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  • Are front wheels useless

    At the commercial track where I race 1/24 scale, many guys are removing front wheels and tires in favor of decals of wheels. My question is, do front wheels provide any help in keeping the car on the track rounding turns or are they not necessary?

  • #2
    I don't race 1/24th, but in the scales I race -- HO and 1/32nd -- front wheels are important, especially on tracks with banking and cars with flexible chassis.

    The front wheels have been proven to reduce lap times, two ways. One, when the chassis flexes to conform to banking they keep the guide square with the slot. And two, they expand the 'footprint' of the chassis. It's the difference between a three-legged stool and a four-legged stool. It makes the chassis less likely to roll. The added stability makes for faster cornering.

    Front wheels can also take load off the pickup braids, reducing front-end drag. Excessive drag at the front makes the car want to spin out.

    All of the above means nothing if 1/24th cars without front wheels are winning. The super-low center of gravity of current 1/24th scale chassis may provide all the stability required.

    Ed Bianchi

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    • #3
      Ask yourself if you notice any OTHER differences between those cars and your other ones. Chances are, those differences MAKE a difference, and the front wheels are necessary, just like Ed described.

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      • #4
        If you are running ISRA-type cars Dave, which it sounds like you are, no, you don't need front wheels.

        Mores the pity.
        Last edited by NicoRosberg.; 07-27-2020, 12:26 PM.

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        • #5
          If the front of the chassis has outriggers that touch the track in corners then wheels are useless

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          • #6
            I have raced both commercial raceway 1/24th scale and home track 1/32nd scale RTR cars a LOT. With any slot car it is the guide flag that steers the car, not the front wheels. The guide flag can also hold up the front of the car making the front wheels unnecessary in some cases. A commercial raceway car has a metal chassis with a very low center of gravity, if the car also has a wing type body the front wheels would only add drag. When I was still racing that type of car front wheels were still required, but they were small and never touched the track. GTP/GTC type cars were required to have front wheels that touched and rolled however. Plastic chassis 1/32nd and 1/24th scale cars intended for home tracks have a higher center of gravity, especially if they have a full interior. Traction magnets lower the effective center of gravity and cars with those will run better if the front tires do not always touch the track. On the other hand without traction magnets the front wheels become important because they keep the car from tipping in the corners. In that case you would want the front wheels, not the guide flag, to support the weight of the car and you would want to use tires with as little grip as possible to reduce drag.

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            • #7
              I prefer the front tyres and guide supporting weight on my 1/32 hardbody plastic cars with little to no vertical movement of the front axle. There isn't a best way other than the way that gets your car round the quickest whilst you drive it...give that car to someone else to tune and no doubt it'll end up slightly different.

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              • #8
                Front end drag is an issue many racers don't consider. The importance of front end drag was impressed on me long ago when I tried to run an old 1/24th scale car with age-hardened sponge rear tires. The car just sat there and spun its wheels. It couldn't get enough grip to push the guide down the slot. Yeah the tires were rubbish, but not able to move the car at all?!?

                There is a critical trade-off between enough weight on the pickups to assure good contact, and excessive weight that just creates drag. Drag at the front of the car is especially problematic because it tends to make the car want to spin in the corners.

                And yes, you want enough weight at the front to keep the guide from popping out of the slot under hard acceleration. But no more than that. You can play an intricate dance among chassis weight, front wheel setup, gear ratios and controller settings trying to optimize the car's performance and handling. All them factors are interrelated. Optimize one and you'll likely screw up another.

                Ultimately the only way to resolve all these issues is on the track. Wins are convincing.

                'Course trying to tease out WHY the car won is every bit as complicated. Too many factors and too much luck involved.

                Ed Bianchi

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                • #9
                  Back in the day when I raced ProWire 12, Gp20, and Gp27 wing cars, none of them had real front wheels, just these tiny little soft rubber wheels that never touched the track. The car rode on the guide flag and rear tires. Those critters were fast! I still have the cars and will try to post some photos later.

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                  • #10
                    Here is a typical wing car.



                    This is the bottom of an older Group 27 car.



                    The wheels/tires are just a flexible plastic, they are nearly horizontal in the chassis and are only there because the rules said that the car must have front wheels. Cars of this sort have a great deal of aero downforce and when a bunch of them streak by you can feel a blast of air.

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                    • #11
                      A whole nuther aspect, those things.

                      The owner of one kindly offered me a chance to try his car on the 160' King track in Chicago for a few laps; their speed and grip are just out of this world.

                      It's interesting to see how many current HO racers used to go the commercial tracks to run wing cars.

                      Also, I think that the question of whether front wheels are useless has been answered - for this type of car.

                      For most of us, setting up the front end precisely is just where you commence to tune a 1/24 or 1/32 car. We're all well balanced, you see.

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                      • #12
                        I think of the front axle/wheel set as stabilizing outriggers that keep your trimaran from tipping over during periods of excessive angular momentum.

                        The base width of a wing car's build triangle makes them irrelevant.

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                        • #13
                          Calling the HO Gravity racers... is the logical progression towards no front wheels, like in 24th scale wing / flexi cars?

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                          • #14
                            This is my Micro-Cuc V. It is an isofulcrum design and basically rides on the pickup wipers and the rear wheels. This particular chassis is optimized for my banked Slidertm oval track. The front wheels do nothing more than support the side pans and the body. There is a small amount of allowable twist. I also have a road course version of this chassis that runs very well.
                            IMG_0570 by gcullan, on Flickr
                            IMG_0569 by gcullan, on Flickr

                            This is my Micro-Cuc III, an earlier design that uses a HORacePro Slide Guide tm and is also optimized for use on the Slidertm oval track. As with the previously presented chassis, it runs on the guide flag and rear wheels. The front wheels support the side pans and the body. The front wheels are actually ball bearings with appropriately sized "O" rings for tires. Simple yet highly effective.
                            IMG_0088 by gcullan, on Flickr
                            IMG_0087 by gcullan, on Flickr
                            IMG_8208 by gcullan, on Flickr
                            IMG_8208 by gcullan, on Flickr
                            Last edited by gmcullan; 07-29-2020, 06:36 AM.

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                            • #15
                              As an additional thought, I believe all HO racing rules, even the Gravity Class rules specify that the car must have four tires that touch and roll on the track. So at least at the current time, I don't see any HO race cars with no or miniature front wheels that don't touch the track.

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