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Tight Lines

New Track

A new FEMA track has been completed in Lithuania, not far from Kaunas to the northwest of the capital Vilnius. There was an opening meeting on August 27-29th that catered for all FEMA classes, as well as wheel driven cars with diesels, Rytm, Eureka, Redfin etc.

The organisers extended an invitation for competitors from England to attend, but travel restrictions at the time prevented participation at any European meetings. There was even a kind offer to supply diesel fuel for any competitors flying in.

Thanks to Pavel Sarigins for passing on the details and photo of the track.

Bristol Track update

From Paul Harris. A great deal of work has been done on the track near Bristol,  with a safety fence and horsing platform now in place. 

Just to say we are hoping to have the track available for ad-hoc practice every 2nd Thursday of the month.

We’ve now build a rolling road starter, powered by a Triumph Herald starter motor, which freewheels when the car starts and has a conventional propeller to act as an engine brake to prevent engines from overrunning. This will start anything!

SAM Spring Gala Buckminster

Ether in the air

The air was heady for two days, and not always the ether as those present will attest to. The first meeting of the season at Buckminster was run in conjunction with the SAM Spring Gala. Poor weather in the weeks preceding had prevented anything further being done on the track other than uncovering it and mowing the centre circle, so thanks to Oliver and the volunteers for the preparation. A goodly turnout of 2.5cc wheel driven and air cars saw plenty of track action throughout the two days. In the heading photo, Steve Betney reveals the new timing system that has been paid for by a benefactor and prepared by Jan Huning (left:).

A pleasure to welcome two newcomers to the track, both with well prepared Redfin cars that performed faultlessly and another convert with a semi scale Redfin based car. A number of new cars as well, including a ‘proa’ air car from Lyndon Bedford with an ETA 15 urging it along. Early action came from Chris Roberts with his very traditional ‘Speedster’ air car that was a bit lively on its balloon tyres.

In stark contrast was John Goodall with his ‘Aries proa’ and its Alan Knight built 1.5cc motor. John has curved the main beam to reduce scrubbing on the tyres, which seems to have worked well with an entirely stable run. John’s fully detailed Alfa Romeo that we featured last month also performed well on its first ever run.

Paul Eggleton and Redfin 'Galeota' Chris Roberts and PAW 'Speedster' Lyndon Bedford, ETA 15 'proa'

Some early problems were alleviated by running the mower over a patch of grass that had grown enough to catch the cable on cars with very low bridles. Nigel Bathe, along with newcomers Mike Francies and Gerry Best had very successful days with their Redfin cars. Nigel and Mike have come up with some minor modifications that make the cars more reliable and user friendly, including modifying the standard fuel cut off so that it cannot trip inadvertently, see photos below and description at the end of the article for details.

Nigel and Mike are also working on a prototype spur drive 2.5cc car that uses a standard KMD team race motor. CNC machining, laser profiling and 3D printing is used to make most of the parts and we are confident that there could be a ready market given the current uncertainty about getting anything from the Ukraine or from Lev for a very long while.

Modified Redfin 'sneaker, now with lever operation The KMD spur car

Paul Eggleton has now sorted all the problems with his Redfin powered Galeota so that it is running very quickly, but Chris Roberts had problems starting his, as did Steve Betney. These motors need to be slobbering wet to start from cold and if the venturi cannot be accessed to choke the motor then no amount of turning over will get so much as a pop. We do owe Alex Phin a great deal for getting the Redfin project underway, as so many of the cars in use are based either on his engines or complete cars. Twinshaft cars are simple but the supply of eastern motors is drying up and original Olivers impossible to find.

Operating normally for the first time was the new timing system that Jan Huning has spent many hours working on. The previous system and all recorded speeds have been in KPH so reverting to MPH took a bit of getting used to but apart from a wheel exiting stage right taking out the sensor it was recording runs from 30-90mph and counting the 8 laps once the timing button had been pressed and then presenting the average for the run.

John Goodall. 1.5cc Aries air car  Mike Francies, Redfin car & motor Gerry Best also Redfin car & motor

Lyndon Bedford’s 'proa' was a bit wayward to start with until an adjustment to the tracking had it running cleanly, allowing the twiddly bits to be twiddled with, as one has to do with a diesel. Mind you, over in the team race circle, a pitman forgot to appropriately twiddle and the motor refused to start until the opposition had completed 20 or so laps. Very slick pit work in refuelling and restarting almost as quickly as in F1, mind you, in F1 they do not have to catch the car doing 80mph in their hands?

As a result of the come and try day last season, almost everyone was able to push off their own cars and several were doing horsing duties as well. Jan Huning and Hugh Blowers were using copious amounts of fuel with the number of runs they had from their four cars, Hugh’s Ferrari probably getting something of a Buckminster record for the number of laps completed when the tube crusher cut off pushed the fuel tube to one side rather than crushing it?

The swapmeet dominated the first part of Sunday so track action was slow in getting under way. This gave us a perfect opportunity to have our second bacon, egg and black pudding bap from the caterers, what a wonderful way to start the day? Wandering around the stalls one can only marvel at the number of engines for sale and the unrealistic prices being asked? At least three traders commented that they had not made enough to cover their stall fees, yet if there are fifty or sixty motors on the stall or a pile of tethered car items and nothing is sold then surely the pricing structure should be examined closely. If an engine has not sold after ten years of being schlepped around swapmeets, then it is probably too expensive? Yet again there were planes for free and a number consigned to the bins at the end of the day when not sold. Paul and John Goodall had a selection of useful tethered car items from the Lee collection and some of this is still available, so contact BAMOPRO for details, or see our Market Place.

Alex Phin with a selection of Redfin products Steve Betney and wares Andy Hobbins tries to 'seal a deal'

Life was a bit more laid back on the track as five of Saturday’s runners were involved indoors or at other events on the field and car trouble kept another away. Often a car would be put on the track for a demo run as spectators arrived from other disciplines, several of them showing a deal of interest as the realisation that pushing the car and then retiring to the cage is a lot easier that spinning round and round for several minutes at a time? Both the Redfin  and Rytm motors are now recording well over 80mph and with a bit of surface work on the track these cars should soon be heading towards the class record and mutterings were heard from deepest Essex that 100mph should be within the grasp of a new air car and motor being prepared down there. Oliver Monk was running the rule over some FEMA cars, inspecting them before the season starts, which brought forth a lot of questions and cameras. It is a requirement that every car is checked for adherence to the rules each season and is checked again if run at a championship meeting.

The ongoing battle of the 'schools' cars continued throughout the weekend with Nigel and Jan each trying to out do each other's top speeds. Run after run with minor tweaks prove that these relatively cheap and freely available car and engines are still extremely competitive, although Nigel has grafted a Redfin into his. Decent front suspension has been the making of these little models with Nigel a fraction under 84mph and Jan a fraction over 82mph. It will be interesting to see how these speeds stack up against a well sorted vintage Oliver or the converted KMD and Eureka twinshaft motors?

Jan Huning with modified 'Schools car' John Goodall's lovely Oliver Alfa Romeo Nigel Bathe, Redfin Bentley

As well as his original, ETA powered cars that date back to the 1950s, Lyndon Bedford can always be relied on to produce more memorabilia that relates to the family business and the racing career of his father Ken. This time round it was a selection of early ETA 5 engines, including one that bears a serial number that dates it prior to when production was thought to commence, and an ETA 5 used as a compressor. In addition, he had two silver trophies that spanned almost the entire period of tethered car racing in the UK. The first was the Walker Trophy, probably a Derby cup, first won by Ivy Moore and then not presented after 1954 until Ken Bedford won it in 1957. The other was the original Presidents Cup, presented to the Pioneer Club that used to race indoors in the Royal Horticultural Halls. This dates from the very earliest days of tethered car racing in 1946 yet there are none of the previous winners listed until 1954, presumably these were on the base, long since lost.

Lyndon Bedford's ETA powered cars and family trophies

Ken Bedford's ETA 5 air brush compressor

After two almost unrestricted days of running, everyone had enjoyed as much track time as they wanted, so it was just a question of clearing up and a chat about the next meeting. This is over the 14th-15th May when there is a chance for anyone to come and try tethered cars, or get advice and help on the Saturday with a full practice and race meeting on the Sunday, wheel driven cars only though.

Live action from the Spring Gala www.youtube .com

Converting your Redfin 'sneaker': 
There has been a lot of problems with the 'sneaker' type cut off as supplied, which is superbly engineered, but a bit too sensitive, as push starts and minor bumps can trip it. To overcome this, Nigel and Mike have turned the block on its side and added a lever that is similar to those used on FEMA style cars for many years. Firstly, 2mm must be machined off the underside of the block, where the recess for the plunger is.

Two new mounting holes must be drilled and tapped on what will be the new underside if it is to be base mounted or on the plunger side if side mounted. It could even now be mounted on the back of the tank as was often the case. Nigel has offered to supply pre cut levers, so it is simply a matter of tapping out the hole that previously held the wire, assembling and fine tuning the hole for the plunger and then giving it all a good clean. Remember though, the new cut off will now be handed and the plunger will need to be set from the side of the car, either with it protruding or with a 'prodder' through a strategically placed hole in the side of the car.

Modelair Festival of Flight Old Warden

Just two model events will be held at Old Warden this season so it was gratifying to see the huge number of people on the site during the weekend. Certainly the biggest turnout since before 'you know what' and wonderful to see everything going ahead without any restrictions. Wall to wall engines and planes for sale, but as we remarked after the Buckminster swapmeet, many of them will remain so at the unrealistic prices being asked. There were some bargains with new KMDs for £35 and some extreme rarities that were not for sale, but just a delight to see. One of these was just the second Nordec Series 2 that has emerged. This was bought as part of a collection auctioned off recently and has obviously done plenty of work, but oddly, is set up for spark ignition. Others were an original Ball 604 and an Atomic. Plenty of modern replicas exist of these, but few originals.

You will like this 1952 Movosprint Ferrari Movo Milan

Not too much of car interest as Alex Phin informed us that he has now sold all of his Redfin twinshafts with little hope of any more in the foreseeable future as like so many of the model items we now use regularly, these are manufactured in the Ukraine. Richard Dalby did tease us with a large bit of bubble wrap that revealed a Movosprint Ferrari, a car that was in regular use for racing in the 50s, now eminently collectable and exceedingly expensive if a recent ebay sale is to be believed? Bill Langley had his extensive collection of 'vintage' style tethered cars in operation on the compass circle, much less bumpy using a shorter line. 

Bill Langley with just a few of his cars Very recognisable prototypes Profile model, Mills motor