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Ron Granlee's Neat Things car, circa 1972


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#1 Jairus

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Posted 15 August 2010 - 06:23 PM

A friend in Germany asked me if I would build him a replica of Ron Granlee's racing car from back in 1972. I, of course, said SURE, and then said... "What car?" :blink:

That was a part of slot car history I really knew nothing about, having only just joined the ranks of the "slotters" with my little Riggen Porsche the year previous. At any rate, I endeavored to learn just who Ron Granlee (amateur racer and track owner) was and why his car was sooooo desired (PdL built and held a track record for a time) by my friend! The full story can be read [url="http://slotblog.net/index.php?showtopic=8903&st=0&p=107691&hl="ron%20granlee"&fromsearch=1&#entry107691"]here[/url] and on the LASCM web site.

This image below is one of the two cars (restored) that Philippe originally built for Ron.

Posted Image
(This pic provided by LASCM)

Meanwhile, back at the ranch, a few emails with Rick Thigpen later and I believed I was ready to proceed. The basic chassis is one of Philippe's standard "Neat Things" plumber jobbies with a Steube/Checkpoint Mura C-can motor rolling on set of Associated wheels, all the rage in the pro ranks at the time. The car was clothed in a Keniji Kanegawa-painted Ferrari 512 body lettered by PdL himself! Well, originally... I will see if I can do it justice myself.

Being fresh out of Steube motors I figured the next best thing was a motor filled with Havlicek re-wound goodness! :wub:

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The original arm was a #25, but a pretty little #24 and a set of nice new magnets by Pro Slot should do the trick. Brushes will be Gold Dust and I still have yet to pull a set of buss bars off another motor for this project. The freshly painted C-can awaits... but I'm getting ahead of myself!

The "Neat Things" chassis copy needs to be built first and foremost... so I started out by cutting some brass since vintage Parma bits are getting very hard to find!

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Both are cut out of .040" German hard brass (Thanks, Ralph!) Philippe's chassis used .040" tongue and .032" pans. But I noticed he also hung a lot of lead on those pans... hmmmm, wouldn't thicker brass be better? ;)

The center section was soldered up next.

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Posted Image

Construction of the drop arm coming soon, so stay tuned... B)
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#2 Bill from NH

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Posted 15 August 2010 - 08:07 PM

This is the start of a neat-looking project, Jairus! Are those main rails double .063"?

In addition to his raceway, Ron Granlee also ran a great nationwide mail order service in the '70s providing the latest "hot" pieces. I did business with him many times. :)

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#3 Jairus

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Posted 15 August 2010 - 09:08 PM

Thank you, Bill!

The correct rail size is a mystery that only PdL can put light on. I received a number of images from Rick that I used to plot and cut the pans and drop arm. One of the articles specified the wire size and pan size but it really didn't jive with the information in the article, nor did the scaled-up photographs. I also noted a number of small differences in all the "Neat Things" chassis photos that I had. Enough so as to suggest that it is highly possible rail wire size may have varied slightly depending on glue conditions (enough said).

So once I had the pans and drop arm cut I laid them out with some lengths of .063" wire to estimate the width and lo-and-behold the overall width was too wide by 1/16 inch!

Only option was to either cut down the pans or go with finer wire for the main rails. .055" rails turned out achieve a perfect 3.125" width! THAT and the fact that Lee Gilbert the very next year began suggesting that a combination of .055" and .047" wire made up the perfect chassis sealed the decision.

So, I went with .063" half rails, plumber rails, and front axle uprights... while .055" was used for the four main rails. It scaled out perfect on the photograph I used for the chassis layout and that is the story I am sticking to! :)

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#4 dc-65x

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Posted 15 August 2010 - 09:09 PM

PdL's design runs great and I'm sure this one will, too.

Looking good, Jairus. Thanks for sharing it with us. :)

Rick Thigpen
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#5 Rick

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Posted 15 August 2010 - 09:46 PM

Very, very nice, Jairus. Lovely build. You guys are real masters at this...
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#6 Foamy

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Posted 15 August 2010 - 09:49 PM

Car specs as follows:

4.600" long
3.750" wheelbase
.063"/.055" main rails
.063" half rails and uprights
.055" plumber rails
3.063" guide to drop arm hinge
1.250" wide drop arm
.685 x .032" pans
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#7 68Caddy

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Posted 15 August 2010 - 10:04 PM

What can you say only... more please! :wub:
Nesta
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In this bright future you can't forget your past.
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#8 Jairus

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Posted 15 August 2010 - 10:34 PM

Well, Dennis, that will certainly help with the rest of the build! ;)

Confirms that it was not all .063" in there... but guess I need to move the front axle back a wee bit.

Thank you! :)

Jairus H Watson - Artist
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#9 Prof. Fate

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Posted 16 August 2010 - 12:10 PM

Hi,

Ron Granlee is one of the guys I miss from "the day".

In addition to the track, all during the "dark ages" he was the source of bits for most of the surviving racers I knew, including 1/32 club racers! He also supplied a lot diecast kits to collectors and so on.

He always remembered everything about you when you called and always made it seem PERSONAL. He always knew what I was interested in and would sometimes just call and chat about things. One of the good guys.

Fate
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#10 zipper

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Posted 16 August 2010 - 01:00 PM

I remember my first order from abroad was from him in about '72 - sheesh, those taxes in Finland I had to pay...

But fast and complete delivery.
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#11 Cheater

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Posted 16 August 2010 - 02:36 PM

Wasn't Ron confined to a wheelchair?

Not that that makes any real difference other than increasing my admiration of him for his accomplishments and attitude.

Gregory Wells

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#12 Keith Tanaka

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Posted 16 August 2010 - 03:45 PM

Cheater,

Here's a quote from Dokk's TSRF website about Ron Granlee and the Neat Things car:


Ron Granlee, then owner of the famed Speed & Sport raceway in Lynwood, CA, had used the car shown below in 1972. Ron was paralyzed and in a wheelchair, barely able to move one finger and slightly turn his head.

Ron was an inspiration to those who knew him and saw him accomplish so much for someone with his disability.

Keith Posted Image
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#13 Jairus

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Posted 16 August 2010 - 07:15 PM

Keith, thank you for providing that information. Raceway owners and managers are a rare breed. But to have an inspirational man like Ron with so many people espousing his attributes makes me proud to be building his car! :sun_bespectacled:
Wish I could have met him.


Spent all morning on the drop arm. Also shortened up the wheelbase to 3.75" as was provided by Dennis. Soon as the studio cools down tonight or tomorrow morning I plan to work on the plumber rails and pans.
Posted Image

Rick Thigpen provided a set of Associated front and rear wheels for this build as they were the most likely items used on the original cars. Beautiful items those... Thank you Rick! :yu:
Posted Image

As so often quoted by dc-65x: "Onward and upward!" :)

Jairus H Watson - Artist
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#14 Jairus

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Posted 17 August 2010 - 06:43 PM

Managed to get the plumber rails made up today. I normally don't do a "step by step" like Rick and others since they do it better. But since progress is slower than normal.... here is a shot of the progress so far.
Posted Image

Hanging the pans and locating the drop arm hinges next.
Weather is finally cooling, so as soon as the temp in the studio drops a bit I'll continue. Till then, James May calls from the DVR.
B)

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#15 TSR

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Posted 17 August 2010 - 07:38 PM

Hey Jairus, that looks good!
Dennis has one of the two cars, so he could take measurements. I figured out that Ron Granlee would probably have trouble during qualifying as he really wanted to set a qualifying record, so I built two identical cars so that he would have an intact car for the actual race. Dennis ended up with one (the one he raced), I retained the other after it was thoroughly bent in qualifying. Both were restored at the same time.

On the plumber rails, as well as the 0.032" side-pan hinge wires, there is a double bend, so that they are absolutely flat, as the second bend takes in consideration the thickness of the brass tubing that holds them.
You need a very good set of parallel pliers to do this right, I recommend the ones made in the UK by Maun. Problem is, you need someone in the UK to buy them and ship them to you because they are not imported in the USA. I got mine in 1971 and still have them...
I have never had a better tool in my hands in all my years.

Posted Image

#16 dc-65x

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Posted 17 August 2010 - 08:25 PM

Hi Philippe,

I did a Google search and have found they now seem to be for sale here. But which type do you prefer? They have smooth or knurled jaws, spring return and non spring return and different sizes 125mm, 140mm, 160mm and even 200mm.

Scratch builders need to know :)

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#17 TSR

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Posted 17 August 2010 - 08:45 PM

Rick, the exact model is # 4960-160. If you type this on Google, it comes up immediately. I only recommend this particular one, it is simply GREAT.

#18 dc-65x

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Posted 17 August 2010 - 09:00 PM

Those are:

160mm Side Cutting Plier
PVC Sleeves
Knurled Jaws

And so far I can't find them in the US. I find the next size down but I'll keep looking.

Thanks

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#19 dc-65x

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Posted 17 August 2010 - 09:36 PM

Please forgive me Jairus and everyone but......."I got's ta no".........Philippe, do you use the side cutting feature on 1/16 piano wire too or do you use some other tool for that?

Rick Thigpen
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#20 Mopar Rob

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Posted 17 August 2010 - 09:43 PM

......."I got's ta no".........


:laugh2:

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#21 dc-65x

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Posted 17 August 2010 - 09:59 PM

"... you've got to ask yourself one question: Do I feel lucky? Well, do ya, punk?" :D

I'm sorry Jairus, I'll stop now. But Philippe, I still "gots ta no" please.......

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#22 Bill from NH

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Posted 17 August 2010 - 10:24 PM

The Brookstone Company used to import those Maun pliers but I don't know if they still do. I bought a pair years ago.

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#23 TSR

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Posted 18 August 2010 - 12:00 AM

do you use the side cutting feature on 1/16 piano wire too or do you use some other tool for that?

Not really, I always used the Dremel disk for that because if you use the side cutters, you will deform and flatten the wire, and it will no longer be straight...

#24 Jairus

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Posted 19 August 2010 - 10:40 AM

I loved 1972! M*A*S*H started that year, I had a paper route that funded my purchase of a 10-speed (used) finally. The local track was 25 minutes away by bike and I drove the wheels off my Dynamic Porsche 908 running laps on the Blue King.
40 years later I owned a '72 Mach 1 and the nostalgia was palpable whenever I drove it. Nothing like plugged in a Steppenwolf or Skynyrd 8-track with the windows down, rowing through the gears, engine roaring.... Arrrr arrr arr!

Chassis is finished on my Neat Things/Granlee replica. Time to turn attentions to the motor build and paint the body.
Posted Image

Posted Image

Yeah, not as polished and shiny as Ricks chassis.... but I believe this is more realistic to the actual car finish wise as I doubt PdL polished his cars... or did he?
Took quite a bit of time to cut that front axle tube. I suspect that Philippe cut the tube first, THEN wire wrapped the stop and looms. I did it the hard way trying to cut and file through the wire wrapping and brass in one sitting. Quite a job that!
Posted Image

Posted Image

That's it for now. :)
Posted Image
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Jairus H Watson - Artist
Need something painted, soldered, carved, or killed? - jairuswtsn@aol.com

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Check out some of the cool stuff on my Fotki!


#25 TSR

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Posted 19 August 2010 - 01:46 PM

I doubt PdL polished his cars... or did he?

I did not, but got a semi-gloss finish in the following manner:
I removed any and all scratches as much as possible, then used a small steel wire brush and Scotchbrite to get a primary finish, then washed the chassis with a Brill-O-Pad, so they were not quite as chiny as what you get with a tumbler, but the finish was quite nice.

Mike Steube and I were the first to use a tumbler in 2006, after he described how he was using it to clean up gun cartridges. I cannot recall anyone ever using one before we did. It is a life saver!





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