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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.

Buckminster Aircar Open day

Due to the ongoing interest in running aircars, both retro and modern, Simon Hughes organised an additional meeting at Buckminster for these and to broaden the horizons a bit, added 2.5cc twinshaft cars as well. After the dullest and coldest August for years, Sunday did not look a whole lot better, with rain forecast all day, but as the week went on it got steadily better, ending up the hottest day of the year since mid July. As this was the first event of its type, Simon had a briefing to remind everyone of how the day would be run with a few ‘parish notices’ regarding track and pit etiquette. The first part of the day was given over to horsing practice with Richard Phillips’ venerable Speedster. Almost everyone present had been at the ‘have a go day’ so were reacquainting themselves with the procedure with a view to doing some ‘live horsing’ later in the day to spread the load a bit. Most aircars do not need much in the way of help so that everyone was able to give it a shot for real, although the general consensus is that ‘it is not as easy as it looks’

Simon Hughes leads the briefing Bill Bannister adjusting the 'steering' Horsing practice

Always a few bit and pieces changing hands at these events and the first box was almost everything required to build a 1066 MRC car, including an original aluminium body, a nice project for the new owner. Paul Goodall was on hand with numerous casting sets, although he left with far fewer than he arrived with, while Alex Phin had his usual array of engines and car parts, plus lots of wheels. Bill Banister, who also supplies all the retro sized tyres and other bits was also on hand, having brought a couple of cars to run, both with his home built engines.

Andy's Redfin Four wheel steering? Simon Launching 'Flying' aircar

Most of the cars had seen track duty previously, although Jan Huning had added damped suspension to his Oliver Two-Five. Good to see Dave Smith and Taff Bolen in action, somewhat more leisurely than in their team racing days. Taff was in charge of twiddling the bits on the ‘Bolly Olly’ to get the engine on song until the fastest laps we saw were just on 135kph. The plan is now to add some suspension for the next meeting and twiddle the needle and comp screw even further to see just how fast a diesel will go. Steve Betney’s lovely Parra powered version was behaving itself perfectly with two good runs and no upsets. Several of the aircars did suffer upsets, primarily because they are going much faster than originally intended. A sports mode photo shows one car with all four wheels pointing in different directions (see above) and none of them related to where the car was supposed to be going. We had seen Steve Betney’s somewhat frightening Dooling 29 powered version of Roger’s Rocket with what looked like a speed dolly for a chassis. In the event, although it was not fast, the car rode absolutely perfectly, with the four wheel, wire chassis absorbing all the bumps, food for thought in terms of design.

Just a touch more on the needle Taff Hugh Connecting Pete's King Cat Steve launches his lovely Parra 'proa'  

Amongst the wheel driven cars, Jan Huning's Oliver seemed very stable at around 117kph, which is its fastest ever speed. If you can keep the wheels on the ground the cars will go faster. Andy Hobbins’ Redfin is now pretty well sorted, although he, along with others was suffering with cut offs that did just that, but before the runs were complete. As with horsing, push starting a direct drive diesel is also an acquired knack, so is avoiding the nasty, whirly bit at the front of an aircar, as the occasional expletive revealed. When the numbers were crunched, Dave Smith recorded the fastest speed for an aircar on the day, and Jan Huning, the fastest wheel driven car.

Fine tuning for Fastest speed of day Simon Alex Chris on starting duty

It was not until the lunch break, that some of us realised that we live in a different world as the pork pies and sandwiches came out whilst Alex Phin set up a small, al fresco, banquet complete with warm quiche, red wine and appropriate cutlery. See below for evidence of 'how the other half lives'

Thanks to Simon and Steve for organising the day, Jan, Hugh and the other ‘volunteer’ horsers, especially welcome as the temperature rose under the cloudless sky. Did reach 29 degrees for a while but stayed resolutely at 28 nearly all the way home. Youtube video

Now, regularly readers of Retro Club reports will know the fascination that visitors to Gt Carlton have with very large tractors and other agricultural machinery, not something that I have had cause to comment on since using the A14 and A1, until now that is. Overhead signs with speed limits and warning of queues hardly preparing us for a socking great John Deere combine heading down the A1 and a track laying X9 at that, must have been fun to drive and caused chaos when it reached the A14 junction as it did not seem to have any escort vehicles. No autonomous vehicle has yet to figure out that when a 36ft header reel comes down the road towards you, an equally large combine is not far behind, so find refuge.

Steve Betney's gallery

Simon issues the 'parish notices' Starting Richard's horsing car
Pundits corner All eyes on the speed readout Now, if we do this to the car?

From Simon Hughes

A TCIG  Tether Car Meeting was held on September 5th at the track at BMFA Buckminster Lodge. We were blessed with good weather throughout the day and had a good attendance.

The focus was on a day for Air Cars and Twin-shaft Wheel Driven cars, with a number of experienced racers in attendance, both competing and providing plenty of help and support for newcomers. A training session was organised in the morning to enable new racers to get an initial go at horsing using Steve Betney's old 2.5cc Galeota Aircar, now owned by Richard Phillips and kindly loaned by him for this event and purpose. This proved very successful, with over half a dozen "newbies" getting 2-3 runs each. This enabled a number of them to carry on Horsing through the remainder of the day and gaining some experience. We will need further training for the Wheel Driven cars as this is a more involved technique, but we are now starting to increase the number of folk who can support this aspect of racing. Overall a great success.

In the afternoon we had a number of sessions running Air Cars & Twinshafts. We had 7 entrants running Aircars, with 12 successful runs in the day, Fastest time of the Day went to Dave Smith with his 2.5cc Oliver Tiger powered model, at 80.5 MPH.

5 entrants ran Twinshafts, with Fastest time of the Day going to Jan Huning with his 2.5cc model at 70.8 MPH. An excellent day, with plenty of good racing, and the opportunity to meet and enjoy time with good friends old and new. The next meeting for these cars will be at the SAM Octoberfest meeting at Buckminster October 16th and 17th, we look forward to welcome everyone either racing or spectating.

SAM Octoberfest

Definitely a weekend of contrasting weather for the SAM festival. Saturday saw the second round of running for the Redfin Trophy with the results being combined with those from the Retrofest to determine the winner. Points are awarded for design, build and speed and by all accounts people are now getting to grips with the Redfins and other twinshafts in that respect. Runs in the mid 130kph bracket are now common, still 20 or so less than the well sorted Olivers back in the 50s though, but these were single ended motors either in spur drive or bevel drive cars.

With the relaxation in travel restrictions it was a pleasure to welcome Gianmauro Castagnetti and Paola all the way from Italy. Gianmauro has built numerous superb replica engines that we have featured and one of these was powering an equally well built Oliver Tiger Two-Five replica.

Sunday was primarily for the swap meet that was significantly better supported than the July one. Traders filled the hangar and both car parks whilst a steady stream of cars gradually filled up the field area. As usual, the traders were doing most of the buying before the general public were admitted, but by golly, there was a lot of stuff for sale. Oliver Monk had a table full of mainly car related items that was cleared in short order, including a pair of Gary Barnes Railton replicas. For him, trading was brisk, for others, less so, but having seen stall after stall of engines on offer at premium prices, no surprise.

What could not have been anticipated after the previous two days was the rapid deterioration in the weather, firstly drizzle, then rain and then serious rain, leaving only the very hardy still outside with most seeking shelter in the hangar. A hydro would have been more at home on the track, but there was one brave person having a run and getting thoroughly soaked for his trouble.

Most of the activity involved chatting, but how things have changed. Gone are the photo albums and carrier bags of interesting items, now it is scrolling through the galleries on smart phones, not quite the same. Thankfully, Taff Bolen is of the old school and had a bag full of engines that he had built, conversions, flights of fancy, developments of existing motors with new ideas, gem after gem popped out for us to look at. Seen here is a 1.5cc Utckam tether car motor that he has turned round with a new front end, crankshaft and shaft rotary induction, plus a teeny weeny prop.

The rain did stop by mid afternoon allowing a bit more activity on the track, but sad to say, we had abandoned ship for warmer and dryer climes. Thanks to Steve Betney for images, report on what happened on the track and results.

Steve Betney Reports

It was a pretty busy weekend at the SAM 35 Octoberfest event on 16th and 17th October, with not only tethered car activity on the track to finalise results of the Redfin trophy alongside general running, but many BMFA Nationals and SAM control line events taking place on the site, the SAM AGM on Saturday afternoon and the large BMFA swapmeet on the Sunday morning. I was involved in most of these, so didn't get time to take many photos at the car track, but a handful of these is attached.

Chris with Bill and Speedster car Gianmauro & Oliver Two-Five Castings galore from Bill Bannister

Our good friend Gianmauro Castagnetti, across from Italy with his wife just for this event, which made it the very first International meeting we have had for the TCIG, and hopefully the first of many still yet to come. Great to see you Gianmauro! The image of the aluminium castings for car and engine parts is just some of Bill Bannister's range of work that is available, just contact him at bannisterengines@hotmail.com if interested.

The image right shows Lyndon Bedford, son of Ken Bedford of ETA fame, giving his father's original ETA 29 powered car a run on the Sunday afternoon. Didn't get a full 8 lap time, but was fast and made a super noise for the laps that it did put in, amazing after 70 years. The Sunday morning was very wet and rather cold, contrary to earlier weather forecasts, but Nigel Bathe and Paul and Olly Harris braved this and ran their cars for fun(?) nonetheless.

A variety of nine aircars and other cars were run on the Saturday in fine weather, as well as ten 2.5cc twinshaft powered cars in the 2nd and final leg of the Redfin Trophy competition for this year, three of them entered for the first time. The best score for each car from either of the two meetings was used to determine the final results

Saturday's scores:

Joint 1st place scores at 11 points were for Jan Huning with his fast modified Russian School car and John Goodall with his Oliver Mercedes and scratch built Vanwall cars. Because of this tied result, Alex Phin's casting Contest CD's tie-breaker discretionary additional point score was awarded to John's lovely Vanwall scale car, so the handsome Redfin Trophy goes to him to keep until next year's final.

Final placings and scores:

1st place with 12 points John Goodall Redfin Vanwall.
Joint 2nd place with 11 points John's Oliver Mercedes and Jan Huning's School car, the fastest of the competition at 80.41mph.
Joint 4th place with 10 points were myself with Redfin Ferrari 500, Jan Huning's yellow Oliver Two Five, Nigel Bathe with Redfin 1928 Bentley, and Bill Bannister with his Twinshaft Racer with homebuilt engine.
8th place at 9 points was Gianmauro Castagnetti with his white Oliver Two Five.
9th place with 7 points was Paul Eggleton with his Redfin AM Galeota car. 
10th place was taken by Chris Roberts, who didn't manage to make a timed run.

The scoring system used this year resulted in numerous joint placings as can be seen, so will be improved for next season to minimise this and better differentiate between scores, and a new system will be notified early in the New Year.