September 19th update – 2 bikes in the works

The preparations for Bonneville are proceeding, but at a somewhat uneven pace on the two bikes we are taking.

The long bike (turbo Ducati 999) has been erratic in its behavior since the Motoc ECU was installed early this year. With the number of sensors you should be able to tell if the thing farts in the next room, but so far that has not been the case.

Changing engines last weekend yielded a difference in the way it ran just on startup. The bike was immediately leaner by sound and EGTs (exhaust gas temperatures). Once on the dyno it was further evidenced by the data collected. The motor we changed to was the one used in the dragbike this season to test the chassis, and while the combination was not quite what we wanted at the time, it yielded 159 trap speeds consistently, indicating decent horsepower.

Once on the dyno, we started to see a better shaped curve that promised more responsive tuning. After a few adjustments and a bit of head scratching, we started to see results, finally getting in the 266 hp range. A bit of backsliding after a few more changes was reversed when we took the automatic correction out of the system…. and at the end of Saturday’s testing saw 289 hp. While a bit down from the previous peak of 302 seen last fall, it has a better shaped curve and drivability down low is drastically improved, an important point on the salt as there isn’t a lot of traction (wheelspin is a huge waste of time and an occasional source of unwanted entertainment). Monday will be used to clean up the curve in some of the part throttle, moderate boost areas. The 36 psi of manifold pressure was scary and we were able to calm it down to the 25 psi seen on the 289 hp pull with a few tricks to fool the boost controller which was unable to keep up with the rpm buildup of the motor. Fred was getting a handle on the tuneup after being away from it since April.

The next steps will be the bodywork and windscreen mounting. No small feat, with new parts in basically every area of the bike needing to be integrated into a system. Our new inspiration is Bill Warner. See the video of his 311 mph run at Loring this summer on YouTube.

The fueler (dragbike chassis) has a number of areas needing to be addressed, among them verification that the final shutoff works in the lower air pressure levels of the salt flats.

Matt Cribben (the director of “American Café”) and his son, Forrest, came by to do some video work on their new project. Neither have ever heard a fueler run before and the confines of the shop added another dimension to the experience.

The fuel shutoff worked marvelously and after the bike was cleared out of the residual nitro, work began on the next steps. A different front wheel needed to be fit to allow running of the tire type SCTA requires for higher speeds. The dragslick may not have passed tech, and out on the salt is not the place to find that out. Nick went to work making the spacer, modifying the wheel and making the brackets needed to mount the front caliper. Front brakes are an option at Bonneville and a surprising number of bikes don’t run them. Personally, I like the option to use them and they make loading and unloading much less… exciting. After a few hours of parts-making, the installation was complete and now we take it all apart to paint the wheel, install the metal valve stem and tart up the rest of the installation. We also may need to make a different front fender to protect the engine area from the salt thrown up from the front wheel. Figuring out where to put 50 lbs of weight is the next order of business (extra weight reduces tailspin) and that will be no small trick, as ballast has constraints as to where and how it is used, and there isn’t a lot of extra room in that dragbike chassis.

All in all, progress is being made and a measured amount of satisfaction and relief can be had with the results of Saturday’s work. No allowance for resting yet, as there are still quite a number of substantial items to be made/packed/painted/tested/verified/ordered……….

So it’s off to make some more parts and find where to hide 50 lbs. If I just had a fatter rider…


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