What’s up with Kart Blog?

Life has been busy. When I got back into karting, I had a 4-month-old child. Now I have three children and my oldest is racing Quarter Midgets. We have been doing a bit of karting on the side and that has renewed my interest in blogging here. My goal is to be back soon with a few new articles and videos for the Youtube channel. I am about to upgrade the motor on one of our fun-karts and I wanted to talk a bit about how I got my kids into driving at the young age of 2.5 years old.

For now, you can head over to our racing site: http://hillracingteam.com

See you soon!

8 Tips for a Safe, Fun Go-Kart Experience

Go-Karts can provide hours of entertainment for children and adults alike. No matter where you go on your travels, you’re likely to find a Go-Kart race track. Building a Go-Kart together can also be a memorable bonding experience for the entire family.

Yes, driving a Go-Kart is lots of fun…but going to the emergency room for cuts, bruises, breaks, and burns is far less enjoyable. In order to make sure your kids have a good experience, teach them the following eight safety rules for Go-Kart use.

1. Offroad Karts – Always, Always Wear a Seatbelt

A Go-Kart is designed to have a light, open frame. It tips over easily during a collision, and you don’t want your child thrown from the vehicle onto the ground or against one of the walls. A seatbelt will keep your child safely inside until help arrives.

2. Wear a Helmet

A helmet can protect your child from a serious head injury in the event of an accident. Like the seatbelt, it should be a non-negotiable piece of safety equipment.

3. Stick to Designated Areas

Make sure your child only uses his or her Go-Kart in areas where the use of a Go-Kart is allowed. Depending on your local ordinances, that probably means he should not be zipping around on the sidewalk in front of your house or, worse yet, in a public street.

4. Inspect the Go-Kart Before Each Ride

Teach your child how to give the Go-Kart a once over for problems like loose screws, deflated or over-inflated tires, fuel leaks, and problems with the frame. If your child has any doubt that the Go-Kart is safe, she should not attempt to drive it.

5. Pull Over If Something Feels “Off”

Your child knows his Go-Kart better than anyone else. This means he may notice a problem with the way it is handling even before an adult realizes that something is wrong. Teach your child to pull off the track and get the vehicle examined at the first hint of trouble.

6. Choose a Safe Speed

Part of the fun of driving a Go-Kart is being able to race other drivers. Nevertheless, teach your child to start slowly if she is navigating a race track for the first time. The speed can come later, once she is more familiar with the layout and the tricky spots on the track.

7. Wear Fire Retardant Clothing

Although Go-Karts don’t carry much fuel, they can catch on fire after an accident. Fire retardant clothing can protect your child from painful and debilitating burns.

8. Avoid Loose, Flowing Clothes

Whether you’re a contractor accounting software programmer or a racecar driver, you’ve probably heard the story about how dancer Isadora Duncan was killed when her silk scarf became entangled in the wheels and rear axle of an Amilcar, breaking her neck. When your child is preparing to ride her Go-Kart make sure her clothes fit snugly and that her hair is tied back out of the way.

If driving a Go-Kart is a favorite hobby of your child, enjoy the activity with him, and be sure he has all the information he needs to stay safe.

Byline: Carl is an aspiring writer who enjoys blogging about anything and everything that crosses his mind. He’s constantly striving to strengthen his writing skills and is continuously grateful that the Internet allows him to share his thoughts with the world.

Choosing Your First Go-Kart

Perhaps your first experience with a go-kart was at a theme park. Perhaps your kid got to ride one at a friend’s house, or maybe you got the go-kart bug after you saw a race on television. Whatever the reason, now you’re in the market for your first go-kart. Before you make a purchase, here are some important factors to consider.

Age Considerations

First off, is the go-kart for an adult or a child? Adult karts can reach high speeds, with professional racing karts topping out at 160 mph. Most recreational go-karts have a top speed of approximately 90 mph, but that’s still too fast for a child to handle safely. Children driving go-karts designed for adult drivers risk serious injury, including whiplash.

If you’re considering a go-kart for your child, look for one with extra safety features. Child-friendly go-karts often allow parents to set the kart’s top speed. Some have on/off switches, while others allow parents to assume direct control over the kart with remote devices.

Frame Considerations

A go-kart frame serves both aesthetic and practical purposes. Depending on the frame’s design, your go-kart may mimic the appearance of a dune buggy, Formula One racer or a traditional, “stripped down” go-kart. Other frames give the kart the appearance of a monster truck or classic sports car.

More importantly, the kart frame protects the engine and rider from damage. Dune-buggy style go-karts are good choices for kids and novice drivers, as the roll cages provide extra protection if the vehicle tips over.

Electric or Gas-Powered?

Go-kart engines are either gas-powered or electric. Gas-powered, 4-stroke engine karts are easy to refuel and service, but produce exhaust fumes may not be the safest choice for young riders. In comparison, electric motors use a rechargeable battery. The lack of exhaust fumes makes the electric go-kart a sensible choice for indoor racing as well as outdoor tracks.

An electric powered go-kart is generally heavier than a gas kart with similar speed and abilities. That’s not necessarily a bad thing; the extra weight increases an electric kart’s stability, making it easier to handle at high speed or when cornering.

A go-kart’s horsepower depends on its intended use. Recreational vehicles generally have between 5 to 20 horsepower, while professional racing karts may boast up to 48 horsepower. Most privately owned karts fall into the lower range.

Building Your Own Go-Kart

With the right parts and some on-line instructions, you can make a go-kart. If you’re not sure which parts you need, go-kart kits are readily available. The finished product might not be able to hold its own on the national go-kart racing circuit, but could be perfect for recreational karting. Besides, building a go-kart is an excellent way to introduce your kid to auto mechanic skills.

Byline:  Carl Glasmyre is an aspiring writer who loves blogging about anything and everything that crosses his mind. He’s constantly striving to strengthen his writing skills and is continuously grateful that the Internet allows him to share his thoughts with the world.

GX200 Race Engine Testing

The 2012 racing season is fast approaching. I know that many of you race or have been thinking about racing next year. My brother who raced clones on and off last year will be racing the 2012 season at our nearest track. Since my father, my brother and I all started messing with these clone engines my Dad and my brother have really began to figure out how to get peak performance out of a stock class clone. Despite race day issues we all face, last year he was able to always qualify in the top 3 and finish in the top 3 of his class. Clone classes over here have at least 15 racers.

As my brother ramps up for next season we hope to post more videos and perhaps some tips on tuning your engine for race day. Here is a short video of my brother doing an engine swap and some on track footage from one of my Gopro cameras. Below are some photos I took through out the day. Enjoy!

Go-Kart Racing
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San Jost Kart Club Footage from the Mid 90s

A friend of mine, Casey Nydahl, who I used to race with back in the 90’s came across a bunch of old track footage. He has been cutting it together and putting it online. Its pretty cool to see all of the old faces, many in which I have not seen since the days at the track. The track we are at in this video is Hillsferry Speedway in Newman, CA, a high speed banked 1/4 mile oval. The track still exists but I don’t believe anything has raced on it in years. I am sure if I dug deep enough into some old boxes I could find some old track footage myself. We used to record everything. This video does not contain any racing but you can see a lot of old karts and motors from the mid 90’s. I believe I was about 15 years old at this time, so about 15 years ago. I’m the idiot who flips off Casey as he is filming. Everybody likes to act tough for the camera.

Growing up kart racing was probably one of the best experiences of my childhood.

Modified Honda GX200 & Blown Vortex Clutch

This last weekend I loaded up my kart along with the karts of my brother and father. In the midst of all of that, I twisted my ankle pretty good. I was not going to let that get in the way of testing out my freshly rebuilt Honda GX200 Modified. Yes that is correct, no longer do I have a clone modified. After tearing the motor down to fix the issue with the head we decided to take everything out. It had been a few trips to the track since I had completely taken the motor apart and I wanted to see how everything was wearing. My father, who has had a bit more spare time then I, spend the time taking it apart and reporting his findings to me.

The wear on the remaining clone parts that were in the motor was minimal. I have been really impressed with how some of the clone components hold up. The block looked great, with minimal cylinder wear considering the many times I have taken that motor over 9,000 RPM. At this point the only clone components that were left was the block, bearings, crank and side cover but they all still looked in great shape.

Being that I had a new stock Honda GX200 motor sitting on my bench I decided to put my modified parts on the Honda and use my clone as a semi-stock backup motor. The original plan for the Honda was to build an open motor but I have since decided against spending more money on motors and decided to move the parts over to the Honda. The stronger block and crankshaft will help me sleep better at night. My old clone block is going to receive a flat top Honda piston, Honda rod, Dyno CS Cam, 1.3:1 stamped rockers and a blueprinted carb. This motor will be placed on my Margay which I hope to make my backup kart soon. It will also serve as a good kart to have friends drive when I go to the track.

This weekend we decided to go to Prairie City since the Stockton track has been closed down. Prairie City is a fun and brutal track with a lot of tight corners. I was excited to be there as I had not driven that track in over 15 years. Saturday was a practice day before a club race the next day so there was a few karts out there. I was surprised to find there was a few drivers sporting modified YF200 motors. Anything other then stock clones was a sight for sore eyes. There was one other modified clone out there but I did not get to see it run on the track.

The YF200’s were pretty quick. I had never seen one in person so I was very interested to see one run. I know about them but I had never seen one on the track. I went out for my first trip around the track to break in my motor and my clutch. My motor had not yet been ran, except for 10 minutes at idle on the stand, and my clutch was completely new. I was very excited about my SMC Vortex Clutch. I felt that this clutch was going to change my life forever.

After the break-in session I went back out for a few more laps at a medium pace before putting a few hard laps on it toward the end. I felt good about my motor. It ran strong. I was peaking at about 8,900 RPM and needed a geer change. The track is so tight that I was losing a lot of momentum in the corners and could not come out of it like I should with the chosen gearing of a 4.75 ratio. I added 3 teeth to the rear sprocket and gave it another go.

I had the power I was missing in the corners, for the first two laps that is. After that, my motor seemed to bog way down in the corners, so I started adjusting my carb. When that didn’t help, I tried driving harder through the corners to keep my RPM up. That didn’t seem to help much either. After about 5-6 laps of trying, I gave up and came in. When I was almost off the track I noticed that my clutch was not disengaging. My new Vortex clutch was stuck, so I rolled to a stop.

After getting out I looked down and saw a disc hanging out of the clutch. The clutch drum had locked up on to it’s shaft causing it to be locked up. The outer disc that was hanging out was a bit chewed up from grinding on the outside of the drum and there was some wear on the outer plate that the disc normally sat inside of. The clutch looked to be in pretty bad shape. It probably got quite hot. I was really frustrated. The paperwork that came with this clutch promised it to be for large engines and for the most part worry free. At the price tag it carries I was not happy. I ordered the clutch from APS, whom I called today. I hope to get at the very least a replacement clutch. My motor seems to just destroy clutches even though the Vortex clutch is suppose to handle motors much more powerful than mine. One of the YF200’s had the same clutch and he said he does not have any issues with his. My last trip out on the track when the clutch problem occurred was with the YF200. He was able to stay on my tail through the corners when I couldn’t keep my RPM up due to the locked up clutch. Regardless, I was still pretty impressed with the power those YF200’s put out. I am not sure how much was done to his motor in comparison to my motor. On the straight away I was just as fast as a TAG however out of the corners they pulled on me quite a bit. Even before the clutch issues
came about I needed more RPM through the corners. We had the Vortex clutch set to the second to last setting.

So where does this leave me? I am not really sure. I am really considering giving up this modified stuff for a while. It is just to much work for someone who does not have the time to keep up with it. I have been a bit to busy this year which has kept me from spending much time on the kart. What I really need is a kart that is fast and worry free, however that doesn’t make much sense now does it.

I have some pictures of the damaged Vortex clutch I will post later along with the results of my conversation with APS. As for my Modified Honda GX200… I am not sure if I am going to keep it or not. Time will tell…

Stock Clone Flywheels

There are a lot of people concerned about stock clone flywheels. At first I thought it was a lot about nothing. I only lost one flywheel years ago, and that was my own fault. It was on a modified Briggs. I have witnessed a Briggs 3 hp aluminun flywheed explode in the pits. But since have only heard rumors about clone flywheels coming apart, I believe the magnet coming loose causes most of the problems with the clones, maybe not. BUT, take a look at these flywheels. Except for the Honda flywheel the rest are from HF Clones.

The last HF clone had the 5.18 lb flywheel with the row of holes. A lighter flywheel is good, but would you trust that one? REALLY it came that way stock.

I like to balance my motors, other than stock class, and I do it with removing material from the flywheel. I know that’s not the right way, but it works for me. I prefer not to add weight to the crank. I checked the static balance on a crank with four different flywheels. A stock Honda, an ARC billet, and two clones. They all checked about the same even considering the rpm range between 5 & 7 thousand. The higher the rpm range and the lighter stock rod and piston, the more out of balance they were. I was using an ARC rod and Honda flattop piston, which are considerably heavier than stock.

I now have 5 HF motors and one Dupar. No comparison. The first two HF I found loose bolts, each one seemed to have more metal pieces and shavings inside the crankcase, and they all had scratched pistons and cylinders. To make them competative, you have to shave the top of the bock and maybe the head, minimum. The Dupar needed no machining to end with 28cc. Our local rules call for 27.5cc. I helped with another Dupar and with no machining it was 27cc. I am not sure I am sorry that the Blue HF Clones are gone. I don’t think I will ever lighten and balance any Clone flywheel.

What are your experiences with clone flywheels?

Post written by Ken Hill

SMC Vortex 3 Disc Clutch

I have not been able to put as much seat time in with my kart and modified clone as I would like, however my clutch looks like I have raced two seasons on it with out bothering to maintain it. My current clutch, the Horstman Reaper, just can’t handle the power. I will post some of the damaged Reaper photos to the blog later.

After a few conversations with the Thomas, the owner of SMC, I decided to purchase their Vortex 3 Disc Clutch.

When I received the box, it was pretty heavy. I was surprised and thought that there must be more then just the clutch inside. When I removed the clutch from the box I was surprised at how large of a clutch it is. The photos I have seen of the clutch online did not do it justice, this clutch is massive.

Just holding and examining the clutch with my own hands I could tell that this clutch is going to perform much better than the Reaper ever could. My modified clone just produces to much power for the Reaper Clutch. I am pretty excited to get my motor back together after the issue with my head from Minidragbike and get back on the track to test this clutch.

The clutch is independent from the drum. Most clutches hold the drum onto it’s own shaft and become one unit held together by a snap ring. This clutch remains as two pieces that are held together on the crankshaft once bolted down. The drum itself has 4 points of contact from the discs where as the Reaper just had three. When I get some photos of the Reaper up you will see the damage on the drum from having a lot of power and only three points of contact. The Vortex drum is very light. I was surprised at how light it was considering the clutch itself is pretty heavy.

Here are some photos of the unboxing of the clutch. Once I get it on the motor I will take a few more photos which will give you a better idea of just how huge this clutch is. I am going to have to move my motor over even more now as this clutch is much thicker than the Horstman Reaper.

SMC Vortex 3 Disc Clutch: http://www.kartclutches.com/Products/v3.html

SMC Vortex 3 Disc Clutch SMC Vortex 3 Disc Clutch SMC Vortex 3 Disc Clutch
SMC Vortex 3 Disc Clutch SMC Vortex 3 Disc Clutch SMC Vortex 3 Disc Clutch
SMC Vortex 3 Disc Clutch SMC Vortex 3 Disc Clutch

I purchased my clutch from APS but they have since went out of business.. You can purchase direct from SMC.

Kart Racing at Stockton Motorplex

I had a great time at the Stockton Motorplex club race this last weekend. I had not been to a race in years. Even though there was not much of a kart turnout it was still fun. My Dad and I finally made it out with our karts in hopes to drum up some interest in a Clone Modified class. We were able to get a few practice runs in. I ended up having some trouble with my Clone. You can read about that in another post. However I did bring my camera and captured a few shots from the track. I also shot some video but probably won’t have time to mess with that for a few weeks. These are just a few of the shots that I edited really quick so I could get them up. I may post more later. I also ran next door to Delta Speedway which was hosting a Sprint Car race at the same time as our Kart race.

Enjoy.

Kart Racing Stockton Motorplex

Kart Racing Stockton Motorplex

Kart Racing Stockton Motorplex

Kart Racing Stockton Motorplex

Kart Racing Stockton Motorplex

Kart Racing Stockton Motorplex

Kart Racing Stockton Motorplex

Kart Racing Stockton Motorplex

Kart Racing Stockton Motorplex

Kart Racing Stockton Motorplex

Kart Racing Stockton Motorplex

Modified Head Failure

I have been fortunate enough to get some track time in two weeks in a row. On the 7th I just wanted to test my kart running the new jackshaft I had installed to allow for more seat room. I also tried running my clone on gas for the first time since I put the modified head on. The last trip out to the track which was a few months ago was not that good. My motor ran horribly. I attributed it to the weather. The last time my clone ran well was in 60 degree weather and it was now in the 90’s. This practice session was a battle to get my motor to peak 8,500 RPM. The battle I was used to having was to try and keep my motor below 10,000 RPM.

Yesterday, the 20th, my Dad and I went out to a race in Stockton. Some of the guys there had been bugging us to come to a race because there was talk of a “Clones gone wild” class for modifieds. Although we ended up being the only two, they let us get in a bit of track time.

The two times I went out on the track was with the Yamaha KT100’s. Normally my clone would make KT100’s look like amusement park rides, however with my motor issues I was a bit slower then they were. After that embarrassment I decided to start taking my motor apart. I knew something was not right. Going down the straight away I felt like I was towing another kart behind me. My motor was working hard to do something but it was not performing like it should.

When I removed the head and looked into the intake port I noticed a good size chunk of metal missing. When Minidragbike ported the head for me, he went way to far and there was not enough metal left between the wall of the intake port and the channel that allows oil and pressure up from the crankcase. I have ported 100’s of small 2cycle engines and this is a careless mistake. I have accidentally ported to far on heads before and when I do, I throw them away. If you look close at the photo you can see how paper thin the wall was. For my application, there was no reason to port that far, especially with out strengthening the areas that were ported so thin. One other problem I have been having since receiving the head is with intake gasket leaks. The port job left such a small amount of port face left that the cylinder head actually just cuts the gaskets and allows leaks.

I have written before about how good the head performs. I am not complaining in that department, however had I spent the time to measure and look more at the work I would not have trusted this head in a race.

My Dad is going to MarineTex the intake port and try to salvage the head. During this process we are also going to fill in the port a bit to add back a bit of the port face that is missing so we can port match a manifold to it.

I am not to thrilled with this. I could say a lot more but I would rather just report my findings and leave out how I really feel. Regardless, I hope that we drummed up a bit of interest for modified clones. I really wish my clone had been running at it’s peak for everybody to see. However there is always next time.

Open Clone Head

Open Clone Head

Open Clone Head