How to get ready for the cold – Part 2

Columns: On the technical side
Karting doesn’t necessarily need to...freeze when the cold season steps in, however, all round, it’s better to take some precautions to face lower temperature.

Here we are with the second episode of our guide on how to survive to cold season.
The role of the test driver is very important in adjusting and seeing the different options there are through kart set-up. For example, the flexibility of the chassis: modern karts enable us to do almost anything we like in this sense, either by tightening or loosening “strategic” screws like those on the bumbers, or mounting (or not) supplementary bars, different types of bars or the direction of the same. The latter is a quick adjustment to see in which direction you have to go: usually, if you mount a lower added bar it makes the chassis stiffer and gives more stability (hence the name given to them “stabilizing bars”), but in some cases, say when there is less grip due to cold weather, it may happen that the chassis doesn’t work properly because there is less stress, therefore, you end up with less grip. The sensibility of the driver is very important for this: he helps mechanics to understand if the chassis is “working” properly or not, so he helps to see if there are any problems with set-up. Here we underline a concept: true that some “technical regulations” are, generally speaking valid also in a specialized sport such as the karting, rules that we have been trying to let new-comers know through these pages, but it’s also true that in the end they must be tried out on the track, checking kart response, if it’s as we thought (or simply hoped) after other changes. A test that, if done regularly every time we go to the track even if it is just for a bit of fun, will help us to understand kart behaviour and “character” better, to refine our skill as driver and tester; putting their hands on their kart is something that for many does represent a big part of the fun.
Having said how to adapt chassis and set-up to lower temperatures, don’t forget there is the engine too. Maybe in summer i twill heat up too much, but in winter though, it suffers the exact opposite. In order to let our engine reach the right working temperature, it’s better therefore to start by changing the radiator for a smaller one, and then change air throttle systems that go through it. It’s also better to mount, if you haven’t already done so, a three way termostat that adjusts water flow automatically in the best way. Something that can’t be said for the two-way ones, which hold the water still in the cylinder until it warms up, then they suddendly open and send in very cold water: it is not the best… Reduce the speed of the pump too, if it is placed by the axle, so we will also have less power waster for moving it. In extreme cases – but with air-cooled engines is already better at below 10° C – let’s also think about protecting the cylinder with something that prevents it from being hit by cold air directly. Instead you should avoid using antifrost liquid in the radiator, both because it doesn’t change the temperature, and because if it fell on the trac kit would make it slippery as oil. It’s much better though to warm up the engine before going onto the track, so that no power is needed (even if just a small part) when is still “frozen”. Pointless telling you that you do need all the necessary attention for carburetion, which must be enriched and considerably so, and some attention needs to be placed on the mixture, because when it is cold it is more difficult for the oil to mix with petrol.
We have seen the main things to do to our kart in the winter months, things that are always valid, even if they are more important to see when it is cold. However, there is another thing that we must not forget to see to: the driver..! Even if sensibility in feeling kart behaviour can be quite personal, particularly when our hands and feet are so cold that you can’t feel anything… So let’s take a look at clothes, the right gear to wear. Nowadays you can find lots of pullovers to wear under the suit, usually they have been designed for other sport, like cycling, and they protect from cold maintaining transpiration; the same for gloves to wear under racing gloves, “thermal” socks and so on. However, also other “home made” systems are good too: you can use sleeveless pullover so that your arm are free to move but your body is protected – though wool is not a technological product, it always works. Above all, it is soft and thick so it does add to the comfort of the seat. Another cheap thing to wear are rubber gloves on top of normal gloves, which protect from cold air. Beware of some solutions that look harmless, like using skiing gloves: true that you’re adequately protected from the cold, but that doesn’t mean that you will be able to hold the steering wheel properly (both for the contact surface and the possibility of tightening your fist) and often because they’re thick, reducing sensibility. To conclude, for those who want to enjoy racing kart even when the weather is bad, remember that “details” are important; often we only relises this when is too late! For example: in winter our breath can make the visor misty reducing visibility. There are specific sprays readily available that can reduce the risk of this happening but we must think about it in time and nota t the last minute when we are already on the track. 

Created by: - 08/11/16

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