25 October 2009

The Paintshop - Slot.It Porsche 956 for the Group C Championship

The next feature on the "Paintshop" is the car which replaced the Porsche 956 "Marlboro" that I painted considering a future participation in racing (as I told here). However, I kind of felt bad about racing that model, so I decided to paint a brand new model (the Marlboro had some woes, ias the chassis and body were used).

While searching for a different livery for the Porsche 956, I was browsing the Racing Sports Cars Archive when I found a nice looking and mostly unknown Porsche 956 that contested the 1984 Le Mans 24 Hours, the #21 "Rollei Cameras" from Charles Ivey Racing, this one:
Since this is also a quite simple color scheme (and I had the silver and black spray cans!), I decided to paint my model based on this car. So, here's the result:
The black section was painted in first place, since the silver paint never dries completely and for that reason, I prefer not to use mask on silver painted sections. I missed the masking on the mid body air outlets and some black "smoke" entered (better seen on the top-down view). If this was a model for the shelves or if I had some extra time to paint the car, I would have corrected this. Since it's a racing car - what the heck, no one will notice it when I blast around the track with it!

After painting the black rear, I allowed it to dry overnight before masking it and apply the silver section. Then it was time to remove the masking tape and apply decals. I chose the #7 in detriment of the original #21, I have this belief that 7 is my lucky number and all my racing models bear this number (well, I was born on a day 7, maybe that's where this superstition comes from). Decals were chosen from assorted letfovers of 1:43 decal sheets I have laying around. I do need some big logos to fit the wings and wide sections of my models, as it brings up the looks on the model quite considerably.

After applying the decals, I painted the black sections (this time with brush...), mainly the dashboard under the front windshield and the headlights housing. The details like fuel inlets ad exhausts were painted in silver. The pilot was also painted on this occasion (I used the replacement Porsche interior from Slot.It). After all dried up, I started covering the body with thin layers of clear varnish and allowed it to dry overnight after some 3 or 4 very thin layers were applied. Then, on the next day I applied a couple "normal" layers of varnish, and allowed it to dry again overnight.

After applying all plastic detail parts, the car was ready to hit the track - only 2 days before the scheduled 1st race! Since this was a very long painting process, I had to resort to a "T-car" I had, the less performing Porsche 956 KH, just to get the mechanical side working. In the end, this car had an astonishing 1st race result, scoring an unexpected 2nd place. But that will be stuff for a next article...

Until next time...

20 October 2009

Slot Car Madness - The Revell Mercedes... Taxi!

After some absent time (my writing is being directed to somewhere else...), time to present you another ongoing project on Slot Car Madness. This is not a true Slot Car Madness project in itself, it's more of a "painting madness" project.

I recently purchased a Revell Mercedes 300 SE, rally version, a model I was looking for some time. Not that I want to race it... it's an idea that poped into my head soon as I saw this model on the shops.

This is a nice looking "car-bomber". The robust and powerful looks show exactly what this car was: a Mercedes. Revell did a nice work with this model, it's full of nice details. But I won't bet on the track capacities of this huge trucker... I'll show you why:

The tires are so narrow! If they are up to scale, I wonder how did these guys manage to race this 2-ton car with such a small patch of rubber underneath. One good thing that Revell did: place the motor right before the rear axle, instead of their usual choice for cars of this size (ahead).

Some more nice looking details:

Shame that the idea I told you about requires that I strip this car's paintwork. I kinda like this one, but the other choice was the grey Monte Carlo winner model - and there's no way I'm going to change the paintwork on a Monte Carlo winner !!!

This is what I want this car to look like afterwards:

Well, wish me luck... see you next time!

11 October 2009

The Paintshop - Porsche 956 "Marlboro"

"The Paintshop" is another new section to the blog. In this section, I'll present some of my painted slot cars, either from scratch or just modified. In fact, this is not a 100% new section, as I've already shown you some paintwork before, with the "Liqui Moly" BMW 320i (here). So, to officially start this section, I'll present you my Slot.It Porsche 956 painted with the color scheme of the Marlboro brand.

The color scheme was based on the #8 car that contested the 1983 Le Mans 24 Hours race, driven by Klaus Ludwig, Stefan Johansson and Bob Wollek. The trio brought the car home in 6th place, on a race where the legendary "Rothamans Porsche" team scored 1-2 (check the results and photos here). The #8 Marlboro Porsche paintjob suffered a bit throughout the race, as can be seen from the pictures:

So, this is my interpretation of the model:

This was a "leftover" bodywork that lied around in the GT Team box of spares. It was exclusively used for testing for the annual National 24 Hours Race, that used the Group C cars a couple years ago. The respective clear parts and exhausts, fuel caps and radiators were lost, so I had to resort to another model that was left behind, a "Kenwood" Porsche 956 that ended its days in the spares box (that's why the windshield bears the "Sonauto" logo).

The bodywork was fairly simple to paint. The usual Tamiya Spray white primer was applied before the next steps. Using Tamiya masking tape, I covered all the white areas you see on the model, and then passed some thin layers of Tamiya TS-36 "Fluorescent Red" Spray, which is the color that best matches the Marlboro red from the whole Tamiya catalog. After passing some layers and a thorough pause for drying (a whole weekend), I removed the masking tape and applied the decals from some old sheets I had for 1:43 models. Then, I applied gentle layers of Tamiya Clear Spray (TS-13). After passing 3 or 4 very thin layers and allowing them to dry, I finished the model with a normal passing of Clear Spray again. The black details (headlight housing, window borders and radiators) were brush painted before the final assembly of the bodywork.

The final look could be better if I had the adequate Marlboro decals, this is the best I could do with my 1:43 sheet. The Dunlop and #8 numbers were also available from old sheets too, and that's what I used mostly.

Still, in the end it's a very easy to replicate color scheme that should look great on any model, not just the Porsche 956. To finish this post, just a small addition: this model was actually painted to race, but now it sits very well on the shelves - so I bought another "white body" Porsche 956 to attack the incoming Group C series. I've already checked for some easy-and-good-looking color schemes and I assure you that painting is in progress. So, keep an eye out for news...

9 October 2009

Race Review - 3rd round of the Le Mans Classics Championships

The 3rd round of this series brought us back to the GT Team track, where I managed to score my last race win. Prospects of repeating this feat looked dim, as the competition from the Fly models looked stronger now - and somewhat to my own fault, there were some fast-paced Scalextric Ferrari P4s now, all fitted with "super-sticky" tires, the way that only those guys know how to!

Tires were just the key issue here. I spent all week trying to revive a couple of old P1 I had, since the ones I started this series with swollen so much, that the rear of the car sat too high - and that was the reason of the poor behavior I had to deal with last race. These new P1 were just 18 mm in diameter, but unfortunately now the car sat too low! Only noticed that on race day, when the car was showing its bad temper again. With no time left to prepare new P1s, I had to resort to a couple of used P6 tires with a lot of mileage on them, but no race distance ever done. At least they were the exact diameter I needed.

After quite some laps (and some treatment with lighter fuel), tires were beginning to grip quite well, dispite the "tail-happy" behavior always present. Nothing that some extra driving care wouldn't deal with. My only concern was on the performance of these tires on the exterior "blue" and "black" lanes...

With another "full house" (18 drivers) and a track cleaner than last race, I still knew that I had to do well on quali, so that I could join the last heat. That's what I did, and just narrow, with 6th place!

(top) Me with the rest of the "big guys", 1st on the left. (below) My car waiting for the green lights way back there! Another thing of notice: 4 Scalextric Ferrari P4s here!

The 2nd heat runners scored some impressive results, so we were all "on alert" on our turn. I had no choice but to start on the blue lane, which was the dirtiest at the start. Fortunately, it was good enough when I started the race. With a low-key result (which is expected when starting from this lane), I was last by the end of the lane, but 5th and 4th placed drivers were not far away. One of the drivers was having issues with a tire that decided to "unglue" from the rim, so his car was de-sloting considerably. That was my only chance of beating other car, since all the others were running too fast. Moving from lane to lane, I was running something between 2 or 3 tenths of second slower than the leader, but close to 4th place. Some mistakes on the penultimate lane, the fast "red" cost me a bit, but I was able to recover on the last lane - the yellow one proved the fastest lane to drive, and that's where I scored my best lap result and fastest laptime too. That was not enough to challenge for 4th, but I kept 5th in the heat and also overall, as every driver from this lane performed better than the guys from heat 2.

Overall, I scored 205 laps and 27 meters, which improved my last race here by some meters but this time it was not enough to claim the win, as I needed an impressive 211 laps. The Fly Ford GT40 was too fast for the Ferrari P4 horde..

The paddock picture and podium:
Today it's time to deal with the CSB track for the series final round. My chances of finishing this series on the top3 are small... I will do my best there...

6 October 2009

The story of my unluckiest slot car

"And now, for something completely different..."

Today I'll be showing you my GT-HRS2 that contested the championship with the same name. This series were launched to prepare the assault on the annual Porto 24 Hours race. Not that this model earned its place in my heart as bringing good racing memories - actually it was the opposite case: this car never had a good race, all due to some sort of bad luck involved. So, this is the story of my unluckiest slot car ever!

From the whole choice of models and brands, I bought the Corvette from SCX, the "Jos Menten" paintwork. Not that I liked it particularly, it was just a case of availability... and having seen the Corvettes performing damn well before, in HRS2 configuration.

So, this was my 3rd attempt to build a HRS car on myself, and 2nd time with the newer HRS2 system (the 1st one, I've already shown you here). Here are the looks of both "body and soul":

The hub inserts at the front are from the Slot.It Ferrari F40 - the regulations obliged all models to fit Slot.It 17mm diameter wheels both front and rear, so I took the front wheels from the F40. As you can see this is a "simple" anglewinder configuration with all-Slot.It material. I actually spent more time fitting this chassis to the car that actually preparing it for racing. I'm always afraid to glue it the wrong way, so I spend more time than really needed when fitting an HRS chassis to any body.

Still, this car had a very promising start, even without that much needed practice time. The series consisted of just 4 races and I already knew from the start that I would have to miss the 3rd. This car couldn't start the 1st race any way better: it scored pole! However, since qualifying took place on the "blue" lane of the CSB track, one couldn't jump to any conclusions on the real race pace of the models.

The joy of pole lasted 6 laps into the race, when the first "gremlin" decided to attack. I was having that feel of a loose crown gear, and a quick stop and check showed that there was nothing wrong with it - but the car behaved the same. So, off to the pits for a general check: it was the rear axle stopper's screw that came loose and couldn't be screwed again! Luckily I had a spare axle stopper at hand, but lost too much time on the pits - I had to remove the whole rear axle almost piece by piece. The problem was that "pre-race check": I tightened the screw too much and it gave way after some laps. So much for being careful... I don't quite remember the rest of the race, but I still had to visit the pits again for some reason. Anyhow, all these mishaps put me dead last from 10 runners - not even a lowly point to start the season.

The rear axle stopper was the first "traitor" that I had to deal with, on this car...

Well, so much for my first race, despite the pole. For the second round, I had progressed the car quite a bit, but so did others. I still eyed a good race, when all of the sudden, something new to me occurred. Since it was a cold rainy day, I decided to bring the car with me for work, but left it on my (real) car's glove compartment. It only took 15 minutes of odd sunshine for that day, to get the cockpit's temperature high enough for the chassis bending up! I only noticed it the first time I took it to the track: it was hitting the ground everywhere! In such short time left, I was forced to skip the race, as the chassis was still being leveled up again on a Slotcars Italia chassis bench (see here).

As I told before, I had to miss the 3rd race... so, while preparing for the last race of the season, having the chassis leveled up again allowed me to check that the motor pod was also bent up! Nothing that a new pod would fix - but there was not much time to adjust it properly to the chassis, so my Corvette was suffering a bit from rigidity.

To hell and back - the Slotcars Italia bench did wonders with this chassis...It is not very noticeable, but I assure you that this pod is quite bent!

For the last race, only 7 contestants appeared, but I was aiming for a podium finish. Alas, the rock-hard feel on the car didn't allow me to do any better than 4th, but hooray for a clean race (at least clean from any mechanical issues).

The last race this car contested was a 4 hours endurance, again for preparation of the 24 Hours race. For this last race, this time on the GT Team's track, the pace was fairly better, but still a bit away from the faster cars. Nothing that caused any big concerns on an Endurance race, but we could do with more pace, that's for sure... The car started very well, at the end of lane #1 we were 2nd overall from 6 teams. Unfortunately, the other teams started to show their real power and we had to concede 2nd place and we faced serious opposition for 3rd, which we lost on the very last lane - the mechanics letting us down again! This time, a very unusual problem: the whole front assembly unscrewed! Nothing that ever happened to time on the huge amount of practice laps this car did - and even so, I had the screws fixing reinforced with superglue, so that they wouldn't (hopefully) unscrew! That ended up our chances of finishing on the podium, so this car said farewell to racing with a low-profile 4th place, 22 laps behind 3rd place.

The front mounting that let me down on this car's last race...

So, the sad story of a car built with care. I'm sure my next HRS will do better, if the "mech-gods" don't throw any more issues on the car's way... Until then, see you next time!

1 October 2009

Race Review - 2nd round of the Le Mans Classics Championships

A quite late race review since the race took place a week ago, but here is my review of the 2nd round of the Le Mans Classics Championship. Moving the "paddock" from the inaugural event at the GT Team track to the longer straights of the CSB track, organizers were again pleased with another "full house" - 18 drivers, with some of them being new to the series! Imagine if we got them all reunited!
You would have to return to the 60's or 70's to see a race like this!

Preparing cars for the CSB track was quite a challenge. My car was completely unstable on this track, although managing to be just shy on the pace of the fastest guys around. I did what I could to try to solve this, but despite my best efforts the P4 had a strange eagerness for jumping around the track! The only option was fitting the car with a bit more ballast at the front (5 g) and fitting a shorter-than-ideal gear ratio to better deal with the external lanes.

Although this track was not as dirty as GT Team was last week, I knew that I would have to qualify for the last heat, which would not be easy since many drivers made an amazing job in preparing their cars for the unique demands from this track. So, being the championship leader, at least I had the advantage of being the last one to qualify. I had seen some drivers scoring impressive laptimes, but other favourites had some issues, so I could have a shot at the 3rd heat. So, after a quite nervous and nail-bitting qualifying minute, I did good enough to see me sitting on 4th place overall, and the spot for the 3rd heat was taken. "Phew!" was the expression...
My P4 sitting 4th place on the grid (top) and me (2nd from right) bracing myself for the inevitable (below)

The 2nd heat saw some amazing performances, with 2 drivers scoring an impressive 182 laps total. That was my main objective so far, since I would not risk chasing the other guys from my heat - all I could do was keeping my car on track and hope for the best.

That was actually took place - a nerve-wrecking race indeed. A couple of consistent performances on the first two lanes was good enough for 5th and 30 laps scored on each was a good mark. But then came my worst lane, the fast "green". Can't really explain what happened here, but my car was very unstable - I had different response at the same sections from lap to lap! I guess I had 4 or 5 errors here, what cost my a full lap or even more. 30 laps scored again, but I needed a good mark here, so it was a poor result. The move to the tricky "white" lane saw me driving for the 1st time on the "tight" side of the "Big Bend", and my nerves got even more punished here. But it went down OK, scored a much needed 32 laps to make up the loss in the "green" one. Moving to the "black" lane, some issues appeared again, but the final mark of 30 laps again was somewhat positive, given the demands of this lane. Finishing on the fast "red" lane, I needed to score 30 laps to move ahead of the 2nd heat results, and eventually scored 31. The end of the race was very well received (and even needed for my fingers - fighting my car and my adrenaline at the same time is exhausting), but I could only finish 6th, 4 laps behind the winner. Still, my fastest laptimes are very close to the fastest guys on the middle lanes, but the outside lanes were horrible.

To my help, some of the drivers that fared less better on the 1st race were present on the podium, so that mixed up the standings a bit. I'm now 4 points behind the leader (who finished 2nd twice) and tied ex-aequo in 2nd place with 2 other drivers (including the winner from this round).

So, some homework left to do before the next round at this track, but now it's the GT Team's turn. I hope for a better showing here, but having to prepare new tires hurt a bit my aspirations. Let's wait and see...

Well, this is it for this review. I'll leave you with some more pictures from the event. See you all around soon...

The podium from the race - another Ferrari beating the GT40 and 917, this time the honours were taken by a Ferrari 512 on an all-Fly models podium

Here I am, controlling the race managing system... that didn't help me much on getting a better finish! :)

Looking at these great looking Codalungas, one has to believe we're looking by the rear-view mirror on the "Gulf" Porsche 917 of Steve McQueen on the "Le Mans" movie!

Newcomers to the scene...

Wow, amid this global crisis that hit hard the slot world and after the sad news that some slot car brands are facing bankruptcy, there are now news that some new brands want to join the scene.

I was surprised reading the Slot Car Illustrated forum last week, where there was a post about a producer from Czech Republic, Faro Slot Cars. They developed a couple of mostly unknown Tatra cars (check them here).

Now, although it has been announced quite some time ago, Pioneer Slot Cars seem to have their models up and running finally. The great green Mustang from Steve McQueen's "Bullitt" has now passed the project phase to the finished model. The "Slot Car News" blog features news pictures from the model that are also available from the manufacturer's website (go there!)

Finally, the cherry: a new slot car brand comes to the scene: Mr Slotcar, from Canada! Their website is still under construction, but if you like to keep track of their news, bookmark this. However, their choice for initial model is quite surprising: the Le Mans winner Mazda 787B, the same model that Slot.It is just about to release to the market. Hope this won't be an issue for them. Check the pictures at Slot Car Illustrated here. The machinery looks nice and can feature something amazing for a 1/32 car: FF-type motor in sidewinder configuration. They also have plans for another model, the Toyota 88C, although I guess this model will please the american public more than the europeans... BRM has had some success with that model, but on 1/24 scale.

Good news from the front. New blood is coming into the slot, so let's hope it turns out for the best to all brands.