Times are hard and money is tight pretty much everywhere, but quite rightly people still want to have their fun. Formula TKM karting is full of people like that so this month let’s look at ways you can save money on your karting and keep the bank manager happy.
Let’s first of all look at engine servicing and rebuilds. The short answer here is don’t just ignore servicing to save money because it will probably cost you a lot more in the long run. A blown up engine can be very expensive. But there are ways you can bring down your servicing bills.
For example if you are doing club events and keeping the maximum revs sensible then you can very easily let your BT82 2-stroke engine run to 20 hours with no problems. Years ago I recall my son winning a club series with no rebuild all year and the engine up to 25 hours.
The important point is to make sure the engine is running fairly rich through the rev range and to keep the maximum revs down to say 15,500rpm. Bear in mind that the Club 100 operation which uses the engines for high performance rental use takes them up to around 60 hours between rebuilds just by keeping the revs down to 14,500rpm or so.
That doesn’t mean you will be slow. Use a slightly longer exhaust joint to maximise power in the lower to middle ranges. You might even go quicker because high revs do not necessarily mean high speed.
On the subject of rebuilds do shop around for prices. Some charge too much for what should be a straight re-build. And remember that a full factory rebuild at Tal-Ko is at a very sensible rate starting at £235 + vat for a direct drive engine.
On the TKM 4-stroke engine, it just goes on and on which seems like forever at 60+ hrs without needing to be touched – so long as you change the oil every time and occasionally service the clutch. Real low cost racing.
Give sensible thought to how you use your engine and your track time. So for example if you have two engines then my advice would be to pick the one that is your favourite and keep that for racing. Use the other one for all your testing etc. That way you can afford to run that test engine a little richer and maintain its life to the maximum.
And on the subject of testing…ask yourself the question are you seriously testing set up, lines, etc or are you just getting some track time the day before a race meeting to hone your skills and have some fun?
To be honest a lot of people fall into the latter category and good luck to them. This is after all meant to be a sport to give enjoyment. So if that is the case then be sensible on your pocket and use older tyres, engine etc for the testing and the best stuff just for racing.
Talking of tyres let’s just look a little further into that area. It is a simple fact with any tyres for any form of racing that the newer and fresher they are the softer and therefore faster they will be. That is not to say that you cannot get many hours use out of tyres but simply to state a basic fact.
So use the principle that (wheels permitting) you use older tyres for testing and the best ones for racing. With the new slicks we have for this year in 2-stroke you’ll want to gain experience with them but if you are just having some testing fun then use your old tyres.
As far as wets go then ideally you want some older wets to use for drying or damp conditions and save the best for racing in deeper water. And don’t forget that the slick tyres will work surprisingly well in just damp conditions. It is only when standing water is present that wets really come into their own.
And whether wet or dry tyres don’t overdo the pressure. Too high a pressure and the tyres get too hot and lose grip – and they also will harden up the rubber for the future.
Oh and a final tip on tyres. Get friendly with people doing the S1 series. They will frequently sell off used tyres in superb condition at nominal cost which are ideal for club use.
Chains – buy the best quality chains because they last longer. They need to be washed thoroughly after each event and then thoroughly lubricated every time out. Beware using chains past their best because if they break it will mean the crank needs true-ing up.
The carbs will go for ages without any problem. Don’t just put new innards in them for the sake of it. Replace the diaphragms etc when you can detect on a tester or in use that they really are worn out.
Bent bodywork or bars? If it is bodywork then try soaking it in a bath of hot water to let it get nice and supple and then try to straighten out the damage. It does work – and if you get in the bath too then you really are making a double saving. Mind you a duck is more fun! Minor bends in bars can be sorted with careful effort but make sure you are not leaving the bar weakened or broken.
Buy sensibly. That means buying sundry items like nuts and washers from somewhere like Screwfix where they cost next to nothing in bulk. Buy your specialist needs at the track and do your best to avoid the extra burden of delivery costs that come with orders bought over the internet.
If you need tools then don’t just rush to Halfords or Snap-On. Look on ebay or on stands at exhibitions and you’ll find tools at a fraction of the cost that do a very adequate job.
And if you are travelling away to events and using a hotel then remember that hotels are struggling at the moment and offering all sorts of discounts to people making early bookings. Remember too that if you go for a dinner bed and breakfast rate then it will always be better value than paying for B&B and then ordering dinner extra.
Finally, if you need new crash helmet or race gear then look around for the best deals. Plain coloured helmets are always cheaper than the fancy coloured ones but are in fact the same product. Have fun!