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Scratchbuilding... the way it use to be


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#1 Bob Kurkowski

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Posted 19 December 2017 - 07:55 PM

There was a time when racers-builders use to design and build cars from, brass strips, piano wire, and sheet steel that were hand cut, bent, and formed by hand and cut out with a Dremel and not poured out of a bag and just tacked together with a few straight pieces of wire

 

One such racer-builder is fellow by the name of Greg Tufford from Berkley Michigan who showed up at the Shinoda reunion at Downriver Speedways and brought a collection of chassis he built over the years.

 

Coming from the old days and building these types of cars I understand and appreciate Greg's workmanship.

 

Bob K.

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#2 miko

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Posted 19 December 2017 - 09:00 PM

Very nice work!


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#3 Eliot

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Posted 19 December 2017 - 10:04 PM

I placed second in unlimited with one of Greg's chassis!  They are truly pieces of art!  It's seriously the most enjoyable chassis to drive that I have in my entire collection!


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#4 Dominator

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Posted 19 December 2017 - 10:08 PM

Great looking chassis
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#5 MSwiss

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Posted 19 December 2017 - 10:08 PM

There was a time when racers-builders use to design and build cars from, brass strips, piano wire, and sheet steel that were hand cut, bent, and formed by hand and cut out with a Dremel and not poured out of a bag and just tacked together with a few straight pieces of wire

The chassis posted look great.

 

While kits are certainly popular in Retro, they still scratchbuild quite a bit in Retro East.

 

http://slotblog.net/...rt-jeff-report/

 

5 of the 6 podium cars, in the 2 classes run that day, are scratchbuilt.

 

Not shown are the the other A Main, great, scratchbuilt cars, of Tom Adams and John Gorski.

 

Note the reference in that thread where it was thought, 7 of the 8 cars, in the Can Am, A Main, were scratchbuilt,( and by at least 4 different builders)


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Mike Swiss
 
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#6 slotcarone

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Posted 19 December 2017 - 11:58 PM

Poured out of a bag and tacked together with straight wire? I guess Bob you have never built a Retro chassis! :)


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Mike Katz

Scratchbuilts forever!!


#7 Samiam

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Posted 20 December 2017 - 04:07 AM

The chassis posted look great.

 

While kits are certainly popular in Retro, they still scratchbuild quite a bit in Retro East.

 

http://slotblog.net/...rt-jeff-report/

 

5 of the 6 podium cars, in the 2 classes run that day, are scratchbuilt.

 

Not shown are the the other A Main, great, scratchbuilt cars, of Tom Adams and John Gorski.

 

Note the reference in that thread where it was thought, 7 of the 8 cars, in the Can Am, A Main, were scratchbuilt,( and by at least 4 different builders)

And this is one of the reasons Retro has become so popular. With both returnees and newbies. Being able to design, build then race your creation is a big  attraction to so many, including myself. While I have some kit cars, building one from the "K&S kit" gives me the most satisfaction.

 

The chassis pictured here are some of my favorite to collect and run. Load up a H-Power Green Can Mura in one of those, mount up a pair of orange tires  and grab your Koford external resistor controller and go for it. Don't forget some "Stick-It Brown".


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#8 Bob Kurkowski

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Posted 20 December 2017 - 05:46 AM

Never assembled a retro car out of a bag but I have scratchbuilt retro cars with every component hand made.

 

Bob K.

 

 

 

 

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#9 havlicek

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Posted 20 December 2017 - 06:08 AM

Yep.  I second Mike's and Sam's comments.  There sure still seems to be a lot of scratchbuilding-for-racing (*and some scratchbuilding for recreating old classics) going on.  Having said all that, the chassis all look really nice.  Being anglewinders, and some with steel center-sections and nose-pieces ups the ante as well.  Then again, Tony P is still cranking-out masterpieces (*I don't know how the heck he does it), and there are very few who know about "how scratch-building used to be" like he does!

Anyway, great looking chassis!


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#10 Eddie Fleming

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Posted 20 December 2017 - 07:23 AM

 Ouch, just a slap in the face of us that don't build kits but enjoy building and racing our creations. If you look at the race reports sure you see a lot of JK and RGO kits but you see a lot of individual creations too. Look at the race reports from out west and you see very few kits. Even the kit built cars usually are more creative than just tacking a kit together.

 

 Mr Tufford has some very nice chassis and it looks like he does fine work, but there are excellent builders around building cars today for today.


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#11 Bob Kurkowski

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Posted 20 December 2017 - 07:51 AM

Ed,

 

No slap in the face, its just some truthful commentary on the way it use to be.

 

Bob K.


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#12 Brian Cochrane

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Posted 20 December 2017 - 07:56 AM

It takes both to make retro work


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#13 Samiam

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Posted 20 December 2017 - 07:57 AM

Bob,

Nice piece of Motor Art. I just got an idea of what to do with all my obsolete lawnmower parts.


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#14 Brian Cochrane

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Posted 20 December 2017 - 08:05 AM

Scratch building proves you can always come up with something better each time. I love to design and build them as much as I love to race them. No disrespect to the companies and friends that supply kits.It takes everyones efforts to make slot racing work. Thank god we still have and can do it...


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#15 Bob Kurkowski

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Posted 20 December 2017 - 08:08 AM

Sam,

 

You weren't suppose to see that. Now you have to try and describe what you saw.

 

I can't get photos to post in full size on this website, it always chops sections off. If Greg Wells is watching this please send me a email and I'll send you the photos and maybe you can post them in the full format.

 

Merry Christmas...Bob K.



#16 Tex

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Posted 20 December 2017 - 08:50 AM

I've debated myself internally, about saving time by buying chassis' from the top builders with winning provenance. But I never do; building and racing my own chassis always wins out. I start out with a general idea which usually devolves quickly into a Rube Goldberg contraption because I forgot about "this", so I do "that" to accomodate, which in turn creates more hurdles further down the build... never fails. But with every new chassis comes the dream that THIS chassis may be "the one"... still waiting.  LOL


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#17 Uncle Fred

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Posted 20 December 2017 - 09:50 AM

I'm glad you did that internally Rich, although in Denton it might not matter.....  Seriously, Rich doesn't give himself enough credit. His chassis are fast, strong and unique. Did I mention he won Can Am at the Texas Two Step in Dallas last month?


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#18 MSwiss

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Posted 20 December 2017 - 10:16 AM

Greg T did a lot of terrific hand-cutting, but he also appears to use prefab parts quite a bit.

Guys were hand-cutting parts out of necessity, not because they necessarily liked doing it.

Almost 100% of the top cars from the late 60's, early 70's, used some sort of prefab droparm from Cobra, Nutley, Associated, etc.

And if appropriate pans were available, they were used.

It was the same in the 80's.

Guys that were great at hand-cutting steel sections, like Csaba, were also the first guys, getting stuff made on an EDM.

We were racing and trying to figure out the best way to get race cars built and win races.

I won the 88 World's with a chassis, I handcut the center section, from A2 air-hardening steel.

I won the Nat's, 2 month's later, with a Koford, EDM cut, factory center section.

I didn't feel any more proud of one win, vs. the other.

Even though I won $2,500 with the hand cut center chassis, shortly after the race, I stripped all the pcs. I wanted to save for another chassis, like the wire motor brace, and threw it in the garbage, because the center rail had snapped twice in the race.

It meant nothing to me.

It was just a broken race car part.
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Mike Swiss
 
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#19 kvanpelt

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Posted 20 December 2017 - 10:56 AM

Back to basics for me. Planning on only self builds in 2018.

 

Not worrying about motors any more either. Traded or sold all but my RH 7R motors.

 

SCM's aren't going to ruin slots for me. 


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#20 JerseyJohn

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Posted 20 December 2017 - 11:50 AM

A few scratch builts..

14696774_10211185511777737_1520427314_n.jpg

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12039208_831554006964113_3051317401629038494_n.jpg


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#21 Bob Kurkowski

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Posted 20 December 2017 - 12:14 PM

A few more.

 

Bob K.

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#22 MSwiss

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Posted 20 December 2017 - 01:18 PM

Great looking piece, Bob.

Maybe it's time for Greg to add a "Scratchbuiding as Sculpture" forum, to Slotblog, for works like the above, Marinko Mueller, and the super-talented French builder's, Frédéric Presles and Régis Baron.

Some of Frédéric's and Régis's terrific work;

http://slotblog.net/.../60101-go-kart/

http://slotblog.net/...ntage-inspired/
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#23 Gene/ZR1

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Posted 20 December 2017 - 01:37 PM

A few more.

 

Bob K.

MINE!  I want a kart!


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#24 Don Weaver

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Posted 20 December 2017 - 04:01 PM

Now that's some kind of clever build :dance3: !!

 

Don


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#25 don.siegel

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Posted 20 December 2017 - 04:13 PM

Amen, great looking Kart Bob. 

 

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#26 Pablo

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Posted 20 December 2017 - 05:25 PM

....with one thread you have pushed most of the retro and vintage Slotblog builders right to the back of the bus. Nice.


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#27 jimht

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Posted 20 December 2017 - 06:36 PM

....with one thread you have pushed most of the retro and vintage Slotblog builders right to the back of the bus. Nice.

Unless you consider that many of us were scratchbuilding inlines out of chewing gum and baling wire long before the newfangled anglewinders pictured at the beginning of this thread.  :D 


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#28 Tex

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Posted 20 December 2017 - 06:48 PM

I don't think Bob meant any disrespect of current scratchbuilders; I think he was just touting Greg's skills. I took no offense at Bob's post and joined in the discussion with my own experience.


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#29 jimht

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Posted 20 December 2017 - 07:16 PM

"There was a time when racers-builders use to design and build cars from, brass strips, piano wire, and sheet steel that were hand cut, bent, and formed by hand and cut out with a Dremel and not poured out of a bag and just tacked together with a few straight pieces of wire"

 

Yes, and that time was both before and after the very nice anglewinders pictured above, all of which seem to have been built using production mass produced stamped brass and steel parts held together with piano wire and solder.

 

The chassis are derivative, well made and neat, the tone of the OP is condescending.


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Jim Honeycutt

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#30 Half Fast

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Posted 20 December 2017 - 07:44 PM

....with one thread you have pushed most of the retro and vintage Slotblog builders right to the back of the bus. Nice.

 

No, not at all.

 

You unfairly denigrate such expert builders as Tony P, Bud Bartos, James Grandi, Eric Gherkin, Ed Sohl, Jersey John, Brian Cochrane, Mike Katz, Dom Loungo and many others building from scratch and from "kits" which require quite a bit of building skill.

 

Cheers


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#31 MSwiss

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Posted 20 December 2017 - 11:13 PM

Not exactly a work of art, but functional enough to qualify 2nd in G7 Pro, behind P.A. Watson, at the 86 Nat's, at Andy Smith's Family Hobbies and Cones, and finish 5th in the Main.
 
20171220_220815-1.jpg
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Mike Swiss
 
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Make checks out to Chicagoland Woodworking, Inc.


#32 Pablo

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Posted 21 December 2017 - 12:09 AM

I don't think Bob meant any disrespect of current scratchbuilders

 

Well kudos to him for doing such a good job of it, then ^_^

There are guys on Slotblog who have been scratchbuilding, running, testing, showing, and competing with well documented complete race cars with detailed photos and instructions for decades. Complete cars, too, not just chassis.

 

To even suggest this is something new is totally absurd, and in one fell swoop the OP disrespects people who use kit pieces to build cars.

Any scratchbuilder worth his salt will tell you building a retro car using a kit can be every bit as complicated, in fact at times more so, than simply scratcbuilding a new chassis.

 

What are Rick Thigpen, Steve Okeefe, Tony P, etc etc etc to the OP - chopped liver?

 

There are guys who get their toes stomped on and just wince in silence. I ain't one of 'em, especially when my best friends are getting disrespected.

 

1.jpg


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#33 Bob Kurkowski

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Posted 21 December 2017 - 07:09 AM

Pablo

 

The original post was meant to show and compliment Greg's work so will you please turn off your secret decoder ring and stop trying to read between some imaginary lines that are not there.

 

Ignorant comment's like "to even suggest this is something new is totally absurd" is indeed totally absurd because that was never said or implied anywhere in the original post.

 

Merry Christmas...Bob K.


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#34 Brian Cochrane

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Posted 21 December 2017 - 07:57 AM

I don't build from kit parts but I am glad they are available to those that do.They happen to put the most racers in the race.I just hope that the laws made by the rule makers keeps Retro racing tame enough so that the cars don't become brass flexi cars.I am into the old days of slot car racing,and I don't want the cars to be totally designed and built on a computer screen and then on the work bench. I know that everything on our planet evolves and all I ask for is that with retro we try and tame it a little.We must keep in mind that this is retro and it's based on the old days. Please don't attack me for anything I say or I will remove my post. I am just trying to be the voice of reason I love retro racing....end of comment..


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#35 Eddie Fleming

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Posted 21 December 2017 - 08:39 AM

Bob

 

 If you had just stopped at "cut out with a Dremel", in your first statement everything would be fine. That continuation with "poured out of a bag" Just rubs the wrong way and there is nothing you can say now that changes that.

 

 I like your F1 car and I love your go kart. no hard feelings or ill will, but that first statement is still a slap in the face to people building today. 


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#36 Brian Cochrane

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Posted 21 December 2017 - 09:02 AM

Someday I might dig out and post  my cars I built that were inline chassis from the mid 60's just to show them and no other reason. I was in my early teens and did win many local races with them against some very fast and talented and well known racers from New York and Long Island back then. I have to laugh to myself when I look at them because I used to use a Weller soldering gun to build them back then and if I ever met a 13 to 16 year old kid now that could build like this I would be quite impressed. The funny thing is that I was pretty good but didn't really know it.I always picked on myself that I could be better and I lived by the saying," Anything You Can Do I Can Do Better" but I never said that to anyone but myself. ...P.S.,I still own the two Weller soldering guns,one is a single heat and one is a dual heat range. I used to solder really nice with these.Also must mention that I come from a large family of 7 kids and I didn't have much money,so anything I did was done with very little coin.So if I was going to build something there was very little room for mistakes.


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#37 tonyp

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Posted 21 December 2017 - 09:18 AM

Wish I kept any of my chassis from back then. There were either sold, passed on or taken apart for parts. I too had one of those Weller soldering guns.


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#38 don.siegel

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Posted 21 December 2017 - 09:27 AM

Yep, me too... think I used the Weller till late 68 when I stopped slots, and didn't change till my second life as a slotter in 74, when everybody said, you have to get an Ungar... 

 

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#39 Brian Cochrane

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Posted 21 December 2017 - 09:56 AM

soldering gun 1.jpg soldering gun 2.jpg Here are my faithful Weller soldering guns that I used back in the 60's.Notice they are quite used,banged up ,dropped epoxy glued together ect. I also forgot about the headlights they had on them. They were heavy and bulky,but  they worked great and heated up and cooled down fast.Ah ,I'm having a flashback......Thank you!


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#40 slotcarone

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Posted 21 December 2017 - 10:01 AM

I still use the small Weller that I also bought when I was a kid. Great for lead wires and pinions!
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#41 Brian Cochrane

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Posted 21 December 2017 - 10:20 AM

And all the piano wire was bent with pliers not a bending machine.After you bend enough wire you could eyeball most multi bent parts and get it right the first attempt. We all had our favorite pairs of pliers with different width jaws or even custom ground jaws and jaw widths. and we all had burnt finger tips and still do....So much fun.... I used to draw a frame on paper first before I started cutting and soldering anything. I didn't and still don't like to copy other's designs. I didn't even look at builds that were  posted in the magazines. It's very easy to get another build stuck in your head and I tried not to do that.I'm not saying that my builds were better than theirs,I just wanted to be creative with my ideas. P. S. I'm not positive but I think Ungar bought out Weller a few years ago and the Ungers were really  Wellers?



#42 MSwiss

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Posted 21 December 2017 - 10:22 AM

I almost bought a Weller, about 6 months back, just to do quick lead wire repairs at the raceway, but my workbench is already cluttered.

I got my 100/140, in '68 or '69, with S&H Green Stamps.
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#43 elvis44102

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Posted 21 December 2017 - 06:20 PM

I used to race with Bob K in the Cleveland area at the time he refers to. Not mentioned is the fact that there wasn't anybodies chassis that were better  than ones we built ourselves.

 

we meaning Bob K, Dave Smirka, Dan Bloodworth all being similar in age and being in the top ten-twenty racers mostly built and raced our own stuff from the ground up 

 

Hello Bob! glad to see your racing!


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#44 Bob Kurkowski

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Posted 21 December 2017 - 07:22 PM

John,

 

Good to hear from you old friend.

 

Man weren't those the days ? 

 

Merry Christmas...Bob K.


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#45 Greg Tufford

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Posted 26 December 2017 - 07:34 PM

Well, this is quite a thread! Let me start by thanking Bob Kurkowski for the post and the kind words about my chassis. And thanks to all of you who commented on them - I very much appreciate it!! I'd also like to thank Eliot Erlandson for inviting me to join the forum ...

 
Some explanation is in order to put into perspective what’s shown in Bob K’s photos:
 
As an introduction, I (like many of you) started racing slots in the 1960's. My brother and I had home 1/32 and HO tracks, and we also raced our 1/24 RTR cars at The Groove Raceway in Royal Oak Michigan. After the “golden age” of racing died-out, I drifted out of the hobby. I became interested again during the resurgence in the late 80's when my brother got out some of our old cars and began playing around with them at Tiny Tim’s Hobbies - a local shop that had American Yellow and Orange tracks. We immediately learned that our 60's RTR’s were woefully obsolete, and picked up a couple of over-the-counter cars to play with. Of course, we were hooked again ...
 
Some of the racers we knew were making their own chassis, and so I started playing around with building them as well - with mixed results. Then I met the guy who taught me how to build a proper chassis: Keith VanAtta ... 
 
The chassis’ in Bob’s photos were all built in the 1980-90's. The ones in the front row of the lead photo are a sort of progression of chassis design. The leftmost are basic 1960-70's inspired iso-fulcrum designs. The first two are examples of “production” chassis that I put together to sell in order to help pay my way through the hobby. These used over-the-counter Parma drop arms and pans for the sake of quick assembly. The rightmost were race chassis used in the twice-monthly Int 15 series we were competing in. At first, the rules required production brass drop arms. Later, spring steel was allowed, so those have hand cut center sections and some (for the time) experimental designs. About the time I quit racing for the second time we were using simple chassis with non-moveable pans cut from .016 sheet stock - all for mass reduction. The last photo shows such a chassis, which is just the way it came off the track the week I decided to quit 30 years ago. The motor is an early un-shrouded magnet design that was being pioneered by guys like “Raisin” Garrett...
 
I should also mention that Keith also introduced me to his cousin Debbie, to whom I’ve been married for 36 years. So I can honestly say I met my wife at a slot car track ...

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#46 Greg Tufford

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Posted 26 December 2017 - 07:46 PM

 Ouch, just a slap in the face of us that don't build kits but enjoy building and racing our creations. If you look at the race reports sure you see a lot of JK and RGO kits but you see a lot of individual creations too. Look at the race reports from out west and you see very few kits. Even the kit built cars usually are more creative than just tacking a kit together.

 

 Mr Tufford has some very nice chassis and it looks like he does fine work, but there are excellent builders around building cars today for today.

There's always going to be advancement, and that's good for the hobby. I'm amazed at all the cool chassis that are available today, and the motors that are based on designs that we had to cut and hack to produce 30 years ago. These are the good old days ...


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