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Buckminster Tether Car Group
June Meeting

It's summer, supposedly?

In the sheltered haven of the tethered car track we missed out on the cold wind blowing across the site that would have otherwise called a halt to flying, but this was not a problem for the jet flyers that shared the meeting. The cafe is a wonderful addition to the facilities at Buckminster with Gillian opening for the entire weekend, and now there is a permanent display in the cafe of tethered cars as well as planes.

During a conversation with her, she enquired as to 'whether tethered car racing wasn't expensive'? What was on display in the hangar, adequately answered this question as it is all relative, but all put into perspective as one of the flyers shovelled several thousand of pounds worth of charred wreckage into the skip.  

The concept of three day events seems to have met with general enthusiasm, the track fully occupied throughout the Friday. Nigel and Mike have been hard at work on their 'modern British' cars, sporting 2.1cc motors with bevel drive and suspension all round. Mike has also finished his exceedingly high tech glow driver system as an alternative to a battery on the end of a pair of wires. The cars are showing promise when a few of the teething problems are sorted, approaching the magic 100mph when they cooperate. Also up around this mark was Lynn's 3b with a new piston replacing the mangled version that lurked in the motor after the last meeting. With due deference to the new piston, the car was shut off as soon as it peaked out.    

2.1cc Nova Rossi and suspension Complex, 3D printed tank Hi-Tech glow driver

The CMB is one of the few small motors that already has the exhaust  pointing in the right direction, and with its relatively low state of tune seems an ideal motor for the track, easy to horse and not going to go too mad. To this end, the OTW 3.5cc car had been fitted with dampers over the winter and given a twirl. The principle seemed fine as it horsed OK and came up nicely and then came in, all set for the fastest recorded run we had seen on the track when the read out hit 140mph, only for the timer battery to give up the unequal struggle after one lap. A bit of technology soon had a new battery set up, well, two bolts and some insulating tape, as all the spares had larger terminals.

Lyndon Bedford had arrived with two ETA 15s, one an original and a second that he had converted to glow ignition. A 'Terry Special' GRP car is underway to prove the concept. His venerable ETA 5cc car has been an absolute pain as it starts and runs OK but peters out after a few laps. A new knock off and fuel feed had been manufactured, which seemed to cure the problem until it ground to a halt, not fuel, but a mangled drive pinion this time.

Another venerable car was David Giles' 1970 Championship winning Denneler. He had also brought the European Championship Trophy, medal and World record certificate. Now with the correct cable, there was no reason not to allow it a full run, so with a horser somewhat more aged than most it was on its way.

Round and round it went at a most sedate speed, adding the odd mph each lap before it finally cleaned up. The Swedish have been running an OPS 5cc competition for a while and there is now a serious suggestion that more of these cars could be dug out, and quite by chance there is one, nearly finished on the OTW work bench.

Lyndon's ETA 15s, diesel and glow Mangled Nova piston David's 1979 memorabilia

So to Saturday and the competition, except that as we drove the 8 miles south to Buckminster it started to mizzle and by the time we arrived, it was too wet for any action. Never mind, plenty to chat about and it was great to see Martin Coe and his dad Dave again, especially as they had brought boxes full of interesting cars to pore over. Two Wilmas, one from the late Peter Rischer, a part finished Procter Beretta Rosso, and the only Gary Barnes Hot Rod we have ever seen, huge lumps of aluminium, all CNC machined with an enlarged version of the McCoy gearbox that Gary used to produce. There is a possibility that some of Gary's cars and parts could be appearing on the Market Place in the not too distant future. The rain had stopped so the track was dried with the leaf blower, everything set up and then it poured down, so more chatting and more boxes to look in as parts, castings and even complete cars changed hands.

Martin's 2.1 car 97mph Rischer modified Wilma Gary Barnes Hot Rod

Eventually the rain stopped and thanks to the valiant efforts of Ian and Lynn with the brooms and yours truly on the leaf blower, the track was ready for a short practice session with the competition delayed until after lunch. Nominated speed again, and some are getting seriously good at this. We started with the heavy metal, David's Nordec 1066, usually spot on speed, but just 1mph short this time, although it does get everyone's attention as it is loud. His 5cc car by contrast was 2mph over his target, but great to see running. He related the story of running it in Italy where it took 96 laps before it came on the pipe, seemed almost like this again, stood on the horsing platform? Andy Soars' lovely Moore #11 had run beautifully in practice but a bit short on speed so that was withdrawn. Of the 2.1s, Martin had two consistent runs at 97mph, but short of his nomination.

1.5cc E1 Procter Beretta Rosso Wilma with original rear wheels

The 2.5 twinshafts are currently the most numerous and consistent with Ian Wingfield running out the winner with an miniscule error of just 0.030mph. Jan Huning was not far behind at 0.080mph with Andy Soars only 0.278mph adrift, but at the expense of a somewhat deranged car that had turned turtle. Both yellow cars that run now have scuffed tops. Chris Maggs at a mere 0.543 error was only 4th, showing just how close people are getting. Ian with his second car and Jan with his TEMP were both far faster than their predicted speed, leaving them with a dilemma for next month?

The 'lads' were experiencing all sorts of problems with their cars, including Mike with the 'sudden silence and flattened tyres' syndrome. A lot of pit work ensued before the track was opened for general practice, when Nigel finally got his 2.1 away for a proper run howling round toward towards the high 90s. John Goodall had his Oliver twin, but as yet, it is reluctant to run on both cylinders so a serious rethink of the fuel system is on the cards. Martin had to make a choice of which cars to run with the 1.5cc E1 car just not playing ball, no matter what was done with the needle. Strangely enough, apart from David's Nordec, every car that was tried on Sunday experienced the same problem. Why they would run perfectly for two days but not on Sunday remains a mystery. Unless it was the cold, and wasn't it parky? The loss of Model Technics straight fuel is requiring new brews to be tried, but a cock up with the maths left one bottle, woefully short of oil, luckily with no lasting damage. Video action www.youtube.com

Again, very well supported with three days of activity that the weather failed to do more than put a slight dent in. It did give us an opportunity for some maintenance on the pit tables and track cleaning before the RetroFest the following weekend. Sadly, the forecast at present for this looks even more dire.


Weather failed to dampen the spirits

A very quick turnaround for most before heading back to Buckminster for the second weekend in succession. The weather did its best to ruin the weekend with heavy rain on Friday morning and a humungous storm on the Saturday morning, but fine and sunny afternoons allowed a full programme of competition. Oliver Monk and Richard Phillips had done sterling work filling some holes in the track, one that was right on the running line for cars with close coupled front wheels or the single track aircars. The event was for the Dick Roberts aircar trophy and Redfin trophy for 2.5cc twinshaft cars.  Something of a poignant weekend as Alex Phin confirmed that he is emigrating, bringing to an end the Redfin project that has enabled so many to get cars on to the track over the last four years. As a parting gift, Alex donated all his remaining Redfin tethered car stock to be sold to raise funds for the track. Thanks to Alex for commissioning and funding the Redfin car project and best wishes for the new adventure (down under).

Following a deal of discussion it has been decided that aircars should be divided into two categories, basically those with traditional 2.5cc diesels, and those with more modern TR motors. It has also been decided that the second category that are now consistently around 100mph must have an emergency cut-off fitted from July onwards. Unfortunately, this left Roger Gedge and his electric cars in limbo, as these are both exceedingly fast, but no class yet established for them. His ex OTW Redfin upheld the honour though by being the fastest twinshaft of the weekend.

Roger has experimented with two systems for his cars, a programmable timer and a RC cut-off. Tony Goodger had gone a different route using a free flight DT radio cut-off working a rotary fuel valve, rather than a tube crusher, which requires far more force to operate. Both systems work well, although both did eventually succumb to vibration problems. Fuel was also a thorny subject as several runners had problems either with the brew they were using or feed issues. An engine that starts happily on 30% ether does not do too well if most of that has evaporated. Tank capacity was also questionable in some cases, requiring the timing button to be pressed before the cars were up to speed to ensure completing the eight laps. Lots of prop changes to maximise speed with the aircars, assuming that they could persuade the motors into life (how old was your fuel????).

Tony Goodger's RC fuel cut off Aries aircars

Two lovely cars were on hand from Gianmauro Castagnetti, both entirely hand built. The Slabang with full suspension described in May and his own version of the Oliver Tiger Cub, colloquially know as the 'bottoms up'. The Slabang looks even better in the flesh than in photos but struggled as pushing off on the bridle caused the front suspension to bottom out, doing the pan no good at all. He was not happy with the performance of either having travelled from Italy for the event.

Gianmauro and Paolla Slabang and 'Bottoms Up' With the lids off

Ian Harper has now got to grips with his Redfin getting reliable and ever faster runs. We must also admit to an identity failure as someone pointed out on a youtube video that the car captioned as a Ferrari was actually an Alfa Romeo. Even worse, we had attributed it to someone else as we did not have any lists from the previous SAM meeting. The lovely Oliver Alfa Romeo number 4 has been built and was being run by newcomer Jeremy Morcom increasing speed with every attempt. The Peterborough Club with their Redfin car and engine had their first recorded success with their club project car, but need to increase the tank size, but congratulations to them.

Starting Slabang The Redfin concept Jeremy Morcom's Redfin Oliver Alfa Romeo

Having repaired a hole in the track that was perfectly placed to upset the proa aircars, competition was joined with John Goodall and his Aries as stable as ever, not needing any horsing. Lyndon Bedford discovered the hard way that the outrigger wheel on the proas must be on the CofG, otherwise the cars steers neatly off the track. Steve Betney had several good runs with one of his cars, but problems with the potentially faster one. Tony Goodger, after his success last year, had difficulty getting his motor to run cleanly at first but then put in a storming run at 104.3mph, the fastest yet seen. Babs Roberts was again on hand to present John Goodall with the Roberts Trophy again, as this is awarded for all sorts of criteria rather than just speed. This was the last run for Aries in its present form as new cowls have been made to blend in with a spinner, obviating the need for finger starting or bashing with a piece of wood as some do. A fuel cut-off is also in the pipeline (unintentioanl pun).

Babs Roberts with trophy and aircar The design that changed it all Jan gets it underway

It is a tradition that Dick's original aircar that started the proa movement is given a ceremonial run, but would its Oliver start, would it heck as like. Jan Huning gave it a cursory glance and immediately realised that the spray bar was in upside down. A rapid realignment and it was running like a good un again, too good to pass up, so with Jan doing the dangerous bit and me horsing, we gave it a couple of runs by way of celebrating the design that doubled the speed of aircars at a stroke. 

The wheel driven cars provided the closest competition of the weekend with the first three less that 0.4mph apart and all hitting 87mph. Roger Gedge was first at 87.9mph, Jan Huning second at 87.663mph and Nigel Bath third at 87.525mph. Roger's electric car however was just on 100mph for each of its demonstration runs, as was his aircar. For the first time ever, Jan had to retire both his cars as the huge number of laps that each had completed over the years had finally taken their toll. Jan is even considering a new car based on the ZN2.5cc castings that have just been made available. There is also extremely good news on the casting front that must remain under wraps for the moment.

Roger's lineup IC and electric with intrepid pilot Steve's little Cooper ran faultlessly

Sunday is primarily about the swapmeet, and here we must pay a deal of gratitude to the amazing volunteers that keep Buckminster running so efficiently. Having already had a week of the Pay Load Challenge and all the work that entailed, the detritus from this had to be cleared and then the hangar set up for the swapmeet, a huge amount of furniture humping, largely dealt with by one person. We were also grateful to Bob who extended the sanctuary of the hangar to us all during the periods of very inclement weather. Listening to the rain hammering down on the roof reinforces the wonderful facilities that the site has to offer. Gillian and her helpers in the cafe were also on hand to keep us supplied with coffee, bacon baps and hospitality as much chat ensued during the storm.

The June swapmeet seems to be the less well supported as it clashed with Weston, but, my goodness, the number of engines on offer had not diminished. Indeed, there were more than ever, if that is possible? One trader had laid out over 200 motors on his tables, mostly run of the mill, small commercial motors, sadly with little prospect of selling any. There were some gems though including a Dunham Battleaxe replica and a Dunham Battleaxe twin, how many of those have ever been seen. Alan Knight again had a selection of Taff Bolen's flights of fancy and superbly engineered team race motors. Not often you see a Frog motor that runs at over 22,000rpm? Still a few desirable and collectable motors about, but for most, it is either take a chance in an auction or the consensus was they might as well be consigned to a skip.

To finish, a cautionary tale. The question is often asked as to why cables have to be tested , inspected and replaced if suspect. Simply, with a car cable of exerting anything up to 90+ times its own weight on the cable, that is all that stands between a run and potential disaster. If a car does come off the track for any reason, the cable must be inspected, and probably scrapped if it was an aircar as this will almost certainly result in a mungle. Wheel driven cars can also kink or wrench the cable as we discovered.

The last 2.5cc cable available to SAM was run out, but I noticed that the thimble at one end had been bent during the Spring Fest when a car had come into the centre circle. A closer look revealed, horror of horrors, that one leg of the wire was broken and the cable had been used previously in this condition, relying on just the strength of the thimble. Even worse, just a gently pressure broke the other leg. Luckily, a coupe of individuals had spare cables to allow the meeting to go ahead, but then a second near disaster.

At international meetings the cable master is responsible for attaching the car, but obviously at BM individuals do it. No names to avoid embarrassment, but having put the pin in to the connector he inadvertently missed the hole with the securing clip. The car was pushed off and immediately the pin fell out and the car headed off on its own. No spares, so again, a personal stash had to be raided for a replacement. It is easy to overlook these matters, but safety is vitally important, so CHECK. This also illustrates why money has to be raised at track days to pay for replacement cables, connectors, track repairs, cleaning etc.