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
6) STEERING WHEEL
This annual check up could be the right occasion for checking on some functions off the steering wheel that we usually tend to give for granted. For example, check that all the spherical junctions are working well, not loose or on the contrary, there is too much friction at some points. Make sure that when steering the junctions and elements connected to them don’t get “stiff” at any point, and likewise the steering wheel and spindles “bend” alike in both direction, to the left and to the right. Be very careful with the screws that act as pins for the spindles: to make sure that they aren’t bent, all you have to do is turn them with a spanner, and you can see if they oscillate, if they do the best thing to do is change them. Check, at the same time, to see if the bearings on the spindle and on the steering column run smoothly. When we are sure that everything works properly, we can grease and lubricate all the friction areas and check all the usual steering geometries, from caster and camber (and not just toe in) also with cross measurements to balance the work of the two directional wheels. Don’t trust the notches on the cams; this is the right time to see if these are still to be trusted and reliable.
It may seem absurd to underline something like this, but we must be careful also with the wheels, check them carefully. Over the year, we only remember to check hem when we have a crash, or it’s time to change the tyres; now we have the opportunity to take a good look, so let’s do it. Ok, turn them: it’s not a game; this will allow us to see if the rims are perfectly round and well balanced. It is time to change them depends on how much they are ruined and how much money we have got, however trying not to exaggerate. This last thing applies to the tyres too: it is ok to save money, but if they are really too old it is better to do it, if not you might waste a day at the track, having a kart that just isn’t t for the road: that is if grip round turns and on braking won’t cause an accident. Going back to the mechanical part of the wheels, make sure that the bolts to prevent tyre from coming off seal well, use the usual method of tyre pumped up and put in water, this will enable us to see if there are any cracks in the rim. Last but not least, check the bearings, clean them with petrol and compressed air, make sure they turn smoothly and without any “strange noises”, then lubricate them as you see it.
What we just said about the bearings on the rims, so applies to the ones on the rear axle. If we lap with some continuity, it is better to change them once a year. In this case, bear in mind the type of karting we practice: if we look to reliability more than the extra horse power, that is, if we practise karting as a “hobby”, it is better to have rubber waterproof rather than simple metal ones. Check to see that there isn’t any allowance at supports (or “plates”) or on the contrary that the bearings are “stuck” to them. Also check to see that the grains that block the axle are tight where they should be tight (and check that they are all there too...). The axle needs to be checked too: put a comparator on the end and let it turn (if not a comparator, put something that allows you to get a precise check) to make sure that it is perfectly straight, not even half a millimetre out. If we are lucky and there it should be necessary, it can be put right with a “right” hammering, in other cases ...
In the “turning” department, we mustn’t forget the hubs, these are very important for the kart to work properly. Not only do they have to support the wheels, so that we don’t lose them, but they also influence exion and with it kart response, so they are fundamental in kart setup. But apart from this, don’t forget to make sure that there are no cracks (especially at the height of the lock nuts on the axle) and make sure that the studs are well xed, straight and the thread is in perfect conditions. Don’t hesitate in changing them, it doesn’t coast much, otherwise any defects might end up with the wheel having to be thrown away (if not a race). This applies both for the rear hubs and the front ones if they have come away from the rim. Look closely at the nuts too, they must lock well guarantee that they will not loosen (also the one on the spindle, which you should never be able to turn “by hand”) and also damage the rims.
So far we have seen the elements concerning the chassis, but obviously you have to check the engine too. If we have just had I overhauled then there is no problem, but if not, it is better to have a look at it. Given that we took it off the chassis and then put it away for its winter rest after having sealed all the bores (spark plug, exhaust, induction...), lubricating and protecting the internal parts with oil used for the fuel mixture, the engine must now be “set free”: basically, having taken off the “caps” and put it into the kart, let it run to see if everything works properly (especially ignition) let it drink up a bit of fuel. This will also help to “wash” the inside from any previous oil in there. Look at the reeds too and in the end mount the exhaust, maybe after having cleaned any excess incrustation there may be. If you have a gear-class engine, check the clutch discs while new oil should be enough for the gears.