The Buckminster Tether Car Group
When the BMFA Buckminster site first opened after the first lockdown of 2020 it was for season ticket holders only. Aaron and I bought season tickets so that we could use the track. We knew it was OK to run on as I had done a couple of runs with the Buckminster volunteer group.
Little did we know at the time how these family tether car running sessions with a picnic on a Saturday or Sunday afternoon would grow.
We went most weeks when the weather was good. We ran mainly old timer cars, at the time there was no safety fencing and it felt really strange having only really run on the tracks in Europe which have safety fencing and a protected area to stand behind when you are running your car.
The volunteers were working on making the track safer to use. The first was Richard’s protected area that we could stand behind.
The other thing we missed from the European tracks was a timing system that showed us the cars speed lap by lap. We tried stop watches but they just didn’t cut the ice. I managed to source a timing system from Russia. Running tether cars was feeling a lot more like it should.
Jan Huning joined us at our little events and we began to get the hang of running diesel powered cars with twinshaft engines. Each week we got faster. Aaron and I also started to run the Russian 1.5cc glow engine cars.
|Jan with his Oliver Two Five replica and home built twinshaft||Oliver pushing off Aaron's 1.5cc Class 1 car|
Early August was the unofficial track opening event, there was a good turn out of tether car runners from the various organisations.
|Start area||Aaron Monk, our premier 'horser'|
|FEMA 3B cars and an original Dooling Arrow||Martin Coe with a Redfin based car|
During this event I was asked when people could come and run cars or when the next event was. I started an email group and just let them know when we would be at Buckminster running cars. It became quite popular and we started to get regular spectators and people interested in what we doing. It helped that our running days coincided with some big model flying events held on the weekends. We got a lot of interest.
So here we are now. We have a name for the original email group and a new email address firstname.lastname@example.org, which consists of a group of tether car enthusiasts who want to enjoy running cars and the company of like-minded people. There is also now an active Facebook page for the Group for up to date information and where items can be posted. Search for Buckminster Tether Car Group.
For next year we have a calendar of events, some days will be track days - just running cars, and a couple of competitions, Handicap and Nominated speed. These have been chosen so you won’t need the latest, fastest, car as any car will be able to compete on an equal footing. These are intended to be fun events to encourage people to have a go.
2021 Calendar for the Buckminster Track
The track is available on an informal basis for much of the season, dates can be checked on the BMFA Buckminster site. Below are the scheduled events where the activities will be organised and appropriate equipment available for use. All events are of course subject to any covid restrictions in place and may be subject to change.
|April 10th/11th Cancelled||Spring event||SAM 35||July 11th||Track Day/speed||BTCG|
|April 25th||Track day||BTCG||Aug 15th||Track day/speed/nom||BTCG|
|June 12th||Try tether cars||BTCG||Sept 5th||Aircars/2.5cc retro||SAM35|
|June 13th||Track day||BTCG||Sept 25th||Practice||BTCG|
|June 25th/26th/27th||Retrofest||SAM 35||Sept 26th||Speed event||BTCG|
|Oct 16th/17th||Octoberfest||SAM 35|
Competitions: As reported in January's Pylon, a competition for 2.5cc aircars in memory of the late Dick Roberts was run at Buckminster during the June Retrofest. A trophy has been commissioned and Dick's wife Babs has donated his aircar to be held for a year, along with the trophy. The Redfin trophy was unveiled at Buckminster last season and this will be competed for by Redfin and other 2.5cc twinshaft cars at the Retrofest and Octoberfest. Rules for both these events have now been published on the SAM website and each will be judged on a combination of speed, councours presentation, design and technical innovation. Details have yet to be agreed for the speed event in September but the AMRCA has proposed a global speed competition for this season, which is currently under consideration and could be included in this event.
Donations for further infrastructure and track projects are still needed and can be made by cheque payable to the BMFA and with "Buckminster Tethered Car Track Fund" written in the back and sent to Sian Sargeant at BMFA Chacksfield House, 31 St Andrews Road, Leicester LE2 8RE, or to me Steve Betney, at 20 Fairfax Road, London NW6 4HA for me to send on if you prefer. For bank transfer payment details, please contact Sian at email@example.com.
2021 Season. The long wait is over
Six months since the last car ran at Buckminster, Tier 4, another lockdown, and at last, track action again, and what an start to the season. Twenty people running cars, with over forty cars, plus several entirely new cars and projects in progress. Gratifying to see a number of first timers with attendant nerves, both for the art of getting a car away and wondering what will happens once the horser has done their work, will it stay on the track, keep running, stay in one piece and how is the motor performing?
|Martin Coe's 2.1cc car||Lyndon Bedford pushing off||Original Bedford/ETA cars|
A raft of new aircars of varying designs, including a couple that had been laser cut from sheet aluminium and several versions of the Russian 2.1cc cars. First up with one of these was Martin Coe that was very impressive, and loud, until the motor came on song and then it was seriously quick, so much so that it upset itself, happily with no more than scuffed paint. His Russian E1 1.5cc modern car was equally fast but prudence made him shut it off before it got too hairy.
Four modern 3.5cc 3B cars took to the track with varying success. Currently it is about keeping them well rich or shutting them off before they approach the speeds they are capable of. Stuart Robinson’s Stelling was up around 170kph, the fastest of the bunch, but caution has to be observed. For the first time on the track there was a selection of ‘heavy metal’ with two Gary Barnes Railton replicas, two 1066 Conquests, a Borden Teardrop and a Dooling Arrow, any one of which will clear the wax from the ears. Most successful was David Giles having steady runs with the Borden McCoy and Conquest that had a Nordec 61 urging it along.
|Stuart Robinson 'fettling' his 3B||Very different aircar design||Tony Goodger's flying 'proa' aircar|
A very welcome guest was Lyndon Bedford, son of the late Ken Bedford the man behind ETA engines, with two of his father’s cars, a 2.5cc spur car based on a Terry Special pan with an ETA 15 and a bevel drive 5cc car with an ETA 29. Having sourced new tyres for these cars, runs from these original and historic cars were eagerly anticipated, but unfortunately, mechanical woes put paid to these, but Lyndon still had a table full of ETA memorabilia.
Apart from all the new cars to pore over there are always tables full of bit for sale or projects and a couple of these really took our fancy. John Goodall has fully embraced the philosophy of ‘Fusion Racing’ with a modern FEMA style car but with one of Taff Bohlen's superbly engineered and prepared Oliver based 2.5cc motor. Not only is the car a fantastic piece of engineering but the streamlined body shell has been hand beaten from aluminium sheet and looks fabulous.
Nigel Bathe has a range of items that have been prototype modelled, new front and rear tyres and most interestingly, chassis plates, skegs and other parts, water jet and laser cut. It was Nigel who had two air cars with the chassis entirely laser cut. He is currently working on a 3.5cc car with a plate chassis and top and bottom body mouldings, an exciting project that could be of immense value to potential builders of more modern style cars.
|Nigel Bathe's components and his cars, 2.1cc, ' Russian schools car', Redfin and aircar||John Goodall's 'fusion' Oliver|
Aircars are probably the most numerous category at present, from the staid Speedster to the most outrageous 150+kph designs. With a long established background in speed flying, aircars would be a natural extension for Sport 21 Record holder Dave Smith. His car, somewhat inevitably, was based on a speed pan attached to a pylon on an aluminium chassis with asymmetric axles. His first get away and run was clean but plenty of room to wind in the needle on another ultra powerful Oliver based motor built by Taff Bohlen. Close behind in numbers are the 2.5cc twinshafts, either original style models or Redfin based version. Jan Huning’s Oliver Two-Five is very reliable if somewhat skittish as it is so short and light but the great advantage is the ease of starting. Dave Cunliffe up from Wales has a whole stable of Oliver style cars that run very reliably, although one of these did provide the horser with a fun moment as the engine suddenly sprang back into life just as he was bringing it to a standstill. Dave also had a table full of castings and items that he has produced over the years including a solid steel gearbox casing that he had made a while ago, yes they were is steel in those days.
|Dave Cunliffe with cars and components||Dave Smith's aircar, 'Bolly Olly' motor||Dave and Lyndon preparing to run|
Throughout the day, spares, motors, items and even complete cars were seen changing hands, which all augurs well for future meetings, the first of these being a new ‘come and try day’. This is on Saturday June 12th and offers the chance to get to grips with preparing, starting, pushing off, and even horsing a tethered car.
June Tether Car Weekend
Probably the hottest weekend of the year so far for two days of intense activity on the track. Saturday was given over to the ‘have a try day’ where a number of newcomers could experience all aspects of running a tethered car. Everyone had a go at starting, pushing off, horsing with a ‘horsing car’ and horsing a car under power. Oliver Monk had gathered together a number of experienced helpers to guide and offer advice along the way for what turned out to be a full on day. Oliver had provided his ultra reliable AC Cobra with its Eureka motor and Jan Huning a Schools car now with front suspension and superbly reliable Rytm motor. The day started with demonstration runs from Jan’s Oliver and an aircar to give everyone an illustration of what they would be doing. From then on, as fast as the cars could be fuelled up they were back on the track with an ever-eager group of pushers waiting to have a go. Plenty of work for the two horsers, although it was still relatively cool at this stage.
|'Service station'||Horsing with the non powered 'horsing car'|
The Jet Association that we were sharing the weekend with had their AGM in the hangar during the lunch break, which meant no motors, but an opportunity to get the horsing car in action. Horsing an engineless car is not as easy as it looks and a healthy competition emerged as to the maximum speed achieved. Some took to it really naturally; others had to work on it to find the technique.
|Horsing 'under power'|
Once the meeting was over, it was back on the track, this time with the newcomers doing the horsing of the Cobra. Oliver reckoned that the car had never done so many runs or laps of the track, but it is a perfect car for this type of activity as it starts easily (for a diesel), is easy to horse and not so fast that it will overtake an inexperienced horser. This was also an opportunity for some of the newcomers to try out their own cars and overcome the inevitable teething problems. Come mid afternoon and there was an influx of visitors arriving for Sunday’s track day, including Alex Phin with his Redfin car parts, along with John and Paul Goodall and a wonderful array of castings for sale. All in all a highly successful day, seemingly appreciated by all who took part.
|Nigel Bathe pushing off||Nigel with Redfin based car||Paul with twinshaft 'Galeota'|
Sunday was forecast to be even hotter and so it proved. Twenty drivers registered with a huge variety of cars from a Cox 049 Prop Rod to the exceedingly loud 10cc McCoys and Nordecs, ranging in age from brand spanking new to seventy years old. It was good to welcome back Lyndon Bedford having rebuilt an original 5cc bevel drive ETA car, along with a 2.5cc ETA spur drive model that had been run by his father in the early 1950s. With his permission we were able to photograph many of the historic photos in his family album that will be presented in an ‘Archive’ later this season. Lyndon and David Giles have probably been running cars the longest of anyone there, David being one of the last people to run a car at the Mote Park track.
|Lyndon Bedford's ETA 5cc||Swedish 'tadpole or frog'||'Goodies' for sale|
The availability of parts and plans from Lev Shprints for the Junior 2.1cc has a number of these under construction and Martin Coe was able to make several runs with his version, although it took a while to sort out a needle setting. Once it was into its stride it is quick, and loud, and not far off the speeds being reached by these cars abroad. It was interesting to note that at least three runners had identical problems with needle valves that would not screw in sufficiently resulting in rich runs. One Rytm engined car had its fastest run ever after being shut off leaving a perfect, weakened mixture. Several examples of knock offs either being too sensitive, difficult to set or not tripping, despite multiple attentions from the brush.
|Lyndon with 2.5cc ETA car & 'horser Jan'||Martin Coe with 2.1cc 'Junior' car||Dave Cunliffe's Rowell Rapier replica|
Dave Cunliffe is a long-standing enthusiast for twinshaft cars and Olivers in particular, having built numerous versions over the years. These are all well sorted and were singing round showing just how fast these 2.5cc diesels can be, heading towards the existing British record for these at 141kph. With newer ABC and Schnuerle liners, this figure could be in serious danger very soon. The next landmark is the magic 161kph (100mph) that has been achieved by an Oliver engine, but in a Swedish car and on a Swedish track. Jan Huning has his own and his Rytm twinshaft motors performing so reliably and now with front suspension his Schools car is much more stable. Oliver and other twinshaft cars from the late 40s and early 50s will often be found loaded with lead to tame them on the track so building light is not necessarily an advantage. John Goodall has a number of twinshaft based cars, both Oliver originals and Swedish ‘Slabang’ style that have soft front suspension rather than the rigid axle of the Olivers. He also has a ‘blinged up’ Mercedes as he described in his articles, which ran well and came back relatively unscathed
|Trio of new builds||'Blinged up' Oliver Mercedes||Dave Cunliffe with 2.5cc car|
Older FEMA class 3B and Wilma cars are ideal for the next level of experience, with modern glow motors and tuned pipes and there are now around nine of these either being run or in preparation, and with the huge numbers that have been built over the years can still be found for sale. Redfin, Rytm, Eureka, and Oliver twinshaft based 2.5cc cars are currently the most numerous with more examples still on work benches.
|Martin Coe with 'horser Hugh'||Lyndon Bedford pushing off||The new Control Line circle|
A great, if somewhat sticky day for those horsing or doing multiple starts, but the future of the track and sport is looking very encouraging. The next BTCG meeting is on the 11th of July but circumstances have necessitated some changes. Having been involved since the inception of the track and running all the meetings to date, Oliver Monk is reducing his direct involvement in organising events. The July and August meetings therefore will be run by other group members and will be for wheel driven cars only, as will subsequent BTCG events. Simon Hughes has agreed to organise events for aircars and 2.5cc retro cars, the first being on September 5th. Thanks to Oliver for all his efforts and work on the track and in establishing the BTCG and thanks to Steve Betney for photos. Youtube video of the weekend.
July Track and
Competition is joined
After several open track days, the July meeting was scheduled as the first of the season’s competitions. The plan was to have free practice in the morning and then two rounds in the afternoon. In order to allow all classes to compete the results would be decided on an Index of Performance, using the current British records as a handicap and target speed. Oliver Monk, along with the volunteers, had done a super job of cleaning the track and after a session of cable testing it was all set for a day’s activities. Over twenty cars were lined up on tables, although a few of these did not make it through the morning practice session for a variety of reasons. The major casualty was John Goodall’s ‘Busier’ fusion car. The 2.5cc diesel was winding up very nicely when it all went quiet, having had the piston pick up. The car is showing real promise though when the gearing can be sorted. Several of the twinshaft cars were also well on song, boding well for the afternoon. Some though are still getting to grips with starting their cars and finding settings and there are still problems keeping wheels on cars and tyres in one piece. Alex Phin calculated that the direct drive motors were doing well over 13,000rpm, and probably far more with wheel spin and the occasional skipping.
|Hugh pushing off John's 'Busier'||Lyndon Bedford with ETA 5||Nigel Bathe's model emporium|
A quick break for lunch and on to the first round proper and thanks to Jan, Aaron and Hugh for doing all the horsing on the day. First up was Aaron with his 1.5cc E1 built from a Prijbo kit, which is now running very consistently and was the fastest car of the day in both rounds. Oliver Monk followed with his new 2.1 car, but the motor is still a bit tight. The 2.5cc class was by far the largest with ten entries, original Olivers, Oliver replicas, Redfins, Rytms and Lyndon Bedford with his ETA car, last raced by his father Ken Bedford nearly seventy years ago. Jan Huning set the pace at 120kph with his Schools car followed by Andy Hobbins in his first ever-competitive run. Dave Cunliffe was over 110kph with his Oliver and Hugh pressed the button far too early seeing the speed increase to 128 but an average of 122kph. Nigel Bathe was well over 100kph but too mesmerised to press the button. Oliver Monk’s second car was his Oliver converted to glow that is remarkably stable for its size. The sole 3b was off the pace, refusing to come onto the pipe as was Lyndon’s 5cc ETA with a knock off that did just that every time the car came up to speed. David Giles’ 10cc Nordec Conquest was also very impressive and loud.
|The winning Redfin Special||Andy Hobbins pushing off||Nigel, Jan and Dave|
Round two saw Aaron’s 1.5 10kph faster and all those that completed a second run recorded faster speeds. Jan’s Rytm at nearly 123kph and Hugh’s Redfin at over 130kph, but again the button was pressed too early as it topped out at 134kph. Nigel did press the button this time round for an impressive 121kph with his Redfin. Lyndon again suffered from an overly sensitive knock off with his 2.15cc car, whilst the 5cc car was sounding spot on when a taper pin in the gear gave up the ghost. David Giles’ Conquest was also faster at a shade under 120kph, bringing the contest to a close.
|David Giles firing up the Nordec||Pushing off the Conquest||Thanks to June for all the recording|
June Heath had done a sterling job all day recording runs so it was down to a swift session with the calculator to work out the finishing order. The first three were all within 20% of their class record, which was really encouraging and now everyone has a target for the next meeting on August 15th. David Giles’ mantra is to always aim to get the best performance you can from whatever car you are running so everyone now knows what they are aiming for. It is also planned to have an add on to the speed competition, which is for nominated speed. Decide what speed your car might achieve and the closest wins. This system is used regularly in Australian contests for important trophies with results within 0.2kph for a 200k run. After the clearing up we wandered over to the C/L circle where Peter Halman and Paul Eisner were preparing and flying their F2A planes. It was fascinating to talk to them and see the technology and software they use to set up their engines. After all this, they both recorded flights of 297kph. Having seen them running round the pylon and flying a plane at the same time, I will never complain about horsing again. Youtube video of the weekend.
Results as a percentage of
the British class record:
1st Hugh Blowers 85.2% 2nd Jan Huning 80.37% 3rd Nigel Bathe 79.47% 4th Dave Cunliffe 73.33% 5th Oliver Monk 62.6% 7th Andy Hobbins 59.41% 8th David Giles 56.39% 9th Lynn Blowers 41.39% 10th Pete Hughes 40.23%