Sunday, April 3, 2016

AHRMA Roebling Road 2016

As the first race of my 2016 racing season approached, I was hoping to race my 350 H-D Sprint ERTT and my 1946 Moto Guzzi Dondolino, but both were in doubt.  I had dropper the ERTT motor off with Bill Himmelsbach on my return from my last race of 2015 to see if he could determine the reason for all my missed shifts and a mysterious cutting out (more than a misfire) on the Daytona oval, but not on the infield.  And, inevitably, there were delays and I was starting to wonder if Bill would finish it in time to make the 27-28 Feb. Roebling Road meeting.  So, I finally got off my duff and started putting together the Dondolino, after it had been apart since October, 2014.  Ken Rosevear had made me a new crankshaft assembly, and that had been delayed by the flimsy excuse of his triple bypass heart surgery.  And the assembly was slow going in part just locating parts that had been moved around for a year and a half.  In the end, parts arrived and Bill finished the Sprint motor a week before I planned to leave for Ga.  Bill met me part way on I-78 in N.J., and we transfer the motor from his van to mine.  The next day was unseasonably warm and I was able to install it working outdoors.
  But, as usual, things took longer than plan and I ran out of time to finish the Dondolino.
Aleksey Kravchuk of Works Manufacturing and his 350 Honda came with me.  We left Brooklyn around 8p and drove through some intense rain and stopped for the night in south Jersey, just short of the Delaware Memorial Bridge.  Thursday's ride was smooth and we got to the track in the evening and did a partial unload to grab some turf, then drove into Savannah to have dinner and spend the night with a good friend.  

When we got to the track the next morning, the temperature was right around freezing, but sunny, and there was a pretty stiff wind from the west.  I didn't intend to go out for Fri. practice, but I did start my bike and throughly warm it up and all seemed good there.  Aleksey had a very successful day, completing every practice session on his Honda and as a passenger on Brian Carroll's BMW sidecar.  Everything worked well and he didn't lift a wrench all day.  This was in stark contrast to last year when he struggled with oil leaks on the Fri., then the motor died the next morning, with me in the saddle, because of the top end being starved for oil.

Sat. morning, it was again around freezing when we got to the track, and practice was postponed a half hour to let things warm up a bit.  I went out in group two practice and, on the second lap the motor started mis-firing and died completely a little ways into the third lap.  I found my battery was at 5.5 volts (the bike has a 6V, total loss, points ignition) and I put it on charge.  I couldn't find anything else wrong, so re-installed the battery, now reading 6.5V, though the smart charger hadn't yet gone to green.  In the second practice the bike ran well and after I got in, I put the battery back on charge until it did 'go green'.
My first race was my bump-up race, the 500 Premiere and I was gridded on the front row with the only other entry in the class, Tim Joyce, probably the fastest classic racer in the Americas, on Maurice Candy's 500 Manx Norton, probably the fastest 500 Premiere bike in the Americas. 

On the grid with Tim Joyce on Maurice Candy's 500 Manx Norton.  Terry Dremel photo
Behind us were the 500GP,and Formula 500 classes in the first wave and the 500 Sportsman and Vintage Superbike Lightweight classes in the second wave.  Tim shot into the lead, but immediately Buff Harsh, on his Todd Henning Racing  F-500 CB 350 Honda based machine, came by me and kept Tim honest.  At about turn #5, Mark Morrow, on his RD 400 Yamaha F-500 bike, stuck a wheel in on me, but didn't make the pass.  I expected Mark back any second, but didn't see him again.  Apparently he had seized in practice and did a frantic top end swap with used cylinders, but failed to tighten one of the carbs and it was falling off.  So, that's how we finished: Tim, Buff, then me, second of two in class and third overall.  Brad Phillips, on his 500 BMW Sportsman bike was closing from the second wave and finished about 11 seconds behind me with a fastest lap that was almost 0.7 seconds faster than mine. I was happy enough with this result and didn't do anything to the bike before my primary race, the 350GP.
I started my bike for the 350GP race, but there was quite a delay.  After several minutes of blipping the throttle, the motor died.  Someone helped me push it a couple of times, but it didn't start.  I put it on some rollers as the field was gridding up after completing their warm-up lap, but the motor still wouldn't start after several tries.  I ran and got a new sparkplug after the field had left and Dave Hollingsworthworth installed it.  The bike started right up, and I joined the race as the half way flag was out.  I got half way down the straight and the motor died again.  
After I got a ride back to the paddock from the pick up crew., I checked the battery and it was 5.5 V.  I fiddled around and checked for spark, then checked the battery again and it was 3.5V.  My battery was bad.  I borrowed a battery from Pete Talabach, and the bike started right up.  No guarantee, but that was looking like my problem.
Terry Dremel photo
Sunday morning it was even a little colder and again they delayed practice a half hour.  When I got out,
the motor ran well and I did 6 or 7 laps.  After I took the checkered flag for the end of the session, near the end of the straight, the bike lost power and almost seemed like it was seizing.  I backed out of the throttle and the motor seemed free, so I putter back to the pits.   My tach had stopped working in the session and I found that my sorry mechanic (me) had failed to tighten the bolts on the points cover, which holds the tach drive.  And, the ground lead on the battery that I borrowed was loose and fell off when I went to disconnect it.  I thought one or both of these might explain the loss of power, though I was clearly grasping at straws.  The spark plug looked lean, so I went one bigger main jet size.
In the second practice, it immediately lost power when I gave it full throttle, so I came right back into the pits.  It still looked lean, so I went up another main jet size.  I checked the fuel flow, the fuel tank vent, and took the float chamber apart.  I changed the ignition coil with a new one.  One theory was that inadequate oil  was coming out of the big end onto the cylinder  causing the piston to over heat and start to tighten up, but when I backed out of the throttle and reduced the load, it cooled and freed up.  That's a bit farfetched, but I took off the oil line feeding the crank and spun the rear wheel in gear, and the oil seemed to pump normally.
Al Hollingsworth ponders.  Terry Dremel photo
I did a 'scrub lap' on the warmup lap of  an early race, and it was the same thing; the engine would slow with full throttle.  I decided to go up another jet size and start the 500 race to try to analyze it further, but if I thought that I was hurting the motor, I'd pull off.
I took off gently and was immediately swamped by a gaggle of bikes.  By the time I got to turn #3, the red flag was out.  Someone had been clipped and knocked down at the start and Aleksey had nowhere to go and hit the fallen rider and then gone down himself.  Aleksey was a bit beat up, but OK.  The guy he hit was taken away in the ambulance.  But, Aleksey's bike was trashed enough that he couldn't  race it anymore 
We restarted and I realized the motor ran fine if I kept it to 1/3-1/2 throttle.  It would rev fine and I decided that I wasn't hurting it, so I stayed out and once again finished 2nd (of two) in class, but
this time 14th overall, not 3rd, with a fastest lap almost 8 seconds slower than Sat.
For the 350 race, I went up two more jet sizes .  At the start, John Stephens came past me, but then missed the 1st to 2nd shift, so I was just about able to stay with him.  
Chasing John Stephens.  Terry Dremel photo
I was able to get by him in the twisty bits and then just about draft him down the straight.  My bike did seem to be running a bit better and John and I started to close on the group in front of us.  Then Ake Smith came by on his 350 Sportsmam bike from the 2nd wave and I had another bike to draft and the three of us closed more on the two in front of us.  
Ake Smith joins John and me.  Terry Dremel photo
Unfortunately, the race was reduced to 5 laps, and we didn't quite catch them, but 3rd through 7th finished within a half sec., 0.478".  Ake, John, and I had a faster lap than those in front of us except the winner, Jack Parker.  So, it was a fun race, but a bit frustrating and I'm left wondering what's the problem.  Erik Green came up with the theory that some debris gotten by the main jet, but not the needle jet, and this would effect mixture mostly when the needle was fully out of the jet. I took the carb totally part when I got home and found no debris any where, but it almost seemed that the problem passed right at the end of the last race.  My fastest lap in Sunday's 350 race was more than 8 seconds faster than Sunday's 500 race, though still almost 2 seconds slower than Saturday's 500 race despite having good bikes to draft and feeling like I was riding harder.  We may not know until the next event.
The 500 Manx Norton's of John Lawless and Dick Miles.

Hall's Custom Vintage Classic 650 Bonneville

1 comment:

  1. I'm having computer problems which is why some photos aren't appearing. I need a geek to hold my hand.