Flyslot Lotus 78 JPS - Andretti

Flyslot Lotus 78 JPS - Andretti

Postby wixwacing » Sun 14 Aug, 2011 5:00 pm

Flyslot Lotus 78
Mario Andretti



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As mentioned elsewhere in this forum, Colin Chapman was not only a brilliant engineer, he was a designer par excellence and was always taking in experiences which, combined with his natural inquisitiveness, turned into groundbreaking innovation. His '50’s open wheelers were hard to beat and the mid mounted engine, although not his invention, was designed to perfection and manifested itself regularly on the winners podium with such cars as the Lotus 25, lotus 33 and the memorable Lotus 38 Indy car.



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The car at USA West 1977, note the decals on the wing ends and tyres.




Chapman and Lotus then seem to fall back into the throng of motor racing teams as regulations and technology to make racing safer engulfs them all (and rightly too). Still getting results but a succession of average cars combined with determined efforts by the opposition, especially Ferrari in the hands of Niki Lauder, to become head of the pack forced Chapman to re evaluate his whole approach to F1 race car design. The ageing Lotus 72 was replaced by an indifferent Lotus 77 and still troubles prevailed. Chapman wrote a mini thesis on aerodynamics and air penetration for GP cars, and after studying the aerodynamics of the Legendary WW ll fighter bomber, the De Havilland Mosquito, he was fascinated by its wing mounted radiators and hot air outlets which were designed to induce lift. After further reading he was convinced that the profile of an upturned wing section was the way to travel. Instructions were issued to head engineer s Tony Rudd and Peter Wright (ex BRM), and within a short space of time and after exhaustive rolling road and wind tunnel tests the new Lotus was being tested.



The Andretti Family website



Mario Andretti completed many hours testing of the new car, and the aerodynamics, not perfect in the prototype, took a lot of harnessing. On top of this Ford had supplied an uprated motor to overcome the drag in the rear wing and the new Ford DFV was borderline reliable. This cost Andretti the world championship in 77, but by ’78 all the pieces where in place. Andretti took the driver’s championship and Lotus took the team championship! Andretti is on record as saying about the Lotus ’78, it’s as if it were ‘painted to the road’!



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Alas, the writing, as they say, was on the wall. After Colin Chapman died unexpectedly of a heart attack at the age of 54 in December 1982, the fate of the Lotus team was left in the balance. Eventually they ceased competition and finally the naming rights were sold on to other parties. Mario Andretti went on to a long and successful career in Motorsport, making a (bigger) name for himself on the home motorsport front. Being named USA driver of the year in three separated decades. He won Indy car races in four separate decades and competed in F1, Sportscars, Indy, Nascar, Midget cars, Sprint cars and drag racing. The only title to elude him is the 24 du Mans.



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Now THIS is Gold!!



So where does the Flycar model fit into all of this? Mmmmmmm? When I first saw it in the flesh I was immediately over taken by such expletives as Wow! and Gosh! and Cooo! and Blimey! and I have to admit, I still do have such expletives waiting to be used on it..... even after the review! The reason being that Fly have excelled once again in their rendition of a classic racing car, and scale and detail are initially first class. The main accolade of course goes to the subject matter. The choice of the Lotus 78 was a coup and the choice of the Andretti car was another coup. I suspect these models flew of the shelf in the opening days after release.







My euphoria was tempered by reservation because regular readers to this site will know that too many time I have shelled out hard earned sheckles on one of (the then) Mr Fly’s products, only to find I had been bitten on the bum with a model which was alarmingly attractive in the box, but positioned at the other end of the ‘delight’ spectrum once it made it to the track, and even before!! So, do we put it back in the box and forget the close ups, and put it on the shelf? Or do we take a closer look??? Well, having got this far, it’s not possible to put it back on the shelf. It isn’t mine anyway!!



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Decidedly bow legged Mmmmm?



With the lid off the box the model looks spectacular. I only have MRRC and Scaley models to compare it with but they were toys and this in a model. The first thing that strikes me is the expanse of black and the gold pinstriping which makes up the distinctive legendary JPS livery. At a time when cigarette advertising is banned in most places I couldn’t see how this one got by the censors? The other thing that strike me too is that the gold is barely gold? The tampo must be semi opaque and anyone who has mixed colours can see that the gold is bleeding the black body colour, causing it to have a strong green tint to it!. Even the Scalextric JPS cars are gold so it is possible to do! And the contrast strikes home when it is compared to the gold in the wheel spokes. The clear coat also has dust specs in it in several places, notably the front and rear wings and one of the side pods.



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Ah well, let’s move on. Mr Flyslot, as always, has made a good driver figure and decorated him well. I was a bit confused by the helmet detail though, It looks like the visor has been tampo’d upside down? Smaller detail like belts and buckles is good and painted well.



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The silver parts seem quite convincing and although the engine would have been a black crackle finish, the model could have done with a bit more painted detail. The body has a very nice lacquer coat, and like all black cars, it picks up fingerprints very easily. I found myself wiping this model continuously while photographing it and still I missed some!



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The air intake cowl is quite a large feature for the model and for some unknown reason, this model has a semi matt or ‘satin’ finish on this cowl. Either the clear coat was never applied or Flyslot decided it didn’t need it? Period pictures show the original 1/1 cowl to be matching the body though? Another missing feature is the sponsorship logos on the wings endboards??



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Wheels and tires are good although Fly have chosen not to put the ‘Goodyear’ logos on the tyre walls? Once again, contemporary photos show these to be there. The rear tyres come with a convex tread area which will need to be removed for serious competition, but for a ‘once in a while’ model I would be inclined to leave them this way as it does look authentic.



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Front suspension detail is also good and like the Williams, there is a working Ackermann steering arrangement. My only concern with this is that the model appears to be splay-footed, and this becomes quite exaggerated when the model is moving.



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When viewed from the rear the rear wing is tilted to one side noticeably. Not only that, the exhausts are also tilted and the LH lower suspension parts actually drag along the track! A pity really as they made a good job of camouflaging the crown wheel beneath the transmission casing.



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Underneath, the car is very tidy and neat. The traction magnet is in full view and other detail like the front and rear lower suspension is clear. When placed on a steal plate the magnet has good strength but the magnet is mounted mid chassis. This could relate to a reduction in effectiveness on the track much like Ninco cars did for many years. Combined with a small contact area on the tyres, it could well be a little skittish under racing pressure. One solution is to true/sand the tyres flat. This will no doubt have great benefit as it will also lower the traction magnet, but the model already sits rear end down and further tyre sanding will see this pose exaggerated and the rear suspension in deeper contact with the racing surface.



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There is an opportunity to lower the guide to counter this, but it will be less than a millimetre. The guide presents no worries and is standard fare. The braids on this model are also good but if the model’s best (and longest) future prospects are in non magnet racing then something a little softer and more pliable will be the go, as SOOB there is not enough weight in the front, or room to put it, to keep the guide and braids positively on the rails.



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Body removal is easy enough. Three screws are visible under the model and the fourth is mounted under the transmission case which can be pulled off with little effort. Putting it back on can be a little more fiddly! Once inside, again no bad news. Flyslot have adopted for a conventional set up for the final drive as opposed to that fitted in the Williams. Some hitherto unknown secrets revealed here too!



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The motor brandishes a wrapper which boldly states the motor is rated at 17,5000 rpm at 9 volts! As electric motors are almost linear in their rpm-voltage curve stats this tells me that it is not unreasonable to expect this motor to rev to 23,300 rpm at 12 volts, and wait for it.......28,270 rpm at 14 volts!!!



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Anyway, the bad news is the motor is loose in its mounts. This will need to be addressed if you are contemplating racing this non magnet style. The traction magnet is also a little loose so a spot of something to hold it in places might be advised to prevent it becoming dislodged in transit or in a hard impact. Another anomaly with lesser ramifications is that Mr Flyslot has used a contrate which has a 2.0 m.m. motor shaft slot?



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Not a big deal in itself as the pinion diameter has compensated for this and holds the contrate in a moderately good mesh, not sure what the washer is for though??



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While the body was off I decided to see if there was any advantage to running the model with body screws out. With the body off the chassis will bow under magnetic influence until it touches the track! Good news maybe? A chance to super tune this model to do a million miles an hour? The fact is that once the body screws are fitted, the nature of the chassis fit in the body almost nullifies any attempt to get the chassis to bend. No doubt this can be worked on but another word of warning. The three main screws are about two threads long and not only is there a chance of the screws dropping out if they are loose, (longer screws might do?), there is a real chance of stripping the thread if modestly tightened too often.



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The body itself is another good moulding but you need to be aware of just how little plastic is holding the front wing and nose on. Where the suspension passes under the body it is very narrow. I have seen sturdier parts than these separate under moderate impact. Putting the body back is fine but when it comes to the rear screw and the rear wing it can be a little fiddly. Be sure all holes align before screwing the screw home.



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Dust specs (and my fingerprints) on the rear wing.



So what’s it like on the track? Mmmmmm? I took it down to Logan City Speedway which is a Ferrador painted surface with magnabraid conductors. As expected the magnadheasion was tenuous at best, but then a lot of SOOB models are. On this track. I got the feeling the model was trying to ‘snow plough’ its way round the track and closer observation showed the front wheels almost never pointing in the direction of travel. Down the straight there was an audible rubbing noise from the model which was more pronounced on right hand bends.



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Is this what is known as 'toe-out on turns'



In short, because the model has a toe-out situation with the front wheels, the model is prone to wander left and right when going forward, much like a real car which will weave or follow the camber. But, because there is a guide in a slot, the steering locks to one side which in turn forces the guide sideways in the slot, increasing drag considerably. The solution has to be firstly to get the model to ‘toe-in’. This can only be done by lengthening the track rods, this will stop the model trying to weave.



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Right hand edge of tyres showing signs of scuffing already!!



Next, the guide needs modifying. The guide needs to have the leading and trailing edges increased in width to just under slot width. This will minimise the guide weaving in the slot and transferring that weave to the front wheels. Once these two things have been done I predict the model will roll a lot more smoothly, will stop ‘snow-ploughing' and will behave itself on the straights AND in corners. It still beggars belief that SCX and Ninco almost perfected slotcar steering more than ten years ago!! Why is Mr Flyslot trying to reinvent the wheel?? Beats me?



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Don't forget the screw in the tail (under the gearbox cover)!



This model will cost a lot of people more than $95.00 after postage, and newcomers to the hobby will be unaware of either the pedigree or the durability of Flyslot models. They are a well detailed model and that can’t be denied. But the devil is in the detail itself. Small but niggling things that detract from its overall presentation and aura is something we shouldn’t have on a model this price. To say it is an out and out racer is only partly true. I fully expect some will get this model to fly, but on plastic and magnetraction circuits it will have a very short life span with front suspension and both wings being early statistics. It’s my view that it will perform (and last) much better in a non magnet situation.



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Left handers are fine!!


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I can imagine that the cost of tooling up for this model was high. There are several intricate mouldings on the model and development costs for these will not be cheap. But there is a strong need for more models of this era and hopefully some of the smaller manufacturers will join in the chase and produce some of the less well known ‘also rans’ from the seventies. If you want this model for a race car then frankly it will be a traumatic, short lived and expensive experience. But if you want it for a few hot laps on an empty track from time to time, and something to occupy the front of the cabinet for a good while, then it will fit the bill admirably.



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Many thanks to Glen Perrin (Perro) of local racing group Q32 for the opportunity to review this model.
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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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