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This is a place to share your Gravity car builds and tech tips. Let's see some Cars

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Trying to work out the bugs folks hang in there.

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HO Brass Wars: Long Time Racer, current OLD SCHOOL Master Builder
            .....Doug Morris

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If you are reading this far in, you may already be aware of the contemporary AFX and other Brass based repro HO scale artworks built by Doug with vintage parts and hand cut brass....Here are some of his recollections of the era, and examples of his current builds--based upon what was ACTUALLY raced back in the day....

[pan11] [pan15]

These excerpts are as told by DM to RB 3/2005……

"…Really what the order was this: T-jets with screw on pans, then the Tyco Pro (full history here..) came along and provided great gears and a great motor for the scratch built cars, especially when Tyco came out with the hop up kit with different gear ratios. Aurora then came out with the Tuff Ones to counter the Tyco Pro but it was just to buy time until they could get the A/FX to market. Then Riggen came out, basically a production version of a scratch built can car. Dynamic made their angle winder and Cobramite took their stab at a brass car. I bought and raced Riggens pretty much stock up until the A/FX pan car was developed. A few guys in the club, me included, took Riggen cars and replaced the flag with a brass piece and did pickups out of the .003 bronze similar to the later A/FX pan cars. We were also replacing the shaker plate with a hinged one with pin tubes almost identical to the ones later fabricated on the A/FX pan car. We raced Riggens for about a year and then pan cars for about 3 years until they figured out we didn't need the pans...."

The story continues...
".....Then the A/FX came out and once a pan was mated to it then it was the car of choice. It was the magnets all along that made it better, they had pull on the rails, just enough to make them better. Remember, the T-Jet lock and joiner track had massive rails compared to today’s Tomy and Tyco track. Then Aurora decided to make a pan car and after marketing and production engineering got done with the design it was the Super II, a lousy car that cost a lot. The only good parts that came out of the Super II was the running gear, you know, motor, magnets, 19 tooth crown and motor brushes and springs. One little note that a lot of people don't know, before the Super II came out we used Riggen and Tyco Pro 19 tooth crown gears in our pan cars, … The Tyco gear was more rounded, the Riggen more square, I also always thought the Riggen one was a little softer and less apt to break when installing on an axle.

Once it was determined that magnets were the way to go Aurora made the A/FX into the Magnatraction and HOPRA passed a rule that the only magnets allowed on the car were the magnets to power the motor. Then the pans slowly got smaller and finally disappeared so that by 1975 the car of choice at a HOPRA was a Magnatraction with bronze wipers and steel stepped down shims on the magnets. Even when Aurora came out with the G+, which was better than the Magnatraction in stock form, the modified Magnatraction was still better than the G+ for racing.

“I met Gary (Beedle) at the first HOPRA Nationals in 75 in Kansas City, won by Steve Brown. Tom Coyne raced in our club and most of the R&D work was actually done by a guy named Dave Livesay. I remember Marty (Thalison), always got my bronze from him, wish I could find it now. I also raced, or should I say got beat by Randy Kemp a few times. Randy Kemp was wheel chair bound also but he had full use of his upper body and could build cars, obviously wind arms and was a real good driver. The first time I ever saw a "magnet car" was in Elwood Indiana, Randy and his gang had them, they were just pan cars with toy magnets glued on. Most of them burned up, pulling the weight of pans and magnets but Randy won.

I really can't say for sure what part in that Marty (Thalison---Bronzeman) would have played, I don't know if you had ever met him but he was in a wheel chair and had very limited use of his hands. He must have wrote the text for Tom. He raced but he had to hold the controller up against his chest between his palms to operate it.

It's amazing how dumb we were when I look back. I mean we were all running pan cars and there was a HOPRA in Parma Ohio, the track was an 8 lane routed track built exactly like a 1/24th track, right down to the braid. We only ran six lanes because all we had were 6 lane race sheets. Gary Rider out of Muskegon Michigan won it with an almost stock Riggen, the pan cars simply would not stay on the flat corners, the reason was simple, there were no steel rails. Then an old guy in the club, Russ Beal, he's not with us anymore, made a lowered magnet car (magnets sitting on the pan) that just out ran everyone and we thought it was because with those big heavy magnets lower in the car it further lowered the center of gravity. I mean magnets and steel rails were staring us right in the eye all along and we just didn't get it. "

…. I raced Indiana, Ohio, Illinois and Michigan HOPRA and once even went to a Kentucky HOPRA race, just to do it and the 75 Nats. Yes, after Russ lowered the magnets, the next step was to cut down the bottom of the chassis even further, cut the brush tubes down, cut the brushes and springs in half, even cut some off the end of the arm a little, difficult to get it working good.

The TCP brush tubes are far superior to the Super II ones, they are more square in the bottom corner and the springs set better. Speaking of springs, we used to use Faller springs and brushes. In order to do any of the cars with lowered magnets brush tubes are a must because the stock brush springs have to be removed.

The TCP quality control wasn't really that great, after the pans are drilled and tapped it looks like they were run across a very coarse file to somewhat flatten the bumps caused by the tap and knock the burr off the edges. Also the pan is not always symmetrical, like his guide for the holes or the die was off a little, and the front wheel cutouts are not always centered on the AFX axle hole front to back. The front ends that are soldered up on his pans are terrible quality, I mean the axle stub is positioned correctly but the actual pieces are cut off really crude. … But you know it's just like old cars, say my Corvair for instance, the fit of the hood, doors and deck lid are terrible, but the truth is it was a cheap car coming down an assembly line and when I go to a Corvair show 98% of them are just like it. The other 2% are over restored and although they look great they don't necessarily reflect the way they actually were.

I don't know about the Cigar Box wheels then being anodized, maybe that's what TCP fronts were, Tom was a clever guy, the hubs are basically a T-Jet hub with a flange. It would have been a good idea, the Cigar Box was a huge flop, wheels may have been plentiful and cheap.

The biggest deal with these cars was getting them to run smooth, as was the same with the Riggen and scratch built can cars. … we were running threaded axles which are probably not the most accurate, I assume that was why they were eventually abandoned in 24th and HO. Tom would true the tires and then we would true them on the car and once you get the car to run smooth don't change the tires until they are wore out. A little trick I remember, and this applies to all of the non magnet cars, if you are running threaded and the car has a little hop, eyeball the tire real close while slowly turning it, if it's a little out of round then it sometimes can be adjusted by threading the tire out a 1/4 or 1/2 turn and tightening down the jam nut there . Riggen was way ahead of everybody with the set screw tires, I'm sure they were more accurate, I always ran TCP because it was a wider tire and Tom would put new sponge on them for 50 cents. Plus, I could never afford the 5.00 Riggen with the set screw tires, I always bought the 4.00 one with the push on tires. I never even knew that Riggen made kits until I saw them on Ebay…

… the only bodies we ever had access to were the Parma and Thayer. Bill Thayer was a member of the Westland club, near Detroit, so of course he was at all the Michigan HOPRA races and always had bodies to sell."

[3a] [4b] [7b]
(from left to 3, car 4, car 7 more details in the links below..)

car 1--TCP Brass pro pan 1-A
car 2--TCP Steel Open Class Pan
car 3--TCP Brass Super Pro Pan .025
car 4--as above
car 5 and 6--Built exactly as directed from the TCP Pro kits
car 7--"Lowered Magnets" car
car 8--Anglewinder

car 15--Feb 2009

Prompted by Gary Rider's are some Doug Morris Ultralights...



December 2008, Recent Finds....Brass Pan Cans: Full Story here.... Cars and commentary from AJ Hoyt!


Build Example: "Reinforced" Riggen Style

Below is a copy of a Riggen like what you are talking about. I remember some guys using a plastic block instead of the brass. I only wish my building skills would have been this good back then! The piano wire idea is in force on one of my last TCP Afx pan cars, except in brass, evidently the width rule had changed.




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HO Brass Wars, Recollections and Race Cars from a Pro
Gary Rider

early 1970's...

Gary contacted me with a quick email in 2009....our dialogue began and we are fortunate now to be able to preserve his recollections from the era---as well as get fresh images of the progress made by pro-racers and builders during the era. Gary was most active during the crossover period from cans to pans...Here is the story in his words, with intersecting commentary from Doug Morris (a young racer at the time Gary was winning a bunch!).

I have tried to organize this in "timeline fashion" but there were overlaps in many develpments and in different geographies...corrections, expansions, additions to this info greatly appreciated~! Contact us at

----------------------- Gary's words:

"I began racing slot cars around 1960. Had an Auroura track and there was a club in Delaware, Ohio. That was the Thunderjet era and the cars were not impressive "out of the box" but did offer close racing with an emphasis on driving skill. Pretty much stock racing with hardshell bodies back then.... Around 1962 progressed into 1\24th scale because tracks were popping up and a good variety of racing cars, parts, motors, and bodies were becoming available. I raced regularly at Sealy's Hobby Haven in Delaware, Ohio and traveled to other tracks in Ohio for some variety.

Moved to Muskegon, Michigan in 1965 and raced 1\24th regulary at Carl's Hobby Shop in Muskegon. Went into the Navy for a 4 year hitch in 1966. Was able to win 1\24th races in Washington DC, Norfolk, and Jacksonville while stationed at nearby bases. Raced all kinds of cars and gained a lot of building skills for brass pan cars and some aluminum pan cars. Did some armatures back then also. Always shared my ideas and answered any questions that came up.

After serving my 4 years in the Navy, joined Club MICRO in Muskegon and became a quick study of HO racing. There was very good local competition from former 1\24th racers John Ohs, Dan Nelson, Joe Kresnik, Al Dennie, to name a few. That made it critical to bring a fast, durable race car. We were racing modified AFX cars at the time and started to improve them with pans, light bodies, and custom armatures. We raced on a 6 lane Aurora Commercial Track referred commonly to as the "Bathtub Track". We spent a lot of hours smoothing out the track sections, jumping power around the track, making a custom heavy duty 18 volt transformer, and adding Dart Photocell timing and lap counters. It was "state of the art" for serious HO racing. I built extra cars and created "Team Flash" with John Ohs and Dan Nelson driving them. Then we went HOPRA racing. Used many of the 1\24th building strategies, (scaled down to HO size) to improve handling. For the AFX all you really needed was a good brass floater system attached to the body to minimize track vibration. Then mount a lightweight body and good rear tires for the track conditions. The next round of imporvements was to replace the pickup system with something better. We liked 1\24th style pickup holders and .003 bronze pickup shoes. That usually required a brass pan be built to replace the front end and continue along the sides of the motor to the front of the rear wheels. That also made it possible to add a custom guide pin (soldered to the pan) out of piano wire that would hold up better and improve cornering slightly. So the brass floater would sit nicely on top of the pan (with everything around it holding it in place.) I would finish off my cars with a brass pin tube front axle and cigarbox front wheels (that were always my favorite for being cheap and very true and lightweight). We experimented with modified armatures that were popping up from TCP, Bronzeman, Randy Kemp, and others. Also by using a pan under the AFX chassis made it necessary to use a motorbrush tube system and springs and custom route the power leads with copper wire or lead wire, along the center section up to the pickup holders. It was becoming a day long project to build a good car."

"I won a few Michigan HOPRA championships back then and traveled out of state to win races in Indiana, Ohio, & Pennsylvania. One of my best wins was the HOPRA\Minature Auto Racing Championships at Parma with a slightly modified Riggen on their routed track. (editors note...see this link for the race report from the Parma Nationals written by Carl Dreher in March 1972, Miniature Auto Racing....) The pursuit of developing HO racing cars using brass pans was indeed a very memorable era. After the magnet cars began appearing, I basically lost most of my interest...."

Click here for photos of some of the race results...
[flint] [pitts] [westland] more on the link.....

August 14, 1971 Race Report and photos....Pittsburgh HOPRA open

"I came onto the scene about the time Carl Dreher was moving on to other things. Raced on his basement track once in Gary, Indiana. Met him the first time at a HOPRA race at a Slot Racing facility in Indiana and was winning that race with a scratchbuilt can powered brass chassis but the pinion spun loose on the motor shaft and I was done. The Indiana racers were all running modified Auroras and they could see the trouble on the horizon. Carl was very interested in my car.

I was always looking for the next best thing so built different versions of the Aurora, with brass pans and lowering everything as much as possible... then gradually going lighter and dropping the motor magnets down for traction. We created a Rigafx here in Michigan which was a Riggen style pan around an AFX motor and drivetrain which was very fast and drvieable. The Modified Riggen I used for Parma was perfect for that track. Modified the pickup shoe with braid, ran a modified floater pan with small pin mounts for the body, handpicked a strong motor (out of a dynajet car), had cigarbox front wheels on straight aluminum tubing and Riggen gears and rear tires and added rear bronze bearings. I had made one prior trip to Parma to size up the track and plan a strategy..

Tony Porcelli was the biggest threat and brought the new Aurora Super 2 with mods. The car ran strong but was very punchy and hard to drive on the routed track. Actually my personal race car was stolen after qualifying 1st. Later I was allowed to drive another competitors car (Scott Hebron from Westland, Michigan) that had been eliminated. It was similiar to mine and had a good motor. I made a few adjustments on it (to improve handling) and went on to win the event.

At another HOPRA race in Pittsburg Pa., I won running a modified Riggen on Aurora track. We ran a brass pan from the motor forward with a soldered guide pin and brass tabs for a pin tube front axle with cigarbox front wheels. Had our perfected phospherous bronze pickup shoes attached to the plate. Tony Porcelli was a victim again. Will get you some pictures of that and more info. One of my favorite race cars for tearing up Aurora tracks.

The Riggen cars impressed me as the best to work with for using can powered cars. I was working on a version of it to market with Ken McDowell at Parma, but that project fell through.

Period Race Tracks.....Where they raced.....
[clubmicrotrack] [parmatrack] [riderwangerintrack]
from left to right: Muskegon Michigan "Club Micro Aurora Tubbie".....Cleveland Ohio Parma Raceway (routed).....Muskegon Track

[thalisontrack] [militechtrack]
left: Ionia Michigan; Marty (Bronzeman) Thalison.........right: Flint Michigan Al Militech--THE MONSTER

Rob Hayes (AKA "Bogus Bob Haze") remembers these tracks...

Great article by Bob Haze Miniature Auto racing May 1972----How the Rig/AFX competes with the Aurora "Gyros"

Doug Morris recalls.........

The first time I ever met Gary would have been at a Muskegon HOPRA, I was a wide eyed amateur kid and he was in his prime, a bit older than me, had actual money and building skills which I lacked at the time. I was at a Parma race on the routed track, tape, no steels rails, was eliminated early and my ride left before the A-Main, which I heard later that Gary won, may have been the same race, I would have been racing amateur.

I remember Gary as a real nice guy, calm, didn't get real excited during a race, like Steve Brown, Brown was the benchmark. I was just a kid and most of the Pros wouldn't even acknowledge that we were there but I remember that Gary would always talk to me and answer any questions.

I was in the Flint club, that club was headed up by a guy named Al Miltich. His brothers had actually started the club and Al was the youngest. Their Dad was a doctor, a real grumpy guy, the track, the so called "Monster" was in the doctors office basement, it was a stand alone commercial type building in Downtown Flint. I found out about the club through a Car Model ad for an upcoming HOPRA hosted by the Flint club. I called the number, it was Al, was invited to a club race and 3 of us joined the club. That was in 1970, I was in 9th grade, Al in 11th, his brothers were all gone to college and Al was "Large and in Charge"! I rode to a lot of races with Al and was always helping with stuff around the track. You have to realize, I had a $5.00 a week allowance while Al was driving a year old Electra 225 provided by his Dad to high school. I can remember Al complaining that the Muskegon Club never came to our HOPRA races (Flint) even though we always went to their's, which was true. But things were a little different back then, people didn't travel as much. Anyway, speaking of Thayer, Bill Thayer made Thayer bodies, Al bought the business from him and I molded all of the Thayer bodies the last couple of years that they were available. I would be willing to bet he still has the molds.

Note to Doug: I did race the Flint "monster" track at least a couple of times. Tried to always make any Michigan HOPRA races back then. That was a tough track for "out-of-towners". Have a picture of the track somewhere. Steve Brown, Al Miltech, and Russ Beal were very good racers from that area. I am real impressed with your photos of cars from that era and your thoughts are "right on." My cars were very similiar. Don't know who had what first. When I raced I tried to always check out anything that looked better and maybe incorporate in my cars. Cars progressed very fast in that era, with the good competition that was around. I don't think the magnetic effect was worth much on brass pan cars, but the idea was to get everything lower to the track and we soon found out we did not need the brass at all. Your car 7 link is the same as what we liked to race in the final "brass wars" era. To go one step further we cut out the brass under the magnets and went all the way down to the rails for some real traction.... : ) : ) The brass would still allow for some controlable drift in corners before losing it.....GR


"Looking over whats in my racing box.... we did one more version of the AFX after the Dennie car with a bronze pan and magnets dropped down through the pan. (SEE PIC 1 and 2). Then we went Ultrlalight (See PIC 3 and 4) and dropped the pan all together and used the best motor magnets we could to get to get the traction and cornering needed for racing. Still have a couple of those cars to photograph. Little did I know the direction we were heading. The Indiana HOPRA guys started adding an extra set of magnets at the front and rear of the car for "unreal" cornering and "unbeatable" performance. Our Michigan HOPRA guys did not like that at all ..... and started scratching our heads over what to do. It really took driving skill out of the equation, in our opinion. But I guess you can't stop progress and "it is what it is" prevailed. We did ban the extra magnets, but some racers found sources for exotic motor magnets that accomplished the same goal and a new era of HO racing was born. I'll shoot pictures of the AFX stuff for starters then we'll focus on the Riggen approach. All the best cars used lightweight bodies with pin mounts. (We were racing competitively yaknow) We did have some very good painters that focused on appearance and detail. (Ron Platt & Chauncy Reynolds come to mind.) I respected that approach but my priorities was performance. "

Pic 1, Brass pan with dropped magnets....The floater on top of the pan pivoted at the front and allowed for adding some lead between the pin tubes.

Pic 2

Pic 3 "Ultralight".....The first AFX cars built after the "brass wars" An ultralight concept using motor magnetism for traction and cornering.
The car was very simple in design but required a lot of work to remove material from the bottom of the AFX chassis.
Then install brush tubes and lead wire to the pickup shoe holders. Epoxy being used to hold everything together.
Used a simple aluminum tube through the chassis over the front magnet for mounting a lightweight body.
Acceleration and braking were key improvements over the brass car. Not as forgiving to drive. Required good
hand\eye coordination and reflexes from the driver to be consistant. The car would cling to a track section
when held upside down. I knew this was the future for HO speed racing as soon as it hit the track.
Made 3 of these over winter 1973.

Pic 4
(Doug Morris also built a similar style...check out his ultralights)

This car is from an article in June 1971 Miniature Auto racing....a scan of Gary's article...


Build your own 1971 Rider modified

Question and Answer...

Q: So clearly now the writing is on the wall....what I really like about these two cars are how "clean" they look....TCP fronts and rears?

A: I used Cigarbox fronts on most of my cars. They were cheap and simple...
seemed to run very true and had some softness to absorb vibrations.
I believe the TCP fronts were very similiar. I tried Riggen, TwinK, and TCP rears on threaded axles.
I liked the TwinK rubber but they would not hold up well to tire dressings...
Speaking of tire dressings, used Tiger's Milk for softening and cleaning tires and TCP for extra traction, when needed.

Q: If you had to assign percentages to the value of drving skill and car quality....what do you think the ratio would be?

A: There always seemed to be a handful of good drivers around, but you absolutely needed a quality car to be competitive.
So I'd say it's 2/3rds car and 1/3rd driving skill. The better your car was the easier it was to go fast and be consistant.

Q: Do you remember the general time frame that the modified AFX took over as the weapon of choice?

I wrote about the AFX car being introduced in the June 1971 Miniature Auto Racing Magazine.
I'll scan that report as it changed the game, virtually overnight, and ended the competitiveness of the T-Jet.

Q: Can you discuss the preferences between cans vs pans like modded riggens vs modded aurora and the super 2.... what key factor made a driver go one way or another? The motor-drivetrain? The chassis weight? Ease of build?

A: Ron, When I started racing HO, most of our racers were running Aurora cars with aftermarket brass pans that easily bolted to the chassis. I came up with some floppy side pans and a floppy brass front body mount that improved what they were using. The early commercial can cars were not working well. Joe Kresnick (club micro) built a simple solid brass pan scratchbuilt that showed promise and I could not resist building one of those. So then it became obvious that some 1\24th handling tricks would probably work in HO scale and I made some brass scratchbuilts with iso fulcrum front wheels and floater body mounting plates. Those ideas worked well, for that period of time. Then the AFX came out and there were lots of options for armatures along with the improved gear train, so with better power available, went back to making brass pans epoxied to the bottom of the AFX, along with the custom pickup shoe system and a floater pan for body mounting resting on top of the bottom pan. That made for a very competitive racing car. Since I had raced 1\24th for 10 years, I liked using ideas from that era to advance the can cars to a competitive level. The Riggen car provided a good platform to build from. I thought more weight over the guide pin and our pickup shoe system would improve the car, so made an extended brass pan front end with piano wire guide pin and pickup system that showed significant improvement. The can cars were smoother to drive, if that suited the driver's style. The Aurora could accelerate and brake better (more punchy) for driver's that liked that style. With more torque, you had to be more focused to be consistant, I thought. So there were tradeoffs on which was better. If you had both types available to race, you could make a decision based on the track you were racing on. Bigger, faster tracks, I'd pick the Riggen car. Tighter twisty, tracks the Aurora seemed better. They required about the same building time and difficulty to build. I stuck with modifications that anyone could duplicate and with a resonable budget. Was always eager to share ideas and reveal any new developements. Enjoyed having close competition, with the best driver on a given day, taking home the glory and hardware.

Q: Anyone have a rule book?

A: Our HOPRA rules in the early 70's were pretty open. There was wheelbase, width, and clearance requirements. No limits on motors. Only 1 guide pin could be used and no weight restrictions.

Doug Morris adds:

As far as rules, I remember there was a ground clearance rule, 1/32"? No cars dragging like today. Width when I was first racing was 1 1/4", later changed to 1 5/16". Body style was always called out, Can/Am was Can/Am, not any body like today, also Can/Am had to have a driver. Sometime after the Elwood race traction magnets (not named that yet) were outlawed, motor magnets only, later on that was changed to 2 only motor magnets. I'm sure there were height and length rules, other than that it was run what you brung.

We were racing Riggens in the club, once someone built an Afx pan car everyone in the club switched, like right away.

For the majority of the time I raced HOPRA the Afx pan car was the top choice, on steel rail tracks, which most were. I think it was because of the slight amount of magnet pull to the rails, once the magnets were dropped to the pan it became real clear. Another thing may have been the torque of the motor, on a can car the torque wants to lift one side of the car, on a pancake car the torque would twist the car but keep all 4 wheels on the track. That may have been a factor on poorly built cars, as in the Afx being more forgiving. The whole time I raced I just don't recall anyone winning a HOPRA on a rail track with a can motor car. AJ ran can motor cars forever and did good, just never won, I'm convinced that if he would have put forth the same amount of effort in an Afx pan car that he probably would have won some races. Just my 2 cents.

[marjune71a] [marjune71b]


---Gary Rider article from Miniature Auto Racing Newsletter: Build the Dennie AFX Page 1, Page 2,





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TCP Professional HO Scale Race Car Parts 1971-1974?

Please contact me if you need large versions of these scans or a copy of the installation directions.
Your feedback, historical insight, personal experience and any additional information about these products
or other Pro Racer parts from the time (Laganke, Bronze Man, Bamberg, Pro-Comp, Thayer, Perkkett/KMT,
DCRP Spider and similar) would be greatly appreciated.

Historical Reference:
TCP was started by Tom Coyne and developed the most wanted HO race car parts for PROFESSIONAL racers of the early 70's. Part of a tight knit group
of enthusiasts and small manufacturers in the midwest (see also Bronzeman in Ionia Mi, Thayer in Flint, Mi, Laganke in Ohio, K & K (Randy Kemp) in Indiana and DCRP in Gary, Indiana), TCP was known for innovation and quality. Many of the TCP commercial products were the result of collaborations with Pro racers of the time, and TCP was able to bring individual innovation to a slightly wider market. As quoted by a racer of the era (JB), "TCP was always the highest quality, everything he did was the best out there..."

TCP was bought by Gary Beedle of BSRT/Scale Auto in 1974 to expand their own line of high performance HO scale parts, a BSRT theme which continues to this day.

example of the Pro Pan

All TCP pans were available RTR on a new chassis or your own chassis with work done by the company. Note that TCP literature notes an 025 size, an 030 size and an 032 size. Insulating the pan from the pick ups was a key installation step (most used scotch tape). Failure to properly do so led to smoke in any number of places....

price list 1, price list 2

Mounting instructions for the TCP Open Class Pan on the Aurora AFX Chassis by Tom Coyne and Marty Thalison
---Marty Thalison article: Installing the TCP Super Pro Pan,  Page 1 , Page 2
                    -and again by Tom Coyne himself...
page 1, page 2

[openclasspanwfront]               [propan]   
(click image for larger versions)

5/16th Wheels w Sponge Tires (Gold, Silver, Black, Blue, Green, Red) and with special wrench.
     ***TCP mounted the wheel locking nut on the 080 hreaded axle from the INSIDE using a specially made wrench. This allowed
     The wheel/tire to be wider- improving stance and roadholding because there was no wasted "nut space" between
     the inside of the wheel and the axle. Most classes that these cars ran in had a width limit of 1 5/16th's.
[tcp%20packaging1] [tcprears]

Key Products:

Bushings Nuts Bolts 2-56 Nuts arm bushings brush tubes donuts guide pin hardware wire

wipers (These may have been sourced from Bronze Man Products, also in Michigan, owned by Marty Thalison.)



Open Class Pan was designed specifically for the AFX chassis. The version with front wheels had brass tubing soldered to the fronts and used wheel pins for split independent rotation. )
also in 032 and steel

Brass 025 kit for AFX with front wheels

030 steel kit


025 Super Pro Pan also in 030 and 032 and with front wheels "Ready to mount on the AFX chassis"

example of Super Pro Pan

Very RARE: AFX modified chassis for use with the TCP Pro Pan.....more details here....



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Items From the archive of Carl Dreher
February 2009


1968 Modified T Jet, Iso Pan experiments

(click images for larger)

"I'm attaching three photos of what was by far my most successful HO racer,m circa 1968. It was built on a TJet chassis, of course. What was innovative about
it can be seen on the bottom. There is a center pan, surrounded by an outer perimeter pan that can move front/back/left/right about 3/32 inch. The body
attaches to this outer pan. The outer pan does not hinge at the front like designs which came later in history. It is constrained to work in the same plane as
the inner pan. It has nil up/down freedom.


I experimented extensively on early designs to isolate the body from the chassis. Those tests paid off well in terms of handling. Anything that allowed the
car to absorb track vibrations and keep the tires on the road really helped. I also tried allowing the entire pan to float, but this always proved
temperamental and too often resulted in the pan shorting against a high-spot on a track. Then I hit on this idea of making the pan in two parts and letting the
perimeter of the pan, with the body and balance weights, float. Took a long time to make but it worked wonders. The result was a great handling car and very
forgiving to drive.

The three holes on the bottom are there for quick maintenance during a lane swap. I could give the armature and brushes a quick shot of lube. The center pan
is insulated from the Pat Dennis brush tubes by some thin tape.

Notice the amount of lead in front of the axle and on the leading edge of the outriggers. I always biased my cars with weight on the front to keep it in the
slot. There should also be a lead weight glued in behind the front axle, but that seems to have gone missing.


The front axles slides back and forth, using Faller springs to center it. The brush tube leads are soldered to the pickup shoes. I found a fresh pair of shoes
could go a full race without replacement, thus the soldering."


More on how to set up a car:

The brush tube setup was taken from Pat Dennis' article in Car Model magazine. I used K&S brass tubing (size? probably 5/32) and .015 for the end caps,
soldered them together and trimmed. The holes where the TJet brush spring arms were enlarged so the tubes would fit and I put a dab of epoxy around them. The
old brush spring arms were removed, of course. The holes weren't just drilled out... they were offset very slightly in the direction of rotation to give some
advance to the timing. Finally, some thin wire was run from the pickup shoes to the sides of the tubes. I'm trying to remember what brush springs I used. I
genrally used the Aurora pickup-shoe springs, but getting the right height was critical. I remember spending a lot of time on the bench removing a tiny snippet
of coil, reassembling the motor, and running it, listening to the RPM. There was a magic amount of pressure that gave good brush contact but not too much
friction. Eventually, I could do it by feel. I also tried the very flexible brush tube springs that Faller used on their HO cars which had, stock a brush-tube
setup. As I recall, they worked very well.


Rewinds: As I recall, my best wind was 12.5 feet of #37. I was never able to get a #36 wire wind to survive. It just drew too much current and would burn up
brushes and eventually, itself, from the heat. I know some other guys were able to make a #36 rewind work, and when they did, they were very fast.

Magnets: Sorry, don't remember much. I think I used the "hop up" magnets Aurora sold. I never found any of the other after-market magnets to be any advantage
or to last very long.

Funny thing about magnets and rewinds: There was a sweet-spot that matched my driving style. I could build a killer fast motor with super strong magnets and a
wild rewind but when backing off the throttle, a motor like that would cause the car to stop suddenly from brush friction, dynamic braking and the strong
magnets. Motors like that also had a bit of hesitation on acceleration. My driving style was much more of a "coast-through-turns" type, so I wanted motors
that were more forgiving.

Other things how I set up a car:
1. I always trimmed a sliver of material from the TJet chassis "ears" that held the magnets in place, so the magnets would be closer to the armature to reduce
the flux (air) gap. Then I put a piece of shim stock (steel) behind each magnet to hold it in place.

2. Front axles were 1/16 brass tubing with Faller springs to center the axle. The brass axle risked being bent in a crash but I almost never had that happen
in a race and, being brass, it was easy to solder a brass washer on the end to keep the wheel on. Some guys tried to put bent pins in a brass tube to keep the
wheel on, but I saw too many of those come loose. I usually turned the stock front Aurora tires down a bit and gave them a coating of clear nail polish, then
trimmed the length of the guide pin for the best clearance. Some tracks weren't built too carefully and so it wasn't unusual to need to trim the guide a bit
more, or in the opposite case, put larger front tires on the hub to gain ground clearance for a bumpy track.

3. I always used a stock Aurora guide pin. Super reliable. I tried every kind of guide flag and even built some of my own and rejected them for one very
specific reason: In a race, if you come off, you are at the mercy of the turn-marshal. Even a ham-fisted turn-marshal could slam a guide-pin equipped car back
into the slot, but a guide shoe took a lot longer and was subject to being broken off by a guy who was in a hurry.

4. I always used the long-wheelbase axle hole in the chassis. That gave the best handling.

5. I always soldered the first gear to the armature, since I had seen too many come loose in a race. I think I normally soldered the rear pinion shaft to the
rear gear-plate gear. Never soldered the pinion gear to the shaft... never had a problem there.

6. I always used the stock pinion/crown gears because I found the stock ratio (as opposed to Aurora's "hop up kit" ratio) much more responsive. See my previous
comments on driving style. I *think* some of the guys using a #36 rewinds were trying the higher hop-up kit gearing because they could pull that high ratio
with the more powerful motor. Not totally sure about that. We were all rather secretive.

7. I never mentioned the type of brushes I used. The Faller brushes, with the nipple on the bottom that were designed for brush-tube springs, were WAY better
than stock Aurora or any of the after-market brushes, including the so-called "silver" brushes. The Faller brushes seemed to have a low coefficient of friction
as well as good electrical properties. I used to buy all the Faller parts I could through the Hobby House in Monroe LA.

8. Tires and hubs: I used LaGanke (sp?) hubs exclusively, and epoxied sponge rubber tires on them. (I don't remember where I got the black sponge donuts.)
Then I'd turn them to size. I do remember doing a lot of "blue printing" in the sense that there was considerable width variation in a batch of blank donuts,
and I'd get a couple dozen sets and then find the widest that were still within the rulebook. By the way, when I met Pat Dennis for dinner, he also mentioned
Tim Laganke, and what an honest guy he was. One of the few guys you could trust not to rip you off and would pay for rights to your ideas. Wonder where he is


June 1970 Car Model Magazine: Carl Dreher Tames the Tycopro

This appears to be the magazine car and photo "mule"......
[DSC00086] [DSC00087] [DSC00088]

(click for larger)
here is page 2     and    page 3

Auto World Speed Secrets.....
full article on these 1 page 2 page 3 page 4 page 5 page 6

About this body: "Speed Secrets" body....Ah the Porshe body! You won't find any of those unless you can find someone who bought them from me when I was selling them mail order. I made those on a
Mattel Vac-U-Form machine. The basis for the body was a Lindburgh (sp?) plastic Porsche 906 (I think) kit. I widened it, raised the rear window to clear the
gears at the back of the TJet chassis and enlarged the front wheel wells so a pickup shoe at full up-position would clear the body. Then I made a single
Vac-U-Form body over that model and poured a plaster master from that female mold. From there on, I could make as many as I wanted. The hard part was finding
the clear-plastic for the Vac-U-Form. You had to buy a big stack of that Mattel plastic (they were sold in packets of mixed colors) to get a couple of pieces
of clear. For some reason, the clear held up better to the heat given off by the slot car, and of course, you could paint it inside to look nice. I tried
making bodies from the colored plastic they had, thinking I could save some weight by not having to paint it...yes, I was a fanatic about weight...but the
plastic always melted from the motor heat.


September 1973 Car Model Magazine

AFX 1 page 2 page 3


Various Photos from the C Dreher lot purchased on ebay....

[DSC00052] [DSC00053]

here are pics of another R-M chassis...anyone know more about these? (Collection John F)
[R-M%20chassis%20002] [R-M%20chassis%20003]

Modified Cobramite
[DSC00054] [DSC00055]

Full brass pan

[DSC00056] [DSC00057] [DSC00059]

That photo (BELOW) is of a chassis for an Indy/F1 car. Notice the pan has no outriggers, and notice the silly rollbar and the remains of a driver cockpit. The HOPRA/HOCCI rules were real specific about how wide the body could be in the class. My cars were OK in the class, but weren't my best. GTs were always my favorites.

[DSC00060] [DSC00061] [DSC00063] [DSC00064]
More detail on this indy build...

[DSC00065] [DSC00066]

[DSC00067] [DSC00068]

Ball Bearing front wheels

[DSC00073] [DSC00074]

[DSC00075] [DSC00076]

[DSC00077] [DSC00078] [DSC00079] [DSC00080]




[DSC00092] [DSC00097] [DSC00098]


Brass Pans......


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Reference Pictures and Notes, 2010-2015
The Pat Dennis MK II Build

(back to )
...some of the photos and drawings are very large files, please be patient for downloads

The remaking of what has been called the best HO car ever designed....


"The reason why you will never see one, let alone be able to buy one was a difficult decision..."
--Jose Rodiguez, Jr. Car Model December 1972  p.40

Pat started this project in 2010 for ten very lucky HO/Brass/Tyco is the story....


August 2010 the focus of this update was about building the components of the motor...cans, comms and the end caps.
September 2010 includes engineering drawings of the armature, includes a great drawing of the motor layout
November 2010 details the armature revision and shows the proto arm, along with winder #1


January 2011 enhanced "windery", and a great shot of the HT-50 can along with the custom can
March 201l, July 2011 ....some proto testing with Joel P. including a test can in a modern plastic chassis


January 2012 brush tubes and wheels 1
February 2012 winder 3!


May 2014   back on track! the motor progresses
(opens in a new page)
October 2014 Rear Axle Tube attachment
(opens in a new page)


June 2015 : Motors nearing completion!
(opens in a new page)
August 2015: 13 Running Units!
(opens in a new page)
September 2015: Chassis
(opens in a new page)
October 15: 1st Chassis Prototype pictures
(opens in a new page)

(click image for larger)

Extra Credit Assignments:
How to Make Your Own Aluminum Set Screw Wheels...with pictures (opens in a new page)




August 2010

Why the "intensity" about the motor? ...some "back-story" about the TycoPro Mk II:

Probably the car that has generated the most questions was the TycoPro Mk II, the angle winder. I built this in 1970 after I obtained samples of the German Buehler motors at the International Toy Fair in Nuremberg.

These were smaller that the Mabuchi:
Armature OD: 0.320” for the Buehler vs. 0.373 for the Mabuchi
Housing width: 0.509” for the Buehler vs. 0.710 for the Mabuchi

Although the Buehler had a longer housing, this was due to the very generous proportions of the end-cap. And the spacing between the laminates and the commutator - problems easily changed for production. I started out with a hand built end-cap, sort of a miniature Mabuchi, but added a brass brush holder with hairpin springs. A decent rewind and I had a screamer. The small dimension between the shaft and the sides of the housing allowed a very slight angle to make an angle winder design. I used piano wire, large Hypo needles and brass sheet for the chassis. The first sample tested well and the second, with a smaller angle was better. Then I did a full sidewinder - the rear axle actually passing through the housing, nearly touching the magnets. I sold the idea to Richard Cheng and we contacted Buehler - they wouldn’t bend one bit from their present design, despite the projected quantities. So we started work in Tyco HK. We made a drawing die for the housing, started conversations with the magnet manufacturers, etc. We even made up a spot weld rig to weld the piano wire and hypo needles. The major problems were the laminate dies. Progressive blank & form dies are expensive!!!! Next, the magnet people couldn’t guarantee that the magnets this thin would not come out of the compression molds with any dimensional accuracy - they made comments like “maybe looking like a potato chip”. Not encouraging. Even with all of this we remained confident that we could build it. Our projected retail was $8.00 - management (remember that these were ex-sales people), said that the market would not accept an $8.00 HO car. That killed it.

Motor cans:


original and as modified:

Armature drawing:

Motor Can:

End Cap:


End Cap-Master:


Motor Assembly 1:


September 2010 (Engineering Drawings)










November 2010


Armature revision

Arm proto



comm template


Etch (failed run)



Comm #1



Machining the comms:



Winder 1---see below, more on this



January 2011

Arm with commutator



End cap drill and tap process:



(look closely at the tensioner assembly, note the repurposed MATCHBOX wire wheels!)



The proto Motor..compared to vintage TycoPro HT-50


March 2011

In February 2011, Pat sufferred a broken clavicle, limiting his mobility. Joel Pennington (Midwest Unlimited) performed additional testing. Joel had a specific interest in this project as he recently initiated a "Gravity Only" class at MU...

Here is email correspondence and pictures from the testing....



As I was saying, Joel has taken my design and started the testing that I cannot do at this time.

Following are the update messages and photos of his test rig. I am both indebted to Joel for doing this work while I just sit here healing and encouraged that my design confrms my initial calculations.


Small Motor 2-24-11

I completed and bench ran a motor last night per your design. I intend to develop a torsion spring design, but felt most secure starting with a familiar brush and spring set up and it is fortunate that I did so.

I chose to test initially with the stock motor that comes in the can set up. It meters at 5.8 ohms, which is where a stock motor in many of the current set ups meters at, so it seemed to be a safe established starting point. My initial brush/spring set up had four loops of a .007 Mura spring. When I free rev this with 4 volts it was pulling .33 amps and was building heat. I then switched to a stock Cox spring, which I think is .005, and the 4 volt draw was .11 amps! And it was not building heat. This is far less tension than I expected.

[DSCN0558] [DSCN0560]


The raw stock little can with its metallic brush set up only draws .03 amps at 4 volts. I suspect the difference between it and the PC comm version is the extra friction torque from the brushes. What I am going to do next is to “bolt” a raw stock metallic brush little can and a PC flat comm version into Tyco 440 chassis and track test them to see what happens. I am not expecting the metallic brush version to survive at 18 volts, but it could be telling. Nor do I expect any handling performance out of the 440 chassis set up. But it will be an important reality test.


PS - I can send you pictures latter when my internet returns from the ice storm. Tell me if any of the parts I produced could be useful for you

Motor test
Monday, February 28, 2011 10:11 PM
To: "G Patrick Dennis"

I felt compelled to track test the motor set up before I proceeded further. As I last noted the armature that I set up has the flat comm and uses the stock 5.8 ohm motor. What I did was to bolt the motor to the rear bulk head of a Tyco 440, the old style one that took the single bar magnet across the back. This configuration allowed for ease of tire, wheel and gear changes. I need to create a motor shaft extension in order reach the rear gear. I felt as though I was going to need the max ratio so I went with the stock 7 to 25 ratio. When assembled the entire car minus body weight 8.02 grams! Far too light for gravity racing but that was not the point. My object was to:

1. Determine if it was in the ball park or not speed wise?
2. What would temperatures be?
3. How would it respond with normal controller equipment?
4. Would it hold up on 18 volts?

Question 1 - Yes even in the stock form it had adequate speed for gravity racing. In it very light chassis configuration it light up the tire most of the 18 foot straight away. I add 3 grams of lead to help stabilize it, but at 11 grams of car it was still 8 to 9 grams less than our gravity cars.

Question 2 - The motor ran cool the whole time. Barely warm to the touch even after ten minutes of running.

Question 3 - A normal electronic controller managed the car fine.

Question 4 - No sign what so ever of problems with 18 volts

Other - Even though I made no effort at the test rig being a race platform, and you will understand when you see pictures, it did a 13.62 second lap, with fast lap tonight from on of our developed cars being a 12.67 second lap.

Impression - This design will work very well.

Next steps - With this validation I will proceed with completion of several more of the motor set ups with different winds and complete some legitimate chassis platforms.

I will send some pictures soon.


Here are some pictures for your review. You can see the craziness of the test platform, but hey it did it's job to give us some base line validation. Note the comm appearance, based on what I see it does not look under pressured by the brush/spring set up.

[DSCN0552] [DSCN0554]

[DSCN0555] [DSCN0556]


July 2011...


This is a message that Pat posted on Hobby Talk after a flury of interest and mis-information on the motor (

"Just how much would you be willing to pay for one-or more of these?
Although I can understand your desire to have this new tiny-sized motor readily available at some price that you deem reasonable, you fail to understand that the total universe for for such a niche market item is estimated at approx. 500 people. Let’s assume that each of you may buy 25 of these over a three year period – bringing the total to 12.5K pieces. How much are you willing to pay for each of these – $5 or $ 250? Even at that maximum price, this would not generate sufficient cash to cover the cost for the laminate prog-dies, much less the housing drawing dies, the brush plates, the injection molds for the end-caps, etc, and then the jigs & fixtures to produce it. Although I would dearly love to see a major manufacturer jump on this need, as it's use is only for HO slot cars, the economics just aren’t there.
I have agreed to produce just the 12 copies of the original Tyco Mk II prototypes of 1969 and 70 as a project. I have spent over a year and a half designing this product, machining the masters, making up the proto-grade molds, photo-etching parts, plus designing & building the jigs & fixtures to accomplish this (any fool can make one item, try to exactly duplicate that 12 times!).
For reasons that I won’t get into here, I have enlisted a collaborator in Joel Pennington, who has built a couple of prototype that you have seen – proving the potential of the design."


January 2012

Mk II Progress Update 1-28-2012

Brush Tube Assemblies
The brush Tube assemblies are photo-etched plates, 3/32” brass tubing-cut to .1965” length. These were silver soldered-using a fixture to ensure perpendicularity to plates. Then these were tapped 1-72 threads.
Note that there is a solder tab on each plate for the power leads.



Here is a feel for the scale of what is being machined...


L/H Rear Wheels
This was a 15 step machining process – for each wheel. The R/H wheels are different, not having the set-screw boss, as the back of the wheel sits flush to the spur gear. I am still working with several designs to retain this wheel to the axle/gear – I cannot remember exactly how I did this on the original Mk IIs.



Spur Gears

These were sourced from the original supplier – available units were much thicker than original, so each was silver soldered to a brass shaft then cut to final thickness on a lathe. Each gear yielded two Mk II sized gears. This required a very narrow parting tool, which was ground to required width. These will be bored to press-fit on the rear axle, then silver soldered.


Body Master


The original MkII used a Hot Wheels Mclaren M6 as a beginning for the vac-formed body. Ron Bernstein sourced the Hot Wheels car as a start to duplicate the original. This was split down the center of each fender – with a jeweler’s saw.
A spreader bar was “tack” glued on center section and the outer sides carefully positioned to have identical spacing for each side. The gap was filled with Aluminum filled epoxy. The contour was shaped, all surface voids filled and sanded for primer. Lots of minor fill, sand, prime before it was ready for a gloss coat of paint.
The next step will be to “clay-off” the master to make a mold to cast up a vac-form part.

View of completed parts

As of today for the 12+1 production run.
As you can see, each motor and attendant parts are numbered.



Jigs & Fixtures
This illustrates to various Jigs & Fixtures built to date. I still need to machine up the fixture to attach the rear axle tube to the motor housing, the fixture to fit & retain the brush plates to the end caps.
(click image for larger)

Feb 2012

Moving Forward: a new arm winder was required....Hand made tooling and jigs to build hand made cars....(note the differences in the winder from Jan 2011....)


The Mk II project took a step forward yesterday - I finished & tested the armature winder with the new wire tensioning system. After a few wire breakages, etc. I get the adjustment right and test wound several armatures (actually, the same blank several times).

In the attached photos, you can see that the tensioner system consists of an adjustable pair of rollers, a spring loaded arm for the guide roller and a wire spool holder. The sprung guide roller was necessary to compensate for the shape of the armature changing the tension as it is rotated.

Back in the “old days” we simply held the armature shaft in a pin vice, measured out three lengths of wire and hand wound each pole. This worked well for the larger Mabuchi ST 02 size (and anything larger, such as a “pan-cake” type). But the smaller size of the Mk II armature, complicated by the PC commutator and the sheer quantity required (39+ poles) dictated a system that ensured consistent windings.






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Had a blast racing Gravity at James Rumph house yesterday MoTown speedway with Doug Morris and the rest of the Motown crue. Trevor,Scott,Mark Z,

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Got a good test session in yesterday at Scorpion Speedway and Doug Morris

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Thanks to Doug for showing me how to make wipers for my gravity car.

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Motown HO Speed and Machine - AFX Pan Build
By John Reimels
March 28, 2016
I was pleasantly surprised when I learned about Motown HO Speed and Machine’s brass pan design for the Aurora AFX chassis.  It incorporates the latest thinking by Doug Morris - the weight is concentrated around the perimeter of the chassis, not directly under the car as in the original TCP pan.  While I’m not trying to compete with Doug and his various articles on building a pan car, I thought I’d document a build using this new pan – consider this a companion to the vast array of documentation written by Doug, the true guru of AFX brass pan cars!  I’m building a car to compete in the very competitive Gravity class so I’m building it with wipers, brush tubes and rear bushings, however the reader can more-or-less pick the options they want to include in their build. 
AFX Chassis Modifications
I always like to tackle the hardest job first so I’m starting with the brush tubes.  When installing brush tubes, the first step is to remove the existing sheet metal contacts and pickup holders.  Using a 1/16” drill bit, carefully drill out the four rivets holding the contacts to the chassis.  If the rivet starts to spin while performing this operation, carefully wedge an X-Acto knife blade between the chassis and the contacts, this usually creates enough drag on the rivet so it won’t spin while being drilled out.  
Stock chassis on the left, modified chassis on the right
Now starts the serious modifications - enlarging the brush holes to accept the brush tubes.  The tubes are 5/32” in diameter but the holes in the chassis cannot simply be drilled out, they must be moved outboard otherwise the tubes would get too close to the armature shaft hole.  The idea is to increase the size of the hole away from the center of the chassis; the center line of the front tube gets moved forward, the centerline of the rear tube gets moved back.  Begin by craving away plastic with a sharp X-Acto knife blade
continually trial fitting the tubes and removing more plastic as needed.  Once the openings are roughly the correct size, a 5/32” drill bit can be used to finish the job creating a nice round hole for the brush tube.  The fit doesn’t have to be perfect but the brush tube must be able to sit flat in the hole, any gaps will be filled by super glue and epoxy later in the build.  
#00 HSS Combined
Drill & Countersink
To facilitate attaching the lead wire to the brush tube, a small 0.025” hole needs to be drilled in the side of the tube towards its base.   To drill the 0.025”
hole there’s a few choices; the obvious one is to use a #72 drill bit but a drill this small is easily broken – especially when drilling into a curved surface.  The
alternative is to use a #00 HSS Combined Drill & Countersink; they’re fairly
cheap (less than $5 on line), double ended (so you essentially get two for the
Brush Tubes w/ 0.025” Hole

price of 1), they have an 1/8” shank so they can be used in a standard Dremel tool and, most importantly, the 0.025” portion of the drill is very short so much less prone to breakage.   Start by scribing a line 0.035” up from the base of the tube, using that as the center line for the hole should put the bottom of the hole just above the inside base of the tube.   Use a center
punch to create a small indent along that line and then use the #00 bit to drill the hole.  Remove any burrs and place the tubes aside, we still have more modifications to do on the chassis.


Areas marked where plastic needs to be removed
Modified chassis with plastic removed


Tap the front hole while using the rear holes as a drill guide to properly locate the rear mounting screws
The next biggest task is fitting the pan to the chassis.  For the pan to sit properly against the chassis, plastic must be removed from the front section and the right rear section where the pan attaches to the chassis.  I use a Dremel tool with a sanding drum to remove the bulk of the plastic.  A good sharp XActo knife is needed for the final clean up.  Hold the pan to the chassis and measure from the bottom of the pan to the top of the chassis at the four corners.  The idea is to get the pan to sit so the measurements taken at various locations around the assembly are all the same.  This is important so the front and rear axles are parallel to the bottom of the pan.  Once you get the measurements close, it’s time to attach the pan to the chassis using screws, this will allow for more accurate measurements to be taken so the final tweaks can be made to the chassis to get the pan to sit perfectly.  The pan is designed to be held to the
chassis with three 0-80 screws, one at the front utilizing an existing hole in the AFX chassis and two at the back that must be added.  If your brass pan does not have the mounting holes prethreaded, it’s time to do so on the front hole, do NOT thread the rear holes just yet, we’re going to use the rear holes in the brass
Modified screw on the left with
a standard screw on the right
pan has a drill guide for locating the holes in the chassis.  Open up the front pilot hole with a 3/64” drill (or a #56 drill bit) and then use a 0-80 tap to thread the brass pan.  Using a ¼” long 0-80 flat head screw in the front hole of the chassis, snug the pan to the chassis.   Using calipers, a straight edge or good eyesight, center the rear of the pan on the chassis.  Once centered, use a #60 drill bit to transfer the location of the rear mounting holes to the chassis using the pilot holes in the brass pan as a drill guide.  Remove the pan, open up the rear holes in the chassis with a 1/16” drill bit and then counter sink them on the inside of the chassis to accept an 0-80 flat head screw.  You can now thread the rear holes in the pan using the same process you used on
Ready for final measurements – tweak plastic removal as needed to ensure pan sits parallel to the top of the chassis
the front hole.   If your pan comes with the holes already threaded, follow the same process just be careful not to bugger up the threads in the pan when transferring the hole location to the chassis.  In the earlier pans, the rear holes in the chassis end up too close to the back wall of the chassis to accept a 080 flat head screw.  If this is the case, the diameter of the head of the screws need to be reduced, this can be done by filing down the top surface of the head -the more material that’s removed, the smaller the head becomes.  If the screw slot becomes too shallow for use, the slot can be deepened with a razor saw.  Now you can fit the pan to the chassis using screws.  Measure the height from the bottom of the pan to the top of the chassis in various positions around the assembly marking the areas that need to have more plastic removed from the chassis.  You should be able to get the measurements from the bottom of the pan to the top of the chassis to be within a few thousandths of each other around the entire perimeter of the assembly.
Drilling hole for lead wire 

The next step is to create a channel for the lead wire going from the brush tubes to the front of the chassis – the idea is to bury the wire so it will be lower than the pan.  Start by drilling holes for the wire to pass through from the bottom of the chassis to the top of the chassis just in front of the magnet (see picture); angling these holes at a 45 degree angle makes it
Modified chassis showing grooves for wire routing 
easier to route the wire.  The diameter of this hole depends on the type of lead wire used.  In prior builds, I’ve used 24 AWG multi-stranded lead wire requiring a 1/16” diameter through hole.   For this build I’m using 22 AWG magnet wire.  The 22AGW magnet wire is only 0.025” in diameter so a #60 drill bit can be used to create the through hole.  Being rated at 22 AGW, it actually has a higher electrical capacity than 24 AWG multistranded wire.  An additional benefit of the smaller wire diameter is the wire channel doesn’t have to be as deep to bury the wire along the bottom of the chassis.  Use a #426 fiber reinforced cut-off wheel in a Dremel tool to make the wire trough going  from the hole you just created  in the chassis to the brush tubes - fine tune the trough with scrapers, X-Acto knifes and various Dremel tool bits to ensure the wire
sits below the bottom of the brass pan .  Don’t worry about neatness; this entire area will be buried in epoxy later in the build.  
Adding groves for floating pan cross-
member, removing pickup shoe tabs and opening front of chassis for guide pin
Next up is creating a groove in the front of the chassis for the floating pan cross-member to nest in.  Once again, use a Dremel tool with the cut-off wheel, the groove sits right in front of the magnet and goes as deep as the step in the chassis (see picture).  The cross member will be fabricated out of 0.047” brass rod so the groove should be about 1/16” wide.  While the cut-off wheel is still in the Dremel tool, remove the stock pick up shoe tabs at the very front of the chassis to create room for the wiper attachment tubes.  Also open up the front of the chassis that blocks the location of the new guide pin that will attach to the brass pan.   
All of the required chassis modifications are now complete.  However I noticed that Doug goes the extra mile and removes the plastic from the rear of the chassis adjacent to the opening for the crown gear.  He also lowers the front axle hole allowing the use of smaller wheels so the front of the body can be lowered as much as possible.   Every little bit helps…
Brass Pan Preparations
Pan with reliefs for wipers and floating pan hold-down rods

Some of the earlier pans do not have the reliefs in front to protect the wipers.  If your pan doesn’t have them, add them, they protect the wipers from getting damaged in a front end collision.  They should be 0.25” wide and about 0.050” deep centered over the track rails.  On the bottom of the pan, the reliefs should be blended back to allow easier adjustment of the pickup wipers; the use of a ¼” wide jeweler’s file makes this task easy...  I also like to make provisions for a hold-down for the rear of the floating pan otherwise the rear of the pan can lift
making life difficult for the turn marshalls.  Drill a 1/32” hole in the back of the pan (0.050” from the back and 0.100” inboard of the side) into
which a 3/8” long piece of 1/32” brass rod is soldered.  This rod will be bent to shape during the final assembly process.   Verify the pan passes through a tech block, some require a few swipes with a file to pass.  The final step is to deburr the entire pan using the small 3M Radial Bristle Discs, the yellow 80 grit disc makes quick work of this task.  
Chassis Assembly
Initial sanding to get chassis level with the bottom of the pan


Magnet wire soldered to brush tubes
Attach the pan to the chassis using the three flathead 0-80 screws.   Using a piece of 400 grit wet-dry sandpaper on a flat surface, sand the bottom of the chassis until the center section of the plastic chassis is level with the brass pan.  Once the chassis is flat, it’s time to install the brush tubes but first the lead wire needs to be soldered to the tubes.  I’ve had lots of issues in the past soldering stranded wire to the tubes, in an attempt to get a good solder joint, solder always wicks inside the tube making a mess.  Any solder that does migrate inside the tube must be removed to allow the brush and spring to sit properly.  Which brings me to the third advantage of using 22AWG magnet wire; it’s solid, not multi-stranded and the diameter of the wire matches the hole we drilled in the tube so it’s a fairly tight fit minimizing the solder that does make it to inside the tube.  Remember to scrape away the magnet wire insulation before soldering to ensure a good electrical connection.  Some magnet wire claims to be solderable but I like to scrape away the insulation anyway to be safe.  Once the tubes have the lead wire soldered in place, fit them into the chassis ensuring they sit level with the bottom of the newly sanded chassis.  Once positioned correctly tack them in place with a small drop of super glue.  When the super glue kicks, ensure everything is still aligned correctly.  If not, pop out the offending tube
and reposition and start again.  When you’re sure everything is aligned correctly, flood the gap between the chassis and the tubes with super
glue to nail them in place.   Also, using super glue, tack the lead wire down into the wire channel to ensure it doesn’t move during the potting process.  Once the super glue cures, it’s time to fill the bottom
Brush tubes and wire super glued in place
of the chassis with epoxy but first the various openings in the chassis must be sealed.  I use putty that’s designed for hanging posters - it’s sold under various names (such as Elmer’s Poster Tack), it sticks well to the chassis and it’s very good at sealing the openings including the side gap between the pan and the chassis.  Once everything is sealed, mix up a batch of JB Weld and fill the bottom of the chassis assembly.  Over filling is better than under filling but remember, once the epoxy cures, it’s back to sanding the bottom – the more you over-fill, the more you have to sand away...   For me,
  I learned my lesson the
 Using “poster putty” to seal holes for potting
sanding the bottom is the most satisfying part of the build - once everything is sanded smooth, all the flaws are hidden!  Don’t go crazy, I over did the sanding a bit on my first build and I ended up sanding right through the bottom of one of the brush tubes…  Let’s just say hard way – that’s the reason for the initial
sanding of the chassis / brass pan before installing the brush tubes, I know minimal sanding will be required after the tubes are installed.  
Floating Pan Assembly
Soldering the cross member to the floating pans

The floating pan assembly should be built 1.245” wide; this will allow the use of standard body pins and reinforcement tape while still allowing the assembly to pass through the tech block.  To allow 0.010” of side-to-side float, the pans should be made so they’re 0.230” wide.  To ensure clearance with the hold down rods, make them 0.975” long.  I fabricate them from 0.025” brass stock.  The cross member is made from 3/64” brass rod and bent so the rod sits against the bottom of the slot in the chassis with the ends of the rod touching the side pans.  Brass rod is easy to bend, grab a pair of needle nose pliers and start bending.  The pin
tubes are made from 1/16” brass tubing cut 0.200” long.  I drill out the tubing with a #60 drill so standard body pins can be used.  To make things easier to hold, the tubes can be opened up after the floating pan assembly is complete – trying to drill out the tubes before assembly can be difficult.    If you don’t want to open up the tubing, you can go with smaller diameter body pins purchased at your local sewing store.   Regardless of your body pin choice, soldering the pin tubes directly to the floating pan assembly results in a very small distance between the tube and the bottom of the floating pan.  The Motown pan is designed so the bottom of the body must be level with the bottom of the floating pan to allow the assembly to float on the brass pan.   This short distance makes it easy for the pin hole in the body to tear through in an accident.  I prefer to add a spacer between the pin tube and the side pan increasing the distance between the pin tube hole and the bottom edge of the body.  I use 1/16” square tubing, its light and it raises the pin tube significantly.  Now it’s time to solder everything together.  To get the pan spacing correct, use small alligator clips to clamp the side pans to the chassis making sure there’s approximately 0.010” (0.005” per side) between the side pans and the plastic chassis.  Holding the cross member in position against the chassis, solder the ends of the cross member to the pans.  Remove the side pan assembly from the chassis and solder the spacers and the pin tubes in place.  To keep the cross member from getting unsoldering while installing the spacers and pin tubes, use a piece
Soldering the pin tubes top the floating pan assembly clamping the cross member in
place  so it doesn’t move if it gets unsoldered when adding the pin tubes
of wood as a soldering platform with push pins to hold the ends of the cross member in place.  Using a high wattage soldering iron also helps, the higher temperature will quickly heat the local area being soldered before it can migrate to other areas and start unsoldering things.  It seems counter intuitive but it works…  Once complete, a quick wash using warm water, a tooth brush and some powdered kitchen
cleaner (such as Bon Ami) will remove any soldering flux.  Follow this up with a quick deburr session using a 3M bristle brush.  Once this assembly is finished, it can be installed in the chassis so the 1/32” brass hold down rods can be bent in place to minimize the rear pan lift.  
The final step in completing the chassis is to add the wiper holders to the front of the chassis.  The best way to fabricate the holders is to use a piece of 5/32” brass tubing about 0.20” long.  Insert a piece of wiper material (0.003” phosphor bronze) inside the tube and flatten the tube in a vise; the bronze material leaves just the right sized gap for holding the wipers in place.  Remember, when attaching
Chassis assembly complete – floating pan in place, wiper holders installed, lead wire soldered to holders and the rear hold down wire bent to shape

these tubes to the chassis, they must be insulated from the pan to prevent an electrical short.  Some folks use epoxy to attach the tubes directly to the brass pan relying on the thickness of the epoxy to act as the insulator.  I prefer to use a small piece of 0.010” styrene plastic as an insulator.  Attach the styrene to the chassis using epoxy, tin the top of the holder with solder and then use a small dot of super glue to attach the flattened tube to the plastic.   This creates the perfect holder for 0.180” wide wipers. Once the super glue kicks, the lead wire can be soldered to the
holder.  If using magnet wire, slip a piece of small shrink wrap over the wire to act as an additional insulator before soldering the wire to the holder.  The chassis is now complete; all that’s required is final assembly.  

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