With only 4 days to go till I’m due to collect the chassis I’m getting pretty excited about getting going on the new car.
I rang Mal Curnin of Yorkshire Engines on Tuesday. He has a 2007 ZX10 motor that he reckons is in excellent nick with no casing damage etc. Although it’s more expensive than the ones on Ebay it comes complete with loom, ECU, airbox etc. and it’s probably reasonable to have more confidence in it than one of the Ebay engines. And it’s still over £2,000 cheaper than the Hayabusa engine that’s sitting in the Fury cost. Having agreed a deal I stuck a cheque in the post and Mal reckons he’ll get the engine out on Friday.
I called Andy Bates to talk about a billet sump. He got the one machined for Tony Gaunt’s ZX10 engine, sadly the company who did it are no longer around but he can get another one made. He also has an adapter plate to replace the oil/water cooler to provide a take off for an oil cooler.
I also called into Hastie Coatings in Swansea. I’d heard there had been an explosion there a couple of years ago and had assumed they wouldn’t be there any more but it must not have been a terribly big explosion as the place looked unchanged from when I had the Fury panels coated back in January 2006. I had a chat with the boss there who reckoned about £150 for a chassis which sounds reasonable enough. I then asked about colours – I don’t really want it in black as that won’t go too well with the colour scheme I have in mind and I’m mindful of Tim Hoverd’s light grey chassis to make spotting any cracks easy, I was thinking white but then it turned out they have a tub of Kawasaki green powder. Hmmm, tempting, but will that be a bit OTT ….
I called Brian in the evening to confirm the chassis is ready and had quite a lengthy chat. He gave me the overall dimensions of the chassis – my rallying friend Phil has offered to pick it up with me in his Transit and I want to check it’ll fit OK. We’ll need to get some engine mounts fabricated for the ZX10 motor and Brian and Ian aren’t fans of the method of propping the engine in the engine bay on bits of wood and constructing a cradle around it. Instead they take precise measurements of the engine, Ian sticks it all in his CAD program, designs the mounts, produces drawings and a cutting list from which Brian constructs them. And it all just fits perfectly. Sounds good but of course requires that the engine measurements are spot on and I don’t trust myself to do this. So Brian and I decided the best bet is to have the engine delivered to them rather than here then Ian can sort that out and I’ll collect the engine from them later. A quick text to Mal with their address and that was arranged.
It’s been make your mind up time here. Deciding on what engine to put in the BDN has been very difficult. I was initially tempted to stick with Hayabusa but fairly soon decided against this – they’re relatively expensive, need a dry sump, are much heavier but only put out the same power as the litre engines although with more torque. On track the torque doesn’t count for very much apart from the start and very slow first gear hairpins perhaps. Ditto ZX12 really, to compound things there they’re becoming harder to find and are quite old.
So, a litre engine it will be. Brian at BDN is strongly in favour of dry sump and I can see his arguments regarding maintaining safety margins. However most people in the paddock disagree and would rather stick with a billet wet sump if possible – cheaper, lighter and less to go wrong.
Then we need to decide what flavour engine. I was initially inclined to go Suzuki – their GSXR1000 has been regarded as the gruntier of the crop for a few years and has been reliable in the bike. Over here they have a reputation for blowing up in race car installs although the DSR racers in the US seem to be successfully using them with billet gated sumps at up to 3G with their slick and wings. However they are allowed to swap the engine internals and as I understand it they replace the rods with stronger items which may make all the difference and we can’t do that in RGB.
Most of our Class B cars in RGB are running CBR1000 Fireblade motors. These seem pretty reliable although Tim Hoverd’s had to swap an engine and Matt Green managed to blow up 2 of them in one rather expensive Snetterton weekend. Adrian’s also broken a couple of them although possibly down to cooling issues. They are generally reckoned to be slightly lower powered compared to the opposition although Tim H’s car put out almost the same peak bhp as my Hayabusa on PDQ’s rollers.
Yamaha’s R1 is powerful and a couple have gone quite well but there isn’t much experience of the newer engines in race cars. The newer ones are generally reckoned to be quite peaky. I had a 2007 R1 bike myself and it was a brilliant motor with good torque (although I can vouch that it wasn’t as torquey as my friend’s ’05 GSXR1000) and really liked its revs.
Kawasaki’s ZX10 has a bit of a reputation as a bit of a monster, indeed it’s quoted that it’s the superbike with the worst record for insurance losses. The engines are regarded as strong too. Tony Gaunt has been running his 2006 ZX10R engined Wolfe in RGB for 2 years now on a billet sump designed by himself and Andy Bates without any problems and seems to be making good power although he isn’t using a Power Commander and has never rolling roaded it. For some reason ZX10 motors are also cheaper than the others and there seem to be plenty of them about so at the moment that’s top of the lsit. Still not sure to go with a 2006/7 engine or the newer, less proven but more powerful 2008.
I’ve been discussing other bits and pieces with Brian. I’ll be collecting the chassis and panels next weekend so I can get them all trimmed up and the chassis drilled then decide whether to powder coat it or paint it. Brian will then get on with getting the parts together for the front and rear modules which he hopes I should have around the end of July although that might slip as he’s relying on an external contractor for the more critical welding (wishbones etc.).
I’ll need to order some hubs, the BDN uses Vauxhall Astra hubs which come as a sealed unit and have proven to work well. I also need to decide what dampers to use – it’s probably time for me to switch to 2 way dampers with independently adjustable bump and rebound. I don’t want to spend a fortune as frankly I don’t think I’m a good enough driver yet to appreciate the difference but I do need some better ones than the Avo’s I’ve got on the Fury. I’ve heard good reports of Procomp who get dampers from Pro-Tech and set them up on their shock dyno to ensure matched pairs. Interestingly while I was writing this post Tim Hoverd’s just got a set from Procomp for his J15 so I think that’s probably enough of an endorsement to push me in that direction.
Well, here we are back at Brands again. Not complaining, it’s a fab circuit and the paddock’s good – plenty of room and lots of electrical hook ups. Pity about the M25 on the way here but hey ho.
Following exchanges of texts and a phone call with Austen on Thursday I ordered 3 rear tyres from Ears Motorsport, 2 for me and one for Austen. They duly arrived Friday morning while I was catching up on some sleep after an overnight shift. I’d already ordered a pair of fronts from Polley.
Saturday morning was cloudy, breezy and cool but stayed dry. Qualifying was good fun, my main goal was to try to go into Clearways a bit faster and let the car run out towards the outside kerb more, hopefully thereby gaining a bit more speed onto the straight. The car was again hopping round a bit over the ripples in the early part of Clearways but it was otherwise OK. FL was 54.21 which is slower than I’ve been before and I was very aware that I could easily go faster by concentrating on the Paddock Hill entry. I was 17th on the grid for race one with Phi Alcock and Adrian within 2 tenths ahead of me so I should have a good race against them. Neil in the BDN and Geoff Mason in his Busa engined Spire were just behind me although I’d passed both of them during qualy. After qualy the car needed nothing much doing at all which was nice
Brian and Rob Baldwin turned up, Rob had been hoping to race the BDN S3 in the Bikesports race but they hadn’t managed to get it ready in time. Ian and Brian have redesigned the bodywork to improve the aero and the new rear was fouling the exhaust. Pretty disappointing for all concerned. However they’d decided that I could have the chassis that’s almost completed and originally intended for Rob to take to Australia. So I can go and collect the chassis and aluminium panels in a couple of weeks time to make a start on my BDN.
As we left assembly it started to rain and just like at Snetterton it rained harder while we were all getting onto the grid. The lights went out and I promptly stalled I hit the starter button and got going pretty quickly having only lost one or two places but as I arrived at Paddock Hill the bonnet started to lift up. I’d clearly simply forgotten to do up all the latches. Cursing myself I raised my hand and coasted round while the rest of them streamed past me. 52mph was the magic number above which the bonnet lifted up. I dawdled round to pit lane and waved someone over to do up the latches for me then I was held at pit exit while a marshal went round and checked them all. Off I went again and on the way down towards Graham Hill I could see the leaders coming round Paddock Hill, thee was nobody in sight in front of me. Resigned to a lonely race I watched my mirrors and made sure I stayed out of the way of the leaders as they came round. I did eventually start to reel someone in and gradually caught up the battle between Judi, Ben and Neil. I went past Neil on the brakes into Druids then on the way out of Graham Hill Ben made his move on Judi, I wet right over to the left and went past both of them and was ahead by the time we got to Surtees. Towards the end I was reeling in Geoff Mason but didn’t quite get to him before the chequered flag.
As I went down the tunnel I noticed smoke coming off the right rear brake and by the time I got back into the paddock the car was grinding to a halt. Austen had a brief panic attack as my brake was on fire as I pulled up next to his bottle of barbeque gas As it is steel disks and asbestos pads don’t burn too well so it was a brief drama. We jacked the car up and got the wheel off to work out why it was seizing on. Releasing either bleed nipple released the brake but loosening the banjo holding the flexible hose on the caliper didn’t so we deduced something was going on within the caliper that was allowing it to pressurise. Ken (Austen’s dad) and I decided the handbrake mechanism was the likely culprit so we set about dissembling it. Adrian had previously told me Hi-Spec had told him that taking the handbrake bit apart was a bad move but we had no choice. It turned out the handbrake mechanism is an incredibly complex affair and apart from the lever operated cam isn’t mechanical at all but in fact operates a small hydraulic piston within the caliper. We spent several hours sussing out how it worked and what had gone wrong. As the handbrake is operated the piston pressurises the caliper and closes off the tiny passageway back out of the caliper.Eventually we decided a knackered O-ring was preventing the piston going back far enough to uncover this passageway and release the fluid back.
After a couple of failed attempts to come up with a fix we left out the tiny plunger and spring controlling the flow of fluid back and left the handbrake cable disconnected. By the time we were happy it was OK it was getting on for 10pm by which time I was well ready for a beer and some food.
Sunday was again breezy and cloudy but the forecast was OK. I got the car prepped and had a fairly leisurely morning since we weren’t racing till 12.45. Having been deeply ashamed of my performance off the line on Saturday I was determined to get a better start. I was in 16th place today on the left side of the grid which I preferred, not keen on being boxed in alongside the pit wall and on the inside at Paddock Hill. I got a great start this time and as is often the case gained a few places on the way to the first corner. I stayed round the outside round Druids allowing Austen and Colin to get past me then I tucked in behind Colin on the run down to Graham Hill. I jinked right to avoid a spinning Tim Hoverd on the left and chased Austen and Colin round the rest of the lap. I lost a bit of ground to them round Clearways and had Phil Alcock in my mirrors. Austen and Colin slowly edged away from me and for a few laps I had Phil hassling me from behind – he’s very experienced and a wily racer and he got past me round Druids after about 6 laps. I then had James Walker in the Westfield up my chuff but I knew he was almost a second a lap quicker than me so expected him to get past me which he duly did into Paddock Hill next time round. I know from previous battles that there are bits where Phil’s faster than me but other bits where I’m quicker. I confidently expected James to get past Phil but he didn’t and I was behind their battle for the rest of the race. Neil in the BDN was a little way back in my mirrors but never really threatened me. I finished in 13th place which I think is about my best result yet having started 16th in a grid of 23. I was really pleased to find I’d also improved my lap time with a new personal best of 53.87. I also wasn’t lapped which is another new experience, especially on a short circuit like Brands.
Here’s race 2:
So, yet again I was bringing home an intact Fury All I need to do before Cadwell in 3 weeks is sort out the rear brakes – either get new O-rings and seals for the Hi-Spec calipers or change them altogether. I still have the Sierra calipers I was originally supplied before the Hi-Spec handbrake calipers were available. They’re a bit heavier but they’re reliable and I’d have a functioning handbrake then!
Thoughts are now turning also to the BDN. I’ve been seeking plenty of advice from my fellow racers, Brian, also Andy Bates. I’m pretty much decided on sticking to 1000cc as I don’t think there’s enough benefit from the bigger engines to justify the extra weight and cost. Opinions vary unsurprisingly, Andy of course favours Honda but the 2005/6 Fireblade motors don’t produce as much power as the others and I’m not happy being a guinea pig with the 2008 motor. I like the Suzuki motor but there are some question marks over its strength, particularly with respect to rods and rod bolts. The Kawasaki ZX10 seems a reasonable option – good output, quite strong and relatively cheap. Andy can also supply a billet wet sump which is proven (Tony Gaunt’s been using his for a couple of years now). I’ll need to make my mind up soon.
I got the right rear caliper off to find the pads pretty worn and looking badly incinerated. I popped the pistons out and the only thing I could see on inspection was a rim of baked on crud around each of the pistons. The pistons and caliper bores were looking fairly pristine otherwise. After a lot of brake cleaner, metal polish and elbow grease I got it all looking ship-shape again. I still had a pair of new pads left so I reassembled it all and refitted it.
I bled the whole brake system and stuck the wheels on. Then both Adrian and Tim posted messages in the forum warning me to change the cross caliper link tube o-rings as the heat was likely to have damaged them and they have a propensity to suddenly fail. Brian Baldwin also sent me an email with a similar message. So I rang Hi Spec and ordered a set of seals (and some spares) for both the o-rings and the main piston seals.
Andy had wondered if this was the same corner that had been flopping round at Snett and indeed it is, although since then I had weekends at Mallory and Brands without brake issues. A check of Dan Bromilow’s blog (he doesn’t like it being called a blog but that alone is enough reason to continue calling it a blog ) confirmed that his brake binding issue at Brands was because of a caliper not sitting square on an upright so I wondered if the bracket holding the caliper onto the upright might have got a bit bent when the suspension failed.
It’s all been pretty quiet since the last race weekend at Pembrey 4 weeks ago. I stripped the driver’s side rear caliper, cleaned it and fitted new pads. Following several messages of warning from well wishers I then ordered new seals for it as they can apparently suddenly let go with less than optimal consequences.
So last weekend I took the caliper back off, popped the pistons out and replaced both the main bore seals and the cross-caliper O rings, refitted it all and re-bled. I did have a good look at the caliper mounting bracket to check it for straightness and it looked fine.
The car’s pretty much ready to go. I ordered some new tyres from Polley to collect at Brands although they don’t have any of the rears in stock.
I did have a pleasant weekend up North visiting both brother Andy and an old friend. Here’s a gratuitous shot of Andy’s bikes. Being the good lad he is he stuck me on his insurance and we had a very pleasant blat out on these beauties on a nice warm sunny day. I rode out on the Commando, we had a nice coffee and some cake at Glasson Dock then swapped bikes and I rode the Bonneville back. Similar bikes but rather different in character, the Norton’s much longer legged. Liked them both and might have to find room in the garage for something similar if funds allow. Mind you, Brian said he thought I might be able to have the BDN chassis around the end of June …