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A couple of years ago, a very dear friend of mine, a former top-level RC car racer and former Team Cox pro-racer in the 1960's, died while enjoying his Chrysler Viper at the speed it was intended to reach. What a way to go. Chuck Hallum lived his life the way he wanted, and died the way he preferred. Chuck had terminal cancer.
A couple of years prior to this sad event, Chuck had kindly given his old slot cars to me, because he knew very well that it was one of my favorite hobbies and that I would preserve them for all enthusists to enjoy in the future. Today, I opened the box for the first time in 5 years and had at last some time to check what he had in there, and he had indeed a few interesting "roaches", I.E. Cox "La Cucaracha" examples, quite unusual ones at that, besides other hand built neat cars.



This first pic shows two "roaches", the very first and very last issue, 3 years apart. The firstissued in early 1966 has a nearly transluscent body, the last issued in late 1968 is opaque and has an air intake behind the "engine" and "aero" fins up front, since it followed the mold change due to the issue of the blue "Super La Cucaracha" with the optional chrome roof.



The bottom shows a clearer story with the early version using gray sponge tires on tapered axles/wheels with blind nuts, ball-bearing front wheels, Cox TTX150 motor, the later version using the later longer drop arm, Cox NASCAR motor, setscrew wheels and black sponge tires.

http://www.electric-dreams.com/images/cox-cuc-3.jpg

Another more interesting version is this very early PURPLE translucent body on a chassis fitted with RED tires, surely a factory sample that was never produced. It looks great!



I have never seen another of this color and must assume that it is unique today. I know that Cox usually tried a lot of color combinations as test shots to check customer reactions in "clinics" at the old Cox Center in Santa Ana. I know that I have BEVER seen another set of (now rock-hard) red tires on "Cuc" wheels!





The third car is very interesting because it is Chuck's own "Team Cox" factory racer, a "La Cucaracha" featuring a different hand built chassis and a Cox TTX150 motor with a rewound and balanced armature. The rear wheels and tires are standard Cox items, but the front wheels appear to be Riggen... The driver is BOLTED to the body, certainly because no adhesive could keep the boy too long inside the car under serious racing. Interestingly, there is a piece of the same black paper used in the cockpit of the Chaparral 2E RTR and the IFC Ferrari GT and Chaparral 2D. This car being almost a year earlier, I wonder if the idea came from Chuck?



The # 8 is from the Lotus 40 RTR, a printed sticker. The wheels wells have been generously cut to clear both front and rear wheels. A motor cooling slot has been cut on the back deck, and a hole has been cut to clear the guide post lock ring.



The chassis has no drop arm, which is really strange since the Cuc had the longest drop arm of them all! The body is mounted using a rod going through the rear panel and two side pins on a floating mount. The body shakes a bit on the chassis. Cox lead wires are used and this is the earlieat example of a slot car I have seen with twin lead wires to carry more current.



The bottom of the chassis is simple and strong.



Another view of the chassis and the rewound motor. Chuck used 0-80 screws to hold the end bell, while rewinders at the time were using much larger 3-40 or even #1 self tapping screws.
We unfortunately have no information of when and where such cars were used by Team Cox, but it is certainly during 1966.
Regards,

Doc Pea
 

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Alan Tadd
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Thanks very much for sharing Dr. P......This is the first time I have seen decent photograph's of these cars, although I have heard and read lots about them.

Was the bodyshell prepainted?.

Regards

Alan
 

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That is a VERY funky chassis! I loved those Cucs, tho' never able to afford one at the time. Fascinating, and big thanks, Dr P.
I did get a Cuc Iso chassis which I squeezed into a 1/32 Vacform Olds Toronado- I think the idea came from a Model Cars article- anyone know?- for ECRA racing. Christmas '67? No legal class for 'Thingies' at local clubs, but I did love them.
 

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Dr Pea, in the last two pictures you can see quite clearly that the front wheels have two piano wires in use. The thicker front one is obviously the axle but the rear one? It that a simple spring arrangement?

I'm new to this stuff so I had to ask


Thank you for taking the time to post these pictures, great stuff.
 

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QUOTE Was the bodyshell prepainted?.
Hi,
The Cox "La Cucaracha" body shells were made of colored polypropylene plastic, similar to Tupperware. You cannot paint them because nothing will stick to them, so you have to live with whatever color you get. All the factory-built RTR cars were orange, at the exception of the "Cucaracha GT" which was metallic blue:


Aftermarket bodies were available in the following colors:

plus a couple more. The orange body was never sold separately.

Of course the little 1/32 scale brother was ALWAYS purple, metallic when Cox made them, non-metallic when REH issued their own version in 1970.

QUOTE in the last two pictures you can see quite clearly that the front wheels have two piano wires in use. The thicker front one is obviously the axle but the rear one? It that a simple spring arrangement?
The front wire is free to rotate in the front tubing. The brace is free to move up and down inside the brass tubing retainers, providing the front wheels with a trailing suspention with a stop for extreme cornering.

Doc Pea
 

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Bill, the front axle set-up intrigues me as well.

What it looks like to me (and the good Dr. von Cyclops will most assuredly correct me if I am wrong) is that the front axle arrangement is a slot car amalgam of Porsche trailing arm and DeDion tube suspensions. The actual front axle seems to be 1/16-inch wire pivoting in 3/32-inch brass tube, with the U-shaped "DeDion tube" being .055- or .047-inch wire rattling in 5/32-inch tubes. The arrangement would allow the front wheels to move upward a small amount, as the axle pivots to lift the rear brace to the top of the retaining tubes. I assume the front axle is one-piece, though it is not impossible that it is two-piece, with the cut being hidden in the 3/32-inch tube.

Surely this arrangement was to allow the guide to support the car's front end weight while letting the wheels touch and roll without carrying any significant weight. Quite ingenious for this time period, I would think.

The main rails look to be 3/32-inch tubes but the semi-circular rear brace seems to be 1/16-inch tube or rod inserting into the rear of the main rails alongside the endbell. P, is that correct?

I also notice a few solder joints that to my eye have too little bond area to have much strength, the rear body mount joint, for instance. The front solder joints on the angled tubes bracing the rear axle bracket would have been stronger had they been soldered inside the chassis's perimeter tubes and atop the brass pans. The picture may be fooling me, but if the guide flag bearing is only attached to the front of the chassis by the two visible stubs, it doesn't seem like it would take much of a hit before breaking off.

Still, for 1966, this is a pretty sophisticated chassis.

P, what does the engraving on the bottom of the pan say?
 

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Howmet -- you are close to the right date about the article in Model Cars about squeezing a Cucaracha (never could spell it) chassis under a Oldsmobil Toronado body. If my memory is not playing tricks it was written by Laurie Cranshaw. I will look it up when I get home tonight, but I expect somebody else will have beaten me by then.
 

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The chassis was built by Chuck Hallum (not to be confused with Brit pro and very nice guy Bob Hallums) and Team Cox John Johnson.
The main rails are 1/16" brass rod inside 3/32" brass tubing. The front guide post does indeed look a bit fragile but apparently did not cause any problem, and neither did the rear body mount.

Doc Pea
 

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Howmet,

I have found the relevant copy of Model Cars. It was the May 1967 issue and the article was written by Laurie Cranshaw. He squeezed a 1/24th Cucaracha chassis under a 1/32nd Toronado body by chopping the front axle lugs off and epoxying a new axle tube futher back and the drilling new pivot holes for the guide to get the guide lead distance legal.

We will pause here for a moment to allow Dr.P to recover from contemplating such butchery to such a classic chassis.

.................................

It the same article Laurie also described mounting a 1/24th Russkit Carrera chassis under the same body, using similar methods of modification.

Dr.P. is probably now having a lie down in a dark room.

Lots of people used Cucaracha chassis under big 1/32 US saloons at around that time, when the chassis became available separately. It also fit under the Pontiac Grand Prix or GTOs of the time. There is no advertisement for Cucarachas in the May 1967 issue, but the Russkit Carreras were £5.50, or £5 9s for those who remember pre-decimal curancy. By comparison Charlie Fitzpatrick was selling Classic glassfibre bodies for 40-60p and they are now £5, so at todays prices a Russkit Carrera would be about £55. I think I have seen then offered for £150 plus so chopping them about was probably not a good investment.

It is a bit of a puzzle why Cucaracha chassis worked so well. Russell Sheldon has posted a good explanation of the dynamics of motor torgue and it is certainly true that they were very stable into corners. The theory about low powered motors does not ring true as I used a 1/24th Cuc' chassis under a GT Modols Felday body powered by a Revell Wild One 26D with Arco magnet. It did not lack power and handled well. The fact that they were lighter and lower than any other chassis must help.

Too much nostalgia. Must do some work.
 

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Thanks for that Dick! I remember reading your name often in the magazine at the time- not sure if we ever met though!
Any chance you could scan the article and post it? I'd love to see it again. My Cuc chassis was a Christmas present (I had to give very precise instructions..), and I got a Titan Olds body for it I think.
I always assumed that the principal of the iso chassis was that it allowed all the weight of the motor (the heaviest single item in the car) to act on the guide, and if the front wheels were correctly set up they would also provide some downforce on the guide, but any track bumps would deflect the front wheels rather then the guide- assuming the uneveness is in the track not the slot/tape. But there was a very interesting discussion on the Forum a while ago. Grah argued that inertia acts on the entire chassis and a tendency to lift at speeds would not be affected at all by having the front axle hinged. Or something like that.
But I agree- that Olds was my best handling car for quite a while. Those long W/B US saloons dominated the 1/32 'spts/saloon' class, didn't they? We didn't see many 1/32 M6A's twitching round in serious competition.
 

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Why be ashamed?

Do you thing Ferrari was ashamed when he split up old cars to make the next ones? No.

Racing is about development and being the fastest, not preserving your racecar for future fans (although that is nice...).

It's great that we have some mint, 'out-of-the-factory' cars shown by TSRF, but it's also cool to see pictures of real cars that were raced, and how they were prepared to go as fast as possible.

Cheers Edo!


McLaren
 

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Hi

Amazing stuff.

I never raced anywhere at the time where these chopped up cars would have been LEGAL to race! Every track I knew of had a "No part of the running gear may be visible when viewed from above" rule except for F1s!

Neat stuff.

Fate
 

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Discussion Starter · #19 ·
Prof,

Mostly the Swiss and Italians raced chopped "Cucs" and the Italians even made their own versions of it. The "La Cucaracha" influence in Italy was huge when one considers that the Polistil production cars were directly inspied by the American thingie.
Edo, thanks for showing them.

Doc Pea
 

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Hi guys
that's the way we all raced in 1969 in the italian side of Switzerland and northern Italy. Motors were rewound 26D's. Later the Cuc was raced against the Russkit Porsche 907 but remained the trend up to 1970. There were no rules except the rear axle width (which I do not remember what it was but it was quite wide!)
Here is a Cox Chapparral body I was also using:

I just wished I'd still have one uncut body now!
Best regards
Edo
 
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