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Thread: Electrathon - A Different Kind of "Hotrod"
          
   
   

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  1. #406
    J. Robinson's Avatar
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    I ventured into the world of Electrathon again Saturday (Dec. 10). This was a new venue this year, our first race at Lennard High School in Ruskin, Florida. The course had one rough turn, but otherwise was a fast and fun track. It was .4 mile long which is about twice the length we normally race on.

    If I may digress for a moment.., At the last race we discovered what I thought was a small problem. The car's throttle acted a little erratic in the first race and then the throttle wouldn't shut completely off in the second race. I assumed it was a faulty potentiometer and I changed it when I was servicing the car after that race. Something told me I should test it one last time before I loaded up Friday, so I dropped in the batteries and discovered the throttle still wouldn't shut off completely. I even disconnected the potentiometer completely and it still wouldn't shut off! That means the motor controller is malfunctioning internally... I had another controller, so I changed it and everything seemed OK.

    In the first race Saturday the car would shut off occasionally when I would hit the bumps in that one rough turn. I would reset the "dead man" switch, throttle up again and all was OK. It did it maybe 8 or 10 times. I won the first race by about 2 seconds over the second place car. I checked all the connections between races and found nothing wrong or loose. I thought maybe the "dead man" switch was faulty and was losing its connection on the bumps. Oh well, I can't fix it at the track - deal with it and drive!

    Everything started off OK in the second race, but after a few laps the problem returned with a vengeance. It was shutting off 2 and sometimes 3 times per lap! Finally, 26 minutes into the race it quit completely. I was done for the day. I tested the "dead man" switch when I was servicing the car Monday; there is nothing wrong with it. The problem is the controller... again! Two races, two controllers. Well, they were both old, but this could get expensive...

    At least I turned enough laps to get the 2nd place trophy. Apparently the other teams' luck was worse than mine...
    Jim

    Racing! - Because football, basketball, baseball, and golf require only ONE BALL!

  2. #407
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    Nice up date. Sometimes Murphy's law throws multiple twists to keep us wondering what the hay? Glad you figured it out.
    " "No matter where you go, there you are!" Steve.

  3. #408
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    I guess that old saying is true..

    Sometimes it's better to be lucky than good! 8-) Thanks for the update and the win.

  4. #409
    J. Robinson's Avatar
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    Extenuating circumstances kept me from making it to the January and February races, so nothing to report there. In March we had our "Speed Races" at Middleton High School in Tampa. I did a write-up on it, but when I posted it, it went into the great unknown and never showed up here! I was too disgusted to rewrite it then and since forgot about it. So.., we call that event Speed Races because we set aside the usual one-hour enduro style racing and shorten the races to 20 minutes. It is run on a quarter-mile track around the football field. The short duration race time allows us to dial the throttles up and let 'em fly.

    Since my original controller had malfunctioned back in December I needed a different one. I tried a borrowed one and it didn't work either. By the time I discovered the problem, I didn't have time to buy a new controller. The only option I had was to put in the one that was acting erratically at the Middleton race back in October. In the first race I took off, eased up to full throttle, and was doing fine for about 3 laps. Then the car started slowing down! I got lapped once by my closest competitor (in my class) and after he gained about another half lap on me, my car started speeding up again. That's how we finished - me in 2nd place 1 1/2 laps behind first place.

    I loaned my car to pit steward and flagman, Mike Frederick, for the "Sponsor's Race". He ran it wide open for 15 minutes with no problems and finished 2nd behind one of the Lithium battery cars.

    In my second race of the day I was running good, leading my class... for the first six minutes... until my rear tire went flat!! It takes more than the 14 remaining minutes to change the rear tire, so I was done for the day. As it turned out, my good friend, Rodney Schreck got first, I totaled enough laps in the two races to get second. The only other competitor in our class had worse luck than me; he ended up third. There were only three in our class at this race.
    Last edited by J. Robinson; 09-04-2017 at 06:53 AM.
    Jim

    Racing! - Because football, basketball, baseball, and golf require only ONE BALL!

  5. #410
    J. Robinson's Avatar
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    I didn't race in April. I skipped the race at the Hillsborough fairgrounds because last year the track was so rough it caused problems with some of the cars. There were some big races held at Five Flags Speedway in Pensacola and Barber Motorsports Park in Alabama, but they're too far away for me to want to go. I took the time off to buy a brand new controller and check all the systems in my car.

    The last race of the season was at the Florida Solar Energy Center in Cocoa, Florida. It's just 20 minutes from my home, so I was looking forward to it (most of our races are in the Tampa area 2 hours away). The course was challenging and highly technical. Unfortunately, between the time the organizers laid out the course and the race actually took place some weeks later, some big construction trucks had been using part of the course to get to and from their work site. The course was so rough it broke the end off my main power fuse (a big 200 amp bar fuse) about half way through the first race. I replaced it, got back in the race, and finished second in my class.

    For the second race we went the opposite direction. That's pretty much normal operating procedure. The bad news is, it made the track even rougher! I was already beat from the pounding of the first race (remember, at 69 I'm one of the oldest regular competitors in Electrathon) and the continued bumping and jostling became downright painful. At 18 minutes into the hour I drove my car into the pits and quit. I do this for fun and I wasn't having any!

    Even with all my missed races and DNF's I managed to end up 3rd in points for the season. This coming season, which starts in late September, I will hopefully have fewer DNF's and fewer schedule conflicts. Only time will tell.
    Jim

    Racing! - Because football, basketball, baseball, and golf require only ONE BALL!

  6. #411
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    Congrats on the season Mr. Jim!
    Sorry for the difficulties but, that's racing right?!?!

  7. #412
    johnboy is offline CHR Member Visit my Photo Gallery
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    Despite the malfunctions and breakages you did pretty damn' fine.
    Congratulations!
    johnboy
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  8. #413
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    Ditto Congrats Jim, how is the new controller working so far?
    " "No matter where you go, there you are!" Steve.

  9. #414
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    Thanks, guys. Yes, that's racing. I managed third in points mainly because a couple of other teams had a worse season than I did! I expect competition will get tougher this coming season as they figure out their problems and become more competitive. I have a sign in my shop that says "Race it, break it, fix it, REPEAT". I think that applies here.

    I'm getting old and have a shelf full of trophies and ribbons; I should probably give up competing and retire... again. The thing that keeps me going back is pure ego. I have developed a chassis design that is competitive and reliable. Since 2003 I have built 14 cars and sold 13 of them. Any one of those other 13 can show up and win their class any time. The car that has finished first in points in my class for the past 3 years is one I built. It's fun to see cars that I designed and built running up front most of the time and it's fun to be in the top 3 in almost every race I finish. I guess I feel like Frank Kurtis or AJ Watson must have felt when they saw their race cars racing and winning. Anyway, it's still fun most of the time, so I'll keep on for a while.

    Steve - The controller is a brand new Alltrax. I've had a couple of Alltrax controllers in the past and they were super reliable. Unfortunately, when I sold out all my stuff in January of 2016 with intentions of retiring, they went with the cars. I finished the rest of that season and began the last one with some old controllers out of golf carts. They were doing fine for a while and then suddenly went haywire. I finally "bit the bullet" and blew $350 on a new Alltrax. It's one of their new design controllers with molded polymer case and cooling fins. It should be good to go for several years. The new season starts September 23rd.
    Dave Severson, 34_40 and stovens like this.
    Jim

    Racing! - Because football, basketball, baseball, and golf require only ONE BALL!

  10. #415
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    Keep at it Jim!
    " "No matter where you go, there you are!" Steve.

  11. #416
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    Well, I missed the season-opening race on Saturday, September 23rd. I had planned to be there. My car is ready, but...

    My son and I were up on the roof of my back porch Friday, replacing the roofing that had been removed by hurricane Irma. About the time we were situating the last piece of roll-roofing my back decided I had bent over one too many times. I had the old tell-tale shooting pain across my lower right side and it was suddenly very painful to move and straighten up. This has happened to me before, so I knew what it meant - I was done and I wasn't going anywhere for a few days!

    My son finished the last piece of roofing without assistance from me and I struggled to get down the ladder. Since then I have done very little but sit in front of the TV in my recliner. Not sure how long this will keep me down; time will tell.
    Jim

    Racing! - Because football, basketball, baseball, and golf require only ONE BALL!

  12. #417
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    Those twinges are important. They will allow only so much insolence.

    Mean while enjoy the boob tube for a couple days.
    .
    Education is expensive. Keep that in mind, and you'll never be terribly upset when a project goes awry.
    EG

  13. #418
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    Take it easy Jim.

    We've been there and know that pain.

  14. #419
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    Jim, sorry to hear about your back. Take it easy and don't hurt it worse.
    Ryan
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  15. #420
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    Jim,
    I'm no doctor, and I'm not giving you any advice but I will tell you that after many, many years suffering with that type of back pain I bought an inversion table, and it changed my life for the better. My last visit to the chiropractor was something like 25 years ago.
    I hope your muscle spasms ease, and your back starts feeling better.
    40FordDeluxe likes this.
    Roger
    Enjoy the little things in life, and you may look back one day and realize that they were really the BIG things.

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