SlotForum banner
1 - 20 of 22 Posts

·
Administrator
Joined
·
9,792 Posts
Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Here are a couple of early slot cars I just picked up on ebay (thanks to my US friend, since there was no foreign shipping). From the USA.

That's a Merit Vanwall and what I assume is a Strombecker Mercedes, since I don't think Merit made that one. They've got a Pittman DC-703 train motor (predecessor to the 704-706 series designed specifically for slot cars) mounted in the front for front-wheel drive! From what I've seen, that's not so unusual at the time, since it was one way of addressing traction problems! These cars seem to use the kit wheels forced on the axles, but not totally sure about that, since they run very round! Not sure about the tires either, and they're obviously very hard now.

Perhaps the most interesting part is the pickup system, since it seems to be made for contact rails inside the slot, or possible for a sheet metal track, although I would opt for the in-slot system, given ground clearance and all that...

Simple, but effective conversion inside, with a combination of glued in plastic and screws. Plus a very modern system of separating lead wires from motor and to the pick up... and that's a very clever, but simple home-made pin pickup!

Don











 

·
Anthony Bartlett
Joined
·
3,255 Posts
very nice Don - and actually not bad looking cars for the age !
 

·
Administrator
Joined
·
9,792 Posts
Discussion Starter · #3 ·
Thanks Anthony; in fact that was the comment of my US friend, who says they're the nicest ones yet to come through the way station!

The more you look at these Merit and Strombecker models, the more you wonder why 1/24 scale didn't become the standard in early rail/slot racing... (well, I guess they came out after 1/32 rail was established in England, but still, compared to the work of making a wood or fiberglass body...)

Don
 

·
Premium Member
Joined
·
294 Posts
QUOTE That's a Merit Vanwall and what I assume is a Strombecker Mercedes, since I don't think Merit made that one.

Hi Don,
I'm pretty sure Merit did make the Merc as I seem to remember having one somewhere, although the one you have may well be a Strombecker. The light tartan pattern on the seat always stuck in my mind as being very out of place in a German car!

Mike T
 

·
Tony Condon
Joined
·
3,044 Posts
Hi Mike
you are right merit did make one ,as dan wilson built me one for the race up at NLSME a couple of years ago although i dont think the merit one was yellow so don could be right about it being a strombecker kit
nice finds though
Re the tartan in the 1954/55 mercs you obviously didn,t google the Mac neubauer taran
Don I think I may have mentioned this before ,but I believe that one of the reasons UK decided on 1/32 as opposed to 1/24 was the influence of theSMEC kits at the time and the fact that if you built a merit then you had to source wheels and tyres
while there were plenty of craftsman around at the time that could do this I suspect that a lot of others took the easier ? option of carving the wooden bodies .Additionally there did seem in those days to be lots of plastic bodies and gears around 1.32 scale in woolworths
Its interesting that when MRRC did 1/32 wheels they were exactly the same as the SMEC wheels ,Possible made be the same engineering source

cheers tony
 

·
redstar
Joined
·
1,601 Posts
Hi Don,there are fantastic. The mercedes is a Strombecker,though Merit also made one. I would have liked to have see the track. Do you know where these cars were raced ? Thanks for sharing them with us & congradulations.Bernard
 

·
Administrator
Joined
·
9,792 Posts
Discussion Starter · #7 ·
Unfortunately not Bernard. Chuck bought these for me from a seller who didn't want to deal overseas (or even talk to us...), and didn't know anything more about the set.

Don
 

·
redstar
Joined
·
1,601 Posts
Sorry for some of our rude backward folks here. I will always help you as well if you need anything.
Bernard
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
402 Posts
HI

I did hear back from the seller (I hope you got that email Don!!) that they were found at an estate sale for one, James Tabor, in Connecticut. (New England/east coast of the US). I tired to Google him but without success. It would be great to have more information and those cars are really nice and for their age, are in excellent condition.

all my very best,

Charles
 

·
Administrator
Joined
·
9,792 Posts
Discussion Starter · #11 ·
Chuck, I'm sure I got that, but I must have forgotten it!

Just checked the Richard Dempewolff book, published in 1963, which has quite a bit on early US clubs and tracks. Two guys listed under Eastern tracks in Connecticut, but neither with that name. (things were still small enough at the time for the author to include two pages of listings of clubs/individuals with tracks across the country!)

However, there is a photo with a caption saying: "On another Connecticut club's track coils of printer's lead, lining the slots, serve as contact strips".

And on an earlier page, "These home-built cars use long wire feelers to pick up electric current, which is carried by a metal lining that forms the slots sides" (p 51)

Maybe a match... ? Can't scan for now, but will add pics as soon as I can...

Don
 

·
Administrator
Joined
·
9,792 Posts
Discussion Starter · #12 ·
Thanks for the reminder Chuck!

Here are the scans from the Richard Dempewolff book, and it looks like we've got a match.... maybe that's even one of my cars in the parade behind the Rolls-Royce!

Don







And a list of all the Eastern tracks/clubs/enthusiasts known at the time. There were a few more in the West and about twice as many in the Midwest... The city of the likely group is Cheshire, Connecticut.

 

·
Administrator
Joined
·
9,792 Posts
I was looking back at these cars yesterday (after spending an hour trying to remember where I had put them - in a Strombecker 1/24 Mercedes GP box of course!), and I had paired them with two slightly more recent cars, also with an unusual pickup system - but this time, couldn't track down the track! I did get excited for a few minutes when I found them, thinking they might be from that mythic New Jersey slot track that supposedly dates to 1948, but I guess not.

Date would seem more like 1964-65, based on the motor: a plain Strombecker open-frame motor - must have been a little underpowered for these relatively heavy cars.

Still, a very unusual pickup system, possibly with a guide pin clamped in the slot, and the pickups picking up current from under the track? - and maybe with a bit of steering or drifting... All theories welcome of course, and even some hard facts!

Don

Tire Car Vehicle Motor vehicle Toy

Tire Wheel Vehicle Automotive tire Tread

Wheel Tire Automotive tire Motor vehicle Toy

Tire Wheel Automotive tire Vehicle Toy
 

Attachments

·
Registered
Joined
·
709 Posts
Nice pair of monsters Don! I really appreciate seeing this kind of buildings. The Strombecker open motors are of the second type, with disk commutator, so the date should be as you say, not before 1964. My theory: as you say, the builder put a pin guide on the steering to just guide the car, while there is a second piece which trails the car and picks up the current from an ordinary track. To me your last picture shows all in the correct position. The trailing pick-up part has carboard holding the braids, a brass arm which acts as a spring to hold the contact and its own pin guide to follow the slot. Not exactly the state of the art at the time, but everybody is free to try his own ideas...
 

·
Premium Member
Joined
·
5,186 Posts
Don, that Rolls is a rather beautifully made tinplate friction toy by the Japanese T.N. (Nomura) company. One dollar and 59 cents at your favorite dime store in 1960 in the USA.

Wheel Vehicle Tire Car Window
 

Attachments

·
Administrator
Joined
·
9,792 Posts
Discussion Starter · #17 ·
Thanks P; I had sort of wondered where they got that one, and if it was really slotized, or just used as a parade leader...

Hey, a buck 59 was a lot of money in 1960!

Don
 

·
Premium Member
Joined
·
90 Posts
Hi Don, Bernard, Chuck,

I spoke with Robert Fennelly in the late 1990s. At that time all the cars were in his possession, however he was not interested in parting with anything; his brother Joseph had recently passed away. The track was also intact and in good order. He offered to give it to me if I would come to Connecticut, dismantle it and give it a good home......at the time I just did not have the room.

Best,

Phil
 

·
Administrator
Joined
·
9,792 Posts
Discussion Starter · #19 ·
Thanks Phil, interesting story.

Too bad he didn't make plans to hand down the cars to somebody who would take care of them - wonder what finally happened to track and cars?

Don
 

·
Premium Member
Joined
·
90 Posts
With that style of pick-up your cars must have been built for the Fennelly track, either by one of the brothers or someone who raced with them. Could you try reaching out to the seller again? I've found people are sometimes more responsive when the historical aspect is mentioned, and that without their response any information will likely be lost forever. Sometimes...

Phil
 
1 - 20 of 22 Posts
Top