Tuesday, 30 September 2014

Done and Dusted

Well QLD Titles is over for another year and part of me is glad it is. It was a great event on a really challenging but fun track. It was good to catch up with a few people and good to be on a totally new track, but given how little I get to race these days, all tracks are unfamiliar to some degree.

I did intend to be more detailed with a race report etc. I took pics of most of the results sheets and kept notes on my car changes, but as I drove home on Monday I started to realise that it was just going to become a "coulda, shoulda, woulda" type thing and that didn't interest me much and I didn't think it would interest anyone else either.

Practice went reasonably well given the 4+ hour drive before hand and a bit of laziness on my behalf with car setup before I got there. I also wasn't sure the old, but unused, set of Sorex's I'd dug up as practice tyres were part of the issues or not. On the setup board back at the cabin that evening and I'd been trying to run with no rear toe and that obviously wasn't a good idea. I also wasn't happy with the diff action but I discovered I'd forgotten to bring all of my oils with me so I left it alone.

Saturday qualifying and I was mildly excited at the prospects of what was to come and a quick morning practice showed a proper setup was making a positive difference. However the first actual qualifying run lasted exactly one lap before a massive change in car handling surfaced. Back at the table and it was clear the front belt had flipped off the tension-er and because the belt is so loose without it, instant 2WD. Now I had flirted with running a 2WD car for the whole event but that's a bit different to suddenly switching from one to the other mid lap. I adjusted the belt tension-er a little tighter and waited for round 2.

That lasted just 3 laps with the exact same result and problem. As I inspected the car back in the pits again, I noticed that the custom tension-er was flexing as the motor spun. This had NEVER happened running 17.5 and I was struck by how difficult it must be for manufacturers to develop cars to cover all classes. At this point I honestly thought the weekend was over as I wasn't sure how to fix the problem with out access to all my bits and pieces at home, but I was instantly pissed at the idea of sitting and watching for 2 days. It was obvious I needed to come up with some sort of brace but with only what I could find in my toolboxes. An old plastic servo mount from and MO3 and a hand drilled hole added to it let me mount it between the motor mount and the carbon tension-er mount. The result worked well and I didn't have any more issues with the belt for the rest of the weekend.

Qualifiers 3-5 - Not much to say other than if I could've combined my fastest laps with my best consistancy I "shoulda" been in the 20 lap bracket pretty easily. Not bad considering everything but I didn't so I wasn't. Handling was a mix of good low speed steering but with high speed under-steer and just a touch of rear instability in the transition from high speed to low speed corners. A few changes to droop and rear springs helped but I think the diff action needed addressing sooner than I eventually did. The single biggest change that had a positive effect was moving the body forward 5mm. This helped the high speed under-steer very obviously.

An offer of a Reedy Sonic 13.5T had me changing motors and fitting a fan on Saturday night. Another debate with the diff ensued but I didn't do anything about it then, Sunday morning and a wet track held things up for about 3 hours. Practice once the track dried out and I finally succumbed to my doubts and decided to refill the diff. However some locally sourced oil that was supposed to be 3000Wt definitely wasn't  and totally screwed the handling. Because I'd forgotten my own 3000Wt oil I was forced to used 2000Wt which ALSO changed the car handling.

Finals - Probably the less said the better. 2 DNF's and a DNS rounded the finals out. The car was fast but I felt the lighter diff oil made the car balance change as the tyres cycled during the run. The change in motor from the $40 Turnigy Trackstar to a $100+ Reedy also didn't deliver any obvious improvement in the time I had with it. 

On a personal level though, I have reached a bit of crossroads. As I've detailed in my writings before I've debated how long I can sustain my interest in 4WD touring cars. Sunday afternoon and before the 3rd final it became very easy to decide not to run. There was nothing to be gained, either personally or results wise, and any excitement from Saturday was long gone. Maybe if the 2WD car had worked better in Friday practice or if I'd decided to run F1 as well/instead, I'd feel a little different. All I know is that from now and for the imaginable future I will not be running 4WD touring cars again. I will turn my attention back to F1/LM and 1/12 where possible and I might also continue work on my FWD project. I have also decide that, again if possible, to go to the Australian On-Road Titles in 2015, just to say I've been. How I will achieve that I have no idea yet.

Tuesday, 23 September 2014

QLD Titles Prep - Pt3

Just 3 days now till I leave for Friday practice. Pretty much everything important has been done. A new body is painted up and ready to be fitted on Friday night. I am still intending to try both chassis on Friday practice and decide which one to use before Saturday The Mi1.5 is pretty much as good as it's going to be and I think it will do reasonably well if I drive it half decent. The last time I ran a decent sized event with it was Bayside interclub last year and I've improved it in a couple key of areas since then. The drive line is more efficient than the original layout and a modern motor will make a big difference on its own but its also a big unknown for me. I've driven faster motors and faster cars but rarely have I raced them at this level of competition.

The LCG-R is still on the bench - I'd forgotten just how light this thing was even as a 4WD and now, with a front diff etc missing and using short packs, its nearly into F1 territory. I am glad I bought a regular weight body this time as I would have no hope of finding enough chassis to put lead on. As it is I need to put at around 160 grams on it. I am also still trying to come up with some sort of sway bar arrangement. I tried one idea last night and that failed miserably. I've now come up something based on some ideas I saw after a late-night search through pictures of sway bar mountings. Time for a major modification is starting to run a bit slim however.

On a personal note I've made a few decisions on my future direction but that's for a different day...

Thursday, 18 September 2014

QLD Titles Prep - Pt 2

With just over a week to go, I am focusing more of my free time on getting things ready. So far all the spare parts boxes have been stock take-d, tyres are glued and ready to be packed and the Mi1.5 has had new bearings fitted as well as a general clean and inspection of drive shafts, suspension pins, pulleys etc.

The long winded battle with the Mi5 center pulley adaption continues with the discovery that the 13.5T puts more pressure on the current arrangement which forces something to spin that wasn't supposed to, which kept changing the spur/pinion mesh. I stripped it all down, AGAIN, and the only option I could come up with was to stop one set of bearing from being able to turn but still be removable, so I now have 2 perfectly good and near new 8x5 flanged bearing that have been filled with superglue. When everything is put together now its impossible for anything to spin other than the parts I want to spin so HOPEFULLY it will work.

IF I go for the 4WD option that is. I am busily trying to come up with a way of mounting sway bars to the 2WD LCG just in case they make a significant difference. I fitted up the same body I have been using on the Mi1.5 (and is my choice for the titles as well) and the wheel cutouts match surprisingly well and I always knew I was going to need to make new post holes. At least this way I can practice with both chassis before I make holes in the new body but I can take it with me painted and pre-marked.

I also have to say that the closer the event gets, the more disappointed I am that I am not running F1 but the logistics of getting a car together now, with just 2 days before entries close, just aren't worth stressing over. Maybe it is a reflection of  the level of my disappointment, but I find the whole "blinky" thing, while supposedly creating a "level playing field" on the one hand, also creates a bit of a crutch that organisers can fall back on when they can't be bothered, on the other. How can a 7 or 8 year old ESC, regardless of its quality then, be better than what is currently available given the advances in both FET and processor technology? It's size and weight alone would hardly be an advantage. As long as I can prove I am not using Dynamic Timing (ie boost), which would be almost impossible to hide from observers anyway, I really can't see why the pedantism over a demo class.

Anyway, no point getting too bent out of shape over it now...

“The saddest people I've ever met in life are the ones who don't care deeply about anything at all. Passion and satisfaction go hand in hand, and without them, any happiness is only temporary, because there's nothing to make it last.” ― Nicholas Sparks

Saturday, 13 September 2014

QLD Titles Prep - Pt 1

The Queensland Electric  On-Road Titles are less that 2 weeks away and I am starting to get my stuff together. 

Accommodation is booked - I am sharing with a few people coming from the Gin Gin club. I am still a member there so will be great to catch up with a few of them. I also had to hire a car which seems to be a more and more irritating experience every time I have to do it, but with the Chev still a no go for long distance, and my partner needing her car that weekend, it was the only option. For a few days I did seriously consider pulling out altogether, but a bit of fiddling with my schedule and deciding a few things regarding the budget, I am still in.

RC wise I am still debating the 2WD vs 4WD options so I am prepping both cars for Friday practice. I just can't help it, I like being different. The biggest thing is that I STILL haven't managed a lap with the Trackstar 13.5T so I still have no idea on how it will feel, gearing or performance. I've switched back to the Tekin RS but I'll have the HW Extreme Stock available as well (again another reason why I decided against F1). I am sticking with my current fave LTC-R body but I may have to  mark it for both cars - just in case. The worst job facing me is gluing tyres. I did get a REALLY good deal on a package for tyres, but just means I have to do some more work.

to be continued...

Monday, 8 September 2014

To 2WD or not to 2WD?

With the entry list for QLD Titles growing and the quality of the drivers entering quite high, the chances of myself achieving a significant result is getting pretty slim. I would be hard pressed to call myself A main material at the moment anyway so the main point of attending is more about personal satisfaction. This also forms part of the reasoning as to why I've decided not to go to the extra expense of entering F1.

On a whim before the last local meeting (which was cancelled again because of the weather) I threw together a slightly different car. I still have my Tigermoth LCG laying around as well as a decent assortment of parts. I had broken the chassis which had made me switch to the Mi1.5 project but on the Friday before racing I suddenly had an idea on repairing it and putting it back together - maybe as a bit of a different car for the Holden v Ford series I am hoping to attend at Logan after QLD Titles. Then, for some reason, possibly my well documented non-love affair with 4WD TC, I decided to convert it to 2WD...

... and fit the 13T HW setup from my M03, and the shocks and springs.

Now I know what most will think, but I have to say that, for most of my differing careers and interests, I've not been one to follow the easiest path. I enjoy the challenge of seeing how far I can achieve using less obvious or less accepted means. What's more the current ORRCA rules allow 2WD touring cars with the obvious requirements that will rule out pan car style chassis. 

There are obvious disadvantages to a 2WD car and 13.5T might just be enough power to make them untenable, but with modern electronics and radios there might just be enough adjust-ability to minimise them. There are some advantages as well, it is just a case of deciding if one outweighs the other enough to make a firm decision. Thats where I am now.

Despite racing being cancelled I did manage about 20 minutes of track time with it. Now keep in mind I did NO setup to the car at all. Everything was as it was the last time I raced it in 4WD form except the shocks and springs which were taken directly off my M03 with no changes or modifications. Motor gearing was a best guess based on the knowledge that M chassis cars are massively under-geared and even the ride height was a estimation without a battery actually in the car. The track was also very dusty and cold and it was nearly dark.

Frankly, it was awesome. Massively quick in a straight line and, for the limited track layout set down and no car setup, it was surprisingly well balanced. There was only one other TC doing any runs with a 17.5T and as could be expected mine was easily faster down the short "main" straight but once I got my head into the swing of driving it, was pretty much as quick through the corners. Out of the very slow corners the 2WD disadvantage does show but, given the track conditions, I don't think it will be anywhere near as bad on a higher grip surface. Overall it probably needs more high speed steering and a bit less low speed steering, It was also evident that the shocks need some tuning - considering what they came off that's hardly surprising.

So now do I take the 2WD LCG or the 4WD Mi1.5? 

Neither are front running cars against current chassis' with gun drivers and there ARE going to be some gun drivers in 13.5T class. I am considering taking both with me and making a decision after running both in Friday practice, before scrutineering, but that poses a logistical nightmare for preparing bodies, electronics etc. The 2WD is at least worth a little "shock" value if I do manage anything more than an average result. 

Considering my last major event (SA State Titles) I didn't make it through Saturday, my last large QLD event (Bayside interclub 2013) I managed 20th and my last visit to a big club meeting (Logan) I didn't manage one full lap in practice, I am really not expecting anything but to try and have some fun, but which car will deliver on that more?