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View from the Pylon

June 2014

Over the time we have been involved with the website, we have become aware of a number of cars, boats and engines, that have appeared on the market, been sold, and the reappeared again in short order. There might be a multitude of reasons for this, one of which is that there is a dealer involved so it is a simple commercial transaction with profit involved, which is fair enough. Where it gets slightly more confusing is when it is collectors involved and the items get sold on, often at a loss. Even more difficult to understand are the individual pieces or collections that become ‘serial movers’. In a short space of time, we have seen a flash steam hydro with five owners in as many years, a small collection of important motors that have changed hand four times, including the same owner twice, and a well known British tethered car that seems to be taking a tour of the US. This is only a representative sample of those we know about, but the question remains, why, and how many items actually come into this category? It is also quite mind numbing the level of profit and loss that some of these transactions generate. We know of two boats and a car that between them lost the owners £2500 and one hydro that has almost been on a world tour, ending up just a few miles from where it started and cost the newest owner more or less exactly what the original owner sold it for. Unfortunately it had changed hand for over three times that price in between, so at least one person made a thumping profit and another an even bigger loss. There is a saying in the financial world that amateur investors buy high and sell low, and that seems to apply to a few collectors as well. Mind you, as regular watchers of the Antiques Road Trip, we note that the professionals often don’t do too much better either. There is no doubt that a ‘collecting fever’ overtook many over the last decade or so, which will leave them in ‘negative equity’ for years to come, if not forever on some deals. This could well mean that we will see even more parallels with the antiques programme, where collectors wishing or having to dispose of items will just have to take ‘what ever they can get’, irrespective of how much they paid. We have recently seen two tethered cars, both genuine, one vintage, one more modern, sit without either attracting a bid despite quite moderate asking prices.

With the number of regattas and car meetings taking place throughout the summer we are concentrating on reports from these for the time being and will return to more general articles in the autumn. The Pitboxes will continue as long as items are forthcoming, and we are kicking off this month with an engine that is something of a rarity, a three cylinder flash steam motor with some intriguing features. The hydro continues with the theme and can also claim something of a landmark, as it was the first flash steamer to exceed 80mph in this country. With Gary Maslin having turned his attention to the CIJ Alfa Romeo cars (now there’s an escalating asset) we lost our chief ‘ferreter’, but happily Ron Reiter more than adequately filled that gap, providing us with enough items to keep the car Pitbox going for a couple of years at least. We have delved into his folder for a mystery car that was familiar, yet took us ages find the relevant magazine and an original photo that would confirm its origins.

OTW thrives on coincidences, and still they keep coming. Tim Westcott, who is the custodian of the late Alwyn Greehalgh's extensive collection of aircraft, boats, engines and archive material contacted us to say that he had set up a website with a view to publishing much of this material. The website is www.antiquemodelaircraft.co.uk One section of the site is devoted to boats, and here are a wonderful selection of images, some over 100 years old of boats and personalities. Many of them feature Ted Vanner, and it was through this connection that Tim provided us with a most welcome piece of information, and the coincidence. This months engine in Pitbox is three cylinder flash steam motor, and we were aware that Ted built engines of this configuration back in the early years of the 20th Century. We understood that the only one that had survived through to modern times had been scrapped, but happily this was not true. All Alone's three cylinder flash steam motor had been passed to Alwyn Greenhalgh along with Leda III and other items. We are pleased to be able to alter the Vanner article appropriately and add photos of this pioneering piece of engineering. Thanks to Tim Westcott for making this possible. Further material from Peter Hill and Alan Whitehead has has enabled us to add even more information and photos to the Vanner articles including the earliest ever seen of Ted, and we thank them both for this new material.

We have recently been contacted with the exciting news of a very early Belvedere motor that has turned up, which we will feature in a Pitbox next month. Along with this motor, it has been a good month so far for discoveries with a well known 15cc hydroplane modelled on George Lines' Sparky appearing on eBay (sharp intake of breath as it sold for over £1,000) and details of an unrecorded Rowell being sent to us. Pitboxes are still very thin on hydros but engines and cars are lining up well at present.

More coincidences have enabled us to update the article on Ian and Ivy Moore and add original images, and thanks to the generosity of Ron Reiter, original record certificates, including Ian's outright British Record of 126.05mph.

Bruce Fleet has also sent us some fascinating memories that link to George Noble, which we have added to that article. He was also able to identify one of the, so far anonymous faces with George, so thanks to Bruce for contacting us.

The first full regatta of the season took place at Althorne at the beginning of May and it has to be said, that it was not the happiest of meetings for many, although there were a few bright spots on the performance front. It would have been so easy not to have gone to the May track day at Gt Carlton as the forecast was appalling, but as George Formby would have said, 'turned out nice'. It was also a good day for Tony Peacock on May 3rd, breaking the Australian Class V record. The new Sport 40 tethered hydro class had the largest entry seen for many a long year at the May regatta at Victoria Park. Hopefully with the new rules, this class is now on the up again?

We are lucky in having Paul Windross 'up north' as he is constantly trying to publicise and drum up support for tethered hydros in that neck of the woods. Rather than have his new A Class steamer languishing on the PEEMS stand at the Harrogate Show, he gave it several static runs outside the exhibition hall, aided and abetted by Bob Kirtley from even further 'up north'.

Thanks to all those who contribute to OTW, this month will probably be the largest edition we have ever published. Olly Monk has been working as hard on the computer as he has in the workshop, producing yet another of his fascinating and informative 'Ramblings'. He also explains that this will be the last for a while as the racing season is in full swing, and workshop time will have to be devoted to maintenance on his ever growing stable of FEMA cars. Olly, along with Steve Turley travelled to Hannover for their first competitive event of the year.

More material from the workshop, but this time an article that we have been hoping to bring you for a while. Having commented in past 'Pylons' on the current difficulty in obtaining parts and cars for FEMA and WMRC classes, we are delighted to have received a very detailed article from Mark Osborne describing the building, sourcing of items and costs involved for a Class V car.  Thanks to Mark for again showing how the Australians 'get on and do it'.

May 2014 

Discussions and conversations over the last few months have reinforced what to us is one of the fundamental issues affecting both tethered cars and hydroplanes and that we are now experiencing on a personal level, which is why we make no apology for revisiting one of our perennial gripes. Any sport that does not have new equipment available will slowly wither until it either vanishes completely or changes direction. For many years tethered hydros have been dependent of the modelling and engineering skills of the competitors as little other than motors, pipes and props have been available commercially, and even the supply of motors has dried up in some classes. The car world was better served, as there were numerous individuals or companies selling complete cars or parts and spares for home assembly, but that situation has now changed significantly. The net result is two fold. Nothing new coming in means a shortage of second-hand models percolating down through the sport and nowhere to direct a newcomer or someone that wants to upgrade. The Australian and New Zealand enthusiasts were noted during the 40s and 50s for building their own motors and cars as it was impossible for them to get European or American items, and now it seems they are having to go the same route as the supply chain has ceased to exist. A long time competitor from Scandinavia has posted a very critical letter over the seemingly impossible task of locating or contacting anyone who is still active in manufacturing cars and parts. It has been described to us as akin to a secret society and that seems no way for either discipline to grow. There must be sheds and workshops all over Europe with hoards of cars, boat, motors and accessories surplus to requirements, yet these never seem to appear until they become ‘collectable’ and significantly more valuable than as a ‘user’. Even more amazing is that there are no links or contacts on the MPBA, NAVIGA, or FEMA pages to direct to sources of supply. The speedmodelcar site does carry some private ads, but again no relevant commercial links, so faced with the desire to buy a tethered car or hydroplane to run, where does one go? We have recently been informed that there is now possibly just one person still building tethered cars commercially, although there may be more, but no one knows, and no one has a clue how to contact them if they are?

This is not an insoluble problem is it? Skills, facilities and time are now in much shorter supply than they were, but the sales of the Picco, Sepp and other cars prove that cost is not actually a barrier so let’s get the information out there. It will help those that are involved commercially, generate a flow of equipment, and best of all, ensure a future for both tethered cars and hydroplanes. Happily, the SMRU has pre-empted us in this and made a start by obtaining and publishing spares lists and contact details for Horst Denneler and Augustyn Wegera.

The concluding part of the Edgar Westbury article covers thirty years of visiting regattas, writing articles and taking untold numbers of photos along the way. His engine designs and model engineering interests fall outside our immediate sphere of study but are covered in some depth on the modelenginenews website.

The car Pitbox this month goes against our normal criteria, as it is a modern replica. The reason we have included it is that we have never seen an original of this very successful C class car built and run by someone with very famous engine designing credentials. The hydro is the least well known of George Stone’s boats and it has been something of a privilege to be able to feature them all on the website. A complete article on George and his pivotal role in the history of tethered hydroplanes is on the cards for the not too distant future and we thank his grandson James for contacting us and passing on all the photos and information. The engine this month is something of a rarity and whilst there may be more, we only know of three examples of this imposing Westbury motor, although this one could definitely be said to be ‘in need of some attention’.

Oliver Monk has been busy in the workshop building a new GRP body for his Class I car and has sent details of how he has approached this without a conventional mould.

We are delighted to welcome a new correspondent to the site, Mark Osborne. We met both Mark and Glenn Bransby at Basel last summer and it was a delight to see their enthusiasm for running tethered cars, and indeed their interest in hydros as well. With two active tracks and  considerable interest in both the International and National classes, the tethered car scene in Australia appears to be flourishing. We were particularly interested in the sourcing of parts and the building of cars that is happening over there as well as the racing in Sydney and Brisbane and were hoping to make contact with Mark concerning this, but he pre-empted us. News of a new world record set in Australia coincided with Mark offering to submit articles relevant to tethered car competition, which we happily accepted.

The regatta season is now underway although the first meeting at Althorne was devoted to working on the pylon as a diver was needed to carry out the necessary adjustments and maintenance so no running was possible. Victoria Park had an encouraging turnout for their hydro meeting with a variety of boats and some new faces as well. Following the changes to the rules, completed runs would count as new records, although whether anyone will claim these until they reach the previous speeds remains to be seen.

April 2014

Well, it all starts in earnest this month, and the moment of reckoning will not be far away as to whether the winter has been spent profitably in the workshop, or if it is back to square one and the stark realisation that you still do not have a clue as to ‘why it wont go’. Last season was notable on the car scene for the many competitors who did not go as fast as they expected, especially the Australians, who had a torrid time in Basel, yet had the cars humming again on their home tracks? Contrary to popular opinion it is not solely due to the amount of money thrown at the problem either, as many have found to their cost, both literally and metaphorically. After a period of intense competition the 10cc class has seen performances drop off, despite large investments in series 8 Picco motors and new liners and pistons at every turn. There were two class records broken during the season, Class IV and 3B, but of the other classes, the most recent new record was 2009. Several hydro competitors have remarked that it is the lack of training and competition that has caused speeds to stagnate, certainly in the International classes, yet Ron Hankins has proved that to be untrue on both counts in A/B and B. Equally the tethered car brigade are running almost every weekend during the season, so they have plenty of both, so is there something more subtle at work here? Just as an aside, Gilbert Huguenin won the world hydroplane championships last year, not having had his boat on the water since Pazardzhik 12 months previously where he had won bronze. Even more remarkable was that each of his runs in Cestas was good enough for the gold medal. Good kit does seem to be an excellent starting point? Then it is down to consistency. Yes, there have always been occasions when someone, as the Americans would say, comes from left field, and get it absolutely right on the day, only to return to relative obscurity, but usually them as are at the top, seem to keep the performances coming. A few statistics we have dug up that go someway to illustrating this statement. The last 16 World and European Championships in Class 1 have been shared by 2 people as have the last 15 in Class 2. Class 5 had two one time winners but then 4 people shared 15 championships between them. Does then raise the thorny issue as to whether domination by one person or one product is desirable? Bernie did not seem to think so with Mr Vettell and Red Bull, but surely with all the millions the other teams are investing, they should have been going quicker, but they were not, which surely illustrates the point?

There is something of a parallel although on a somewhat different level with the racing career of the subject of our current major article, Edgar Westbury. In the second of the three parts, his successes are not met with universal approval and adverse comments bring his racing to an end.

Continuing with the theme of 'rules' that we have been delving into over the last couple of months, it has always seemed daft to us that there can be two differing sets of rules and regulations for the same sport, whatever it is. It gets even more confusing when neither set of regulations actually cover what the participants want to do. Not everyone wants to run classes that conform to FEMA, WMRC, FAI, NAVIGA, UIM or any other International authority you care to name but does that make their participation any less valid or desirable? Well, yes apparently in some quarters, but that seems the quick way to kill any sport, only a small percentage of people want to compete on the International stage, whilst the rest are happy to run at club and national level. It may be considered parochial by some, but the future of any sport depends on this progression as few start at the World Championship level.

The Pitboxes get underway with a car that is very common, but with what has to be a unique engine installation that required a few ‘adjustments’ to the chassis. The hydro is one of the most elegant ever put on the water, but with a few innovative twists as well. For the engines, we are sticking with the Westbury theme and a trio of motors that turned up at Gildings.

March 2014

Update 17th March: Empty Spaces.

Sad news overnight, courtesy of Adrian Duncan, is that Ron Chernich has died after a long illness, which he bore with amazing stoicism. Our sympathies go to Ruth, and his family and friends around the world. From day one his editorials kept the readership of MEN fully aware of his situation and prognosis, a brave approach. The MEN website grew from his personal blog to become the largest online resource for all those interested in model engines, the personalities behind them and much more besides. It is understood that the future of the site and the amazing volume of historical and informative material it holds is secure for the moment.

Did someone mention rules? There is an ancient saying, probably down to Confucius as he gets the blame for most of these, that ‘rules are for the obedience of fools and the guidance of wise men’. Happily, the rulebooks for tethered car and hydroplane racing are relatively thin as there have been few attempts to ‘stretch’ or even ‘circumvent’ them over the years. There is not too much to argue with when the requirements for International hydro classes have a minimum bridle length and gauge, maximum hull weight, a maximum diameter of the hole in the fofoo pipe for each class and standard, straight fuel is specified. Apart from that, almost anything goes. The cars are a bit more specific, but that mostly relates to safety, yet they still have one rule that has been in existence for over 70 years, and that is that they must have four wheels, even if they are now so close together they might just as well be one. This is probably why neither cars nor hydros have changed significantly in design in recent years. The problems always occur when organisations and authorities try to control classes, either for reasons of cost, uniformity, evenness of competition, reducing speed or as in F1, to create excitement, uurgh! Then of course, bending, stretching, and interpretation become all too common and quite deliberate in order to ‘get an edge’ on the competition. It is only cheating of course when rules are deliberately broken or ignored, otherwise it is just ‘not playing the game’. One International competitor found himself facing a ban after introducing a touch of woofy juice to his fuel (that’s the cheating bit), whilst a regular ‘Novice’ moved on as he rightly said that the people he was competing against were far from novices, (that’s the not playing the game bit). Trying to put into words rules that will control novice, stock, beginners, home built etc is a nightmare, and no matter how fat the rule book is, someone who is determined enough will find an interpretation that suits them. Mark Mansell touched on this subject last month with his mention of the Americas Cup, which must represent the epitome of rules and rule interpretation? After all, is there any other sport where the winner gets to make the rules for the next competition?

The subject of the next major article that we have prepared had varying views on the above, several of which were in apparent conflict. On the one hand, Edgar Westbury used his columns in Model Engineer to regularly criticise the lack of progress and development in tethered hydroplanes, yet could be quite scathing when someone did make the required progress, but not by means that sat well with him. There can be no doubt though of the influence that Westbury had on tethered hydroplane racing in this country and the many thousands of words he wrote on all aspects of the sport. Through access to the family archives for which we are most grateful, we have been able to present what is probably the first ever, detailed, account of Edgar Westbury’s involvement with tethered hydroplanes which will be published over the next three months.

The Pitboxes start with a commercial car built for racing, yet is so rare that we have only seen two examples, only one of which was complete and original, and that is the one we feature here. The hydroplane is probably the most famous in the history of the sport as it changed it forever, made the single biggest ‘quantum leap’ in speed ever seen, yet mired the builder in controversy rather than congratulation. The engine is another four-stroke ‘wotzit’ that was not what it was originally thought to be and has since been sold on, twice.

Last season, Dave Wiggins, long time contributor to Model Boats, visited Althorne regatta to see how hydroplane racing had changed since his involvement in the days of the Southend Club. His thoughts and report on the meeting were published in the Feb/March edition, which is the first mention in that journal since 2007. Still on the magazine front, the current edition of the Retro Club newsletter has several interesting articles relating to Jack Morgan, the Fox car we featured a couple of months ago and some of Jack's other cars. If we can persuade the editor, then we might be able to add some of the material to the site in due course? 

Hot from the press comes the latest edition of Olly Monk's Workshop Ramblings. We are full of admiration for the engineering he undertakes in the preparation of his FEMA tethered cars. The details of piston making that he has expanded on has us slightly opened mouthed at the diminutive size of some of the tools required and minute operations. This month he mentions components deliberately left 5-1/1000ths of a millimetre oversize to allow for lapping to the correct fit, amazing! Thanks for the updates on all these projects.

February 2014

In the course of our long involvement with motorised sports, we have witnessed untold numbers of mechanical disasters and mayhem, and it is a general rule that the bigger the motor and the faster it is going, the bigger, more catastrophic and expensive the bang will be. What is even more remarkable, given the revs engines are pulling and the power they are producing, is that they stay together as well as they do. That is little consolation though when looking at the line up of mangled bits and the feeling of gloom is only tempered by the thought that ‘it could be worse’, assuming there was something salvageable. It has to be accepted with any form of racing that these things will happen and putting new bits in a motor has to be expected, yet it is slightly unnerving being told by fellow competitors that (fill in name of engine) are well known for breaking rods, cranks etc. Why, is it  a design fault, substandard material, manufacturing error or incorrect assembly? We are pretty much up a gum tree if it is any of the first three as there is little alternative other than to put another one in and hope for the best, replace with something more reliable, or if sufficiently skilled, knit one. If it's incorrect assembly it can and should be addressed though, along with every other aspect of the motor, but, and it is a huge but, how do you know what the correct assembly, tolerances, and settings should be? This thorny subject has been the topic of many hours of phone calls and discussions and we have to confess to not being much further forward. Several of our number have the equipment and skills to work to incredibly fine tolerances and accuracy in size, yet there is little consensus amongst them as to what constitutes the ‘right’ ones to work to and manufacturers do not supply specs for us to work to either. Aaaargh! There are ways round this problem though. Buying something that is already sorted and quick is an excellent option, although frowned on in some areas, and you won’t know why it goes in any case unless you can measure and copy precisely. Canvas opinion on the matter in question and then formulate some conclusions to work on, a process followed and advocated often. Finally, be lucky enough to have a mentor who is not only successful, but knows why and is both willing and able to pass the information on.

There can be no greater frustration than a car or boat that ought to run well, but doesn’t, yet whilst all are willing to make suggestions as to how to make it work, no one can actually offer any thoughts as to why it won’t in the first place. Worse is to follow when the advice is followed to the letter and it still does not go, an outcome currently being experienced in several locations around the country. (Tell us about it?)

We conclude the story of Ted Vanner and his boats this month. Ted was probably one of the earliest exponents of the concept of IWFM (It Works For Me) and there is no doubt that it did, exceedingly well. By an extraordinary stroke of luck, another boat of Ted's that was unknown to us appeared at the ME Exhibition, just in time for it to be included in the article.

The Pitboxes start with that most desirable of finds, an as run, track fresh, tethered racing car. The engine is another Rowell that has emerged, but there are clues that this one might not have had quite such a normal life. The hydroplane connects the immediate post war period to the present day and was part of an on going quest that still has a final chapter to be completed.

Two items appeared on Ebay during January that brought an irrevocable end to what must have been the most intensely competitive and productive period of development for flash steam hydroplanes in this Country. Ian Berne's record breaking Steam Machine II and the final incarnation of the series Steam Machine IV were put up for sale. Much to our surprise, neither attracted any great interest and currently remain unsold. We now fully intend to feature these boats, along with Ian's all consuming pursuit of speed, in a future Flash steam Gallery.

It might be difficult to believe, but the day preceding the Model Engineer Exhibition this year was  no less than 26 degrees warmer than last year. No snow, no ice, so OTW made it this time.  A chance meeting at the exhibition has allowed us to update an article we published back in 2009. Geoff Holden had discovered a tethered car that was a replica of the 'Gardner MG' EX 135. Although the body an running gear was complete, the motor and all ancillaries were missing. Restoration was complicated by a lack of information and the fact that the motor had to be horizontal as in the other two examples. Geoff has now completed an absolutely superb renovation that has preserved all the original aspects of the car and used period components and materials throughout, including the two Ever Ready Lamp batteries. Geoff is hoping that an article that he is putting together and a further mention here might lead to information about the origins of the car.

In his last Workshop Ramblings of 2013, Olly Monk was engaged in some seriously precision engineering making new pistons for his 2.5cc car. These are tiny to start with, but as he left us he was mulling over how to machine the even more minute circlip grooves into these. In the first of the 'new seasons' Ramblings, Olly explains how he has dealt with this tricky little task. Olly's workshop articles have been so well received that we have combined all of last year's topics onto one page that will stay on the site for reference.

It was decided at the hydroplane conference that a complete reappraisal of the classes and rules was required to take into account changes both at international and national level and remove some of the anomalies that had crept in over the years.  The result of all this is that there are several changes to classes and class regulations, meaning that several existing records will now be frozen. The records page now carries a full listing of current NAVIGA and UK classes as well as existing and frozen records.

There has been a late flurry of commercial activity in the last week of the month with the basis of an exceedingly quick B1 hydroplane being obtained by a member of the Victoria Club and another, as yet unidentified B1 coming to light. The swapmeet at Rettendon produced a plethora of OPS spares and a rare motor, whilst we were regaled with news of a brand spanking new OPS 45 being snatched from ebay for an unbelievably small amount.   From out of the blue, a member of the Retro Club had the offer of an original and unadulterated M&E chassis with a Challenger body. We hope to have photos of chassis number 1188 at some stage to feature in Pitbox and add to the M&E lists.

Well, there are bumper editions and then some, and thanks to all our contacts and correspondents this has to be one of the most extensive we have ever had the pleasure to publish.

January 2014

Well, a very happy, healthy and successful 2014 to one and all. What happened to that year then? Hard to believe it was 12 months ago that we were planning our summer expedition, and now it is nothing more than a DVD and a lot of happy memories. Hopefully we have enough material to keep churning out monthly editions of OTW, and thanks to everyone who contributes in any way to this process continuing.

As was outlined last month, a well known tethered car that has been missing for a while has recently surfaced. It does tie in neatly with the meat of last month’s Pylon, while introducing another subtle twist to the subject. Several years ago, two very nice cars appeared at Old Warden. One was a very genuine and original commercial car, while the other was equally genuine but home built, both being highly desirable. Without prompting, the owner said that he had only brought them to show us, as they were ‘not for sale at any price’. Now, we take this statement at face value as we are most grateful to everyone who is prepared to share items and information with us, but not everyone works in quite the same way. Some months later we asked for more details only to be told that the owner was now the ex-owner. But they were ‘not for sale’, ah yes, but I was made an offer I could not refuse. More recently  we were talking to the owner of an extremely well known and historic model boat at the exhibition at Leamington and discussing this subject. He told us that a very substantial amount of money had been put on the table which, although not enough to tempt him, was certainly enough to make him twitch. Would he ever succumb though? Well, that is the question that none of us can answer until faced with that dilemma, and ultimately, it could well be yes. That leads us neatly on to where the bidding might stop if the interested party is persistent? One very canny owner played this to his advantage by always being ready to discuss the matter over a decent meal, allowing the offer to go up each time. He admitted to having had numerous meals, but never gave in as it was something of a game to him. Sadly, both parties are no longer with us and two of the cars in question changed hands for a great deal less than they might otherwise have done.

Every collection has items that would not be missed, those that could be available at a realistic price, or a few not at any price, but sometimes it is not the money that is important. One very well known engine man, now sadly departed, had numerous desirable items that he was more than willing to trade but were not available to buy. The prospect of what he might swap was far more exciting than the money because as he put it ‘the money is of no use to me’.

Unfortunately, it was not the subject of our new major article that benefited from what he built, but those that inherited, acquired or later traded his boats and engines. During the tethered hydroplane centenary we featured all of the pioneers, with one major exception and that was Ted Vanner. Ted’s involvement with speed and straight running was legendary as it covered a career of nearly 50 years. It took significantly longer to unearth sufficient information and material for this article than it did for the other Pioneers, but has made for a much more detailed and fascinating appreciation of Ted Vanner’s life with model powerboats.

Two of our Pitboxes have a French flavour this month and we start with a mystery motor that has got several people scratching their heads as it is a truly vintage four stroke of unusual configuration.  The hydro, yes we have unearthed another couple, is from the heady days when there was always a large French contingent at the St Albans International regatta and other events. A ‘Special’ Pitbox  reveals details of the car mentioned at the beginning of our editorial, and we are grateful to Peter Hill for sharing details of this important discovery.

As promised last month, the Phillips' have released complete details of the amazing Vector electric tethered car. The standard of engineering on the car alone is superb, but the electrics and electronics show just how much thought and development has gone into the project. The purpose built 'power bar' concept looks  superb, whilst the programmable ESC gets round all the problems of having to have transmitters and receivers. There seems to be a great deal of mileage here both for cars and boats with this level of technology and engineering.

It's show time again and the Model Engineering Exhibition at Alexandra Palace over the weekend of the 17th-19th January. There is always a strong hydroplane presence here, courtesy of the Model Hydroplane Club and Tony Collins who puts it all together. This year it is planned to have a small tribute to the late Terry Everitt as the exhibition last year was one of the very last trips he made.

Department of wishful thinking or supreme optimism, sent to us by John Lorenz. Included in last month's Pylon was the nice and original M&E ERA that was sold by Aston Toy Auctions for £1800. It has now reappeared at a fine art auction house with a pre-sale estimate of, wait for it, £10,000-£20,000. Yes, that's the right number of noughts and it is not April 1st either.

Confirmation from Australia of the sad news that Ron Chernich has 'signed off' from the publication of his website. The modelenginenews site was always a first stop of the month for the wealth of material that the site contained and the access that it gave to the most knowledgeable and informed enthusiasts all over the world. The good news is that the site will remain on line for the foreseeable future and that there are also plans afoot for updating and adding new material.