Restoring Howie's rocketship... circa 1964-65
Posted 18 February 2012 - 09:53 PM
Posted 19 February 2012 - 12:23 AM
Posted 19 February 2012 - 01:38 AM
Posted 19 February 2012 - 02:01 AM
Need something painted, soldered, carved, or killed? - email@example.com
Check out some of the cool stuff on my Fotki!
Posted 19 February 2012 - 02:06 AM
I just got through talking about admiring the original car and being motivated enough to build a decent copy of it in 1965 for myself to have and to hold, then sold it in 1966, and now today, re-creating a small fleet of them, updated, all for my personal non-racing amusement and private ownership.
They say imitation is the sincerest form of flattery. You did indeed build a very neat slot car with that piece of aluminum channel years ago. So did I, a copy of yours.
Sorry to offend anybody, step on any toes, get anyone's nose out of joint, gore any sacred cows!
Posted 19 February 2012 - 02:17 AM
Who knows? I just got through checking it out. He sure likes posting multiple angle pictures is all I can say.
Posted 19 February 2012 - 09:53 AM
Posted 19 February 2012 - 03:54 PM
It seems we have a lot of catching up to do my friend.
Something you mentioned about you and Bruce Clark campaigning a top fuel dragster in 1971 -72 jogged my memory in the context of slot dragster racing in the mid- 1960's. Look at this link, "Manuel Maldonado's 1966 Rod & Custom award-winning "Car of the Meet" 1:24 scale fuel dragster".
Back then I had a copy of the January 1966 Rod & Custom magazine Manuel's car was featured in. Its gorgeous side rails are machined from 1/16 inch thick magnesium. Exactly as with Howie's car, I wanted to build a slot dragster just like Maldonado's to own for myself, even though I had only raced one once and there were very few places around me to run it. That one race, for decent prize money, was with a primo car I borrowed from Bruce Clark. Bruce's car was supremely fast, and it should have won handily against Sandy Gross' car that day, but I lost by overthinking the christmas tree.
Anyway, I was thinking about that dragster race, the long gone R&C magazine article about Manuel's dragster and trying to remember exactly what it looked like while I was trolling eBay recently for Pittman motors, armatures, original 1965-1966 sports and F1 bodies and so on to build a reasonable facsimile of my old car, when I came across and snapped up five beautiful pairs of these K&B dragster front wheels:
For me, such things are slot car building dreams made of.
The eBay seller is a Dallas track owner and slot racer himself. Jay sent me the R&C magazine article link and the original builder's webpage, as linked here, without me asking for it, soon after I bought the first batch of wheels from him. Jay sent me the link simply based on me casually mentioning in a side email something about how the first few pairs I'd bid/ won would be used someday on the front ends of slot fuel dragsters with "gorgeous machined aluminum siderails" similar to what I'd seen back in their day. These are not coincidences; the internet makes possible such turns of events.
Well, it turns out it wasn't aluminum but magnesium that Maldonado's car siderails were made from, which makes perfect sense. Thankfully, magnesium sheet is readily available in various thicknesses. And I've already got the wheels.
For the current project, it was also from Jay that I obtained some of the original killer bodies I was specifically looking for and figured I'd never find, including the Lotus 30 Ford and the Lola T70, both pictured above somewhere.
Posted 19 February 2012 - 07:02 PM
Posted 19 February 2012 - 07:17 PM
Alan, I'm sorry I am just catching up with your posts. Our paths crossed many times according to what I have read. I remember the Sebring (Glen Oaks)/EMMRA day very well. I raced at Sebring all the time and ran for them on their inter store team (hated the team bowling shirts!) but unfortunatley opted to run EMMRA that day. I couldn't afford to run both races and felt that EMMRA was the more prestigious event although I was much more competative at Sebring. I knew Howie and Sandy and Bruce and Nicky. I remember Billy showing me the new track that they were building downstairs at Steinway street and talking of plans for an enduro on it. I too was at the Bridgehampton Can Am race. Bruce Clark and I spent 1971 and 1972 campaigning a Top Fuel dragster. Great to hear from you.
Hi Fred, I have been reading all these posts. I read all 9 pages of them. I sent alan an email today but as of yet he hasn't answered me yet. If he was at First Place then I should know him, or raced against him. I learned that Bob Emott had something to do with first place. When I was working there the manager's name was Bill Grayson.
I sort of forgot about the track downstairs. I dont think it was ever finished, let alone run an enduro on it. We did run a 12 hour enduro on the track upstairs. I have a great picture of the start of the enduro with Howie, Bruce Clark, myself and Nick .
Alan if you read this, get in touch with me.........Roger Ruggieri
Posted 19 February 2012 - 07:32 PM
Posted 19 February 2012 - 10:19 PM
I received your message earlier. I can't wait to renew contact, savor the thought of beginning an in-depth conversation, and will respond later with undivided attention just as soon as I can.
I remember you very clearly. You are an outstanding driver and were nicknamed Penske back in the '60's, too. Me and at least a handful of other area racers, including Nicky Eliasoff and Bruce Clark, were big fans of yours, watched you race, believed in and hoped that you'd beat/ de-throne the pro- and semi- pro racers, if you only could get the right equipment.
Although I've mentioned the 12 hour enduro at Steinway a few times in connection with my aluminum-framed car, telling the story of cutting school to feverishly prepare the car, taking it to Steinway, and participating for 12+ hours as a driver is something I've been putting off deliberately.
We did race against each other in the enduro held on the upstairs track. I came in last place, although I was gaining at a pretty fast clip on 5th place in the final hours. This turnabout annoyed the hell out of the 5th place team whose car during the race was consistently slow but lit up properly at night. It forced them to drive much harder at the bitter end just to hold on to 5th and modest bragging rights.
By dawn the team massively ahead of us in laps had 5th place seemingly locked up. These guys felt comfortable and confident enough about their lead, in fact, to stop running for awhile and leave Steinway as a group for breakfast. The gap was big enough they reckoned, that they could eat and return to the track in plenty of time to finish the race while still solidly in 5th place.
I was having none of that. I stayed put, hoping to unlap myself and the car out of last place, redeem something out of the grueling experience, and spank the breakfast club.
Towards the end of the enduro, In a state of exhaustion, after an around-the-clock marathon of rebuilding and prepping the car, racing and pitwork, I was in a trance, reeling off TQ-pace laps on autopilot like clockwork. Someone from the opposing team's camp noticed this and ran outside to let someone know what was happening. In disbelief the 5th place team returned and, having had their victory breakfast cut short, grumbled back on track and resumed racing.
In short order I had unwound a sizable lap deficit. The car was on pace to unlap itself out of last place. I was exhausted but in the zone and oblivious to pain. The 5th place team mobilized and jumped back into the race. My well-rested teammates, absent during the nighttime hours, arrived at the track just as the race clock was winding down in the eleventh hour. One or two of my guys briefly took over driving duties, but had difficulty getting up to speed. Watching the car lose ground then was painful. I took over driving for the final stint, got the car's speed back up to where it had it been pegged before. The finish was close as I recall, but I don't remember the final lap count. Maybe someone can establish that fact.
I recently procured the same Lola T70 body I painted and rigged for lights in preparation for that race; photos are posted above. Among other things, I plan to build a replica of my enduro car.
I guarantee this much, that the battery-powered lighting system/ wiring harness will be bullet-proof this time around. It'll still be period-accurate, however, with grain-o-wheat incandescent bulbs; no LED lighting.
The Pittman-powered car was stable and had that wonderful "planted" feeling perfect for enduro racing, based on how it felt that evening on Steinway's track during practice and warm-up leading up to the start of the race.
It's just that with the race starting in darkness at what?, 9 pm, the store lights were turned off soon after the race began, and once we were all ordered to switch on our cars' mandated on-board lighting systems, that's when the race for our team literally went haywire, pretty much right from race onset.
At sunrise the next morning, we were allowed to switch our car lights off and run in daylight, which by now was streaming through the store's plate glass storefront.
Naturally, once the handicap of the car's faulty lighting system was removed, it spent zero time in the pits and rapidly started unlapping itself. The car was easy to drive.
That's what gutted me about this 12-hour race ending with a last place finish -- the fact that the car was dominant, and that except for one dysfunctional sub-system within an otherwise reliably perfect slotcar package, a system totally unrelated to the car's speed and handling, it would surely have finished on the podium.
Fellow racers knew that the car was awesome and made it their business to protest early and often, whenever my car's lights flickered more "off" than "on", or at all even. The frontrunners protested less stridently than the backmarkers.
All night long the car was on the razor's edge of getting black-flagged. Either it was on track unlapping itself or it was in the pits for more lighting repairs. Battery-mounts inside the body's balsa wood pontoons were loose and hastily-resoldered wiring connections kept shorting and breaking. Frequently during the night, the car's lights would dim or flicker depending on the track corner, which way the car was leaning, even on straightaway's and during braking, presenting different symptoms following different temporary fixes. It was very funny. The car was either on track gobbling up lost laps, always on the verge of getting black-flagged, or it was in the pits.
A do-over would be nice. A re-match would be fun. Any chance of organizing something like this? Thoughts?
Posted 22 February 2012 - 10:52 AM
Last year I ran in a 6 hr enduro. the first ever for retro east. I am looking forward to this years enduro this summer. they were 4 man teams, that were randomly picked out of a hat. The chassis were all the same. built by Tony P. and we all ran the same motors. It produced very close racing. In fact the first and second cars were only 3 or 4 laps apart, after 6 hours and over 3000 laps.
To be honest I don't know if I could take a 12 hr race again. I truly enjoy racing retro and with retro east. Great racing & great guys
Posted 22 February 2012 - 04:39 PM
I'd be interested in seeing a copy of that NY miniature car racing news article on the race.
Not long after that event I stuck a fork in slot car racing.
I sold the car complete with the enduro body to one fellow, and the rewind from my one surviving car to another. After that, I pulled useful tools out of my slot car box, and dumped it and everything in it down the incinerator. Trophies followed a year or so later.
Getting back to racing will take time for me.
The hook for me to get back into the hobby takes the form of building and testing a replacement of a specific car I stupidly sold years ago, its logical off-shoots, and some new ideas.
For me, building the replacement car and its offshoots allows me to pick up where I left off when I quit the hobby.
Today, scratchbuilding race cars for no racing purpose may strike some as odd, a perfect waste of time. This doesn't bother me at all. The offshoots and new ideas are the cars I would've built to race against other cars and other racers' new ideas at the time, if only I had then what I have now in terms of tools and resources. When I'm done with this project, then I'll see what's next in slotcar racing for me.
I never quit any other hobby the way I quit slotcar racing in 1966.
I do not have the experience of Fred and many others who have before or do today particpate in and race 1:1 motorsports. I envy that.
On the other hand, I do have a decent amount of previous mid-pack 1:8 R/C gascar race experience, every last tool and piece of equipment, tons of parts and my proven cars only five years old to race this coming spring and summer.
For example, every time I view last year's Winternats A-Main race video, posted earlier in #248 and below, I get the urge. This is 1:1 racing miniaturized in every mechanial, vehicle-dynamic. and racecar-engineering aspect to 1:8 scale. The drivers are incredibly-talented human beings able to drive a perfect line every single lap by remote control. Lapped drivers' cars courteously move off line and out of the way without fuss. Everyone on the driver's stand is not only hyper-aware of his own car but of nine other cars in racing action around him on the track.
What makes possible the caliber of this or any other such driving, including that of the best slotcar racers I've ever seen performing under pressure, has always fascinated me.
2011 Winternats A-Main / Mike Swauger USA leads start to finish (yellow car, black side-stripe):
<iframe src="http://www.youtube.c...pIp-qss04?rel=0" allowfullscreen="" frameborder="0" height="360" width="640"></iframe>
Everything I learned about building slot cars in 1965 and 1966, got applied to building cars in other scales thereafter. I'm returning to revisit and finish what I started in 1965.
The way I look at it, in varying degrees, every car we build and race is an artistic expression of who we are, or were, at a certain time in our lives.
Posted 23 February 2012 - 08:52 PM
aluminum extruded 6063 T52 bare channel:
...from left to right.... 1 pc. of 1.0" x 0.50" x 0.125", 1 pc. of 1.0" x 1.0" x 0.125", 2 pcs. of 1.25" x 1.25" x 0.125" ....... all pieces are 24" long....
I use a bench band saw to cut the channel into 4" long pieces.
I end up with this.
Posted 23 February 2012 - 09:24 PM
Looking forward to your checking out your build.
Are you planning on putting the diff on it?
IRRA Components Committee Chairman
Eight-time G7 King track single lap World Record holder
Five-time USRA National Champion (two G7, one G27, two G7 Senior)
Two-time G7 World Champion (1988, 1990)
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Posted 24 February 2012 - 02:25 AM
I created the illustration used here and in earlier posts at the suggestion of a few people interested in the building process. Normally, I never use sketches, drawings or illustrations, much less engage in the process of contemporaneously reporting on things I build.
For purposes of this project narrative, I'm using the base 1:24 illustration to show the scale of the car's major components, as a general visual aid.
In the next two photos, the idea is to use inverted channels, one 1.25" wide channel inverted over a 1" wide channel. The upper frame is attached to the lower frame at the chassis' centerline by two pivots. One pivot point is located at the front edge of the bottom frame, the other is behind the rear axle. They're positioned on the same plane as the chassis "plate", close to the track's surface. The two pivot assemblies each consist of a threaded steel or brass ball stud and a nylon or plastic ball cup / link. The frame assembly can be dismantled by unscrewing the ball studs (as opposed to "popping" off and deforming the the ball cups.)
The chassis "plate" surrounding the lower frame or T-bar is attached along the wider inverted upper frame's bottom edges, lengthwise. The car's body is mounted to the plate. The attachment of the plate to the chassis' core inverted frame assembly can be managed in a number of ways. Plates of different materials can be used. A mechanical fastener system -- say a pair of 90-degree fixed-position hinges with removable wire hinge pins machined along and incorporated into the upper extrusion's lower edges, allowing different plates to be mounted for different bodies and different tracks, or removed entirely for F1, switching to different front ends with different guide flag positions and wheelbases -- can be designed into the chassis for ease and flexibility of use.
The outline of today's retro chassis superimposed on the base illustration shows the arrangement of pivoted inverted frames and the plate. This chassis can accommodate different motors. There is an endless variety of ways to handle front suspension design and damping.
Besides its machinability, I especially like aluminum for its natural vibration and "noise" damping properties.
The bottom of the car will be flat and resemble the bottom of the 1:12 car pictured in an earlier post above, aerodynamic, contributing to low cg.
I ordered some Belleville washers specifically to build this project's series of diff's. Part of that order arrived the other day.
Each washer is rated at 15.3 lbs. max. Another batch of the same size washers is on the way rated at 6.75 lbs. max.
Someone please pm me If I'm over-explaining. The same goes for questions.
Posted 24 February 2012 - 07:49 AM
Posted 24 February 2012 - 01:12 PM
For clarity, in terms of priorities, I want to emphasize the fact that the chassis design concept outlined immediately above gets constructed only after I build a replacement of the car I sold in 1966, with its enduro body and set-up, close to what it was when it came off the track at the end of Steinway's 12-hour race. I'm looking forwards to that part of the project most of all. As I mentioned earlier, I'm building one replacement/ prototype of my original car as it existed in its final form when I sold it in 1966, and two pairs of nearly identical chassis -- one set for sports car/ prototype/ GT/ endurance/ Can Am cars, and the other pair for F1 cars. Manufacturing and construction of the newer design concept outlined above will occur at the same time as I'm building the stable of replacement cars faithful to the original design.
This is by way of partly explaining what's behind the sizes and quantities of aluminum channel I cut yesterday.
I've been thinking about the front end of the original car and how to build it. After I rough-machine a few pieces of the 1" x 0.50" channel to shape, I'll turn my attention to building the front end's T-shaped brass tube assembly and guide-flag drop-arm assembly. I think I'll use high-temperature silver alloy brazing and maybe a machined lug to join the axle tube of the "T" perpendicularly to its stem tube. I'll use a full oxy-acetylene fuel set-up with a Smith Welding "Little Torch" precision torch, same as the one shown in this model-maker's hand, for brazing all of the critical structural joints in the car's front end/ suspension.
The silver alloy brazing material I plan to use is harder and stronger than the brass tube it is joining.
Posted 24 February 2012 - 04:33 PM
Mirroring the 1:12 car, the 1:24 scale diff assembly will be situated inside of the right rear wheel hub. The wheel hub is coupled to one half of the diff. This wheel and one half of the diff freewheel on the axle. The diff's other half is affixed to the axle. The thrust bearing located between the two halves allows the rear wheels to smoothly rotate imdependently of one another, tracking separately though corners. Tightening or loosening a threaded nut or bolt against the Belleville spring washer(s) adjusts the amount of pressure applied to the thrust bearing. This in turn controls the degree of diff "slippage" desired. Diff slip just like clutch slip can be used to adjust for a number of different major variables, including motor size, torque and other power characteristics.
With a diff, in straights and in corners, the geartrain/ rear axle drives both wheels, while the diff housed within the right wheel hub does its mysterious mechanical thing, transmitting power efficiently and uninterruptedly, with full traction to the track.
It's kind of hard to explain how a diff like this works unless you're holding it in your hands, demonstrating it.
If a diff can be manufactured fairly easily, why not build a few? They can be swapped out for standard axles and wheel hubs. The diff will be small, negligible in weight, so keeping one on the car as part of a chassis' standard equipment, even if conditions (high traction, for example) necessitate locking it, makes sense to me.
Posted 24 February 2012 - 05:18 PM