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How big was Mura?


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#1 Mr. M

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Posted 04 December 2020 - 05:18 PM

On one of the John Cukras interviews, he mentioned that Muras output was 700 motors/day. For $20 retail, that would be $10 to Mura with $5 each to the distributor and track roughly. For 260 estimated work days in a year, that would be $1.8M annual revenue in 1968 $ or about $13.5M in 2020 $. Which is not bad for a cottage industry and probably more lucrative than Muras other business. If the family was making 25% net, that would be $3.3M income to the business. No wonder Ron Mura could buy a Shelby Mustang for his sponsored racer! Interesting stuff to get a feel for how large this was at the peak before the collapse.
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#2 Steve Deiters

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Posted 04 December 2020 - 05:31 PM

I don't know what their sales were but when I worked for REH Dist. they supplied probably 90+% of the production racing motors and armatures for the industry. 
Under John Cukras's technical leadership they became the power house, literally and figuratively, for many levels of competition from Gr. 12 motors of the era to "Pro" motors to "specials" they used to liquidate excess inventory of arms/cans/end bells and everything in between.
In this era they produced products of the highest and consistent quality.  What a special time it was...
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#3 Phil Hackett

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Posted 04 December 2020 - 05:37 PM

Somewhere in 1982, when Sonic's shop was in Inglewood, Ca, Mura ordered 250,000 armature spacers (the spacers that are built into the armature) and 150,000 brush spring bushings from us. I think that lasted them 18 months before they reordered a smaller quantities. Mura, like other slot car related companies (Parma & Twinn-K are other examples), liked to buy in large quantities to keep unit costs down. So, you can gauge how it must have been 12-15 years earlier.

 

Speaking of John Cukras (RIP John): he called me up for a quote on making HO parts for a car that was being developed (about 1989-1990). The quote was for a minimum of 1,500,000 part quantity just for one part (IIRC there were 5 different parts.... 5 * 1.5 million = 7.5 million parts minimum total)....all to be a yearly production. Unfortunately, I didn't have the capacity to produce 20,000+ parts/day (7/365).

 

Today, many slot car manufacturers think 500 pieces are a large order....


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#4 MSwiss

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Posted 04 December 2020 - 06:41 PM

It would be interesting to know, in Mura'a heyday, how many employees they had.


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#5 Jesse Gonzales

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Posted 04 December 2020 - 06:47 PM

I had a tour of Mura back in probably 1971 with Bob Green and Arnie Atkins and I was kind of taken aback that such high tech stuff was being done in a barn situated in a nursery yard for landscaping. Bob and Arnie were the only males I saw but there were several women working at various functions in the barn, most likely those repetitive tasks that drive men nuts. I had some of my winds finished while there and can say that they were treated like royalty by Arnie in that they looked and ran great. Parts coming in from suppliers could be assembled pretty quick but armatures take time even if you are throwing wire on them you still have the testing, epoxy, etc to do before spinning them up on the balancer. 700 units per day could have been possible with the staff present.

 

Ron's Lamborghini Miura was parke outside but I did not see him anywhere.

 

Under Bob Green Mura was producing the best product the company ever produced, thankfully Ron bought a really good balancer at John Cukras insistence.

 

Jesse Gonzales


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#6 MSwiss

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Posted 04 December 2020 - 06:54 PM

700 balanced arms in one day does not sound possible, with only one machine.

 

Not unless they were working multiple shifts.

 

Or taking only one shot at each arm, and not rechecking.


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Mike Swiss
 
Inventor of the Low CG guide flag 4/20/18
IRRA® Components Committee Chairman
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Two-time G7 World Champion (1988, 1990), eight G7 main appearances
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Note: Send all USPS packages and mail to: 5858 Chase Ave., Downers Grove, IL 60516


#7 Mr. M

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Posted 04 December 2020 - 07:09 PM

That probably included any machine wound types too! Just a guess.
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#8 Jesse Gonzales

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Posted 04 December 2020 - 07:49 PM

Bob hand wound Vulcan arms, production arms were machine wound. The arms that I wound and Arnie ground, trued and balanced were as good as any finished arm of the day. I finished in the money with one of my 26's in Oakland a few days later. Some dweeb stole my double ball bearing 85 that I was saving for a main motor that was killer on the American Orange we raced on. I suspect that production arms got the old "Lick and a Promise" treatment on the balancer as most over the counter arms lacked the killer aggressiveness displayed by team arms.

 

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#9 Pablo

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Posted 04 December 2020 - 08:21 PM

If Mura had used aluminum endbells would all those motors still be running today? Just curious  :crazy:


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#10 tonyp

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Posted 05 December 2020 - 03:56 AM

Rick Jordan who started working at champion as a kid in high school told me at the peak champions motor department was 2 shifts. That’s a lot of motors.


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#11 Mr. M

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Posted 05 December 2020 - 07:38 AM

For Phil’s1982 comment, that is still about 350 motors/day! From Jesse’s comment, that would have been an interesting conversation: Cukras, “I want to make a significant improvement in our capability here at Mura.”  Ron, “What did you have in mind?”  Cukras, “We need a balancer to compete, be superior.” Ron, “What would it take?” Cukras, “Around $50k”.  Ron with a long pause and silence....


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#12 Bill from NH

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Posted 05 December 2020 - 09:29 AM

If Mura had used aluminum endbells would all those motors still be running today? Just curious  :crazy:

 

Probably not. Back then, most people ran motors until they wouldn't run any more. If those aluminum endbells were available, the comms would have had deep brush grooves worn to the plastic. No amount of comm cutting would have trued them up. I ran two Champion 707s from the fall of '67 to the summer of '69 in weekly races plus a race series & two 12-hr. enduros. I never had the comms cut or the motors opened up. Reconditioning services were few & far between, if available at all.


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#13 MSwiss

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Posted 05 December 2020 - 09:33 AM

For Phils1982 comment, that is still about 350 motors/day! From Jesses comment, that would have been an interesting conversation: Cukras, I want to make a significant improvement in our capability here at Mura.  Ron, What did you have in mind?  Cukras, We need a balancer to compete, be superior. Ron, What would it take? Cukras, Around $50k.  Ron with a long pause and silence....

Of minor note, at the turn of the century, IIRC, a new Hoffman HP7 was $10-$15K.
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Mike Swiss
 
Inventor of the Low CG guide flag 4/20/18
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Eight-time G7 King track single lap world record holder

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#14 Mr. M

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Posted 05 December 2020 - 09:55 AM

Yeah, it was a guess for sure.
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#15 Howie Ursaner

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Posted 05 December 2020 - 11:38 AM

Cobra sold repackaged Mura motors and they were all junk. They made me run those motors for a year in 1968 and every one of them blew up in the race from overheating.I must say some were fast till they blew.  I don't think John ever won a big  race with a Mura motor off the shelf. 


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#16 Alchemist

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Posted 05 December 2020 - 12:14 PM

Greetings my brethren!

 

I could only imagine the thrill of "having been there" at that time and going through your experiences!

 

How wonderful to have such nostalgic memories!

 

Thanks you gentleman for sharing.

 

Ernie


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#17 Steve Deiters

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Posted 05 December 2020 - 12:16 PM

I think Howie makes a fair observation here about John Cukrus not running "off the shelf motors". 

 

To be honest I think in the rarified air that Howie, Cukrus, Steube, Schmidt, and many other racers from that era the average slot racer ever believed those people were getting anything other than special arms for special people and special races.  Like an engine in a NASCAR racer of the era had no more in common with an engine in a showroom vehicle than the nameplate. 

 

"Pro" racing was the cutting edge of development that would lead to the next wave of technology coming from the major suppliers of the era that would wind up being the things typical racers could purchase "off the shelf".


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#18 Jesse Gonzales

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Posted 05 December 2020 - 08:21 PM

In all fairness to Mura the family was involved in so many businesses the slot car division was probably small potatoes. While in the Bay Area I saw saw newspaper articles about bowling alleys and other family run business, some community service attaboys for the family helping charities. I was a motor guy in the era of legends so I did a lot of listening to the guys that would talk and a lot of observing on guys that did not talk. John like any old pro ran whatever it took to win, there were probably plenty of Zimmerman's, Keans, Dale armatures that won races under the Mura banner. Heck Vulcan's were Mura's wound at home by Bob Green and finished like Rolex watches either by Bob or Arnie, if you ever saw the Aguirre brothers fire up their Muras you might as well been looking at pro grade stuff that were not available to just anyone.

 

As to habits of racers running comms to death, yes guys would run them until they had a nice saddle appearance. When I returned to racing as a just some guy that showed up to race box stock and I-15 I ran my arms to death and gave them chemical shots with a drop of oil and go race, often slowest qualifier but very often in the money. My old pro days were run it take it apart clean everything and send the arms off to Thorp, every time, every race. As age and family pressures took hold prep was reduced to just seeing it had race able braid.

 

Gary Mayeda years ago uncovered a report of a race at Pops where 7 of the eight main racers either used my arms or as a joke wrote Gonzales on their tech sheet. I had delivered a few dozen 25's and 27/28's a few days before the race so who knows?

 

Howie, my hat is off to you guys who lived with the pressure put on you by your fans and your sponsor. It was a great time to be a racer in the Pro/Amateur only open class racing.

 

I did not mention armatures by Thorp or Reedy as they were so distinctive in appearance that no one would buy "Mura" on their tech sheet, good arms but no way a Mura.

 

Jess Gonzales


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