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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!