Billy’s Steel Car
Sometime in 1971, a USRA professional open-class race was organized at Gun’s Raceway in Tucson, Arizona. There, the great Mike Steube fought a tough battle with another great, Lee Gilbert, eventually winning the main event on the difficult track. This leftover monster from the 1960’s had a huge drop in the main straight, and most cars would launch there and de-slot. There was a young man who was a fantastic marshal, re-slotting the cars as fast as they would de-slot. A full report was written and published in an issue of Miniature Auto Racing. The late Billy Steube Jr. built Mikes car, using one of his dad’s fantastic Team Checkpoint motors, in this case a single-24. A duplicate of the winning car that is now lost to eternity had also been built by Billy for slot racing benefactor Bruce Paschal, even painted almost exactly like Mike’s car by the same Bob Steffin. The car did survive all these years in Bruce’s well traveled box, and was donated in 2004 to the slot car museum. It has now been sympathetically restored, in keeping with a tradition of guarding the personality and patina to a certain level to ensure its righteous place in the history of the hobby.
The famous Team Checkpoint logo is engraved on the frame.
The car as found showed a bit too much patina and had a locked up motor, suspected to be due to a blown commutator. Some serious brass corrosion was beginning to take place, and rust was present on the rear axle and surroundings, due to the remains of acid when the motor had been soldered in the chassis. Everything except for replaced rear tires was original. Time for a good restoration involving a motor rebuild as well as total clean-up, removal of corrosion and preservation.
The chassis shows lots of oxidation especially on the drop arm by the hinge. it is otherwise in good condition for its age.
The Associated rear wheels were a replacement set used by Bruce Paschal after the original Steube set was worn out. The fronts are the original Steube-modified Associated wheels. The motor has now been removed as well as the lead wires.
The rear axle is rusted solid and will be tough to remove without damaging the chassis.
The hand-cut one-piece steel rails are in good condition and show little corrosion.
Once the motor has been disassembled, a surprise: the comm is not blown as thought. The armature was simply blocked by the negative magnet. The shims behind it had rusted to the point where the corrosion had pushed the magnets enough to solidly lock the armature.
After a minor clean up, the armature and can are ready for reassembly.
The chassis has benefited from a good clean-up with some elbow grease mixed with the usual combination of wire brush, Comet cleanser and polishing soap pad. The patina is retained in some areas. The cleaned, re-assembled motor is now back in its place using new brushes and shunts.
Ready for lead wires, guide, wheels and tires. The chassis has been cleaned but retains its original finish and patina. For the same reason, the motor was not repainted. Only corrosion was removed. The original guide, lead wires and even the braided contacts were retained and cleaned.
The original Riggen 360-strand lead wires have been cleaned and are now soldered in place as well as the brass-sheet glue shield to protect the negative brush from fouling during the race.
To protect as much as possible, the originality of the car, all intact solder joints are kept as they were. The chassis was in excellent condition and needed no repair. The guide-retaining screw was however, not melted in the guide as per the old-fashioned method, to allow easy removal in case of need.
The chassis with motor installed, pretty much looking as when new.
This is a picture of the car before the restoration…
…and after. The car is now ready to accept its cleaned and restored body, an Associated Ferrari 612.The rear tires are genuine Steube “grays” from 1971, slightly re-ground.
The body has been cleaned from all impurities and the paint touched up where damaged. The car is now ready for display at the museum, but as all the cars on display there, is fully operable if required.
The finished car retains its character and personality, but is back to a presentable condition.
There are prettier bodies, but who is going to argue with a surviving original in excellent condition? The Dole Bananas logo represents the Bruce Paschal business, United Fruit Corporation, an importer of exotic fruit from South America. Thank you Bruce for keeping so many fantastic cars and motors from being thrown away…