the beginning of April.

It concerns the use of small round axle collars which are used by many to ensure that the rear axle is very firmly locked in position and cannot slide laterally under hard cornering if the bearing grub lock screws work loose. They were brought in many years ago simply to help reliability but were controlled in width to prevent some bright spark using them as axle stiffeners.

That width was set at a maximum of 16mm which was fine with the then 30mm axles, but with many now using larger diameter axles, collars are not available in that size and have to be specially turned down. So a quick tweak of the regs effective April 1 allowing that width to increase to 21mm max – a size easily available. Hey presto reduction in costs!

Secondly let’s just flag up the situation concerning the CIK approved rear bumpers – known correctly as rear protection systems. These are made of a plastic type material with a flat rear edge intended to stop karts climbing over the rear wheels and potentially flipping.

Now remember that in the UK we have been using an alternative UK only rear bumper for umpteen years – a bumper specifically designed to prevent just such accidents. And I’d be the first to say that they have done a pretty good job in preventing accidents of this nature.

Formula TKM took the decision a couple of years back to ban rear protection systems from the class on the basis that the specification was not truly assured, that they would add cost, create a nice flat bumper for drivers behind to push, and probably lead to problems in the wet because of the special bumper dispensation from the MSA. And it is questionable if they are any safer anyway.

So all in all it was decided to keep them on a slow burner for a year or two. So the question is have we now had them simmering for long enough – or do we want to make the switch to make them optional in 2012?

Interestingly I note from the first S1 event of the year with the top classes like KF3 running, there was barely a new style RPS to be seen. So given that they are still in the minority, may cause problems and will probably cost more what should we do? That’s the question of the month and your thoughts, comments and answers please to ideas@formulatkmdriversclub.com

OK so back to Spring clean time…in my view karters fall into two basic groups – those that race all year round and so pretty much always have the kart and engine ready to go. Then there are those fair weather people who only like to turn out when the weather is warmer and you don’t need thermals on all day to survive. I don’t blame the latter!

That fundamental difference tends to make quite a big difference when it comes to prepping your kart. The all year round drivers keep everything in use and frequently looked at. And they change routine items like brake pads as necessary.

The fair weather people leave their kart sitting for several months often untouched. And if that is in a damp place then there is every possibility of corrosion and general deterioration occurring.

Time to give it a good spring clean. The obvious place to start is the chassis itself. Give it a thorough clean with a suitable cleaner and rag – WD40 is very suitable for this. As you clean, study the chassis at every weld and curve for any signs of a stress fracture. If you find one then ship it off to a specialist to be repaired.

Check also very carefully for movement in the king-pins which could indicate worn bearings. Replace as necessary. Check the fit and spin of the rear axle and if you have quick release bearings whip it out for a proper clean of the axle and the area of chassis it fits to.

When you drop it back in ensure the axle is spinning free with no sign of being bent. Lube the bearings with light grease. Oh and make sure that the grub screws which keep it in place are tight and Loctited in position.

Change the fluid in the brake system to a high spec Dot 4 or 5 fluid and ensure there are no bubbles in the system by bleeding carefully from the nipples on the caliper. Check the pads are moving freely – and if well worn then put on a new set. Use some emery cloth or similar to take the glaze off the brake disc. It makes a big difference when you first use the brakes.

Finally check that the brakes are properly set up with the disc sitting in the middle of the caliper with minimal clearance and no binding. More next month!

Formula TKM News

6554 TKM strip advertWell Spring has sprung and with it comes the excitement and expectation of forthcoming events – and for some that means digging the kart out of the garage or shed and getting it ready to race.

So that means time to ensure that your kart not only looks clean and tidy, but is in good mechanical condition to perform at its best. Let’s face it no-one should turn up at a race meeting with a kart that isn’t in tip top condition – but some do!

But before we get into that let’s start by bringing you up to speed on a minor tweak to the regulations which has become effective as of the beginning of April.

It concerns the use of small round axle collars which are used by many to ensure that the rear axle is very firmly locked in position and cannot slide laterally under hard cornering if the bearing grub lock screws work loose. They were brought in many years ago simply to help reliability but were controlled in width to prevent some bright spark using them as axle stiffeners.

That width was set at a maximum of 16mm which was fine with the then 30mm axles, but with many now using larger diameter axles, collars are not available in that size and have to be specially turned down. So a quick tweak of the regs effective April 1 allowing that width to increase to 21mm max – a size easily available. Hey presto reduction in costs!

Secondly let’s just flag up the situation concerning the CIK approved rear bumpers – known correctly as rear protection systems. These are made of a plastic type material with a flat rear edge intended to stop karts climbing over the rear wheels and potentially flipping.

Now remember that in the UK we have been using an alternative UK only rear bumper for umpteen years – a bumper specifically designed to prevent just such accidents. And I’d be the first to say that they have done a pretty good job in preventing accidents of this nature.

Formula TKM took the decision a couple of years back to ban rear protection systems from the class on the basis that the specification was not truly assured, that they would add cost, create a nice flat bumper for drivers behind to push, and probably lead to problems in the wet because of the special bumper dispensation from the MSA. And it is questionable if they are any safer anyway.

So all in all it was decided to keep them on a slow burner for a year or two. So the question is have we now had them simmering for long enough – or do we want to make the switch to make them optional in 2012?

Interestingly I note from the first S1 event of the year with the top classes like KF3 running, there was barely a new style RPS to be seen. So given that they are still in the minority, may cause problems and will probably cost more what should we do? That’s the question of the month and your thoughts, comments and answers please to ideas@formulatkmdriversclub.com

OK so back to Spring clean time…in my view karters fall into two basic groups – those that race all year round and so pretty much always have the kart and engine ready to go. Then there are those fair weather people who only like to turn out when the weather is warmer and you don’t need thermals on all day to survive. I don’t blame the latter!

That fundamental difference tends to make quite a big difference when it comes to prepping your kart. The all year round drivers keep everything in use and frequently looked at. And they change routine items like brake pads as necessary.

The fair weather people leave their kart sitting for several months often untouched. And if that is in a damp place then there is every possibility of corrosion and general deterioration occurring.

Time to give it a good spring clean. The obvious place to start is the chassis itself. Give it a thorough clean with a suitable cleaner and rag – WD40 is very suitable for this. As you clean, study the chassis at every weld and curve for any signs of a stress fracture. If you find one then ship it off to a specialist to be repaired.

Check also very carefully for movement in the king-pins which could indicate worn bearings. Replace as necessary. Check the fit and spin of the rear axle and if you have quick release bearings whip it out for a proper clean of the axle and the area of chassis it fits to.

When you drop it back in ensure the axle is spinning free with no sign of being bent. Lube the bearings with light grease. Oh and make sure that the grub screws which keep it in place are tight and Loctited in position.

Change the fluid in the brake system to a high spec Dot 4 or 5 fluid and ensure there are no bubbles in the system by bleeding carefully from the nipples on the caliper. Check the pads are moving freely – and if well worn then put on a new set. Use some emery cloth or similar to take the glaze off the brake disc. It makes a big difference when you first use the brakes.

Finally check that the brakes are properly set up with the disc sitting in the middle of the caliper with minimal clearance and no binding. More next month!

Sidney Sprocket

Formula TKM: April, 2011 Formula TKM News

Written By: Grahame Butterworth

If you study the happenings of the karting and motorsport world over the past months there is a very clear pattern emerging which I’d suggest karting in particular needs to take careful note of if it is to have a strong future.

For example, Super One entries are down in just about every class, yet it seems that at many circuits race numbers are actually very strong and indeed especially in Junior TKM, actually higher than last year.

Numbers within the MSA top classes are all desperately struggling to the point where the premier class effectively died last year. At the presentations there was almost an apology for the classes. Oh but the MSA has just created another (foreign) class!

And we seem to have even more classes arriving on the scene with some strange logic behind their thinking. Yet what’s the biggest class within UK karting…well actually it is Club 100 using the TKM BT82 engine at the heart of our Formula TKM but in an arrive and drive format where everyone has the same.

Let’s add to that the steady and impressive growth of full size motor racing for kids from 14 years upwards, and the interesting fact that if you are racing seriously at the KF karting level then you can probably go motor racing for less.

Throw that into the mixer and what messages come out? Well I’d say in these tight economic times it is clear that a lot of people are having to go club racing rather than trek around the country to distant events at Super One level. In some ways that could be beneficial.

Karting at the top end KF classes has lost all sight of reality and is too expensive particularly looking at the return it gives. The failure and cost of this sector also comes down to the relatively recent growth of success in junior motor racing.

Then look at another factor – time and space. If like many you are busy, have limited parking and storage space, limited time but love racing then you can see why so many people choose the preference of Club 100 where you can just turn up and jump in a kart to race. No need to get your hands dirty or worry about cleaning up afterwards and the hassle of vans, trailers etc etc.

The new MSA Super Cadet class ignores UK suppliers to create another expensive multi engine class which will fragment what are already fragmented sectors of Junior karting before the drivers head to cars.

It could have been a really cost effective class with a UK (TKM) engine that fed into the next Junior class up at negligible money. But sadly it is a class with karts and engines that lead nowhere and only have a short lifetime of usage. In tight economic times what does that achieve?

Let’s be honest and accept the fact that over the past many years the only classes that have really flown are those deemed as commercial with a major manufacturer like TKM or Rotax backing, promoting and generating the class. If the class has the right basics then it flies.

Maybe let’s just add as a final point that kart racing seems to be awash with complicated regulations designed to trip up the innocent and all too often an attitude of treating drivers like nuisances rather than valued customers.

So taking into account the request from the MSA to try to set karting back on a more stable path what must we do?

* Accept the reality, which is that talented and well financed youngsters are always going to head for cars as soon as they can. Don’t winge. Be proud and provide better racing and opportunities for those who do choose to stay within karting.

* Revise the championships so that the national champs have more clout for those that want and can race at that level. Meanwhile we create some more regional series that encourage inter-club racing at a sensible level. This is something that I know TKM are very keen to help develop.

* Where commercial classes have strength at a circuit then fine. If they are weaker then mix them with something else similar to make best use of track time. Don’t just turn them away – it’s crazy.

* At club level just accept mixed grid racing with minimum regulations so that people can just race what they have lurking in the garage without over zealous regulations. It is just fun racing so make it easy.

* Encourage and help the value for money classes like TKM which provides the best value and competitive racing miles by a long way. Value for money is what so many people want and the TKM regulations are designed to keep everyone using the same equipment at sensible costs. What they don’t want are classes where engines cost a fortune to buy and run with new ‘special’ parts all the time. Or classes that need so much technical skill that you have to run with a team adding further to costs.

* Get rid of stupidly soft tyres in wet and dry format. TKM, with the latest Maxxis new age ‘green’ tyres, have shown that you can have both good grip and incredibly long life – and therefore sensible costs. At club level throwing away tyres after every race meeting is crazy from every perspective.

* Dramatically slim down the framework of karting bodies. Nothing ever gets done by a large committee. Let’s have the MSA show some bottle and guidance and forward thinking strength. A sensibly applied dictatorship gets things done. Look at what Alan Gow has done with touring cars or Bernie Ecclestone with F1.

* Think constructively about making it easier for people to get into karting. Let’s see clubs happy to include arrive and drive racing within their programmes. And let’s have a positive attitude to newcomers.

Now that is not an exhaustive list but it gives my personal Sprocket view on how things need to go to have a future. I really do think karting needs to be careful it doesn’t burn itself out.

Anyone agree or disagree?? Well it doesn’t matter whether for or against, the important thing is that you make your feelings heard at the highest levels of the MSA, ABkC etc.

Oh and Formula TKM maybe isn’t perfect but it goes a very long way in providing what so many karters want – simple fun, sensibly priced close racing.

Formula TKM: March, 2011 Formula TKM News

Written By: Grahame Butterworth

When I first got involved in karting a couple of decades ago I was utterly gobsmacked at the incredible hunger of the engines we were using then for new components, rebuilds, updates and a large bank account.

At my first race meeting I was parked next door to then young Daniel Wheldon – now an American superstar and winner of the Indy 500 race. He was in the Cadet class and I watched somewhat with amazement at the way his father rebuilt his carburettor after every single heat on the track!

Others nearby in the Britain and National classes were changing engines for each heat, while a steady stream of blown up or seized engines came back after every race it seemed. Coated pistons lasted 1.5 hours at most. Not ideal to say the least.

Then along came Formula TKM (or 100UK as it was originally known) which started a whole new trend within kart racing for engines that perform and just keep on performing without the need for constant rebuilds and repairs.

When I switched to that class suddenly my running costs dropped dramatically, though there was still some need to ‘tinker’ in order to keep things at full performance thanks to the slightly different characteristics of the Walbro carb in comparison to the old Tillotson.

Then Tal-Ko (makers of the TKM engines) started issuing detailed info on how to get your carb settings right and suddenly a whole new dawn of karting had taken place. Low cost, easy and of course tremendously close racing.

Since then Tal-Ko have done a great job in maintaining the heart of the class and the equality of engines while at the same time continuously improving the inherent strength of the engines.

In the early days we were using 15,000 as an absolute maximum rev limit and very happy. But these days some people are regularly looking to use 16,000 and even more as a matter of course. Whether that gains anything is a different subject, but obviously it puts a strain on everything yet amazingly the engines stand up to it with remarkable ability.

However in the constant quest for making the TKM BT82 engine bullet proof there is another minor update due to happen very shortly. Currently the little end bearings have an aluminium and steel thrust washer on either side of the con-rod, However where engines are being repeatedly over-revved it is not unknown for the ally washer to wear and break-up which creates the need for a rebuild.

What is happening now is that the pair of washers on either side are being replaced by one thicker special steel washer on either side. These new washers should be available direct from Tal-Ko by the time you read this and of course are a direct replacement for any age and type of BT82 engine.

Once available they will become the standard item to be used on new engines and on any engine being rebuilt at the factory. So that makes the BT82 even stronger!

Now talking of rebuilds let’s just follow on with a few indicators here which might cause some people to have a re-think at a time when costs for just about everything in and outside the world of racing are under big pressure.

‘When should I get my engine rebuilt?’ That is probably the most common question that comes from competitors whether they are beginners or very experienced and it is a very valid question with not a simple answer.

Let us remember that Club 100 who operate the UK’s largest arrive ‘n drive race series send their TKM Extreme engines back to Tal-Ko for a rebuild when they have done about 50 hours of hard racing. They are entirely standard Extreme 115cc engines running to a maximum rev limit of around 14,500rpm. That kind of shows just how good these engines are!

Of course engine builders are keen for you to have your engine rebuilt as often as possible – it is after all money in their pocket. But there needs to be a happy balance and some of that balance depends on just how much you are over-revving the engines bearing in mind the recommended factory figure of 15,500rpm as a maximum.

So if you want an honest and practical suggestion on rebuild times then there’s no better person to listen to than the man who designed the engine and still builds them – TKM boss Alan Turney.

He suggests for engines running at the very top level in Super 1 national championships around 6-7 hours between a rebuild. That is taking into account they will probably be over revved at some stage but most importantly will be producing near lap record times for most of those 6-7 hours.

At club level if you aiming to be at the very top then 12-14 hours is very realistic. And for general club racing then 20 hours or maybe a little more is perfectly reasonable. And just to add to that some years ago my own son took a club championship title with more than 25 hours on an engine.

If you are using an engine just for fun driving then if you keep your revs to a maximum of around 14,000rpm similar to Club 100 then you really can get an incredible life from your engine. Just ensure you keep the carb setting on the rich side and always use correct grade of oil in the petrol at the recommend ratio.

However there is one important factor to bear in mind though…the standard of your rebuild. If you have a professionally rebuilt engine it should be good as new in terms of bearings, pistons, etc etc. And you can always be sure that you have had this done when the rebuilder gives you a bag of bits back with your engine.

That bag of old bits should be your re-assurance that you have had all those components changed. And I’d personally suggest that when you take an engine for a rebuild you insist on that bag of bits. If you are not given one then do you have total certainty that everything has been changed?

Dare I say it, but when some people get an engine back from a rebuild actually it has not had all the components changed, or maybe it has not all been corrected to as new condition. If your engine doesn’t perform right or blows up after not a great deal of running then you really do need to review your engine rebuilder.

Get it rebuilt right and it will run with great reliability and over a long period of time. Get it done badly then it might go bang. Beware!