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Pitbox 2021

Mystery Motor

This unfinished, 'bobtail' car revealed something very rare when the top was taken off, an engine that is so far only recorded on OTW and just the third of its type to be discovered. It is the last of the 1066 Conquerors to be built, the MkIV. These are easily identifiable by the much larger cylinder fins and huge bypass that is the same size as the equally large exhaust stack. This motor is so far unique in having the downdraught MkIV backplate fitted. There is a standard motor with this backplate that is in the A-Z but the only other complete version of this engine has a standard backplate. It seems that there might have been a casting flaw in the bypass so it has seen much attention from a file.  A set of castings for this motor also exists making just three examples in total.

Thanks to Ken Butterfield for this item and photos. April 2021


Welwyn 1975

The only European tethered hydroplane Championship ever to be held in the UK was at Welwyn Garden City in August 1975. At that time, every discipline of model power boating had to be catered for at a championship, meaning an absolutely enormous organisational task to cater for all the visitors and classes. All that exists from this event is a programme and stack of ash trays created as mementoes. Around fifty hydro entries alone gives some idea of the scale of this event.
Winners were B1 Dvoracek. A1 Gavva. A2 Janchenko. A3 Paul Otto Stroebel. Ian Berne won bronze in A3

Items were from the collection of the late Keith Bragg, kindly passed on by Peter Hill   March 2021


Rowell Sabre?

This car was bought by Dennis Cherkas in the early 1950s in Jersey. It is believed that a track did operate in the Channel islands at that time but no confirmation of this has been forthcoming. His wife has no recollection of him ever running it although the Edmonton track was not far from where they lived. Fast forward 60+ years and his grandson Hugh contacted us as he had dug it out of his father's garage and thought that it might be a Rowell Sabre. Certainly there is no doubt about the Rowell MkII engine, although this does not have a serial number.

The Sabre was an almost direct copy of the Dooling Arrow, even down to the wheels and had the same, close coupled, bevel drive to the rear axle. The Sabre is distinctive for the definite angle in the pan, in line with the tank, so we are pretty sure that this is indeed a genuine Rowell although it has McCoy rear wheels and front tyres added by Hugh's father.

There is only one other complete Sabre know to exist and that was Gerry Buck's but his vanished over 40 years ago and even that did not have an original Rowell body. The other is a reconstruction based on an original pan so this car is an absolute rarity and the intention is to replicate the missing parts and complete a sympathetic restoration.

Thanks to Hugh Cherkas for this item, the photos, and importantly, identifying what this car might be.  Feb 2021


Nordec Special Series II:

The first three photos reveal the significance of this engine and its true identity. The  Special Series II was announced in 1950 and its most obvious feature was that unlike all the previous engines from the North Downs Engineering Company, this one has a monoblock crankcase, rather than separate cooling fins. This was serious attempt by designer, workshop manager and speed flyer John Wood to produce a motor that could compete with the McCoy. Peter Chinn tested this engine in Model Aircraft, reporting that it was certainly the most powerful Nordec so far. He also stated that production versions could revert to the separate fins. What remains a mystery is whether this version ever got beyond the pre-production prototype stage.

So far, this is the only confirmed example to have been discovered and in strange circumstances. It has been resident in a Dooling F car since the early 1950s, hence the flywheel for a dog bone coupling. The car was originally owned by Hans Waeffler, first President of the Swiss Model car Club so the engine had not been long out of the factory before it found its way into the car. The trimmed exhaust would indicate that it had seen service in a speed model before being transplanted, and the yellow paint on the rear cover screws gives us a realistic and intriguing possibility that this was John Wood's own engine as the paint matched his Little Rocket plane exactly. Wood also built a Series III but so far that only exists as a small scan from a magazine in the early 50s.

A true 'sleeper' and an important discovery so thanks to Christoph Zaugg for spotting what it might be and supplying this super set of photos.                                                               January 2021