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AMCR "Blue King" record setter


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#1 TSR

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Posted 26 October 2018 - 08:22 PM

For "pro" racers then and now, a "King" track was and is the setting to establish new speed records. Everything being relative since every so-called "King" track has its own performance altering characteristics, may it be surface, contact rails, banked turns and of course, power available, both voltage and amperage.

In an era of constant technological evolution that the late 1960s were for the fastest slot cars on earth, one of the biggest technological flops was the Mura "B" motor. Born in late 1968, its low profile promised a lower center of gravity, while the thickness of its magnets guaranteed plenty of field to the armature. But it was not to be: while the "B" were fast, they immediately showed to run hot, very hot, ate their "16D" brushes at an alarming rate and anything that Ron and George Mura threw at the design in a bid to save it from the bin, failed. Eventually after months of efforts, different vent-hole patterns, different can thickness, even versions that were "circular milled" to reduce what was now identified as a faulty magnetic field, a few guys in California figured out how to keep these motors from self-immolation. Pete Zimmerman and his accomplice John Cukras experimented first with stacked 16D brushes, one on top of the other, covering the whole width of the commutator. Special brush holders from brass channel soldered to copper endbell plates made this possible, along with longer brush springs.

Then, Zimmerman simply ran the larger "36D" brush, and matters improved considerably. A change in magnet material and its manufacturing process allowing proper magnetic field orientation finalized the development, and suddenly, the "B" were fast AND reliable.

Racers were very skeptical and most of them had abandoned the "B," returning to the larger and taller "16D" sized Mura or Champion cans. 

But a few kept pursuing the "B" avenue, and Mike Tango of Nutley Raceway in New Jersey, as well as Bob Emott, plus the people at Certus in Munster, Indiana, were convinced of the handling advantages provided by the "B" design. Many Brits, as clearly seen in the pictures of pro racing cars that ran in London and on the south coast, also went the "B" way, at last for a while, and made them work, likely on cleaner power than used on American racing tracks.

Peter von Ahrens was an American racer of German noble ancestry, and by 1969, had become a potential winner in any pro race around the country. Pete was a good friend of John Cukras, and was provided with hardware and other help by Ron Mura. So unlike most East Coast racers, Pete used Mura equiptment, and was one to really try his hardest at making the "B" motor be a success.

And, it happened: on November 22, 1969, Pete ran a car he built with a "B" motor featuring the latest improvements and set new records at the Sixth and final "Car Model" race of the year at Nutley raceway. Not only did he match the absolute lap record on a "King", that sat at 4.72", which may seem a bit slow in these days of "sub 1.4" laps, but was a shocker then. Let's remember that this was over 10 years before cobalt magnets and tiny motors powering 3" tall aerodynamic shovels came to be.

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In the race itself, Pete fought a good battle with Mitch Keil, running a new cut-down Champion can motor built by Joel Montague, following Bob Green's lead in hammering a can over a steel die to fit the better Champion Arco "Blue Dot" magnets without shims, and a Pooch armature by the same. But it was not to be as Keil crashed several times on the difficult black lane, and von Ahrens cruised to a 470 lap total, a new distance record.

Meanwhile, Bob Green had been hard at work, and soon, both Mura and Champion had their own smaller can motor, the "C." And the Mura "B" motor was history, this very quickly, as the "C" motors and their variations by both Champion and Mura would rule pro racing until someone discovered the Samarium Cobalt magnets, rewriting a page that has now lasted to this day.
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Incredibly, Pete's car survived, barely. Unearthed a few years ago from the collection of the late Robert Emott Jr., it was in the worst of shapes. Rusty, corroded, awful. I ended with it and trusted one of the finest chassis restorers in the United States, Steve Okeefe, to save it. Steve did a great job, and the chassis is now part of the expanding LASCM collection, really the best place for it to be on this planet if any of this stuff is to survive long term.
 
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It was my decision to now, revive it as it was, preparing a "B" motor in exactly the same way Pete ran his. I selected a used "circular milled" B can, a used endbell, a Mura 24S "Bubblegum" armature and went to work. And that took two full days, as it is far difficult to restore old rusty parts, than build from new...

The can was broken and needed a new spot weld, then was surface ground and left unpainted as was the practice. Cuts where made to clear the chassis by the mounting plate. Vent slots were cut where the can meets the endbell, and the retaining screw holes were countersunk to fit 1-64 taper-head slotted Champion can screws.

The endbell was cleaned, tapped for 2-56 machine screws, and received early style buss bars made of copper wire, the negative bar going through the endbell, drilled at an angle to provide clearance for the opposite brush spring array. Genuine Mabuchi FT36D brushes were slotted deeper to receive the copper shunt wires, then fitted with Mura brush springs.

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A 64-pitch steel spur gear and 10t steel pinion provided the proper mesh, as the motor could only fit in the chassis in one spot and did not offer any gearing alternative to provide tire clearance. Front wheels are magnesium Mini Wheels, rear wheels are Associated with the "magic" Emott blue rubber. The guide is a Jet Flag of the same color used by von Ahrens on other known cars he built. I will complete the build with braided contacts and Cox copper guide inserts at a later time. Also fitted are Cobra blue lead wires, something he also used on other cars.

All needed now, is a "Dave Bloom replica" body, and that is in the works as Joe Neumeister has been commissioned to provide one in Pete's green colors, to finish this important and fortunately, well-documented car in slot car racing history.
 
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#2 The Number of

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Posted 26 October 2018 - 08:32 PM

Thanks, great post!
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#3 brucefl

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Posted 27 October 2018 - 04:23 PM

what happened to pete is he still with us,i thought i read some where he isnt but i dont remember?


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#4 tonyp

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Posted 27 October 2018 - 04:53 PM

Pete passed away quite awhile ago.

"And if my thought-dreams could be seen they'd probably put my head in a guillotine. But it's alright, Ma, it's life, and life only." - Dylan

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#5 tonyp

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Posted 27 October 2018 - 04:58 PM

The story that goes along with that chassis is: Pete and John Cukras we’re spending time racing in the Midwest trying to get the motors to live on hot power. They were staying at Bob Hanes and working at REH. Every time Mike Tango would call REH for Parts he would bust Pete’s balls about not wanting to race at Nutley because the B motor could never win a race. This went on for quite a while and when Peter and John got the motors to work with the 36d brushes Peter show up at a car model race unannounced ahead of time and blew everyone away.
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"And if my thought-dreams could be seen they'd probably put my head in a guillotine. But it's alright, Ma, it's life, and life only." - Dylan

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#6 Bill from NH

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Posted 27 October 2018 - 05:25 PM

Pete von Ahrens passed away at age 51 in 1999. I met him at a Car Model race held at Modelville Hobby in either '69 or '70. After talking with him at the parts counter, I had to ask who he was. :laugh2:  As I recall, Mike Katz was also at that race, but I didn't know him either.


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#7 brucefl

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Posted 27 October 2018 - 05:46 PM

Flat wire cars I like them, what were the advantages of the flat,other than it didnt roll when soldering?

Any other flat wire chassis photos?

Was this the chassis he built in the car model chassis building article by pete,it looks similliar or was that a stock car chassis?


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#8 brucefl

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Posted 27 October 2018 - 05:49 PM

where can i find flat wire i havent been able to so far?


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#9 TSR

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Posted 27 October 2018 - 05:52 PM

Funny, because Tango sold "B" cans under his own label... :)
 


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#10 tonyp

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Posted 27 October 2018 - 05:52 PM

Afterward.


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"And if my thought-dreams could be seen they'd probably put my head in a guillotine. But it's alright, Ma, it's life, and life only." - Dylan

1965 "Evil Bucks Racer" Team
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Retro East co-founder
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First IM Nationals Champion
Arco Champion
Car Model Magazine Series Amateur Champion
2016 ORS Anglewinder Constructors Championsh
ip


#11 tonyp

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Posted 27 October 2018 - 06:00 PM

Flat wire is/was not a commercial item. You had to take .063 wire and surface grind it down. Parma sold some they had made and REH found or had made some square wire but it was really twisted and not very flat.

I know Pete had his done at his Mothers company Robvon and the nutley guys had a source from a local machine shop.


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"And if my thought-dreams could be seen they'd probably put my head in a guillotine. But it's alright, Ma, it's life, and life only." - Dylan

1965 "Evil Bucks Racer" Team
Revtech Team Trinity
Retro East co-founder
American King track single lap world record holder & 40 minute total lap record
First IM Nationals Champion
Arco Champion
Car Model Magazine Series Amateur Champion
2016 ORS Anglewinder Constructors Championsh
ip


#12 brucefl

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Posted 27 October 2018 - 06:06 PM

I used to buy it,must have been from Bernie at glen oaks.

what are the benefits,and who first decided it was a benefit to design with it was it Bob or you tony?


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#13 TSR

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Posted 27 October 2018 - 06:12 PM

Makes sense. We have a few Tango bits in original packaging, some "B" parts, some drop arms and pans, all existing stuff relabeled.

 

 

Flat wire cars I like them, what were the advantages of the flat,other than it didnt roll when soldering?

Any other flat wire chassis photos?

Was this the chassis he built in the car model chassis building article by pete,it looks similliar or was that a stock car chassis?

Bruce, I think that it was an effort to lower the CG of the cars, a tiny bit at a time...

 

 

where can i find flat wire i havent been able to so far?

 

 

That was 50 years ago, "not available in any store" as they say on TV adverts...  :(
Your guess is as good as mine. I have a few strips of them for emergency repairs on old stuff.
Returning the the Mura "B" saga, I spent 3 hours this morning, saving this one from oblivion. It was mounted in this derelict Emott chassis with split pans:

B-car_1.jpg    B-car_2.jpg   

That thing was so rusted, I thought there was no way... I had already built a new motor from parts for that chassis.
Not having great hopes, I threw the whole motor in the tumbler, and it came back with much of the rust off it, so I gave it a go.
It was one of those thick cans, possibly massaged by Bob Kean, with enlarged vent holes and a few mods typical of the man. It had a S24 "bubblegum" with a "K" on it, not sure if that would be any proof, but whatever.
To remove the rest of the rust, I surface ground the can on a sander, all faces, then polished it. I tapped the mounting holes and the endbell retaining holes, as solid rust was in there. Inside, it was not too pretty either but I got rid of all the rust.
The endbell was disassembled, tapped 1-64 and 2-56, I added typical buss bars and assembled it with new bolts.
The armature, incredibly, came out OK! I stuck it on the lathe and wire brushed the stack, getting rif of the rust, polished the shafts, polished the comm and stuck it back in the can.
I have not added shunt wires yet but it runs!

DSCN1372.JPG   DSCN1373.JPG   DSCN1375.JPG  

I am not done with it yet, still have a little bit of clean up to do on it, but it came our quite well, considering. In other words, never give up!  :)
 


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#14 tonyp

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Posted 27 October 2018 - 06:15 PM

Jerry Brady was the first to use flat wire to reduce the CG when the east coasters were on a low CG kick.


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"And if my thought-dreams could be seen they'd probably put my head in a guillotine. But it's alright, Ma, it's life, and life only." - Dylan

1965 "Evil Bucks Racer" Team
Revtech Team Trinity
Retro East co-founder
American King track single lap world record holder & 40 minute total lap record
First IM Nationals Champion
Arco Champion
Car Model Magazine Series Amateur Champion
2016 ORS Anglewinder Constructors Championsh
ip


#15 brucefl

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Posted 27 October 2018 - 06:27 PM

cg what nano metres,lol.

 

bubble gum arms I thought the only one who ran those was that pro cuckras who mura made them for as his signature arm and he and the gullable amateurs bought.


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#16 brucefl

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Posted 27 October 2018 - 06:35 PM

He is this an authentic cukras won't arm or a fraud just stumbled onto it while looking for my cukras signed bubblegum arm?

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#17 brucefl

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Posted 27 October 2018 - 06:44 PM

Here's the cukras bubblegum arm.

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#18 brucefl

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Posted 27 October 2018 - 06:46 PM

signatures look identical,so if they match ones on file the they are authentic.Phillipe do you have one thats authentic to compare to for authentication?


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#19 brucefl

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Posted 27 October 2018 - 06:55 PM

nice work Phillipe and Steve you are to master,at building/restoring and Phillipe of course our historic racing champion,designer/builder/writer and driving force behind the preservation of the archives of the sport,my gratitude to you,and all our hats are off to to guys and the many behind the scenes,keep up the good work.


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#20 brucefl

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Posted 27 October 2018 - 06:57 PM

Hopefully one day I will have something worthy of contributing to the museums archives.


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#21 TSR

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Posted 27 October 2018 - 07:36 PM

Bruce, thanks, kind words from you. We are trying hard at preserving that bit of history while we can, because after our generation and if we did not do that, it's pretty much gone forever.

Regarding your two armatures, John was associated with Mura for roughly two years. We have a rather large collection of armatures and motors, new in their original packaging, in both "series 1" and "series 2", and none is bearing any engraving of any kind. In fact, the "bubblegum" arms are the first Mura arms to bear any engraving, and that was of the marketers: Dave Bloom, Tango, Phaze III... but NOT "Cukras", because no "B" motor or "B" motor part was ever marketed under the "Cukras" label as far as I know. Here is a Dave Bloom marketed and engraved Mura "bubblegum":

2010-03-01 078.JPG

2010-03-01 077.JPG

Here is a rare "Series 1" (not many survived because they pretty much all blew up after throwing their wires...) and it is new in its box. No engraving on arm, but card is hand signed:

1178.jpg

"Mura-Cukras" Series 1 have black endbells, a fogged paint job (first by none other than Bob Kovaqcs, later directly by Ron Mura himself!), but their armature wires were not tied to the comm, and they were merely soldered to the comm. So just as many Champion 507 and 517 did, they simply melted their solder and threw their wires. Adios! Frustrated racers merely threw them away.

This is one of a dozen MIB arms we have on card, and we also have more "loose" ones, none is bearing any engraving.

1171.jpg

We have about 6 of these Series 2 motors in pink, either fully assembled or in kit form. None bears any engraving.

 

1172.jpg

Here is a rather scarce Mura-Cukras "M444" painted white. It is a Series 2 as identified by its white endbell and the pent-roof brush holders Cukras brought from his days as a Champion team member. Pete Zimmerman developed the welding process for the comms. Arm bears no engraving, and the signature on the card is now an ink stamp, not a hand signature.

DSCN3965.JPG

In all cases, the name "Cukras" is always written in lower case after the first capital "C", and always in script.  I believe that both the arms you show were engraved by their owner, which was not common practice then, but has been in the past 20-30 years for purpose of identification or... as you suggest, by small-time fraudsters... :)

Here is how a "B" motor with the "Bubblegum" arm was sold:

mura-b-bubblegum-1.jpg

Last, this is how the "bubblegum" arms were marketed by Mura:

1166.jpg

I hope that this helps.
 

 


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#22 brucefl

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Posted 27 October 2018 - 07:45 PM

what about the cans that had his signature?

thanks,then it must have been an ebay scam.


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#23 Bill from NH

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Posted 27 October 2018 - 08:38 PM

My one bubblegum arm is engraved REHCO on one stack & 27-28 on another. I don't recall buying it, but in the day, Modelville Hobby only used REH for their slot cars & parts.

 

Bruce, to answer a couple of your earlier questions, no, the Car Model build article was not for a stockcar chassis, it had a wheelbase of about 4".. And neither was it the von Ahrens chassis Philippe just restored. That Car Model chassis used round main rails (.047, I think), flat wire half rails, & a  flat brass wire crosspiece in front of the motor. There is no reason why this Car Model chassis couldn't be made using all .047 wire, like my Canadian friend Pete did.  Champion once sold 6" lengths of ground flat wire carded 6 pieces per pack for a buck.


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#24 TSR

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Posted 27 October 2018 - 09:41 PM

Bill, RehCo is one of the distributors that got  engraved Bubblegum armatures from Mura. There are others than the ones I named, like Certus and Dart.

 

 

what about the cans that had his signature?

thanks,then it must have been an ebay scam.

Bruce, no production Mura can ever got John's signature, either engraved or hand painted, but it is always possible that in the recent past, John MAY have signed a motor to someone, and likely with a black felt pen...

The only Cukras can I have ever seen with a hand signature is in this car, and it is signed by... its painter, Bob Kovacs!  :)

kovacs.jpg

 

 


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#25 proptop

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Posted 27 October 2018 - 10:46 PM

Thanks for all the info Dokk!

 

I have been wondering what it was that looked like writing on the motor that I have.(it's in the same place as yous shown above)

My series 1 is gold with red fogging...and is apparently (as I just discovered) signed by Kovacs, however about half of his signature has been rubbed away by contact with a frame rail.


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