Carrera/MRRC C2 Corvette Kitbash

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The 1963 to 1967 Corvette Stingray, often referred to as the C2 Corvette, is one of my favorite cars.  Over the years I’ve watched countless C2’s in action on race tracks across the country, and they are just really great cars to watch and listen to.  Carrera makes a C2 Corvette slot car in 1/32 scale.  They have done the car in a number of different liveries, but the best one to date is  the #27464 black one with gold stripes.  When it was released I just had to get one.

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Carrera has done a great job with the looks of the car, but when I put it on the track I found that it just didn’t have the performance to race against the Scalextric Corvettes and TransAm/A-sedan cars that make up the race group it logically would compete in. For one thing, the stock wheels and tires are too narrow with no room between the body and the chassis for wider ones.  For another, the stock magnet installation was not as effective as the one in the Scalextric cars.

Part of the problem was that the body is simply too narrow at slightly under 2″ wide through the rear fenders. If I wanted to keep the stock chassis while installing wider tires I would have to flare the fenders.  That would mean a repaint of the body, and I really wanted to preserve the car’s original shiny black-and-gold finish just as it came from the factory.  The other main issue was the magnet installation.  I wanted to give the car the same 25x8mm bar magnet used on the Scalextric cars, or at least something providing comparable cornering grip.  That would have required major surgery on the chassis.  After considering all the possibilities I decided that the simplest way to go was to mount the body on a more capable chassis.  And with that decision my upgrade project became a kitbash.

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It didn’t take long to find a suitable chassis.  For several years my go-to chassis for small or narrow bodies has been the MRRC/Monogram Sebring chassis.  This is one of the best universal chassis on the market.  It’s narrow between the wheels, adjustable for length, and has the magnet grip and motor performance to let the slot car hobbyist tune it for just about any performance level he is likely to need.  A quick test-fit showed that the Sebring chassis left more than enough room inside the Corvette body for a set of Scalextric L88 Corvette wheels and tires, allowing the car to use the same Indy Grips silicone tires I use on all the cars this one would be racing with.  Also, donor cars using this chassis can be found at very reasonable prices. An added bonus is the two alternate front axle locations the Sebring chassis provides.  Using the forward-most of the two positions placed the guide very close to the front axle, allowing it to clear the rather short front end of the Corvette body.

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The photo above shows the chassis with the Scalextric rear wheels and Maxxtrac tires installed.  You can also see the front axle tube I glued into the chassis to give the car a more stable front axle mounting.

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I wanted to use the stock rear body posts so I made an adapter from sheet styrene.  It mounts to the chassis as shown below.  I also glued a piece of sheet styrene with a screw hole drilled into it into the front body mount slot to provide a precise location for the front body post.

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The only modification to the body was the installation of the front body post to match the location of the mounting hole in the chassis.

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And here’s how the completed project looks with the rear adapter painted black, all 4 wheels in place, and the body attached to the chassis.  It almost looks like it could have been manufactured like this to begin with.  Actually, one could make a case for saying it should have… but we won’t go any farther with that here.

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This chassis swap makes an easy first project for the beginning kitbasher.  It results in a car that’s a lot faster, better handling and fun to drive than the stock chassis provides.  And by the way, you can sell the complete original Carrera chassis and the body from the donor car quite readily on eBay or one of the slot car forum sites to get back a good portion of the cost of the project.  Carrera doesn’t sell replacement chassis, so there is always some unmet demand for them.

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Notice that I removed the grille and bumpers to give the car more of a race car look.  I suppose I should also give it a properly attired racing driver, too.  I wonder why Carrera didn’t.  Oh, well, it just requires a head transplant and a little paint.

This project is far from all you can do with a Carrera C2 Corvette body. I’ve also done this…

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But that’s a subject for another day.

 

Musings About Magnets, Part 3

Part 3- Cost Containment and Regulation

by Bob Ward

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Perhaps the biggest, yet least appreciated purpose of traction magnets is cost containment.  It’s no secret that the cost of slot cars keeps going up.  The causes are many, and I won’t go onto them here, but there is no doubt that the introduction of rare earth traction magnets allowed basic mass-produced slot cars made for plastic track racing to make a big leap in performance without a corresponding increase in costs.  Magnets are literally the crucial difference between Scalextric, Carrera, and similar cars at $25 to $55 and Slot It, NSR, and comparable cars at $70 to over $100.  This is because magnets allow a car to achieve, on plastic track, a high level of performance while using less expensive components.  The magnetic downforce suppresses the vibration from the imperfect trueness and concentricity inherent in injection molded plastic wheels pressed on to knurled axles.  It also dampens vibration that may occur due to the somewhat loose axle-to-bushing fit required by the need for the splined portion of the axles to pass through the bushings.  Both of these, without the magnet, can cause chattering and wheel hop.  But these are issues inherent in these components and are present to some degree whether they are poorly or well made.

So, at the risk of committing slot car racing heresy… the key term here is less expensive, not necessarily lower quality.

There is a perception, common (though not universal) on slot car web sites, that the plastic wheels, press-on plastic gears, one-piece plastic chassis, plastic axle bushings, and related components found on most magnet-equipped basic slot cars are of poor quality compared to machined aluminum wheels and gears, brass or bronze bushings, drill blank axles, and podded chassis of higher-end slot cars.  This view misses the point.  Yes, Pioneer’s plastic wheels, for instance, are less expensive to make than NSR’s aluminum ones, but they are the very best plastic wheels Pioneer’s highly capable people can design and manufacture.  The same is true of Scalextric, Carrera, and others.  Pioneer, by the way, moved their factory from China to England at tremendous expense, and one of the major reasons was to be able to ensure the quality of their products.  Will plastic wheels pressed onto an axle ever be as perfectly true and concentric as machined aluminum ones on drill blanks? Will a one-piece plastic chassis ever be as tuneable as a multi-piece podded chassis?  Probably not, but magnets make those considerations largely irrelevant to 90-plus percent of all the slot car racers in the world.  For most of these hobbyists the less expensive parts, used with traction magnets, are as good as they need to be, and they help keep slot car racing affordable

Certainly, there are places in 1/32 scale home and club racing where high-end parts are really necessary, or at least inevitable.  One is non-magnet racing, often carried out on wood tracks.  There the precision of machined metal components really is critical and the tuneability of multi-part chassis comes very much into play.  Another is when cars are built with really extreme magnet downforce and motor power.  In some such situations the plastic wheels and other components simply can’t handle the stresses involved. (I know of a place in our local area where they run 600 grams of magnet and 40-50k motors in some classes.)  Yet another is where the hobbyists involved came to “Scalextric-type” slot car racing after a long history of commercial track and similar racing where high-end components are essential, and they want to apply all their experience to racing plastic cars or simply can’t get comfortable with less than pro-level parts.

By the way, even where high-end cars are allowed they don’t always prevail.  I once wrote an article for another web site on how to graft the entire rear end of a TSRF plastic chassis center section into a Carrera McLaren M20 CanAm car.  The build resulted in a one-piece chassis with an FK130 motor in a sidewinder mounting with a magnet right under the motor.  It used plastic wheels and press-on plastic gears.  The car is rocket-fast on my own track, but I have never raced it against other cars.  A while after the article appeared I got an e-mail from a racer who had followed the article and built an identical car.  He said he took it to race night at his local club, where everybody else was running Slot Its and other high-end cars, and just plain killed ’em.  Yes, this was on a plastic track and magnets were being used by all, but still, his car with all “low-end” plastic parts was nowhere near as expensive as all the ones he was racing against and it spanked the field.

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If Carrera could be persuaded to adopt my “hybrid” chassis configuration they would leap to the head of the line in basic magnet car performance ad you would literally see $37 Carrera cars beating $70 Slot Its.  And if they could also be persuaded to put their cars on a diet and get overall car weight down to where Scalextric cars are, well…

Which brings me to the subject of magnets and car weight.  The great thing about magnets is that they add downforce and cornering grip while adding very little to the car’s mass.     A well-magneted production slot car might have a net Magnet Marshal reading (total MM figure minus car weight) of around 200 grams.  If the car weight is 80 grams to start with the total MM figure of 280g equals almost 10 ounces or well over half a pound.  Try ballasting almost any basic slot car up to that weight and see how well it gets around the track and for how long.  Because magnets increase downforce without increasing weight and mass the gain in cornering grip is essentially free as long as your motor and track power are stout enough not to lose too much speed to magnet drag on the straights.  At 200g downforce most RTR car motors do just fine, at least in my experience.

The real end point here is to look at how we write rules to regulate magnetic downforce.  All the magnet racing programs I have been in limit downforce to a fixed amount over car weight, whatever the car weight might be.  That’s fine as long as the cars all weigh the same or close to it, as in a one-make, one-car type event.  However, where that isn’t the case the racer gets the most benefit from the magnet by making the car as light as possible, any way he can.

This has several undesirable effects.  First, racers will go to extreme lengths to lighten the cars.  This can easily make preparing a car much more time and labor-intensive.  It also can mean replacing stock components with lighter ones, increasing cost and leading to squabbles about ultra-light, sometimes not very good-looking components like vac-formed interiors and windows.  It also means that cars are harder to equalize at a given performance level since certain brands of cars that are lighter to begin with come from the factory with a built-in advantage.  It’s especially hard to equalize the performance of dissimilar cars that historically raced with each other but as slot cars may differ significantly in size and weight.  One of the worst effects is that kitbashed cars with lots of bodywork or resin bodies tend to be heavier than comparable RTR cars, making them uncompetitive.  That discourages creativity and diversity in your race fields.

There is no perfect solution to these problems, but one thing that should go a long way toward one is to make the maximum net MM value a figure that goes up or down in proportion to unballasted car weight.  To continue with the figures used above an 80-gram car with 200 grams of downforce has 2.5g of magnetic downforce per gram of car weight or a downforce/weight ratio of 2.5:1.  Then somebody comes along with a 65g car.  At 200 grams of downforce for only 65 grams of car weight its ratio is 3.08:1.  It’s not hard to figure out which car is going to be faster, all other things being equal.  If, instead of a set figure of 200g we state the downforce limit as 2.5 times car weight the 65-gram car will be limited to 162.5 grams of magnet.  The lighter car might still have an advantage but it should be much smaller, very possibly too small to make much of a difference.

It is, of course, possible simply to have a minimum weight rule, but this will set off a scramble to find the lightest car eligible for the event or class and then ballast it up to the minimum, placing the weight where it will do the most good. This happens all the time in 1:1 scale racing.

One variation on this idea is to let the added grams be in the form of a combination of magnet and ballast to provide more tuning options.  Our 80-gram car above might be given 175 grams of magnet at the rear and 25 grams of weight, distributed about the car, to make up the 200 gram maximum.  I haven’t tested this, but it would be interesting to explore.  Just make sure the ballast isn’t in the form of more magnets.  You also want to examine all cars carefully both before and after the race to make sure there have been no shenanigans pulled.

There are, of course, many things besides magnets that play into slot car performance, but magnets are one of the biggies.  I think they deserve to be looked at more closely and in different ways than perhaps they have been, with a view toward getting the most from their potential to make the hobby more attractive to the widest possible range of hobbyists.

Your experiences and opinions may differ from mine.  As always, I invite your comments, requests, questions, and suggestions at the bottom of this post or at productsupport@victorylaphobbies.com and I look forward to responding.

Copyright © 2016 Robert M. Ward

Musings About Magnets – Part 2

 Realism and Crash Impacts

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An important part of slot car drivability is scale and/or historical realism in the way the cars drive.  Can you make your 1950s Maserati GP car or your modern-day Ferrari F1 car handle, as much as any slot car can, somewhat like its 1:1 scale counterpart does?  (And do you want to? More on this later.)  Back in the days when cars raced on narrow, hard tires and the general understanding of aerodynamics consisted of “streamlining” to reduce drag all race cars cornered in what is known as a four-wheel drift with all four tires sliding and the car in a sideways attitude. That was the fast way around.  Starting in the 1960s the development of ever wider, stickier tires and the discovery and exploitation of aerodynamic downforce vastly multiplied cornering grip.  That meant that cars cornered less and less sideways.  If you got sideways you were scrubbing off speed and losing time.  Today, race cars from F1 to Indy cars to sports cars to NASCAR corner more or less on rails and if you get very far sideways you are on your way into the barriers or at least headed for some unintended grass mowing.

Slot cars produce their counterpart to 1:1 scale aero downforce principally in one of two ways.  One, which predominates in commercial-track racing, is with towering spoilers and side airdams on a wedge-shaped body bearing only the most incidental resemblance to an actual car.  The other, almost universal in scale-oriented home and club racing, uses traction magnets.  This is because scale cars develop no aero downforce to speak of since the properties of air do not scale up and down with the cars.

Another main component of cornering grip, the mechanical grip produced by the rear tires, is enhanced in commercial-track racing by the use of sponge tires and traction “glue”.  In home and club racing most people don’t want the mess of glue, even on wood tracks.  Furthermore, the use of glue and the solvents commonly used to clean it off when the track gets too sticky damages plastic track (and plastic cars) over time.  Thus, aftermarket tires of rubber or silicone compounds perform the function of augmenting tire grip.  (The rubber versus silicone tire debate, by the way is, perhaps, as big an issue as magnets, and I’ll talk about that another time.)

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So, what do most racers think of as realistic or period-correct handling in a slot car?  The first thing to note is that there is really no such thing as realistic scale speeds in slot car racing. Even without magnets slot cars can, and mostly do, achieve much higher straightline and cornering speeds in scale than life-sized race cars.  To get actual scale speeds you have to turn the power way down and/or use motors with considerably less power than virtually all slot cars come with.  In addition, you have to dial back the handling to the point where, in my decades of experience with all kinds of slot car racing, most racers think the cars are too slow to be fun and don’t handle well enough to get out of their own way.  Certainly there are hobbyists who do really want scale speeds or something close to them.  This is particularly true of those who model cars from the 1950s and earlier or who put immense amounts of time and effort into building models with a lot of fragile detail they don’t want to risk any more than necessary.  It’s also true, to some extent, of people whose concept of how slot cars should perform is rooted in fond memories of their slot racing experiences from the fad era of the 1960s and early 70s when slot cars of all kinds had nowhere near the performance of comparable cars today.

The key concept here is that some cars, to be period-correct in their handling, should corner tail-out while others should have tons of grip and corner on rails, but that isn’t always what the hobbyist wants.  What I believe most people want in the way of slot car performance is:

  • Cars fast enough to be perceived as fun and exciting to race.  The key word here is “perceived”. Every racer looks at this through a filter of subjective preference.
  • A means of creating a variety of performance levels and driving challenges in which the relative, not absolute, performance levels and characteristics of various types and eras of cars correspond roughly as their full-scale counterparts do.  Slot car models of a 1939 Mercedes GP car, a 1965 Cobra, a tube-frame era TransAm car, a contemporary Indy car, and (yeccchhhh) a Formula E car should all run and drive relative to each other about as the “real” cars do (or are thought to do) and it’s not an issue, for most, if their absolute speeds are higher than scale (in the case of the FE cars alot)
  • Cars that are easy, and for most, inexpensive, to tune to suit their preferences.
  • And, perhaps most important, cars that are not too difficult to learn to drive successfully and competitively, especially at two stages, the very first experience with slot cars, and the beginning experiences with organized racing.

Magnets can and do contribute to providing all of these.  Certainly they provide an easy way to make cars faster and better handling.  Along with tires, as mentioned above, they make tuning cars of all types and eras to desired relative performance easy and inexpensive.  And magnets, properly applied, make a huge difference in the success and satisfaction of beginners.  That’s probably the most important thing they do, because, as illustrated by the story of the hobby shop owner selling race sets, they make a vital difference in whether the beginner has fun and becomes a lifelong hobbyist or finds frustration and quickly abandons the hobby.  Finally, magnets, far from detracting from realistic performance in the relative if not the absolute sense, make it easy for any hobbyist to create in his cars his own perception of realism, whatever that may be.

My thoughts on realism touched briefly on the subject of crash impacts and the survivability of cars and their various detail parts.  There is no disputing that cars with bodies, chassis, and other vital parts made of ABS or styrene plastic are less resistant to crash damage than cars with spring steel chassis and Lexan bodies.  And it’s true that the use of magnets generally raises overall speeds and, therefore crash impacts.  In a sense, for the past 20 years or so the makers of “plastic” slot cars have been working at cross purposes with themselves.  They have significantly increased both the performance and the fine detail of their models.  Around the turn of the century this reached a point where the cars morphed from toys for children into scale models and serious race cars for adults.  The performance increase, which magnets had a big part in delivering, meant that as the cars were incorporating more delicate detail such as mirrors, antennas, and, most problematically, wings, the cars were increasingly able to crash hard enough to break them off.  Some manufacturers, who shall go nameless here, have gone way past the point of common sense, making cars that have so much fragile detail they are way too delicate to be practical race cars.

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On the other hand, Scalextric, and to a lesser extent Ninco, recognized the need for cars with more durability to go with the higher speeds and brought out what Scalextric calls “super-resistant” cars, two of which are pictured above.  These are cars with the performance levels of their full-featured cars but with simpler, more crashworthy bodies and, in some cases, a lower price point as well.  Their high survivability serves an important purpose in their primary role as race set cars and cars for beginners and children, allowing newbie racers to master enough driving skill to cope with the performance levels of modern magnet-equipped cars before moving on to more detailed and less rugged cars.  One nice thing about these cars is that even though they have one-piece bodies with windows simply painted onto the body shell they are attractive cars that look good on the track and are reasonably realistic looking though often in a simplified, sometimes generic way. Their combination of crashworthiness, beginner-friendly performance, and appearance goes a long way toward giving entry-level racers a good start in the hobby.  For this reason I think they are the best thing to happen to the slot car hobby in the past 20 years.

In addition, some manufacturers have begun making the more delicate and vulnerable detail parts out of more resilient and durable materials.  I’ve also heard that at least one manufacturer is working on developing a production process that may allow entire bodies to be made with the durability and lightness of Lexan or other materials much more crashworthy than ABS or styrene, yet with the fine detail of present-day injection-molded bodies.  We could be seeing some exciting new advances in the near future.

Your experiences and opinions may differ from mine.  As always, I invite your comments, requests, questions, and suggestions at the bottom of this post or at productsupport@victorylaphobbies.com and I look forward to responding.

In Part 3 we’ll conclude by examining the way in which magnets contribute to controlling the cost of slot cars, and we’ll consider how magnetic downforce can best be regulated.

Copyright © 2016 Victory Lap.

Musings About Magnets

Part 1 – Civilizing the Magnet

by Bob Ward

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Probably the longest-running controversy in slot car racing is about traction magnets.  There are diehards on both sides – magnet and non-magnet- and many other hobbyists somewhere in the middle.   I’ve raced and won, at one time or another, with just about every kind of slot car there is, both with and without magnets. That includes non-magnet cars that corner as hard as any magnet car I’ve driven.  I’ve also raced countless times on both plastic and wood tracks and enjoyed all of them.  We here at VLH don’t take sides, but we do know from experience, both racing and selling slot cars, that at least 90 percent, probably more like 95 to 98 percent, of all slot car racing in the world is done with magnets on plastic track.

For those new to the slot car hobby, “magnets” refers to the practice of placing a neodymium or other rare-earth magnet low in the car, usually toward the rear, where it interacts magnetically with the steel strips that carry the electric current in plastic track systems.  The magnetic attraction thus generated creates downforce.  Magnetic downforce in slot cars is in many ways comparable to aerodynamic downforce in full-sized race cars and in some kinds of slot cars.  Either kind presses or pulls the car down onto the track surface, increasing tire grip and, therefore, cornering force.  Magnets differ in strength, and cars differ in where their magnets are placed and how close to the track they are positioned.

I find the whole magnet thing interesting partly because it’s very commonly simplified into an either-or proposition. Actually, it’s anything but that.  It’s not a simple continuum with drive-the-car-on-the-ceiling magnets on one end and no magnets at all on the other, but a more complex matter of what kind of driving characteristics you find satisfying (or necessary to be competitive) and how you get to them. If you have ever watched 1/24 scale “wing” cars on a commercial raceway track and then watched strongly magneted cars run on a plastic track you will recognize that the difference is not in how stuck down they are but in how all that cornering grip is achieved. The main issue with both magnet and non-magnet cars is the same – generating and using downforce, but there are also related issues of drivability, realism, crash impacts, and – are you ready – cost containment.

One development that has, or should have, made a big difference in the way slot car hobbyists view magnets is the introduction, some years ago, of the Magnet Marshal.  The MM, essentially a modified digital scale, is a game changer because it gives racers, not to mention rules makers, a reliable way of measuring and therefore limiting magnetic downforce.  I turns out that Demon Magnet CAN be tamed, after all, and you can put him to work creating magnet-equipped cars that do have to be driven and can, to a surprising degree, drive much like non-magnet cars but with higher limits.   The vast majority of racers can also use him, usually along with just tire options, to “tune” slot cars inexpensively to a performance package they like.  You can even use him, along with regulations on tires, motors, chassis configurations, controllers, and other factors, to create a coherent racing class structure that fits the needs of your racing program.

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Admittedly, the MM’s impact has suffered from limited availability, as only 1000 of them were made.  (As this is being written a more advanced MM is being developed and production may not be too far off.) However, it put to rest the biggest knock against magnet racing.  That’s the notion that magnetic downforce always escalates until the cars get so stuck down they largely don’t have to be driven, with its almost inevitable follow-on that magnets take all the skill out of driving.  I take no position on whether that’s true, but I do think it’s no longer very relevant.

With the problem of limiting downforce addressed we can look at the other issues related to magnets.  The first one mentioned above is drivability.  The first really stout magnets put into 1/32 scale slot cars had the shape of a disc or very short cylinder.  They provided downforce over only a small part of the car’s width, about 7 to 8mm.  In cornering centrifugal force makes the rear end of the car slide toward the outside of the turn.  With these magnets it didn’t have to slide very far before the magnet was no longer over the steel strips and the car abruptly lost most of its grip and snapped into a spin with no warning to the driver. This made these early strong-magnet cars very hard, unforgiving, and quite unpleasant to drive at the limit.  Small rectangular magnets 10 to 15mm long followed, yielding some improvement.  Still, the width of the magnet was little if any greater than the width of the track’s contact strips.  The thinking appears to have been to use a small but strong magnet to hold the rear of the car over the contact strips, producing on-rails handling.  This was fine up to the point where centrifugal force finally overcame the magnet and the car instantly turned into an unguided missile.  The magnet was working against the car’s natural tendency to corner tail-out.

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Scalextric, meanwhile, had been fitting its cars with transverse bar magnets around 24mm long by about 7mm wide.  These magnets were the old ferrite ones and were simply too weak to be much better than no magnet at all.  Finally somebody at the factory fitted the same size neodymium magnet to a car.  At last a car had real downforce over a significant portion of the normal arc through which the car slid under cornering.  The change was transformative.  Now the magnet was at least partially working with centrifugal force in the corners instead of against it.  Scalextric made neo bar magnets standard equipment on all cars with room to fit them and leaped to the head of the mass-produced slot car pack in cornering.  The difference wasn’t in absolute magnet strength but in drivability.  You could slide the rear of the car to a reasonable degree without losing grip. This made the car much easier and more pleasant to drive.  It inspired confidence in the driver.  Most Scalextric cars have had these magnets ever since.

There’s a story that illustrates just how much difference the long neo bar magnets make.  Years ago I was writing a column on slot cars for a hobby industry trade publication.  I heard about a hobby shop owner who had raked in amazing money one Christmas season by selling several brands of 1/32 scale race sets in temporary mall kiosks. I called him up to get the full story for my column.  The story, however, was not the tale of triumph I expected.  Sure enough, he had sold a lot of sets in just a few weeks.   However, the mall required all the kiosk operators to stay open for a week after Christmas to be available for returns.  Starting the day after Christmas, sets came flooding back in.  The complaint was the same with almost all of them.  The cars had such poor cornering grip that the kids for whom the sets had mostly been bought couldn’t drive two laps in a row without deslotting. Tears and tantrums followed.  By the time he closed his kiosks he had taken back almost all the sets he sold under the mall’s no-questions-asked return policy.  All, that is, except for one brand – Scalextric.  He got very few Scalextric sets back.  The one big difference between the cars in the Scalextric sets and the others was those long rare-earth bar magnets.  They were what made the cars drivable for all those children and beginners.

It probably shouldn’t but it surprises me that none of the manufacturers has taken the concept to the next logical step and used a bar magnet, or magnets, spanning the whole width of the chassis. That should make a car even more drivable, with downforce over practically all the reasonable cornering angles.  It might require two magnets or even three, and that might create a cost barrier.  There may be practical limitations I’m not aware of, but I have pursued it experimentally far enough to know it is workable.  I never really developed it fully because there is no place I could have raced a car with full-width magnetic downforce.  Still, for the mass market, where the key to success is a good experience for kids and beginners, the concept seems like a worthwhile one to pursue.

So far, however, the only manufacturer that has even followed Scalextric’s example and used a 24 or 25mm by 7 or 8mm bar magnet is Pioneer, and that was because its initial goal was to make better Scalextric cars than Scalextric does, even to the point of adopting Scalextric’s plug-in digital chip system.  In recent years Carrera has also gone to longer (but narrower) bar magnets, but most if not all Carrera cars tend to be significantly overweight, so much of the benefit of the better magnets is wasted.  More about the relationship between magnets and car weight a bit later.

Your experiences and opinions may differ from mine.  As always, I invite your comments, requests, questions, and suggestions at the bottom of this post or at productsupport@victorylaphobbies.com and I look forward to responding.

.In Part 2. We’ll look at the realism of slot cars and how magnets have affected and can affect it for worse and, more important, for better.

Copyright © 2016 Robert M, Ward