Home Built- Pre War - As Raced - Gas Tether Race Car The " Spitfire" - 26" 1939 For Sale
HOME BUILT- PRE WAR - AS RACED - GAS TETHER RACE CAR the " SPITFIRE" - 26" 1939
NO FOREIGN offerS - US ONLY -Being saleed this week is a home built, ignition gas enginetether racer,based onthe "How To Build The SPITFIRE Race Car"article that was first printed in the July 1939 issue of Mechanix Illustrated (M I) a subsidiary of Fawcett Publications. Fawcett had a long line of Nationally Published periodicals for men and women in the 1930's, including many "How to Build" manuals and handbooks (workshop and home handy man projects, auto repair and helpful hints, boat building plans, photography and various hobbyproject plansof interest to young men). Having offices in Connecticut and New York City, Fawcett's (MI) was already publishing articleson many of the events and "products of the future" being exhibited at the 1939 NY World Fair and was aware of the miniature gas powered model race cars being raced at the "Court of Peace" every weekend and the large crowds that they drew. Accomplished model builder Herbert Lozier was commissioned by (MI) to design and build a gas racer. Many of Mr Lozier's plans and built-up model projects (ships, planes and cars) had already appeared in earlier Fawcett publications and continued to do so into the 1940's. Mr Lozier also contributed modeling articles for Model Craftsman. (MI)also offered full size plans of the "Spitfire" for an additional $2.00. As an incentive to build one of their many "MI Projects", they would award the builder betweenthree andfive dollars if a photo of their finished project was picked to appear in their "Editors Workbench" section. In the 1940 March issue, photo's of a finished Spitfire Racer was summited by a Mr. Flecher of Pa., the highly detailed car had an allpolished aluminum body, lookingmuch nicer then Loizer'soriginal design .Fawcett repeated the "Spitfire" article in their 1939 Model Builders Handbook#1 laterthat year. The handbook also included the plans for an equally large racer "the Slipstream Suzzie" By the time MI's Spitfire article came out in the July issue, the publishers of "Model Craftsman" magazine in NJ had already completed the seven monthly issues of articles on buildingthe "Bantam Midget" by Ralph Pickard and was helping both East and West Coast clubs start to organize miniature car racing, by establishing rules on standardizing the car sizes, weights, engine displacement and racetrack sizes. The 9 page (MI) Spitfire article, included scaled plans, detailed sketches, complete assembly instructionsand list of of the finished racer. Lozier's "Spitfire Special" was obviously larger than anything being raced at that time, perhaps he thought bigger was better! Construction of the racer was meant to be simple, using easily obtained parts and common hand tools. To summarize the 1939 MI article: to be built with awood chassis (frame rails and bulkheads) an under slung chassis (rear axle above the frame), friction rear drive (using common radio parts), spring steel rear leaf springs, a front axle with coil springs (from an AC Gilbert Erector set) powered by any .60 size ignition engine (a Brown Jr engine was used) rubber ashtray tires, with wheels made from the lids of glass jars. The body was to be made of cardboard, with a wood grill shell, ignition system (batteries, coil and condenser) were exposed in an open compartment, dress up items only included a leather seat and steering wheel. Plans called for a 52' tether clothes line attached to any steel playground post, speeds up to 40mph could be obtained (?) The text makes no mention of the cars finished weight, obviously not meant for competing at the NY Worlds Fair, but rather for the builders own racing enjoyment. (An example of a Spitfire Racercan be seen in Ames Book on page 112) DESCRIPTION: Rather than being built to resemble a full size racer of the period, (1939) the "unknown builder "choose to buildthe car in the styling of an American or Foreign racer of the mid to late 1920's. (Indytwo man racer) adding his own custom made features and engine. The racer measures a giant 26" long, and 9 1/2" high, the rear track is 10 1/2" wide with an 18" wheel base and weighs in at over 10 1/2lbs. The most interesting thing about the car is it's engine, a home made ignition engine of his own design, consisting of a sand cast aluminum crankcase with steel cylinder and 6 bolt head, a bolt on aluminum venturi with a brass screen air filter, the timer assembly is made from a fiber type material with automotive points, an A-C spark plug, brass flywheel, an oversized gas tank made from an old nail or tack tin can,with a quick fill cap, a 23" brass exhaust header and pipe. Ignition is handled by a large coil of unknown make and automotive condenser with (2) Yale #102 (Brooklyn, NY) size "D" batteries and a custom brass ignition on-off switch mounted on the firewall, it still retains all of it's original cloth wiring. The engine is over 5" tall with an approximate 1" bore and 1" stroke for a .785 cubic inch displacement. The custom made engine isin proportionto the racers size and weight and is connected to the drive shaft thru a tightly wound coiled spring that was intended to act as a coupler, universal joint and shock absorber. The drive shaft, axle supports and rear axle are all made of brass with a hard rubber friction disc drive assembly with steel rearradius rods. The tin body is made in sections and soldered to copper tubing, portions of the body are fastened to wood bulkheads withwood screws, small nails and brass tacks, with large 4" brass house door numbers on each side,and a brass wind shield frame, (made from an old furniture draw pull.) The aluminum dashboard has plastic covered gauges and a cloth covered brass steering wheel. Both seats (large for driver, smaller for riding mechanic) are covered with leather upholstery, fastened with nails and brass tacks, (seatsare removable.) There is also a brass gas filler cap on the tail section. The complete body is removable with two largewood screws, making fast accessibility to the ignition system, suspensionand drive line. The one piece metal floor pan or belly pan is easily removable also. The wood radiator shell has 2 brass support rods, a brass mesh insert and a grill guard across the front, it also has a brass radiator cap! A rope bridle is fastened to the frame with two steel eyelets. The ashtray tires are from the 1930's, commonly sold by Tobacco/cigar stores, tire manufacturers or auto parts dealers for advertising their business, they usually sold for about 15 cents each. The glass ash tray inserts were removed and four wheels (hubs) were turned on a lath, rather then using jar lids. The tires measure 5 1/2" tall (Goodyear Balloon - 6.00- 21, diamond tread) All four tires have hardened with age and are now very brittle and will crack easily. All have some warpage with numerous glued repairs over the last 70+ years, never being meant to be used as tether car tires. The racer is "as last raced", with typical dings and dents, paint loss, small cracks, some rust, heavily tarnished brass and aluminum drive line parts and dress-up accessories. The engine still turns over freelyand the friction drive assembly still functions.We gave ita light clean-up, polishing, some re-gluing and soldering, replacement of a few wood screws and a good oiling about ten years ago, it remains as originally built.A great example of a pre-war home built racer from the very earliest days of the hobby and... the only20's style,two-man car we have seen .It will obviously "stand out" in any collection. Original Magazine Plans are included in sale .PLEASE NOTE Can be picked up at Macungie, Pa. Toy Show Shipping 14lbs/insured
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