Monday 24 Oct 2016

Model Motoring
Matt Seinberg

When I was about 10 years old, my Grandmother, Dorothy, bought me an Aurora HO Sterling Moss Edition slot car set. It was a simple oval track. The two cars that kept me mesmerized for hours upon hours. A few years later, she bought me the Golden Gate Bridge Edition, from Montgomery Ward, a long defunct department store.

Aurora Plastics Corporation was founded in March 1950 and died in 1977 when then owner Nabisco sold it to former rival Monogram. The company original was in Brooklyn, NY, and moved to West Hempstead, NY, in 1954.

I collected many cars, track pieces and parts over the years. I became adept at taking the cars apart and putting them back together again. There used to be a catalog company called, “Auto World,” from which that I ordered items. I couldn't wait for the mail that brought all my new goodies.

When we had our house in Poughkeepsie, NY, I spent many happy hours down in the basement playing, with the cars and watching television. One of my track layouts had an almost twenty-foot straight away that I had to tape file folders at the end turns so the cars wouldn't go flying off the track.

I became an Aurora HO car mechanic, of a sort.

When we moved to our apartment in Spring Valley, NY, the layout was much simpler. When we ended up at our house in Plainview, NY, the track layout grew to what it almost was.

Then I moved out of that house I packed up everything and took the cars and track with me wherever I ended up. These things are in packing for at least 30 years without any usage. I told Melissa about them a few years ago, she claims it was five years ago; she wanted to set them up again.

As we were doing the recent bathroom renovation, I had to go with contractor, Rich, to Lowe's. We bought an extra piece of four-by-eight plywood for the basement, so I could set the track up again. Melissa volunteered to paint it and then we could design a layout.

I packed the cars, track and supply, taking it with me everywhere I lived.

I needed to get some car oil and track cleaner. I found what I needed on e-Bay. The products arrived quickly.

I took several cars apart, cleaned them, oiled them and put them back together. Aurora made the original Thunderjet 500 cars and later came out with the AFX cars, which were much faster than the originals.

"Auto World" still supplies official parts for Aurora Ho cars.

Some of my favourite cars though weren't working, well. I think it's because the tires are no good. The motors were turning, as were the wheels, but they were going nowhere fast. It looks like I'll have to order some new tires, and other various parts from e-Bay.

It's now fun racing with only three cars. I have to find the time to work on some of the other cars I have. My favourite was the McLaren Formula One racer, but that one needs new tires. The Lola Formula One was also a fast car, but that's another car in need of some work.

There's only one moving part in all the cars, the armature, which sits between two magnets. Under them are two, very tiny "brushes" that transmit the electricity from the pickup shoes to the motor. Carbon build up is the enemy of the motor and that's when they slow down and make noises, as would any motor.

I also use two transformers on the track to generate more power, since this track is large, with many turns. When I only had one transformer, the cars were going very slow and had a hard time going up the circular climbs. Once I set up that second transformer, everything was back to normal. I used that trick many years ago, and had to use it this time as well.

So where do I order parts other than e-Bay? I just did a search for “Auto World,” and lo and behold, there it was! It's not the same company from when I was a kid, but it's official. Then new owner purchased the name and all rights from the original owner, racecar driver Oscar Kovaleski. Boy, did that name ring a bell from my childhood!

It's time to go racing!

Matt Seinberg lives on Long Island, a few minutes east of New York City. He looks at everything around him and notices much. Somewhat less cynical than dyed in the wool New Yorkers, Seinberg believes those who don't see what he does like reading about what he sees and what it means to him. Seinberg columns revel in the silly little things of life and laughter as well as much well-directed anger at inept, foolish public officials. Mostly, Seinberg writes for those who laugh easily at their own foibles as well as those of others.

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