Festival of Power 2017

The first meeting of 2017 for us, and we have a new “air” clutch installed. Designed by Barry, it is entirely self-contained, with no external piston or ram. It has around 28 square inches of pressure area, so 1psi of air pressure means 28lbs of pressure on the clutch pack, 50psi means 1400lbs of clutch pressure.

Up til now we’ve been running the traditional 6″ Bentec-type Top Fuel type centrifugal clutch in various guises, the last of which had input from the late Brian Johnson and had 3 sets of 3 arms. All of these clutches had some kind of air/hydraulic hold-off, as unlike a Top Fuel bike we can’t launch from idle, and need at least 8000rpm on the dial to generate enough boost to haul our 400kg, 3 speed, turbo bike off the line. Unlike a Super Streetbike though, there is no “off the shelf” Gann/MTC slider that we can use either. We need the power handling capability of a Top Fuel clutch with the control of a Super Streetbike clutch.

The centrifugal/hold-off combination has always meant compromises for us, with our best 1.0 sixty foots to date being achieved by slipping the clutch to the rev limiter, using crank inertia to launch, then bogging the engine to 6-7000rpm, then letting the torque of the compound turbo system haul the engine back up for the change to second gear. This hold-off also created a delay of around 0.25 secs between releasing the anti-lag, and the hold-off piston moving far enough to engage the weights and move the bike. This could often be seen in our videos as the bike in the other lane gaining a big holeshot. Fine for qualifying, but not for racing where a much quicker acting system is needed to prevent us losing to a slower bike.

Here are some pics of the new clutch, without the cover.

And with the cover on.

The new clutch design needed a special air seal, capable of high rpm. Clive Munns of Sealmasters came up with the goods, and at a very reasonable price, thanks Clive!

The clutch is controlled by an AMS2000, supplied by Brad O’Connor and installed by Mark Harrison from Owen Developments, along with a Motec dash to expand our datalogging capability. We only finished the installation just before the Festival of Power though, so with no time to test the set up before the meeting, we turned up a day early. Things over the next 4 days didn’t go entirely smoothly…

Try 1: Bike stalls when anti-lag engaged – applying pressure when it shouldn’t.
Try 2: No drive in mode 3 (race mode) – not applying pressure when it should.
Try 3: Burns out, shut off for oil leak.
Try 4: Bike warmed up, oil pump seizes.
Try 5: Burns out, stages, leaves line, clutch slips to the moon. Wrong clutch mode selected by rider. 25 second pass.
Try 6: Burns out, stages, stalls. Too much clutch.
Try 7: Burns out, stages, clutch slips. Not enough clutch. 15 second pass.
Try 8: Burns out, stages, turbo overspeed limiter kicks in, 8 second pass. Eliminated by Phil Crossley, who went on to win the event (congrats Phil!).

After all this the good news is that the clutch now does what it should. It has a neutral. It drives to the line just off idle. It will hold-off at any rpm and then launch instantly without bogging. (In the datalog below the red line is the air clutch, black line is our typical run with the centrifugal.) Next time out we’ll be raising the launch rpm and aiming to beat our PB 60′ time.

Thanks as always to the hard working team: Mick, Barry, Dave, Graham, Paul and Sarah, to our sponsor Mark from Owen’s and to Brad for pointing us in the right direction.

Pics of the weekend from Sarah White:

 

Pic from Mark Skinner:

Video from Sarah White:

Extreme Bike Weekend 2016

After repairing the boost hose and the broken chain we’re good to go at the last meeting of the year, the Extreme Bike Weekend at Santa Pod. A bikes-only event with around 80 entered, but late in the year so no chance of a warm track.

Q1:

60′ 1.14
330′ 3.03
1/8 4.56 @ 159
1000′ 5.89
1/4 7.03 190mph #1 qualifier

Q2 6.99 @ 198mph

Q3 6.89 rolled off at 1000′ as moving towards the centre line, with this run keeping us at #1 qualifier, 0.6 seconds ahead of second place with the rest of the field struggling for grip.

Julian Hunt pics:

CG2P9773_Lo_Res

CG2P0239_Lo_Res

In Q4 the bike clutch didn’t disengage after the burnout, stalling the engine. The team stripped the clutch and gearbox overnight, and re-seated a bearing in the gearbox that could have been the problem, but in the first elimination round Sunday morning the bike did the same thing, putting us out. Despite the cold weather though the bike took 6 men to unstick it from the track after the burnout!

Yannick Richard photo:

Runs from the weekend (Sarah White video):

DR Photography photos:

Slo-mo from Blackett Photography:

See you next year 🙂

National Finals 2016

The Storm team thrashed to get the engine and turbo repaired in time for the National Finals, including skulling the damaged head:

Skulled head

But it was not to be. On the first qualifying run the big turbo again popped its connector hose off. And on the second run the launch was very aggressive, snapping the drive chain.

Sarah White photo.

Sarah White photo.

Fans of Barry’s “Tokyo Express” CBX funnybike might remember a similar incident where the chain broke and almost sawed the frame (and Barry’s leg) in half. Thanks to Barry’s experience Storm has the chainguard integrated with the frame which is very strong and minimises the chance of the chain hitting the rider’s leg.

We had another drive chain but unfortunately the broken one went through the alternator and we didn’t have another one of those, so once again we were out! The overboost was later traced to the fire which had melted the braided hose to the wastegate on the inside, blocking it and preventing the boost controller from working.

European Finals 2016

Set up, scrutineered, everything good to go, right? Nearly…

On the first run the large turbo came off its exhaust connector on the launch. The turbo dropped about an inch and touched a wire, which caught fire. 7.39 with a PB 60′ of 1.087 though qualified us 5th after the first round even though most of the run was on minimal boost. The small fire was extinguished in the waiting area at the finish after a brief “FIRE…FIRE” moment.

It was a tad busy on the banking…

Unfortunately on our second run just edging forward to the burnout box there were some unpleasant noises from the motor before it stalled and locked up. Three valve heads in cylinder number 2 had come off, one lodging itself in its port and the other two damaging the piston and head so we were out of the competition.

One theory is that a valve was slightly bent at the previous meeting when we popped the manifold. Valve spring pressure can mean that a slightly bent valve will straighten up and seal properly when it closes, only to return to being bent again when it opens, This repeated flexing ultimately causes the valve to fail some time later.

We’ll need to get the head skulled or welded and fit all new valves but hope to be out again either at the National Finals or the Extreme bike weekend. In the meantime good luck to our fellow competitors in Top Fuel Bike, see you next time!

PS congrats to Rene van den Berg on a storming 6.15 @ 229mph!

 

Not another one…

Update Summer 2016

July and August 2016 were a bit difficult for us. We went to the Summernationals with the turbo repaired and some new EGT sensors in the hope of gathering some more accurate data but a loud pop on the burnout of the first run again killed the small turbo. The carbon seal hadn’t worked.

New EGT sensors

With the seal replaced with a stronger version we went to a RWYB at the Japshow but the same thing happened again, only this time on the first run and it blew the inlet manifold apart for good measure. The team decided to bit the bullet and move the throttle body from in between the large and small turbos to after the small turbo. Lots of time and fabrication, but it would mean the turbo wouldn’t need a carbon seal.

Old manifold opened like a tin can:

 

 

 

New manifold with throttle body moved:

newmanifold2

Main Event 2016

The Main Event 2016 was our first ever venture with Storm into European competition and the FIM Top Fuel Bike class. As no Funnybike class exists under FIM rules turbo bikes (and any other non-nitro bikes) are allowed to enter but can only qualify if they have previously run in the sixes.

We left the bike largely unchanged from the Festival of Power with the exception of asking sponsors Owen Developments to fit a carbon seal to the small turbo to prevent oil getting sucked through it. A more complex procedure than it sounds as it required a new turbine shaft! Lorcan had a bit of running around to do to obtain his FIM European licence but it all got done in plenty of time.

The first day of the four day event was set aside for the Sportsman classes so we spent the day setting up our pit and getting scrutineered.

Pizza hut

Pizza hut

We got a nice mention in the event programme too.

Main Event programme

Main Event programme

Saturday dawned cloudy but dry with a tailwind. Scheduled to run around 11.30am a big Pro Mod crash at the top end delayed proceedings for everyone and we ran at around 3pm. After a strong burnout the engine revs weren’t steady at idle and tried to pull the bike forward as Graham was pushing back. David Warren signalled a bye-run but after a solid 1.10 sixty foot the engine went flat and once again popped a cam cover bung out.

Santa Pod photo

Santa Pod photo

 

Julian Hunt photo

Julian Hunt photo

Holding on to get a qualifier in the bag a rather mild 7.2 @ 177mph was the result which qualified us around 4th after the first session. With the bung glued in place and the oil mess cleaned up we went out for session two a couple of hours later but the bike wouldn’t burn out.

Investigation showed the plug on cylinder 3 had lost its electrode and there were burns into the head and sealing rings on 1 & 3. We were out of the event.

Yvona Kneblova photo

We finished up qualifying 6th, pleased to qualify but so disappointed not to have done better. Ian King dominated the class with 6 out of 7 runs in the fives and the event win. Well done Ian! Rikard Gustaffson also ran an excellent 6.0 on only his fourth ever quarter mile pass on his new Top Fuel bike, shutting off at 1000′ and only using first gear!

We now have to get the head repaired and correct whatever caused the damage. See you at the Summer Nationals.

Festival of Power 2016

Extreme Bike Weekend in October 2015 didn’t go that well for us, the combination of trying a weaker fuel map and low temperatures made the bike too aggressive, creating wheelspin, tyre shake and clutch slip and we didn’t make a single good pass. But with everything otherwise working well, and still on a high from our 6 second, 200+mph passes from the National Finals, it was still a good end to the year and left us with unusually little work to do over the winter.

The weather forecast was not good for the early Easter meeting, with Friday being the only likely good day. We set up our pit and scrutineered on Thursday so we were ready to make the most of it on Friday. Unfortunately several track incidents delayed proceedings in the morning and, despite the best efforts of the excellent Pod crew, we were running late by lunchtime.

Our first run at around 2pm was set to use the “safe” fuel map from the National Finals coupled with our new anti-lag strategy which Mark from Owen Developments had installed over the winter. A wheel-up launch was swiftly followed by tyre shake from 20′ to around 150′ out at which point Lorcan shut off, followed by a quick squirt in second gear to pass Thomas Joswig in the left lane. An 8.36 @ 161 was the result but with a PB 60′ time of 1.11 which was encouraging, considering the tyre shake. At about half track one of the right side cam cover rubbers came loose and gave Lorcan a shiny leg but no damage was done.

Tim Felce photo

Tim Felce photo

Tim Felce photo

Callum Pudge photo

Callum Pudge photo

Mick made some adjustments to the clutch but our next run, scheduled for around 5pm didn’t happen til nearly 7.30pm, by which time it was dark and the track temperature had fallen from the mid 20s to just 7.5 degrees C. Not expecting too much, we were surprised to see the bike hook up and launch with a 1.09 sixty foot. On course for a certain 6 second pass Lorcan thought he felt the power drop off in third gear so shut off at around 900 feet and 5.5 seconds into the run to give a 7.07 pass at 160mph, making us #1 qualifier.

We were delighted by this progress as getting an 800lb (+ rider) turbo bike to launch was always going to be a challenge and critical to the success of the bike. Unlike Top Fuel bikes we can’t launch from idle, but still have nearly as much weight to move, so the specific clutch and boost management required took some time to arrive at.

109sixty

Saturday dawned windy, as predicted, with a 20mph+ crosswind. With our qualifying time looking safe we elected not to run another qualifier if called and to keep an eye on the weather. We were surprised to see Top Fuel bike run around lunchtime and poor Nick Milburn get blown across the track in front of Steve Woollatt and come off at the finish line. Hope the shoulder heals soon Nick and glad you’re otherwise ok. Bikes were cancelled for the rest of the day and with rain forecast for Sunday we packed up and came home. This turned out to be the right decision as the meeting was later cancelled.

Here’s Sarah’s video of both runs, see you at the Main Event, May Bank Holiday!

National Finals, September 2015

Our first event of the year, and the penultimate event of 2015!

The National Finals weekend event is preceded by a Peak Performance test day on the Friday, so with good weather forecast all weekend we decided to make the best of it and attend all three days. Lorcan’s partner Sarah who usually takes photos and records video for us had to work on the Friday so there would be no video that day. Unfortunate, as it turned out…

Friday morning we decided to take our time and make sure everything was spot on before making a run. We were all concerned about the recent turbo failures but Mick was confident that the additional weight on the clutch would prevent any undesired visits to the rev limiter.

A reasonable launch (for us) and short shifting brought a PB 7.05 at a relaxed 192mph. Encouraging, and we knew that a six wasn’t far away. Sarah threatened to make Lorcan sleep in the van with Barry if the six happened without her but Lorcan had team orders “Don’t you dare shut off!” and holding on to each gear longer on the afternoon run brought the desired result.

Sam Tait photos:

Sam Tait photo

Sam Tait photo

Sam Tait photo

first6

A couple of celebratory drinks that evening and with the full team compliment including Angus, Graham, Paul and Sarah in attendance and we were ready for Saturday qualifying.

Q1 and we fitted the nose fairing to stay class legal and found ourselves in the left lane with “Fast Fil” Philipos Papafilipou and his new featherweight (212kg) turbo funny in the right lane. Fil spun off the line and we repeated our 6.89 but this time at 203mph – our first 200+! Two barriers broken and two PBs in two runs. The shutdown area was very bumpy for us so an upgrade to the front forks is planned.

Pics from Ian Blackett, Mark Skinner and Colin Donisthorpe:

Ian Blackett pic

Colin Donisthorpe pic

2033

2031

2034

203mph

For some reason Santa Pod had an issue with the ticket and eventually printed one showing Mr Dale Leeks in the other lane, but hey ho, it still counts!

Q2 and having achieved 200mph we can try the full fairing the team have held back as being an unnecessary luxury (!) at sub-200mph speeds. The fairing was made from carbon Kevlar by Angus who taught himself how to lay the weave and vacuum-bag to achieve a light but strong result.

We have the right lane this time with Stuart Crane in the left. Stu had been knocking on the door of a six for the past couple of meetings and didn’t disappoint – a 6.99 PB for him and a 6.95 at 200.5mph for us meant a new ACU FB speed record (backed up by our earlier 203mph) and two happy campers! The fairing seemed fine but our clutch was misbehaving and Lorcan had to use the back brake to hold the bike in stage.

Pics from Ian Blackett and Rose Hughes:

stu1

Rose Hughes photo

Ian Blackett photo

Saturday night was spent in high spirits with Chinese food courtesy of Graham. Many tales of old were told and re-told. Meanwhile Mick was sent home to fix a misbehaving back brake disc – it’s tough at the top Mick!

Sunday morning as #1 qualifier we drew #8 qualifier and mid 7-second runner Phil Crossley and again had an issue with the clutch pulling the bike forward after the burnout and in stage. On the launch Phil got away first and Lorcan’s right foot slipped off the foot rest. The bike drifted to the right and Lorcan was unable to get it back on track while keeping full throttle. Storm clipped the right wall just before the gantry and was therefore disqualified. There was no damage to Lorcan or the bike apart from the clutch cover which took the brunt of the impact. Phil went on to win the event, congrats Phil!

Ian Blackett and Mark Skinner photos:

oops2

Ian Blackett photo

Mark Skinner photo

Ian Blackett photo

Video of Sat/Sun from Sarah:

Our 6.84 was another PB, albeit the long way around, and the increments suggest a 6.7 or faster is possible with no increase in power, so we’re very much looking forward to the last event of the season – the Extreme Bike Weekend 17th/18th October.

See you there.

 

 

Testing and more testing August 2015

A RWYB test day on 8th August yielded a first run of 1.13 to 60′ (our best ever), 3.13 to 330′ then rev limiter and then wheelspin – 7.7 @ 145mph. There was a loud pop as the limiter came in and smoke from the exhaust in the shut down area which turned out to be a broken ball-bearing race in the small turbo, so game over for the day.

2 weeks later we were back at a Peak Performance day (better track) with a rebuilt turbo from Owen’s only for the same thing to happen again. Even with Owen’s help, this was getting expensive at a turbo per run!

Both turbos had failed in exactly the same way, a broken bearing on the compressor side.

Close examination of the datalog however revealed that hitting the limiter was caused by clutch slip, not wheelspin, so for the next time out we would add more weight to the clutch and modify the limiter to cut fuel only instead of fuel and ignition.