Hey there, everyone,
We are starting to work out the scheduling for the complete re-checking of the Nitro Injected Ducati and the Red Turbo Ducati. It appears that mid-August is when things will be getting underway in earnest, as neither bike has made a pass in anger in over a year and sitting is the worst enemy of all, especially where the salt environment of Bonneville is concerned. While the injected bike has been serviced, there appears to be a question with the “barrel valve” that is used to control the fuel distribution at the throttle bodies, and I always like to send the fuel pump to Kinsler in Michigan just to be sure. They keep asking why and I keep saying “because I want to KNOW it is right, rather than get all the way out there and find out it isn’t”. Marginal fuel pumps kill motors by causing a lean condition that may not be apparent until mile 2, by which time it is too late.
We also need to start the spares gathering up and verifying the thirty or so packages of parts are what they say they are and where they are supposed to be.
Forth of July weekend was another chance to work for Sam Wills at an exhibition gig he was booked in for at Eddyville Raceway Park in Eddyville Iowa Saturday July 2. The annual event is called “Night of Fire” and features nitro burning funnycars and bikes.
What started out as beautiful weather in Wisconsin turned to rain 50 miles north of the track. After arriving and waiting, the event was moved to Sunday. Unfortunately two of the pros had other commitments for Sunday and had to leave Saturday night. Two of our crew also had only allowed for a whirlwind gig and had to scramble to allow them to stay Sunday. Hurriedly arranged accommodations in Oskaloosa after a great dinner ended the day.
Sunday dawned cloudy but dry and the process of preparation began. A new exhaust cam profile was in cylinder head number 4186 to see if we could help the valve life on that side of things. The bike sounded different during the warm-up, more subdued, if a TopFueler can ever be seen as that.
Sam wanted to make a test pass to see about the cam, so out we went at 3 o’clock. Since we were booked to run at 6 and 9 that evening it would allow enough time to make any other adjustments, changes and repairs.
Heading downtrack to push back, the motor tone again sounded a bit flat. When Bruno and I were done pushing, we watched as the bike labored at the hit of throttle and then smoked the tire. Damn!
Maintenance after that test was involving changing the exhaust cam back to the original one, setting the valves and the usual servicing.
Checking the valve clearances involves turning the motor over to measure the clearances after verifying the internal condition is acceptable by doing a “leakdown”. While the crank was rotated, a strange click/snap was heard, coming from an indeterminate location. It was semi-regular and disturbing. I had Sam take a listen and he was stumped. Usually there is a bit of racket from the clutch arms rattling while turning, but the clutch was in the trailer with Mike Dryden for servicing.
The mystery was solved when, upon turning the motor further, a failing cam chain link appeared coming up around the exhaust cam sprocket. The stretching was enough to allow a person to see a gap behind the pin in the sideplate. Both our eyes got real big. We would have provided our own Night of Fire if that had broken, as the resulting ignition of the intake charge in the supercharger would have been tremendous.
So the servicing turned into a motor swap a routine deal for the team.
After the motor and clutch were installed, the warm-up sounded like the old combination once again. This time, when Sam hit the throttle to seat the clutch it lifted the whole Easy-Up off the ground instead of just one end like the experimental cam did.
Up on the line, at 300 feet I could hear the difference in the exhaust tone and volume.
Rolling up into the beams, everyone’s pulse was racing, some from excitement and some from pushing a 1000 pound Top Fueler back 300 feet.
At the hit, the bike left as it should and we were waiting for the tire to smoke, but it didn’t. All the candles stayed lit and Sam went through the lights 3.92 seconds later at 193.60 mph. Sam was a little earlier with the parachute than he was last year, which may explain not besting the 194 mph then.
As they say, “The Crowd Went Wild”.
Back at the trailer, we waited for Sam to return and started in on the servicing. While intake valves went back to their old tricks of tightening up, no issues were found with the cam chain, which was a sister to the first one.
While setting the valves I turned around and saw a small boy standing at the edge of the canopy watching intently. He asked me “Do you ride that motorcycle?” I replied that I didn’t, pointed to Sam and said that he did. I turned around and knelt down by his side then asked him what his name was and he replied “My name is Mason and I’m six years old today. I came just to see that motorcycle”. He was holding a photo handout of Sam’s, known as “hero cards” in the sport and I asked him if he would like Sam to sign it for him. His eyes got even bigger and his father was grinning ear to ear. I took him inside the canopy to meet Sam and his eyes were agog looking the bike. I introduced him and Sam immediately knelt down and signed a “Happy Birthday Mason” making I am sure a lasting impression on the young fan. This scene was repeated at the edge of the pits so often Sam ran out of cards and t-shirts and by the end of the event was signing anything people brought up.
The 3.92 was right there with the nitro funnycars and the 193.60 was top mph among the pros. There was a constant flow of fans through the pits and it was great to see Sam get the acknowledgement he so much deserves as not only a racer’s racer, but a great human being as well.
The third run was anti-climactic with the bike hitting the wheelie bars and smoking the tire again. We did some changes here and learned a bit, but still have work to do to get a hot (slippery) track tuneup for the race at Memphis in three weeks.
Loading up took a bit longer and more effort because our primary bulldozer, Bruno, was on the road as soon as the bike came back to the trailer, along with Nate another crewman to take care of family commitments. We did get everything back in the trailer and it was a little after 11 o’clock before we all got going. It was a long dark drive home with a short stop for a nap that let me get home in time for Monday’s scheduled workout. I’m afraid I wasn’t much good after that with only an hour and a half’s sleep, but sometimes that is how it goes.
Well, between building the new fuel tank for the twin-engined Triumph and finishing up some customer projects it has been very busy and I need to start getting ready to head to Memphis.
LAST MINUTE DEVELOPMENT NEWS!!!!! The salt flats will have an 8 to 9 mile long course, a 5 mile short course and a rookie course 3 miles long for the Speed Week event in August. It bodes well for the fall event!!
I guess it’s back to the welding shop, with a little better outlook.
Happy Birthday again, Mason!