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TKM Insight – illegal engines

By Grahame Butterworth

Tal-Ko have found the source of an illegal engine modification having uncovered a batch of illegal engines. Grahame Butterworth explains.

An engine builder has openly confessed to me building illegally modified TKM engines. Yet ironically he claims to have done nothing wrong because he was just satisfying a demand from customers! What cheek. The confession came after three intense weeks of investigation by us at Tal-Ko to get to the bottom of a sudden discovery of illegally modified engines first found at the TKM Festival and then at the next S1 round.

Tal-Ko discovered a couple of engines with illegally modified pistons. Then as Tal-Ko boss Alan Turney dug deeper, what emerged is the work of one engine builder illegally modifying the cylinder liner in the barrel. But swift and decisive action by us and MSA eligibility scrutineers has seen a number of engines taken out of use.

The good news is that no more dodgy illegal pistons have been found and with full details being sent to every driver and every scrutineer we are confident that the lid has been firmly placed on that one. In looking at more engines and using new equipment, Tal-Ko discovered another totally illegal tweak had been going on. This time it involves deliberate modifying of the exhaust port and in some instances even the illegal removal of the cylinder liner to carry out this cheat. The rules make it totally clear that you’re not allowed to machine or alter the ports and other components in any way. What has been done is an illegal modification, and a new complete barrel is the only rectification which will cost many hundreds of pounds for each engine. Ironically these illegal engines weren’t very quick anyway.

The sad fact is that a number of probably innocent drivers/parents have found themselves in for a nasty shock when they brought their engines for a check on the piston. The piston was OK but what most certainly were not right were the illegal barrels. Several owners were devastated to find engines they had been told were perfectly legal are in fact illegally modified. And a number of engines with the agreement of the owners were sealed and taken to Tal-Ko for forensic type checking and advice on what needs to be done to make them legal. At this stage it would be wrong to go into too much detail about the source of the work, other than to say the person responsible has admitted the work. His account with Tal-Ko has been suspended. What action owners take will be down to them. Some want compensation, but that is not an area we can go into here. What we can do is set everyone’s mind at rest. What has been done to these engines is a cheat. Nothing more or less! And it is a cheat that will not be taken lightly with a great deal of investigation going on to unearth all those involved.

Says Tal-Ko’s Alan Turney: “We are absolutely resolute in stamping out this trend. This is not a class where engines can be fine-tuned to blueprint dimensions. The BT82 engine is already manufactured to fine tolerances ensuring very close performance so you race what you buy. While there are one or two minor areas in which you can modify certain specific items, there is no doubt over the rest. This is out and out cheating and I am pleased at the very positive feedback we have received from drivers and engine builders who use totally legal equipment. Everyone is looking to find that last fraction. But this is not trying to find an advantage – it is pure cheating. We are confident it only affects quite a small number of engines. For the good of every competitor we want to make sure we keep it that way and get rid of those illegal units.”

Have you been offered an illegal tweak? Please email us at alan. turney@tal-ko.com to let us know your story. Discretion assured.!

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TKM Festival

9th & 10th of August, 2014

Hurricane Bertha was the big news at the 17th running of the Maxxis TKM Festival, almost stopping the event but British grit and sturdy brooms kept the water away. Mostly.

Juniors

Lewis Taylor should have been on pole by but was underweight and sent to the back. Bradley White, Ryan Edwards, Alex Forward, Dino Lee and Chris Whitton were all up front – the latter only just into the class. The six dry heats were great races with White, Forward, Lee and Whitton always battling and each taking a win. The Elite Pre-final in very wet conditions saw Alex Forward take a secure victory from a chasing Bradley White. Whitton struggled in the wet to finish 8th.

Come the final Forward pulled a clear lead while those behind battled, but then tripped over a backmarker leaving the door open for Lee. He made no mistakes heading to the flag. Arran Mills came through to 2nd, while Bradley White was excluded for being underweight and lost third spot to Saul Robinson who had passed 23 karts on his way through the field. In the Festival Final pole man Sam Fowler got taken out leaving Joe Taylor to take victory from Harrison Smith. But with Smith excluded for an illegal engine it was Lewis Wadley who took 2nd from Neil Burgess – who also got the novice award.

Senior Extreme

Joe Porter, having not raced for a year, was back to see if he could make it three wins at the Festival. He was second fastest to Arran Maile in quali. TKM scholarship winner Matt England failed to make the track after a mechanical problem. Porter took three heat wins. Vercoe had a win taken away for overtaking over the white lines, with James Ogden, Jack Partridge and Joe Stockford taking the other wins. England drove superbly from the back in each heat getting as high as 7th. The very wet Elite Pre final saw Porter take the win. Paul Monks was second with Zach Jones up 10 places to 3rd.

The final was a cracker. Porter on pole managed to drown himself and kart in a pool just off track; out before the start. England’s chain guard came adrift; also out. The track was dry apart from two splashes.

James Ogden took the lead and powered ahead running on wet tyres ahead of Kyle Sproat also on wets. Josh Waring took the gamble on slicks. Delayed by a spinner, Waring was on a charge and took Sproat for 2nd before giving it everything to catch Ogden. Catching a second a lap he was right on his bumper at the finish and just one more corner would have given him victory. As it was a well judged win to Ogden ahead of Waring. For his brave drive Waring also got the Bernie Turney Memorial Trophy for an outstanding performance.

In Festival, Joe Forsdyke and Daniel Baybutt were both up front after disastrous heats. When Baybutt spun out of the lead in the pre final, Forsdyke was effectively gifted the final and had an easy win from Brendan Speight and Joe Barrow – the latter up 20 places.

Clubman

Jade Sheppard made it all look easy with pole position and then two good heat wins followed by a second. But in the monsoon like pre final she got taken out on the first lap leaving Tom Longfield to win.

In the final Longfield make the best of his pole position to take the win chased by a recovering Jack Macauley and Ricky Johnson. Jade recovered to finish 8th.

Results

 

 

 

Junior Festival

1 Joe Taylor Tony

2 Lewis Wadley Tal-Ko

3 Daniel Burgess Jade

Junior Elite

1 Dino Lee Tony

2 Arran Mills Jade

3 Saul Robinson MS

Extreme Festival

1 Joe Forsdyke Tal-Ko

2 Brendan Speight Jade

3 Joe Barrow Tony

Extreme Elite

1 James Ogden Tony

2 Josh Waring Tal-Ko

3 Kyle Sproat Tony

Clubman

1 Tom Longfield Jade

2 Jack Macauley Intrepid

3 Ricky Johnson ARC

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TKM Insight

stock-tkmTal-Ko have found the source of an illegal engine modification having uncovered a batch of illegal engines. Grahame Butterworth explains.

An engine builder has openly confessed to me building illegally modified TKM engines. Yet ironically he claims to have done nothing wrong because he was just satisfying a demand from customers! What cheek. The confession came after three intense weeks of investigation by us at Tal-Ko to get to the bottom of a sudden discovery of illegally modified engines first found at the TKM Festival and then at the next S1 round.

Tal-Ko discovered a couple of engines with illegally modified pistons. Then as Tal-Ko boss Alan Turney dug deeper, what emerged is the work of one engine builder illegally modifying the cylinder liner in the barrel. But swift and decisive action by us and MSA eligibility scrutineers has seen a number of engines taken out of use.

The good news is that no more dodgy illegal pistons have been found and with full details being sent to every driver and every scrutineer we are confident that the lid has been firmly placed on that one. In looking at more engines and using new equipment, Tal-Ko discovered another totally illegal tweak had been going on. This time it involves deliberate modifying of the exhaust port and in some instances even the illegal removal of the cylinder liner to carry out this cheat. The rules make it totally clear that you’re not allowed to machine or alter the ports and other components in any way. What has been done is an illegal modification, and a new complete barrel is the only rectification which will cost many hundreds of pounds for each engine. Ironically these illegal engines weren’t very quick anyway. The sad fact is that a number of probably innocent drivers/parents have found themselves in for a nasty shock when they brought their engines for a check on the piston. The piston was OK but what most certainly were not right were the illegal barrels. Several owners were devastated to find engines they had been told were perfectly legal are in fact illegally modified. And a number of engines with the agreement of the owners were sealed and taken to Tal-Ko for forensic type checking and advice on what needs to be done to make them legal. At this stage it would be wrong to go into too much detail about the source of the work, other than to say the person responsible has admitted the work. His account with Tal-Ko has been suspended. What action owners take will be down to them. Some want compensation, but that is not an area we can go into here. What we can do is set everyone’s mind at rest. What has been done to these engines is a cheat. Nothing more or less! And it is a cheat that will not be taken lightly with a great deal of investigation going on to unearth all those involved.

Says Tal-Ko’s Alan Turney: “We are absolutely resolute in stamping out this trend. This is not a class where engines can be fine-tuned to blueprint dimensions. The BT82 engine is already manufactured to fine tolerances ensuring very close performance so you race what you buy. While there are one or two minor areas in which you can modify certain specific items, there is no doubt over the rest. This is out and out cheating and I am pleased at the very positive feedback we have received from drivers and engine builders who use totally legal equipment. Everyone is looking to find that last fraction. But this is not trying to find an advantage – it is pure cheating. We are confident it only affects quite a small number of engines. For the good of every competitor we want to make sure we keep it that way and get rid of those illegal units.”

Have you been offered an illegal tweak? Please email us at alan. turney@tal-ko.com to let us know your story. Discretion assured.!

Categories
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TKM Insight – Illegally modified engines

stock-tkmTal-Ko have foiled an engine builder’s plan to sneak in. Grahame Butterworth tells the story.

If there’s one thing we pride ourselves on, it’s close attention to regulations and ensuring that as far as possible everyone is racing on a level playing field. It’s the only way that is fair.

And 99 per cent of the time the system works well, catching nothing more sinister than the occasional accidental under-weight or perhaps gummed up piston ring.

But very recently we have had two pistons come into our possession which show clear signs of being modified. One to the crown and the other to the skirt. In both cases modifications to gain an advantage on port timing.

These were true cheats. Even the piston size had been re-stamped to make it look OK. But actually it was not very well done and soon picked up by ourselves. We are on the trail of the culprits and will not hesitate to apply full litigation against them.

The class regulations and fiche make it very clear that the piston must be neither modified or machined. There is no grey area here and no excuse for doing anything to a piston other than removing carbon without damaging or modifying the surface. What has been done to these pistons is simply cheating – and that is something we will not tolerate.

So over the past week or two we have issued drawings which set out very clearly the way to identify the cheat pistons. And we have had the Scrutineers at all TKM events throughout the country to carry out careful checks on pistons so we can ensure a rapid closure to the potential problem. And of course a special effort at the TKM Festival at Kimbolton.

The check method which anyone can use is:

Remove the four nuts and two cap head bolts holding on the cylinder head which should then be removed.

Next lift off the cylinder barrel carefully holding the con-rod and piston steady to avoid damage to the piston assembly.

With the piston now fully exposed, wipe the top of the piston with a rag to remove any oil mixture.

First look at the top surface (piston crown) of the piston close to the edge next to the top ring. It should go from a shallow approx 10 degree angle into a small 45 degree bevel on the edge. If it is square edged then the crown has been machined making it illegal.

Run your finger (or straight edge) over the edge of the piston to the top piston ring. If the ring is level with or above the edge of the piston crown, it is illegal.

If the top ring is below the top of the piston crown edge then check the thickness of the top piston ring. It should be 2mm on 100cc Junior and 2.2mm on the bigger 115cc Extreme pistons. If it is thinner, then it has been modified and is illegal.

As a final test if you have a new piston then simply insert a gudgeon between the two and place on a flat surface. Both pistons should have the same height at top and bottom – though bear in mind the carbon on the top of the piston might make it seem slightly higher.

So if you think you might have an illegal engine then contact us now on info@tal-ko.com. We will keep your identity secure.

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TKM Insight – Clutch, TAG or direct drive?

Clutch, TAG or direct drive – which way to go? Grahame Butterworth explains the pros and cons

It used to be very simple in karting because there was no choice: direct drive or nothing. But these days there are three choices in TKM open to every driver. So which way to go…?

No other class offers you such a varied choice. The die-hards will tell you that direct drive is the only sensible option and that it is still the quickest. What is certain is that direct drive is cheapest, lightest and simplest. Less to buy and service and less to go wrong. But at the same time it is also the hardest work in terms of getting the kart going.

If you are a Junior then you need a strong pusher. And if you spin in a race then you’ll need to have a good pusher nearby to get you going.

If you are a Senior then you can have help to get started from the grid but thereafter you are on your own if you spin. It is not easy getting re-started especially when you have been racing hard.

The weight factor only really comes into play if you are having a problem getting down to the minimum weight for the class. Excess weight does have a disadvantage especially when you are a highly experienced driver looking for the last tenth of a second, but for someone less experienced then less so.

A clutch option engine allows you to use a clutch with an outboard electric starter. As such it only adds about 1kg to the weight of the kart. And you can even swap the clutch for a direct drive sprocket in a matter of minutes.

It is so much easier to use than direct drive. If set up correctly then the engine will start easily and will tick over without problem even in an accident or simple spin. You can get moving again immediately.

The latest V-type clutches have a very good life and the chain sprocket is bolted to the clutch drum so keeps costs down compared to the old type Horstman clutch where sprocket and drum are made in one part.

Yes it costs more – about £100 + VAT more with clutch option engine and another £245 + VAT for the remote starter. Performance – some will tell you it must be slower and that the drive out of corners is not the same. They are normally the people who have never driven one!

Downsides? If you spin and the engine stalls, then you are up a gum tree unless someone has a starter nearby. And you still need someone to hold the starter for you on the grid.

The TAG engine (touch and go) solves it all. Start and stop buttons that allows you to start the engine just like a car. A strong V clutch that needs little attention. and of course a kart that can be started and stopped from the driving seat.

My advice? For Juniors stepping into the class then a TAG or at least clutch engine is certainly the easiest in every way and will give them greater confidence when they suddenly have loads more power under their right foot after Cadets.

For Seniors, even if weight is an issue then I would always go the simple clutch route because it is so much easier and loads quicker getting back into the racing in the case of a spin.

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TKM Insight – MSA karting decline

MSA karting is on the decline. TKM is bucking the trend thanks to careful control but it wants the MSA and others to think afresh for the future good of the sport.

You can make statistics do anything with manipulation and as a result they can be used to prove whatever you want. But sometimes you can’t ignore the truth. Everyone in karting should pay full attention to the way the numbers are going because if not the ‘sport’ as many see it could be in for a tricky time. MSA kart racing licences are dropping and have done so for quite a few years which some would say shows that karting in general is on the decline. Actually what it shows is that MSA controlled kart racing is losing numbers because drivers are going elsewhere. More and more circuits are moving away from MSA race meetings yet retaining healthy numbers of drivers for their own club events.

These are not necessarily attracting top stars of the future but they are retaining the strength of the sport for drivers who want to race once or twice a month. At Tal-Ko we see more and more business at non MSA circuits. Indeed the biggest race series in the country for us is not S1 but Club 100 which uses the TKM BT82 engine in non MSA arrive and drive karts. Their membership is massive. Their events are excellent. So why the move away from the MSA events? Well there are I suggest two key reasons. It reduces red tape and it lowers costs. I am not knocking the MSA, it does a good job in many respects. But – and a very big but – it costs each and every one of us a small fortune. Apart from licence fees, every entry gives money to the MSA. Every championship pays a small fortune to the MSA. More and more class technical stuff is being controlled by the MSA putting large costs onto manufacturers which of course ultimately costs the driver. But do we need it all?

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F1 needs a wealth of expertise and equipment and knowledge which costs a fortune. Do we need this for local club karting? The answer is clearly ‘no’. The CIK created new classes which have been a catastrophic failure.The top UK MSA championship had to be canned because of so few entries. So we have unrealistic classes and more and more costs loaded on to those who are racing. It has got to stop. The vast majority of karters want good value racing at nearby clubs. They don’t have a fortune to spend but they do like their racing and they do value maximum racing for their money. That’s where Formula TKM came in 20 + years ago when karting was destroying itself with silly classes with unlimited tuning.

TKM and Cadets and Rotax have shown that restricted tuning is the way to go. While supposed top classes are dying it is good to see that on a wide basis TKM is back on a growth spurt. I have just come back from the first round of the Northern club champs for TKM at Hooton Park circuit where last year TKM was scarce. And from very little last year, we end up there with TKM Extreme making up the largest grid of the event and the start of an excellent championship for Juniors and Seniors. Now this is a localised series we have created to encourage the grass roots of karting at club level. But guess what we get a whopping bill from the MSA for doing so. And remember they get a cut for every driver who races at each event. Can someone tell me what good that is doing the sport and how it can be fair? We need solid grass roots racing, we need simplified club events without all the complication of appeals etc and we need to get the whole of karting on the same route. By all means have a flash race series like S1 for the national events. That is good. But we need to stop bleeding the heart of the sport and give support rather than raking off money.

What do you think?

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TKM Insight – Wet weather

Water, water everywhere, and that can spell trouble if you don’t do some careful housekeeping.

When you think about it, race kart engines have to live through a tortuous life going from stone cold to flat out in the space of a few seconds. Then add in the terrible wet weather we have been having recently and it only adds to the torture of both engine and chassis.

Actually the BT82 does very well at surviving the rapid changes of temperature it has to endure as endorsed by the many club drivers who are often well past 20 hours between rebuilds. In the wet there can be a silent hidden killer. What happens is that if there is moisture left in the engine when you put your equipment away then it can start rust. If it is in a bearing then its life will be rapidly reduced, or if say in the crankshaft or con-rod then that could mean an expensive replacement or an engine-wrecking blow up.

During the summer when temperatures are higher then moisture will dry off fairly quickly, but in wintry conditions it will last longer and therefore potentially create the greatest threat. So how do we avoid this silent killer? Well of course prevention is better than cure so the first steps are aimed at making sure the engine inhales a minimum amount of water. Key to this is use of the TKM wet box cover which very simply fits on to the air box giving sufficient space to choke the engine but at the same time preventing water spraying directly into the inlet holes. At around £28 it is a very effective device and can be used at any time when wet tyres can be used. The cover will stop a large percentage of water being sucked up, but thanks to the fact that the engine is sucking like a Dyson at 15,000 rpm, it is inevitable that some moisture will get through and be caught in the filter attached to the carburettor. So after each outing on the track in wet weather I’d advise taking off the airbox and checking the filter. If it is damp then use an airline to blow out the water – but make sure you blow it from the inside to outwards rather than the other way which could encourage grit and dirt to get through. Ideally I would always suggest having a spare filter so you can use them alternately and ensure they are nice and dry. Remember if they are wet they will upset the flow of air and effectively make the fuel/air ratio richer.

So that’s the prevention side but what of afterwards? Well we all want to go home from a wet race meeting and simply dry out. Your BT82 is no different – except in a different way. We like a nice warm shower, your engine likes a nice shower of normal fuel/oil mix. Just pour some in through the plug hole, swill it around in the engine and then tip the engine upside down to drain. It will make sure that all the surfaces are well coated and protected from the risk of rust. Very simple, very cheap it works.

For the kart there are two main areas you should look at. Dry and clean the chassis using lots of WD40 and a cloth. Then put an airline on all bearings in the axle, steering etc and then lubricate them with suitable lubes – grease or oil on the axle and WD40 on the steering joints. Then check the brakes. Water plays havoc with the brake system and if the brake pads feel stiff to move they will lose you straight-line speed through binding, and they will not slow you as well. Undo the bleed nipple, pump out the fluid. Fresh Dot 4 fluid and bleeding the system will cure the problem. If they’re still stiff, you’ll need to replace the seals; a simple job but must be done in a seriously clean environment.

Moving on: we have just issued a clarification on regulations concerning TAG engines and exhausts on all engines. Full details are at www.tal-ko.com. In brief the TAG clarification confirms that at all times the engine must be capable of being started on the button and therefore have the full system in place. On exhausts – don’t try and grind them down to reduce weight or change characteristics!