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FEBRUARY 2016 NEWSLETTER PREVIEWS

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YOUR KART TUNING AND MAINTENANCE SOURCE

In an FKI Survey, a reader asked me to do an article on what a good handling kart feels like.  Good idea.  But in thinking about how to approach this article I realized a better starting point may be to describe what handling characteristics you don’t want to feel.  Bind is one of those characteristics and it is unique to karting.  I would argue that Bind is the biggest handling issue you are always trying to avoid and tune out of the kart.  While most people have a good understanding and feel for understeer and oversteer, Bind is a little more elusive, so let’s talk about it…

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Exhaust Gas Temperature (EGT) is a very common and useful tuning aid for 2-stroke engines. SwedeTech Racing Engines is asked many times a week, “What should I run for EGT?”  Well, that depends mostly on you and your data findings, as optimum EGTs for any given engine type can vary widely depending on a number of factors.  Consequently, you are better off testing and determining the best EGT for your engine specifically.  Here are some tips to help you arrive at a conclusive answer…

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Categories : Engine Tuning
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You need to be in the right position to pass. How do you get there? Read on.

You’ll hear it all the time in the Pitlane or the Driver’s Meeting, “I’m a better qualifier than racer.”  Or, “I’m a better racer than qualifier.”   If I had to pick between the two, I’d take the latter every time.  While it’s true that on some tracks qualifying is 90% of the race because the track may be particularly difficult to pass on, most of the time, your race craft is going to get you the results and there is nothing more essential to your race craft than the Art of Passing.

I can’t tell you how many times I have been bumped by the guy behind me at the apex of a corner.  I know that most of the time it is not intentional but if it is continual I always think, “What the hell are you doing?”  Why?  Not because it is annoying but because the guy is ruining any chance of passing me using what we will term as the Classic Pass technique.  While on the subject of labeling passing techniques, let’s break the Art of Passing into four categories:  The Classic Pass, The Dive Bomb, The Cold Tire Pass, and The Two to Tango Pass (which will become self-evident later in the article).  We’ll start with the Classic Pass…

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Ackerman at work. If you look closely you will see that the inside wheel (driver’s left in this case) is turning sharper than the outside wheel. (Click on image to enlarge)

We have touched on the subject of toe and we have discussed Ackerman in previous FKI’s[i] but do you realize that the two are related?  Most karters don’t.  Since most chassis manufacturers recommend that you set your toe on the stand so that it is “neutral” or “zero” on the ground this is as far as most karters take it.  The theory being that with zero toe your kart will not scrub speed down the straight.  But does your kart lose straightaway speed if it is slightly toed in or toed out on the ground?  And, what does all this have to do with Ackerman?  Read on, the results may surprise you…


[i] For more on toe please refer to: Myth Busting the Mystery of ToeFKI February 2011.  For more on Ackerman please refer to: Chassis Tuning – Mystery AreaFKI April 2011.

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Categories : Chassis Tuning
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I’m sitting in line for the scales after the Main after the SuperNats a couple of years ago when everyone starts asking each other what gear they were running. After talking to one of the drivers who went into great detail on how he arrived at his final gear choice, I realized I need to elaborate more on gear choice and write an additional article on the thought process, theory, and data analysis you use to find that last tenth with your gear choice. So here goes…

(Click here to subscribe to the FIRESTONEKARTINFO newsletter and get to the front faster!  Want to see more?  Click here to receive a FREE trial issue.  What are other karters saying about FKI?  Click here to find out.)

Categories : Engine Tuning
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When viewing your Dyno Sheet from SwedeTech Racing Engines, the first question you might ask yourself is, “Where Are My Dynamometer’s Horsepower Numbers?”

Great question!  We don’t supply dyno numbers.  We do not want to understate the importance of having the proper tools and equipment to build a racing engine and the dynamometer is a huge asset.  However, we want to educate our customers on when the dyno numbers are important…

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Is that a picture of a new chassis in the ekartingnews classifieds? No! That’s my year old kart after being Spotlisized.

I have often been asked at the track how I keep my kart so clean.  I was considering doing an article on this subject anyway and then a subscriber asked to see an article on “chassis preservation” in the FKI survey, so here we are.  Now, before you possibly blow this article off thinking it will not make you any faster, I beg to differ.  Why?  Well, in my opinion, there are a number of reasons.

First and foremost, if you clean your kart often, you will find things and many times these things will adversely affect the performance of your kart and would otherwise go unnoticed.  The perfect example – a cracked or broken seat strut or seat tab.  I can’t tell you how many times I have chased an unexplainable oversteer condition only to find a broken strut while I was cleaning the kart.  The same could be said for the seat posts, especially the one on the engine side.  If this post is covered in a thick coat of baked-on chain lube and dirt, you are never going to be able to tell if it is cracked or broken until it gets very severe!

Here’s the other more theoretical side of my clean kart is a fast kart philosophy…

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Categories : Editorials, Prep Tips
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If I had to summarize my SuperNats experience with one picture, this would be it. How did I get here? Read on.

I spend hours writing these articles, you spend a great deal of time reading them. But each article is an isolated subject and you may be asking yourself how do you apply all this knowledge in the real world, race-weekend conditions. Well, the best example that I can possibly give you is the SuperNats. The SuperNats is 5 days of intense karting where the stakes couldn’t be higher – 8 practice sessions, 3 warm-up sessions, a qualifying session unparalleled in importance, 3 long heats, the biggest Main of the year, and all on constantly changing track conditions. I may be writing the Newsletter, but when I get to any track, I am standing exactly in any one of your shoes. So why don’t we take a look at the evolution of a set-up as a race weekend unfolds. You will see how my tuner and I approached each session and be able to compare it to how you would have approached the same issues.  In fact, as a useful exercise, after reading the session debrief and before you read what changes we made, stop and think what you would do.  My main goal with this article is to help you translate what you read from month to month to the field of battle…

(Click here to subscribe to the FIRESTONEKARTINFO newsletter and get to the front faster!  Want to see more?  Click here to receive a FREE trial issue.  What are other karters saying about FKI?  Click here to find out.)

I spend hours writing these articles, you spend a great deal of time reading them.Each article is an individual, isolated subject and you may be asking yourself how do you apply all this in the real world, race-weekend conditions.Well, the best example that I can possibly give you is the SuperNats.The SuperNats is 5 days of intense karting where the stakes couldn’t be higher – eight practice sessions, three “Warm-up” sessions, a qualifying session unparalleled in its importance, three long heats, the biggest main of the year, and all on constantly changing track conditions.I may be writing the Newsletter, but when I get to any track, I am standing exactly in any one of your shoes. So why don’t we take a look at the evolution of a set-up as a race weekend unfolds.You will see how my tuner and I approached each session but maybe you have a different thought and theory.In fact, as a useful exercise, after reading the session debrief and before you read what changes we made, stop and think what you would do.As my main goal with this article is to help you translate what you read from month to month to the field of battle…

Categories : Chassis Tuning
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Kart Tool - Makita

This tool will save you so much time and energy at the track it’s not even funny. Hey, Christmas is right around the corner…

Hands down this is one of the best kart tools I own!  Why?  Because this tool makes my karting life so much easier its not even funny.  It is light weight, recharges quickly, has a long battery life between recharges and perhaps most importantly, it has the perfect built-in torque rate for karting.  You literally hold the trigger down to tighten a nut or bolt until you hear a couple of “ratchets” on the wrench and you are good to go!  No need to re-check the torque rate by hand (although I highly encourage you to do so when you first use it to inspire your own confidence in the tool.)  It literally feels like Makita specifically built this wrench for karting – its that good!

I use this tool for almost everything.  While I purchased the Makita primarily for taking the tires on and off the kart, I also use it on the engine mount, the spindle bolts and for removing and installing the rear gear on my shifter kart.

So, to be specific (since they’re are many Makita cordless impact wrenches out there) you are looking for the BTD142.  Among other things, most of the other Makitas have higher torque rates which are too high for your karting needs.  I bought my Makita at Home Depot but just went online and found one for $179 which includes a nice carrying case and an extra battery.  I know $179 may sound like a lot of money to spend on a kart tool, but I am confident you will actually be thankful you spent the money once you have this tool.  In fact, you may even wonder how you survived so long without it!

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Categories : Editorials
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Rebuilding Brake Calipers is not as daunting as it looks.

Hopefully for most of you, your kart’s brakes will work fine with regular bleeding and brake pad maintenance. But, if you check your calipers regularly (which I highly recommend) and notice that one piston is slower to move than the other or you have a pulling problem with your front brakes that won’t go away when you bleed them, you may have to rebuild your caliper to fix a bad seal or scarred brake piston. If you see a leak on one of your calipers, you definitely have to rebuild the caliper. Don’t worry, it is not that big of a job and can usually be accomplished in under an hour…

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Categories : How To's
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