Nonno Slot - Brabham BT55
Review by Conti_Rowland
Up until now this period has been largely overlooked by the main manufacturers and since most 'historic' racing centres on pre wing cars the scratch-build fraternity (apart from just a handful of exceptions) have largely ignored it to date too, possibly given its proximity to the present, i.e. it is still very much in living memory.
I believe this is a mistake so it was with much excitement that I received the news from my friend Walter Merulli (ex Italian champion) that he had seen a new company in Italy making these things....
I checked the website www.nonnoslot.com, the next day and so it was that I found the current production of 4 cars; Brabham BT55, McLaren MP4/2C, Lotus 98T (JPS) and Lotus 99T (Camel).
There is also news of Mansell's Williams FW11,a Toleman 1984, Ferrari 1987 and hopefully (his words) a Ligier and Lola/Beatrice from 1986!
All cars come with both driver liveries so qute a large grid can already be made.
In the text and in later communications Nonno Slot explain that given the lack of any national F1 slot events in Italy the aim is to provide club racing cars (and possibly a national championship) capable of providing the sort of speeds Italian 'piloti' are used to with their NSR's etc. So these cars are meant to be driven hard and fast. They are not, primarily at least, meant to be delicate scratch-built shelf queens.
Marco of Nonno tells me this has been rectified although I haven't checked. Payment nice and simple with Paypal.
A few site teething problems meant a quick and easy (for me in Italian) exchange of emails and then I received constant order updates from Marco.
The car 'kit' which I discovered when it arrived included everything (the site is not too clear on what was actually in the kit) cost 62 euro or so plus 6 odd euro P&P. The car price seemed OK as I've spent double that for a complete car on two occasions in the last year and the P&P was extremely cheap for an Italian courier service. Marco obviously wants to sell!
I say 'kit' because Marco informed me that until 1st January he's doing RTR assembled kits for the price of the kit, thereafter the RTR will increase in price (he didn't say what to).
About 50/60 of each model will be produced which is normal before a resin mould deteriorates.
Now I know that so far this looks like a clear advert but before the Mod's get worried let me go on.....
The car is reasonably well finished. One must bear in mind that this is an artisan built car not a one off 'scratch build', nor a main manufacturer item. The paint and decals on the resin moulded body are all present and reasonably correct however the paint is slightly 'orange peel' and shows some dust particle marks. Driver head painting is by hand. Decent but not perfect. Some effort has obviously gone into the decals which look good.
The painted brass spigot of the rear wing was slightly bent so I got that lined up and PVA glued on the front and rear wings and super-glued the little above wheel air deflector on. PVA will allow the wings to pop off in an accident without breaking them.
The rear wing had no position location mark so it was guesswork as to where it should go. Plus I'd say the rear wing spigot was rather too high, negating slightly the long low body of the BT55. Maybe this is strategic to get it out of the way of high speed crashes? Obviously if the 'kit' were purchased one could solder the rear wing spigot at the height required although I notice on the website that ALL the models have this same high rear wing position.
My other first impression was that the car track looked a bit wide for its wheelbase length. Given I don't have any contemporary cars to check it against I researched the original to check proportion, wheelbase, track etc.
Here came my first disappointment. The car 'looks' like a BT55 but doesn't actually measure like one. The real car was extremely long, narrow and flat. This model then might not stand up to a 'scale' builder's requirements. This seems to be a very common problem with Italian producers. Scale is a somewhat flexible word which is disappointing for me but might bother others less. I would have thought that going to all the immense trouble of making this car, and with the amount of motors and equipment available today it could and should have been made with the correct dimensions. What extra work would that entail but what extra joy (for me at least) to have a car of the right size!
The chassis is a 0.6mm thick flat sheet with a rear wing spigot and motor / gear mount of the same material. On the RTR this had been soldered up for me but in the kit this is all to do. The website has a page explaining all the assembly instructions which is more than most offer. This is great although of course its all in Italian so may be tricky for some...... hopefully Marco will sort that or take on an English distributor.
Axles are stainless steel bar, wheels are turned alloy. Now here seems to be a problem. The front wheels, (I noticed while trying to adjust the track) do not spin straight. They appear 'buckled', meaning the central hole must be out of true! Quite a bad mistake I'd think performance wise. I haven't checked the rears yet but will on track....
Tyres nice soft rubber at the back and hard at the front.
Once off the body itself is rather thick resin cast. It is HEAVY being about 2mm thick and more in some parts. Now maybe that wont matter with that huge motor and at least it'll take a bashing in use.
The whole car weighs 103gr split roughly 33:67 front:back.
On disassembly I discovered that the motor was actually loose and once I tightened the two screws I discovered the body didn't fit anymore!!!!! The screws had been left loose just to fit the body.
Actually, given my background a half hour of dremelling, filing and cutting saw it all fit together perfectly but really a mechanical 'toy' has the basic requirement that the body and motor both fit simultaneously so I was pretty upset about that. This fact combined with the grub screw missing in the drive-train and the wobbly front wheels mean that I'd have to say that this is not a fully RTR car.
Obviously if one went for the kit this would have all been sorted prior to final assembly and might then not have been so noticeable??
The car felt steady and the tyres gripped well. That motor is clearly very powerful although on my 3.5m straight I couldn't get the car going too fast. Good grip in the corners suggest that the combination of body weight, motor power (these were after all very powerful cars in their day) and rear tyres would be fun on a much larger track.
There was quite a lot of noise from the drive train probably due to the 'loose' motor axle guide on the rear wheel axle.
The worst element though was that the rear wheels, like the fronts mentioned above, are just not centred so even on my short straight the rear end started to bounce around under the vibrations.
A new set of wheels are definitely required to make this car go anything close to its full potential. A little disappointing given it is supposed to be complete!
Alternatively gluing and truing the tyre would help but given the distortion would still create an out of balance combination.
The car looks great, there's no denying it.
Time will tell if there are sufficient people out there to share this very personal view of what slot cars should be as to make it worth Nonno slot's while to keep on producing new models.
I personally hope so.
|Lo-Fi Version||Time is now: 26th May 2013 - 08:39|