Saturday, 26 July 2014

Double, Bubble, Toil and Trouble

After many months (working on and off), I've finally finished the BMW Isetta bubble cars I bought from Lagartija last year.

The cars came as a resin kit with interior and windows, and I had to source the running gear, choosing a particularly slow 10,000 rpm motor to ensure the cars didn't drive too quickly.

The bodies needed a lot of preparation to ensure everything went together without the wheels fouling the bodywork - a lot of time with the Dremel thinning out the body and checking and re-checking the fit.  Then the bodies could be finally primed, and then painted.  One car was modelled after the Isetta I saw at the Malta Classic Car Collection.  This involved a lot of tricky masking and this car had to be painted and repainted to get it as good as possible.

The other car was painted in the classic BMW Motorsport colours - white with dark blue / mid blue / red stripe across the car.

Here's all the completed elements before it was put together...

The kit came with a set of decals and front lights...

...and rear lights.

One of the resin chassis cracked during fitting but I managed to repair it, and both chassis had to be installed carefully to ensure the wheels were square against the body.  But after a lot of work, the final cars do race well together.

Wednesday, 16 July 2014


Andy got me an MG K3 kit from George Turner for Christmas.  Andy has a few of these cars but this variant attracted me as it had a male driver and female passenger.

I found inspiration from some photos of a similar MG K3 at Brooklands:

I sprayed the resin chassis black, and the primed the body with grey.

The body and mudguards then had a few coats of midnight blue.  The car was detailed in silver and transfers added, and the driver and passenger (inevitably) painted up to match coats that I and Louise own.

Once put together, the car is a pretty good representation of the photos I found, and also runs very well on the track.  Click on images below to see in more detail.

Sunday, 13 July 2014

New Start Finish gantry

The existing start finish gantry was a vintage Scalextric item with start lights fitted underneath.

The problem was its fragility.  It would regularly get knocked by a car and the start-finish banner would fall out, or the start lights would slide down the metal poles.

At the recent Slot Car Festival, I found a more sturdy laser cut gantry from MHS Model Products.  This comes flat packed and needs a knife to cut away the places where it is connected before being pressed out.

I constructed the gantry, sprayed it white, and fixed the chequered flags and START / FINISH signs, once I'd painted them also.  Before glueing the side structures, I cut a couple of slots so that the LED lighting panel could be inserted and removed.

Installed on the track, this should hopefully be more robust and resist the inevitable crashes when racers are going for that fastest lap.

Saturday, 24 May 2014

UK Slot Car Festival 2014

Last Saturday, Andy and I conducted our annual pilgrimage to the UK Slot Car Festival at the Heritage Motor Centre.  Beautiful weather for the first long journey in my new MGB on some fabulous A-roads.  The show was a little bigger and is now spread over two days.  As well as a large number of traders and manufacturers, there were lots of tracks to try out and appreciate.  Our favourite amongst these was the Targa Floria track and we chatted to the creator about the design and techniques used.

Another highlight was one chap's Italian Job project.  This had started with the minis and a wonderful scratchbuilt coach (which had powered braid inside so the minis could be driven up the ramp!) but grew to encompass all the main vehicles in the film - police cars, jeep, digger, the Lamborghini Miura that gets trashed at the beginning of the film (in both perfect and trashed versions!).  A really great job.

Another new product from Steve Ward of Penelope Pitlane caught my eye - genuine 1:32 scale go-karts.  There have been a couple of models of go-karts produced by Scalextric and Ninco.  The Ninco in particular are great (Andy probably has the largest collection in the country!) but at 1:18 scale, they are over-sized for my layout.  The new ones really are tiny but the scale is perfect.  They come as a kit but here's the couple painted up that were on display at the show.

In my continuing search for unusual pairs of cars to race against each other, I bought a couple manufactured by Carrera modeled on streamlined German cars from 1937 - the Auto Union Typ C Stromlinie and Mercedes-Benz W25 Avus Stromlinie (it says W125 on the packaging but it's definitely the W25).

They are huge cars with removable covers for the large but very skinny wheels.

They run very fast and have magnets fitted in the centre of the chassis and ahead of the rear axle.  I took the rear magnets out to slow them down, help get the rear end out and make them more interesting to drive.

Monday, 5 May 2014

Highwood Pre-War Classic complete

Started by Andy and me way back in September, the Highwood Pre-War Classic was our first attempt at a race series.  16 cars - racing in four heats of four cars each, then two semi-finals leading into a final race.  84 races in total over seven evenings, spread over six months.  Phew!

We were very strict with crashes - three strikes and you were out of the race.  Probably too strict.  We think perhaps a simple deslot should be forgiven - but a roll is a write-off.  The points we awarded (3 for a win, 1 for a lose, 0 for DNF, and 1 for the fastest lap) need refining too.  But it made for some tense and close racing, and was a lot of fun.

None of my four entries made it to the final, but the eventual winner was one of Andy's MG K3s.  Andy bought me one of these for Christmas so when I've finished it, perhaps I'll have a more competitive entry!

We're thinking of similar race series e.g. 1960s cars, American cars.  And to start setting up a 1950s class, I bought a couple of Scalextric GP cars - a Ferrari 375 and Maserati 250F.

Sunday, 30 March 2014

Achtung Spitfire! (Part 2)

A couple of years ago, I blogged about my old Spitfire (above) and detailed the build of an Airfix Supermarine Spitfire to fly over the track.  Having still not found a model of the Triumph Spitfire MkIV, I concluded that the MkII was the closest I'd get, and my mother bought me the kit from Pendle for Christmas.

What's particularly nice about the kit is that the windscreen and bumpers come as separate chromed pieces to attach after painting the body.  I supplemented this with some more realistic headlights and swapped the driver's head for one without a helmet.

I primed the body in grey and then cut a card insert to fit over the interior before spraying in as close a yellow I could find to the Mimosa Yellow of my Spitfire.  I then painted up the driver, the lights and picked out the chrome bits with silver.  A lovely little car that drives very well.


Thursday, 6 March 2014

Alfred Neubauer

Alfred Neubauer was the racing manager of the Mercedes-Benz Grand Prix team from 1926 to 1955, famous for his tactical skill and effective pit management.  He must have cut quite a figure on the circuits.

A model of Neubauer has recently been manufactured by the cutely-named Immense Miniatures.  It is nice to have real characters on the circuit and a refreshing change from figures who are average height, average weight and white (although I have already ensured that my figures are a bit more ethnically diverse).

I spotted a painted version of the model at the Swindon Swapmeet back in January.  I liked the figure but the paintjob wasn't perfect, and after dithering about for a while, found that it had been sold when I went back to buy it.  When we got home, Andy then revealed that he had bought it for me - which was rather sneaky but very kind too.  I finally got round to re-painting the figure this weekend.

And here he is on the track...