- A Classic Face Off
Ferrari 512 S Coda Lunga & Porsche 917LH
by Harry from Home Racing
I will be the first to say that regardless of any issues there are with the
models made by Fly, I still like them. The Fly Classic series is hands down one
of the longest running series of models in our hobby and I own plenty of them to
say the least. However, some releases just seem to spark my interest more than
others and such is the case with the Ferrari 512 Coda Lunga (Long Tail). Not
only is this model a favorite, but the latest release of the Porsche 917LH has
now added even more fuel to my classic fire.
These cars are not the class favorite of every
racer, and it is true that they are not as fast as others in the series. The
extra long rear end certainly enjoys swinging and sliding out and shorter models
in the series just seem to be better performers for the most part. This has not stopped
me from collecting many of them and the main reason I do is simply how they
look. For some reason, I really like the looks of the lines of this car and
hence my love affair with them.
There are some enthusiasts that have really
made these models very competitive with other classics, so don't think you have
to just race them by themselves. Racing these longer models against my 917's
provide a very close race and sometimes the Long tail prevails in the end. It
seems on my smaller layout that they just seem a little more forgiving in the
corners, especially coming out under speed. In these cases where I have tuned
and worked with these models, they become a very formidable foe.
And with that said, it was no surprise that
this latest Ferrari ended up here. This car is the "Sunoco Edition" and is
simply a fantasy livery, or at least I cannot find where it ever existed in the
1:1 world. But if you think that would stop me from having it, you are mistaken.
Regardless of any scale accuracy, I think the model looks beautiful and looked
forward to its arrival.
Enter The Porsche
I have waited quite awhile for this latest
release of the Porsche 917LH. Not only did I want it as I thought it would be a
great addition to the Classic line, but I was convinced that I could now have a
better running mate for my Ferrari stable. Think of it...recreating the legendary
battles between these two famous car makers right in your own home! When they
were finally available I called SlotCarPlace and had one on its way into my
greedy little hands...ok well make that two, I simply have no willpower when it
comes to the Gulf livery.
As far scale detail is concerned, Fly usually
brings us models that are very close to the prototype and spare no expense on
small details. However, the Porsche 917LH is not Fly's best work. The entire
front of the car is off in scale, and many enthusiasts have commented on it. I
have to admit I was surprised by this as usually Fly brings us a very accurate
model in 1/32nd scale.
So is it a big issue? Only YOU can answer that.
Although I am a little disappointed, it is not going to stop me from enjoying
the model. In fact, I ordered the second #18 Gulf model shortly after getting
the first. I still think the model looks great sitting on the track, and at
speed it looks even better.
Although they seem nearly identical, there are
some differences. First, the wheel bases are not identical with the Ferrari
having a 74mm length while the Porsche comes in just shy at 71mm. The chassis
are different as well with the Porsche having the familiar B21 separate pod
assembly while the Ferrari is the solid chassis.
Weight was surprisingly even as each car tipped
the scales at 72 grams. Overall length goes to the Porsche with 150mm and the
Ferrari at 145.85mm. So will these differences make for an uneven match-up?
Which one will prevail? Time for the first out of box test to find out if there
is any advantage at the start.
Some of you may have heard that
cars made by Fly, especially those in the Classic series, do not run well out of
the box. Sadly, what you hear is mostly true as they do require some work to get
them running as smoothly and reliably as you would expect. In some cases there
are models that need even more than others and this has certainly given Fly a
notorious reputation to some enthusiasts.
All 3 of these models needed
attention, but all of them ran out of the box. Not very well mind you, but they
did function. It only took a few laps on each car to see that some work was
needed to get them where I felt they needed to be. I could not form an opinion
on which car was dominant as the issues that plagued them were different and
caused too much interference. It was time to perform what
we like to call "Fly Standard Mods"...so if you are ready, let us get started
If you have not already guessed
it, you will need some tools to perform some of these checks and modifications.
A good quality gear and pinion removal tool, small cross-tip screwdriver,
sandpaper, adhesive, etc are important. Most online retailers carry these as well as other
tools, so check with your dealer and invest in the right tools for the job.
Also items such as a moto-tool
like those made by Dremel are almost priceless. These moto-tools can perform a
variety of jobs and I can safely tell you that no enthusiast in this hobby
should be without one.
Phase 1 -
The first thing you will want to
do is simply look over the model and find what needs attention. Sometimes you do
not even have to run the car to find problems. An out of round or wobbly wheel
is easily seen just while you have it in your hands.
But the track test is where things
get exposed much easier. After a few laps you should be able to detect items
such as intermittent power, tires or wheels out of round, and even tire to body
rubbing. You might also find that the tire is rubbing the pinion or even the
motor shaft. All of these items really expose themselves rather quickly and
luckily you can remedy most of them without spending another dime.
Phase 2 - Lack of Power
After just 3 laps on each car I
noticed all of the cars seemed to lack power in certain corners as well as other
issues. You might have seen models that run fine in the straights but seem to
cut out in the corners. Sometimes it is the other way around. Lack of power such
as this can be contributed to different things such as dirty track rails, or
even your track connections need attention. In this case as with many others, it
is a simple matter of checking your braid.
The first thing I do is take the
braid and lift up on it slightly to give it a little more pressure towards the
rails. This helps a great deal, but on some tracks you will need to spread
(comb) out the ends of them for maximum contact. If you have small enough hands
you can spread these with your fingers. Given that my fingers are too big, I use
2 small needle nose pliers and grab the end of the braid as shown in the photo.
I then pull (spread) the braid out as shown and get it ready for the final step.
Once this is completed I attach the small wire wheel brush from our Dremel kit
to the Moto-Tool and turn the power on.
I start at the top of the braid
and move down towards the ends. At the ends you need to apply a little pressure
and you will begin to see the braid comb itself out. Make sure you place the
wire wheel as shown so it rotates the right direction. As you can see, I started
with the left braid and then I will just move over and do the right, keeping the
Dremel in same direction. After this is finished, just make sure you have a
slight arc to the braid and you are ready for the track. Sometimes you still
might need to adjust the braid to work for different brands of track, but
performing this braid maintenance gives you a good head start in correcting
Phase 3 - Tire
Another issue that seems to follow
many Fly Classics is tire rub. This occurs in different places and is one of the
biggest causes of degraded performance. On models such as these, you first
should check for the tire rubbing on the inside of the body. This usually occurs
due to the fact that many of the rear axles on these models have excess side to
side free-play. In turn, when the axle shifts to either side while racing, the
tire rubs the body.
Another area is the tire
contacting the inside of the pod assembly (chassis) due to this same free-play
Before you remove the body, check
to see which side the tire is making contact. This tells you where to install
your shims to eliminate that excess free-play. All of my models needed a small
shim between the spur gear and the chassis to prevent the wheel from rubbing the
body. After removing the body I then snapped out the rear axle assembly and
removed the wheel as shown in the photo.
You can use almost any small 3/32
inside diameter washer or shim for this fix. There are many other ways to shim
this axle, this is just my preferred method. You can make shims from very thin
sheet styrene or order very thin metal ones from Slick 7 and other after-market
companies. You can even find small washers from local hardware stores. Over time
I have simply found it easier to use a correct sized shim as they are
inexpensive and give me the best results.
I installed the shim as shown and
then re-attached the wheel. Then it was time to snap the complete axle assembly
in place and check for any other rubbing or binding. Next, I test fitted the
body back onto the chassis to make sure the tires cleared the inside of the body
wells. All 3 of my models were free of any more rubbing on the body, but they
needed a final step to make them right.
Another issue is the tire coming
in contact with the pinion and sometimes the motor shaft. This again can happen
due to side to side free-play and because the tire or wheel is not seated
correctly. Sanding and truing the wheels does help this problem, but I have
found that while I am here it is easiest to just trim the excess shaft away. After inspecting all 3 models,
each of them were plagued with all the above issues. So it was time to take them
apart and begin our modifications.
My method for curing this is to
simply trim the motor shaft off flush with the pinion and then to bevel the
pinion slightly to give it just a little more clearance.
To do this you can either remove the motor from
the chassis pod or leave it installed. If you leave it installed, be very
careful not to cut or damage the chassis. I use a standard
cutting disc in my Dremel moto tool and in seconds the excess shaft is removed.
Trimming the pinion can
be done many ways, but I prefer to let the motor do most of the work. By
applying power to the motor using either your track, 9 volt battery or sanding
station, take a sanding disc or sandpaper (anything will work here) and apply it at an angle against the
pinion. In just a few seconds you will see the pinion sanded away and the
process is complete. Your assembly should look something similar to the one
shown in the photo. Now, install the axle and check to see if you have removed
enough of the pinion, if so it is time to move on to more tire and wheel care.
Phase 4 - Axle, Wheel &
The front wheels on Fly classics
are held in place by small plastic stubs that are famous for being too loose.
You can replace this assembly with a solid front axle if you wish, but I can
usually remedy the excess slop by simply tightening them.
Again, some enthusiasts swear by
changing the whole assembly to a solid axle and you can certainly do this if you
You can order any 3/32nd drill
blank axles from most online retailers for around $2.00 - $3.00. and simply cut
the axle to the length desired, just make sure it is not touching or rubbing any
part of the body. Most of my Fly classics keep the original stub axles as once I
tighten them, almost all of the slop is removed. However, the axle replacement
option gives you a very solid and reliable front end so only you can decide
which method is best for your home racing.
Wheels and tires on Fly Classics
usually need a little help and such was the case with all of these models.
Although many of these cars can simply run smoother by just sanding the tires,
sometimes there are other hidden issues.
The first item to check is your
axles. If the axle is bent, you will simply need to replace it. There is no
reason to try and correct any issues on your wheels or tires if the axle is
bent. You simply try to compensate for the axle and in turn you will usually do
more harm than good to your tires and wheels.
You can check the axle quickly by
just removing it from the chassis and removing both wheels. Once this is done,
turn the axle in your hands and check for any obvious bends.
The more accurate and reliable way
is to remove the spur gear from the axle and then roll the axle on a flat
surface. Using anything from a table top to a mirror can give you the results
you are looking for. I use a standard wooden set-up block to check mine. After I
roll the axle on it and make sure it is true, it is time to re-install the
wheels and spur gear and move on.
The next item is cracked hubs on
the wheels causing the wheel not to sit cleanly on the axle. This also causes
the wheel to sit loosely on the axle and can contribute to numerous problems as
you might guess.
If you discover this issue, just
follow the procedures we list here. This is the easiest way I have found to
repair these and other brands of wheels.
Evergreen Styrene makes a wide variety of plastic that is widely used in many
hobbies, and the 1/4" tubing works perfectly to "sleeve" the hub and repair the
crack. This process also makes the hub stronger to resist future cracking.
Then, using a rolling motion we
begin to cut the tubing. Normally we cut it to around 1/8" give or take a few.
Don't worry about being perfect here, as long as the sleeve sits flush with the
hub end, you are doing just fine. Next, I add a small drop of Testors model
cement on the outside of the hub and then just slide the sleeve over the top
until it sits flush.
The most common is excess flash
molding on the inside rib of the wheel. This causes a high spot in your tire
that can take a very large amount of sanding to try and cure.
first step was to pull the tires off the wheels and check for excess flash
molding on the wheel. Sure enough there was some present so I lightly sanded
them. We cover this quick procedure here in pit row.
You can do this step in any number of ways, but the method that was shown to me
years ago by Dave Dobner and Rich McMahon is still my preferred method. By
simply using a 9 volt battery and a sanding barrel from your Dremel, you can
have these wheels cleaned up in no time at all.
Other brands of models are also
victim to this and I always like to check them to make sure I am starting out
with a wheel that is as round as possible. So I would check all brands of models
you own to see if they have this issue and correct it. You might find a much
smoother running model.
One item I find often needs
preventive maintenance is the bushings that hold the rear axle in place.
Although you may not see these bushings spin under load during testing, it is
always a good idea to glue them in place as a preventive measure. You can use
almost any adhesive, but I like to use hot glue or clear silicone as it is
easily removed if you need to change them.
Also check the motor with the body
off and apply power. See if the motor is flexing in its mount. If so, again add
a light drop of adhesive to keep it from rocking in the cradle:)
Sanding the tires on your models
can be done in a variety of different ways. One easy method is to simply use
your existing track for power. Just take a rubber band and wrap it around your
controller to hold it down to full throttle. Then, using a medium grit sandpaper sheet, place your
model backwards on the track. Running the car backwards is just easier for you
to control the car and hold it in place.
Next, lower the rear tires on to
the sandpaper and begin sanding. I like to sand my tires is bursts of about 15
to 20 seconds. This helps make sure you don't overheat the motor or the tires.
Fly tires can get warm and sometimes begin to chunk apart. This is why I only
sand in these 15 to 20 second bursts.
Once I sand them a few times it is
time to clean them. A very simple way to clean them is to just roll the tires
across some masking tape as shown. This cleans the tire of any excess tire
debris from sanding. There are many ways enthusiasts like to clean tires. I have
heard of just about a 100 ways from lighter fluid to WD-40 to get these tires
clean. These seem to work I suppose, but simple tape seems to do the trick for
us and it is the method I favor using.
Another option is to build or
purchase a dedicated sanding station. Mine came from Carlson's Slot Cars but you
can easily build one yourself out anything from old spare straights to blocks of
wood with copper tape. A sanding station just makes the process easier for those
times when major tire sanding might be required.
This step is pretty
self-explanatory. Use a light drop of oil on your bushings and each end of the
motor. You can also put a small drop on each of the front axle stubs. Don't use
too much, just enough to do the job.
There are many options you can
choose to add or change on these classics. Many enthusiasts simply change to
silicone tires immediately. Some discard the standard wheels for turned
aluminum. Others replace all the running gear including the axles and gears,
sometimes even the motor.
Personally, I keep my models as
close to stock condition as I can. With the people I race with on a regular
basis, we just enjoy pitting our driving skills against each other instead of
our wallets. Anyone can throw money at these models and make them very fast
magnet (or non magnet) missiles if they so desire. Some racing clubs do just that and I have
seen some incredibly fast classics that rule the local raceway. However, I
simply wanted to show what you can do to improve these models with the very
basics of tuning without having to invest a great deal of time and money.
Finally it was time to see how
these models compared. I soon noticed that the Porsche was hooking up a little
better in the corners, in fact much better than I expected. This model felt like
it was glued to the track and easily bested the Ferrari. Lap times were an
average of 4.2 seconds for the Porsche and 4.4 for the Ferrari.
I took the Ferrari back
to the sanding station and gave it a little more attention. Then I cleaned the
tires with tape and placed it back on the track. I then just cleaned the tires
on the Porsche and time for another run.
This time things were better. My
Ferrari was still not there with the Porsche...but I was getting closer with lap
time averages easily in the 4.3 range with a few 4.2 seconds laps posted as
well.. Another trip back to the sanding and cleaning area and time for a 3rd
try. Finally...there I was running neck and neck with the Porsche. The Porsche
still felt like a more stable model to me, just being a little easier to
Braking and acceleration on both
models were very crisp and the more I pushed them, the better things they
became. Both cars could be shoved deep into even the R1 inner corners before I
had to apply brake and would launch out of them very smoothly. Sometimes I would
brake too late of course and cause the cars to almost slide out from under my
control, but once I chose my braking points I was simply having some great fun
pitting these two classics against one another.
Although the Porsche seems to be
slightly dominant and I have to give it the advantage, I still think these models make for a great match-up. Keep in mind
that different drivers are a huge factor. I have seen drivers with skills much
better than mine (there are thousands if them!) easily beat me even when I
thought I had the hot set up going.
One of the biggest upgrades you
can make in this hobby is not more magnet, new motors, power or control or new wheels or tires...it
is YOU. Practice is by far one of the best things you can do to reduce your
lap times and become more competitive on the track. Countless times I have
witnessed racers begin with a brand new Fly Classic that ran poorly and had slow
lap times, but throughout the course of an afternoon they not only worked on the
model, but on their driving. At the end of the day they were cracking lap times
they thought they would never see.
Should you have to perform this
much work on a car you just paid $50 plus dollars for? Most racers say no, of
course not. I also agree that Fly could improve the quality control of their
products. However, Fly has not changed much over the years (at least in the
Classic line) and it has not
stopped most enthusiasts from buying them. We have grown accustomed to these
issues and we simply deal with them in order to race these beautiful models.
So as much as you hear and see
these negative issues about Fly, they are still one of the best
investments you can make in this hobby.
Because they can be tuned and
transformed into some of the best running models in the hobby. They are also
models that have withstood the test of time. You can purchase this brand new
Ferrari or Porsche and visit my track for a day of racing. I can pull out the very first
cars made in the series and we can have a great day of close, even racing. Same
motor...same magnet...just me against you.
Fly classics on the most part are basically the
same today as they were around 10 years ago (boy I feel old...wait I am old!!). When you look at investing in a
slot car, think of how long you will own and race it with just your friends or
even in larger clubs. While other companies keep heading further into "limited
everything's", or making constant changes to motors, magnets and chassis in the
same series of models...the Fly Classic line is still a series you can invest in
that won't disappear in a few months. Nothing is more frustrating than paying
$40.00-$60.00 on a slot car and when a new livery of that model shows up, you
discover a new motor that makes your first investment not competitive. When you
think Fly models are more expensive, think on the money you would now have to spend to
match that older model with the new release. And with other companies raising
their prices that sometimes surpasses Fly...in the end, the money is pretty
In the racing that I do, I get to
visit many different tracks and have made some great friends over the years. If
there is one series of models that seems to get more race time than others, it
is the good old Fly Classics. With such a large variety to choose from, you can
always pick a car that will compete.
models from Fly are not for everyone, but I enjoy them very much. The small
amount of time I take to correct some of the issues with them is well worth it
and if you enjoy the tuning process, I think you will agree. Scale accuracy
issues aside, I think both the Ferrari and Porsche are both worth a second look
for those enthusiasts who enjoy a challenge. I have so many of these classics
that one would think I have enough. If one thing is true in our hobby it is that
you can never have enough slot cars, and when Fly adds another in the series, it
is only a matter of time before I add it to my stable.
feel free to contact me about this article or just the hobby in general at