One of the things I learned is that the stock gearbox on the TR5T is somewhere between wide ratio and standard. The classic/cool thing to do would be to source a close ratio gearbox. This would be the gearbox run back in the late 60s at Daytona when the Triumph 500 was a bike to beat. The problem is the difference in the races being run. The first gear on a close ratio is too high for a speedy start that is so key to getting yourself out front for a short race. A longer race, like Daytona, gave you enough miles to make up for a slow start. The low 1st gear in the bike gave me some goods starts that the bike and rider were not up to task for.
Tracks like New Jersey Motorsports Park have a lot of twists and carousels that will keep you between 2nd and 3rd more than you would expect. My experience for the Triumph was that the distance between 2nd and 3rd was too great and that it left me at a great disadvantage.
The ratio for 4th stays the same Between the different wide, standard and close ratios. It was hard to see a considerable change in 3rd from the TR5T and standard gearbox, as well. The plan is to keep all other gears, but update 2nd to standard specs.
Part of getting into the gear cluster requires tearing down of the clutch. This is where I should mention that prior to racing I never saw the bike run for more than a couple seconds. It turns out that the clutch decided not to work on race day and I had to jam another friction plate in there to get anything to happen. The truth is that I had planned on rebuilding the clutch beforehand, but the parts never arrived in time. New clutch springs and friction plates await installation.
Getting myself and the Triumph on the track last season was an incredible experience. Starting to assemble the bike less than two weeks before racing was something I wanted to avoid the next time. If plans have gone, as planned, the bike would be done by now and already tested. As it stands, Roebling is about 4 weeks away and I am just starting to get to work on the bike.
There only thing I got done right away to the bike was putting proper exhaust spigots in. For some odd reason on the TR5T Triumph decided to use push in exhaust pipes unlike every other T100 engine. Last year at the track, I returned to the pit with a pipe dangling off the side. Many thanks to John Melniczuk for bailing me out that day and Tom Healy for getting the heads tapped for the spigots.
This engine was run as I got it. I have no clue what is really inside. My understanding is that it was raced on some local TT tracks. Having to remove the head to get the spigots in revealed some oddities. Stock valve guides were in the intake and some mismatched oversized guides were in the exhaust. Replacement guides and valves all around. For some reason I had been running lightened racing springs in my everyday T100 and those have been 'borrowed' permanently to complete the head. It also appears that whoever did the engine before me was using an earlier copper gasket that is thicker than the proper one (let's hope there was not a good reason).
I should be buttoning up the top end today and then will get on the gearbox and clutch next week.
Over twenty five years ago I almost finished the build on my first race bike. It was a BSA A50 Royal Star that after an engine rebuild I started to hop up. It was a good runner even without the long sought cyclone head (that never arrived). Well things transpire and that bike was used for tuition money.
Last year my good friend Matt went and got his race license through AHRMA. Being there, watching, and occasionally helping him got me back wanting to race myself. Less than a year later I am scrambling to get a Triumph TR5T ready to race for the AHRMA event at New Jersey Motorsports Park (NJMP) on July 10th.
Things were progressing slowly through the spring and really did not get to where they needed to be by the end of June, when I had originally planned the bike to be running for a few test runs.
The week before I had enlisted my friend George (known to many as English George) to head up the safety wiring department and transit of the bike to the race. At this point we forward to the Monday the week of the race and there is some emergency ordering of clutch plates and a couple of gaskets, but getting things done by Thursday when I need to head down seems attainable.
The Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday pass and progress is amazing, this thing is going to happen. UPS at the shop usually arrives by one, but still no clutch plates. Thursday progresses as I give up on new clutch plates and finish welding the exhaust pipes. George is running late after packing and then calls around 4 or 5 saying he just got rear-ended heading to the shop. At this point is is probably worth noting that George is already in a neck-brace. Luckily he is fine and his transit is unscathed.
We load up the still not running bike and George starts on his way as I head home to pack. An half hour later I am on the road as the clouds roll in and the heavens open up on us with tornado warnings for the area we need to drive through. Somehow, I end up beating George to the track by 20 minutes.
That night I got things wired up, but we still had to mount pipes and finish up some safety wiring. Due to that we did not have the bike running in time for class. Luckily Matt offered up his CB175 for my use when needed. and I was on my way for the day and I was able to get my race license.
The next day had me finishing up everything and missing my practice sessions, but I was ready for the first race on an untested bike (excluding a few runs around the paddock).
The warm up lap on the first race felt good and riding a bike that felt more like what I was used to was reassuring. The first lap was good, and to be expected, the rest of my heat left me behind. With them in the near distance I hit the carousel and the bike chugged a bit as I opened up the throttle for the chicane and the front straight. At this point I was realizing my jetting wasn't adequate for lower revs and decided the next time round I needed to keep the revs higher.
In lap one the 500GP and Formula 500 heats started passing me and now a couple of turns into lap two my heat was gaining on me. With the carousel coming up I put on the throttle pushing myself to keep a better line and lean more into the corners. I was still getting passed, but it was taking them some time. Half way through the carousel I started to open the throttle to keep up. As I do I can hear the engine start to bog down as the exhaust starts screaming from the right. A quick look down and my right pipe is hanging off of safety wire and a p-clamp. Left hand up and into the pits for me.
At this point I was not totally dejected about todays performance, but I was starting to feel dread about not being able to get on the track the next day. In the process of blowing my right pipe off I lost a valuable home made spigot for the exhaust. I searched around the swap meet and checked the tech area if anything was found on the track, but no luck. On my search I talked to John Melniczuk, he thought he may have something in his shop six miles away and he would check later that night.
A couple of phone calls with John and some measurements taken, and he is throwing one from a 650 onto a lathe for my. This leads us to how amazing a community of people that gets created on track days, It is hard to understand and must be witnessed to be believed.
In the morning John shows up with a spigot that fits perfectly and I refit the pipes and secure them better. I almost miss practice, but get out there after some re-jetting of the carb. Little things on the bike get tweaked like the position of the shifter and some slack taken out of the cables.
The last race of the weekend is at hand, the test lap feels good. We line up at the grid and are off with the second wave. The race goes well, I am still not leaning as far as I should, I realize second is much to low and third a stretch for some turns, have a blast the whole time, and amazing don't come in last (but, I am not sure the person behind me losing his carb and not finishing counts).
The bike needs some finagling and the rider, well, I need to get some more track time.