Updates Fall 2016

Hello All,

It has been quite a while since the last post and I apologize for that, but it has been sixteen hours a day, seven days a week since then.  I thought there would be a slow-down that we usually see at this time of year, but it hasn’t happened yet.

We finished up the double for owner Ed Kelly and he took delivery on Dec. 6.  It was no small task to load the darling up in a 12 foot U-Haul trailer, but Nick and all the guys helped with a lesson in securing a massive motorcycle inside a small space.   Finishing up the largest project in the fourty year history of the shop has left a hole where she was berthed and now we begin the project of calming down the blown Ducati, and numerous customer items.

After that we made the annual trek to the PRI (Performance Racing Industry) Show in Indianapolis Dec. 8 – 10.  Due to previous commitments nick was unable to attend, but Fred and his Son TJ made the journey to be regaled by Dave Despain, Rick Mears and Jeff Gordon at the opening breakfast, followed by numerous seminars, contact and schmoozing.  I had a chance to share a room with Sam Wills and the talk was always about nitro racing, 2016 (ouch) and 2017 and changes to be made and looked for the upcoming year.

We took a set of Ducati cases and top end parts for Mitch brown from Monster Racing Products and his programmer, Niles, to look at as far as the viability of making a set of cases in Billet.  An initial estimate of $10 to $20k for the first set was not unexpected, but out of our budget at this point in history. The ability to discuss expectations and how to potentially simplify the project to reduce expense was invaluable and learning the bullet points of scanning, reverse engineering and CNC machine work was invaluable and I thank both Mitch and Niles for their efforts and patience in this endeavor.  There are thoughts circulating about the future, as this combination should be able to produce nearly 900 horsepower in its refined form from 1000cc, when the parameters of breakage are reduced or removed.  More things to keep one awake at night.

One of the highlights of the show, among many, was meeting George Poteet and Ron Main, of Speed Demon fame.  I recommend the U-tube video “Something wicked this way comes” as a view of their world.  George Poteet, the driver, was only in the booth briefly as he had to get back to Memphis that afternoon, but having the opportunity to shake his hand and look into his eyes, you could see he would be a person described as unflappable.  Steady and calm under many different circumstances, as the Speed Demon team has been over 400 mph over 35 times.  The owner, Ron Main, was very helpful and informative in the areas of aerodynamics as relating to wind tunnels and CFD (Computational Fluid Dynamics) which is a potentially powerful tool to apply to our program as far as sorting out the potential pitfalls and instabilities or benefits of the changes and overall body shapes of the Land Speed Bikes, and to a lesser extent, the Blown Ducati (BD).  Other areas of heat management, fire suppression (we just jump off) and intake areas were held for on and offered further areas to explore.

Another visit was to Ron Burkhard from Darko Industries who run a wind tunnel in Ogden Utah.  They offer services by the hour and felt we could make significant headway on our program with not much more than the two hour minimum (at $500/hour).  One thought is to stop there on our way out to Bonneville with cardboard, fiberglass, sheet aluminum and make changes there.  The saner, but more expensive and time consuming methodology involves a trip to the wind tunnel ahead of the event, make the changes in cardboard, clay, and tape and come back to make the changes structurally permanent.  The biggest issue is the 21 hour drive out and 21 hours back in both time and expense.  More nights awake.

We learned a lot at the show as we always do, with the return proportional to the effort expended and I always leave with my head ready to explode, writing down notes and editing them on the drive back.  We had yet more fun in the snow, but it was merely stressful rather than terrifying as the surrounding drivers seem to have gotten their “snow legs” back under themselves to a great extent.

The latest phase in the Ducati nitro scene is the accurate measurement of the compression ratio of the Blown Ducati (BD).  We have discovered we were too high and this, coupled with the boost and timing pushed us into too much power/detonation range of the project.  Taking about a full point out of the compression will help in this area.  I had originally thought we could get away with almost 2 points of compression more than the conventional blown nitro motors (a 2-valve hemi configuration) because we were able to do that with the turbo gas motors used for Bonneville and drag racing.  While most of the nitro hemi bikes are running 6.4:1 or so, I specified the pistons for 8.1:1 or so, but due to the bigger valves and combustion chamber volume, was nearer to 9:1.  With the newest measurements and configuration we are nearer to 8:1, hopefully more livable with a corresponding reduction in blower speed (boost) and ignition timing rounding out the calming down of the combination. We hopefully will have a more tunable, less angry platform to start with.


On a side note, another handmade project for the Ducati…

With the impending holidays I can only wish you all the very best and if I don’t get a chance to blather before then, Happy New Year and here’s to a great 2017.

Bill W.


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