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Archive for How To’s

Given the plethora of kart classes out there and the hundreds (well, maybe not hundreds but it sure seems like it sometimes) of different racing kart engines, you may be wondering how is FKI going to tackle the art of engine tuning.  Well, at the end of the day, regardless of the type of motor you run, engine tuning usually boils down to one component – how does your sparkplug look.  Your sparkplug reveals many things about your jetting so the more knowledgeable you are about reading a plug, the better you will be at optimizing your jetting.  So what are you looking for?  Well, with the help of SwedeTech’s owner and founder Reine Pierson, we will show you…

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Categories : Engine Tuning, How To's
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This is harder than it looks and a great exercise for karting!

I think we would all agree that finishing an Ironman, a 2.4 mile swim followed by a 112 mile bike ride capped off with a full marathon distance (26.2 miles), is a heck of a physical and mental achievement.  How about finishing 10, not as a professional, but for fun.  That’s exactly what fellow karter Steve Ferrario has done.   Steve was also a very capable driver with 3 ProKart Challenge victories and numerous podiums to his credit.  So, if Steve gives you advice on how to train for karting, you listen.  The complete workout outlined in March’s FKI Newsletter is Steve’s and prepares you very well for karting…

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Although it is possible to accurately align your kart with the items above, I highly recommend buying or borrowing an alignment tool for optimum results.

I have a confession to make.  For the longest time, I thought aligning your go kart was just a matter of “set the toe and go.”  While toe plays a big factor in a kart’s handling equation (see Myth Busters article for more on this subject), “squaring” the front wheels with the rest of the kart by properly centering the steering shaft plays a much bigger role in a karts handling.  If you miss this part of the alignment equation, you will be compromising performance at the very least and battling a difference in handling from left to right hand turns at the worst.

Regardless of what alignment tool or method you use, there are some basic procedures and steps that you should be following in order to make sure your kart is aligned properly.  If you don’t have an alignment tool, don’t worry, it is possible to align your kart accurately using a few the items pictured above.  Interestingly enough, the steps you use to align the kart without an alignment tool are the exact same steps you should be following with any alignment tool.  I will stress however, that to obtain optimum results I highly suggest you purchase an alignment tool or borrow one from a friend.  For those of you interested in purchasing one, I will provide an overview and buyer’s guide at the end of the article to help you…

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It’s the New Year, time for resolutions, and after a couple of weeks of really bad eating and most likely the consumption of way too many adult beverages, you promise yourself that this year you will be in better shape.  No more just hanging on instead of attacking in the Main.  No more declaring the last race “a two Red Bull main” and then seeing what happens (I’ve done this before, the Main went OK but I didn’t sleep for a while).  This is the perfect time to start talking about how to train for karting.

It’s funny, when I was racing in Europe you never really heard anything about drivers training until Michael Schumacher burst onto the scene.  Obviously his blinding quickness helped bring attention to this subject but mostly everyone seemed amazed that he would be on the podium and not even sweat after an entire F1 race.  The next thing you know there are a plethora of articles on how it makes sense to be sure your driver is in shape so he can take advantage of the $2 million the team just spent last month developing a new aero package to gain 3 tenths.  What’s the point if the driver’s laptimes are going to fall by 3 tenths midway through the race because he is tired.

I figured I would start this series with the one exercise that, given a choice, I will pick first and focus on when I know I have a race coming up.  I have always said that the more I do this exercise, the better I feel in the kart, especially toward the end of a 20 lap Main…

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It’s freezing cold out, your track may be covered in snow, and you haven’t even touched your go kart since your last race.  Now is the perfect time to perform an Annual Checkup on your go kart.  While I recommend going through your kart before every race (I’ll cover this subject in a later issue) there are still some things you should definitely look at annually to be sure you don’t miss something to prevent a DNF during the season.

To that point, one of your new year’s resolutions should be no “preventable” mechanical DNF’s for 2017.  By “preventable” I am talking about mechanical error – forgetting to tighten a gear or carburetor, a fuel line falling off because it hasn’t been checked in two years etc.  If your gearbox breaks midway through a rebuild, that’s bad luck.  I’m talking about the stuff you can control.   I personally don’t think preventable mechanical DNF’s should EVER enter into your karting equation.  The races are short, it’s a single-piston engine, and you have enough time to prepare the kart between race weekends.  Have I had a preventable DNF?  Yes, and it has cost me a race win (and obviously many hours of much needed therapy, but I do feel better writing this).  All the above being said, this is what you should be checking and replacing on your go kart this off season…

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Categories : Editorials, How To's
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Don’t skimp on your Bead Breaker Tool – a good one will make the job much easier.

Ahhhhhhh, the black art of changing go kart tires by hand (as opposed to using the nice, expensive kart tire changing machines).  Some guys get it and others, even people who are very mechanically inclined, don’t.  I will try my best to show you all the tricks in December’s newsletter but keep in mind that it is a bit of an acquired technique, so stick with it if at first you don’t succeed.  Let me warn you, if have shoulder or wrist issues, proceed with caution, as changing go kart tires is a bit of a workout, especially with certain rims like Birel and certain tires like Dunlop and Vega.

You will need a bead breaker (and don’t skimp here, a good one is a must as it will save you time and aggravation beyond the price difference).  Borrow someone elses’ or ask around to be sure you get a good one.  Also, find a piece of old carpet about two feet wide by three feet long to work on, this will save your rims and more importantly, your knees.  My last piece of advice would be to complete each step for all the tires before moving on to the next step.  This will make the whole process much quicker and minimize mistakes…

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The Set-up Sheet or Track Sheet.  However you want to refer to it, in my opinion, this is the key to being consistently quick everywhere you go.  There are a number of reasons I say this.  The first would be that you don’t see any professional racing teams that don’t use set-up sheets.  Now your response could be that a race car is a lot more complicated than a kart but trust me, there is plenty of stuff to keep track of on a kart.

The second reason I am a strong advocate for set-up sheets is they help you remember what changes you made which comes in handy both when the kart is fast or slow.  To provide a more pertinent example, I was talking with Rhod Beachner, owner of 2 Wild Karting, whose son Ryan won the S2 ProKart Santa Maria race.  He was joking with me saying, “you want to know what we changed on that car…, nothing.”  More to my point he then strongly suggested to Ryan that they better be taking notes somewhere so they can remember that set-up for next year.

Having said that, the Set-Up sheet is only as useful as the notes you put on it and to that point I have written a separate article on how to give consistent, accurate, and understandable feedback., even if it just for you.  (Click here to read the article preview)  In the meantime, I’ll walk you through what I do with my Set-up Sheets to give you a starting guideline.  My goal would be that you adapt some kind of system, even if its this one, use it systematically, and notice an improvement from weekend to weekend or race to race…

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Categories : Editorials, How To's
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The Bux Circlip Tool – just this side of magic!

There are a few specialty tools in karting that are a must-have.  They make your karting life so much easier you wonder why it took you so long to buy it in the first place.  This month’s Kart Tool of the Month – the Bux Circlip Tool – ranks highly if not first on this list.  The Bux Circlip Tool takes a job that may be one of the most difficult in karting – installing circlips – and makes it so easy, safe and quick to perform it’s not even funny.  As you will see in the article on rebuilding your own top end earlier this month, installing circlips is not only tricky to perform, but very difficult to describe.  There is a definite technique and art to installing a circlip and it is very difficult to do so without scratching the outside surface of the piston (or the inside for that matter).  Add the constant threat of the circlip springing out of the piston and flying into oblivion never to be seen again and you can see my point.

The Bux Circlip tool eliminates all of the above.  After reading the directions to quickly set the tool up for your piston type*, using the tool is literally this easy:  1.  Place the circlip on the end of the installer (pictured on the left above) making sure the circlip opening is in line with the groove on the installer handle, 2. Place the adapter/sleeve assembly (shown on the right in the picture above) of the installer snugly into the wrist pin bore.  3.  Insert the installer into the sleeve with the groove facing up (12 o’clock position) and slide the installer through the sleeve until the installer bottoms out and snaps the clip into place as shown in this link: http://www.fastech-racing.com/bux-circlip-tool.html.  That is it!  It will literally take you 15 seconds a side to install your circlips with no risk of losing the clip or scratching the piston. The Bux Circlip tool has single-handedly taken one of karting’s most difficult jobs and made it one of the easiest.  At $39.95, you will seriously wonder why you didn’t buy one yesterday!  You can find the Bux Circlip tool at Fastech-Racing. So, go online (http://www.fastech-racing.com/piston-tools/) or call Fastech (888-333-4181) today and save yourself time and aggravation for years to come.


* Tip:  Carefully remove some of your old circlips and use an old piston to set the depth of the adapter/sleeve assembly to your piston type.  Then practice installing an old circlip into the old piston to make sure you have everything set properly.  I found this very helpful.

There are a couple of areas mechanically when you first get into karting that are fairly intimidating.  The braking system immediately comes to mind as one, the other would be the changing the Top End.  These are two areas where you feel you don’t want to get into the unknown and make a mistake as you definitely don’t EVER want to lose your brakes and you certainly don’t want to accidently do anything to cause your motor to lose power or blow.  Well, luckily changing the Top End, much like rebuilding the braking system, is fairly simple and straightforward.  Once someone walks you through it, it is relatively easy.  So let’s see what’s underneath that cylinder, take away the mystery, and give you the confidence to change your Top End like a pro…

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Categories : Engine Tuning, How To's
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Non-Reservoir go kart brakes are a little bit of an anomaly.  If you come from an automotive or race car background, when it comes to bleeding brakes, you are going to employ some kind of pump-and-hold technique using the brake pedal to pressurize the system while you open and close the caliper bleed screws to release the air bubbles and fill the system with fresh brake fluid.  If you have Non-Reservoir style brakes on your go kart, everything you know about bleeding brakes can be thrown out the window.  So how do you bleed this style of brakes, I’ll show you…

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