Work In Progress 3-22-17


This is my latest kitbash project.  It’s a Corvette C6 TransAm/SCCA GT1 car.   This is an easy conversion from a Scalextric Corvette C6R.  Here’s a photo of what I started with:


Of course, the actual car was not a new one like this but one that was looking very secondhand, having led a hard life as a rental car on a local track open to the public.  Such cars, as long as they are reasonably intact, make great raw material for kitbashes.  In the case of the Scalextric C6R it doesn’t take much to make a GT1 car out of it.  The biggest change was gluing strips of sheet styrene into the edges of the wheel openings to decrease their size.  The GT1 wheels and tires, which are from a Scalextric Michael Lewis TransAm Jaguar, are smaller in diameter than the C6R wheels and reducing the size of the wheel openings snugs them in around the tires, helping give the car its charateristic GT1 aggressive look.

The most noticeable change, however, was the addition of the hood hump, formed from sheet styrene, CA glued in place, and blended in with auto body spot putty.  You can also see that I made one large front radiator opening from 5 smaller ones, as is typical on GT1 Corvettes.


At the rear I’ve removed the diffuser and trimmed back the chassis to the lower edge of the body.  I also filled in the opening at the rear of the body with sheet styrene.

The two round appendages sticking up from the rear deck are my solution to keeping a wing on the car once it encounters the hard knocks of competition.  Most 1/32 scale RTR cars with wings use a mounting consisting of tabs on the ends of the wing struts press-fitted into slots in the body.  Sooner or later the wing breaks, usually right at the surface of the body, leaving a broken tab that’s almost impossible to remove neatly from the slot.  If you want to change to a different wing with different strut spacing it’s really a chore to make new slots neatly and cleanly.

My solution on this particular car starts with using a wing from an NSR C6R.  It is made of a more resilient and crashworthy material than the car’s original wing and has relatively small mounting tabs on the strut ends.  I found the diameter of styrene tubing the tabs will press-fit into and drilled two holes in the body, the same diameter as the OD of the tubing and spaced the required distance apart.  I then CA glued lengths of the tubing into the holes. When I am ready to put the wing on the car I will simply press the tabs on the wing into the tubing.  Holes are much easier  to drill than slots are to cut and if (or perhaps when) the wing breaks I can simply use a piece of piano wire to push out the broken-off tabs and then press in a new wing.  The tubes don’t look as “realistic” as one might like but they are a lot more convenient and nobody will notice them when the car is on the track


Here’s a decal sheet I made on my computer and printed out on waterslide decal paper using an HP 8610 inkjet printer.  In the next blog post on this project you’ll see the car with decals from this sheet and others from my decal box in place. I’ll give you more information then about how I made these decals.

Your comments and questions are welcome.  Post them here on the blog page or send them to

Monogram McLaren M6A/M6B Upgrades

Monogram McLaren M6A/M6B Upgrades

Fixing some of the same mistakes on Monogram’s McLaren M6 that we fixed on their Lola T70

by Bob Ward (AKA Leighton Early)


Where have we seen a photo like this before?  Oh, I remember…


It was this one, in my article about fixing the designers’ mistakes on the Monogram Lola T70.

There is probably a good and sufficient reason why they jacked up the McLaren’s body into the stratosphere the same way they did with the Lola’s.  It may have something to do with having produced thousands of motors with those pesky European government-mandated electronic bits soldered to the top of the motor and needing to use them up.  I said in the Lola article I couldn’t see why they had to put them on top of the motor where there simply wasn’t room for them under the low contours of a CanAm car body, and I can’t possibly be the only one who pointed this out.   Perhaps we should try to add the design departments of all the slot car manufacturers to our newsletter mailing list.


Don’t get me wrong.  The McLaren is a step forward from the Lola in several areas.  They fixed the problem with the spur gear dragging on the track by going to an anglewinder chassis layout, which allows a smaller-diameter driven gear.  This also lets them use smaller-diameter rear tires of equal width to the Lola’s under a narrower body.  The McLaren M6 was actually a smaller car than it looks like in photos and you don’t really appreciate that until you see one parked alongside any of a number of its contemporaries.  Monogram did a good job capturing the lines and proportions of the body, much better than on the Lola, which looks too fat in a few places where it should be a little more svelte.  The principal drawback to the anglewinder   arrangement is that it puts part of the motor where the traction magnet really should be, forcing the whole magnet installation too far forward.  Wood track and copper tape devotees will not be affected at all, but for others the magnet arrangement may be problematic.

So, the two goals for the M6 are to lower the body and to get some kind of useful magnet farther aft.  On the Lola I started by removing all the interference suppressors from the top of the motor.  This time I didn’t feel like doing that so I just replaced the motor.  I happened to have a brand-new Pioneer 21,000 rpm FC130 motor floating around the workshop (and now to be available on the VLH web site).  It’s a perfect snap-in replacement for the Monogram FC130 except for one thing.  It’s a double-ender, with the shaft coming out both ends.  I therefore had to cut it off at the endbell end so it would fit inside the body.  I used a Moto-tool with a carbide disc to do the job.  The Monogram anglewinder pinion gear easily comes off the original motor and installs on the Pioneer one.


Next, I stripped the chassis down to its bare essentials.  I removed everything – motor, axle assemblies, guide, and magnet assembly.  Then I sanded the bottom 2/3 of the chassis completely smooth, removing the raised ring around the hole for the key that fastens the car in place inside its case.


With the bottom of the chassis done I turned it over and began grinding away material from the top.  I removed 3/32″ of material from the areas highlighted in red below. The areas in yellow were cut down to the level of the chassis plate to give ample room for the lead wires.


I mentioned above that one of the problems caused by the adoption of an anglewinder layout was that the entire magnet installation was moved too far forward. Compounding the problem is the magnet itself.  It doesn’t provide downforce over enough of the car’s width.  The fix for all this is shown in the photo below.  I CA glued a Professor Motor PMTR1030 1mm thick bar magnet in place as far aft as possible.  The 1mm magnet is strong enough to give adequate downforce and thin enough to allow proper clearance under the car.  On our Scalextric Sport test track it delivered good cornering grip without sticking the car down so much it bogged on the straights or didn’t need to be driven through the corners.  I can still drive the car tail-out but the bar magnet covers enough of the car’s width that it doesn’t lose magnetic grip at normal cornering angles.  The result is like a non-magnet car with higher limits.  The earlier step of sanding the bottom of the chassis smooth, removing the ring around the hole for the hold-down key makes this installation possible.  Before gluing on the magnet be sure to sand the face if the magnet to be glued to provide some “tooth” for the CA glue to adhere to.


With the chassis done the next step was to do a little carving on the body.  That consisted of removing 3/32″ from each of the 4 body mounting posts (blue arrows) and also from the areas highlighted in red below.


With the body done it was time to reassemble the car.  All the mechanical components snap back into place.  I had to put some lead wires on the Pioneer motor.  Any of the various brands of silicone-insulated lead wire and brass end connectors will do the trick.  If you find that you don’t get a good tight fit between the lead wire connectors and the guide you can double over the ends of the braid to tighten things up.  You can also replace the stock guide with an aftermarket one from Slot It, NSR, or another manufacturer of your choice if you wish.  When you put the body on be sure the lead wires pass through the two areas that were cut down to the chassis plate.  This is to keep them from being pinched between the chassis and the interior tub.  One caution:  the two front body mounting screws need to be shortened because of the reduced length of the front mounting posts.  If they are left at stock length they will try to poke through the surface of the body when tightened down.

Before track testing I sanded the rear tires to make sure they were making full contact with the track surface for best traction.  With that done I broke in the motor a bit and then explored the modified car’s performance capabilities.  The Pioneer motor is very quick on the straights and the new magnet installation gives good but not excessive grip, making the car fast and fun to drive.  There is plenty of scope for tuning the car further to equalize it with other cars or to obtain a desired performance level.  And, of course, the car now sits down low over the wheels like a proper McLaren M6A should.


Here’s the modified M6 next to a similarly modified T70.  Perhaps the third try will be the charm for Monogram and their next CanAm car won’t need modifying.


And here, just for fun, is a shot showing the relative sizes of the M6, the T70, and a Carrera M20.  This shows what a compact car the M6 really is.



Monogram McLaren M6A project, part 2


A while back I wrote an article on how to modify a Monogram McLaren M6 CanAm car to get the body down lower over the chassis and enhance the cars performance. Since then I’ve decided that there is room for more improvement, so I built a second car to try more ideas.  One feature of the car I found annoying the first time around was the motor brush housing that sticks up from the top of the FC130′s endbell.  This made it more difficult to get the rear of the body down where it belongs.  However, the FK130 motor doesn’t have that problem.  As you can see in the photo below, the FK130 is completely flat on top. That will allow the body to be lowered more easily.  The FK130 fits into the same length and width as the FC130 but requires modifications to the mount.  I had some Falcon motors floating around, so I decided to see what it would take to fit one into the McLaren chassis.


The can end of the motor mount would be unchanged, while the endbell end would need considerable modification to fit the FK’s smaller bushing housing and make room for its lead wire tabs, which come straight out of the end of the motor instead of on top as on the FC.


This photo shows the original FC130 installation (l.) and the new FK130 installation.  To get from one to the other I needed to fabricate a sleeve for the motor mount.  I CA glued a length of Evergreen Styrene 5/16″ O.D. plastic tube inside a length of 3/8″ O.D. tube.  When the glue set I cut a slice off the end, made a small flat spot in one side, and had a perfect adapter to allow the FK130 shaft bushing to fit snugly in the mount.  I discovered, however, that the mount for that end of the motor was thin enough that it didn’t really offer enough surface to glue the adapter to.  I could foresee the adapter  coming unglued from of the mount under the stress of snapping the motor in or out.  So, I dug through the junk box until I found an old broken chassis with an intact FC130 mount built into it. (This, friends, is why you should always save your broken chassis.  You never know when you may need part of one for a kitbash project.)  I cut out the FC130 endbell mount portion of the chassis and trimmed it so it could be CA glued in place outboard of the original endbell mount, effectively doubling its thickness and providing lots of gluing surface for the adapter.  With everything glued in place I cut the notches for the FK130 lead wire tabs and still had a more than adequately strong snap-in mounting for the FK130.

The car’s original anglewinder pinion easily transferred over to the shaft of the FK130.  A little adjustment of its position on the shaft gave a smooth, quiet gear mesh.  I installed a Slot It guide up front, and replaced the original lead wires with Professor Motor lead wire and eyelet connectors, which fit easily but snugly into the guide.  With the axle assemblies snapped back in place the car was ready for body installation and track testing.  I used on-track testing to determine the optimum magnet installation for the more powerful FK130.  After trying a number of combinations I settled on two Professor Motor PMTR1030 1mm bar magnets CA glued to the bottom of the chassis as shown below.


This magnet arrangement looks a little odd, but it works well, and only delivers a reading of 310 grams on our Magnet Marshal, a quite moderate figure. With the Falcon motor, Maxxtrac M28 tires, and this magnet fit the car is fast, highly drivable, and runs just fine on a single Scalextric standard power pack per lane.  Of course, you can modify the magnet arrangement to deliver more or less downforce, but the very low clearance under the chassis doesn’t leave enough room for thicker magnets unless you recess them into the chassis, which will not be easy to do.



Here’s the completed chassis from both left and right sides.  And if you are racing against other owners of Monogram McLarens…


THIS is the view of it they will most likely get.

Carrera/MRRC C2 Corvette Kitbash


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.


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.


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.


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.


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.


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.


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.


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.


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…


But that’s a subject for another day.


Low-cost Scratchbuilding and Kitbashing With OEM Parts

by Bob Ward

It usually doesn’t take a new slot car hobbyist long to start thinking about modifying his cars to make them faster and better-handling or building unique cars not available from the manufacturers.

Many of the car-building articles on the Internet tend to steer the reader interested in such projects toward the use of expensive high-end aftermarket parts. In some cases this is the way to go, particularly if you are into non-magnet racing on wood tracks or building a car for advanced levels of competition in which cost is not an issue. However, most slot car hobbyists do not need that level of performance for home racing and even many club competitions, especially where magnets are being used and cost containment is an objective.

I’ve pointed out in other articles that most hobbyists who race on plastic track can bring their stock ready-to-run cars to very satisfying performance levels and driving characteristics with nothing more than magnet and tire modifications. The same is true when creating your own custom-built cars.

A great way to put a complete running chassis under a resin or static kit body is to buy an RTR car and use it as a “donor” car. Any time you can do this it is significantly less expensive than buying all the parts individually, especially since you can sell the body and get back part of the car’s price.  There are even some manufacturers who sell complete running chassis without the body. Also, many of the factory replacement parts for cars from Scalextric, Monogram, Carrera, Pioneer, and others offer effective and inexpensive solutions to your special projects parts needs.  If you look at all the factory replacement parts made for RTR cars you will find an abundant source of effective, low-cost parts for building almost any car you can imagine.

Here are a few examples of improved and unique 1/32 scale cars built with factory replacement parts:


This model is a “TransAm” Chevy Lumina converted from a 90s AMT NASCAR static model body (two of them, actually).  The complete running chassis is a box-stock Pioneer Mustang chassis with wheels and tires made for a Fly Porsche 934. The bodywork done on this car is quite extensive but putting a chassis under it was simplicity itself. The Pioneer chassis, used on all their 60s Mustangs and Camaros, is an exact match for the wheelbase of the body. Swapping the wheels and tires was the only change needed to give this body the chassis, wheels, and tires it needs.



Here’s a heavily modified Monogram Cooper-Cobra. It uses the complete stock Sebring chassis with wheels and tires made for a Carrera Ferrari 512BB and an upgraded guide from Slot It. This car is literally the stock Monogram RTR with a lot of bodywork done to it to make it look like a Cooper heavily modified in the early days of Group 7 (USRRC-CanAm) racing to take an American V8 engine and wide wheels and tires with bodywork mods needed to cover the tires and give the car some aerodynamic add-ons to cope with all that Detroit horsepower. Bodywork like this is cheap, requiring only some sheet styrene and body putty (plus a good deal of work by the modeler). The rear tires are Maxxtrac silicones but you may be just fine with the stock tires. Try the car with the stock Monogram guide before you spend the price of the Slot It one.


This CanAm McLaren M12 is a 70s Aurora vintage body on a Fly plastic sidewinder chassis with wheels and tires from a Monogram Greenwood Corvette. The original Aurora bodies turn up on eBay fairly often and resin clones are available from a couple of cottage industry manufacturers. The chassis under this particular car is a much chopped-up unit from a Fly Joest Porsche, but the Fly Ferrari 512S chassis and sidewinder rear pod, both available as spare parts, are a perfect fit for the body’s wheelbase. A used/semi-junk 512S makes an ideal donor car and you can even use the Ferrari wheels and tires if you prefer, though you might want to paint them aluminum with black or body-colored centers so their Ferrari origin is less obvious. This project also works with the more recent Flyslot inline 512S chassis. Both chassis are available as spare parts. The Greenwood wheels and tires are also available as spares, though they come in axle assemblies. The rear tires on this car are Maxxtrac silicones, but experience on our Scalextric track reveals that the stock Monogram tires give plenty of grip for magnet racing.

All these cars were inexpensive to build and required only basic modeler’s tools to create, yet are all good performers on the track.  You can do your own custom car projects by using donor car chassis and combining them in creative ways with the many stock replacement parts we sell in our on-line catalog.  Of course, we also carry high-performance parts from NSR, Slot It, and many others for those who need higher performance for all-out racing situations.  Your choices for giving every car you build exactly the look and performance level you want are nearly endless.  That’s a big part of what makes the slot car hobby so much fun for so many people with widely varying skills, specific areas of interest, and personal goals.

Copyright 2014 Robert M. Ward.  All rights reserved.

Carrera ’69 Camaro Chassis Transplant

by Bob Ward, June 12, 2015

Here’s an easy kitbash that can be done with any Carrera 1969 Camaro body.  By mounting the Camaro body on a Scalextric 1969 Mustang chassis you can create a Camaro TransAm car that has a better-proportioned body than the Scalextric 1969 Camaro and also gives any Carrera 69 Camaro a much better-performing chassis that lets it sit low to the ground like race car should.

NOTE:  Since this article was published Scalextric has announced that it will be producing its 1969 Camaro in this livery.  It’s supposed to be released in the latter part of 2016.  


I’ve always particularly liked one aspect of the Carrera 1969 Camaro body better than Scalextric’s body of the same car. Carrera got the proportion between the greenhouse and the rest of the body much closer to that of the 1:1 scale car than Scalextric did.  It makes a huge difference in the way the two bodies look – essentially the difference between an accurate model and a toy car body that looks, well, a bit cartoonish.

On the other hand, the Scalextric body has its good points, also.  For one thing, Scalextric’s designers modeled it as a proper race car with the subtly but effectively fattened fenders all cutting edge TA cars were sporting by 1969 while the Carrera body is very much the unmodified road car.  This gives Scalextric’s version the advantage of a wider track front and rear and room for wider tires.  I really wish Scalextric would redo its body with Carrera’s greenhouse on top of its own fatter fenders.  That would be just about ideal.  Of course, if it’s a road car model you want (and that seems to be what Carrera is primarily interested in) Carrera’s body is much better.

Chassis-wise there is no comparison.  Up against the performance of Scalextric’s TA car chassis and Pioneer’s nearly identical unit the Carrera Camaro essentially can’t get out of its own way. Worse still, perhaps, is that Carrera insists on perching the body ridiculously high on the chassis.  Combined with the hugely oversized wheels Carrera uses the car looks like something intended for offroad racing.  When the body is painted as a classic TransAm car the overall effect isn’t just cartoonish, it’s insanely cartoonish.

Which brings us to the purpose of this kitbash.  Scalextric has been producing its 1969 Camaro since…well, forever.  By now they have done the car in practically every racing livery the 69 Camaro has ever been seen in. But there’s one notable exception.  That’s the yellow #64 car driven by Richard Sterbins in the early 1970s.  And, of course, the reason Scalextric never did that car is that Carrera did it first.  So, I did a Scalextric version of it myself.

I picked up a new-in-the-package example of the Carrera model (#25712) on eBay for a not-too-ridiculous price.  As soon as it came through the door I had the body off it and was test-fitting it to various chassis.  I quickly discovered that the body is a perfect fit for a Scalextric 1969/70 Mustang chassis if the chassis is trimmed a bit at the front and rear.  You can even use the Camaro rear body posts without having to move them.  The photos below show the trimming that needs to be done at the front and rear.



Note that the rear body mounting points are completely drilled out, leaving two holes in the chassis.

To space the body up to the desired height I used shims with a total thickness of .120″ or 3mm.  You can shim the body up to whatever height you prefer.  The shims, shown below, are squares of sheet styrene.


The Carrera Camaro body comes with a removable hood and some well-modeled engine detail.  Removing the underhood structure and gluing the hood in place is not absolutely necessary to do this conversion but it reduces weight at a point where weight is counterproductive and it simplifies the relocation of the front body posts to match the location of the mounting points at the front of the chassis. With all the unneeded material removed and the grille/front valence and the hood CA glued in place the underside of the body looks like this.  Note that the mounting lugs have been cut off the back side of the grille area since they will no longer fit over the body posts when the posts are relocated.


And this is how it looks with the front body posts glued in and everything reinforced with an “industrial strength” adhesive known as E6000, available Lowe’s, Home Depot, and probably most other home improvement stores…


The posts were molded into the underhood detail that was removed.  I cut them out and reused them but you could just as easily make your own posts from styrene or ABS tubing.  The E6000 adhesive holds the posts securely in place.  You could also use gap-filling CA or epoxy, whichever you have on hand.

I didn’t do it on this car – yet, anyway – but you can add strength to the front of the body by gluing sheet styrene between the posts and the back side of the grille/bumper assembly.  With the front posts in place the body is complete.  That leaves just the interior to be modified.

The Carrera car has an interior tub that is more or less full depth in the front seat area but only half depth or less from there back.  At least the back half of the interior tub has to be made into nearly a flat tray to clear the motor, especially if you are going to mount the body particularly low in the chassis.  I decided, however, to make almost the whole interior a two-step shallow tray in order to save weight and get rid of unwanted passenger car detail molded into the interior tub. Photo #1 below shows where to cut the interior tub just enough for a passenger car interior retaining the seats and full driver figure. #2 shows where to cut for a shallow tray with only a half driver figure.  Note that on both the full depth of the interior is retained at the very front to preserve the secure mounting of the dashboard, but you can cut that, too, if you really want to.  I used a razor saw to do the cutting but you could also use a Moto-tool with a cutting disc.


Here you can see how I used sheet and strip styrene to complete the flat-tray conversion…



You can see here that the tray has almost no depth as far forward as about where the seat backs were.  This is the area that has to clear the motor.  From there forward I made it deeper in order to accommodate a more complete driver figure with head, shoulders, arms, hands, and steering wheel. To get that driver figure we had to subject Carrera’s driver to this rather painful procedure…


Yes, I chopped him off at the armpits, but now he fits perfectly in the shallow interior and he has a much faster car to drive. I cut a piece from a junk box steering wheel and glued it between his hands to complete his transformation. I also trimmed down the original roll cage and glued it into place for his safety and peace of mind.  With the interior painted and completed the project was just a matter of final assembly.


Here’s the bottom of the completed car.  Note that the two rear body screws each have one washer under the head.  This lets them retain the body in place with the original mounting points removed from the chassis.


The Mustang donor car came with Minilite wheels, but they were chrome plated and I didn’t wat to go to the trouble of painting them.  I had several sets of Pioneer 5-spoke wheels lying around so I replaced the Minilites and mounted the original Scalextric front tires and Maxxtrac silicones.  The Scalextric front tires are smaller in diameter than Pioneer’s and allow the body to sit lower at the front.  I like the dark grey wheel centers on this car.  Because the Pioneer wheels move the tires outward a bit I had to scrape some plastic off the inner edges of the front wheel openings for clearance.


The car as it originally came is quite a contrast with the converted one.  By the way, Carrera’s 1967 Mustang fastbacks have this same problem and can be converted to a Scalextric chassis in essentially the same way.  Of course, you can just buy a Pioneer Mustang fastback and save yourself all the trouble, but Carrera has a few race car liveries different from Pioneer’s.


Here is our kitbash car nose-to-nose with a Scalextric Camaro.  You don’t really notice just how big the differences are until you put them close together.  Both the Scalextric and the Carrera have their pluses and minuses, but this conversion project has brought together many of the best features of both of them.

Copyright 2015 Robert M. Ward.  All rights reserved.


Building the Frankenwedge, Part 2

Chassis and Running Gear

by Bob Ward


Every custom slot car body deserves a good chassis. That includes, of course, a chassis that fits it. Here’s a simple but effective chassis for my CanAm kitbash project.


Here’s the chassis for the Frankenwedge. Many of my readers will recognize it as a chassis I’ve used in car builds before, a Fly Ferrari 512S sidewinder rolling chassis with modifications. As I always do with Fly sidewinder cars, I replaced the gears with Scalextric ones, the W8200 pinion and W8201 spur. The rear wheels are from an old Fly Porsche 934 rear axle assembly, modified with inserts from Fly Renault 5 Turbo wheels. This particular combination is not always available, but the Fly 04403 Porsche 934 rear axle assembly with BBS wheels has the same dimensions, and most people will probably think the BBS wheels look better. The rear tires on the car are Indy Grips 3008 silicones. At the front I used wheels and tires from a Carrera Ferrari 512 BB, but if you use the Fly 934 BBS wheels at the rear you can use matching front BBS wheels from a Fly B95 or 04402 axle assembly. Before ordering these Fly axle assemblies, check with VLH to make sure the centers match front and rear, either a silver or a gold color. Fly changes part colors and finishes from batch to batch without changing the stock number.

The two most challenging mods were moving the entire pod assembly .060″ forward in the chassis to make the wheelbase match that of the body and modifying the pod to accept a Scalextric, Pioneer, Slot It or Professor Motor bar magnet. The bar magnet upgrade, as I’ve described in previous car build articles, greatly improves the drivability of any Fly classic sidewinder car by providing magnetic downforce over more of the car’s width than the stock Fly cylindrical magnet does. Also, by using your choice of these bar magnets and shimming them by different amounts you can adjust the amount of magnetic downforce to give you a wide range of grip levels and driving characteristics.


This photo shows what is involved in moving the pod forward. Compare the unmodified chassis on the left with the modified one on the right. The first step is to lengthen the rectangular opening of the front pod mounting point by .060″ toward the front of the chassis (red arrow). Next, cut off the cylindrical rear pod mount flush with the top surface of the chassis and slot the screw hole .060” toward the front of the chassis (blue arrow). You will be using a machine screw through both the chassis and the pod to hold the pod in place. Depending on the size screw you use you may have to widen the slotted hole, also. I used a 4-40, so I did have to make the hole wider, as you can see in the photo.


The next step is to glue a spacer of .060″ thick styrene in place to positively locate the pod the desired distance forward of its original position. After this photo was taken I painted the spacer black to match the rest of the chassis. The chassis was then ready to install the pod.


But first I needed to modify the pod to fit into its new location and to accept a bar magnet. In the above photo an unaltered pod is on the left, a pod with just the bar magnet modification is on the right, and the pod used on the project car, modified for both the bar magnet and relocation in the chassis, in the center. In order to move the pod forward I had to cut the forwardmost bar off the bottom of the pod as shown above. That can be done easily with a hobby knife. You can also see that on the completed pod I’ve shortened the tab that goes into the front pod mount. That is necessary because I’m moving the pod forward in the mount. The tab is still long enough to hold the front of the pod securely in place.


Here’s the rig I use to machine the channel for the bar magnet into the pod. A Dremel Moto-Tool is mounted into a stand, also made by Dremel, that allows the Moto-tool to be used as a vertical milling machine. A piece of sheet brass is clamped to the side of the unit to provide a guide along which to move the pod for cutting a straight channel for the magnet.


Here’s a closeup of the cutting tool and the modified pod. The tool is a high-speed steel cutter, .300″ in diameter, available anywhere Dremel accessories are sold. This tool cuts a channel just wide enough to take the widest of the bar magnets I use, the ones made by Professor Motor. Scalextric, Pioneer, and Slot It bar magnets are slightly narrower and require some layers of tape on them for a snug fit. I set the depth of the channel a bit deeper than the thickness of the thickest magnet I’m likely to use. This allows me to set the magnet height for the desired level of downforce by using a magnet that generates more than the required amount when placed right on the surface of the chassis and then shimming it upward to get the exact figure required. Setting the desired magnet downforce may require shimming both above and below the magnet. By the way, this modification does not prevent the original Fly cylindrical magnet from being used if required for a particular race. There is still enough of the original magnet socket left to hold the round magnet in place. I’ve found that when shimmed enough to be captured tightly between the pod and the chassis the bar magnet will not move from side to side, but if desired there is nothing to keep you from gluing in short lengths of styrene strip next to each end of the magnet to ensure proper location.


Here’s the completed installation. You can clearly see the .060″ spacer and the machine screw with its nut and lock washer. You can also see the Scalextric gears installed in place of the original Fly gears. Also visible is the end of the bar magnet peeking out past the edge of the pod. Note also that the motor has aftermarket silicone-insulated lead wires installed. The entire rear axle assembly shown here is made up from inexpensive stock replacement parts for various 1/32 scale cars, but of course there is nothing except cost to prevent you from using high-end aftermarket parts including brass or bronze bushings, a drill blank axle, and set screw spur gear and wheels, especially if you are going to race without a magnet.


So here it is, the completed Frankenwedge. As with all my project car articles, I have attempted to present ideas and techniques you can apply in building models of many different cars or in bringing to life your own original creations. If you have any comments or questions on this article please send them to  I will be glad to help you with as much information and advice as you can use. And if you have a completed car project you would like to show to the world, the VLH staff invites you to send us information and photos. You may see your creation in our newsletter or on our web site.

Copyright © 2013 Robert M. Ward. All rights reserved.

Building the Frankenwedge, Part 1

by Bob Ward

In this article I’ll show you how to take a common vintage slot car body and turn it into a unique, attractive addition to your slot car collection and a great performer on the track.img9663a-800.jpg

One of the interesting things about the original CanAm series of 1966-74 is how little development most of the cars got. It seemed like every year there was a new crop of cars attempting to challenge the series dominators, McLaren and then Porsche, but none of them achieved what their constructors hoped for. The cars usually arrived at the season’s first race, or their own first race of the season, with scant testing, even when they incorporated radical features that cried out for a comprehensive test program.   Instead, the teams all too often ended up using the races as test sessions, and this seldom if ever achieved the desired results. All too often the teams, from one season to the next, would abandon a promising but undeveloped car for a radically different one that simply repeated the cycle of inadequate development

McLaren, however, ran a continuous development program that enabled them to start with a winning combination and build on it from year to year. From the M6A of 1967 to the M20 of 1972 each year’s car was a logical and effective extension of what had gone before, incorporating all the lessons learned from previous seasons. This made McLaren the only team, until the arrival of Penske Racing and Porsche in 1972, that always showed up at the season opener with cars ready to race. This leads to an intriguing question. What would some of the other cars have achieved and what might they have looked like if they had evolved and been properly and professionally developed with an adequate budget over several seasons?


One such car is the McKee Mk 10, more commonly known as the Cro-Sal Wedge. Like all of Bob McKee’s creations it was built and raced on a relative shoestring, but if any car other than a McLaren looked the part of the quintessential CanAm car the Wedge was it. As it happened, the one-off car, which was really just a rebody of an earlier McKee, passed through the hands of several owners, none of whom had enough resources to make it a success. Not that they didn’t try. The car went through several attempts to make it a winner, even including one in which it was fitted with, of all things, a dragster-type blower.

Pat and I actually saw this permutation of the car in action at Riverside in 1971. The thing had truly awesome acceleration. We saw it blow by Denny Hulme’s McLaren on Riverside’s long back straight as if Denny had an anchor out. Unfortunately, the dragster engine was either all the way on or all the way off, which made the car a moving roadblock in the corners. Hulme repassed the McKee in the next corner and just drove away from it. And so it went until eventually the Wedge passed into the hands of vintage racers who restored it to something close to its original configuration and its Cro-Sal livery. It’s now a distinctive and popular car in vintage racing.

But what if McKee’s concept for this car had emerged from a team that had the resources to keep developing it from year to year as McLaren had done with its design? What might it have looked like after a few years? Well, as it happens, I had lying around several examples of Strombecker’s late 60s Cro-Sal Wedge body, as sold then in the form of an RTR car. These bodies and cars turn up frequently on eBay at very reasonable prices, by the way. I decided to kitbash one into my idea of what the ultimate McKee Wedge might have looked like, using current-production components for the chassis and running gear. I’ve dubbed the result the Frankenwedge.img8469-600-2.jpg

Well, actually I used two Cro-Sal bodies because the first thing I had to do was to make the body half an inch wider to fit the chassis, wheels, and tires I wanted to use and to transform the Strombecker body’s somewhat toylike proportions to something more nearly accurate. The easiest way to do this was to cut up two bodies as shown below.


Here’s the result, with the original car for comparison.


You can also see in this photo that I cut out the cockpit opening and began to make some changes in the engine area.


The joints between the glued-together sections of the body needed to be reinforced for adequate strength. I used .020″ sheet styrene. This shot also shows where the original body posts were removed and new ones installed to match the chassis I was going to use. The body now is 2.5″ wide, about the maximum practical width for racing on most 1/32 scale track systems. You can also see where I cut out the vents on the rearward face of the front fenders. Many race cars have air outlets of some kind in this general area to release lift-creating high-pressure air that builds up in the wheel wells. All of the fabrication was done with medium-thickness CA glue.

The next step in modifying the body was to add a wing. By 1970 wings had become more or less universal on CanAm cars and the Frankenwedge would have needed one. The problem with putting wings on slot cars is that they tend to be rather delicate and prone to crash damage, or at least their mounts do. When I do project cars it’s always with the idea that at some point they may be put onto the track and raced in earnest. Therefore, the wing installation has to be as strong as possible. 

There are basically two ways to mount a wing. You can either put it atop a vertical mount (or two of them) extending upward from the back of the body or you can put it between two fins. The problem with both of those is that you can’t get a very solid attachment between the wing and its supporting structure because there simply isn’t enough surface area where the wing joins its mounting structure to allow a really strong glue joint, at least not without some seriously non-scale reinforcing. You can either have a strong wing or a scale-looking wing but not both. I’ve found the best compromise between looks and strength to be a GT car wing with good-sized endplates mounted between fins. The surface area of the endplates offers lots of gluing area between the wing and the fins for a solid wing mounting. On the Frankenwedge, I used a GT car wing from my junk box. It was 2.25″ long including the thickness of the endplates. I used a Moto-tool with a carbide disc to cut two slots in the upper surface of the rear of the body spaced accordingly. I tack-glued two thicknesses of .030″ styrene together and cut out two fins to fit in the slots and extend 9/16″ back from the trailing edge of the body. Of course, I could have made them any size I needed to get the desired wing location. That’s one of the advantages of building a “phantom” car. I CA glued the two fins into the body and then glued the wing between them, being careful to spread CA glue onto the entire area of the wing endplates and set the wing straight, level and at the desired height and angle. If I had wanted to I could then have added some extra sheet styrene to the inner faces of the fins to blend in the endplates, though I didn’t do that.


A number of CanAm, Group C, and GTP cars have a wing mounted between fins, and you can use this procedure to give any of them a much stronger wing installation. It’s simply a matter of finding a wing the right length to fit between the fins on your particular car. This is one reason why you should always save the broken-off wings from your wrecked cars, along with any other parts that may be useful in the future.


This photo shows the assembled body with the wing in place and body filler applied and sanded. From here it’s just a matter of fine finishing to get all the body surfaces smooth and then on to painting and detailing.

I decided that my upgraded Wedge should have its original Oldsmobile lump replaced by a ground-pounding bigblock Chevy engine and have the long-stack injectors to go with it. So, I made this…


The base is cut from .040″ styrene. A piece of .020″ thick strip down the middle separates the two banks of injectors. The lower part of each injector is a 5/32″ length of Plastruct 90604 1/8″ styrene tubing. You can make this part whatever length you want to get the desired overall height for your injector stacks. After gluing these in place, with the two sides slightly staggered as on a V8 engine, I drilled a 1/16″ hole through the base at the center of each.   Into each hole I CA glued a 9/16″ length of Plastruct 90102 plastic coated wire, tapered down to the diameter of the wire at the upper end. I then pressed a Parma #622 brass ferrule down onto each piece of wire, adjusted the angle of each ferrule, and then put a drop of CA glue down each one. The result is an injector assembly that has 26 parts in it but is far stronger and more crashworthy than any similar part molded in solid plastic. This car will not have injector stacks breaking off it. Here’s a closeup shot of the finished and painted assembly mounted on the car.


To keep this project as simple as possible I painted the entire body in one solid color and did all the rest of the livery with decals.


The overall body color is Testor 52713 Boyd’s Dark Yellow. However, I wouldn’t recommend using this shade now that I’ve seen it on a completed car. The problem with it is that under bright incandescent light it is a beautiful, rich shade of yellow, but under fluorescent light or at lower light levels it looks somewhat muddy. It would be fine on a 1/1 scale race car, which always runs outdoors in daylight (and nobody cares what it looks like the rest of the time), but slot car tracks often are located in rooms with fluorescent and/or inadequate lighting, and there this color doesn’t look so good. The stripe decals are from an eBay copy of the decal sheet from a Matchbox Porsche 917-10K as are the numbers and the Die Hard decals. The Navy decals are from an eBay Brumos Porsche decal sheet. The MAC tools decals are also from eBay. The ASR class designation is something I printed up on my computer using an HP Photosmart printer.


The openings in the front fenders and the rear of the body are filled in with fine-mesh brass screen. Screen of this type is available in many model train shops and at good-quality hardware stores, where it will be less expensive. The exhausts are Plastruct tubing and the taillights are salvaged from a Scalextric L88 Corvette.


The interior tub and driver figure came from a junk LeMans prototype body. The tub received a bit of reshaping along its upper edges to match the contours of the Frankenwedge body. The mirrors are two that had broken off a car. I saved them for a project such as this. I drilled a 1/16″ hole in the bottom of each and CA glued in a stalk made of the same Plastruct coated wire I used in the injector assembly. The car now has much more crashworthy mirrors. The only remaining unmodified parts of the original Strombecker body are the windshield, the roll bar (metal, by the way) and the two gas caps.

Of course, no one knows what might have been done with Bob McKee’s most famous design if the budget and resources had been there to keep developing the concept aggressively, but I think it’s not unlikely that the result might have looked much like this. In any case, it’s fun to combine creativity with history to imagine in miniature what might have resulted.

NEXT- Frankenwedge – Part 2, chassis and running gear

Copyright © 2013 Robert M. Ward. All rights reserved.