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Race Diary 2013

 

SEATTLE – June 15-16, 2013

Ruby 2.0 – I pronounce it Ruby Two Point Oh!

This was to be the start of Ruby’s fifth season at the track. Round One was in April, which was much too early for her to be race-ready, but I was sure I could make Round Two in May. However, things took longer than expected, imagine that! Nothing was painted, and on the Wednesday evening before the race I still didn’t have a gas tank. Being an optimist, I signed up on-line for the race anyway. I thought I could build an aluminum gas tank in one day, Thursday, then pack the trailer and leave Friday. Absolute Dreamer!

On Thursday morning, things started to go wrong. I went out to pick up the battery I had ordered and my Visa was declined for $16.75. Then, when I started welding my gas tank, my alarm system kept going off. I phoned Visa. Some company in Washington named WMRRA had tested my credit card last night, and that was unusual so Visa put a hold on my card until they could talk to me. I guess that’s one disadvantage of not having a cell phone. As luck would have it, the company called WMRRA is the road race club taking my entry fee, so it really was perfectly fine. Tig welding aluminum (something I don’t often do) draws a lot of amps, so my alarm system thought it was short on power and that’s why the siren kept going off. So, I consulted the alarm company, pulled the plug and disconnected the battery. Figuring all this out took time, and I began to realize I would not make the race. Just as well, because at The Ridge Motorsports Park it pissed rain all weekend.

Round Three was to be held at Pacific Raceways, Seattle WA. Ruby was Race-Ready, but she sure had sucked up a lot of my time. Race-Ready would never have happened if I had a girlfriend or a regular job.  🙂  Ruby was new from the waist up: new frame, downdraft carb, gas tank, oil tank, air duct, and more. I was nervous and excited too. The photo below shows the new gas tank and downdraft carb.

Ruby 2.0 new gas tank & downdraft carb, Paul Brodie

Photo Courtesy Darren Beatty

 

Made it down to the track Friday evening. Took a bit longer than usual because the I-5 bridge that collapsed was not repaired yet, so we all had to detour.

Saturday, June 15:  Practice Day. We go out in Group 3, also known as Slow Practice. We (the 750s) have to take into account the speed difference between us and the Honda 160s. In the pits, Ruby didn’t run well at all under 3 grand, but on the track she was rideable, though jerky in the slow corners. I thought, I haven’t been on a track for eight months so just take it easy; get comfortable. Ruby feels good. She’s easy to handle and no bad habits. Towards the end of our practice session, going down the back straight, Ruby just stopped; no funny noises, no drama, she just quit. I coasted up to the corner worker’s stand at Turn 5 and parked her against the tire wall. I chatted with the corner worker before practice ended, and the Crash Truck came to take me and Ruby back to the pits.

I soon found an electrical connection had come loose from vibration, which  was an easy fix. I did a bit of re-jetting, and in Practice Two it was a lot of fun ripping around the track. I was passing a lot of bikes, and no one was passing me. Ruby’s new frame felt very good, and my confidence was growing. Then the red flag came out, meaning a rider had gone down, and that was the end of our practice. We all returned to the pits. The rider was David Fallon, one of our Vintage guys, riding an Aermacchi. His front tire had broken loose exiting turn 3, then regained traction causing him to get high-sided into the gravel beside the track. He got air-lifted out in a helicopter with a broken scapula and pelvis. Not good.

An emergency rider’s meeting was called, and we were told Practice Groups 4 and 5 were cancelled and racing would begin right after lunch. Racing did begin right after lunch, with Formula Ultra, the fastest bikes out there. Easily 150 HP, and very fast. Seattle isn’t known as being the safest track, and where our front straightaway bends through the concrete barriers to merge with the drag strip, that piece of real estate has become known as the Death Chute. Two Formula Ultra racers were very close going through there. The second rider thought there was room for him between the first rider and the wall, but the first rider didn’t realize he was being followed so close, and unexpectedly leaned into the corner more, and there was no place for rider two at a speed of probably 150 mph. When the bike finally came back in the crash truck, the frame was broken completely in half. The rider was airlifted out, which meant the 2nd helicopter for the day. Never seen that before. The rider lost a couple of fingers and a chunk of thigh. Our thoughts and prayers are with both racers. Racing is dangerous and addictive, and that’s probably why we do it.

I spent the rest of the afternoon working on Ruby’s jetting and drinking Mike’s Hard Lemonade.

 

Here she is Sunday AM, in the early morning sunshine, ready to race.

Ruby 2.0 new frame, gas tank & downdraft carb, Paul Brodie

Photo Courtesy Darren Beatty

 

Sunday, Race One.  There are five of us lined up for 750 Vintage: Duncan (Seeley / Nourish), Gary (Norton 750), John (Honda 750 four), Joseph (BMW) and Ruby (Excelsior). A great mix of fine, old machinery. The red light goes out, and we drop the clutches. Duncan and John get quick starts, as usual, so Ruby is third, heading to Turn Two. We get to Turn Two and Ruby dies, again. I hold the clutch in, and raise my right hand to signal the others. I coast around the outside of Turn Two while everybody Vintage passes me. I stop in the middle of the track, and it’s clear the negative lead has come off the battery, from the vibration. I take off my glove, slide the spade connector back on (yes, it’s one of those), put my glove back on, and jump start Ruby down the hill into Turn Three. I figure I will race anyway, even if I am last. I get to Turn Five and the motor dies again, so there I am once more talking to the same corner worker. We are becoming friends now.

It was disappointing, but a perfect place in which to watch the race. We had a great view of turns 5, 6, and 7. Duncan was leading, John was on his tail, and Gary catching. A few laps later, John on the big Honda was third, and Gary looked like Duncan’s shadow. Duncan was on a tear; riding very well. Gary passed on the last lap in turn 9, but Duncan drafted and re-passed for the chequered flag. Ruby received another DNF.

Race Two.  Five of us lined up once more, and waited anxiously for the red light to disappear. When it did, Ruby launched hard, her front tire just skimming the asphalt. Ruby has started hard before, but this really was a launch. Duncan and John were nowhere to be seen; it was just Ruby and me. The Holeshot! I looked back a few times as the laps went by, and Duncan was slowly gaining. On the last lap he pulled up alongside me on the outside of Turn Nine, but that wasn’t going to happen! Ruby took the chequered flag to record her first win! Fastest lap was 1:47:41 . . . a new record for her. When the race was over I looked down to see she had lost her oil pressure, and I don’t know when that happened. In the race I only watched the tach. I think oil pressure is highly over-rated anyway.  🙂

On the cool down lap, when I rode past the Turn Five corner worker, he was pumping his fists in the air. Thank you.

The photos were taken by track photographer Darren Beatty. Somehow, he never took pictures of our 750 race. He has promised to never ignore Ruby ever again.  You’ll just have to imagine her going very, very fast!

To see Ruby’s transformation over the winter, click here.

 

Behind me is Duncan and his son. Interestingly, Duncan and I are distantly related, second cousins I believe.

Ruby 2.0 new frame, gas tank & downdraft carb, Paul Brodie

Photo Courtesy Darren Beatty

 

Thanks for reading my Race Report.

Paul

 

Shelton, WA – July 13-14, 2013

Round Four at The Ridge Motorsport Park

 

This was the BIG Vintage weekend, and Saturday hosted the SOTP (Sounds of the Past) series. A decade ago, SOTP had a lot more entrants and stature, but has since shrunk to a 3 race series and has become less important. What was important, though, was the Big News that Dave Roper was coming out to ride The Ridge on Mike Bungays’ 350 Aermacchi. For those of you unfamiliar with the Dave Roper name, he is the First American ever to win an Isle of Man TT. Dave won the 1984 Senior Historic TT on a G50 Matchless. Impressive! Dave turned 65 on Saturday the 13th.

Meanwhile, Ruby was fully prepped. Her frame had been stripped and painted, and she was looking good. I put her on the scales and got a little shock . . . Ruby had gained 11 pounds since she was first created. What a Porker! Total weight is now 315 lbs. dry. Well, she does have a stronger frame and a fairing now.. I had also repaired the broken oil feed tube from last race and re-shimmed the bevel drive. On startup, she didn’t sound quite right, but the timing was retarded ten degrees so that got taken care of and she sounded better.  But, I didn’t know what had happened inside her cases.

The van and trailer were packed, and we even left earlier than usual on Friday afternoon. The weather was hot, fantastic, and the border was no problem. Even the broken I-5 bridge had been fixed.  Then we hit Seattle and stopped. I knew it was Friday rush hour, and everyone was driving and trying to go somewhere. Except not very fast. Bumper to bumper for about an hour, and then we finally got moving again.

The only problem then was this city called Tacoma, because it also has WAY too many cars and trucks, and so we all stopped again. Tacoma is slightly south of Seattle. Five lanes of asphalt each direction, all moving slow. That’s when I noticed the little white BMW. It changed lanes to the left, except there was a car there. I watched as the cars touched! The other driver gave way, only to see the BMW move into the far lane and contact another car there too. As before, the other car also gave way. Now the BMW continued left and the driver’s side solidly contacted the concrete guard rail, bounced back into the left lane, and came to a stop. Other cars were stopping, and as I drove by, I checked out the driver . . . an Asian woman with her head twisted as far to the left as it would go, and her right hand up by her head, fingers convoluted and shaking. She appeared to be having a seizure. There was frustration and craziness on that freeway. So many drivers changing lanes fast and unexpectedly.

I finally arrived at The Ridge, not in a great mood. The place was packed for the weekend, and the Vintage guys were spread all around. There were seven 750s signed up for racing on Saturday and Sunday. That was good.

Ruby Racer Race Diary July 13-14, 2013 Paul Brodie

Saturday, Race Day One First Practice.  Ruby sounded good when we started her, but out on the track she ran like crap, missing, and then barely running on one cylinder. The 160s were passing me! I pulled into the pits, and the plugs were black. Well, I had raised the needle one notch, but this was a huge change in plug colour. I lowered the needle, and installed new plugs.

Second practice. The same. How could this be? I hadn’t really changed anything since the last race. Now the rear plug was fouled, and the exhaust guide oiler was empty, so the oiler was dripping too much oil from the heat, and this was a new problem. Race One was coming up soon, so I had to make a decision. I put less oil into the oiler, and installed a new rear plug. Not much else to do.

Race One. I got a good start and slotted into second. Mick was leading on his Triumph 750. John (Honda 750/4) broke his rear chain getting the power down off the line. Dave Roper passed me. Others soon passed too; the misfire was still present. Ruby was fast on the straight, and I was behind John on his Norton 750 as we began lap 2. His rear wheel locked up at over 100mph, leaving a very long black mark before he pulled in the clutch. An autopsy later revealed the rods had let go in a big way. Expensive! Ruby didn’t want to pull out of the corners if the revs were too low, so we limped around. My goal became to finish; at least get some points for the Championship. But then on lap 4, at the top of The Ridge, Ruby just stopped. No big bang; she just stopped. I coasted down The Ridge, around the last 2 turns, and into the pits. This time, the plugs had no oil on them at all. It was not an oiling problem anymore; Ruby had lost her spark.

Race Two. I sat this one out, but it was basically a repeat of Race One. Mick out front on his Triumph 750 looking good, and not too far behind was Dave Roper on the little Aermacchi 350. It weighs 204 lbs, and has about 40 rear wheel HP. The owner, Mike Bungay, knows some NASCAR folks, and their computers have had a lot of impact on Aermacchi camshaft and exhaust design. Plus a few hundred dyno runs to get it all right. It’s a neat little bike! Behind Dave came all the rest of the 750s.

The Ridge is still wrapped up in a lawsuit, so no improvements have been made. No running water, no showers, only clean porta potties. But that doesn’t stop racers from coming out. One of the owners, Rod, has been appointed to run the track until the litigation is over. He told me that right now The Ridge is booked for 70 consecutive days! In year two of operation (2013) they have exceeded their fourth year goals. The mix of cars and bikes renting the track is close to 50/50.

Back to Ruby. As you may know, Electrics have never been my strong suit. The thought of troubleshooting at the track was a bit daunting, and that’s when Duncan showed up. Duncan is a local; he lives about a mile from the track. And he said he was very good at electrical troubleshooting! He got to work checking, but everything was fine. That’s when I got the idea to make sure the bevel drive shaft was actually turning the rotor for the electronic ignition. It wasn’t. Ruby had a problem with her bevel drive. Good thing she had a new work stand to make it easier to take her apart. Duncan helped, and we removed the entire bevel drive. This is what it looked like: bits and pieces everywhere.

Ruby Racer Race Diary July 13-14, 2013 Paul Brodie

The pointer shows the broken key. About a $0.05 part. The size is 1/8″, and I do not have a spare. I think the key partially sheared at the very end of the last race at Seattle.

Ruby Racer Race Diary July 13-14, 2013 Paul Brodie

After asking many racers in the pits, no one had a piece of 1/8″ keysteel. It’s now 8pm Saturday, and Shelton Auto Parts has closed; we even tried the Auto Wrecking Yard at the end of the street, but it was closed too. Duncan went home to see what he had. He came back with a tiny bench vise, a digital vernier, and a piece of 3/16″ key steel. As night fell, I used my small file, his vise and vernier, and filed the 3/16″ keysteel down to 1/8″.

Now it really was getting dark. Duncan held the flashlight as I assembled the bevel drive module. It went together well, and we were done for the night.

Sunday Race Day Two.  I was up early, and started scraping gaskets at 6:40am. Duncan showed up at 7:10 (with coffee!) and we started getting Ruby back together. Our only Vintage practice for the day was at 9:40am, so there was lots to do. At 9:30am Ruby was finished, but needed starting and her timing checked. The pace was fast and furious. Timing was good, so clear tools away, get into leathers, start bike, get down from stand, ride to pre-grid, don’t even stop because all the Vintage bikes are already heading out onto the track. My heart was still pounding from the flurry of activity in the pits. Definitely not the best way to enter the track.

But, Ruby was back, and felt strong. I also know the 1/8″ keys are a weak point. I haven’t raced The Ridge for about 10 months, and everyone else got 2 practices and 2 races yesterday. I feel my focus is lacking.

Race One. Here we are, lined up at Pre Grid. From the left: John (Honda 750/4), Ruby, Joseph (BMW 750), and Dave Roper (Aermacchi 350).

Ruby Racer Race Diary July 13-14, 2013 Paul Brodie

Photo courtesy John Dillard Photography

The red light went out, we surged forward with great urgency, and the race was on! John got the Holeshot, Ruby was second, and then this guy, Dave Roper, is passing me in turn 4, on a 350. Soon, Gary also passed on his Norton. I knew I wasn’t focused, and Ruby wouldn’t pull well out of 2 corners because of over gearing… being ever so slightly below the power band which starts at 4 grand. Next lap, Duncan (not the same Duncan that was helping me) passed, so now I was 4th. However, fearless leader John crashed on the last lap, coming down The Ridge, so I inherited 3rd. Back in the pits, with my (new) infrared thermometer, I measured the track temperature at 132 degrees F.  Hot!

Back in the pits, I discover a crack in the (new) rear cam tower. I can only think it was a flaw in the casting at this stage. I still have Race Two to think about. Worst case scenario is the exhaust valve opens less. I will race. With John out, there is Duncan and Gary, so I will nurse Ruby around in third, and go for the points. That is my plan.

Ruby Racer Race Diary July 13-14, 2013 Paul Brodie

Race Two. We all line up for the start, and then Gary stalls his Commando engine, so he is out. Duncan takes off, and I take second. Dave Roper is on a borrowed Honda 175, so no need to worry about him. I’m cruising around in 2nd, and Joseph is slowly catching on his BMW. I wick it up for the last lap to keep some distance. Second place is good enough for second overall. You just never know what’s going to happen in racing 🙂

Next race: Round Five @ Seattle, August 10-11, 2013.

Here is a video from Dave Roper on Mike Bungays’ Aermacchi 350; making us 750s look slow!

 

Thanks for reading my Race Report!

Paul

 

Ruby Racer Race Diary July 13-14, 2013 Paul Brodie

Photo courtesy Darren Beatty Photography

 

 

 

SEATTLE – August 10-11, 2013

Round Five at Seattle Raceway

The drama began Thursday, right after supper.  After working Wednesday and Thursday, I had just finished machining new cam towers for Ruby. I then discovered the cam wouldn’t fit because one bearing bore was .035″ off.  That had never happened before. Obviously something went wrong with my fixtures, but I had no idea what. I had visions of not racing because I couldn’t put my motor back together. I got up early Friday morning, trued the left cam tower to the right side, bored it, made a sleeve, pressed it and the bearing in and it was fixed by 9am. Now I had to get the motor back in the frame, and that was done by lunch.  Now pack and leave by 3pm for the Border. What happened after the guard checked my passport was unusual.  He said, “Mr. Brodie, thanks for coming down, and Welcome!”

Dialing in the right side Cam Tower on the Milling Machine on the day I leave for the Track.

Seattle Raceway August 10-11, 2013 Paul Brodie & Ruby 2.0

Just for fun, I added up all the hours I have spent overhauling, troubleshooting, tuning, and modifying Ruby – a total of 1300 hours since she was built way back in 2009. Is that a lot? I don’t know. However, I do sometimes think about that story on CBC about the Sea King Helicopters used by the Canadian Coast Guard that require 50 hours of maintenance and service for every hour of actual flight. Ruby is somewhat like that.

Here in The Lower Mainland, we have been enjoying an incredibly long stretch of sunny weather; we even set a record. Our forecast showed another week of sun. I never even bothered to check the Seattle forecast. I got down to the track, the grass was brown everywhere and I remember smiling. This was a race weekend and the weather would be good, right? The drag racers did their thing, we all went to sleep, and then woke up at 1am to a BIG thunderstorm and quite a bit of rain. Hmmmm.

Saturday, Practice day.  In the AM, everything was wet. Lots of moisture in the air and heavy clouds. I’ve never ridden Ruby in the rain. She has no front fender and an exposed valve train. The rain held off, a light wind picked up, and bits of blue sky slowly appeared. It was going to be a nice day! Screw the forecast that said Seattle was likely to have a 30% chance of thundershowers Saturday and Sunday.

Ruby was ready. The final checklist included battery charge, set tappets, oil the rocker rollers and upper bevel gears, fill the exhaust guide oilers, check tire pressure, and refuel. At the Riders Meeting, it was again stressed the importance of no drugs or alcohol in the pits, and do NOT cross the dotted line when entering the track on the outside of Turn Two.  By the time we went out for our practice, the track was dry.

Turnout in all classes was light, and Vintage was no exception:  (3) 175 Hondas, (1) 500, and FIVE 750’s. We had Duncan (our current 750 Championship points leader on his Nourish / Seeley), John (750 Four), Gary (Norton), Joseph (BMW), and Ruby (Excelsior).  A nice blend.   🙂

Our fallen Aermacchi Racer, David, showed up. He’s slowly recovering as his pelvis and ribs heal. He let us know the 22 mile helicopter ride from the track to the hospital was $17,500. Thankfully, he has insurance but a helicopter is not a good way to exit the race track.

Practice One. I followed John around on his 750 Four, but he was going well and Ruby wasn’t. I could redline her in 4th gear going down the Back Straight, but on the Front Straight. she would cut out in 5th, like someone had quickly closed the throttle. If I then closed the throttle for a few seconds, the motor would start to pull again, except for the next lap she would die again . . .  in the same place.  You can’t win a race like that.  I thought about it, and it didn’t make sense. Nothing had been changed, and she ran so well last time at Seattle. It felt like fuel starvation, again. The carb came apart, but both jets and all air passages were open.

Following John around on his Big Wide Honda.  Ruby would much rather be in front.

Seattle Raceway August 10-11, 2013 Paul Brodie & Ruby 2.0

Photo courtesy Darren Beatty Photography

Practice Two.   We were all on Pre-grid when the track went Green. We sat on our bikes, motors idling fast, focused, blipping the throttles, with Duncan, John and I all watching each other, waiting to see who goes first. None of us wanted to go first, but suddenly Duncan goes, and I follow. We enter the track and he is on a tear, trying to lose me right now so I can’t follow his lines. There is a fair gap, but I am following until I shift into 5th on the Front Straight, and then he is gone. A few laps later, Duncan is down. His spare motor (with the new piston) had seized exiting Turn Eight, and his left glove came apart as he hit the ground and slid quite far. It’s a 4th gear corner. Our 750 Championship Leader was out for this round with a bent bike and a wounded hand, and would probably miss the next round too because he is heading for Australia, he won’t be back until a few days before The Ridge, and there’s not enough time for him to rebuild one of his two Nourish motors.

Sunday, Race Day.  My expectations were not high, and now there are only four 750’s. At the rider’s meeting, we learn that our Race Director, Damon, was “informally” busted for having open alcohol in the pits yesterday afternoon. Bit of laughter and smiles over that one. Again we learn the importance of entering the track properly in Turn Two.

Warm Up, Practice Session Three.  And the Vintage riders enter at the end of Turn Two.  Our Club President, Tim-O, on a Honda 175, blatantly cuts over the dotted line at the entrance to Turn Two. He’s right in front of me, so I can’t help but notice. Sure enough, he gets Black Flagged at the Bus Stop.

I’m sure that will get discussed at the next rider’s meeting . . . Busted!  Ruby still won’t run properly on the straight.

Race One.  Ruby gets off the line well, but John soon comes by on that Big Honda 750, so I’m in second. Gary (Norton) passes me on the outside of Turn Nine, so now he is second. Joseph (BMW) brings up the rear, and on the 2nd lap did a huge tank slapper leaving the Bus Stop and getting into The Kink that is known as Turn Eleven. Joseph ended up in the gravel, and his fish tailing BMW kicked gravel over the left side of the straight, but he kept it up, got back on the track, and finished. Good riding on a scary bike.

Race Two.  John leads, Ruby second, but then Gary passes on the outside of Turn Two. We accelerate down the hill and brake for Turn Three, all three of us in a row. We go through Three, and then I watch as Gary passes John on the outside of Turn Four! And made it stick!  It was very well done. We race through the back section, and Ruby can keep up through here. Now we’re on Lap Two, Gary has a problem with his Norton and pulls off. Ruby is back in second!  But, I miss a shift braking into Turn Nine, and find neutral, and Joseph is closing. Ruby bogs out on the straight again, and is relegated back to third. Oh well, we will go home and re-group. Never give up!

Next Race: Round Six at The Ridge, Labor Day Weekend.

Thanks for reading my Race Report!

 

Paul

 

Seattle Raceway August 10-11, 2013 Paul Brodie & Ruby 2.0

Photo courtesy Darren Beatty Photography

 

 

The Ridge – August 31-September 1, 2013

Round 6, Labor Day Weekend

 

I knew Ruby wasn’t running well at Seattle’s Round 5, so I made an appointment for her on the Cypress Motorbike Dyno. It was time to figure out her fuel issues, once and for all. The last time Ruby was on Dave’s Dyno, her rear cylinder broke in half at 5 grand, and that wasn’t a great experience, although we did learn how NOT to cast and machine an Excelsior Cylinder.

When I got to the Dyno, my friends, George Dockray and “The” Tom Mellor, were waiting for me . . . Surprise!  In case you haven’t heard, “The” Tom Mellor went 202 mph last week on his ’69 Triumph Triple 1000 down at the Bonneville Salt Flats!  A remarkable feat and a new record. George and Tom wanted to see Ruby perform on the Dyno . . . no pressure at all.

I had a little plastic tube up the side of the float bowl to show the float level. Right away, every blip of the throttle pulled the fuel level down, indicating the vent hole was much too small. It got drilled out to 1/8″ on the spot. The Cypress Motorbike Dyno allows the tuner to hold the engine revs at a certain rpm, and this was what we needed. With full throttle at 5 grand in 5th gear, George watched the float bowl slowly drain. Obviously, Ruby was very thirsty and she needed a fuel pump ASAP. The motor was far too rich and ran like crap between 3 and 4 grand, but we couldn’t figure that one out. With all these issues, how Ruby won at Round 3 earlier this year is beyond my comprehension. I’ll simply put it down to Ruby Magic.

Here’s George’s 30 second Dyno video filmed with his Smart Phone:

 

Once I got Ruby back to the Excelsior Factory Workshop, I did a teardown. The Mukini fuel pump (below) was mounted; it has a diaphragm system and runs off the crankcase pulses. I forgot to Loctite a bolt in the Bevel Drive Chest when I had it apart at Night at The Ridge, and the bolt came out causing a bit of a mess that had to be fixed. Ruby got her long-awaited new cams; same grind, just new. I did a Leakdown Test at 70 psi; the rear cylinder held 52 psi, and the front cylinder held only 44 psi. This was not good at all, so off to see Lance at Hayward Performance for a little TLC on Ruby’s valves and seats. Lance is very good with cylinder heads. For her gearing change, Ruby got a larger rear sprocket by 2 teeth.

Ruby Racer 2.0 new rear sprocket Paul Brodie Flashback Fabrications

Then, back to see Dave on the Cypress Dyno on the evening before leaving for The Ridge. The float level stayed up – a Big plus, and she was running better.  So we experimented with needle positions in the carb and a different curve for the ignition timing advance. Ruby ran a little better from 3 to 4 grand, but far from perfect. She had 61 rear wheel HP at 5 grand, with 64 ft/lbs of torque.  🙂   Redline is 6 grand.  So, I packed the van and trailer and headed off to The Ridge for the long weekend. Travelling down the I-5 on a holiday weekend was much easier than I expected.  🙂

Saturday, Practice Day.   A beautiful day; quite hot. The new gearing was great; Ruby redlined in 5th gear right at the end of the straight. She even pulled well from 3500 rpm. The needle position (all the way down) helped, and so did the softer advance curve. I worked on my lines in the corners; I still have a lot to learn.

When I left my pits, I could hear a knock coming from the motor, but it didn’t happen out on the track.  It happened when I came back through the pits too.  Strange.  But all in all, Ruby was going well and I was happy.

My friend, Scott Taylor, showed up on his little Honda CB125R after riding it down from Canada. The little Honda (not available in the USA) caused a bit of a sensation among a few people who wished they could buy one and legally license it in Washington State. If you don’t know, the CB125R is a water cooled, 2-valve, single cylinder, 4 stroke motor with fuel injection and a catalytic converter. Looks good, has disc brakes, and goes 75mph.

Sunday, Race Day.  With Duncan, our Championship Points Leader, out with a broken bike and a healing hand, there were supposed to be three of us in 750 Vintage: John (Honda 750 Four), Gary (Norton 750), and Ruby (Excelsior). However, Gary’s Norton made some loud and disturbing noises (in Saturday’s Practice) and puked oil all over the rear end, so he pitted. When he restarted the Norton, the bike looked like a Smoke Machine. It poured out of the crankcase breather, and when Gary took the filler cap off the oil tank, smoke poured out of there too. It had come down to just two of us, John and I. The 750 field was shrinking! John had also taken over the Points Lead in the 750 Championship.

Practice.  I followed John around and learned his lines. In some corners they were very different from mine. He and his big wide bike used the whole track, and I could see he would be difficult to pass if he didn’t make any mistakes. Our lap times were pretty close; both around the 2:08 mark.

Race One.  We went out first thing after lunch break. John and I had talked about trading the lead each lap to make it look good for the spectators, and we both agreed it could be a good thing. After all, there was only the two of us, and Race Two would decide the final outcome anyway. Before the Race, we bumped fists and John said, “May the Best Man Win!,” so I knew the race was on and anything else was just talk.

We gridded, the Red Light went out, and Ruby launched well and got the Holeshot.

Ruby Racer 2.0 at The Ridge Aug 31-Sept 1, 2013 Paul Brodie Flashback Fabrications

Photo by Scott Taylor Photography

I was going well, but made mistakes downshifting and braking.  I need a riding coach, for sure. You can see it all in John’s Video below.

 

His camera quit after a few laps, but he stayed ahead for the win. Ruby was second, good for 30 points. When I came back into the pits, the engine was knocking even more but only in first gear, so it wasn’t really an engine knock.  It was first gear slowly coming apart.

Race Two.  My plan was to get the Holeshot again and then not make any mistakes. It didn’t work that way. I launched, but the transmission popped out of 1st gear fairly quickly, so I shifted into 2nd gear and got 3rd instead. What more can I expect from a transmission that was made back in the 1950’s? John was way ahead by now, but I chased him down and hung on to his tail. I tried passing on the inside and the outside, but couldn’t make anything stick. It was a battle, and John didn’t make any mistakes. The photo below shows how close we often were. Got my lap times down to the low 2:06s.

Ruby Racer 2.0 The Ridge, Turn Nine, Paul Brodie Flashback Fabrications

Photo by Darren Beatty Photography. Ruby chasing John, Turn Nine.

 

Darren Beatty sent me an email that said, “Man… Your bike was running the best I have ever heard it run.”  I think Darren has seen and heard Ruby every time she’s been on a race track.

Round 7 (our Final Round) is coming up the last weekend of September at Seattle.  Ruby’s transmission is getting the parts it needs . . . and I have a GoPro Camera to mount somewhere facing forward on Ruby.

Thanks for reading my Race Report.

 

Paul