So this racing gig is about a few things. There's riding skills, big balls, quality components, organisational skills, all have to be in the mix. I'd say though, that to be competitive and successful, data and consistency have to be pretty much at the top of the list of things you're searching for.
So as my season unfolded last year, the Clutch issue was one that haunted me all the way. I happily chugged through learning process, sorting out cables, levers, finding out about spring pressures, having custom springs manufactured, using seat of the pants guesswork to get my spring rates right. I found myself using a tap set to mate an old cable to a new lever, modifying inner casings, going back to the drawing board when something didn't work, and eventually feeling like I'd triumphed. As you might guess there was the odd mumbling of words you don't want to teach your kids.
Anyway, it was potentially the biggest hurdle to doing well, and we met it and threw all the interest we could at it. By the third last meeting, the clutch was running well on the reduced spring pressures and I was feeling like I'd met and overcome a challenge. By the last meet of the year, the clutch was slipping like a mongrel again and I was lamenting the process. From the first race of the day to the last I'd dropped about 4 seconds a lap round Collie, which is the difference between being right up with the guy you're chasing and seeing him disappear into the distance.
The plates were old, but I was beginning to worry that I was right back to the start.
Skip back to something I'd Heard from a guy at the track early in the season. This guy had raced Pantahs and been very helpful, so I took his advice at face value. He'd said to me that I should always run the motor on fresh oil. "Change it every time you race" he said "it won't matter if it's cheap oil, but it must be new". Then he mentioned a brand, which I knew to be inexpensive, and had put it in my car a lot of times. It doesn't matter if it's (that cheap brand) he told me, as long as it's new, and 10w 40". Given this had always been a car brand, and he said it didn't matter what I used, next time I was at Repco I picked it up.
So here's the drill, I'm sure the guy I spoke to didn't tell me to use Car Oil, but that's what I heard. When we got the little motor to the end of the season, I took it into Patterson's and Todd said the motor smelled funny. "You didn't use car oil, did you? That'll do really bad things to your Clutch Plates, friction modifiers and all". So here I am again, confessing to having done a dumb thing.
1. No one died, so all is well.
2. If I hadn't already pulled it down, and we were in the middle of the season, I'd probably even just put the good oil in and see if things improved.
3. It is pulled down, and the new clutch plates are just going to have to happen. I can't waste another raceday wondering whether I've sorted another issue with my clutch.
4. Saving a dollar is a great plan. If you're reading this blog for any reason apart from having a laugh at Dave, the thing to learn is you don't save it on oil.
5. The guys at the track are a great resource. They can tell you excellent things, and you won't learn everything you need to know unless you listen to them.
6. Whatever they tell you, make sure what you heard and what they said is the same thing, the confusion can be a mongrel.
Cheers, see you out there.