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The History Of The Globe-Versitec Slot Car Motors

July 1, 2006

Globe Motors was based in Dayton, OH. and was a supplier to the US Government for extremely hi-tech small electric motors to precisely power the fins of cruise missiles under DC power. Instant hi-torque and hi revs were necessary, these small round permanent-magnet motors running at a constant 25000RPM under 12-volt, and providing power to the fins through a clutch system.

In 1964, when the slot car boom really hit town, Globe created a division in their company to handle this new and promising side of the business. The new company was called Globe-Versitec.

Globe took one of those missile motors and introduced it to the slot car world as the Globe SS81. The SS81 was an 18-volt, 1″ diameter round motor with a 5-pole sealed arm, a very well built commutator with actual welded wires, an Alnico round magnet, shunted brushes, and two good quality caged ball bearings.

Three Globe motors showing three different graphics. The one on the left is the first model issued, the SD-500. In the center is the 1966 SS91 with its last graphics. The one on the right has the earlier 1965 graphics.

The motor was excellent, quite quick and virtually indestructible. However, it did not sell well. Some of the issues with the end users were:

1/ The price of $14.95 made it 5 times more expensive than the average Mabuchi offerings.

2/ the 1/8″ pinion shaft size presented issues with many to find the correct pinions and adequate gear ratio.

The armature was of a quality unmatched by any other motor produced for slot car use in the day, and the only one with welded commutator tabs.

By 1965, Globe issued the SS91, a 12-volt version of the SS81, and produced a sidewinder die-cast aluminum alloy chassis for these motors. They featured ball bearings at all four corners, leaf spring front suspension and adjustable drop arm. They were largely ignored by the slot car enthusiast as an oddity costing a lot of money.

The sidewinder chassis kits built for the SS81 and 91 motors. The box contained a clear poly bag containing the fine ball bearings, and another bag of parts containing the front suspension and hardware. The drop arm was very long and had to be cut to the desired size by the customer.

Three different packages of spare parts, showing the Globe name as first used, then the Globe-Versitec, then simply the Versitec name from 1968.

The Versitec 1/8″ flanged ball bearings were used in both the motors and the chassis and were also sold separately.

By 1967, Globe-Versitec decided to introduce a specific slot car racing motor, at a lower $9.95 price. The SS101 was a full 1/16″ lower than a Mabuchi FT16, now universally used by the pros in its rewound form and with upgraded magnets. The SS101 had the 5-pole arm from the SS91 now dynamically balanced and set in a new 2-piece welded can with black plastic ends. These received the huge flanged ball bearings and the same brush setup as on the SS91. Again, top quality materials and parts were used, and these (scarce) motors were fast, little rockets for wealthier enthusiasts. While the price was more accessible to most, their popularity was very limited due to their larger pinion shaft and the difficulty to mount it in existing brackets, and Versitec faded from the slot car business in early 1968. They had also produced an inline chassis for the new motor, but again this was largely ignored by the public.

The two versions of the SS101, the original non-vented issue on the right. It is not known if failures actually happened or if Versitec decided to add a hole pattern simply as to keep the product updated for marketing purposes.

SS101 motors recently found in a case of 12, on display at the LASCM.

The SS101 had a long legacy in its magnets: the strong units were used by MURA for their first Mura-made cans, inside a shim called a “can-in-a-can” also marketed by Dynamic. This entire setup could fit inside a Mura or a stock Mabuchi can, or even a Champion 517-525 series can, as their inner dimensions were identical. Then Mura made the “B” can motor, almost like a Versitec SS101 in size and using the SS101 magnets without shims, and fitted with a selection of Mura armatures, a better endbell design and a lower price. However and due to over heating, the “B” motor was an immense failure and Mura eventually dropped it in favor of the “C” can motor in 1971.

The SS101 inline chassis was issued in two versions, one for “other” motors, namely the Mabuchi line.

The SS101 is in fact, a very quick motor, certainly as fast as the best that Champion and Mura could muster at the time. If it had been at all used by any top-level pro, it could have become the “thing to have” in 1968. Since most pro racers were linked to a motor manufacturer, it was not to be.

COMMENTS by Don Siegel:

The original company, Globe Motors of Dayton, was recently purchased by the SNECMA group of France (one of my clients), which makes airplane jet engines! I sent an email to see if any of their 60’s engineers were still around but never got a reply.
Anyway, both the SS-81 and SS-91 were offered at about the same time, 1964-65, when somebody found that these missile motors worked in slot cars, and Globe must have picked up on this. There were still a lot of 18V figure eight tracks for the SS81, an 18 volt motor. They were $14.95, already two to three times the price of a complete car! When Globe saw that the market was booming, they created the Versitec division (circa 1966), and came out with a complete line of slot products, mostly chassis, gears, ball bearings and motors.
The SS-101 came out in 1967 or 68 and was “only” $9.98, which by the time wasn’t that out of line. I had one (must have been my birthday or something), and still have the ball bearings but the rest has disappeared! Anyway, I remember it as being about as fast as the Champions, etc., but at some point it slowed down, and given my own state of the art, there wasn’t much I could do about it; the problem in my opinion is that it just couldn’t be hopped up like the more conventional 16Ds‚Äö√Ñ√∂‚àö√ë‚àö‚àÇ‚Äö√†√∂‚àö√´¬¨¬®‚Äö√†√á I did take it apart, with the vague idea of rewinding and/or replacing brushes, but there it remained in the bottom of my case, while I stuck to my own trusty rewinds – well, one anyway, with a 60‚Äö√Ñ√∂‚àö‚Ć‚àö‚àÇ‚Äö√†√∂‚Äö√¢‚Ä¢30 in a K&B case with Versitec magnets‚Äö√Ñ√∂‚àö√ë‚àö‚àÇ‚Äö√†√∂‚àö√´¬¨¬®‚Äö√†√á The 1/8″ shaft wasn’t a real problem either, at least for a non-pro like me, because with the torque of these motors they could be geared 3:1, especially on the longer tracks and with the little tires that were already pretty standard.

The Versitec chassis were nicely engineered, but way too heavy and clunky for the time. Maybe today in a vintage class they’d be perfect. I have one of each, SW and IL, and they are on my project schedule.
So that’s the long, sad story of Globe/Versitec. Globe is still in business in Dayton, making precision electric motors and actuators – and under French ownership. So maybe there’s “une voiture de slot” in our future.

That October 64 ad in MC&T was the first mention of Globe that I can find. They ran the same ad in the November 1964 issue of Model Car Science, for the SD-500 (“What can you expect from the world’s most expensive slot car motor?) and then, in the December 64 issue of MCS, the ad became:

And this time it was for the SS-91, which is very similar to the earlier one, but not quite the same: it’s a bit thicker, heavier and turns 40,000 rpm, as opposed to the 25,000 for the SD-500

What do you know? Looking in my junk box, I do indeed have a “SD-500″, that appears to be slightly smaller in diameter than the SS81/91 motor, and has a metal-foil stamped ID plate with even the serial number of the motor. the shaft is 1/8″, the length is the same as on the SS81/91.
The SS91 and SD lines have now disappeared from the Globe Motors Inc. catalogue

REPLY: Note that there are two versions of the SS101, as a later (scarcer) version had small vent holes stamped on top and bottom of the can. As far as pinions for the 1/8″ shaft, I remember never be able to even find any in the 1960’s.


3 Responses to “The History Of The Globe-Versitec Slot Car Motors”
  1. Richard Miller says:

    My first job after getting out of the Marines was with Globe.
    I was soon transfered to Versitec.(a 3 man,1 girl operation away from the main plant)
    I did all the assemblies ,packaging,shipping and repairs of returned products and motors.
    I also helped out the local Globe racing team.
    I wrote several articles for slot car magazines.I am still looking for copies of my articles with no avail.(if anyone can locate some please contact me)
    About 1968 i was transfered to the Production control dept. at the main Globe plant.
    I was transfered to a TRW plant in St.Petersburg.FL (Trw bought Globe)

  2. Bill Morrison says:

    I had two of these motors back in the sixties but I remember them being advertised as turning 50,000 rpm and would decelerate at the same rate as it accelerated. I believe the price back then was a bank breaking, for a teenager, $50.00. I had both of these motors mounted in cars that had been stored at my mom’s house until the late 80’s and when I rediscovered slot racing in the early 90’s both had commutators explode doing lighter fluid burnouts to clean tires on the drag strip. The cans and end-bells were thrown away long ago and I’m not sure where the magnets went but I have salvaged the armature shaft from one motor and use it as the rear axle in one of the cars I have now, I also use the motor bearings in two of my cars. I’ve held onto one of the exploded arms just to show to people and as of yet nobody I’ve found has ever seen one of them before. I’ve just discovered two slot tracks in the local area and have rekindled my childhood hobby again in north east Ohio.

  3. Ron says:

    Great article, I have greatly enjoyed reading this and tripping down memory lane. In the glory days of slot racing I built several cars using the SS91 and the SS101. I still remember the scream of the cars going down the straights, partly due to the high RPM and partly having to use 64 pitch gears to get a decent gear ratio. Over the last few years I have gotten rid of almost all of my old slot car stuff but have kept a few SS91s. I still have a few new ones in the original boxes and on occasion it’s still fun just to spin the shafts and bring back the old feelings.

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