Main Event 2018

With the Festival of Power at Easter being rained off the Main Event was the first chance for many teams, including us, to try their machines and dial in any changes made over the off season. It would also be our first runs on the all-new concrete surface laid by Santa pod over the winter.

Changes for us included the longtail seat (suggested by UWTSD as an interim measure while they work on the scans they took of the bike in the winter) and new high-friction clutch plates. A Thursday test run showed we weren’t too far off:

A 60′ test later on Thursday gave a better 1.17, but Friday was rained out, giving us a chance to test the new parachute system on Storm, the results of which were inconclusive 😉

Saturday qualifying gave us a 10.4 and a 7.4, only good enough for 9th spot. Meanwhile, Fast Fil stunned everyone with his first passes on what was Ian King’s bike – 6.0 and 5.7 @ 236mph! This was on a “soft” setup with less nitro and ignition to let Fil get a grip on his new ride. He certainly did that, congrats Fil!!

For reasons I can’t remember we didn’t make first session on Sunday, which left the final session at 6.30pm. As Eurodragster put it “Lorcan in the Last Chance Saloon stood up and started shooting the glasses behind the bar”, as we ran 6.85 @ 205mph to qualify 5th. We were back in the game!

Round 1 and Glenn Borg didn’t make it to the line with an engine issue, which was lucky for us as he had run 6.57 in qualifying. Storm moved towards the centre line for a poor 8.02 but was through to the next round against #1 qualifier Fil.

Fil left late, 0.37 to 0.14 but by 330′ he was past us and there would be no doubt about the winner from then on. We put on a good show though, running a PB 6.74 @218mph. Fil went on to win the event against Rikard in an epic battle, 6.01 to 6.02.


Photos from Callum Pudge:


Photos from Krissy:


Photos from Nitro Shutter:

Winter rebuild 2017/2018

Over the winter the team completely stripped the bike, repaired any damaged or stripped threads etc, repaired the cylinder head (welded up and machined flat) and made a new billet cylinder block with a conventional copper head gasket / stainless wire combination in place of the power rings. A camchain guide was added inside the cam cover making it impossible for the cam chain to jump teeth, and the seat unit was extended approximately 16″ – a suggestion from UWTSD as an interim measure while they work on the computer model. The gearing was also lowered approx 7% with a new rear sprocket.

The bike was then treated to a new paint scheme in yellow and metallic black by ace painter “Frizzle”, and new decals by Mr Sticker in Saltash were added.


Photos from Kermit.

Straightliners 2017

After missing the National finals the team worked hard to make new primary drive gears and get us to the Straightliners event in mid-October 2017. The effort was rewarded with a PB 6.74 @ 210mph, and then the bike immediately torched the head on the next run when one of the power rings let go. Even so, it was a good note to end the year on and we had 5 months or so to come up with a new plan.

Sarah’s video:



Photos from Blackett Photography:

European Finals 2017

Over the summer break we realised that the clutch pressure sensors had been calibrated wrongly and set about putting them right. This meant abandoning the settings we had previously used to score our best 60′ time of 1.08 and starting again with the settings. We tried some tests remotely before the event and all looked good. However, the weather had other plans for us….

While we were waiting though this gentleman swung by and introduced himself as David Cooper from UWTSD (University of Wales Trinity St David). More on this later.

So after 48 hours of intermittent rain and heroic efforts by the Santa Pod crew in trying to dry the track we finally made it to the burnout box on the Saturday afternoon only for Eric Richard to fall off in front of us, followed within 5 minutes by another downpour. Thankfully Eric was fine and his bike sustained little damage. The crew were a little shaken but thankfully everyone was ok. Those sixes will have to wait til next year Eric! All the best from us, we hope we see you again soon.

When business resumed a couple of hours later we managed a decent burnout on the second attempt only for the bike to run weak and stall on the line. On investigation the drive belt off which drives the fuel pump and oil pump had given up under the strain. Graham noticed that one of the primary drive gears was cracked too, so that put us out of the event as we couldn’t risk using it and didn’t have a spare.

Congrats to Dale Leeks for his first event win, Stu Crane for an impressive 6.81 – unfortunately with a catastrophic looking fireball, great runs from Fast Fil and the SSB boys put on a great show as always.

We’re going to be out of action for the National Finals in 2 weeks but hope to make the bike event in October with new oil pumps and drive gears.

Main Event 2017

The Main Event started well with the van throwing a drive shaft the day before, necessitating a last minute repair by Barry before they even loaded the bike into the van!

At the event itself we continued to dial in the air clutch but the results were inconsistent. A PB 1.08 to sixty foot was followed by clutch slip, and applying more air to the clutch only seemed to make matters worse. There would be more to come with this issue. Q3 was shut off for drops of oil, but Q4 saw a near-PB 6.87 at 193mph to qualify us third in Top Fuel. Unfortunately the clutch slipped off the line in E1 against Otto Knebl which put us out of eliminations, and the event was then rained off.

Videos of the 6.87 run courtesy of Sarah White and Ian Blackett.

Pics from Santa Pod, Ian Blackett and Rose Hughes:

Race, Rock & Ride 2017

Race, Rock and Ride is a new “lifestyle event” for Santa Pod; bikes only and the first proper event for us with the air clutch. Problems in qualifying followed by heavy rain put us out of eliminations, but we did manage a 7.00 demonstration run with a 1.10 sixty foot so we were satisfied with that.

Pics from Sarah, Santa Pod and Mark Skinner.

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.