Teamslot Renault A110 'Alpine'

Teamslot Renault A110 'Alpine'

Postby wixwacing » Thu 31 Jul, 2008 12:43 am

Teamslot Renault A110
”ALPINE” Catalunya





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by Phil Wicks


I don’t know if I’m crazy or possessed or what, but something supernatural must have pulled me towards this model! The body itself isn’t new but the livery is the traditional Renault yellow and black diamond of the sixties and seventies. Ever since I was a Service manager for a dealership selling this marque I have had a soft spot for Renault (Some say ‘in the head’). I don’t think so though!!

They are one of the oldest Marques in the world today. Admittedly the French government are the majority share holder and have been pulling the strings for some years now but it hasn’t stopped them being one of the largest vehicle producers in the world with such names as Nissan (Japan) and Mack Trucks (USA) under their control!! Renault still make a profit, and alongside companies like Peugeot/Citroen and the now defunct BMC/Leyland they have been at the forefront of automobile innovation for many decades!

Their model releases over the decades were unusual to say the least. Who can forget such cars as the Dauphin, R4, R8, R16, and latterly the Clio and the International touring car success of the Laguna. Well, in amongst this was a car which, outside of Renault circles, was not as well appreciated. The car was the A110 ‘Alpine’! This car was adapted for all forms of motorsport with Rally and Endurance being its Forte. Monte Carlo and Le Mans being among its favourite haunts.




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Teamslot on the other hand is a newcomer to motorsport, albeit 1:32 scale!! Their efforts are yet to be recognised in the field of miniature motor sport. After a shaky and ignominious start they are slowly but surely getting some sort of act together. Their models to date are still not suited to the uninitiated. Almost all, without exception, require some sort of fettling for better or worse. Paint jobs have been less than acceptable, mouldings, resin and plastic, have been tongue in cheek and motors, wheels and tyres have also left a lot to be desired. Well, I’ve got news for you. It’s not over yet!!

This Renault was spotted on the Classicslot website. Teamslot specialise in those models that other makers have not released recently and do short runs and limited editions to increase their desirability. But never being one to turn away from a challenge and considering the before and after usefulness of the Celica GT4 I tested (elsewhere on the forum) I decided to buy this special little model, again from Classicslot, for 22.00 pounds sterling inc. p+p! (Au$52.00!).


Initial impressions of the model on opening the parcel where favourable. The fact that the chassis and body mouldings had trouble pairing up and the front axle flopped all over the place was greatly offset by the lovely yellow and black livery with the early Renault Diamond smack in the middle of the roof! I was due at the track on Friday evening so I left it alone determined to run it in SOOB condition on my local track. The paintwork is very bold and not semi translucent like the Celica. The yellow IS yellow. The tampo is fairly well defined and not a major problem. There are no fade outs towards the edges or on curved body sections. The chromework is effective too. Cars of this era had lots of chrome. Sidelamps, tail lamps, headlamps and driving lamps too are well depicted even if the driving lamps are pointed into the bushes! Wiper arms come with the package but on mine the right hand one was an early casualty. I suspect it was the victim of over temperature heat welding, which is prevalent. All heat welded parts accessible will be getting a dob of superglue behind, applied with the point of a modelling knife.



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Well, the model is equipped with the Mabuchi ‘S’ can TS6 ‘Racer’ motor. This is about on a par with the Scalextric and standard Fly ‘S’ cans. It revs well and drives hard but the rest of the model was holding it back severely! The first problem was the terrible noise from the final drive. A Sunbeam blender would have been flat out being louder! Tyres were shiny and oily? I don’t think they had started to petrify like some Fly and Cartrix tyres do. I think it was a coat of something applied during assembly? Anyhow, tyres were cleaned in hydrocarbon and the model placed back on the track.



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In SOOB condition this model was going nowhere fast!! Rear end vibrations, noise, dramatic understeer into bends and a total loss of direction!! At least it didn’t tip up in the corners it DID go round! In a vain attempt to achieve anything I decided to sand the rear tyres. Silly me. Three seconds into the operation and the motor screamed with a loud “zzzzzzZZZZZZzzzzzzzz……..” The crownwheel had lost two teeth in a trice! So with appalling behaviour for an ‘S’ can car (or any car for that matter), I decided to go straight into the full blueprinting and get this son (or daughter) of a bitch to work for its living.

THE STRIPDOWN!!

What is it they say? From the ground up? More like from the test block up! The model was dismantled and all the faults that required attention noted. First observations were that if you tightened the rear body mount, the rear tyres pressed hard against the arches!! And with the front screw tight, the car sat in a tail down stance with front wheels akimbo. Well at least it only has two mounting screws and that’s the way I like it!

With bits all over the workbench I proceeded to evaluate. Firstly, the contrate (crownwheel). The gear had lost most of two adjacent teeth in the tyre truing exercise. The gear seemed well made but on closer inspection the cause was identified. The axles are of the metric variety (2.5mm) and the rear axle has a very handy spline in the centre to hold the contrate. The splined area has a greater effective diameter than the axle and when the gear has been pushed on, it has distorted as it has passed over the spline. This caused the toothed section to have run out on opposite sides and it was at one of these points of minimal contact that the teeth gave out. It was probably also the source of the original noise heard during testing.



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No worries, a quick look through the spares tray revealed a mint, unused 27z NINCO contrate (these are for 2.5mm axles). Pulling the wheels off, I pressed off the old gear and pressed the new one on, positioned it centrally using verniers, then placed the wheels on a dummy axle in a cordless drill and ran them slowly. The wheels in fact ARE concentric but do have a bit of runout which doesn’t affect their behaviour too much. The wheels didn’t have any sprue or flashing problems. They do have good deep hub centres which add a bit of strength to the rear end. The tyres are a bit like early SCX tyres by having thick and thin sections. They were tried on in several positions until movement was minimal. The axle location in the chassis is fine and I saw no need to mess with it.


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Next was the motor. The pinion was inspected and I was a bit concerned about the accuracy and coarseness of its teeth. They seemed to be fairly sharp and I wondered if this contributed to the contrate failure. Never the less I decided to go with it and keep an eye on it. The chassis has a moulded recess to take the bigger Teamslot motors and this model has a separate cradle (a bit like the NC1/NC2 conversion) for the ‘S’ can. The rear was fine but the front was loose and the motor moved, so a bead of hot glue down both sides fixed this up. Next was the front axle. This is what we used to call a ‘clonker’ axle back when…. It has a lot (6/7 mm) of side movement ‘til the wheels stick outside the arches! It is also one of the floaty-up-and-down-type which I am learning to hate. Nearly all my models now have fixed front axles. On narrower cars, these act as outriggers, which keep the model flat on the track during hard cornering. With a ‘floater’ you need to add unnecessary ballast to the model to keep it down. This reduces acceleration and top speed. Fine for ‘womps’ but not for truescale racing. A piece of 3/32” i.d. brass tube was cut marginally shorter than the inside distance between the wheels. This had a small drop of lubricant applied to it and was slid over the front axle and the wheel replaced. The axle slot was widened slightly and the axle/tube refitted. The model was stood on the test block and after ensuring all four wheel were touching the board, a judicious amount of hot glue was carefully applied to each end of the brass tube, both sides, and allowed to cool.


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Next was the guide. This was surprisingly good. Minimal side and front to back slop and I decided to keep it. The guide tube in the chassis was trimmed by about 1.5 mm to allow the front to sit a little lower (This was done before the front axle was fixed in). The guide itself had the braids replaced and because it is a nice deep blade, I put a small chamfer on the front edge to help it over the ‘lumpy’ bits in the bottom of Scalextric classic track slots! One thing I did do was to trim the lead wires from the guide to the motor. Out of the box these wires were almost sticking out of the front wheel arches!! There must have been nearly enough wire to wire two models!!

All these mods got the chassis sitting on the test block nicely. All the wheels were touching. The chassis was an even distance from the block front to rear. The motor was fixed in. Axles were secure. A nice mesh at the back and on top of this the bare chassis ran well over the few test laps I took it on AND it was a lot quieter! Things are looking up. Now all there is to do is to get the body to fit properly!!

The body has been well made and the finish is probably the best part of the model. If anything I might have suggested keeping the body and fitting another chassis but I’m sure I’ve cracked it. The main problem is that the rear mounting post is too short and the front is too long!! Now that’s not hard to fix. The rear is too short by about 1.5 mm. This would place the rear tyres comfortably close to the wheel arch tops. This was fixed by drilling a hole, smaller than the body screw, through a piece of plastic card. This was then trimmed up to make a neat washer. The screw hole in the chassis was opened out to the next drill size (in 1/64ths) and the screw was screwed back through the chassis into the new spacer. This was offered up and the front post assessed for trimming. The front post eventually lost nearly two millimetres of length. The finished job looks great with the whole model sitting low to the ground and looking very racey.



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It now looks a million bucks but does it drive like it? The traction magnet between the rear axle and motor is quite small. It does offer some sort of downforce but it isn’t as much as might be needed and the Teamslot tyres are still suspect number two! I have also added about 8 grams of ballast in total either side of the motor for board track racing. Since doing the mods I have run it on Scalextric sport track and it is very ‘taily’ and it wants to break away if pushed moderately hard. Some people enjoy this in a model and that’s fine on a track were you can see the model for the whole lap. On larger tracks, where distant bends are harder to see, it will induce errors in judgement buy either slowing to much in fear of a deslot or deslotting during enthusiastic cornering! I look forward to knowing the truth when it’s run on board track again. I’m sure this time it will redeem itself. Maybe some Ninco or SCX tyres will tame it too.


So for now it is a 500% improvement and hopefully in the next few days I will have the opportunity to extol the modified virtues of the Teamslot product on a good board track.


Statistics

Wheelbase 66.0 m.m.
Front axle width 54.5 m.m.
Rear axle width 57.0 m.m.
Overall weight 65.0 grams
Front axle/guide load 28.0 grams
Rear axle load 37.0 grams
Front/rear load dist. 43% / 57%
Pinion 9z brass
Contrate 27z nylon
Final drive ratio 3 : 1
Rear wheel/tyre diameter 19.0 m.m.



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What’s left to do? Not a lot really. I’ve tried to make this car useable, not competitive. It’s a rally car and without 4wd on board its not going to win much. On plastic it will need a magnet update to compete with SCX pro turbo cars. It has a good ‘footprint’ and I’m sure Teamslot have done a ‘Ninco’ and exaggerated the width dimensions a bit for the sake of drivability. In the light of its small wheel size (19 m.m.!) I would upgrade the pinion to a Ninco 10z. Why Ninco? They have put a lot of thought into their pinions (if that’s possible). On close inspection, the teeth are profiled to fit the arc of the contact point of the contrate teeth. This ensures a quiet, minimal wear contact. Lastly, at a new all up weight of 71 grams, I’m sure it could take a little more ballast if required. So, I like this model a lot (now). I’ve had fun overcoming its shortcomings and have enjoyed putting a few extra ideas into it. Another one for the shelf sometime in the distant future after a worthy successor comes along.
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When I'm not racing slotcars,
I'm out in the back yard, burning food!!

When I win, it's because of my talent, not my car or my controller!
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