Advice for someone new to Rails

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HomerJ1122
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Advice for someone new to Rails

Post by HomerJ1122 » Tue Nov 20, 2012 3:41 pm

I am brand new to sand rails, but not to the sand. My experience has been in ATV drag racing, but since my bike was stolen a few weeks back, I'm using the insurance money to get into rails; hoping my wife will enjoy it. I have not yet bought a rail, but am 100% about getting one soon. From experience I know that you never really understand what you want in your machine until AFTER you buy something without it. Then you spend a hellacious amount to get what you could have had if only you had more information in the first place.

I will be purchasing my rail used this winter so I can hopefully get more rail for the money. My budget is roughly $10,000. The main thing I want in a rail is to ride and jump smoothly, so my wife will enjoy it.

What advice do you wish you had been given before you bought your first rail?

Thanks!

Thomas h.
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Re: Advice for someone new to Rails

Post by Thomas h. » Sat Nov 24, 2012 10:33 am

Well funco rails have a airbag in the shock and it is well designed rail.
It just looks safer and smoother. Other than that you will have to
Buy something and rework the suspenison untill the ride is softer.

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Booga-dune-poon
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Re: Advice for someone new to Rails

Post by Booga-dune-poon » Sun Nov 25, 2012 7:58 pm

10K budget to ride and jump smoothly.

The thing about sand rails is that 80% of them were built by amatures. Engineering, weld quality, workmanship and etc. are all open for question. Unlike factory built quads and UTV's, no two rails are the same.

In this price range you'll be looking for beam front end / IRS rear end suspension. Try to avoid torsion leafs / bars and get something with coil over shock absorbers. These are easier to dial in and ride much smoother. 12" of travel is about the maximum you'll find in this class of sand rail.

Power plant is likely to be VW, but you might find a water cooled modern engine installation. VW's are expensive to to build and maintain compared to modern engines. They are tempermental and require regular maintenance. That said, they are reliable if you take care of them. A VW engine that has not been well taken care of is a money pit. A turnkey stroker / turbo VW engine alone could go for more than $4K. Hard to measure but, you will need about 80 hp for a two seat car and 100 hp for a four seat car to get around in the big dunes easily.

When you go to look at a car, you want to start it when it's cold, not warmed up. Does it idle smoothly? Does the engine knock? Any rattles or squeaks? Rev the engine up, any blue smoke? Look underneath for signs of oil leakage. Engage the clutch and select the forward and reverse gears. Is the transmission / clutch easy or difficult to shift?

Jack the car up and put the tranmission in neutral. Spin the rear wheels. Listen for a sound that ticks or knocks. If you hear this, the CV joints could be bad. Do the front and rear wheels spin easy and don't stop too soon? Do you hear any rumble? Pull the wheels from side to side. Any slop? Could be the bearings are shot or out of adjustment.

Look at the front suspension. Does anything look bent? Is it easy to turn the wheels all the way left and right? Lift the car up a little and push down. Does the car move easily? Sit on the front. Does it sag under your weight? If the car is stiff here, it will be rough in the dunes.

Check out the seating arrangement. Does it feel good sitting behind the wheel? Any adjustment possiblities? Do the seats have good padding and support? How about those seat belts? Are they dried up and hard? Is the webbing frayed? I recommend 4 point harness as a minimum. Is the roll cage too close to your head, arms, hips or legs? Imagine going over in a roll. Are the ergonomics of this sand car such that you could walk away without blunt force trama to you or your passenger?

Do you plan on driving at night? Consider the lighting / electrical system as a whole. Is the wiring neatly routed from connection points? Where is the battery located? Is it securely mounted in an out of the way location so as to not endanger occumpants from acid spills in a roll over? Do all the switches operate the lights and ignition?

What kind of wheels and tires come with the car? What is the condition of the tire tread and sidewalls?

Put your Inspector glasses on and examine the welds on the frame. Crawl underneath and look in the most out of the way places. Really pay attention near the attachements of the frame to the suspension. How do the welds look cosmetically? Does it look like the welder had talent or was he / she a beginner? See any cracks? See any welds that look like they have been repaired? IF YOU ANSER YES TO ANY POOR WELDING QUESTIONS, IT IS A DEAL BREAKER IN MY OPINION.

I hope this is enough information to get you started. Keep in touch and let the forum know how the search goes.
Kevin

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Re: Advice for someone new to Rails

Post by TheGreenMachine » Tue Nov 27, 2012 11:49 pm

The last post was pretty good and very informative....

I wish I had done these checks when I bought my first rail....first trip out I blew the motor, tranny, shifter and broke welds on the frame....and I was babying it. Needless to say the guy that sold it to me lied.

If you find one you like, pay to have it professionally inspected. It's worth the $$$. After I bought mind, I have spent almost 7k getting it into decent condition.

Good luck

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