MAKING THE CARS

As I mentioned on an earlier page, my cars are pretty-well entirely home made. I run them on 'modified' Scalextric track; I'll explain the 'modified' later.I have always kept to the basic Scalextric motors, rear drive cogs and axle pinions, and wheels & tyres, but the chassis, body, steering system, driver's body, and wings are home-built.

I will run through the production of a current Formula One car, starting with the chassis. The chassis is cut out from 3 mm thick high impact polystyrene sheet.(Vacuum forming plastic.) I try to keep the process as simple as possible, so the four main features of the working side of the car (rear axle; motor; brushes; steering pin) are attached to the chassis in as simple a way as my ingenuity will allow.

The two rear axle mounts are squares of the same plastic as the chassis, with holes drilled through them to take the axle bearings. these are then glued into slots cut in the chassis.

The fact that the bearings are pushed into holes in their mountings means that once installed, they are not easily removed, but they rarely need removing during the lifetime of a car. The motor is simply glued onto the flat surface of the chassis, or into a rectangular hole cut into the chassis so that the magnetic attraction between motor and rail gives a certain amount of simulated 'downforce'.

My steering is achieved by means of a steel pin. This is a throw-back to the early days of Scalextric, when a nylon guide pin was used. This pin is superglued into a hole in the chassis, on the exact line of the front axle.

The steel pin is a filed-downrivet ! And NO, it doesn't short out the electric circuit.....at all. The pin is filed to a flat oval section, about 2.5 mm long from front to back, but only about 1 mm thick. So it never touches both rails at once; unless, that is, the car is sideways across the track, in which case its forward motion would have ceased anyway. The effect of this steering system is that the cars will'oversteer' considerably, but do not roll out of the groove like commercially produced cars do. Also, they will spin right round; and of course will'understeer' straight off if put into a corner much too fast. This system of steering has given me absolutely no problems throughout years of use. Just ahead of the pin, I drill and file 2 slots in the chassis, through which pass the brushes. The wires from the motor are held into the slots with small plastic wedges.

These are not totally foolproof, but only occasionally work loose, causing a race retirement with 'electrical trouble'.

The images on this page are of a Stewart chassis showing the features mentioned above, plus a small rear-end extension to the chassis which carries the rear wing support.

Throughout the last few years, I have tailored the chassis to fit the bodies, so each car is an integral package, and chassis and bodies cannot be interchanged. The drawback to this is that when a team produces a new car, and I build my version, I usually need a new chassis too, and the old one must be discarded.

It is at this point that the body is introduced. To see how the shell is produced refer to the BB-Vac page.

Having moulded the bodyshell, there is an enormous amount of work to do before the car becomes a runner. After trimming, there are various tasks to accomplish. The simpler ones are cutting holes for the radiator intakes, the airbox hole, the driver compartment; as well as slots for the front and rear axles to pass through. (The front axle runs freely through two elongated holes. It is held in positionby aluminium tube spacers.) All this is relatively easy. The hard part is the nose. Anyone who knows vacuum forming will realise that it is not possible to form the type of nose used on modern F1 cars. What I do to reproduce the current vogue is this; I trim the side profile until it is about right, then glue into the open hole several pieces of 2 mm vac forming plastic to fill up the hole. Once solid, I sand the curved underside to as similar a shape to the real thing as I can produce. Two tiny recesses are cut into the sides of the nose for the vertical wing supports to be glued into. The front wing is then glued on.

Fitting the body to the chassis is a matter of gluing two plastic blocks onto the inside of the sidepods. These blocks have 6 BA screws glued through them, and these screws protrude through the chassis. Two filed down 6 BA nuts are then screwed onto the screws, thus joining the two parts together very firmly.

The fashion of the high nose has added a huge amount of work to making my cars.

In the low-nose days, it was simply a matter of cutting tiny recesses in the underside of the nose, and gluing up a one piece front wing into the slot - EASY.

An area which has become even more complex than in days gone by is painting the cars. The modern F1 car, with one or two notable exceptions, is a very flashy piece of kit. For the amateur builder, some of the techniques required are totally impossible. I use various methods to decorate my cars. The basic body colour(s) is acrylic car spray paint. Acrylic paint adheres brilliantly to vacuum forming plastic. Stripes etc are put on using commercially produced adhesive backed material, which a certain amount of hand painting (as little as possible) is done. I am able to create black transfers on the computer, and can get single-coloured ones made in a local photo-copying establishment. These are good, but can only be used on a white surface as the colour on them is micro-thin.

Again, I must stress that because I make my cars just for myself, it doesn't really matter if anything is not quite right. It's just a personal thing.

I have to say that I am getting a little tired of the modern trend; my eyesight is less than good these days, and I can well do without some of the intricacies of modern graphics. I'm not even going to comment on the 1999 BAR.

Finally, here is the complete car that appears in pieces on this page.

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