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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
I was just looking through issue No. 58 of the American magazine Model Car Racing, published and edited by Robert Schleicher, who's been around the hobby a long time! There was an article that caught my attention, by a guy named Voytek Dolinksi, who worked at Auto Hobbies with Bill Sippel back in the early 60s. That name rang a bell, because a few years ago we were talking about the invention of the swing-arm pickup, also called the droparm or fallaway guide. And I happened to see this article in the February 62 issue of Car Craft, an American custom car and hot rod magazine that also had regular model car coverage for a couple years (61-64).





So it turns out that Voytek was one of the "inventors" of the swing pickup! I asked Robert to pass on the article to him for any comment. This was also about the time of the first organized electric slotcar drags, by Rod & Custom magazine, so I would have thought that the first swing pickups were developed for these dragsters, but the period photos are a bit vague - and no shots of the chassis bottoms!

So for all we know, Voytek et al did really invent the swing pickup.

Anybody ever see a swing pickup on a rail racer?

Don
 

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Tony Condon
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Hi Don
Never seen or heard of a drop arm on rail racer ,but then with the low power and the even lower grip those cars had I can,t imagine a wheelstand was ever an issue
My memory of slot cars in this country was that we did incorporate drop arms on some of the early slotcars to help them over bumps and drops and bridges that were on those early tracks
I dont think it really became an issue until the spomnge tyres and goop were imported from the states
however I do remember also some time in the early 70s ian fisher writing an article in model cars magazine saying that drop arms were no good as you were better off (and remember by this time the drop arms were socking great lumps of 16 gauge brass) attaching this picee of brass directly to the frame supporting the front wheels to prevent the wheels lifting
I suppose the difference between drag and circuit is that drag only has to go in a straight line ,and therefore doesn,t have to worry about turning over coming out of corners as a result of the front wheels lifting
No proper slot cars have them on these days

Cheers tony
 

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Tony.
It depends on your definition of 'Proper Slot Cars'.
If you are talking about full on 'BSCRA' type slot cars, then your quite correct.
In the wider world of modern slot cars, the 'swing arm' or more commonly known as the 'drop arm' is making a comeback. Both NSR and the lesser known Avant Slot makes, both do drop arm models and not only for their Rally slot models.
Drop arms can work, and do work very well on undulating tracks, it is howerver, critical to get the front to rear weight balance spot on.
Regards Bill.
 

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Discussion Starter · #5 ·
It don't mean a thing if it ain't got that swing - arm!

Thanks for comments guys - didn't Ninco also claim to have invented the swingarm, along with anglewinders and classic slot racers?

Now that you mention it, it is kind of funny that "proper" slot cars no longer have drop arms, while the "plastic" bunch is beginning to introduce them. That probably proves something, but I'm not sure what...

I generally try to incorporate one on all the vintage cars I build, just because it's "In the Mood", but not really sure they're effective...

Tony, in the States, swing arms were used well before sponge tires and goop became standard (altho some form of tire treatment was always around). Those early PIttman padlock motors had a lot of torque, and the tracks were generally not very smooth! Which also explains the trend to various suspension systems, independent front wheels, etc.

Now, about steering...

Don
 

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Tony Condon
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Hi Don
you are probably right ,that it was the up and downy tracks in those days that caused folk to use the drop arm
even if you are correct that those big old pitmanns had enough torque ,I am still doubtful that the wooden tyres which we used in those days and the sandtex/Imstone surfaces would have given enough grip to lift the front wheels.
Once the tracks got flatter and smoother the need fora drop arm became non existant

Cheers tony
 

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Discussion Starter · #7 ·
A little more ammunition for the fire, from the August 1963 issue of Model Car Science.

Remember, it's "Science", so you gotta take this seriously.

But seriously folks, it sounds like drop/swing/fallaway pickups were already pretty well established by this time.

 

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That "cross torsional arm" is a puzzle, Don, but then I've never been a scientist.
Anyone have a pic that shows it?
Rob J
 

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Discussion Starter · #9 ·
Good question Rob! We might actually have a picture of it already, but wouldn't be able to recognize it, since we have no idea what he's talking about!

Kind of sounds like a professional wrestling hold by Hulk Hogan...

Don
 

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I often rail against modern jargon, but it looks like there was some then too. And however "scientific" the mag was, it probably didn't have grumpy subs to yell "What the H do you mean by this?"
Rob J
 

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QUOTE (dgersh @ 10 Sep 2011, 14:24) <{POST_SNAPBACK}>I was just looking through issue No. 58 of the American magazine Model Car Racing, .............................

So for all we know, Voytek et al did really invent the swing pickup.
What the article says is "..the "Swing Arm" pickup system developed by Bill Sippel, Bert Wagner, Voytek Dollinski and the author (Bob Rolofson)..."
It's telling us this bunch of guys "developed" the swing arm.
Did they developed an existing invention, or did one (or more) of them actually invent the swing arm?
That article doesn't say.
If Bob Rolofson believed he was one of the inventors of the swing arm, he didn't take the opportunity to say so!

Of course it is possible the swing arm was invented independently several times and nobody really knows which was first.

The original question is worth asking - Who invented the swing pick up?
 

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Tony Condon
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Hi Guys
It seems to me that since the real value of a drop arm is to be found in drag racing ,where the car rotating around the rear axle will lever the guide out of the slot that almost certainly the drop arm will have been invented by some old drag racer from back when the earth was warm

Cheers tony
 

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Discussion Starter · #13 ·
That's exactly what Voytek was telling me Tony...

The general consensus is that it was developed for drag racing, then adapted for road racing.

We don't actually know when the first slot drags started, just that the first big meet in California was in 61 I think (don't remember offhand) - and the photos aren't clear enough to see if there are drop arms or not. There were early stories in Rod & Custom 1957-58 about rail racing, including a dragstrip, but without swing pickups; next news was the articles in R&C and Car Craft about the California dragsters...

Don
 

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Rich Dumas
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I raced on 1/24th scale commercial tracks in the mid '60s when a lot of the cars were built to scale and had sidewinder motors. If you had halfway decent grip many of the cars wanted to do wheelstands when you got on the power. The wheel stands were the result of a high center of gravity and a rearward weight bias. For a while a majority of the cars had drop arms, but soon chassis were designed to lower the center of gravity and the wheelstand problem went away along with drop arms. Today for 1/32nd racing I can't see any advantage to using a drop arm unless you race on a track with moguls.
 

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True Rich, and in fact the STS cars from Spain about 15 years ago had drop arms for their rally/cross-country tracks... when no other plastic cars were using them.

But in the mid-60s and later, drop arms survived well into the early 70s, even long after cars had gotten very low and wide - tradition I guess!

Don
 

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Tony Condon
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Hi guys
My abiding memory of drop arms dates from very early in my slot racing career
We used to race at the Model aeronautical press track at watford As a result of publishing all sorts of modelling mags ,including model cars they used to get sent all sorts of cars to test
so folk like alec Gee and Vic smeed who attended club nights regularly would bring these models down and as one of the jets (it was along time ago )they used to ask me to test them.
They arrived one night with a K and B 1/24 daytona cobra with the big sidewinder motor the ally chassis and a spring loaded aluminium drop arm
Well after a few laps really got the hang of it and started pushing on ,and depite having no obvious sense in the chassis design it was really stable and quick in the low grip conditions prevailing at the time
However ,if you really started "earoling" it something really special happened
At the start of the main straight was a tight hairpin bend
Up at the limit the car would slide out of the bend in a nice drift ,encouraging you to accelerate sooner
evantually the car would start to slide and if you then really squeezed the button the car would pull a wheelie on opposite lock and hurtle down the straight with the front wheels about 2" off the ground Fabulous !!
I was most impressed, never had a car with that much grunt before.

Cheers tony
 

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Discussion Starter · #17 ·
... and the strange thing Tony, is that the K&B Cobra had no grunt at all!

I remember seeing the Cobra or its Ford GT stablemate on a commercial track in Chicago in 1965, and was impressed by how it pulled wheelies. I was even more impressed, or puzzled, afterwards, when I realized the thing was geared very high, about 2.7:1, and that the motor was not all that powerful - to say the least...

Never quite understood how they did that... ah, one hint emerges from my memory: the swing pickup was spring loaded!

Don
 
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