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World's first slot car club?


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#1 TSR

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Posted 15 May 2018 - 08:08 PM

Anyone can think of an earlier club, this one established in 1947, and with actual SLOT cars to boot?

post-22-0-92616600-1526083736.jpg

 

post-22-0-41418500-1526083754.jpg

1/24 scale cars with a guide blade fitted with side wipers, getting current from copper strips glued on each side of the slot, and an articulated, sprung rear pin guide to reduce sliding in corners. Sounds like the guy had things almost figure out!
Lack of communication meant that only his local buddies were aware of what was going on...


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#2 Mattb

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Posted 15 May 2018 - 08:20 PM

I  think this is a new one to me.   


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#3 Tom Eatherly

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Posted 15 May 2018 - 10:15 PM

Wow Dokk. Nice old find. Going to the Summer Classic?


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#4 hiline2

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Posted 16 May 2018 - 09:21 AM

So , have any of these cars survived at all ? twin motors and 4X4 drives !It would be fantastic to see any old film of these beasts !


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#5 TSR

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Posted 16 May 2018 - 02:17 PM

At this time, research is being done on possible survivors, siblings... the house may have been rebuilt in the 1960s, the new owners know nothing of the past.
But it sure throws a stone in the window of old stories... with unfortunately no photographic evidence of the "old" 1947 cars.
So it is a question of either believing the "15-year old" story, or not.


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#6 Mattb

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Posted 16 May 2018 - 04:09 PM

We know that current style slots were ran successfully  in the mid 40's in England.   The guys in Kalamazoo had a rail track in the 50's.    This would be running in a slot way earlier than we have known before in the US.    It is very possible that some of the article info is incorrect.    

 

I think back in those days the guys just wrote what sounded good.   Look at how many magazines wrote glowing reviews of the early slot car kits which couldn't hardly get around the track!   

 

Off topic, but related.   There are two vintage rail cars on Ebay now.


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#7 TSR

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Posted 18 May 2018 - 02:27 PM

 

We know that current style slots were ran successfully  in the mid 40's in England.

Matt,
no, they did not. While there are instances of slots used to guide the cars, sometimes literally OUTSIDE of the car itself, no one in the UK actually built an actual current style slot car (a slot in which a pickup draws current from rails on each side of the slot) until Charles Woodland did so in 1949, a single model at that. This was rejected by the Powers That Be, from book and magazine writers to luminaries such as Walkden Fisher and "Dickie" Laidlaw-Dickson, dismissing the "slot" concept as a distraction from the "real thing", rail racing.
It is only in 1956 that the concept came back with MRRC offering both options on a track system offered in kit form, that was very unsuccessful as this was mere months before VIP was the first company to offer a slot car game as a complete toy, followed by Scale Models Ltd. AKA Scalextric.

 



#8 Mattb

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Posted 18 May 2018 - 03:13 PM

I thought that Ken Wallis  built his little setup with cars that ran in a slo.

 


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#9 TSR

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Posted 18 May 2018 - 05:59 PM

Matt, the Wallis cars were first, rail racing cars. then... (excerpt from my book): "In 1942, Ken Wallis, a British serviceman (not to be mixed with Ken Wallis, designer of the ill-fated 1967 STP-Paxton Indy car), experimented with small electric powered models running on a track featuring at first, a raised rail, then a slot. The tiny cars, hardly larger than HO scale, had hand built motors, chassis and bodies and used watch gears for power transmission. The first type picked its power from a guiding rail and foil ribbon glued on Masonite, the larger later models had an offset pin guide sunk in a slot and power was by a copper ring around each rear wheel, definitely not the best for traction! "

Not exactly the same as a pickup and rails on each side of a slot... :)

 



#10 Mattb

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Posted 18 May 2018 - 07:47 PM

It looked to me like his cars were guided by the slot and had a piece of brass tubing  suspended below the front that rubbed the electric rails on each side..     No doubt his rails were just bare, small gg wire.    I think he shows his small cars had a piece of wire that ran in the slot as a guide.  Not any kind of wiper that ran against a raised rail.

 

Maybe I am not seeing it clearly.

 

In the video you can see the down turned wire in his early cars that guided the car by running in the slot.   I don't see any kind of rail that it ran against.       While not a flush braid or rail, it sure looks like a  flush mounted small wire on either side of the slot that carried the power to the brass wipers under  the car.     I don't see much rail car, but a whole different type of system.  

 

I will have to see better pictures to change my mind about this being the earliest slot type system.   I think it clearly shows that  the cars got power from conductors on each side of the slot.

 

Have you been fortunate to see this in person?  I wonder if it is on display somewhere?

 

If his setup was a rail design first, than he was first with that system, too?   1942.

 

 

Commander Wallis, in his words.  "However, the surface wire guidance was sometimes subject to damage when the little cars spun out of control. I soon replaced it with a slot cut in a sheet of plywood track, the slot being made by use of a dentist's drill driven by an electric motor adapted from a Gunsight Aiming Point camera. A pin forward of the steering axis of the "offside" front wheel would engage in the slot and steer the front wheels as the car moved forward. This "pin following a slot" system was far superior to the first experiment, in that the cars could swing round completely without any damage to the track or the car."

 

 

mb


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#11 don.siegel

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Posted 19 May 2018 - 03:01 AM

Matt, 

There was a 1926 patent by one Irma Boyer, showing a very modern looking slot setup, and I believe Bernard has a photo of a prototype car and section of track, altho not sure where he got it! That was probably all that was built in any case. 

 

The first functional rail track we know of was the commercial setup in Britain in about 1931, by Patrick Kennedy and others, with Sir Henry Birkin a later investor (he didn't get rich...). There are a number of photos of this setup in period magazines and it seems to have been a going concern - I've already covered this in other threads. 

 

In any case, Ken Wallis's system is undoubtedly one of the earliest functioning slot setups, but it never became a fully operational system - more a proof of concept. The New Jersey club would definitely be a precedent, if it was really founded in 1947, but I have my doubts... 

 

Almost all the early tabletop racing concepts as shown in the patent record had incredibly complicated guidance mechanicsms, which I believe was one factor that kept them from really enjoying any market success. 

 

Don 



#12 Mattb

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Posted 19 May 2018 - 08:22 AM

Don, Phillppe, not a lot of people care about the historical part of our hobby, but I enjoy and really appreciate the engineering ability these guys had and their ability to create what they did back in the dark ages!    No purpose built tools, parts or "anything".   Like Commander Wallis states, he made most everything from a bombsight parts or airplane salvage.

 

We do have quite a bit, well, a fair amount, of info about the rail racing.   The 15 years or so before that  we just bits of info here and there.    I appreciate  the info you guys provide.


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#13 TSR

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Posted 19 May 2018 - 12:59 PM

Matt, the invention of slot cars went a little like the invention of the automobile, by small steps, until the Germans eventually declared that "they invented it" and that was all, accepted by most as a fact.
Here, plenty of people worked on various concepts since... 1898, the date of the first patent on electric model racing cars. But as Don clearly points out, there are concepts, and there is practicality. Looks like the guys in NJ in 1947 (or later if that "15 year old" claim is false and limited to lat say, 7 years back from  1962) and the 1954/1955 "Southport Club" guys DID figure out workable system that allowed easy functionality. And so, they must get the credit, because especially the Southport guys popularized the system, even if on "rail" rather than in a "slot".



#14 don.siegel

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Posted 19 May 2018 - 01:16 PM

There are also certain folks who think that Southport, UK, etc. got all the credit because DJ Laidlaw-Dickson and his buddies at Model Maker magazine were promoting them in the magazine and in their books, echoed by José Rodriguez Jr. and other American historians. 

 

But, frankly, I haven't seen any other plausible narrative proposed, and the Tebbut/Southport origin story seems very credible to me - and well documented. 

 

Of course there were lots of other experiments over the years - if not, you have to say that Cugnot invented the car in 1769! But as Philippe says, the practical system is a good benchmark (also check out the Wright Bros vs. Clément Ader, whom the French absolutely believe invented the airplane...). 

 

Don 



#15 Mattb

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Posted 19 May 2018 - 03:15 PM

I'm slipping a bit, but I remember that one group   (Southport, Kalamazoo ?)    switched over to trains after their rail club kind of fell apart or disbanded and the rail stuff was taken out and replaced with electric trains in the cellar.    I've been thru a lot of historical stuff on the net and don't remember which  group it was.  May not have been either of those two.     

 

One thing about Laidlaw  Dickinson, I think he did control most of the publicity  about the hobby scene back in the 50's.

 

It is always interesting.   I pity guys that can't learn something everyday!


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#16 don.siegel

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Posted 19 May 2018 - 03:24 PM

That was Southport Matt, and in fact there were some recent threads on SlotForum, with contributions from original members (or their progency). 

 

Hmm, maybe the ARRA track in fact, but I think Southport is covered too, take a look here: 

http://www.slotforum... history&page=1

 

Don 



#17 Mattb

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Posted 19 May 2018 - 05:41 PM

Wonderful thread Don.   I know my skill level is nowhere near those guys, but I would sure like to have been able to build and race like they did.   I enjoy making something from nothing and that is what they did.

 

As mentioned in the article, scratch building as we know it is not very challenging in comparison.     All  slot guys need to read that thread to see how we started and how  talented the old engineers were!  

 

It's a shame we don't have the same kind of first hand memories of the Kalamazoo club.


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