Prop driven car - no power to wheels

AFTER building my 16th Ferrari, I started wonderingabout the possibilities of a propeller driven car. The more [ thought about it, the more the idea appealed to me. Ignoring the theory of ducted air 110ws (possibly because I knew nothing about it) I designed the simplest layout possible, and got started.

One hour and odd minutes later, my brain child was complete - even to the least discerning eye it was obviously, a simple, tatty, unrecognisable prototype - a cross between the original slot cars and an unfinished hair-dryer. It consisted of one chassis, 4 wheels, one guide, one motor, one propeller, one motor platform and a quarter of a 'Heinz' bean can.

Sneaking into the club, I plugged in my controller, furtively placed the 'Thing' onto the track, and pressed the button - it went. So surprised and numbed by the incredible spectacle, I forgot to lift for the first corner, luckily - because of its inherent instability it rolled gracefully over and over. The witnesses to this unslot-like phenomenon, cheered - jeered - and insisted on an immediate re-run, and, being just as eager, I started the 'Thing' again. The first point one noticed about this type of machine, was the unearthly silence, even at full bore. Then in rapid succession the following faults became apparent - the rate of acceleration was poor, its braking was nil (in fact some people swear it goes faster when you lift off). Its CG was far too high, its track too narrow, and the greatest fault lay in the fact that no-one knew how to drive it - yet with all its faults, it was a most interesting and amusing experiment in aerodynamics ECRA style, it also inspired many of the other club members to get out their drawing boards and spare Mabuchis.

So, pleased with the results, of Mk I, and quite sure I could improve upon such a crude design, I conceived the ultimate in 'Windmills' as they were now called. Mk 2, a lightweight chassis of brass tube, a high revving, low slung motor, 5 bladed prop, geared drive, wider track, steering, and a rudder activated by the guide, pivoting front axle, and a smart paint job.

Proud, and full of confidence in my new super Mk 2 windmill, I breezed into the club, and invited one and all to come and see the action! Phzz! Nothing! It would hardly blow itself along. Dejected, I watched the designs of some of my friends, and these too, proved very disappointing, though certainly not lacking in imagination.

Resigned to the fact, that by some lucky chance, I had a windmill that would go, and with the perplexing thought that I couldn't build another - I gave up and started on my 17th Ferrari.

Occasionally I take the windmill out of its box, and give it an outing, I suppose, to convince myself that it does still go, yet this tatty, rattling contraption did have its moments of glory, when it did an exhibition lap at the 1966 nationals.

Should anyone consider trying to make one of these offshoots of slot car racing, I would only say, 'You don't know what you are letting yourself in for!'

If I can show how really simple the first 'windmill' is, it may help you make up your mind.

A pan chassis with the sides bent up, has holes drilled in each side somewhere, near the back (or wherever you decide), this is to enable a solid 3/32nd axle to turn in it. An Airfix front axle is bolted to the front, so the side has to be cut away to allow this. Drill the chassis and fit a guide. (The choice is yours). Cut a prop from tin or alloy (mine is a 4 bladed alloy one of elementary shape and a lucky guess pitch), and to save any messing about, Araldited directly onto the motorshaft.

(Incidentally, for a quick painless Araldite job, I use the following routine - a heat resistant plate is rested over a pan of boiling water, over a low heat, and the articles to be glued, placed on the plate and 'cooked' for 15 to 20 minutes). The motor and prop (Araldite again) are stuck onto the motor mounting bracket a piece of bent alloy 'sheet', and the lot stuck to the chassis. Keep the glue handy, for next comes the duct or shield to fit round the prop. I used the end of a tin can, this also is

simply stuck to the chassis, the only points to watch, are that it does not foul the track, rear wheels, or the propeller. Next, a simple motor to guide wiring job, driver and if you're fussy - paint.

The only rules that could, I think, apply, are: (1) ECRA width, (2) Shield around prop for marshal's benefit, (3) One motor driving unlimited number of props and no drive to wheels.

Lastly - place on track, plug in, and the best of British. .

I look forward to seeing a few 'windmills' blpwing their way around various club tracks and who knows - next year a separate class at the Nationals?

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