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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Well i thought i might post another interesting car( 1 of 2 i have ).This is from a prototype 3 lane portable set made by G.H.Riches from Kent.the 1st article on these cars appears in the model car news in jan.1947,so the set must have been made in 1945-46.The body(an ERA) is handmade from copper & the figure is also handmade.In fact everything about the car is handmade including the motor,chassis,wheels with the molded brakes.It uses a worm gear.But the most interesting thing about the car is the amt turnpike like pickups.The cars pickup was inserted in the channel under the track. The cars could skid in the corners but could not come out of the slot.There were 3 late model ERAs made but i think the 2 i have may be the only ones left.There is a mention of Riches in Roger Greenslades book.Theses cars were made 2-3 years before Charles Woodlands beautiful maserati.I hope you enjoy these pictures of our hobbys history.thanks,Bernard[/img]
 

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We love them Bernard!

The trolley type pickup was actually a pretty common feature of many of the early slot car patents in the 20s & 30s - but this may well be the first one actually made! And it is amazing how much it resembles the AMT Turnpike. If I remember right, a lot of the other systems in the patents had more side contacts...

Don
 

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Don't kid yourself Zen, tire traction has always been a problem!

But there were two mitigating factors: speeds were lower, so tires not quite as important; and a lot of the early wood tracks used sandtex paint! (maybe they still do...) That's what Jeff had on his rail track at Brooklands in 2000 and I was amazed at how just about any tire would hook up, even the old ones, stiff with age...

Bring back Sandtex!

Don

PS: those six contacts are kind of an analogue digital chip, if you know what I mean...
 

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Hi Bernard
You know how much I love these early quirky cars but I am sorry othat I have to disagree about the motor being hand made as it looks to be a variation or modification of the 1940's Romford Motor Unit
even down to the strange shape of the magnet at the bottom of the armature



Still It is a Great Car!
john
 

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Discussion Starter · #8 ·
Hi John you are right ! i had never seen this motor before & it looked rather crude.But this is great because it helps document the details of the cars.Thanks,Bernard
 

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The Romford was used a lot in the late 1940's and early 1950's.
There are several patents applied for and some granted (mostly because patent research was not as easy as today) for various types of track contact. For example, the Henri Baigent patent on the "zonkers" should never have been granted since both Lionel and Marklin had previous art.

Regarding Bernard's car. from the new book "Electric Dreams" still in the final writing stages:

QUOTE Other examples of early experiments, two different racing sets were engineered and constructed by R.T. Ritches, one using 1/24 scale models of 1939 ERA automobiles on a 3-lane setup and with lane changes to equalize distances between lanes. This was a similar system to that of the 1963 AMT Turnpike, with little trolleys under the track providing the current pickup. The bodies were made of copper sheet and even the motors were hand built. This was shown in Model Car News in January 1947 and in the Autocar the same month.

What is truly amazing is that one of the cars... survived!

 

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Discussion Starter · #11 ·
ACTUALLY PHILLIPE I HAVE 2 OF THE 3 CARS.1 IS RED & THE OTHER IS OFF WHITE(I THINK,IM COLOR BLIND)I GUESS YOU WILL HAVE TO CHANGE THE INFO ON THE MOTOR.JUST IN TIME.IM REALLY LOOKING FORWARD TOWARD YOUR BOOK BEING PUBLISHED.THANKS,BERNARD
 

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Discussion Starter · #15 ·
Hi,I recently found the original Model Cars issue from January 1947 on the Riches system. So here it is. I also put a closeup of the motor. It probably is a Romford motor but it is a little different from the wonderful & rare motor shown by John. Its strange how they look like they were cut or grinded by hand.Thanks,Bernard
 

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Yep, if John hadn't shown that photo of the motor and box, I would have thought these were hand-made... the arm looks very different as you say, and it may have been modified to fit that chassis.

Don
 

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Hi Guys
missed that one first time round so it was nice to reacquiant my self with these pioneering models
Interesting too on the forensics of the motor and the comment that the magnets appeared hand ground.
Well thats probably because they were ,and was the reasons why motors and in particular miniature motors were so expensive to make in the early years.
The lack of small reliable cheap motors was probably what held back electric car racing until the 50s as there were several sets made in the decades before that ,but never caught on because the masses couldn,t afford them.

cheers tony
 

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Very perspicacious comment Tony! I agree that it was definitely the cost that limited distribution of the early systems, not just the motors, but also the ease and expense of producing some kind of body. It was both easily injectable plastics and cheaper motors that helped in the 50s! Of course, until Mabuchi came along, Pittman and similar motors were still a pretty significant expense, at about $5 or more.. not sure about the UK scene.

Don
 

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Discussion Starter · #19 ·
Hi,heres some photos of one of the Riches cars from 1946 next to its evolution in the AMT Turnpike cars from the USA in 1962. 16 years later. I guess neither system was very successful.
Both systems were very advanced,the Riches cars even had brakes.But even though the cars could drift in the corners they still couldnt flip or crash.This and the cost of the complicated systems I think spelled their doom.
Thanks,Bernard
 

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Interesting comparison Bernard, thanks!

That's the other thing that struck me about all the early electric tabletop racing systems: the guide devices and control systems are incredibly complicated! It was only when they were vastly simplified that things really took off...

Don
 
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