Less than a blink of an eye!
Well now that spring has arrived we are up to our arses in alligators and still trying to get the turbo dragbike program rolling. We were rained/winded out in April, so our next planned date was June 1. Well, the weather looked to be deteriorating rapidly so we bumped the date up a day to May 31 and I apologize to those we didn’t get the word out to. I am trying to learn the group email process and am a magnificent failure.
Saturday, May 31 was a beautiful day to be out of doors and even better at a dragstrip. The temps were in the high 80’s into the 90’s through the afternoon with Ron and BJ from Bryon Dragway doing their usual great job of track prep. I heartily recommend this track as one if not the best day to day racing surface around. They know their stuff!
The day was off to a rather ignonimous start with yours truly forgetting to take the ball out of the intake. I had wrapped the harness to protect it and I was sure I ran it afterwards, but upon start-up the bike went into an unhappy loping idle and wouldn’t take throttle. This was done in the trailer, another departure from the norm, so the 3 foot long red “Remove Before Flight” tag was unnoticed on the left side of the bike. Well a great suction developed, the velocity stack was newly clear-coated (nice and slippery) and we were somewhat relieved (and embarrassed) to discover the ball’s location. It had gotten so well sucked in that we had to remove the velocity stack and push it out from the inside. Nicely done, William!
Once we got that out of our system (literally) it was prep the bike for running. This is a different process than for the nitro motor we were running last year in that we simply pumped the C-9 gasoline out of the system and replaced it with Q16, an oxygenated high octane gasoline from VP. Rolling out, we finished the prep and off to the staging lanes we went.
Fred had to stay behind until noon to work the service department at the shop so that meant all I could mess with were the mechanical things. Among these were fuel rail pressure (not a good idea), tire pressures and the clutch. The tire pressures were a determined constant so that left the clutch, so I made the most out of that.
The first run was a 9.48 at 162 mph. A pretty poky elapsed time (e.t.) but our best mph by almost 4 mph. The first 60 feet was covered in a rather leisurely 2.25 seconds, when we were used to seeing 60 foot times in the 1.30 second range. “Aha” the evil genius tuner thought, “there is much more in the clutch to be had here”.
Well a few changes and we were off to a series of disappointing runs.
Not content to simply drive through the clutch and have it slip madly on a couple of the runs, the front Dzus fastener on the tank shroud came loose and it was like the hood coming up on a car for Nick. The pop and everything going dark from the visual impairment was something I heard about and worked to remedy.
Seeing the blown alcohol procomp dragster run was a definite high point of the day so far. Watching him click it off at 900 feet and still run a 6.95 was tremendous. One of the ironic aspects of the car is it is immaculately prepared , but completely bare metal – no paint on the frame or bodywork. The irony of this is that the owner is an automotive painter by trade in the Chicago area. This is always a strong car in capable hands both on the track and in the pits.
Our next run showed some promise with an 8.54 @ 168.72 mph. This was an area where the turbo and the clutch were starting to work together, showing a 1.608 second 60 foot time. Coolant was moving around more and we needed a cleanup in the back of the bike. Engine temperatures were getting up there and considering the ambient temperature of 90 degrees and the relatively short turn-around times between runs. It was getting to be a bit much for the vestigial cooling system.
Fiddling with the clutch a bit more got the sixty foot time to a 1.540, not a great improvement, but adequate, but the bike started to move around and required some climbing by Nick which added time to the run, finishing with an 8.95. Adjusting exhaust gas temperature probe locations brought the readings back in sync and solved a small mystery there.
Wheelie bars lowered and a bit more boost allowance got us a happier time on the run. It was almost boring (as most fast laps on any racetrack are) and the 60 foot time came down to a 1.470. The pass looked stable and the motor sounded good all the way down. The announced time of 8.27 @ 169.40 caught me by surprise. It was by far the best e.t. and mile per hour we had seen from the combination.
More coolant, joined by a little engine oil showed a need to drain both the engine oil breather tank and the coolant resevoir, along with adding a bit of hose to allow any additional overflow to not get on the rear tire or brakes.
Not being content, more fiddling ensued. More work in the clutch and the bike sounded a bit off in the burnout, and left sluggishly only to drive through the clutch again. Stuck at an 8.85 with the track closing for the day put a mandatory end to our fun. Two great friends, Arnie Heller from Sun Prairie, the owner of a 219 mph Funnybike and Jim Morin, who has been a help over many years on a number of projects bid us goodbye to head home. Fred Weege his son Adam, and Bill Shields from the store, saddled up and rode home, looking for twisty roads and arrival before the feared rains.
It was an interesting ride home, going over speculations as to how to raise the stall and the touch of the slider clutch, thus allowing more energy to be transferred to the rear wheel at the initial hit of the throttle.
Fred later informed us that we had missed being the World’s Quickest Ducati by .002 seconds. It takes you about .01 seconds to blink. Herman Jolink from Holland still holds that mark.
Next time out!