IN THE BEGINNING
Test mule for engine
The sidecar was always meant to be a test mule for the streamliner engine, and to learn about turbocharging, and the effect that Bonneville being at 6000-7000ft of altitude dependant on temperature had on the engine power characteristics.
So after plenty of research and some good old fashioned technical drawing with a pencil and paper i had a drawing and a plan to work to.
So steel was ordered, mainly 30mm x 30mm box, i had an old Ducati single frame that i was going to chop the headstock out of, and my mate Tom Goode was going to let me borrow his fabrication workshop to do the construction, as he had a "Flat engineers table" to help make the whole thing straight and true, after all i need it to steer in a straight line!
Not welding on the floor really helps
WHEN YOUR NOT SKILLED, KEEP IT SIMPLE
Worked on the principle, a box was strong
By use of 5mm thick plate bridging across the tubing, it was very strong, weight isnt an issue at Bonneville as you have plenty of distance, and weight helps tractio of the slippery salt
NEEDS SOME WHEELS
Does it feel right??
As construction continued , it was exciting to see it come together, putting wheels in made it seem more like a bike and less like an engineering project.
THE STEERING FELT WRONG
Time to cut it off and try again
When i did a test run down the village road outside my house the steering felt all wrong. As the steering angle was so shallow, it was like riding a chopper out of the Easy Rider film, and the front wheel felt like it was flopping from side to side. Now if it doesn't feel right , it isn't right, so as dramatic as it seemed, out came the angle grinder and i cut off the Ducati front end and modified it and re welded it on with a steeper steering angle.
This time when run down the road it felt much more natural and motorcycle like, so was happy with the decision to redo the front.
AMAZING WHAT A LICK OF PAINT DOES
Sidecar now attached and 3 wheels on my wagon
I sent photos to the Technical committee at SCTA-BNI, the organization that runs Bonneville speed trials, to make sure they were happy with how the sidecar was attached to the main fram. Nothing worse than turning up 5000 miles form home to be told you cant race because the construction was done badly
TIME FOR SOME MOTIVE POWER
Coming together nicely
The fitting of the engine was easy, getting the routing of the exhaust, turbo infeed, feed into the airbox, feed from airbos into carburettor and all the extra feed was fun.
As the engine is a 2 stroke, i have had to construct a totally separate oil feed system for the turbo, and the fuel feed system needs to be regulated and compensated for the turbo boost pressure, as i am using a good old Dellorto carb and not fuel injection
Its great having access to your own runway
i started the testing protocol without the turbo hooked up, so just normally aspirated. This showed that the set up was very fuel rich and the bike wouldnt pull properly, so needed to jet the carb down by about 10%. Once it was running well it was possible to put in a few top speed runs using all 1.7 miles of the runway. Best speed achieved was 76 mph, which i wasnt too unhappy with.
When i reconnected the turbo i jetted back to the settings used on the dyno for safety.
Now the bike has a level of instrumentation to ensure the "System" is running to specification, and the key element is Exhaust Gas Temperature, and after a few runs i could see that it wasn't getting high enough.
Leaning the jetting has now helped this, and after a good downward run, on the return run i was getting within 200 degrees of the target and achieving a decent 4-5 Ftlb of turbo boost. This boost had the effect of changing the bike from a single to a triple, it just added bags of torque and the engine note changed and it pulled superbly.
These runs consistently achieved top speeds of 86mph with revs at around , so 12,500rpm, so 1000 off of maximum.
This was early july and getting close to when i needed to crate the bike for shipping to Bonneville, when it developed an issue, on full throttle runs the bike would run out of fuel, there was fuel in the tank but it didn't get to the carb.
O taking reference with those who run this sort of set up, it was obvious to them i hadn't put a boost feed to the fuel regulator. Once tis was done i returned to the runway and this time all was good
SHIPPING - DAMN EXPENSIVE
But i wanted a one stop shop.
Getting a racing motorcycle to Bonneville is neither easy nor cheap.
I thought i had resolved getting it there by airfreight back in November 2018 and had quotes and had had several email dialogues with a company. Yet when i phoned to place the order it became all too apparent that all they did was take the boxed bike from their depot and deliver it to a US airport, didn't do any dangerous good certification, crating, customs clearance or deliver to Wendover, the nearest town to the salt flats.
Si i started again in May 2019, now feeling under time pressure to find a solution and came across CED Packaging just outside Cambridge. I like how they talked, and liked even more they would allow me to visit them in person to talk about it.
So i went to saw John Reader and we agreed on sea freight as it takes 2 weeks not 8 and was cheaper and they would do everything from crating, certification, customs etc. and deliver to my nominated point in the US.
This is not cheap, the return journey will be over £3000.
On the 11th of July, i delivered the bike to Cambridge and stripped it down for crating.
The crate left Liverpool docks on the 23rd, 2 days late due to the ship arriving late from Atwerp, not a good start.
Then to compound it , arriving in New York on the 7th, i was told it could be as late as the 14th before it arrived in Wendover, however, FEDEX did a great job and my crate arrived i the back of a truck at 5pm on the 12th.
RAIN STOPS PLAY
Well it is a lake after all!
The late arrival of the bike in its crate was actually not an issue.
I chose to fly out early so that i could get the Monet through Technical inspection and have a few days being sociable with good friends Wally Kohler and Spencer Hamilton, so arrived on the Tuesday.
However, after getting the Monet approved to race, there blew in a tremendous thunderstorm and the the salt was literally turned back into a lake with about 1cm of water sitting on the top, and leaving many areas like soup.
This meant that the courses where unfit to race on and we were told it would be at least Tuesday before racing started.
In the end it was actually Wednesday and the queues to use the one, instead of 3 courses in use, was at least 8 hours.
After several bike riders fell and 2 cars spun out they cancelled racing for the rest of Wednesday and moved the course across 50ft ready for Thursday.
This is a video of us driving down the main course before doing our return record run on the Friday, so you can see it is very far from smooth.
TO BE OR NOT TO BE?
Its why i went.
So in total i only got to get 3 runs down the salt due to the wet conditions and the fact that we queued for over 12 hours in total for the first run.
It was ironic that after queuing for all that time, when i got to the start line, the battery of our Uhaul truck was flat. Thankfully, the good nature of the Americans came to the fore, and they told me to do my run and they would get jump leads to start the truck.
The run was rubbish, the bike hardly pulled, obviously very overgeared and overjetted, and producing no turbo boost, the speed was 44.765mph, and the bike wouldnt pull 4th gear let alone 6th!
Remember this bike had done 86mph at Kendrew runway.
I had a larger front sprocket and plenty of jets, so on Thursday afternoon i did my second run and determined to wring the bikes neck in third gear and not try for 4th, and using my phone GPS speedo, i saw i had hit 61 mph peak speed, and the existing record was 47mph.
We went to the timing hut and saw that we had a good run with an average of 57.967 mph. So we went to impound, or Parc ferme, where you have 4 hours to work on the bike before you must leave.
return runs would be at 7.30 Friday morning and you have 1 hour to work on the bike before the run.
At this point i need to mention "Altitude".
Bonneville salt flats are at about 5500ft, so have 15% less oxygen that at sea level for the engine to use. But due to the high temperatures of 36-38oC and low humidity, the "Density Altitude" of my run was 7124ft, which has 25% less oxygen than sea level, so the poor engine is struggling to make power.
The turbo still seemed to be not kicking in, and later analysis suggests the exhaust heating system was faulty.
On friday we were up at 5.30am, sat at the entrance to the salt at 6.30am and mid pack for the return runs. Due to the poor salt we were one of only 10 vehicles making a record return run.
So, it was time to step up and do what i came for, and did the return run, this time the phone said 60mph, so i knew i had done enough, and the timing ticket said, 57.263mph, so an average of 57.615mph.
I had my second Bonneville land speed record, although very unhappy with its speed, it was done in third.
The bike is currently in storage in Wendover , as i am going back for Work Finals in October with more gearing to try and get the speed up.