Thursday’s Child

Returning to the salt on Thursday morning we all were looking forward to the day.  Jim needed to prove the bike capable of accomplishing the mph goal and I hoped to get a chance at the next license level.

Jim’s first run was a success as he was able to run 107.813 mph on a 97.320 record.  It was a big lift to everyone and we looked forward to the next one for him until he mentioned that the run had been done in third gear rather than fourth as it wouldn’t shift.  The entire 2nd mile was run at 8,000 rpm.  While those of you used to Japanese bikes may not see the significance, the British twins owners and Harley riders know what a mile at those rpms can do.   On his next run, even though the bike did shift into 4th gear, the valve train showed its unhappiness with a rather lot of noise and the bike was parked, but not until having run 10 mph over the existing record.

The Ducati began the show with a missed call on the jetting and an early termination to make the needed changes.

One of the difficulties we were encountering was the difficulty in loading the motor down.  Putting a load on the motor is how a turbocharged combination begins to make horsepower.  A lack of traction didn’t allow the same techniques used on the dyno.  Once under way, the wheelspin on the salt and the resulting closing of the throttle never let the turbo get settled in.  Sitting down and trying to think what would be needed to control rear wheel spin, the old Top Fuel dragsters always tugged on the rear brake to control the wheel spin.  Closing the throttle and getting back on it again on one of the older nitro systems usually resulted in a giant fireball.  Seeing a parallel possibility, applying rear brake was how the next run was to be done.  It is a bit of a trick as you need to apply the throttle and clutch gently.  As the combination started to twitch the boost gauge and your feet are on the pegs, a judicious use of rear brake until third gear helped build the boost and keep a load on the motor.  This seemed to be the ticket as the bike started to pull in second gear and I had to watch out as the target was 8,000 rpm in fourth gear.  Going through the target trap area between the 2 mile and the 2 ¼ mile marker (known as the “quarter”) at 8200 rpm the c license was earned.  After getting the requisite starting line and tech signatures, over to the registration trailer and a license was issued.

Now it was back to the starting line and try for the next level, a “C” license that is rated for 155 to 174mph.

Well evidently I didn’t do some mysterious ritual correctly as the bike never got under way, and that resulted in an early exit of the course.  The next run started normally and the bike began to make a move when one cylinder started to misfire.  A quick check of the gauges didn’t show anything amiss.  A bit more wasted time puttering on through, hoping to get feel for what was wrong or hoping the cylinder would clear out.  After the turnout the bike died and wouldn’t restart on both cylinders.  A quick check showed the rear cylinder was out.  Pulling the plug, there was only a spark when the ignition was activated, and not very strong even then.  A new coil and wire was no help, so it must have been the trigger coil.  Well diving into the spares box produced a pair of triggers, but they needed to be mounted and the timing reset.  Time was a wasting, so it was put the generator in the trailer to recharge the battery, close the doors and down the staging lanes we went.  The last of the screws were being tightened as we reached the starting line.  It was a bit of trick to not drop too many of the #4 screws as we were bouncing across the salt.  A quick check to be certain the possibility of melting an errant wire was minimized and back out to the short course we went.  It did start on both cylinders, but all we got for our efforts this time was a rerun of the last two runs the day before, with sluggish response and no full throttle power.

That was all the time there was that day.  I was getting a bit bagged out after five runs down the salt anyways.

There was talk of rain or snow the next day, so everything needed to be packed up and ready to roll as the salt can quickly be 6 inches deep in water we were told by our neighbor David Pilgrim.  He had a pretty darned good event result having run his A/BGT Corvette to a 236.664mph record.  I would like to congratulate him here and now and thank him for the help he offered (and electricity).  I was hoping he would have his 1937 Harley Knucklehead salt bike out, but you can only have one vehicle in record impound at a time and I guess he opted for the 236mph ‘Vette.  Go figure.

Having packed the 8 lbs of stuff in the 6 lb bag we came out there with it was into town, unhook the trailer and molest the casino buffet again.  It was my turn to buy this time as I had asked a lot of the guys and they stood and delivered.

Friday was in doubt weather wise, but the guys had no doubts as to whether we were going to be on the salt at first light or not.  Hell yeah!

Occasionally I was asked if we had gone out and gambled while were there.  I figured that the likelihood of the same bike showing up on the starting line two runs in a row was enough of a gamble.  Which personality was I to be greeted with?  The fully sedated, slurred speech one or the psychotic machete wielding virago?

Friday was to be a different type of test.


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