Home     Updates     Hydros     Cars     Engines     Contacts     Links     ←Previous                              Contact On The Wire

May 24

There is an old saying that 'the sum of the parts always exceeds that of the whole' and, as we have mentioned previously, this has certainly proved to be true with many models. We have been closely following a series of auction items over the last few months that illustrates this very clearly. There is a frequent ebay seller who puts small items up for auction, usually photographed with a much larger and more valuable item, possibly to show where they might have come from, but at inflated prices, so buyer definitely beware. The auctions that have caught our attention though have been for individual parts of tethered cars, each possibly desirable for a restoration or completion of a model yet at prices that were either speculative, hopeful or out to catch the unwary? As the auctions went on, a pattern emerged as the BIN price for each item was well in excess of £100. What is wrong with that you might ask, but then you look at the item and in every case it is a small, relatively low value component and in one case it was offered with a nut and two washers for an extra £20. Week after week these items kept appearing, but whether they sold, we do not know. What we do know is that a complete car of the same make could be bought for about £650, which would only have got you four components and a few screws, nothing substantial like a pan, body, motor, gearbox or any wheels and tyres. Another item posted more recently was for a coupling, just 50 quid less than a complete car with the same coupling was purchased for?

One dealer of our acquaintance regularly appears at swapmeets with engines at prices that would not have looked out of place twenty years ago, but are now way over the odds. He defends this as 'that was what he paid' and unashamedly telling us that 'there will be one along', not the first dealer we have heard to use that mantra. All right if you do not need the cash flow but a increasingly risky strategy otherwise, but to our amazement, there often seem 'to be one' who will pay over the odds, and in one case offered way over what was an already a very heavy price tag, now work that one out? The seller was more than happy, but how surprised must a MECOA advertiser have been when a standard Dooling 61, albeit with a magneto, sold for over £1800, and yes, it was true as we have seen the paperwork, but imagine how much it made a year ago?

At the opposite end of the spectrum was a modern car that was for sale, pan, body, gearbox, wheels, tyres, all brand new, along with a Stelling engine, all for much less than one quarter of what the parts would have cost to buy? It was well known that one engine manufacturer was buying up tethered cars, just to whip out the Dooling motors for his own, unrelated use, as complete cars were cheaper than a stand alone motor from the US. This can still be the case though with certain motors, complete car sold for £625, engine on its own £800+. To our knowledge, at least three original cars were bought recently just for their motors, with the chassis being sold on, leaving the purchaser having to source a correct motor at an inflated price or make a substitution. The other extreme was a relatively valuable car having the rare motor removed and a much cheaper alternative put in its place, as 'no one would notice'? Mind you, the vendor asking over £450 for a bog standard Hornet 61 had certainly inflated the price of that particular motor?

Our Photo is a treble header this month from the International regatta at St Alban's when it was just that and two brothers from Switzerland who joined the many other competitors from European countries.  One is launching a design that was used extensively and successfully by Europeans and copied by many at the time, although keeping it on the water proved something of a challenge. The design never found favour in the UK until the vintage class was established and a few were built, although they showed the same propensity for flying.

The Pitbox this month goes back to the late 1940s and a commercial tethered car with an unusual provenance, not to mention a somewhat chequered history and less than sympathetic treatment during its life.

A new Album is entitled, Odd Engines as it features a variety of unusual motors that have come to our attention over the years that we either know very little or nothing at all about.

Whilst there is now so little being put in print, what has been published previously is absolutely vital in terms of research, but combined with t'internet, extremely powerful. Whilst trawling for information about Carter engines for last month's major article, we came across an article by Chas Taylor of glow plug fame mentioning a Carter engine that he and Gordon Yeldham had used for several seasons. As nothing further was known about this motor, it was not included, but just days after publication of OTW an email arrived from John Dixon who previously owned, and now owns again, this very engine. He has very kindly sent us photos and details of the history of the motor, which we have now added to the article as an update. Just as we were luxuriating in the appearance of another Carter engine to add to the article, a regular reader came up with an absolute gem. We had mentioned Johnny Hall and the record he broke with his Carter Dooling, but to our absolute delight and amazement our contact told us that he had that very plane, as well as the engine and record certificate. Even better, he arranged for us to borrow it all to photograph and add to the article in a further update. Another of those coincidences and surprises that makes what we do so worthwhile. Thanks to both of these enthusiasts. Immediately after typing this we were delighted to receive a further two examples to include in the updates, one a superbly engineered replica of the 'Nipper' McCoy and the other a 62/63 CCS.  

We are always happy to receive details and photos of current projects, especially when they are examples of superb engineering. Gianmauro Castagnetti has come up with a version of the Swedish Slabang that incorporates fully damped rear suspension, always difficult to achieve with a twinshaft but a pointer for all those who want something a little bit different, with 100mph potential. If this was not enough, he has also recreated the 5cc twin built by the Olivers, which included building the entire engine from scratch, another wonderful piece of engineering. We have now given Gianmauro his own page that includes the Oliver and ETI replicas that we have featured previously, but now accompanies all his other work.

Still on the subject of Oliver and similar twinshafts, one of our Pitbox entries has had us baffled for a while. It was the twinshaft built and sold by Ivan Prior using PAW internals. Our Pitbox engine is very clearly described on the invoice as an EVY, but the production versions are equally clearly stamped IVY, so which is it? Well, at Buckminster in April Ivan cleared this up for us, as the motor we featured was the prototype for what became the IVY, hence the different name.

Market Place has two cars that are unlikely to be seen for sale any where else, and both with exceedingly rare motors. Price reductions on some of the existing ads as well. 

The 2024 season got underway at Buckminster in April with the SAM Spring Gala. It is interesting to note that both swimming events and model flying meetings have been termed Galas for many years as it is a correct term for a 'festive gathering for sports'.  The weather relented for the weekend, although the wind precluded a lot of flying. Plenty of track action with new cars and new ideas and some spectacular runs with electric power. The swapmeet had the usual plethora of stuff, most of which went back with the vendors, but with a few gems and a the Gerald Smith Buzzard, that did find a new owner, but at significantly less than was paid originally at Gildings. It was Einstein, supposedly, who postulated that 'the definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting a different outcome'. Slightly modified, this could apply to dragging the same boxes of engines to events at unrealistic prices and expecting to sell them?

Empty Spaces:  Mikhail Samvelovich Ossipov  (1944-2024). We are indebted to David Giles for alerting us in the first place and to Christoph Zaugg, who met him on numerous occasions, for this appreciation as well as the new Pitbox Extra that features one of his cars.

Mikhail was one of the many successful Russian racers who built their own cars or motors, and sometimes both. His cars were highly innovative for the period as this month's Pitbox Extra shows.

As well as successes in his own right, champion of the sport of international class in 1968 and twice medallist at European Championships, and Russian 'Master of Sports' he is better known as a mentor and coach to the Russian team from 1978.

He coached a number of well-known car modellers, including three times European 1.5cc Champion B.I. Eremeev.

Between 1976-1987, the USSR national team repeatedly became European and world champions under his leadership.

The photo was taken at the European Championships in St Petersburg in 2015.

As well as the subject in Empty Spaces, there is the new Pitbox Extra featuring an Ossipov car built in collaboration with another Russian 'Master of Sports' Vladimir Maslonkin.  Not only is it one of the very first cars registered when that became compulsory in the 1980s, but it also features fully damped suspension, almost unknown at the time and for several years afterwards. The damping alone makes this car very rare, if not unique, but it was also notable for the extremely rare engine built by Maslonkin. When any translation is done from Cyrillic, names can be spelled in various ways, so we stick with just one, right or wrong.

Thanks to our readers, we have been able to add further information and photos to previous Pitbox Extra items, so worth a look through from the top again.

It has been an unfortunate start to the hydro season at Hall Farm as the excessive rain and inclement weather caused the cancellation of the two April meetings. Been something of a novelty to have two consecutive days of sun more recently, so better luck for the May events?

April 24

This Pylon is again something of a personal indulgence as it has only a tenuous connection to model cars and boats. The seeds were sown way back in 1968 and had been germinating for thirty years before the help and kindness of someone who knew far more about the subject than I did provided the impetus to further explore the life and work of a legend within the model engine world.

OTW's involvement with full sized and model engines started in the early fifties when racing of any sort relied on the basic products from various manufacturers or even war surplus. There were versions intended for racing, but like many items at the time, either exorbitantly expensive or impossible to obtain, especially if they were imports. This resulted in almost two tiered racing, those that wanted to race but had to utilise the basic equipment and those who were prepared to build their own, or extensively modify what was available.

Triumph auxiliary generators from bombers were an ideal basis for power units as were the 500cc two cylinder and 1,000cc four cylinder, two stroke motors that had previously seen service on small landing craft. One well know competitor even used 500cc single cylinder and 1,000cc Vee twin JAPs on the back of his hydroplane. As in Edwardian times, aircraft engines, especially Lycomings, were also fair game for shoehorning into something on wheels or in the water. Anything that could be used or converted would appear, some very sedate such as the water pump motors supplied by Enfield, others exceedingly hairy, and we know what the Coventry Climax fire pump motor morphed into. What they all had in common though was that performance usually exceeded that of the commercial units by a serious margin. For something like forty years, those who could breathe extra life into a motor were heralded and their names would be, and still are, associated with what they achieved.

The end was nigh though for these individual builder and tuners as manufacturers began to lavish time and money on developing their racing models. What the Italians started, the Japanese threw themselves in to, with ever more exotic and powerful equipment, but at the same time, making much of it available to buy. The power difference between these and what had been available was dramatic and the time scale for all this to happen was relatively short. The British manufacturers made a few brave attempts but in the end, just gave up, apart that is from a few, dedicated enthusiasts who still continued to 'do their own thing'. Ironically, one of the more successful, Dieter Konig, reversed the trend of the 50s by putting hydroplane engines into motor cycles, as did the Crescent factory from Sweden.

The situation was no different in the world of model engines, where for a few years at least, a talented individual could prepare an engine that would vastly out perform what came from the multitude of manufacturers that existed at the time. With model engines though, the dominance of the commercial engines was not to last as numerous enthusiasts started building very specialised and effective motors, initially for themselves, but often moving on to small scale production, but that is an entirely different story.  This month, we are finally able to publish an article that has been simmering for far longer than the website has existed in which we celebrate the work of one such engine 'wizard' Fred Carter.

The Pitbox features another of the large collection of cars that arrived in the UK from Sweden, sadly, another one of those that were damaged in transit. Two of them required a visit to the body shop to deal with the damage sustained during shipping that unfortunately resulted in the loss of the original paintwork. Mind you, if you could have seen the finish on one of the bodies, that was no loss?

Another month of nail biting as the method of transferring files to the internet has changed significantly, but so far seems to have been seamless. Sad to see though how many websites that we used to visit for information and research now come up with a 404 error, page not found. Even the Model Engine News vanished for a while, but luckily that was down to an administrative cock up, so all is now well, but for the others, have they just ceased to exist or changed addresses? This is of course the downside of 'tinternet where a valuable resource can disappear at the stroke of a key, but having just inherited a seventy year run of assorted magazines, when it works it's great and doesn't take up any space.

Luckily, one of the magazines included details of the ill fated project that Paul Zere of ZN motors had embarked on to build three engines specifically for tethered car racing and speed flying. Only one of these motors seems to have been completed before the infamous Purchase Tax court case brought it all to an end. This also illustrates the great advantage a website can offer as the main article can be updated yet again.

April sees the season for hydroplanes and cars getting underway with meetings at Hall Farm and the SAM Springfest at Buckminster. Buckminster also offers the opportunity to part with money at the Sunday swapmeet. Should be some new stock available to tempt. The Market Place page continues to surprise us, none more so than at the beginning of March when we published an add for tethered cars just before 10am. Within minutes the vendor informed us that two had sold instantly to a buyer who must have been watching well before the sun was up in a land far far away? 

Regulars will know how much we admire quality engineering, so it is a pleasure to publish an article and photos from Salvatore Angeloni that feature a superb model of the 1937 C Type Auto Union in which Bernd Rosemeyer set a new speed record in January 1938. Sadly, later in the day during a further run, Rosemeyer was killed when the car came off the autobahn. What makes this model so unusual is the level and quality of the engineering, unseen on any other tethered car model.

In February we published a brief obituary for Alberto Dall'Oglio, builder of the well known AD motors and latterly, numerous superb replicas of early Italian motors. The photo we published showed a tethered car motor of which we knew nothing at the time. Thanks to Dave Smith who sent us photos and details of an engine he had built using the crankcase from the AD 09. Salvatore Angeloni and Christoph Zaugg uncovered more information about Dall'Oglio's involvement with tethered cars, that has enabled us to publish an expanded Pitbox Extra entry for AD and the super 09 aero engine that Dave produced.

Just as an aside to our January pylon, we have just been made aware of a competition claiming 'world' status where one country has had to 'borrow' four British flyers to make up a team?

Please note the change in dates for the Hall Farm Lake regatta moved to June 29th to accommodate the European Championships in Bulgaria, now confirmed for August.

March 2024

At the BMFA auction last October, the auctioneer offered the same model of engine in two consecutive lots, the first being a replica of said engine. The next was an original version of the same motor, to which he commented that having sold the replica, the original should be worth more, but no, considerably less. This is one of the strange anomalies that is making engine valuations something of a lottery at present. The whole concept of replicas has been debated ad-nauseum and there now seems to be a flourishing market in replica engines where some appear to be, as at the auction, more collectable and valuable than an original. Why anyone would pay more for a replica than an original eludes us at present, but then replicas can be anything from roughly looks like, to an exact copy that is possible to recognise as such. Ultimately there is the copy intended to deceive and we have recently become aware of one that has several people guessing as it even has a proper serial number. We are avoiding the modern concept of replicas as we admit to not understanding it, but go right back to when originals were unobtainable or unaffordable, but then, perhaps that is the situation that also pertains today?

Imitation is said to be the sincerest form of flattery and the distinctive shape and layout of the Dooling 61 spawned any number of clones, some with the new makers name embossed, some plain and those that clearly bore the Dooling 61 marking, surely not only illegal but unethical? Almost every country that ran tethered cars or hydros had individuals or manufacturers turning out engines similar in style to the Dooling, but come the arrival of flat topped pistons, schnuerle porting and then tuned pipes in the 60s, the Dooling was no longer current so the copies stopped. That is until the collecting and replica car market started to emerge and the need for new Doolings increased. Some were put together from surplus parts, old engines were bought and reconditioned, but with a growing market, the copies started to appear. Many were based on castings taken from existing engines so are smaller, as was found out if original parts were tried to be incorporated.

Lots of these second generation engines and castings are still about, a box full coming to light in the UK in 2022. If a 2nd generation engine was married to a 2nd generation pan, then all was well, but of course they rattled around in a full sized casting so the next step was to make new dies and from them new, identical engines. Some played the game and did number them, or like Arne Hende add his initials, but a whole batch have appeared recently, full size, exact copies, purporting to be Dooling 61s, but clearly not if a bit of forensic knowledge is applied.

Our March Album, gathered together a representative selection of Dooling 61 look a-likes and copies from all over the world. Most were made because the originals could not be imported and a few because the builder thought that 'they could do better'. There are also some that could be mistaken for real, and the motive for producing these is open to question, but plain big ends are a bit of a giveaway though.

The Pitbox is as real as they come and an early gem of British tethered car and engine manufacture. Spotted on ebay by OTW, but not bid on as immediate contact was made with an enthusiast we know who is totally devoted to the particular marque.

The second of our update articles this year turned out to be something of a revelation for many of us as it brought together numerous pieces of information and photographs that had not previously been connected. The discovery of the link between Ian Moore, Jim Dean, Ken Bedford, ETA and an American enthusiast all resulted from a group conversation at Buckminster in September 2023.

Important Update: Following on from last month's information regarding the crackdown on online casual selling, now universally termed 'side hustling', it has been confirmed that hosts such as ebay, vinted, etsy etc MUST pass on details of seller's activities to HMRC with precise limits of the number of trades and total sales per year so that appropriate tax may be levied.

Tight Lines returns this month with a series of photos from the recent, International swapmeet in Germany along with thoughts about the general concept of swapmeets, collectos and model expos. Thanks to Michael Schmutz and Christoph Zaugg for permission to publish these, some seriously exotic engines on display there. Philipp Meier has kindly added his comments about that event and the model expo held in Switzerland in 2023, part of the ongoing process of publicising modelling activities in general and tethered car racing in particular. What is not appreciated is the incredible amount of work and time that Philipp, Michael Schmutz and many others are committing to proactively furthering the sport, a massive thank you to all of them. It is reassuring to see positive measures being undertaken to attract new participants, rather than bemoaning the gradual drop off that is being experienced in many other model related disciplines.

Difficult to believe now, but it is not that long ago that auction houses only charged the sellers. Buyer's premium was unheard of, apart from the high end, fine art auction houses. Slowly, buyers began to be charged, small percentages to begin with, but rapidly escalating to the 25+% we see now, except the BMFA auctions of course. However that figure pales into insignificance compared with the 45% that was going to be applied to a collection of cars and engines at an auction house in Suffolk, ouch.

Talking of things commercial, how hopeful was the seller of a very standard Hornet 10cc motor with a price tag of over £450? However something that was even worthy of a mention in the national press was the sale of a clockwork CIJ Alfa Romeo P2 in Suffolk last week, for a cool £9,000, with commission, £11,430, phew.

Oliver Monk has been hard at work building a FEMA pattern brush holder for stopping cars at Buckminster, which does away with the need to dangle a besom over the wall of the refuge. It was the way it used to be done, but is hardly the safest method. His latest Ramblings gives the details of the 'stopper', more work on the Moore#11 car and some exceedingly accurate turning on pistons.

February 2024

A somewhat different and self indulgent Pylon this month as it is now twenty years since a chance remark on New Year's day brought about a sea change in our lives and was directly responsible for the eventual arrival of the OTW website on the internet. It was the decision that whilst we were on holiday in Switzerland we would take a trip to Basel for the 2004 European Championships. We were the only British there and absolute newbies, but people we had never met or knew could not have been kinder. So many people whose names would become an integral part of OTW, and for us the rest is, as they say, history.

Remarkably, it is now also twenty years since one of the largest ever gathering of tethered car and engine enthusiasts assembled at Christies in South Kensington for the first of the Miquel De Rancougne sales. It had been a little less than a year since the death of one of the great collectors, although Miquel was far more than just a collector, as what eventually came up for sale only represented a portion of what he had acquired over the years, as he would buy, trade and sell, almost on a daily basis. He would regularly commission copies and replicas of cars and engines, even to the stage of selling the replicas and originals at the same time. Indeed, he even had to get an original motor back from a customer at a swapmeet as he had given him the much more valuable motor in error, rather than the replica.

As a seller, even if you did not know you were, Miquel could be relentless, dangling ever more unrealistic offers or deals until you succumbed, although he did fail entirely on an annual basis with this ploy whilst trying to buy the Morgan/Gascoigne cars. Oddly, and this is not the first time we have come across it, the items he bought might well then be sold on, and even at a substantial loss. We actually witnessed this at an auction when the successful bidder on a lot then sold it on in the sale room, for £600 less than he paid for it minutes before.

An email would often arrive from Miquel with a short message saying 'I have something for you', which might be anything from a pair of tyres to a Rowell. One such of these messages ended with an agreement to meet at the Newcastle under Lyme swapmeet for collection, except, less than 24 hours before, he phoned to say that he had changed his mind and we were to meet at the RAF Halton model event instead. Can you imagine trying to meet someone at Halton with no agreed meeting point and prior to universal use of mobile phones?

Our last meeting was planned to be in April as he had invited us to Paris to visit and view his collection, sadly, he never made it so our first sighting was of the portion that made it to Christies, but of course, it was just that, a portion. Many items that were known to have been bought by him were not there, as were most of the spares, projects, reference material and items not deemed valuable enough to go through the main sale. Much of this would be sold at SAS auctions later in the year. The January sale was an education, not the least finding the cost of a day return ticket to London. Whilst registering there was a period of excitement as Security guards rushed off, tasked with finding the person who was suspected of nicking an HP 15 on the viewing day.

Much like the Gildings sale last December, the estimates proved to be more 'come and buy me' rather than 'this is what you might have to pay'. Several punters admitted to bulging wallets that never came close to being opened, as bidding often started above top estimate. Stories abound from that day, but our favourite involved one of the Buck 2A replicas built by Mike Crisp. Sold for £750 on the day it was later put on ebay, minus the original motor and with some damage, where it was snapped up for just shy of £2,000 by someone who had been at the auction. You could not make it up. That is one of the few items that has subsequently sold for more than was paid, most have been sold on at a loss, and sometimes, a substantial one. Talking of selling at a loss, an engine that went through Gildings twenty years ago is now for sale at more than £1,000 less than was paid for it????

Fast forward to SAS and a plethora of boxes of bits, cars in various states of repair and completion, piles of photos and albums, engine boxes and goodness knows what. This time, no problem with estimates and more a question of just how much and what to buy that might come in useful? There was an opportunity to trade items in the car park as well if someone had bits that they did not want. The boxes of photos and there was a heap of them ended up being sold off on ebay by the kilo many years later. But that was not all as there seemed to be a significant amount of material that never made it into that sale either, and much of it has emerged from garages, sheds and offices over the years, some happily gravitating towards OTW.

Miquel's was probably the first of the major collections to come on to the market and it is very sobering to recall all the other collections, large and small that have appeared for sale since then? A look down the entry list for the 2004 championships also reveals a sad catalogue of empty spaces, some recorded, many unfortunately, just memories.

The Pitbox this month has produced a number of items as it was literally, all in a box. Within were some treasures that have already been seen in previous Pitboxes, but buried deeper, some unique pieces of memorabilia, including this month's item.

So much of interest in 'the box', all related to ZN that having now seen the items, rather than just photographs, we have added an update to our previous article. Another one of the strange coincidences that excites us occurred at the October Buckminster swapmeet when a member of the public turned up with a fantastic, but part finished, model that had another unrecorded ZN connection. We knew that this item existed, but had never seen one, but here it was so is included in the update.

With the curtain coming down on official Retro Club events at Gt Carlton, we have combined the Retro pages into one retrospective looking at the two tracks Peter Hill built and the great opportunities he offered to enthusiasts in the UK. Also revisited are many of the personalities and variety of cars that appeared over the years. Having cleared the pages for the new season we have included a gallery from Buckminster as a reminder of a thoroughly enjoyable season that, more or less, avoided the weather that did so much damage to other events.

In a new edition of his Occasional Workshop Ramblings, Oliver Monk brings us up to date on the progress of the two Moore #11 cars that he is building in parallel. We can agree entirely with his sentiments over making wheels. Next month we plan to have an article that reveals the origins of Lyndon Bedford's 5cc car and how it relates to the Moore car. 

Important Information: Not unconnected with the lead material this month is an announcement from HMRC, the British customs and excise authority, that they will be monitoring Ebay, Etsy and many other websites for what they term commercial activity or colloquially, side hustling. This affects many of our readers, and unfortunately could also have a severe impact on the sale of collections from estates. Essentially, the ruling is that if there are over £1,000 worth of sales in a year then they are taxable, as that is the UK allowance for unearned income. Not only would the income be taxed but HMRC would also consider the person to be self employed with all the implications attached to that. A further little bombshell for those administering an estate is that only household and personal effects can be sold tax free, anything else is liable to tax, and the sting in the tail is that if the collection is sold for more than the value declared for probate then Capital Gains Tax would also be levied. Now, we know that some of those who deal regularly are declaring the income for tax purposes, but for many it will have been a nice little earner, but you might just be in the sights of HMRC from now on?.

A new addition this month is a Pit Box Extra page. This will run alongside the normal Pitboxes but on an occasional basis. On this page we will include interesting items that have appeared on the Market page, which would have otherwise disappeared, items that we have been alerted to on which we have little information, or conversely where we have more material than can be accommodated on the normal Pitboxes but insufficient for a 'Special'. The first entry is an Italian tethered car enthusiast who built engines both for his own use and for commercial sale. It is also another entry in the list of Dooling look a likes that we will be returning to in the future. 

Empty Spaces:

Alberto Dall'Oglio was probably better known by the initials of the engines he produced AD. Primarily intended for top level FAI competitions his motors were well respected in their time. As well as the aircraft motors, he also was responsible for this beautiful, Class 1, 1.5cc tethered car motor.

Like many other Italian engine builders of the post war period, Alberto did all his work from home, including producing the castings. More lately he became known for superb replicas of vintage engines.  He was sadly found dead at his home in December 2023.

Thanks to Dave Smith for alerting us to the unfortunate news.

Pitbox Extra now has some history of the car engine and a unique aero version of the 09 motor.

January 2024

Firstly, can we wish you all a very happy and healthy New Year and a successful season in whatever avenues you are pursuing?

We start off the new year trying to explain a couple of contentious points that have been put to us via our inbox. It is actually another venture into the whole realms of 'it's in the rules, but is it right', and how procedures have changed over the years. In full sized motor sport the use of false names and non-de-plumes for entries was very common for all sorts of reasons, usually to disguise the true identity or origins of the driver, either for personal reasons, political, or because they were a 'ringer'. Indeed one multiple F1 champion  raced under a false name initially so that his parents would not be aware. Of course, there always had to be a driver, rider or pilot, but of late we have seen entry lists that have been extensively padded out, either with entirely spurious names or those that had absolutely no ability or intention to compete. This could be a PR exercise or to enable meetings to go ahead when there were not enough competitors in a class, or enough countries represented to maintain the status of the event. It was even used recently in golf to disguise the name and origins of the person behind the non-de-plume, for entirely 'political reasons'. We have even seen the use of 'plastic' overseas entrants to give an impression of international participation at events. One of our regular competitors recalls at a number of Championship being given models to run to make the numbers up in classes he was not entered in.

However, eventually, entrants have to translate to competitors on the track or lake, and one way of enabling this to happen was 'proxy running', very common at one stage when a car or boat was shipped or taken to an event and run by a third party. This is the beginning of the thorny subject as to who should be awarded the honours if success was forthcoming? Many will remember the 'good old days' of motor racing when drivers could swap cars mid race, as the victory went to the driver, not the car. At the same time in the tethered car world, there was no limit on the number of entries a person could make in a class, Erik Thorpman managing to run four 10cc cars at one EC. Both proxy running and multiple entries were eventually outlawed at International level, even to the extent that the late Ivan Wankov had to stagger into the lake with a tripod after a massive stroke to ensure that his hand was on his boat when it was launched. At national level though, health problems or officiating at an event were allowable reasons to have a 'proxy hydro launcher'. Competitors were restricted to two entries and whilst running two cars is common, only one boat and a reserve were allowed. The arrival of the electric hydro effectively ensured that most competitors had a 'proxy launcher', although many would claim that launching a hydro is the most difficult bit, especially a B1? In the car world a third party pushing off was always acceptable and normal practice for several, perfectly legitimate, reasons. The only proviso was that the entrant had to be present during the run.

What some of our correspondents have questioned is the situation where entries are made in the name of a second person enabling one competitor to technically run up to four models? The contentious issue appears to be that the entrant may not have ever seen or touched the model, had no input whatsoever to the run, yet can be credited as a champion or record holder? In the case of the loaned models, one owner demanded the medal, rather than the person who had run it, which resulted in something of a stand off as that was the way proxy running worked?  Yes, it is all perfectly legal and not just confined to our interests, and entirely normal in other sports as well, as numerous incidents over the summer will attest to. Whether you agree, disagree or are entirely opposed will probably depend where you stand on the 'rules' and 'spirit of the rules' spectrum.

We regularly get our ears bent on these and similar issues, which can always be debated over a pint or glass of red, but in the end it comes down to what rules allow, assuming the rules cover that situation, not what you believe they should allow, and of course, whether said rules are applied? The last point is reinforced by a long article on Adrian Duncan's site where rules at a major championship were routinely ignored by competitors, not enforced by the officials and objected to by some if they did not like them?

The first Pitbox item of the new year is a commercial engine from an English company, most unusual in its configuration, but unrecorded and unknown until late last year. Information is still sparse on this motor, so any help would be appreciated.

Last month's Photo of the M&E cars prompted a request for a 'how on earth' explanation, which appears in a new Pitbox Special cum Workbench article. Except, this one spans a period of fifty five years and contains no useful tips, more of a saga really and we all like them? It also set us off on a trawling mission looking for similar cars for sale beyond the usual tethered car outlets, and what a shock. It seems that the £8,436 paid for the M&E Special at an auction in Kent is now about par for the course, with Wasps being about a grand cheaper. A long way away from what most of us would regard as realistic, but it appears the focus of the market has moved somewhat as some British commercial cars were topping £10K? Makes Miquel's auction cheap by comparison?

Lyndon Bedford has informed us that he is establishing a new website that deals with the history of the ETA company, better known in our circles for their engines, but also famed for the scientific instruments they produced. Lyndon is ideally placed as he is the son of Ken Bedford, a part of the family business, and holds an amazing archive of photos and other material relating to the company.

Steve Betney regularly sends us details and photos of the superb castings being produced by JDR in Paris. These are very high quality and the system they use produces very fine detail and thin castings. Steve has kindly sent a link to their website, which gives details and specification of all the models they have available. We have added this to our Links page, but give their website a look. Unfortunately, the ever increasing costs involved in producing castings has meant that Paul Ironmonger is currently unable to supply any Oliver castings as the price would be quite prohibitive.

The Gildings sale in December was a bit of an eye opener as the engines were included in a toy sale, and it was online only. The items not sold from the Law collection last year were being offered along with another collection from the estate of a deceased enthusiast. Firstly, lotting up to six engines together is always counterproductive, difficult to bid on and not effective for the vendor. Secondly, the estimates were not even 'come and buy me', more along the lines of 'you cannot be serious'. An excellent Rowell MkI £50-£80, a mass lot with an exceedingly rare Speedwell £60-£90 and another multiple lot with a Gerald Smith at £60-£90. The Rustler Jaguar twinshaft at £60-£90 was also a bargain, if only? As usual, the commercial and common motors did not sell for much and the bargain of the day must have been the only racing version of the Bond's Simplex that has ever been seen, and it had a perfect provenance. The 24% commission is always lurking so the Rowell eventually cost someone nearly £520, the Jaguar a staggering £320. A bag of engines, including the Gerald Smith for £450 represented incredibly good value, but what treasures lurked in the box of assorted engines and projects, well judging by the bidding frenzy, others had spotted the same as we had. Hope they realise that they have possibly only the third Mk IV 1066 Conqueror to come to light?

Better news from Canada as Adrian Duncan was finally able to publish his December edition after a somewhat torrid time. He has explained his on-going medical problems in detail on his site so we wish him well during what will be a very difficult few months for him and Lorna.

Another selection of Workshop Ramblings from Oliver Monk. In the first part he carries on from last month with the important details of setting up a car so that it is tracking properly and that both wheels are in even contact with the track. The second part shows the start of a project to build two Ian Moore #11 cars in parallel and the opportunity to purchase some BTCG merchandise.