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 email@example.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!