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SAM Retrofest, Buckminster: Steve Betney

The long weekend of Friday 25th to Sunday 27th June saw the staging of the first major SAM 35 competitive events at the Buckminster track, rather than just general and fun running as on previous occasions. These were the Dick Roberts Memorial Trophy for Aircars contest for 2.5cc engines which was determined on the first two days, and the first stage of the Redfin Trophy for twinshaft 2.5cc engines of any kind, which will also run over the Octoberfest event on 16th and 17th October to determine the trophy winner.  After a very wet week leading up to the event and a damp start on the Friday, the weather was not too bad but put some expected entrants off, but we still had respectable entries of 11 aircars and 7 twinshaft cars.

Results for both events are determined by a similar scoring system which awards each entry up to 5 points for each of 3 aspects: the achieved Speed on the track, a Concours section and a Design and Technical Innovation section, so 15 points maximum score. This is designed to dilute the inevitable horsepower race for absolute speed and promote a wide variety of different designs and approaches, but many entrants are of course very interested in the speed aspect.

This system worked well, and with Steve Betney as C/D and multiple helpers (thanks Kevin, Alex, Jan and others), elected John Goodall the clear first winner of the Dick Roberts Trophy with his maximum score of 15 points for his lovely, hand beaten aluminium bodied aircar. Dick’s widow Babs Roberts was present all day on the Saturday to meet old friends and present the trophy to John at the end of proceedings. Dick’s old proa skeleton type aircar, which has generated so much interest in this type of car over recent years was given a commemorative run on the track by the winner, who keeps this along with the trophy for the year. This turned out to be about 10mph slower than the 70mph+ it has done in the past, we’ll see how it does over the coming years, as this will be our custom.

The large display digital timing system for the track being sponsored by an anonymous donor is still under development, testing and construction by Jan Huning, so we resorted to good old stopwatches and a calculator to generate speeds in mph this time, hopefully for the last time.

Below are images of John Goodall’s winning car, inspired by Dick’s original in layout, but much developed in design and streamlining with hand beaten aluminium body parts.

Dick's original 'proa' John's Winning car John with Peter Fox, preparing to run

The placings for the aircar event were:

1st. John Goodall with 15 points for his first car, at a maximum speed of 87.86mph.
2nd Nigel Bathe with 12 points for his car no. 1 with 4 wheels at 90.93mph, the fastest of the event.
Joint 3rd place went at 11 points to Tony Goodger, Martin Coe with his car no. 1 and Martin again with car 2.
Joint 6th place at 9 points was taken by Steve Betney and John Goodall’s 2nd car with no times.
8th. Paul Eggleton with his lovely red Cleveland aircar which suffered from a fuel tank height problem, no time.
9th. Nigel Bathe with 8 points and his 2nd lifting tailplane car, no time.
10th. Alex Phin with 7 points.
11th. Chris Roberts with 4 point for his Galeota Speedster car, no time.

The Redfin Trophy event for 2.5cc twinshaft cars was run alongside the aircars with Alex Phin as C/D. Some lovely bodywork was on show on all of the entries, with Ferrari, Vanwall, Mercedes etc types to please the eye. 5 of the 7 twinshaft cars entered are show here against Alex Phin’s Redfin engine range display in the background. as well as an example of the rolling chassis kit of parts at the front. We are promised that the much needed tyres and wheels for these will be available shortly. The red car on the right of the image is Paul Eggleton’s interesting entry which was a scaled down 1942 Aeromodeller magazine Galeota car with a Redfin twinshaft engine, which unfortunately flooded every time due to a (thankfully rectifiable) too high fuel tank position.

Speeds recorded at between 54 (me) and just over 80mph (Jan Huning) were generally about 10mph lower for the twinshaft cars than for the aircars, but I suspect that this will narrow with more practice and engine tuning time on the track in future.

The placings and scores for this event were:

Joint 1st place at 11 points out of 15 each: Jan Huning with his small yellow Oliver Two Five car, Nigel Bathe with his own design body on a Redfin rolling chassis, and Jan Huning with his Russian School car.

Joint 4th place at 10 points each: Steve Betney with red Ferrari, John Goodall with green Vanwall and Paul Eggleton with red Galeota 1942 car, all based on Redfin rolling chassis parts.

As this is just the first leg of this Redfin Trophy events, there is still all to play for in the final part at the SAM35 Octoberfest weekend at Buckminster on 16/17th October, as each competitor is entitled to enter a maximum of two cars and the best score recorded in either leg will be used to determine final placings. As the current scoring system does not seem to be differentiating widely between scores in this event, whilst working better for the aircars, it may well be that the c/d’s discretionary tie breaker point needs to be awarded at the end, and the scoring system refined for the 2022 season.

With most people being involved in the swapmeet, it was down to Jan and Hugh to keep the bystanders amused with three twinshafts that ran as frequently as they could be refuelled and pushed off. John Goodall has been working for several months on his Oliver 'fusion' car. The great problem with the Oliver engined cars is the very small tyres needed and the lack of suspension. John has combined the technology of a modern FEMA car with damped suspension all round and a gearbox that allows modern larger tyres to be run. With any project like this there will be teething problems but now, most of these have been addressed so after lunch it was a chance to fire up the Oliver on a starter and find a needle and compression setting. Sounded very tasty but again, an overly sensitive cut off prevented getting it away, but hopes are high for the July meeting.

John's 'Fusion' Oliver A seriously quick Redfin based car

                                                                   New Track

A new FEMA track has been completed in Lithuania, not far from Kaunas to the northwest of the capital Vilnius. There will be an opening meeting on August 27-29th that will cater for all FEMA classes, as well as wheel driven cars with diesels, Rytm, Eureka, Redfin etc. The organisers have extended an invitation for competitors from England to attend, but current travel restrictions prevent participation at any European meetings. They have even kindly offered to supply diesel fuel for any competitors flying in.

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

Under the skin of an aircar John Goodall

Please find attached pictures of the changes made to Aires 1. I made a new crutch in 0.100" titanium increased from the original 2mm. This introduced a few problems in body half fit, but mainly in cutting the shape out with hacksaw blades, getting through three, and this after blunting my last band saw blade?? It is the most difficult grade to work I have used. The body fairing fixings each had to be altered to account for the different crutch thickness. The tail boom fixing slot had to be adjusted as well. Turning the suspension leg round meant adjusting the piano wire spring and fitting a new anchor, the rest being a simple reversal. To get balance after turning the suspension rearwards with the existing tether arm slot position in the body fairing, meant moving the engine and fuel tank rearwards by 3.5mm too. The only thing I have not done is make an exhaust collector although I did increase the outlet hole to allow for extra gas passing. I will see how and if it performs, before making this latter change?

New Titanium Crutch and suspension Beautiful speed cowl New carbon tail and fin

Old Warden 1 Weather Forecasters 0

The north-south divide is often referred to but Old Warden was definitely on the north side of the weather divide as most of the forecast rubbish for the weekend stayed away. It would have been so easy not to bother, given the met office warnings and gloomy predictions from any number of sources. Seem the greater computing power available, the less accurate these are. Given the forecast though, it was no surprise that it was a bit thin on the ground.

The first surprise was the amount of work that has gone on to create the new entrance to the site, a proper turning off the main road that wends its way round the back of the extended runway, much easier and safer and a journey of discovery. The site was again split with radio and caravanning some way away at the top end and the trade stalls as an avenue where the radio used to be located.

A long while since we have seen quite so much of immediate tethered car interest with a plethora of castings, part projects, a very original Oliver for restoration, ready to run cars and more.

Paul Goodall had around 25 assorted casting sets and part finished projects from a past member of the Retro Club that are advertised on our Market Place page. This includes an Oliver style Mercedes with a new KMD twinshaft already installed and the body halves fettled and fitted. Not too much work required to have a car ready for the track.

Paul Ironmonger had examples of his Oliver castings as well as a table crammed full of engines, including a fascinating, home built, twinshaft. Alex Phin was displaying the next stage of his ‘Redfin project’ with a complete spur mount that will form the basis of the next generation of cars, a British version of the 2.1cc Junior car intended for 2.5cc motors. Alex also intimated that a bevel drive version could be in the pipeline and news of another track, which would be a great fillip to the furtherance of tethered car racing in the UK.

Spur mount from Alex Phin Dooling Pee Wee RTR custom tether car

Richard Dalby can always be relied upon to produce a few gems and carefully removed from the bag and packaging for us to photograph were this immaculate Mathews V car and an equally fine Dooling Pee Wee. Derek Carter had this original Oliver with a most unusual engine fitted, a DC 350 single ended aero engine with a free running offside wheel. Needless to say, this was snapped up post haste. He also had a couple of more modern home built cars that had been adapted to run as tethered cars. Also of interest was a a rare Ivan Prior replica Oliver Ferrari with one of the Jaguar engines that he also produced.

Mathews 'V car' Original Oliver with DC 350 motor

Wandering down the trader's line was a sobering experience with four stalls full of items that were being disposed of, some of it highly desirable and finding buyers but so much that was struggling as supply exceeds demand many times over. One stallholder on Saturday was quite clear that ‘nothing was going home’ so make appropriate offers. On Sunday, one stage further where there was a box of assorted engines being offered for free. Certainly a buyers market at present. The fuel stand was doing such a roaring trade that their card machine had run out of go by 10-15. People buying up to 20litres of glow fuel a time and supplies of diesel wiped out.

French built twinshaft Repro Oliver project with KMD Original Ivan Prior replica Oliver Ferrari

A couple of hours of browsing and talking passed very quickly without getting wet, a distinct bonus, although most of the traders reckoned that they had sold as much as they were going to by then so began to pack up. Not a lot happening on the flying field either so after a round of adieus, it was back on the road to something of a surprise. Really murky on the way there that did not bode well for either OW or Duxford, yet within a few miles we were in sunshine with the temperature up to 26C. The evening news revealed just how much rain had fallen during the day and how close it had been. OW had not escaped entirely overnight as some very soggy shoes would confirm, but nothing like the quagmires we have experienced there in the past. A good day out and lovely to catch up with so many people.

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