30 September 2009

New aquisitions - Jagermeister Porsche 935 K3 by Fly

Well, after some time away from any blogish activities, time to catch up with the writing... and to mark this occasion, I decided to show my most recent aquisition for the Jagermeister/Porsche ranks of my colection: the limited edition Fly Porsche 935 K3!This is also my very first item purchased in eBay. I registered my username on the very same day the auction ended! Frenetic last 3 hours, I must say. Even when I asked other eBay users to buy me some items, I always opted for the "Buy it now" guise, so I didn't knew quite much about bidding.

Gladly, all ended well, and so this pretty looking "mean machine" landed on my hands:
I can assure you there is no Jagermeister bottle inside :)

Tah-dah! I told you, no bottle...

This is the beast that the great John Fitzpatrick raced at the Spa round of the 1980 DRM, finishing 2nd, according to "Racing Sports Cars Archive" (see here). That was the year I was born, and at that time (1st June 1980), I was yet to be 2 months old! Here's the photo taken from the Archives, that also decorates the box from this car:
I'm not sure if it is a recurrence in all Jagermeister models from Fly, but the color on the model seems too saturated to match the real orange color. I think the color from the box does more justice to the real Jagermeister logo.

A quick look at the car details show that the model represents quite well the 935 K3, except for the metal-looking piece just under the main front air intake (seems like duct tape) that Fly missed... since this is a special and limited edition, I think they could have inserted it on their model.

As I mentioned above, I had to quickly register for eBay and grab this car. So , I kind of lost my head a bit with this car... well, I guess that it wasn't just me, even the poor driver lost his head too! Just check:

Fortunately, the helmet is not lost, it just dropped to the passenger's side... so if you are reading this, don't worry, Mr. Fitzpatrick! I'll get the head fixed as soon as I open this one... :)

Well, one more special boxed edition Jagermeister model to add to the collection... this is the 4th Porsche entering the shelve, to join its "cousins" 917/20, 934 and 956 KH. I'll leave you with some more pictures... see you soon!

22 September 2009

Race Review - 1st round of the Le Mans Classics Championships

I've been waiting for the start of the new championships since summertime break to have something to write about in this blog. The long awaited Le Mans Classics Championship finally kicked off last Friday, the 18th - and when I say awaited, I really mean it was awaited by everyone: 19 drivers took part of the race! I have never seen so many drivers on an "one car-one driver" race format! But what will also go down in history for this first post about race reviews, is that this race marked my return to the podium - and straight to the top step! Really, I can't remember my last visit to the podium, I'm more used to battle for the places "right under the podium spots".

Classic cars seem to find many enthusiasts in Braga. Take a look at the great lineup for this race:
Porsche 917s, 908s, even a Carrera 6... My Ferrari P4 (and another white and blue one), a couple of 512S Codalunga... Ford GT40s and even a Lola T70!

This race took place at the GT Team track, which has seen competition for the last time back in June! The track was used intensively for the preparation of the Porto 24 Hours race, but unfortunately the outside lanes were very dirty, and the ones on the middle still suffered from lower-than-average grip. So, qualifying was the key for this race. I got lucky here, I admit: being 18th from 19 on the track gave an heck of an advantage: not only I would know the region of the best laptimes, I would also have a clean lane.

Well, a scare hit me right at the start. The best laptime so far was a 8.44 s, and I knew my car could deliver a laptime close to that - if the tires started to work straight from the start. On the 1st lap, even being extra careful, I couldn't avoid an exit into a very dirty section of the track (I like to call it "gravel trap"). I thought my chances were gone, but on the very next lap, I was able to record a high 8.5s, so now I started to push. Feeling the car delivering the performance helped me to push constantly and I managed to grab pole by the 4th attempt, but feeling I could do better, I managed to break it back-to-back: a high 8.3s and a great 8.325s at the end! The 19th driver failed to improve, so the very needed pole was mine!

Since we would have 3 heats (starting from the slower drivers), when it would be my time to race, the "dirty factor" would be less felt on the outside lanes. Still, no chances taken, and I've chosen my starting lane so that I would end on the dirtiest, hoping it would be clean by then.

"Gentlemen... Start your engines!"... my car leading the pack for the start of Heat 3.

The starting lane was actually one of the fastest to drive... but here came another scare. My car couldn't do better that 8.7 on this one, when I would expect laptimes similar to the pole. I had to submit to my opponents faster pace, and I was struggling for 3rd with other drivers starting to "bite" hard on my heels! But the following lane was much better: out of the middle lanes and I was now on the right pace. Strange thing, indeed. My only explanation was that most people carried dirt from the outside lanes into the middle ones (according to this track's lane rotation rule, every driver on an outside lane will move to a middle lane). Now I was able to recover 2nd place, as the previous owner was having a hard time on the dirty "blue" lane. My pace was now the fastest, but the gap to the leader was on more than one full lap. Moving to the 3rd lane, the dreaded and dirty "blue", I was surprised to see that my car fared much better than anyone that passed there before... and now, while not being fast enough to fend off the opposition from the back, I was able to pass the leader who was struggling for grip on the dirtiest lane of them all, the "black" one. Moving to the middle and fast "green" lane, I was able to drive side-by-side with the former leader and confirm that the "red" lane was not as fast as before: this time I was able to pull away on this lane, as their laptimes fell a bit. Getting closer to the end, I still had to face the fast and tricky "white" lane and the dreadful "black". I had a couple of errors on the "white" lane but at the end I had a lead of almost 3 full laps that I would have to defend on the "black" lane. Starting this final lane, I was very relieved to see again that my car did good here, better than anyone else. At the end, I managed to secure the win by a full 2 laps margin - and I even stopped alongside the 2nd and 3rd place on a rare occasion when 4 cars ended at the same section!

A rare occurrence: 1st (my P4...), 2nd (white 917) and 3rd (Ford GT40) placed drivers side-by-side. The great looking 917 Gulf was caught in the middle here, but finish a honorable 5th.

Both 2nd and 3rd drivers were tied at the end, and even though the 2nd placed car was some inches ahead, the race organizers decided to attribute an ex-aequo 2nd place for both. So, this was the podium, for cars and drivers:

"Feels good to be back..." Me, with both 2nd placed drivers side-by-side.

The awesome list of models ordered by finishing position, with the podium placed cars separated...

Curious fact: 3 different models on the podium, and mine was the only one that, historically, failed to win at Le Mans...

Well, so this marked my 5th race win in slot cars races. My last one in July 2008! Also, from the 5 wins, it's the 3rd with Ferrari. Even more curious, this #21 Ferrari P4 is my second model of this car: the first won the only race it took part, although unofficial, but this "2nd" one also won at its first outing... the P4 is a true Ferrari pure-blood, it seems!

So, time to starting tuning the car for the next round, at the CSB slot track. I'm sure the opposition will do their homework, and I am short of ideas to extract more from my car. This is what made the difference, I knew how to set this car from top to bottom, while others had to test different solutions on cars that we're not very used to race. Still, I had the upper hand on the outside lanes (that was the key for this victory), maybe it will be likewise on the CSB track.

So, hope it all turns well for the next one... see you then ;)

20 September 2009

The Jagermeister Files... Fly BMW M3 E30 DTM

Today I'll start another new section on this blog. This will also be the first topic about my collection of slot cars that belong to a unique theme.

Back in late 2007 I purchased two models that would be the "founding fathers" of my collection of Jagermeister decorated models. They were the Slot.It Porsche 956 KH and the Revell-Monogram BMW 320 Gr.5.

In this topic, I'll comment a bit on the only model that appears twice in my collection: the BMW E30 M3 that contested the DTM... but at the hands of two different drivers. Both of them are brought to us by Fly, a brand that has dedicated some attention towards Jagermeister decorated cars. No wonder it's the slot car brand that is most represented in my collection. These are the cars that I will talk about today:

Being two models that look really alike, I'm glad to see that Fly did not take the easy way around this, the "copy-paste" strategy. Although they share much in common, as one could expect since the models come from the same mould, there are subtle differences between them. I guess that Fly wanted a better looking approach to the 1992 model, which belongs to the "Bikers in Cars" series.

The 1988 model was driven by Mario Ketterer, which managed 2 points during the same season. The 1992 model was driven by Wayne Gardner, which contested both the Hockenheim (this model) and Nurburgring rounds of that season.

The basic differences between the models, when identical parts are concerned, is the different color scheme. The roll cages are painted in blue for the 1988 car, whereas the 1992 models features an all-orange look. Side rear-view mirrors are identical, but painted in black for the 1988 model, and orange again for the 1992 car. The placement of some Jagermeister logos is different, specially on the doors. Even the ones that are placed on the hood and roof seem to have subtle differences. The 1992 model's windscreen and rear window present the green stripe similar to the same green banner from the Jagermeister bottles. This is just the single detail that misses on the 1988 car.

So, what exactly is structurally different between these models?

Although a quite easy route, Fly featured each car with distinct wheels (I can't find photos of the real cars to confirm they are correct), as can be seen here:

Next stop: the rear wings. The 1988 model features a simple wing design, which seems to have been evolved to the looks on the rear wing on the1992 version:

Fly seems to have payed more attention to the detail of Wayne's helmet than on the looks of Ketterer:

So, here ends the first showing of my Jagermeister models. The BMW M3 E30 is one of my all-time BMW favorites indeed, that also contributed for the acquisition of this model "in double" - I wasn't that impressed about the 1992 M3 being part of the "Bikers in Cars" series, but it always sits well next to the other orange Jagermeister "cousins".

Until next time, for more Jagermeister Files...

16 September 2009

More Slot Car Madness: A Fly Ferrari 512S Codalunga with HRS2 chassis...

Next on "Slot Car Madness", I present one of my longest running projects so far that is yet to be concluded. I'm really fond of Classic Cars, really. Specially the Le Mans legends, even the ones that failed to win. The Ferrari 512S "Codalunga" is one of my favorites: the looks on this car mix both the oddity and the need for speed. Plus, it's a Ferrari, a true prancing horse, no doubt.

A few months ago, when I visited a private club's track in Braga, I was almost knocked out from my feet when I saw for the first time a slot track with permanent scale lighting... I imagined the kind of races you could get there, specially since the track was built on the living room of an unused apartment: you can run "night races" even if the sun is at high noon!

So, the idea that popped into my head was re-enacting the great night racing from the Le Mans 24 Hours, but in old-fashion 60's or 70's cars! Every time I see the Steve McQueen's "Le Mans", the thing that strikes me on the night scenes, is that you can't see anything else apart from the headlights that seem to move on nowhere! I really admire those guys that had to do the full 5km Hunadieres straight without seeing anything that was a couple of inches away from their own noses...

Luckily for slot car enthusiasts, many slot car brands have dedicated some of their efforts to bring us those kind of legends. I saw the Fly's Ferrari 512S Codalunga "#5 1970 Test Car" on sale with reduced price, so I decided to grab it. I knew some of the flaws of this car, so I decided for something not too common with classic slot cars: fitting it a HRS2 chassis.

As you can see, the project is still far from finished, but the chassis is already assembled. What took most of my dedicated time on this car was the fitting of the lights kit. I purchased some very affordable kits from Amoslot (www.amoslot.de), these are very simple to build if you have some basic notions on electronic components and soldering skills (they are sold with very easy to follow instructions, by the way).

Fitting some lights to this car proved more difficult than initially imagined. The huge headlights from the 512S are big enough to house a 5mm LED. The light kits come with 3mm LED, but I replaced with the bigger ones. Another of the striking features from the 512S are the small lights at the center, and I decided to light'em up too with some small LEDs (I don't know the type, it's the ones used on cell phones). As for the rear section, I was not willing to spoil the small rear lights, so I placed the red LED a bit to the inside, with some rubber insulation from electric cabling to limit the spreading of the light.

Here are the views from the front and rear:

And this is the messy look from the wiring under the body, with the detail on the front section:

Although I don't show on the photos, I can assure you that the lights are functional. I still have to decide a couple things on the mechanical side, so that I can solder the system onto the motor and it the track with this red beast...

So far I managed to convince some other enthusiast to build their own HRS-Classics, so that we can have enough ones for that special night race - the track only has 4 lanes, so we don't need many cars!

To finish another report on odd things in my world of slot cars, I present you the next project in line... not hard to guess what I will do from this:

14 September 2009

Fly BMW 320i - "Liqui Moly" decoration (by me...)

To open a new feature on this blog, where I put some photos of free paint schemes, I decided to show you one of my very first paintings - my Fly BMW 320i. Why not starting by the very first one? Well, for some reasons:

- Firstly, it's nothing that great and I am quite embarrassed to show,
- Secondly, this is one of my oldest paint jobs that now resides on the shelves, having earned a more that welcome retirement from racing. So why not bringing it out of its retirement for a quick photo session?

I painted this car for the "Liqui Moly Championship" that took place late in 2008 and early this year. It was one of the most participated series, specially due to its unusual format. To start with, we had the sponsorship from Liqui Moly, which contributed with some nice gifts for every participant, plus merchandising prizes for the top 3 drivers. The low cost involved in racing these cars was also a key factor: for less than 20 €, one could buy the plain white bodywork and chassis from Fly: (the only cars that were allowed were the touring versions of the BMW 320i and Alfa Romeo 156). This series took place in two separate tracks, with an unofficial exhibition race at a local Tuning Show - this too helped raising local drivers wish to take part in the series.

Mechanically-wise, the power unit should be the Ninco NC-5 motor with fixed gear ratio of 9:27, plus mandatory Ninco rear tires (any reference). This made for some close racing, with lots of duels taking place at once, discussing every small fraction of inch while braking, exploring curve speeds to the limit... I think you can get the picture.

Another strange thing about this series, was that some racers took more time painting their cars than actually preparing them to race! That's what you get by choosing models that are sold plain white! So that you can get the idea, here's a sample of the colorful "paddock" at the end of the 1st official race:

Mine is the 2nd from the left on the middle row...

As you can see, every car shows Liqui Moly stickers, as part of the requirements from the sponsor (which we gladly agree...). Here I present the looks on the car, taken specially from its retirement at my shelves for some photos:

As you can see, the car has an asymmetric paint scheme, being white and red at the front and right side, whereas the rear and left side are white and blue. This creates a strange effect: you actually have the feeling that the car changes color while taking on the track, according to the angle it turns to the viewer's eye...

This car ended up 5th in the Liqui Moly Championship. It did a couple extra races on the Touring Series and ended up on a 6 Hours Endurance race for Touring Cars. One of my most raced models and the one that raced on more tracks: a total 5 different tracks! Now, a quiet retired model, standing alongside many other good-looking models at my shelve...

So, to conclude this post, some more pictures of this car's past:

The full driver's grid for the first race - the unofficial exhibition race held at a Tuning Show event turned out a hit among the drivers, with a record number of starters - 15...

The car standing in 2nd place at the starting grid for the 2nd heat of 4 in total at the exhibition race - it would end up winning this heat and finishing 8th overall from 15 drivers

The starting grid for the last race - the 6 Hours Touring Car Endurance. It started last, and finished last...

12 September 2009

F1 Slot Car Madness - My SCX Arrows F1

F1 is still the motorsport category that I pay more attention, despite the ever-growing lack of interest that this series has suffered from the mid 90's forth. For me, we're talking about the fastest ever circuit-going pieces of machinery that one can lay eyes on... how about bringing them to slot cars as the fastest pieces of machinery too? Complicated? Maybe...

SCX has a regular line of F1 models. I found a 2002 Arrows F1 with discount, so I grabbed it. Why this Arrows? Well, since the team has ceased F1 activity in years, it's a way of driving a kind of "neutral" F1 team (neutral to me - neither disliked or favorite). This model features the wide F1 chassis type from SCX, which was in accordance to that year set of rules.

My first impressions from the car were not that positive. It was fun to drive in Ninco tracks, but for the longer Carrera, this car was painfully underpowered - the 15.000 rpm standard SCX F1 motor simply is out of place on a F1 model! It had to go! But this originated another problem: I browsed the SCX motor choices and the best was the Pro Turbo, but the electric contacts won't fit here - so, if one has to change them, why not changing everything, starting from the blade guide? This way, the options were in larger number...

So, starting from setting the blade guide, my choice was the Scaleauto "Universal Club Racing". I had to cut the end of the metal linings that used to contact with the standard guide, but I left some metal bits behind that point, so that the chassis wouldn't lose rigidity. Here's how it ended up:

Now, it's time to fit a motor. Looking at the options, RX-type motors performances were not very appealing to me, so I decided to fit short-can Mabuchi type motors, with the RX-fit accessories from Slot.It. I had a spare 25.000 rpm motor (yellow can) from the same producer, so I decided that it was a big enough "revver" for a F1 (well, some day I will upgrade it to the 29.000 rpm cousin - this is a F1, right?)

Fitting it was very easy, the Mabuchi-to-RX parts from Slot.It fit very well indeed. Now, it was the time to set the rear axle. I replaced all the parts for Slot.It material, as usual: hollow 54 mm axle, F1 rims and 24 teeth crown. The latest had to be trimmed on the back side, to fit under the bodywork - or the other option would be the 23 "sister". The motor axle is not long enough to reach the inside section of the crown, so I had to place a stopper for anglewinder cars. Here is the looks of the rear powertrain:

Grip is provided by the very trimmed Ninco F1 tires. So far they seem hard, but some more running (and oiling) will make them more able to withstand the grunt from this motor.

All this underside section fitted nicely to the bodywork, apart from the electric cables - there was simply no hole or space that allowed them to pass through the inside! The only option was cutting some plastic from the radiators and fitting them through the outside... This is how the chassis was trimmed:

Notice that not only the radiators were trimmed. The front triangular section suffered some cuts. Fitting this section to the chassis subframe and the bodywork, results in this:

And I admit, the visible wires make this a very odd-looking F1 - I used to joke about this: it's a special KERS system that needs wide section cabling! Here's another view:

I removed the front tires so that I could replace them with smaller diameter ones - but the fitting on the front rims is complicated, they use some strange dimensions, and most aftermarket front tires won't fit here. I am still looking for some that fit, but for the time being I run this car without tires - as it is so low, the rims already touch the track!

Taking it to the track, one can stop noticing some heads turning to see this orange rocket - while not the fastest thing around, it is amazing to see the incredible straight line speed one can extract from this motor! Acceleration is not that poor too, but cornering is still an issue to solve, as this car bottoms out quite a bit. I had to trim the underside of the chassis, since the screw hole for screwing this car to the display case was constantly hitting the track!

Even with that "plastic-on-plastic" noise from the front rims and the constant bumping on the track, it's a quite enjoyable ride if we consider it a F1 car - they never feel smooth to F1 drivers, do they?

10 September 2009

The Slot Car Madness Ongoing projects...

Well, I do write a bit about posting some slot car madness in this blog... but so far, where is it?

Time to show you one of my ongoing projects in that section. You know that old saying, "the bigger, the better"? Well, here's something big:

The great Fly / GB Track Mercedes truck! This one is not actually mine. Another "aficionado" owned this one and another of its "cousins". This model in particular was in quite bad shape: one of the front screw holes that lock the chassis into the body is broken, the bodywork comes in several pieces... plus it's in stock configuration.

So far, work has been carried out repairing the bodywork, but the screw hole is still a problem to solve. Chassis has been trimmed in some sections, to make way for some "small enough" foam tires - the bottom not sits really low on track. Power for these kind of beasts should be plenty: so now I've fitted the Spirit SxXx motor!

So far, track tests prove this car is a headache to set... but as more progress come in, I'll show you the final outcome. Until then, "stay tuned"...

9 September 2009

Preparing a Scalextric Ferrari 330 P4

The greatly awaited Le Mans Classics Championship is about to start soon, so one can already see some great glories of the past being tuned up, raring to go!

Since the 4 Hours Classic Cars Endurance last July, where I took the Racer Ferrari 312 P, models have been left to relax. Now that they are called up again, it's time to choose our "weapons" for the fight: will I take the Racer again, or take the risk on the Scalextric Ferrari 330 P4?

The choice was not obvious by that time, but now my heart looks to be set on the P4. It proved faster than the Racer, but consistency was a key issue to solve, as the car had some teething stability problems to solve. Now, I think I might have sorted out most of them, so here are my considerations about how to prepare this lovely looking 60's Le Mans classic.

As the regulations allow replacing the interior of the vehicle, I took advantage of it, building an interior with light plastic sheet, with an old driver and dashboard lexan glued to it. This is the look of the regular interior detail that Scalextric fits to the model:

And this is the underside look of the plastic interior I built:

The driver and dashboard were made from an old lexan board I had, glued to some clear light plastic sheet (from the packaging of SCX Pro parts, by the way), spray painted in black. The engine cover was made from the plastic cover that Spirit fits inside their boxes, to hold the models in place (this was from the Porsche 936). The P4 does not present that shape, on its engine cover, but this one looks good in the end. All these plastic additions were glued to the bodywork with contact glue. Here's how the front and rear look like:

This interior not only presents the benefit of the weight loss, as it also allows more freedom to set things around in the chassis. One example is the positioning of the wires, which is rather complicated with the regular interior. Also, there is enough room to fit some ballast weight now, which is precious to this very nervous car.

Mechanical parts were replaced by Slot.It material, as can be seen here:

To take advantage of the magnetic downforce from the car, low rear tires must be used, so I opted for the 19x10 size, fitted to Slot.It's 15'' rims. The only problem to overcome is that 18 mm crowns must be used, as the larger 19 mm hit the track. The 6.5 mm sidewinder pinions won't fit with the smaller crowns, so one has to get creative: I decided to used the large 7.5 mm pinions that NSR uses for their anglewinder cars... only problem is: the smaller one has 12 teeth, which will make up for a very long gear ratio. This is why I chosen the purple crown, has it is the one bearing more teeth.

Tuning the front section is quite a challenge too. The smaller 14'' front rims seem to be the best option, as they fit correctly to the car's width. Smaller 15mm tires leave the car bottoming on the chassis, and the larger 16 mm tires leave the car a bit too high - compromise is key here, but it must be balanced with the blade guide option. Standard clip-on blade guides from Slot.It fit very well to the chassis, but they sit rather much on the inside of the chassis - that's why the car bottoms out a lot. I decided to use the bigger wooden track blade guide from Slot.It, as it's bigger size leaves the braids at the correct height. But many other options are available.

Front section detail. Before you ask - Yes, all that ballast is really needed!

So, now it's time to start preparing some sticky tires for the rear, and get all that running into the car to make for a smooth 1st race. Let's see what happens then...