Fly BMW 'M3'

Fly BMW 'M3'

Postby wixwacing » Fri 18 Jul, 2008 10:44 pm


By Phil Wicks

When I first returned to slot racing some five years ago after a long absence, I was obviously lacking the necessary equipment to compete with and after borrowing one or two models I quickly ’slotted’ back into the rhythm. My first purchase was a second hand Ninco Corolla NC1 for rallying and then came some tough decisions as the classes unfolded before me week by week!


One of the guys had a supply of new slot cars in a cabinet at the club premises and there was always a choice of shiny new cars to be had for the classes. Mainly Ninco and Fly and the odd bit of Pro Slot. I remember drooling over a Ninco Cobra only to be told it wasn’t good for any of the classes, Other stuff like the Fly Lola T70’s, Ferraris and Porsches beckoned but what was going to do the biz?

Eventually, being a pragmatist, I let my head rule my heart and the next purchase was a Fly 908, the Interserie version in the best green you could wish for with a large orangey arrow right down the middle! A lot of cars from this era had arrows down the middle?

The next task was to get it into race winning trim; Fly cars were always a mile off the mark SOOB. Clearances in some places were increased and in others reduced. Screws were slacked and rattly body parts glued. I still have a little red fire extinguisher in my race box which eventually never got put back! The last job was to get the motor on song and after this it was a race and class winner! This bode well for Mr Fly for when you get a product up and running to race winning standard you are more inclined to buy Mr Fly’s products,

So it went that soon I was in possession of several of Mr Fly’s shiny little devils for the purpose of vanquishing all comers but there was a dark cloud on the horizon! Mr Fly was to blot his copy book more than once and as a consequence was to leave more than one little bunny disillusioned. And so started a hate, hate relationship with one of the most promising manufacturers at that time.

What went wrong, well the first problem wasn’t all Mr Fly’s fault. The classes run were many and varied and the track was the classic Scalextric ‘Plexitrack’. Rally class ? Mr Fly didn’t do one. Formula one? Mr Fly didn’t do one, Touring cars? …. Ad infinitum.
Then came a couple of lemons, cars that weren’t going to win anything no matter what you did to them and as other makes got better, faster and cheaper, Mr Fly’s products got dearer and dearer and dearer!


Time to bail out, hard earned mazoolah was better spent elsewhere and with the advent of board track racing in the group Fly cars became moribund! So that was it! Even the hallowed ground of the Le Mans class was soon to be undermined and left to languish in that place between slot car Valhalla and down below! So a chance acquirement and the noticing of several others on the track at various times prompted me to get the BMW GTR out and re-evaluate it.

Having worked with 1/1 Bimmers in my earlier days I felt an affinity with this model and still love its detail and finish. The car portrayed is the BMW Motorsport M3 GTR as driven to fourth place by JJ Lehto, Fredrik Ekblom and Karl Wendlinger at the Petit Le Mans race in the ALMS series in 2001. The body decoration is simple and uncluttered and very striking. Interior detail is excellent (including that little red fire extinguisher!) with full roll cage, dash and driver detail. The car has been posed with both side windows half down and the driver certainly looks like he’s ready to do the job!

Once again, the wheels have got me! Beautiful ten spoked racing alloys. Exterior details include accurate reproduction of the BMW ‘Spinning Propellor’ badge front and rear. Very fine mesh in the radiator intake and even the front and rear recovery hooks in red. The bonnet also has well detailed air vents with fine gauze backing. It’s another one of those cars that seem a shame to race as you know at the end of racing it won’t look like it did at the beginning!

With the body off, this model is very similar in layout to numerous slot cars now on the market. The front motor has become commonplace and the clip in propshaft bearing too. The short bar traction magnet is placed about 17 mm in front of the rear axle with unrestricted access to the track rails. Rear axle bearings are brass and are a snug fit in the chassis. Fronts are the usual Fly ‘pin through plastic’ set up which is fine on a new model but with some K’s on the car can become VERY sloppy!

The chassis is held in by four screws. (come on boys, lets have a bit of compliance!) and as a consequence it is a little difficult to tune the body for racing. The chassis is a good fit though and is not pinched by the body allowing a bit of free movement. One thing I had not noticed before but should have guessed is that the rear wing and door mirrors are removable for racing. I’ll put that down as a plus! The side pipes too are removable, not having been heat welded into place. (Take note Mr Ninco)



So, to the board track for some serious slot testing. The car wasn’t totally SOOB as in a previous time, it had about 7 or 8 grams of lead hot glued in front of the axle and rather than remove it then refit it I left it there. The first few laps were not very exciting. Plenty of wheel spin from the rear and precarious cornering left the best laps way down at the 9.2 sec mark. This wasn’t going to break any records. Also there was a strange previously un-experienced noise coming from the car which sounded very much like gear noise? A quick external inspection didn’t show any immediate problems so I cleaned the braids and placed the car back on red lane and carried on my way.

The noise was becoming very rhythmic and the car was demonstrating some annoying mid corner braking antics and it required a good deal of throttle to get round them and off down the straight! I took the car from the track and removed the bottom to inspect, sure enough the pinion spigot which locates in the crownwheel slot was withdrawn beyond the slot!!?? This allowed the axle / crownwheel assembly to move sideways and out of mesh!! First thought was to pull the propshaft further out of the spring. Body on and back on the tracks and all seemed better. The noise was still there but to a limited degree, A few more laps and a best of 8.8 secs saw the return of the noise with a vengeance, eventually the body was removed and lo and behold, a third of the contrate teeth were sheared off!! That was the end of the first road test.



I returned home and after a couple of days inspected the damage. Sure enough the crown wheel was history. Looking about the turmoil of my workbench I saw a spare Ninco 27z rear axle. I put some Ninco bushes on it and swapped the wheels and glued the bushes lightly. I also removed the propshaft and placed a 1mm washer between the bush and the pinion to ensure a deep mesh. For all intents and purposes this car was now ready to do the business!! So I thought!

Back to Garry’s on the following Friday and after a bit of social racing I got the beast out for round two. Well, round two wasn’t going to be the last! Red lane was well worn in after a couple of hours racing and pulling away for the second time was filled with trepidation! Plenty of speed on the straight, lovely and quiet, a bit slippery in the corners but a marked improvement. Several laps at a moderate pace and high eights saw the car start to slow noticeably ‘til eventually lap times were back in the nines, and the car once again jerky in the bends?? Not funny, end of testing, put car away and proceed to race some classic 60’s Scalextric cars to lift my spirits once again (they never fail!)


I have not yet had a model defeat me (except maybe the original Scalextric XR2 Fiesta) and for the money this was not going to be the first. Many lesser racers would have dumped the car unceremoniously back in its case and confined it to the back shelf, never more to be touched. Mee? nooooh!

I’ll be brief! Body off, prop shaft had worked its way forward and pinched the washer I had put in against the rear mount?? A drop of super glue on the shaft at the spring was a temporary solution against creep. Pinion was clear of contrate so I can only assume this creep is part of the natural motion of the drive line. When pushed right into the drive spring the shaft is 1 mm CLEAR of the contrate slot?? Further measuring showed that the prop shaft was at least 2.5 mm TOO SHORT! No B******T I didn’t have any material to use as a replacement so the solution then was to put a 2.5 mm length of plastic sprue down the spring before refitting the shaft and repositioning the pinion. This prevented the shaft creeping back up inside the spring, Problem solved!!

Next was the drag on the drive line, apparent with chassis in place. The right hand rear tyre was running against the wheel arch and on further inspection it was seen that the left hand front tyre was also rubbing! Use of the Dremel and a sanding drum fixed those problems, the arches carefully taken out to give a moderate clearance. The drive line was still dragging somewhere and further inspection showed rubbing marks on the underside of the drivers tray where the prop shaft runs in the transmission tunnel, another Dremel, another tool change, SORTED!

A good look over all moving parts didn’t reveal any other potential problems but this model has already run rings round me!


Further delay but eventually back to Garry’s for hopefully the final testing. The wheels and tyres were fairly true but Fly tyres usually have a bit of unevenness across the tread and some light sanding is needed to get maximum contact.

On the track, as before, the car demonstrated a bit of a wild rear end. Extra weight and maybe silicone tyres were the first thought but as a subjective off the shelf test I continued to test the original
without extra costs. Cleaning the tyres with WD40 was a great help. After massaging it into the rubber I then dry off the tyres completely leaving a slightly tacky but dry feel to the tyres. It doesn’t leave any moist residue on the track that way.

OK! Down to business! The track had been run all evening and there was a good surface grip. Moving up the speed scale the car was behaving well. Typical Fly straight line speed and good corner entry behaviour. Through the corners was fairly predictable and there were no bad habits. Pushing it harder and harder to the point of deslot showed it maintained good straight line speed and corner entry. The first deslot came in the way of a body tilt and consequential understeer. Continued testing showed this to be the dominant cause.

Rear tyre edges were rounded and testing continued, the deslot characteristics were the same but cornering ability had crept up a couple of notches. Any more improvement to this model would require the cost of replacement parts and that is outside the scope of the review.

It’s my view that this model needs at least another 10 grams of weight at the rear in front of the axle (bringing the total to about 15 gms) to improve its handling on wood or as a non magnet car. I was quite happy with the tyre compound and the more they were cleaned the better the model drove. The final best lap for the 21 metre red lane was 7.913 sec. Not good and many a lesser car can better it. One day I might get serious and spend an afternoon and some money on it but for now it can go back in the box.

Total Weight 91 grams
Front Axle load 45 grams
Rear Axle load 46 grams
Wheelbase 85 mm
Front axle width 62 mm
Rear Axle width 63.5 mm
Motor Fly Racer 22.000rpm


This car has been a test, no doubt, it has all the airs and graces of a top class slot car but in this day and age it is not unreasonable to expect a model of this price range to be pretty good out of the box. Had this been an isolated case it could be regarded as a ‘Friday’ car but among the guys I race with it is probably one of three out of four problem GTR’s!! not good. The car is as well finished as any and detail is superb. Printing too ranks with the best. This car shouts from its box Buy me! Buy me! And once bought it shouts Race me! Race me! And then all hell breaks loose!

A couple of other niggles which I hadn’t expected nor experienced before are also potentially serious. A dummy hub nut went missing from the left hand wheel. I didn’t even know they were a separate part. Next was the over enthusiasm of the assemblers (bless their cotton socks) with the plastic welder. A lot of the ancillary parts inside and out have been over welded, some hanging on by a thread waiting for that shunt which will see parts spinning across the track or rattling about the inside. This week I was racing my hardly driven 3.5 CSL on plastic and a moderate crash saw the entire front grill and lights disappear inside the body and the front air dam drop off!

Another shock was when I removed the tyres to cut down the injection flash from the wheels. Removing the tyres caused the wheels to flex dramatically on the spokes! To the point where I found it hard to refit the tyres without causing concern as to whether the wheels would snap off the hubs!

Rob and I always try to be fair and unbiased in our reviews giving prince and pauper the same balanced view. I am not going to condemn the model as this may well be a ‘Friday’ car but it is hard to be upbeat when you are continually looking for positive reasons to buy another and in the end I managed to get it to run respectably. To show good faith I have the Fly 037 Lancia Martini winging its way to me as we speak. This will augment my Scalextric/SCX version but it may well end up a shelf queen after the review is done!


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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