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You guys want me to confess my sins? Okay, here's a rule-stretching story from the distant past. Most of my friends know about this anyway, so I'll contribute it to this SF "Hall of Shame".

The old American Model Raceways 220-foot Sovereign track (commonly called a Purple Mile, as 220-feet is a 1/24th scale mile) at Georgia Hobby Center was a T-slot track (BTW I am told that not all AMR tracks were). That is, the slot was routed with a cross slot at the bottom and in profile looked like an upside-down "T" rather than a sans serif "I". It occurred to me that a guide with lips along the bottom of the blade might perhaps hook into the bottom of the slot as the guide tilted, with obvious benefits for a slot car.

So here's what I did: using an appropriate wire-size bit, I drilled a small hole at the very front lower corner of the guide 90 degrees to the blade, about 1/16-inch from the bottom edge of the blade. Then I drilled two holes in the rear lower corner of the blade, starting each hole from the same point on a small flat filed on the narrow vertical rear surface. One hole angled forward to the right at approximately 45 degrees; the other angled left. I then scraped a small groove on both sides of the guide blade, extending from the front cross hole to the rear angled holes. Next, using clear monofilement fishing line of about 10/12-lb test, I put a piece through the cross hole, carrying the ends back along the bottom of the blade and into the angled holes at the rear corners, and out the back edge of the blade. Pulling the two ends of the fishing line as tight as I could, I tied a couple of knots. A few drops of CA to "pot" the fishing line into the two grooves made it almost disappear into the black plastic of the guide. The knots were sealed with CA as well and once the glue was fully hard, I carefully sanded most of the knots way.

What I ended up with was a guide flag with durable, smooth lips along the bottom edges that could be felt but were virtually invisible to the eye. I made certain that the lips did not make the bottom of the guide too wide to fit into the slot in the track tech block, which was always used to check clearance before we raced.

I ran this guide in a race exactly one time (believe it or not!) and it worked VERY well. Though it did not prevent the car from ever coming out, one really had to work hard to get it to deslot. Those viewing the race may have noticed that I wasn't falling off much, but when I overcooked it coming around the tight lead-on onto the long main straight, and the car spun out well over 90 degrees to the slot without coming out of it, eyes really got wide!

There's a follow-up to this story. One well-known racer I will not name was shown the guide after the one time I raced it and he decided he would make one for himself. Unfortunately he used much larger fishing line and also neglected to check whether the modified guide would go into the tech block slot. And when the scrutineer noticed that his guide wouldn't drop into the slot at all, nor could be forced in, the jig was up for him.

I'm willing confess to a few other sins from my misspent slot racing youth, if anyone's interested. There's the tale of the bottomless can as well as the story of the inside-the-endbell shunts, just to whet your appetites . . .

But I'd like to make certain the moderators aren't going to ban me from the BBS for this post before I spill the beans on those! :cool:
 

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Oh, c'mon Rocky, I'm baring my evil soul . . .

Here the tale of the "Bottomless Can."

At the time we were racing stock Parma 16Ds (not sealed units; this was well before sealed motors were being marketed) and we were not proscribed from replacing arms, rebuilding motors, etc. The chassis of choice (heck, IIRC it was the only modern stamped steel chassis available at the time) was the original Parma Flexi, what we now refer to as the Flexi-1.

Even with decent soldering skills, it was not uncommon to knock motors out in hard crashes so I began sweat-soldering my motor cans to the chassis for several reasons. First, sweating the motor onto the chassis meant I NEVER knocked a motor out. Second, doing this made the chassis act as a heat sink for the motor, and running on that Purple Mile the motors would get toasty warm as we geared rather high due to the very long straightaway. The bad part was that I had to build my motors on the chassis, which was a serious pain in the butt. And one had to get the can positioned just right before firing up the torch. But overall, attaching the motor in this manner worked very well.

One problem with this trick was that the older Parma 16D cans were not stamped very crisply and the flat sides of the motors weren't very flat at all. So I began my road to perdition by sanding that side of the motor in order to get better solder contact. After doing this a few times, it occurred to me that I could lower the motor in the chassis by sanding the bottom of the can more than would be required simply to get a full solder bond. I think those old cans were stamped from .040 or .035-inch stock, so I just kept sanding until the bottom face was .025 thick, and noticed improved handling due to the lower center of gravity that resulted. Well, if sanding off a little helped, sanding off more would help more, right? I tried sanding the bottom to .010 thick and yep, the handling was improved further. So I started sanding the bottom of the can to as thin as I could get it. Once the motor was sweated to the chassis, what I was doing was virtually undetectable and my cars handled much better than before.

As I was installing the magnets into a can already soldered to a chassis, I noticed that the 16D magnets were quite a bit narrower than the can itself, perhaps as much as .050-inch. You can guess the next step, I suspect. I just kept sanding the can until the bottom was completely gone and until the curved sides were shortened to just the height of the magnets themselves. The chassis metal itself then acted as the bottom can face, keeping the magnetic field essentially unaffected.

Once the motor as soldered to the chassis, with fillets along the lengths of both sides, the fact that the motor can no longer had a bottom could not be seen, especially with the endbell in place and with the motor bracket shielding the other end of the can from view. Even after I stopped racing this arrangement, when I asked people to look very closely at the chassis and motor, no one ever saw it until I explained what they were looking at.

Of course, I had to move the can bushing a little, to keep the arm concentric with the air gap, as well as to file a bit on the endbell, both to keep it from holding that end of the motor off the chassis and to relocate the bushing to the proper place.

I will admit to racing this setup for an entire series and was pretty hard to beat, because with its much lower center of gravity my car would corner MUCH better than other cars. Was this out and out cheating? Your call, though the rules we then used made no reference to can modifications and my cars passed tech inspection before every race!

I did move on to higher classes after that series, as I knew that the stock Flexi class was no place for that sort of sophisticated workmanship. In fact, it was not until I was conned by a teammate into racing USRA 16D classes about two or three years ago I ever raced anything but a C-can motor.

How many "Hail Marys" for this sin? :cool:
 

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RR, only if you promise not to try any of this sort of shady stuff yourself.

In fact, this is one of my main motivations for 'fessing up after all these years: so scrutineers can have their eyes opened to the sort of things that "innovative" racers will stoop to doing!

BTW it's been well over a decade (longer, in some cases) since these transgressions were perpetrated.

"Hello. My name is Cheater and I have a slot racing problem . . ."

I'll post a couple of more shameless stories in a few hours.
 

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L3,

You shouldn't call yourself a true racer unless you push the envelope every now and then. Mark Donohue called it the "unfair advantage," I believe. :cool:

The problem with me having anything to say concerning RTR 1/32 cars is that I've only ever owned one of them, a Fly Panoz coupe given to me by one of my customers and friends who now heads Panoz Engine Development (I think). When I finally clued him in to my slot racing addiction, and mentioned that Fly had just introduced a 1/32 Panoz coupe, he said, "Yeah, I know. They sent us a couple of cases of them. You want one?" He did send me one and it's the only 1/32 RTR I own. I've run it exactly once.

I'm a little odd (no snickering, please!) in that during the middle 60s, I only ever bought one 1/24 slot car kit, a Dynamic Hussein mail-ordered from AutoWorld, and then moved immediately into scratchbuilding under the tutelage of an older friend: he was 12 and I was 11! When I came back to the commercial hobby in the late 80s (my third spin at slots), scratchbuilding was basically dead so I began running 1/24 stamped steel cars and have continued in that genre ever since. Never did get the wing-car bug.

I guess you won't mind hearing about the inside-the-endbell shunt wires, which came about as I recall from a post-race bull session where another racer was grousing that we ought to be allowed to run shunt wires in 16D motors.

It got me to thinking whether or not I could figure out a way to put hidden brush shunt wires inside the endbell. So I gave it a shot and here's how I did it.

First, I took a Parma 16D endbell plastic and used my Dremel MotoTool to cut vee-shaped slots in the flat areas under the brush hoods, such that with the brush plates and hoods installed, there was no plastic directly under the hoods themselves and the plates completely covered the slots. Then, using a Dremel cut-off wheel, I made a thin slot in each brush plate, aligning the slot with the long axis of the motor brush and centering it on the width of the brush. The slots extended from the small concave "faces" of the plates (toward the comm) back toward the convex curved sides of the endbell itself. These slots almost cut the brush plates in half, but stopped about 1/16-inch before bisecting them. The slotted brush plates were then CA'd into position on the endbell plastic and situated such that the brush plate slots were exposed from the bottom by the vee-shaped slots I had earlier cut in the endbell plastic. I then installed the actual brush hoods in their normal positions atop the now-slotted base plates.

It was common to have a lead wire tab break off these early brass brush hoods and no one cared if you then soldered your lead wire either to the top of the hood or to the screw next to the missing tab. So I broke off the two lead wire tabs and soldered the thin lead wire we used at the time to the screws but carefully routed the tip of each wire between the hood and the endbell's bushing stanchions, turning them down at the tips so they were accessible from underneath the endbell. I think I notched the plastic of the endbell a tiny bit to provide clearance for these lead wire "tails."

I then made two shunt wires out of the commercial material sold for this purpose and carefully soldered one to each of the leadwire tails. These had to be formed into "C" shapes flat against the bottom of the endbell, to allow for movement of the shunts as the brushes wore and to keep them from getting caught in the comm tabs. The shunt wires ran from one side of the hoods and then swept close to the curved sides of the endbell before turning back toward the slots in the baseplate from the other side of the hoods. The very tip of each shunt wire was then twisted tightly together, bent 90 degrees, and inserted through the slot in each brush hood baseplate as far as possible without touching the top of the brush hood.

If you've followed me this far, you're probably wondering just how this was to work? Here's the trick: I took each motor brush and cut it in half, so that I ended up with what looked like two pair of very worn short motor brushes. I then installed the two halves of each brush into the brush hood such that the shunt wire tip sticking into the hood through the base plate slot was clamped between the brush halves by the pressure of the brush spring! I seem to recall that I also filed a shallow groove into each brush half's face to keep the shunt wires centered.

I will leave it to your imagination just how fiddly the final assembly process was!

As with the fishing line guide flag confessed to earlier in this thread, I only ran this one time, for I found to my utter chagrin that it made absolutely no difference in how that 16D motor ran. And the whole process was so time-consuming and delicate that it was probably a good thing that it didn't make the motor go any faster, because then I would have been tempted to do it again! But it did prove to my satisfaction that it indeed was possible to put hidden brush shunt wires inside the endbell.

(Note to anyone coming to the RadTrax Slot Car Convention in May: I still have this endbell, as well as the fishing line guide flag mentioned earlier, and will be bringing the evidence with me to Las Vegas if anyone needs proof of my perfidious tendencies!)

I hope you folks will be kind to me today in spite of my past sins. I stopped by the grocers on the way home tonight to pick up a few things and found to my absolute horror that for the very first time in my life, I was given the "senior citizen discount" by the mere child of a cashier. I didn't request it; she just did it automatically. Oh, the shame and humiliation! I won't even reach the big five-oh for three more months! Please have some empathy for my severely depressed state this evening . . .
 

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Howmet, anything done in 1968 greatly pre-dated my fishing line guide flag, so perhaps he did come up with that on his own.

To tell you the truth, I did not know the track was a T-slot track when I first conceived of that guide mod. My thinking was that when a car begins to come out of the slot, the guide starts to rotate from the nominally vertical running position and that having a wider "flange" along the bottom of the blade would cause it to contact the side of the slot sooner once it began to rotate, helping to keep the guide from coming out of the slot. Of course, the T-slot made it work far beyond my wildest imagination.

Larry, I have been on a mission for years to pass along to as many people as possible what I have learned about making a slot car work better. I've taught motor and chassis building classes in multiple raceways, written and distributed articles, made videos for tracks to lend out, helped newbies at every opportunity (forced advice on many of them, actually), sent free chassis and motors to folks I barely knew, etc., etc. Recently, since I chose to go to Vegas this year instead of the USRA Scale Nats in Portland, I sent unbidden a total of 20 freshly-built and rebuilt S16C and D-can motors to a new friend (we met at last year's Nats) who was attending this event. He was rather surpised to get them. I was very pleased when he ran my motors in three Expert classes and made two mains using them. I just hated to have all those motors not being used.

Our hobby simply must work harder to shorten the learning curve for newbies and inexperienced racers so they do not become frustrated and move on to other activities. It actually pleases me to get beaten by someone I helped when they were starting racing, something that happened last year at the USRA Scale Nats.

And you are absolutely spot on when you say that where there is no competition, racing is far less interesting, far less fun.

The things I have been describing here were not motivated by a desire to win at all costs but were attempts to extend my personal knowledge of how a slot car works. To me, real cheating is running a dewound and/or a knowingly mistagged arm, cobalt magnets hidden in a non-cobalt motor, batteries in the controller, etc. I fully realize that others may take a stricter view.

The last sordid tale I will relate concerns what I have termed the angled-anglewinder. Chassis flex is an important parameter in handling, both the amount and the location of the flex. Running stamped steel cars, we don't have much of an opportunity to play with this factor, but here's something I did to a steel chassis that did prove beneficial, though it is pretty clearly an illegal mod under most rule sets.

I wanted to add flex to a Champion Turbo-Flex chassis and felt that the more flexible I could make the rear portion of the chassis, the better it would handle. Using a flat piece of glass and something like 120 grit wet-n-dry sandpaper, and lighter fluid as a lubricant, I sanded the bottom of the chassis center section while applying downward force only at the rear. After more time than I will admit (hours, not minutes) I was able to taper the chassis from the standard .035 thickness at the front of the center section to roughly .020 at the very rear. After finishing this taper grinding, I glass-beaded the plating from the chassis in a further attempt to gain overall flex. I suppose these actions also removed weight from the chassis, but I never weighed it to check for this as weight reduction was not the intent.

Since I was not trying to be deceitful in what I was doing, when I soldered in the U-shaped rear upright brace, I did not place it at the very rear edge where it would have hidden the thinness of the metal, but rather about 1/4 inch forward of that point. The .020 thickness of the rear of the chassis was fully visible to anyone who looked hard enough.

This did make for a very noticeably better handling chassis, especially on the American Orange we raced on then. After a few weeks, the sharp trackowner spotted what I had done and indicated that he didn't want to see it at tech-in again. I took the hint!

Unfortunately, that's pretty much the last interesting "cheating" story I can relate, so it's time for some of you other "rule benders" to start pounding your keyboards. I've shown you mine, now let's see yours! :cool:
 

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P, my remark was meant to tweak you for the post of yours it followed, not to suggest that you had any slot car cheating stories to tell.

Honestly, you raced under rules that had few limitations. I raced under rules that rivaled stock car racing for the number of restrictions we had to observe. And again I want to point out that in the time frame I was doing this stuff I only raced locally for ribbons. I would never have tried those sort of "innovations" at a money race.

The design and building parts of the hobby are what appeal to me most, more than the pressure of actually racing the cars myself. I would come home from our Friday night race every week and just stare at the car I had run, wracking my brain to come up with some little tweak I could perform to make it faster or better handling the next Friday. Over time, this approach bore fruit. Since I have never been one of the better drivers, I felt I had to have a better car than the rest of the field to have a chance of winning.

I also have tried over the years to come to a better understanding of the factors that are important for making a better slot car, rather than just testing every new part or demon tweak to come down the pike. To apply intelligent thought to improving the product, if you will, rather than just opening my wallet for something being sold as a better mousetrap. Most of the time my ideas were wrong, but as Edison commented, "one learns just as much from failure as from success."

What rankles me is now that feel like I have a good handle on the factors that are important in building competitive slot cars of the types I run, I'm getting too old and decrepit to be able to drive the silly things! :cool:
 

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Fate, that's a great story and it really emphasizes the benefits of understanding the parameters that are important. See my previous post.

Looking forward to meeting you in Vegas next week. Philippe said he's buying all the beer all weekend. Right, Philippe? :cool:

Okay, who is next? I've spilled my guts out and know for a fact that there are others besides Fate who have some juicy slot racing confessions to relate.

Russell, you must have some stuff to add to this thread!
 
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