After discovering the rods were designed incorrectly and the company that made them (DesignIt Prototype) left us holding the bag of broken bits, we realized we needed to go back to something that we had no doubts about. I contacted Jack Sparks of Carrillo Industries. Jack said the company that just bought Carrillo (the PMI Group) wanted the company to go in the direction of Titanium rods. So, Jack offered to work with us as a "test bed".
With what we had just gone through, I would normally have declined. However, I have been using Carrillo rods for most of my engine building career with zero problems. Carrillo was also no stranger to Titanium rods having made a few sets in the past for some top motorcycle race teams. So, we agreed to go forward with the Ti. We got all of our samples together and sent them down to Carrillo. Along with the Ti rods, we asked them to make us some steel rods due to timing issues with getting a motor running as soon as possible (the Ti would take some time to make).
We did end up getting two versions of steel rods; the traditional "H" Beam rod, and a set of their newer "A" Beam design. The "A" Beam was a bit lighter and narrower for better windage at +14,500 rpm. However, we ended up putting those rods in a customer motor and running the traditional "H" Beam rods in ours.
The motors went back together with the Carrillo "H" Beam steel rods and back to the track we went. One rider, Paul Yoshimune, said he noticed a slight lack of acceleration in his motor. We contributed it to the extra weight (inertia) of the steel vs. the Ti. But, at this point, we didn't have much of a choice.
Because of timing, not much else changed with these motors. We were playing catch up in trying to get back to the track and earn some points and win some races. The season was going rather well for us (2004) and by the last race at Thunder Hill, Michael Lohmeyer was leading the points in Formula-IV and it looked as though we would win the Championship. But...Murphy was hanging out in that Black Cloud hovering above Mr. Lohmeyer.
During the Formula-IV race at Thunder Hill, my own race weekend came to a quick end when I was run off the track exiting Turn 2 at 100+mph. I ended up at the top of the hill overlooking turn 3 and the rest of the track. From here, while letting my own heart-rate come back to something in the normal range, I watched the rest of the race. For most of the race, Lohmeyer had a commanding lead. Second place was far enough back that Lohmeyer just had to bring it home and he would have won the race and wrapped up the points chase to win the championship. I stopped watching the race because the turn workers were trying to get me back to the pits, but as I looked around to watch Lohmeyer take the checkered flag, I didn't see him.
I figured I just missed him, until I saw him walking away from his bike shortly after. Apparently, while he was coming out of the last turn on to the front straight, the motor locked up spitting him off the bike - over the high-side. He said it was strange, he was feeding the gas on to exit the turn and the motor made a "Clack" noise and he was airborne. We had no idea what had happened until we got back to the shop and were able to tear the motor down. We were in complete disbelief at what we saw.
The crankshaft had snapped right across the crankpin to the main journal. This was the first time in nearly 20 years of building engines we had a crankshaft snap on us. We were perplexed. We needed to find out what the cause of the break was before we could continue forward with reassembling another motor. We suspected the workmanship of the weld-up crankshaft. Although I had built 15 or so strokers in the past from the same guy with no problems.
As a side note about the rods, when the crankshaft snapped, it locked solid agains the cases immediately. The rub marks were less than 15 degrees of rotation, indicating the crank went from about 12,000 rpm to 0 rpm all at once. The Carrillo rods took a tremendous amount of load at that point, but surprisingly they did not break. It was this incident that secured our faith in Carrillo rods for eternity. We were now in firm belief; It would take an act of God to make these rods just snap on their own.
Despite the bad luck with the engines, Mike Lohmeyer was able to set the 450cc Superbike lap record at every track the AFM raced at, and finished 2nd overall in 450cc Superbike for the season. Mike Norman, David Crone and Steve Chan were able to win the AFM 450cc 4hr endurance class for the second year in a row on David Crone's NC-30.
Bore x Stroke: 57.0mm x 44.5mm
Pistons: REC/G-Force Design
Rings: Yamaha FZR400 (3-Rings)
Bores: Millennium Aluminum/NIkaSil sleeves
Rods: Carrillo Steel "H" Beam
Crank: CCR Weld-up stock crank. 1st Generation
Max rpm: 14,500rpm
Carbs: VFR 32mm CV with HRC F-III kit set-up (no airbox)
Race Fuel: VP Ultimate 4 (oxygenated)
Max hp: (To be entered with graph soon)
Max tq: (To be entered with graph soon)
DEMISE: Snapped Crank #1