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 nonbelievers 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 "barebones" 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.
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