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HO Brass Wars Intro

Introduction and Timeline

Aurora's T Jets first got a taste of brass when a few clever hop up parts makers (AJ's, Champion, Mura, Laganke) designed screw on brass pans that typically used the body mount screws to secure a shaped brass pan to the bottom of the Tjet chassis. This added weight to the bottom and helped the cars stick...Cost effective, pragmatic, and a definite increase in performance.


The TycoPro was already designed on a brass platform so Tyco was already vested in the merits of brass (along with an inline motor). The design and the hop up flexibility of the TycoPro soon made this chassis the "pro-racer's" choice as a starting point for custom chassis' until the Riggen Boss (see below) was introduced. Aurora was the money leader in this game with the most to lose so they were forced to respond---and made a valient attempt with the Super 2------ with mixed results. Brass Panned cars were now winning all the races---and naturally the hobby had to follow.

More Geography and the "Commercials"
--While the East Coast had the big commercials Aurora and Tyco, the West Coast Brass was represented by two large scale makers. Riggen Industries who brought out their Boss Ho chassis, and Dynamic with their "Checkered Flag" Dynabrutes
. Cobra, also a large scale parts and cars veteran was based in the East but sort of sided with the designs of their West Coast brethren introducing an HO "ISO" style brass chassis called the Cobramite. While there are no large commercials from the midwest, the area was very active in racing and parts development. Many "cottage industry" participants sprang up here including TCP, Laganke, Bronzeman, Bamberg Engineering, K and K, and more.

[chargercobramite] [dyna]

(Dynabrute, Riggen Boss, Cobramite and Super2)

Engineering Advancements Achieved with the Brass Wars Pan cars...

--lower center of gravity
--floppy light bodies, also to remove the track vibrations and let the car run smooth
--wider rear sponge tires for better traction (the jam nut was INSIDE the rim, allowing more wheel!)
--lightweight aluminum independant fronts for less friction
--rewound engines such as Laganke, Bamberg

--(later development) lower magnets, first thought just to further lower the COG, but then realized that the magnets stuck to the steel rail/braids too!

The Transition...

In the mid 1970's, it became obvious that traction magnets for HO were far more important than a chassis having the absolute lowest center of gravity possible. That fact, combined with slower growth rates for the slot car hobby overall led manufacturers to stay focused on tweaking their current cost effective plastic chassis designs, now augmented with magnets. The AFX Magnatraction chassis -- the basis of many of the best custom brass panned slots--lasted in some form from 1975 until the early 1980's. Aurora developed the G+ chassis in late 1975; an inline design featuring traction magnets which gently evolved through 1983. Tyco stuck with the TycoPro chassis in some form (ending with the TP2) through 1975, and then came the first of many iterations of the Curvehugger chassis--with traction magnets.

Gary Rider describes the end of the era pretty well....once the magnets hit the pan, then through the pan...a new era had begun....

Parts makers such as AJ's and Champion also helped recreational/retail hobbyists improve performance with clever clip on/snap on/screw on parts that mimiced the theories practiced by the pro racers. These parts were very reasonably priced and very effective.

[DSC00019] [DSC00020] [DSC00025]
(AJ's weighted pan, click image for larger view)

[DSC00021] [DSC00022]
(AJ's front weight kit, the "poor man's" Super 2. Added weight and allowed the use of light bodies)

[DSC00023] [DSC00024]
(AJ's "ISO Pan", a cheap and EFFECTIVE brass upgrade)           (AJ's Brass Wiper system--like the one's the pros used!)

However.... with the performance advantages and the commercial/retail acceptance of the traction magnet, it seemed that the HO Brass Era was over.....


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HO Brass Wars, the advent of the Brass Pan Ho Slot Car
(back to


A basic timeline of the early history of HO scale slot cars begins with the 1958 introduction of the Playcraft line in England, followed by Aurora's USA based licensing of the product and their further development with the launch of "Vibrators" in 1960... followed by their "pancake chassis design" T-Jets in 1963. Aurora had great commercial success with this product line and improved them gradually but significantly through 1972, with their ultimate T Jet design called the Super2. Tyco Industries began competing with Aurora with their TycoS range launched in 1963 and then in late 1970 introduced their brass pan TycoPro in-line chassis design. Full details on the history of the TycoPro on this link...TycoPro carried Tyco's range of HO slot cars through the mid seventies.

It is the period of time beginning around 1968 through the mid 1970's that the "Brass Wars" focuses on, led by an important engineering realization discovered by some of the more serious HO racers of the time:

These little cars can be made to go fast and the faster they go, the lower the center of gravity needs to be or else they fly off the track around turns. So....Brass is heavy and strong and machineable, lets stick brass on the bottom of the chassis see what happens!
Hence: The HO Brass Wars Era!

The technical revolution for HO slots after the Brass Era (really evolving from the brass era) changed everything in terms of speed and performance: the introduction of the traction magnet car. While no hard dates can be set for the end of one era and the beginning of another, it is fair to identify "late 60's/mid 70's" (consistent with time period of the fastest commercial growth of HO Slot Car racing) as the heydey of Brass Wars Era.

---About these pages....
The information in the pages and links to follow was collated largely from conversations and e-mails back and forth between myself and a number of Midwest and East Coast racers who were active in the late sixties and through the seventies---some still racing now. Additional information was gleaned from old articles in Car Model Magazine. The moniker "Brass Wars" seems appropriate beacuse there were actually 3 (or more) different factions of racers beating their own path of advancement in the hobby choosing BRASS as the material of choice for chassis innovation and overall HO Slot car design. There was (loosely defined) an "East Coast" group, a Mid-West group (HOPRA), and a West Coast group.There was also a fair bit of "trash talk" between the various groups in magazine columns such as "Miniature Auto Racing", "Speed and Sport" and "HO Coast to Coast".

By no means is this meant to be a thesis or a definitive history of an era of HO Slot Cars, it is primarily an attempt (backed by research and personal intrerest) to document, preserve, and understand this era. It is also an effort to educate and inspire others to document and converse. Any information you have to help enhance and complete this reference will be greatly appreciated--and of course referenced. Contact me at


---A Broad Overview of the Era
-General History

---In Thier Own Words....

-Pat Dennis Mr. TycoPro...tells the story of the design and development of the Tyco Pro


-Doug Morris era racer, modern builder


-Gary Rider Brass Wars "Pro" Racer


also a good section on
race winners and period tracks...

Examples of Race Cars and Parts

2 recent collector finds-more information wanted...CONTACT US!
[unknown%20brass%20chassis%20top] [unknown%20brass%20HO%20chassis%20bottom]

More on the pro chassis...or copies???? Page 1, Page 2, Page 3 (Car Model magazine)

--Tom Bowman's vintage Brass Collection--6 examples...
--Period Paint how they looked! Thayer Bodies Price List, Lancer HO Body List, K & K Bodies, Snake Bodies, Thayer New Additions
--K and K Randy Kemps product line
--Thalison New Yorker, Thalison In Line
--K Shepard builds... Open Wheeler, AFX pans, Picard Repro
--1975 MO KAN Kansas City Nationals
--Scratchbuilds by J Pennington--1976/1986/2008 generations...
--Terry "Rhino" Hreno stable...idea generator....
--AFX based brass pans as raced in the day (JB Collection)
--The TCP/AFX modified chassis
--Steven Schwartz history lessons and pics

--Kircher Lead Sled a "Magazine" car
--Laganke Price list page 1, page 2
--Vintage TycoPro with all the goodies from the Hop Up Kit
--Vintage TycoPro with hot (green wire) Champion motor
--Scratch Modified Cobramite-there's a lot of work in this car--check out the brass body screws!
--Vintage Riggen Boss with TycoPro hop up gear, pin tube shaker and reworked guide flag
--Vintage Riggen Boss with custom front weights and very rare Riggen PLASTIC front set screw wheels
--Vintage BRASS ( collection): Kircher Lead Sled, Malone Anglewinder, Custom Dynabrute and Custom Cobramite
-- 3 pictures of a car built by Mark Owyang(sp?). Don't know anything else... pic 1     pic 2     pic 3
--August 1971 Car Model Magazine Riggen "Mini Mods" page 1, page 2, page 3
--Bamberg Engineering, hot motors and more page 1, page 2, page 3

--A little more history on the Dynabrute, Anglewinders, the Matchbox prototypes

--Doug Morris retro builds
--Thurman Scratchbuilts
--Link to a thread on SlotBlog featuring a hand built ISO Riggen--looks fantastic
--"Vitter" builds a Gary Rider car
-- Cobramite Scratchmite vintage chassis with modern parts (pic 1  pic 2)
--Eddie MacDonald mini ISO

Rebirth and New Ideas:
RiggenHO the 21 century version...
Picard Thingies and more...alot more
Tony K, new ideas June 2009
RiggenHO Spena SuperModified
The Rattler
Winning Edge ISO

Riggen Poly Carb chassis (RiggenHO)
Rabbit Custom
Eckstein Chassis
2008 Belt Drive Brass...


"How To" Articles

Gary Beedle, the "Lightweight"

January 1968 Pat Dennis Brush Tubes (scans) Car Model Magazine

HOCC article, the Twin Pan page 1, page 2

How to build a Riggen Anglewinder Car Model Magazine 1972
---Marty Thalison article: Installing the TCP Super Pro Pan,  Page 1 , Page 2
                    -and again by Tom Coyne himself...
page 1, page 2


Links to more information...

-- Here are links to some pages from featuring HO handbuilts!
     Ken Webster Scratchbuilt Caprice
     Steve O'Keefe inline HO
     Steve O'Keefe Dragster w Cobramite body

-- The next few links are "linked through" Micheal Eckstein's website which has a ton of great info and pics on HO/Brass/Sctratchbuilt
        HO Quincy Anglewinder
        HO Quincy Inline design

-- Car Model Magazine "Index" of related articles


Vintage Brass: History and Catalogue from the '70's (

Riggen Boss HO Series
details about the vintage Riggen Industries offerings

-----perhaps the nicest vintage "collectible" I have seen (click the pic)...

vintage Riggen Industries Counter Display (1975)

Cobramite--vintage reference info
vintage reference info
Aurora Super 2
--vintage reference info

 [72rigad]  [rigtrailerad]


Vintage Riggen HO Collectors Poster order the poster...$7.95 
       September 2006: research updates to the poster, click here for the changes and corrections!

[poster1a] [poster2]
(Click images for larger version)






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Posts: 143
Reply with quote  #3 

The "Modern" Movement:

Gravity Class Insights forum thread

This thread has latest info, provided by HO racers still designing, inventing, innovating....
(started by J Pennington on Planet of Speed Forum June 2013, is still active as of September 2015)


Pictures of Scott Terry's brass anglewinder chassis (top) (bottom)


Gorski HO Pan
John has a long Slot Car Racing heritage...

i.e. Gorski replica microswitch controllers


Modelville Hobby- Lenjet HO Raceway



Landshark HO


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