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.
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.
(Dynabrute, Riggen Boss, Cobramite and Super2)
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!
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.
(AJ's weighted pan, click image for larger view)
(AJ's front weight kit, the "poor man's" Super 2. Added weight and allowed the use of light bodies)
(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.....