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The art of scratchbuilding


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#1 don.siegel

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Posted 15 September 2021 - 10:57 AM

I've always been fascinated by scratchbuilt slot cars, and that's become one of my main collecting interests (besides building some of my own of course, but not nearly enough...). 

 

I've tried to acquire interesting pieces over the years, whether quirky, inventive, or just very clean builds, like the one shown below. They also provide a good look at the history of slot racing and how trends evolved. 

 

Here's a Lotus 30 I acquired a number of years ago, pretty definitely in the 1965-66 timeframe, with a lighweight piano wire and brass chassis, plus a Tyco sidewinder motor with Pittman DC65X arm, lightened Weldun 64 pitch gears, ball bearings on the back and independently rotating fronts on a drop axle. Definitely a lightweight - but since I decided to restore it for an upcoming race, I added some weight up front, a chunk of lead on the drop arm and a heavy brass collar for the pickup, a Revell item of course... The original had gray foam tires, totally dried out of course, so I added some urethanes, Ortmann I think. Note that little spring like thing soldered to one of the rear cross members: ready to hold a "wet wick"!  

 

It's all very cleanly put together, with excellent metal-bending and soldering. It seems fragile, but the frame has survived until now with no problems it seems. That's the original Lotus 30 body, well painted from the inside, including the decals. It came without an interior, so I just used a piece of black cardboard and a painted driver I had in the box. 

 

I'll try to add some more examples of the historic art of scratch building as we go along, and feel free to contribute your finds. 

 

Don 

 

Lotus 30 Tyco65X-2.JPG

 

Lotus 30 Tyco65X-3.JPG

 

Lotus 30 Tyco65X-4.JPG

 

Lotus 30 Tyco65X-5.JPG

 

Lotus 50 Tyco65X-6.JPG

 

 


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#2 Pablo

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Posted 15 September 2021 - 10:59 AM

Simple and sweet, well executed  :heart:  :heart:  :heart:


Paul Wolcott


#3 Isaac S.

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Posted 15 September 2021 - 11:30 AM

Very cool. Those one rail, space frame designs always work well for me, they are easy to drive, light and low to the ground. I like the out-rigger tubes on the body mounts. It'll be fast.  :good:


Isaac Santonastaso

#4 Martin

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Posted 15 September 2021 - 12:38 PM

Nice car, Don.

 

Ball bearings, lightened gear, some thoughtful details and well constructed.

 

There was a time, way back,( pre-computer) when all I wanted to collect was hand built racers.  But just could not find enough, searching antique fares, flee markets, garage sales etc.  so I got side tracked with the production cars which were more plentiful.

But I never forgot my original goal to save and show the one-off hand made creations.

 

Now I would guess my collection is about 50/50. scratch-built to production.

 

This lightweight sidewinder comes to mind from my selves. Not painted but I OK with its nakedness.

I know I have shown this before and I hope you do not mind me showing it on your post. But would love to see more of this type of car from what I think of as the age of innocence where experimentation was the name of the game.

 

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Martin Windmill

#5 don.siegel

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Posted 15 September 2021 - 06:12 PM

That's exactly what I like about these cars Martin: we were still trying out new concepts of all types and anything was possible!

 

Don 


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#6 Dave Crevie

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Posted 16 September 2021 - 08:53 AM

When I was a kid just starting out in commercial-type slot racing, I wasn't much of a driver. (still ain't) So the only way I could win was to build a better motor, and/or better chassis. I did lots of rewinds, most too hot for the ready-made chassis kits available. So I just started building chassis, sometimes two in one week, with different designs and construction materials. Some worked well, but most didn't. Some were total abborrations. Some worked well enough for others to copy. I had a bit of an advantage among the Mid-westerners in that I spent time each summer in the LA area, and came back with ideas garnered from the racers out there. The end result was that I had a wooden produce box full of home-made chassis. Lately I have been picking out the ones I remember were good, and have been restoring them to running shape. They don't always end up exactly as they were, simply because I don't have, or couldn't find the original style bodies, wheels or motors. But the joy is getting them back on the track ,some 50 or more years later. 

 

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#7 don.siegel

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Posted 16 September 2021 - 09:10 AM

Those are great Dave - I especially like your space frame with the modified Kemtron motor. You grafted some Pittman brushes on their, eh? 

 

The space frames seem to have been the most popular at the time in a lot of places, before the pin tube/jaildoor chassis came along. 

 

How to they run now? 

 

Don 



#8 Martin

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Posted 16 September 2021 - 09:15 PM

Great early cars Dave, that's great you could revive them. :good:

Interesting how development was regional. I got my input from the U.S.mags of the time. I do remember a friends Dad that raced at a 1/32nd company club track, and I remember they were in the dark ages compared to the U.S. pro scene. :sun_bespectacled:

 

When I took a trip back to the home I grew up in, my son and I were poking around in the garage. At some point my son noticed this wooden box, ''pull it out lets take a look''.

When we opened the box we found some of the discarded and obsolete parts of my early scratch built chassis days. 

Bent rails that did not make the grade a couple of chassis that never got finished etc.

 

Just posting this pic to keep the scratch-building conversation going. Anything here worth finishing? :wacko2:

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Martin Windmill

#9 Dave Crevie

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Posted 17 September 2021 - 09:03 AM

Don; That is the weird KTM motor we talked about before. No modifications, just how I bought it at International Hobbies in Pasadena.

 

Martin; Same kind of box I have. Full of chassis that broke or didn't work out. Wouldn't it be cool to get some of them back up and running as they were back in the day.

 

The West-coasters were always ahead of us Mid-westerners, and it was always an advantage to come back with some of what I learned out there, long before the articles came out in the magazines



#10 don.siegel

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Posted 19 September 2021 - 11:52 AM

Thanks Dave, didn"t recognize that motor right away. 

 

Here"s another car I found awhile ago, in Switzerland I think - which would make sense given the mechanical construction and some very small nuts and bolts, more like a watch than our usual 2-56 or 4-40 types. A nice Ferrari P4 body too, probably Lancer and a late generation Mabuchi.

 

The body mounting is a clever concealed system, with two tiny screws going thought the back of the body, and one in front concealed under a small black strip of metal nestled in the front air intake area. Not sure how the back axle is organized, but seems to be a small diameter brass or bronze rod, with screws through the wheels into the rod, and a sleeve for the Cox gear. 

 

All in all, a rather unusual approach compared with the usual soldered brass rod and tube. The basic chassis is milled? aluminum channel, held together with spacers. 

 

 

 

Don 

 

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#11 Alchemist

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Posted 19 September 2021 - 12:13 PM

Hi Don,

 

What a wonderful thread!

 

The few cars that I was able to acquire in the 60's were mostly RTR - though one of my cars was given to me from my cousin, which was the only scratch built car I owned.

 

Keep posting please!

 

Thank you Don, as well as others, for sharing!

 

Be well!

 

Ernie


Ernie Layacan

#12 Bill from NH

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Posted 19 September 2021 - 04:35 PM

Just posting this pic to keep the scratch-building conversation going. Anything here worth finishing? :wacko2:

Martin, do you know Phillip Niyazi of Great Britain? He's been scratchbuilding brass chassis for years, but doesn't post photos of much. I first heard of him about the same time I first heard of you. About 2002 or 2003.


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#13 Martin

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Posted 20 September 2021 - 09:58 AM

Yes Bill I have a few of Phillip Niyazi chassis. His chassis are works of art. So when I had the chance to own some I did not hesitate. 

 

I have not communicated with him for some time. But we do talk from time to time.


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#14 Dave Crevie

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Posted 20 September 2021 - 11:31 AM

Don; Interesting chassis. I tried using aluminum strip stock for sports car chassis, an offshoot from the rail dragsters. But because it couldn't be easily soldered, I gave up on those designs. The nut-and-bolt construction just wasn't ridged enough. I might get some of those going again.



#15 Mad Mark

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Posted 20 September 2021 - 03:30 PM

this is the most interesting scratchbuilt I have. pretty crude and heavy but kind of interesting.
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#16 Bill from NH

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Posted 20 September 2021 - 05:09 PM

I like that wide motor bracket. That chassis ought to handle well. Mark, is this a chassis you or a friend built?


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#17 Mad Mark

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Posted 20 September 2021 - 05:26 PM

I like that wide motor bracket. That chassis ought to handle well. Mark, is this a chassis you or a friend built?


it’s a eBay car. what else is weird about it is it looks like parts of it where brazed together with bronze rod then ground down. pretty strange but must have worked ok since it looks like it got a lot of use. unfortunately doing the 9v Test the motor doesn’t spin up and I haven’t made it to the track for a couple years so I’ve never tried it.
Mark Haas

#18 Isaac S.

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Posted 20 September 2021 - 05:55 PM

Yeah, that rewind won't work with the 9V batteries. Draws too much amperage. 


Isaac Santonastaso





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