by Jim Allen, March 9, 2003
The golden age 1/24th scale professional slot car was a six-inch homemade motorized
plastic-covered electro-mechanical contraption, capable of being guided, "driven"
around a 150-foot grooved indoor track, at speeds in excess
of seventy real miles per hour.
The engineers, craftsmen and basement hobbyists who scratchbuilt
these faster-than-highway-speed toy cars developed a toolkit to cut,
shape and melt together metals, and constructed brass and steel assemblages,
following precisely measured dimensions, strong enough to withstand
high speed crashes, and able to convert 12 DC volts into
ten miles of distance for every 10 minutes of race.
Scratchbuilders have always been strongly attached
to the tools that help their hands to build
these miniature mechanical marvels.
Scratchbuilding tools strengthen and sharpen the hands
to clip, cut, saw, shape, bend and smooth metals like brass, aluminum and steel,
and to melt lead with temperatures of up to 1200 degrees Farenheit (650 C),
and to assemble metal parts together in perfect alignment,
to tolerances of ten-thousandths of an inch.
Armed with these tools, and detailed, sometimes weird
theories of what will go fast, scratchbuilders all over the country
put their hands and minds to the metal, developed their skills,
and let loose on the world thousands of
plastic-covered, motorized, metal chassis-ed experimental slot cars,
and allowed true competition to sort out the winning designs.
What follows are the toolkits of the slot car scratchbuilders. A few tools shown are mine, and
scratchbuilders are invited to
send in pictures and comments
about their own jigs, blocks, irons, and other scratchbuilding tools.
I'll post them in the categories below. If you send pictures of
something unusual, please name it and explain it! Thanks! --Jim Allen