SlotForum banner

1971 Tottenham Sidewinder

5998 Views 29 Replies 17 Participants Last post by  superhornets
Now there are a lot of things I should be doing, and this isn't one of them. But it's raining outside, I've been rummaging through my bits box, and felt the irresistable urge to do something utterly pointless and indulgent. The last car I ever built in my '1st phase of slot racing' (ca 1965-1971) was a radical 'straight Sidewinder'. After Bob Emmot's big Tottenham Open win in 1969, the next American 'Big Gun Pro Racer' to visit North London was Champion's Ed Lewis. Although less successful, he introduced the idea of the 'Straight Sidewinder', taking the trend to reduce the 'angle' in anglewinders to the logical limit. Now this style really caught on in 1970/71 in both scales, until the disadvantages began to be realised (more on that later?), and indeed, the fashion never really made a mark in the U.S. itself as far as I'm aware.

Anyway, with the intention of getting the mass of the motor as close as possible to the rear axle, and to minimise the 'conflict of rotational forces' between the back axle and angled motor, and other fancy theories, but mainly slavishly copying Ed Lewis and Barry Magee, me 'n my mates immediately jumped on the bandwagon. Now to achieve the 'zero' angle, a lot of the motor can has to be removed, and indeed, a slot has to be cut into the magnet for axle clearance. My abiding memory of the time is sitting with my mate in his garage, listening to John Peel on the radio, and hacking into my precious Mura 'B' can with a needle file. It did indeed take all weekend, but we were happy. Fuelled by R. White's and the occasional fishpaste sandwich provided by Tony's mum. Bless her.

I made a conventional brass chassis around the butchered Mura, and used it to about as much success as I ever managed- decent result at the next Nordic Open, good runs at my regular Richmond Vineyard club- me 'n Tony thought we were pretty cool. But about a week later we both sold our entire slot boxes in order to get tooled up with amps 'n axes to form our spotty faced answer to Hawkwind and tour the free festivals with adoring women clutching at our flared jeans and cavorting naked on stage. Which never actually happened. For me, anyway.

But back to the rummaging about. I found a 'Model Cars' report on the January '71 (I think) Tottenham open, which was dominated by straight sidewinders, and won by Ronnie Spencer jr., racing a beautiful Jim Empson steel chassis with a cool mash-up motor of Mura arm and Champion can. I've never tackled a steel chassis, and have always wanted to give it a go. And what's this in my bits box? A beat-up reject Champion can. A Mura arm and endbell. And a sheet of stainess steel. Fire up the Heat Wand! Fresh needle files over here! Quick quick, before the mood passes....

We're leaping ahead a bit here, cos I got too excited to take photos. The Champion can had already been cut up a lot so I didn't feel bad about razoring through one side with the Dremel. I would like to say that it was a simple job to solder on the axle tube, but it wasn't.

The can sprang apart in a twist, and I had to spend a lot of time with vice, hammer and vernier to bend it straight again. But after taking a lot of measurements, I realised that by using the Champion case shim, 3/32" (rather than 1/8") axles and the same 7:36 Cox gearing that all the Tottenham finalists used in that race, I wouldn't have to cut the magnets. Using a Mura can without inner shim, 1/8" axle and smaller 7:34 gears as we did back at the time made the whole job a lot harder. And would have saved a lot of R.Whites & fishpaste.

More to follow if anyone's interested.
See less See more
1 - 2 of 30 Posts
QUOTE Now I seem to remember that for a brief period of time around 1970 those cars that had a lump carved out of the centre section (drop arm) were known as "Frogbiters"
does anyone else remember this ,and if so what was the origin of the rather strange name?

Yes Tony I certainly remember the term "Frogbiter" but I think by then names for chassis design had stopped having any logical meaning and were just plan weird!
QUOTE most notably Phil Enos, who produced special space saving 'boss-less' rear wheels under the 'Top Gear' name

Sorry Russell, but it was Fred Greaves who produced the Top Gear products, not Phil Enos. I actually won my first big open meeting at Oaklands using Fred's tyres and raced under the Top Gear banner for a bit. Fred was a character (so was Phill Enos) and he called his ready tyred tyres "Long John's" because everybody else at that time called them Combies..short for combinations.
1 - 2 of 30 Posts
This is an older thread, you may not receive a response, and could be reviving an old thread. Please consider creating a new thread.