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Chassis building

14411 Views 108 Replies 15 Participants Last post by  howmet tx
I'd love to see more pics of chassis in all their wonderful variety- especially with build details, too. Graham has some fantastic ideas, I see, and Russell sets the mark for craftsmanship so far, but let's see some more! I especially want to know about ideas for improved handling (doh!)
Mrs Howmet has promised to knit some prizes for the most interesting posts.

To set the ball rolling, herewith my first go at a 1/24 'retro' car, '67 period or thereabouts. Straightforward brass/piano wire inline with drop arm and floppy outriggers. Still looking for an appropriate motor.....

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Truly fabulous workmanship, Howmet! There is no way that I can build to that standard! How did you align all the brass rods before soldering it all together so accurately?

On the subject of 'retro' scratch-built chassis, this is a great website. It showcases some amazing work, such as this replica of a 1967 John Cukras in-line chassis:

Here's the link showing how to build it. Fantastic stuff!

Kind regards

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Well howmet, you did say chassis in all their wonderful variety!

This first one was made from Airfix bits, a ginger beer can and a couple of lumps of brass for the bearings. I'm sorry Russell but this would show a clean pair of heels to that Cukras any day - to start with it's got three more wheels

My second humble offering is a "SIMPLE HOME-MADE F1 CHASSIS":

As is evident from the blobs of solder all over it, this has been rebuilt several times for different wheelbase and motors. I never kept old chassis (and you can see why
) but just took them apart and re-used the bits!

In original configuration this ran with sponges, a 26D set flush to the bottom of the chassis and a Betta Renault RS01 shell (Jabouille). A simple, solid handler that easily bent back into shape when pranged!
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Nice work Howmet,re the period motor if you can find an endbelldrive 16d of the time I can rewind you an armature 60x 32 would be about right ,might not be as fast as the parma but ,the smell of those ptfe endbells
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O goodie, goodie, goodie! Wild and wacky chassiseses, just what I wanted!
I love that Scratchbuilt site, but it seems to have gone a bit quiet lately.. is anyone involved there on this forum?
Thanks for the kind words, Russell. I really enjoyed building that. Lining up the rails is not difficult- drop in some aluminium spacers so they don't get soldered in by mistake.
There was a great deal of craftsmanship went into those old brass and steel chassis- a lot of pride involved in making it look aesthetically right as well as performing well.
I loved reading those old step by step building articles in the slot car mags- Anyone want to do a similar thing here with current ideas?
I love hearing about those 'alternative' ideas, too- plastic and wood and whathaveyou.
Thanks fellas. Keep 'em rolling.
And I forgot- thanks for the offer of help, Graham, but the only authentic bit I have got already is a precious old Dyna-rewind armature. What I need is the magnets... Arcos? And one of those bullet-proofed endbells- Oh yes, the smell of burning PTFE- my very first hallucinagenic high....
If I look hard enough I might find a rikochet mk 1 ,they had good mags I used to wind them a lot ,give me a few days to search through the boxes at the back of my shed you never know whats lurking there.
Thats a very nice and well built chassis, should work a treat at the next Tottenham Retro race at NLondon. The rules give inline cars a weight advantage [100g] compared to anglewinders [120g] , Ian Fisher at our club has a similar design [3 rail with drop arm] which is up there with some of the anglewinders!. There are some nice repro bodies for your chassis by Lancer and Russkit [see Chas Keeling at SCD he might still have a few, not cheap but nice], these are sort of semi scale but look really good once spayed up. I notice you have one of the new "translucent" Jet Flags fitted, some people have noticed that they can give lap counting problems on certain tracks that use photocells so its worth checking next time you use it
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QUOTE rikochet mk 1 ,they had good mags
The Rikochet mk 1 was a great motor - good value too!

Thinking of Riko, I'm not sure if this commercial chassis is strictly eligible here but just for old times sake:

The motor here is a 26D sized Riko - a Rikoflash I think
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Hey! Mr Secchi!
Thanks for the tip about the races...I'll do my best to be there. As soon as I can get a motor sorted. Unless modern Parmas are permitted!
Can you post some of your work? I know it's gorgeous.
And I didn't intend this to be a low-down scrounge, Graham, but if you find anything in your shed, let me know.... Thanks! I lost all of my gear years ago, probably when I went to college and Mum and Dad demolished my old bedroom. Health hazard, they said. Probably right.
Commercial chassis have their place too JP. No need to be shy. As if you needed telling.
I hoped this would all be about chassis, but here's a top view of my nostalgia wagon, painted from memory......

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Seeing as the thread has become a showcase for vintage and retro chassis rather than a 'how to', here's one for Howmet:-

It's a 1/32nd scale 1967 STP Howmet Paxton Turbine. The real car was fondly called 'Silent Sam' and it very nearly won the 1967 Indianapolis 500, with Parnelli Jones at the wheel. Jones had led 171 of the 200 laps, and with 197 laps in the bag and only three laps - 7 1/2 miles - to go, he coasted to a stop in the pits. A $6.00 ball bearing had failed in the critical gearcase.

The car was given to me by Dennis Samson (Gascarnut on this forum), about 20 years ago! Unfortunately, neither Dennis nor myself know who originally built it, other than the fact that it was a South African slot racer. There were a number of very competitive 1/32nd scale clubs in South Africa that were formed in the early to mid 1960's and cars were generally constructed to a very high standard. One such club is Ecurie Elite Model Racing Car Club (EEMRCC) in Durban, which was founded in 1963 and is still active today.

I'm not too sure when it was built. Lancer brought out the Paxton Turbine body soon after the Indy 500 race of May 1967, so the car could have been built anytime between mid-1967 and mid-1968.

The chassis is a two-piece arrangement, with a commercially made nickel-plated 'U' bracket (made by Champion?). The bracket is mounted to a brass rod space-frame, which also carries the pin-guide.

An 18 gauge thick brass plate, contoured to the bulbous shape of the body, mounts loosely via countersunk brass screws below the frame, and the body attaches by way of two more screws that thread into Perspex mountings glued into the inside of the body, thus giving the chassis a 'rattler' effect. It has a Champion 517 motor, but it probably originally had a Champion 507.

The wheels are 1/8th inch threaded Cox magnesium five spoke American mags (although I think that the real Paxton used Hallibrand wheels). It is shod with Cox rubber tyres.

Kind regards

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This is not so much how I do it as how I used to do it.

These are some of my chassis from the early seventies and they lean more towards JohnP's philosophy on chassis building rather than the perfection of Howmet's.

I adopted the view that function was more important than form and as long as it handled well, it's appearance was incidental.

These three chassis were all built for an F1 championship series that ran from about 1970 to 1977 in a small club I belonged to. They were basically a frame with different shaped body mounts to fit whichever Betta shell was fitted to it at the time and I adopted the unsentimental Enzo Ferrari approach of cutting it up when it had served it's purpose and using the parts for the next car.

The McLaren chassis is a prime example of this as you can see it's been cut in half and soldered to a different body shaped sheet, for all I know it may not even have been the front and rear halves of the same chassis and the U-bracket has obviously been used more than once.


Ferrari Chassis


Lotus Chassis

McLaren Chassis

I used conventional materials apart from cutting up drink cans and flattening out the metal and cutting it to the shape for the body.

The shells were painted in the days before decals were freely available hence the freehand "artwork" of the team liveries!!

These cars have survived the last 30 years in a box and I stumbled across them a year or so ago and it was fun to get them running again.

Recently I built a scratchbuilt chassis for the first time since the seventies and it was a fun exercise, I learnt from that and intend to have a serious go at a chassis this year - depending on how it turns out I'll post the pictures.

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From memory the standard "Chinese" Super 16D motor is eligable and probably performs as well as any period "Hot" motor!
Regarding your Dyna armature, there is a supplier in the States called Fastrax [go to Cyberslot and click on "Parts Counter" then see the vintage page on the drop menu] that had a good selection of vintage motor parts, don't know if he still has them but he did have the old "one hole" Champion 517 cans with the big bronze bearing in black and chrome [like the Holy Smoke motor] and the bullit proof endbells, he also had the same in Champion 617 [26D] bits but in this case he also had Arco's with the shims! worth a try.
Have not built much retro for a while apart from a "Buzco" all brass iso/drop arm anglewinder kit but i do intend to build a 4" inline [no pans] chassis, thinking of doing a copy of the Terry Schmitt chassis that PDL posted somewhere, are there any more pictures of this chassis anywhere [Mag articles?]
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Ok, I suppose somebody has to hold up the low end, so feast your eyes on this beautiful entry. Brass tubing with ninco spare parts and prof. motor engine. It is glued and fitted into the model kit chassis. All built to my own highly exacting standards using only the finest solder and super-glue! Kidding aside it runs very smoothly for such a quick and dirty job.
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Regarding Russell's post on the Paxton Turbine:

I think now, looking back into the mists of my memory, that the car was built by Albert Buckley, and given to me by Heinz Schafferer before I transferred it to Russell (who will remember those names).

In the mid 70's in SA there were a number of slot car constructers who were jewellers, dental technicians, machinists, etc in real life and they produced many of these little gems, and set a standard for construction that we all aspired to but seldom (except for Russell and a very few others) ever achieved.

I have not done any slot building since 1989, so this new project is a real throw-back to what I did back then. It's not complete yet, but it's getting there:

This one will be fitted with a V12 and is intended to go under a TSP Porshce 962. It follows the type of construction we used back then for the 1/32 wing cars we ran, so I have real idea whether it is going to work with rubber tires and magnets, but that's part of the fun, right?
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Well, not quite as vintage or as pretty as Howmet's brass rod frame, nor as cool as Russell's turbine car (though I was around at that time), but from just a few years later, here's my oldest surviving 1/32 chassis - a "plumber" style anglewinder from about 1970-71 if I recall correctly. It was a great runner and won for me several times. All brass, except for the guide mount, is 1/16". Last motor in it was a short-stack custom Mura, balanced single 27 wind, cut-down Arco mags, fully heat-sunk endbell with 36D brushes - still have the motor! 3/32 axles, ball bearings at the rear. The last body I recall using on it was a vac Porsche 917/30(?) with interior, screened vents, etc., done up as Mark Donahue's Can-Am car, that won concourse for me - not sure if Lancer was the maker or not and I don't even recall the year (age

(Sorry about the pic quality, I don't have a digital cam and these were done on my flatbed scanner!)

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Wow. My cup runneth over and dribbleth down my chin and onto the keyboard and sticks to the fluff between G and H.

This is fantastic! We've got, let me see, tin cans, coat hangers, circuit board, brass plate and rod reverse plumber iso angle blather burble......

Love them all! The black arts are not lost!

I'd like to nudge the tiller a touch back towards current trends, though, much as I love the retro stuff. What are the best handling set ups round and about? Home tracks, club tracks, magnet and non- ? How many hinges do the cool guys use these days, and where? Stuff like that. Every club prefers a different set up usually.

One last retro thing..does anyone have one of those X frame Team Bog chassis from back then? I was trying to figure out how they worked. All I remember is that the main rails crossed over before they got to the front axle, but I'm blowed if I can work out how... or why?
Howmet, did they actually cross over, or just converge in the center of the car and flare back out again? I built one like that. The idea was to give the front end more twist going into a corner but have it snap back at corner exit - like having suspension in a way. My chassis above accomplished it by using small diameter rails to the front axle instead. The front wheels had lots of vertical flex and lateral twist but would remain "loaded" and wanted to return to a flat state. Rail diameter and degree of freedom was critical, and very much a reflection of the driver's style - then, as now, many felt that the front wheels did serve a purpose and felt that the "tripod" chassis wasn't necessarily the ultimate - I still think the front wheels help in turns but hinder on the straights, and I've always built my chassis so the front tires 'barely skim' the track on straights but are there for stability in turns. I don't recall an actual "cross-over" design but then again, there were SO many chassis developments back then that it was almost impossible to keep pace, or even understand half of the design rationales used!

PS - I don't want to know why there's fluff between your G and H keys...
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Nice chassis fergy

Re the x frame thing they did cross over I built one using flat spring steel out of windscreen wiper blades but it seemed a bit too flexy .I later tried connecting the left side of the chassis to the right front wheel and vice versa ,but that was way back when I used to keep the front wheels on the deck.I dont think it really worked but it looked cool at the time
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Thanks, Grah!

On the 'X' frame idea... wouldn't one side be much more "loaded" than the other? I mean, wouldn't one side of the front be free to twist while the other side would have to actually twist against the cross-over too? Or am I missing something (as usual!
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