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HOW TO BUILD A 1/24 CHASSIS'

(Basics - it's not Rocket Science)

The term, "Meccano" or "Nuts & Bolts" chassis' is loosely thrown about by the non-
believers and pessimists about these True Scale Chassis' available from a number of
manufacturers. While they are "more or less correct", these are indeed, pieces of art
and engineering for our hobby, and there's no question that, if correctly set up, one
chassis will last you years of trouble free racing.

The Plafit Chassis

Plafit produces a wide range of tune up parts to meet "almost" all the slotracers
wishes in terms of set-up and specification. Their " Meccano" style assembly makes
them fully adjustable to fit all types of Model car bodies. In 2001 Plafit introduced the
"Pro series" chassis. These were updated versions of the 124 and Excel design in a
more durable and hardened steel material. For the Endurance races this has become
the preferred choice of most International Teams.

(Pictured above) Non Plafit parts are the thicker (green) Scaleauto Spur Gears.
These range from a 40 to 50 tooth and include also odd numbers (41,43 etc.), giving
the teams a wider variety of gear ratios to chooses from, and depending on the
specific organizations rules.
While in South Africa this class is still in it's infancy stages, we still needed to have a
starting point, or moment in time, from which we will be able to progress and hopefully
grow the hobby. Currently, we are marketing and promoting the bare basic Plafit
1300U chassis as the "starting Point" for the class. The 1300 U chassis is the "bare-
bones" kit needed for True Scale Racing, and is fully adjustable, and can be used
under a number of various bodies. In order to introduce the class as cheaply as
possible, we have kept most of the parts stock standard, and then limited the entire
class to specific weights, width sizes, motors and Gear ratios in order to keep our poor
currency out of the equation.

The basic principle for these, and other chassis' for this class is to make certain the
underside profile of the chassis is as flat and straight as possible. The floating body
mount and sprung chassis torsion will provide all the necessary handling these cars
demand, (which is minimal with the lexan bodies), but as long as the chassis is the
same height above the track on all four corners, the rest of the car will work perfectly.

The easiest, and best way to do this is to invest in a "tech-block", a piece of


aluminium, or wood, with a slot it in for the guide, and naturally, as flat as possible. It's
on this flat surface that you will adjust your chassis to the correct, minimum ride
height, and make certain the chassis is flat, parallel with the track. Although the Plafit
1300 U comes pre-assembled, it's certainly not ready for setup at this point, as there
are other issues which need to be prepared prior to setting the ride height. Those
items include the Wheel Diameter, and the Guide and Braids. Let me add that I learnt
the HARD WAY by trying to prepare an international car too low, to try and enhance
it's handling characteristics. Although the demotion from World Champion to 2nd place
was primarily due to a very bad collision in the finals of the IMCA worlds, this situation
can be avoided by NOT setting up the car at it's bare minimum ride height, because,
as it happened to me, in a severe collision, or bad marshalling case, you WILL be
penalized for an illegal car, just like they do in F1, FIAGT, NASCAR, WRC, and any
other, official and no-official racing series, so, DON'T SKIMP to gain an advantage, it'll
come back and BITE you in the ass.

WHEELS

The South African Rulebook for the Historic series states the Rear Wheels must have
a Minimum Outer Diameter of 25mm, and must be mounted on the standard Plafit
17mm Rims. "Out the Box" they are slightly larger than this, and so require a little
truing to get them flat and at the correct Min height.
If you true the wheels to the Minimum required size, you will VERY SOON, be
running illegally, as the sponge will slowly but surely wear down, and this, in turn, will
a) Make the Diameter smaller than the required Diameter, and b), lower the ride
height of your chassis, again, making the car illegal. I suggest keeping at least 1.2mm
of sponge over and above the required Minimum, (unless as usual, you have an
unlimited budget and can afford a set of wheels for each race...). The same applies to
the front wheels, although they are certainly not a high-wear type sponge, and so can
be "set and left".

GUIDE & BRAID

The guide and braid are just as important as the wheels in getting the chassis straight.
Take into account how you run your braids, if they are solid, or if you "comb" them out
etc, when setting the height of the guide. On the 1300 and other Plafit Chassis, the
Guide tongue sits slightly higher on the chassis, and as such, the Guide will need to
be "shimmed" lower to sit flat on the deck with the chassis. The Guide tongue may
NOT be bent in a small "s" to overcome the design of the chassis', so keep this in
mind when setting it's height.
PANCAKE

Before attempting to set the Ride height, the chassis, with no wheels, should be put
on the tech block, and the guide and braids should be 100% flat with the rest of the
chassis base. The chassis should NOT be sitting up on the guide, with daylight
showing under the bare chassis, the entire bottom should be flat on the tech surface,
like a pancake.

Then the wheels should be mounted, and the Axle spacer kit which is supplied with
most of the kits, has a number of spacers of varying sizes. half, 1, 3, 5mm and so on.
Get four of the 1.5mm spacers and place them on the tech block, and then place the
chassis on top of these four spacers. The wheels will probably be up in the air at this
point, and now is the time you will loosen the adjusting screws on the front axle holder,
and then the rear axle holder. The wheels will drop down and touch the tech block,
and then you GENTLY tighten the adjusting screws to fasten the axle height at that
level.

The spacers can then be removed, and the car should be flat on the four wheels, with
the same size spacing under the chassis as the size of the spacers you used, (1.2 or
1.5mm). The guide can then also be shimmed and adjusted to rest flat against the
tech block, while NOT lifting the front wheels off the block. At this point, the chassis
should be correctly spaced, 100% flat, and all four wheels should be touching the tech
block, or track.

That's the fundamentals of setting up the chassis to operate correctly. Absolutely no


part of the construction of the chassis needs to, or should be bent in any way to get it
flat, straight, or level, and if something is altered, the car will either handle badly, or
you will fail tech control for an illegal car, (and for the fairness of the class,
Scrutineering will be tight).

From this point, the other items required for tuning the chassis would be lead weight to
get the car to the required running weight, and this, coupled with the required
bodyweight with brackets, will set the car up perfectly for close, competitive racing,
and the spacing should allow you many laps of racing before the car does require
some attention, or wheels/sponge need replacing.

It's certainly NOT rocket science, and it's not as difficult as it looks initially. Once you
hold the chassis in your hands, and gently twist it to see the working sprung
suspension, the basic principles will be there, and you'll be able to set up the chassis
correctly, within all the required limits, and the car will be legal, and should perform
flawlessly, race after race.

Article By Alan C Paterson www.slotcars.co.za

Reproduced with the authors permission – John H Green