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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Sad news here:
The creator of the Swedish Flat Iron Thingie, Ronny "Spader" Hellquist, has passed away.

Spader was a well-known figure in the Swedish slot racing community in the 1960s and 1970s, as the head
Tech Inspector/Rule Maker for the National Slot Car Racing Association in Sweden. In later years Spader also
claimed quite a bit of international fame with the unique, dual-motored Flat-Iron Thingie, now residing with
Don Siegel in Paris.

I got a phone call from Ronny's daughter Sophia some time ago, telling me of Spader's demise. She also wanted me
to help cleaning up among her father's things, and especially take care of the hobby stuff and slot car remainings.
How could I refuse?

So, effectively and in practice, I've now inherited the famous Spader slot car racing legacy.
There were quite a lot of stuff to sift through, both in Spader's apartment and in his basement storage compartment,
not least a lot of paper works from his substantial career in the slot car racing associaton. But also lots of parts and
creations from a variety of fields in the hobby landscape: Boats, airplanes and cars, with and without R/C. I found a
mold for a new design of a boat propeller, among other things.

Of special interest was of course the slot car racing remainings. The Flat Iron is perhaps quite well-known in the inter-
national slot community by now, but there are also quite a lot of other things from the workshop of Spader that's quite
interesting and remains to be seen. We know that he not only did scratchbuild his chassis with utmost perfection, but
that he also hand-carved the wooden masters for his vac-formed bodies. But I had no idea that he also had made a
precision machined metal master plug for making his very own motor cans (modified 16D-size). As just an example...

Not least in the chassis department did Spader's mind apparently wander quite freely, and when time permits I'll
put up some pics and info of new and quite unique designs with odd materials and creative motor arrangements
that can be found in this treasure trove.

As for the Flat Iron, there were also a few bits and pieces of this legendary creation in Spader's remnants.
Not yet a complete car, but enough parts to further expand our knowledge of the Flat Iron's history some more.

A picture tells more than a thousand words, and below are pictures enough for a whole novel. Happy reading!

Above are the Flat Iron-related parts I've so far identified in the Spader legacy: Two bodies and a few bits and pieces
for a dual-engined chassis. One of the bodies is in almost pristine condition, but has also a broken and lost part in the
front. Unfortunately. Note the special "bulb holes" in the body for the front wheels, a feature not found on any other
know Flat Iron version. The overall finish of this body indicates that this may be a late (the last?) incarnation of this car.

The other body, on the other hand, is perhaps the most famous and well-known version of Spader's Flat Iron car.
At least here in Sweden, as this is the one "everybody" remembers from back in the day, as this version was represented
in pictures and articles in period magazines and books.

Below is the very same body representing the Flat Iron in the book "Hur man kör miniracing" (How to drive slot cars)
from 1968 (top pictures), and also an article from the magazine Allt om Hobby (Everything Hobby), also from 1968.
(To the best of my ability, I've also tried to translate the swedish article's text into english for your convenience.
See below the following pics):

From the book "Hur man kör miniracing" (How to drive slot cars), 1968.

Enhanced pictures from the book above and the magazine below, 1968.

Article from the "Allt om Hobby" (Everything Hobby) magazine, 1968.

Translation: (Remember, this was all written back in 1968:)

QUOTE Swedish future racer

"Spader Mk 4C" is a car that, as time goes by, seems ever more and more spectacular and amazing. As of this writing i
t has yet to be raced "for real", but it is still regarded as maybe the fastest, most powerful and most road-hugging [slot car]
that has ever existed.

Builder/owner is Ronny Hellqvist - commonly known as "Spader" - who has sacrified most of his spare time during four
months to produce this car. The result is significant: The car is without exaggeration the most carefully developed slot racing
car existing in Sweden today.

While the outer appearance of"Spader Mk 4C" is totally different from anything else running on a track, the most interesting
parts of the car is hidden beneath the body shell, namely the power source, two Dyna Rewind 16 motors.

They give the car great capabilities, not only as a sprint racer, but also as an enduro work horse. The twin motors is driving
the rear axle via two Taylormade gears that Spader has machined away most of the unnecessary metal from. The gearing
is 12-52, giving a ratio of 4,3:1.

The adjustment of the twin motors are of utmost importance, as it's not as easy as getting the gears to just run smooth and nice.
The most important part is how the armatures in the motors are adjusted against each other.

With one arm in its "normal" resting position between the magnetic poles in the motor can, the arm in the other motor should
be forced/adjusted to stand halfway between the poles. And vice versa. Pretty tricky, but once the "ignition" is set correctly the
car will run like a red hot javelin.

The rear axle is running in three bronze bearings, that some day soon may be exchanged for ball bearings. The axle is locked
sideways, not in the ordinay way by the wheel rims against the outer bearings, but in the center; on both sides of the middle
third bearing are two aluminum collars on the axle locking it in position.

When the rear axle takes a hit, the force is thus directed towards the middle with a strong double bearing bracket, instead of the
weaker single brackets on each side.

Up front independent rolling front wheels are also springed independently. The wheels are mounted on 1/16" music wire
suspended in the chassis by small foam cushions. The suspension is stiffened by a strip of plastic sheet between the wheels.

The chassis is of the type iso fulcrum, translated loosely as "even weight distribution". The ordinary swing pick-up arm is absent,
instead the rear mechanics, the motors and the pick-up guide are mounted on one chassis unit, while the front wheels and the
body are mounted on the other chassis unit with a hinge just in front of the rear wheels.

On the "Spader Mk 4C" the front and rear chassis units are attached to each other by just two small rubber flaps. But there's no
need to worry about strength. Thanks to a "sandwich" construction, consisting of aluminum and plastic sheets glued together,
the chassis is rather flexible in the joint. The hinge system with rubber flaps is in fact incredibly strong, even stronger than a
system with nuts and bolts.

The body is, like most of the car, a piece of work by Spader's own hands. In "Mk 4C", the figure 4 stands for the fourth incarnation
of the chassis, while the letter C represents the third version of the body. Accordingly, Spader has three times whittled and carved
a fitting fantasy body in balsa wood, and from that master made a shell by vacuum forming a vinyl plastic sheet.

An article about a different iteration (purple) of the Flat Iron was also run in yet another period magazine at the time.
Pictures below, the full article (with translation) can be seen here.

"Purple Haze" (above) was another version of the Flat Iron.

There were at least four different chassis versions of the Flat Iron (the very first based on dual Dynamic
16D can-drive motor brackets) and at least five different versions of the body shell (all five can be seen
in this posting). How many more versions there were in different states of completion, God only knows.
The only complete version of the Flat Iron known to exist today resides with Don Siegel in Paris (below).

Further reading about the history of the Flat Iron can be seen here.

1,642 Posts

Sorry to hear that Mr. Hellquist has pasted away. His, " Flat iron " is one cool design! Like the idea that the design evolved/redefined over time. The last one looks to be a really smooth down/out version of number 1
Kind of reminds me of the Shinoda Bullet & the Noda Bullet #2,(enclosed rear wheels version). I can see the flat iron inspiration in/for this design. Will be interested in seeing what other designs he had, Thanks for sharing ravajack

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