WHAT MAKES THE BUNNY RUN?
by Barry Draycott
Equipment can make or break a field trial. Good, well-maintained equipment can provide a pleasurable, safe weekend of lure coursing for both the hounds and their owners. On the other hand, equipment that is not up to par can cause a long, frustrating trial with the possibility of unsafe conditions. I'd like to share some things about lure coursing equipment that I have learned during my 15 or so years in the sport. First, I'd like to point out that I am neither a mechanic nor an engineer. What I've learned comes from trial and error and from many conversations with individuals who are much more knowledgeable than I will ever be. The methods, equipment and ideas that I use are certainly not the only way to run things but they have been successful for me in too many trials to count. They are all standard at PHiladelphia Area Sighthound Trials (PHAST) events.
First and easiest is the string. We use nylon-braided string and replace it as often as necessary. There is no set rule as to how many trials are run before we replace the string. It depends on the length of the course, number of pulleys, terrain, weather, number of entries and many other variables; however, if the string breaks several times during the day, it is time to replace it. Always have enough new string on hand to restring the course. This will not take more than a few minutes and can save a lot of time over all. All you have to do is cut the string at the lures, tie new string on behind the lures and tie the other end of the old string to the take-up wheel mounted on a lure machine. One person holds a large screwdriver that is placed through the center tube of the roll of new string and another person carefully operates the lure machine. This will pull the old string onto the take-up wheel and the new string replaces the old through the pulleys on the field. Before starting a trial, we always replace the section of the string that was near the lures because that section is most likely to have been chewed on by the hounds during the previous trial. Always check your pulleys as you set up the course. Make sure that they turn freely and that there is nothing that could snag the string and lure as they pass through the pulley. Check to make sure the string is not digging into the ground. When setting hold down pulleys, it is best to first pick the string up over your head, making sure that it runs straight from each corner pulley, release the string, then set the hold down pulley so the string is straight and close to the ground. By doing this, you lessen the chance of having the string cut into the side of the hold down pulley.
There are a few lure machines to choose from. Automobile starter motors are commonly used because they provide the almost instant high torque required in our sport. The standard for many years was a Ford starter motor.
The Ford has a long drive shaft that will accommodate the take up wheel. These machines use technology from the early sixties. They were not designed for the constant usage required for lure coursing and therefore can overheat rapidly. They can be improved somewhat by having the speed shunt removed and by installing bearings. For the past six years I have been using a lure machine that was developed by Trenton Starter & Generator Service. We've found it to be far superior to the Ford starter motor.
The TS&G machine is a newer motor that has been modified for our sport. It is lighter and draws fewer amps from the battery. The shaft is gear driven. The TS&G machine comes with an interior cooling fan and a continuous use heavy-duty solenoid. I will list sources at the end of the article, but for now I'll point out that this is not the same machine as the one sold by Injoy. I'm sure Injoy's works well, but I have no personal experience with it. I recommend replacing the battery cables that come with the TS&G machine with a much heavier gauge and we use a battery connection with a cam for easy removal without the use of tools. We also use a safety switch at the battery connection to provide a fast and safe way to cut the power in case of emergency.
There are several types of batteries that can be used. We use Interstate marine/starter deep cycle batteries with a 675cca rating. Deep cycle batteries are specifically designed to deal with long storage between trials and the need to recharge them. Another advantage to these batteries is they usually have two sets of terminals, making it easy to connect two batteries together, thereby increasing the power reserve. Whenever you make connections, check to see that the connections are free of corrosion, rust and dirt. Also, double-check all connections for tightness. It is best for the battery if you charge it fully before a trial and again before you store it away. The important thing to keep in mind is that the batteries must be fully charged or the lure machine will rapidly overheat and stop working.
Several methods can be used to maintain the batteries' charge during the trial. One is to use a battery charger and a generator. Another is to hook up jumper cables to an idling vehicle. Battery manufacturers have stated that constantly using a charger reduces the life of the battery. The best way to maintain the charge is to use an alternator in a late model car, however, letting an expensive car idle all day may not be a good option. For the past couple of years, PHAST has been using a homemade device (dubbed the "Walternator")
designed by club member, Walter Ford. He mounted an alternator from a late model Cadillac to a 5hp Honda motor. This machine runs all day on about a gallon of gas and maintains a full charge on the batteries throughout the trial.
All these components must be in good working order for any trial to run smoothly. If there are problems during the trial, make notes as to what they were and how they were solved and how they can be avoided in the future. Check all your equipment after every trial. Check it again a few days before a trial. Always have back up equipment and tools on hand.
If you ever attend a PHAST event, please feel free to check out our equipment and shoot the breeze with us.
|Injoy Lure Coursing Equipment||802-425-3691||Injoy-1.com|
|Trenton Starter & Generator||609-396-6396|
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PHAST © February, 2002