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Buckminster Tether Car Track

Saturday 18th July Running Day

The track as it is now, it's not finished, always something to do. It now looks good, and ready for use when the BMFA opens the site for day visitors in early August.

I thought with the new track at Buckminster my now old and battered Cobra car would be going into retirement. I have treated myself to a timing system that was made in Russia for me so I needed something that would go round and round consistently to set the timing system up. I was given the set up information with the unit and it worked first time.

For those worried about social distancing it’s the Monk family group watching it work for the first time.

Our two trainees, Jan horsing and Jane pushing the Cobra off, with me and Alex Phin watching them work the way round the track until the car starts.

Me, preparing my Mercedes car which I built pretty much on the kitchen table and wrote about a few months ago. The first run was a bit lean and under compressed, gave it some more fuel and a bit more compression and it was quick. It didn’t record a speed as it spent more time in the air flying, not from the tiny bumps in the track as it was taking off in random places around the track and did the engine rev when it was flying? It ended upside down and the shut off worked saving the engine from a shaft run. Just needs re-polishing, and me not being so over enthusiastic with the settings.

Jan’s lovely little Oliver Two-Five with his own home built twinshaft engine. He looks surprised as it started first push.

Aaron horsing the Oliver Two-Five and Jan stopping it at the end of the run. The timing unit is on top of the blue wall and the sensor is under the high-tech mounting system (brick) at the edge of the track

This is the only picture of Aaron's 1.5cc Russian kit car running, but it nicely shows what the timing system does. L009 is the run reference, R024 is the number of laps he did, 147.73 is the average speed in kph over the timed 500 metres (8 laps). V is the current lap speed and finally Vm is the fastest lap It is capable of storing 15,000 laps a maximum speed of 450 kph and a minimum of 28 kph all the data can be downloaded onto a computer and viewed lap by lap.

This is the third time this small group of season ticket holders have run cars on the track, Buckminster will be open to day ticket holders in August.

Anyone is welcome to join us, we keep in contact by email. If you want to join us, just send me an email and I will then let you know when we are planning to meet up to run cars. oliver.monk@btinternet.com

Buckminster Open for business
Inaugural Open Weekend Aug 8th / 9th

Aaron Monk waits for the next competitor

Not quite the grand opening planned for in May but that was in the heady days before CV. Instead, the weekend of 8th 9th of August held the inaugural tethered car meeting under strict CV regulations, which meant numbers had to be limited with pre entry and strict adherence to protocols. It was the first visit of OTW to the track and although we have published Steve and Oliver’s regular updates the reality of the work that has been carried out and the facilities was eye opening. With the safety fence now completed and the landscaping becoming established the whole site looked superb. The tethered car and modelling community owes a very large debt of thanks to all those who have put in so much work to get the track established and everyone who has donated funds and items to move the project along. Special thanks to Oliver Monk for providing the pylon, making up cables, cable storage and providing the portable timing system that was in use.

Britain was officially experiencing a ‘heatwave’, very evident on the Saturday and again on the Sunday after a pleasantly cool start. Most of those attending and the cars being used have been in action at Gt Carlton but with the prospect of a full sized FEMA standard track we were delighted to see David Giles and June Heath from Bristol along with Stuart and Heather Robinson and their 3B Class cars that are capable of 200+kph. Stuart also brought his original Dooling Arrow that regular exceeded 120mph during runs in Sweden. Saturday was largely given over to practice runs and trying out different cars. Oliver and Aaron Monk both ran their FEMA cars with John Goodall giving his Slabang a test run. John's car shed a wheel that resulted in considerable damage to the car with everything being shaken loose, which required a trip back to Staffordshire for spare parts. This car recorded just on 100mph with a 2.5cc twinshaft diesel when John ran it in Sweden. Oliver's Rossi powered Railton/Arrow replica was in its element, able to run at speed for the first time in this country.

The cooler conditions on Sunday were ideal for the introduction of a European staple, the horsing car. Several people had a go at practising horsing with this engineless car, most getting the hang of it very quickly and clearly showing why horsers wear sleeves on the arm that wraps round the pylon. Don’t try it with grippy gloves? After this, fun interlude, Oliver Monk called everyone together for a thorough briefing on CV precautions and requirements followed by details of how the meeting would progress. The morning was again given over to practice with a nominated speed competition for the afternoon.

Horsing car Martin Coe getting to grips with horsing Stuart & Heather Robinson's cars

Saturday had taken its toll on several cars and the evening seemingly took its toll on some of those who stayed overnight, ruling out a number of cars for the Sunday. After his debut at Gt Carlton last year, Martin Coe had rebuilt the K12 powered aircar that had met the safety fence there with dire consequences. This car is very free running and with Martin’s long experience of twiddling needles and compression screws on diesels, very fast. He has also built a 2.5cc car based on a Redfin twinshaft but with 3B type front suspension that started and ran exceedingly well. Jan Hunning’s ‘schools car’ and his Oliver ‘Tiger two-five’ replica with superbly engineered twinshaft that he had built ran exceedingly well as usual. Sadly the engine of this also succumbed before the timed runs could start. Hugh Blowers had retrieved the ex Stan Barrett 1.5cc car from its long retirement but as a pensioner it should probably have stayed on the shelf. Once up to speed it proceeded to disassemble itself due to vibration that stopped the fuel cut off working so the carnage continued, ending with a shaft run as the gearbox disintegrated as a result of the pan breaking. Investigation back home showed that the front wheels were still fine though, the only component that had survived unscathed, even the tank had broken lose. Now the car is back in honourable retirement.

The cars that usually run well at Gt Carlton were all faster here on the flatter track, Oliver’s 2CV running significantly quicker than it had ever done before. His super reliable Cobra was being run by volunteer Neil Tricker who had several runs over the weekend and was doing his own horsing. Both of Martin Coe's cars reeled of the laps at high speeds. It was the 3bs that provided the new experience for all but those who are used to seeing them on European tracks. David Giles had his state of the art 'Papagai' and the more conventional 'DJR 3' while Stuart had an original Stelling car and a more modern one that he had built from scratch for his wife Heather. David, our sole European Champion and record holder in the modern era, and June had only decided to make the trip at the last moment requiring a frantic session to register, obtain insurance, book accommodation, and to dig out cars tools and equipment not used for ten years. This involved stripping, checking and servicing his three cars in record time.  When tyre sizes and needle settings were established these cars presented a quantum leap in speed and sound for all the spectators. In the end, David’s car was fastest by a few kph, although Heather’s car was marginally quicker, but did not complete the timed run.

3B Papagai and Borden teardrop OTW array Toyan four stroke

As with all events of this nature it is often what is not running that can provide the interest, cars and items that have been brought along and possibly not seen before. Dave Coe had the original Oliver twin car that came from the Oliver auction, now back together, rather than the kit of parts that was the auction lot. Steve Betney had a large 60s F1 style car with a really exotic engine in the back, an OHC Toyan four stroke with built in electric start. Unfortunately the custom built electronic starting system didn’t, which was a disappointment for all. Alex Phin had some sample pans and bridles for his Redfin project car, but this time sourced from the UK. Unfortunately, none of the Redfin project cars present made it on to the track.

Original Oliver twin and car Redfin 'project' components Peter Fox's 'mite car'

Speed flyer Peter Fox had brought three intriguing cars that he has obtained recently. One was a pretty mite car with a Veco motor, a replica of a Bert Kuebler car built by the late John Ellis, the others, both 1940s, magnesium Dooling Fs. One was possibly unique as it had a Bungay 600 motor with the venturi out the bottom of the pan. The other was an original pan and body but with no motor. Whether the magneto Yellow Jacket was an appropriate replacement is open to question? What was fascinating was that both cars still had the factory paint finishes, one with the blue top and grey bottom, the other with the blue bottom and grey top. What are the chances of ending up with the two cars like that? Something that these cars clearly illustrated is that seventy-year-old tyres are not suitable or safe to run and that replacements are not now available. The way forward is to use modern plate wheels and FEMA blade tyres adapted to fit the older axles, with hubs that can be swapped from car to car so that original wheels can be put back on for display.

Peter Fox's Dooling F duo Jan's exquisite Tiger 'two-five' replica 'Girl Power' Plus others

Following a break for lunch and a search for shade to consume the pork pies it was on to the business of the day and the nominated speed runs. Not too many cars still running but all those that did completed runs, with Martin Coe finishing both first and second just 0.34kph from his declared speed, very impressive for the first visit to the track. David Giles took the prize for the fastest lap of the day with his 'DJR 3' car, not surprising for the current British record holder in that class. For an encore, Oliver hitched on his Gary Barnes Railton/Arrow replica, which got everyone’s attention with its impressive bark, unfortunately the fuel tank split bringing that excitement to an end. Stuart Robinson’s Arrow refused to play and the lovely Borden teardrop that David Giles had brought along had a problem with its McCoy motor so the assembled were spared the experience of a 10cc side exhaust motor thundering round. Following the presentation of prizes and distribution of beers to the horsers it was a session of clearing up and back on the road for us. As we headed south, the temperature kept going up, topping out at 36 degrees, just as well the AC was serviced on Saturday?

Jan Hunning Oliver Monk Oh dear!

Buckminster track is a wonderful facility and a tribute to all those who have contributed to the project in whatever way. Plenty to think about as to what cars to run in future (and those to leave on the shelf) with thoughts already moving towards the next event, Covid free or otherwise. Who would be an organiser, but thanks to Oliver and Steve for the weekend.


Name Class Nominated speed  Speed Difference Position   Fastest lap Position
Martin Coe 2.5cc 124 124.34 0.34 1   127.38 2
Martin Coe 2.5cc AC 112 110.79 1.81 2   113.24 4
David Giles 3B 3.5cc 178 180.58 2.58 3   184.29 1
Neil Tricker 2.5cc 53 49.56 3.34 4   50.63 6
Jan Hunning 2.5cc 120 113.97 6.03 5   120.47 3
Peter Hughes 1.5cc AC 54 44.24 9.76 6   44.75 7
Richard Phillips 2.5cc AC 55 66.28 11.28 7   68.56 5
All speeds in kph. 12 cars entered, 5 did not record times

Thanks to Oliver Monk for the results

Track Day, 5th September

Following the very successful inaugural meeting at Buckminster in August the first informal ‘track day’ was held at the beginning of September. These run along the lines of training days that many of us are used to at continental meetings, no running order or competition, put on the appropriate cable, provide or coerce a horser and then you are free to play, no time limits, only from others waiting to join in. A number of people with the same class of car will line up to avoid too many cable changes so there is always plenty of advice to hand.

This format is ideal for trying new cars and there were at least half a dozen of these that had not turned a wheel in anger, as well as a number that had received attention after the August meeting. The range of cars was extensive from current FEMA and 3B cars through to Russian school 2.5s, several Oliver replicas with a variety of motive power, a couple of Redfin powered modern cars and a Dooling 29 ZN replica.

Apart from a break for lunch, track action was almost continuous, Aaron Monk kindly horsing all the FEMA cars with the Jan, Martin and Hugh managing the rest. Inevitably, the ‘horsing car’ came out during the day, revealing a certain rivalry between those inveigled into having a go along with a degree of ribald comment when 'head man' Manny Williamson was persuaded to give it a go. Whipping with 2,5cc of tuned pipe F2A helping you along is one thing, doing it with a dead weight car is another entirely?

Oliver pushes off the horsing car Manny Williamson in full flight Pushing off the Class 1 Kapusikov car

Four new 2.5cc diesel twinshaft cars were persuaded into life and then settings established, thanks to the help and input of ex Combat flyer Martin Coe and Diesel guru, Taff Bolen. Good to see Taff and Dave Smith in attendance again as Dave certainly knows how to make a Nova Rossi go very quickly, spectacularly so when his plane is whizzing past you at 200ish mph with no cage. Now there is more track time, people are getting to grips with the diesels and beginning to get the starting and reliability that Jan Hunning has been achieving for several seasons.

Jan Hunning with 2.5cc 'schools car' Martin Coe setting up a Redfin engine Oliver with 2.5cc Mercedes

The easy access to Buckminster from the A1 still makes it a long trip for David and June from Bristol, OTW, and those from darkest Essex, yet it is eminently ‘doable’ in a day and still be home in time for tea. With the track now in regular operation there was much discussion about the type of cars that people want to run in the future and the desire to ‘move up’ in terms of performance.

The informal nature of the day extended to a swap meet come rationalisation where cars and bits were seen to change hands, including a complete E1 1.5cc car.

Oliver Monk had obtained a supply of parts for Lev Shprints’ 2.1cc junior car and these were all snapped up in very short order. Aaron Monk had the later version of this that he has built on show and there is the possibility that GRP bodies for this could be available, making it an ideal and relatively cheap option. Plans for the car and all parts are available from Lev’s online shop.

There was also a 3B (left) that that had recently arrived from Germany, no longer entirely competitive, but perfect for running at Buckminster as Oliver proved with a couple of runs and this could also be a source as there are 100s of relatively modern cars no longer being used that are out there if only they could be located.

Lynn Blowers managed to finesse the ex Sott, Robinson, Stelling car from its place in the collection in  order to get some practice in with pushing off, and in the process discovering that aged cars that have been through a few hands and re engineered several times over the years might not always be in perfect condition. It now starts and runs but a long list of remedial jobs was handed over so it seems that I have lost another car, so will need to find myself something else to run. There is no doubt though that the cars with tuned pipes certainly garner the interest once they are headed upwards of the 100mph mark. Both Aaron with his 1.5 and Oliver with his Class 3 had the crowds gathering at the fence when they ran them up while the 3B cars provided a constant source of interest, especially when David Giles was recording speeds well over 200kph.

Chassis under construction for 2.1cc Junior car Russian 1.5cc E1 that changed hands

As with all forms of racing, the faster you go, the more likely you are to break something so not everyone went home with cars in pristine condition but there were some notable performances along the way. No timed runs recorded although several cars were lapping at well over 200kph, the game moves on at every level and what a great facility we now have to advance the sport and interest in the UK? Having the track available and the prospect of more of these ‘informal days’ already has the ideas flowing and new cars on the drawing board, exciting times.

Another bite of the cherry. 27th Sept

Storm force winds and four days of torrential rain did not bode well for a second track day of the month at Buckminster yet there was a clear dividing line between the rubbish and better weather so as we neared the A1 there were glimmers of sun and the prospects of a fine day. Still very strong wind though as the fast jet jockeys found to their cost, unable to fly at all during the weekend so we shared the hangar with hundreds of thousand of pounds worth of jet models. Even the custom made bags cost more than many of our models. It was fascinating to see a very complex 3D digitiser being used to map a plane for a bag. Not sure wrapping our cars in a towel from the charity shop impressed them. The lack of action for them did mean that we had a large and inquisitive audience for most of the morning although we were unable to show them any FEMA cars. They were able to see a 3B in action, which got their attention when it came on the pipe.

Aaron Monk's E1 Pete Hughes' Oliver Alfa Lynn Blowers' Stelling 3B

Aaron Monk has fitted damped front suspension on his Russian E1 car, making it visibly more stable. He is now figuring out how to add a damper to the rear to tame it completely. Most of the action was with the twinshaft diesels, all of them now running very well, including a Ferrari 312T with front suspension completing its first run at speed. Pete Hughes’ RYTM powered Olive Alfa replica has had some attention from diesel guru Jan Hunning, completing two runs for its first outing. Pete has yet to acquire the diesel push skill yet, a real knack that only comes with practice, and lots of failures. Jan had his fastest run ever with his superbly engineered 2.5cc cars, the Oliver Two-Five with an engine that he built from scratch. Most of the Oliver replicas use twinshaft motors but the original Alfa Romeo was designed for a single ended motor with spur gears to allow more scale sized tyres to be used. Oliver Monk has built one of these with an original set of Oliver castings by Harry Howlett that are just a bit larger than the repros. The engine is far from standard as Oliver has converted it to glow, both the car and engine performing well. A long treatise in a different discipline we follow, seems to confirm a strengthening belief that a Y bridle makes car much more stable than one with a pan handle and the Alfa was certainly stable throughout its run.

David Giles reaching for the brush Original Howlett/Oliver Alfa Jan's Tiger Two-Five in mid flight

David Giles had an unfortunate experience with his 3B Papagai as a combination of a strong wind and instability had the car fly as it came onto the pipe and before David could shut it off. 3Bs are renowned for completing runs upside down but his flipped over yet again to run out the tank right way up but somewhat second hand. A similar fate befell Stuart Robinson though his stayed upside down before quick thinking from Aaron Monk pulled it into the infield to stop the motor. After a great deal of remedial work Lynn's Stelling 3B is now running consistently, but at restricted speed in view of its age and delicate disposition. The afternoon run also introduced the 'other half' to the delights of horsing a piped car, a nervous few minutes for both of us.

Lunchtime included the sales table with a real gem, a complete and original Papina still undrilled and with the original instructions and drawings. A set of Oliver Two-Five castings and the exquisitely machined backbone chassis for one of David’s Papagai cars, now surplus to requirements but with the added bonus of gear sets. Tyres, castings and engine parts for people to pore over, a second bite of the swapmeet cherry in two weeks that seemed impossible at one stage earlier in the year.

Superb Papina Oliver Tiger Two-Five casting set Backbone chassis for Papagai

The sun deserted us just after lunch so it was getting a bit chilly. The wind had dropped a bit though leading to one of the jet jockeys braving the elements for the only flight of the weekend and after ignoring superstition and the rest of us having a last run it was time to pack up and head back down the A1. A lot easier and quicker with a tethered car than several thousands pounds worth of fast jet model; their fuel cans are a lot bigger as well.