Sunny days are back again and so is the desire to go back to the track with our kart, however, not before having checked everything and having carried out a series of useful operations.
Written by: Maurizio Voltini
The sun has started to shine point, but in any case it certainly we want to talk about in this column, wouldn’t stop us, because the first part of our “return to driving” must however take place in our garage. In fact before taking our kart to the track we must check it and carry out all the necessary operations for maintenance and renovating. And this is exactly what again these days, when we are thinking about the topic that we are dealing with, so even if the temperature is anything but summery, it still makes us wan to go back to the track for a drive. We hope that March won’t betray us from a meteorological giving you one or two hints for these operations. You see if at the end of the last racing season you followed out advice for “putting away” your kart, now your job is really much easier, but, in any case there is still a bit to do.
First of all, we should check all the elements of our kart. We may have done all there was to do, before putting it away for its winter rest, but we assure you that after a few months of abstinence, nothing beats the ability we have in checking it through close observation: we will notice “innovations” that were invisible before, from a minute crack to the cable that hasn’t been connected properly. This first check up on our kart will give us later material time for a 100 percent recovery without wasting time later, for example if we got the right flatbed if we have noticed any cracks (or elements to repair it) and the same applies for all the pipes, cables (electrical and non), connections, screws and other important parts (as if there were less important parts...) on our kart. Check all the hidden corners and “literally turn it upside down to check the parts that are often not taken into consideration, underneath: here we will see a new mechanical world...
We should have already cleaned our kart before putting it away for the winter hibernation, nut now when we are about to get it going again, that doesn’t mean much: over these weeks, if not months, the dust has settled on it and this must be cleaned off. The same thing applies to the oil or the WD40 that we put on it (or should have) to protect the metal parts from rust and now the time has come to clean it off. If we haven’t used any “greasy” protection, there could well areas that are touched with rust: From this point the first things that you should check are the brakes and axle, but not just these. If possible use some sandpaper to remover the rust, otherwise you can find various chemical products on the market to take the rust off without ruining the varnish or anything else. Cleaning all your kart is another way of seeing that everything is ok, even those elements that we usually “overlook” when we give our kart a general look over.
Besides all the elements that we are going to take off, check or change, it is however the case to also check to see that those which are xed are in fact, rmly xed. Tighten the screws or at least make sure that they are rmly screwed up and while we are at it, see that they are in good conditions. This last issue is only because screws, nuts and bolts might be rusty or the thread is ruined (it is at times like this that we appreciate it if we have used stainless steel screws) especially screws that might touch the round we will see that they have touched the round according to Murphy’s law. If this has happened we must see if they need changing, because all considered when they have touched a first time they will be “attened out”. If we don’t change them, at least get some spare ones so if the need arises, we can change them. Check to see that the various lock nuts are in perfect conditions: the ones that are entirely made of metal might be ruined, and the same applies for the ones with plastic inserts; even if they are longer lasting and bear several cycles of screwing and unscrewing, they are not eternal and they do bear the stress of heat in some areas, like brakes or elements closet o the exhaust system.
In the previous operations we have underlined how during their application it is possible to contemporarily check everything, to make sure that everything is ship shape. However, this doesn’t mean that a normal check up isn’t enough: what I mean is we must check that the various components continue to work properly! So, if once in a while we let ourselves go and play about checking everything does have a technical and logical reason. So, feel free to turn the wheels, shake the steering wheel first on one side and then on the other, press pedals and “torture” the controls, check to see that everything that has to move really can move. If we don’t do it now we will have to do it on the track and at that time it could be too late. Think if the brake goes right down “freely” (not such a remote possibility either...). Check to see that the control cables are free: change metal wires, but also clamps and protective sleeves if necessary. Make sure that all the electric contacts work properly, not to mention the battery that might need charging or even changing.
We were just saying about the brake pedal going right down, not engaging: unfortunately this could, for a number of reasons, easily happen with the hydraulic systems used on karts. In the meantime, often poor quality rubber washers and O-R are used right from the start: see if they need changing and replace them with better performing ones (not any old rubber) seeing that they aren’t very expensive and if we are at this level of evaluation, most probably we have already had too take off the braking system. So, as we are about it, check the cylindrical internal part of the pump and pistons is clean and clear of rust as this is the main cause of lack of seal. In this phase we will appreciate, and not just for purely aesthetic reasons, if there is a brake with anodized aluminium, a treatment that does away with oxidisation or rust. Otherwise this time too we ought to use a bit of sandpaper, this time as ne as possible. Obviously, you have to remove any rust or grease from the brake discs, use sand paper and suitable products such as “brake cleaner” or just tryaline (you could also use any diluents if you haven’t got anything else). Bear in mind that also the brake pads, whose friction surface might not be just old and ruined, but also dirtied by the oil that should have been in the hydraulic circuit but there wasn’t any... Yes, we must check to see that the varnished areas haven’t been ruined by the latter either. Then, don’t forget to put in some new hydraulic fluid, always use good quality fluids (Let’s stop thinking that all you have to do is bleed the air bubbles out) even if the use of “racing” brake oil is more sensitive to humidity and more aggressive with the rubber washers: but then again you can’t have everything...