Scaleauto Porsche 959 'DAKAR'

Scaleauto Porsche 959 'DAKAR'

Postby wixwacing » Sun 03 Jan, 2016 5:30 pm

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Porsche 959 RAID - DAKAR 1986

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by Phil Wicks


You could be forgiven for not knowing what the DAKAR rally was, I have name dropped it more than several times amongst the local motorsport aficionados while preparing themselves for ‘the great race’ only to have been met with ‘what’s that mate!...Seems that DAKAR may just be too far from Mt Panorama…but here you certainly won’t be forgiven for not knowing the meaning of the magic numbers 959 as they are strung together by that legendary builder of bespoke racing cars….Porsche. Dealing with the DAKAR issue is simple so I will just enlighten them that don’t know one more time.


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Back in 1977, an enthusiastic Thierry Sabine got lost on his motorbike in the Libyan desert during the Abidjan-Nice Rally. On his rescue he returned to France, but with vivid memories of the landscape and the terrain inspired him to share his experiences with as many members of the wider rallying fraternity as possible. In 1977 the fruits of his labours came together and the reality was a cross country race from mainland Europe, across north Africa and terminating in the West African capital of Senegal….Dakar! Needless to say the rest is history and a chance incident in the deserts of North Africa has given rise to what can only be described as the greatest regular off road event of all time.


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The Porsche 959 was far from a chance event. Far be it for Porsche to spend millions to develop a vehicle as a whim, this car was develop with an ulterior motive. Expansion of their ailing sportscar range was envisaged by Porsche and something more flexible was sought. Off the drawing board the 959 was referred to as the Gruppe B and the concept was for it to have all wheel drive and sequential twin turbos.


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The air cooled engine was borrowed from the 935 and modified to incorporate water cooled cylinder heads and the intention was to send it out into the wide world of motorsport where competition would encourage its development. Other innovations included plastic and alloy composite body and chassis parts to reduce its weight without compromising strength.


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The road versions were eventually announced at the 1985 Frankfurt motorshow; and delivery of road cars began in 1987. Production ended in 1988 after 292 cars had been built, not including pre production models.


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Group B racing had always been on the agenda and in 1984 three hybrid 959 spec 911’s contested the Paris – Dakar rally with little success. The following year a group of 959’s were fielded but all failed to finish due to mechanical faults and vehicle damage. Undaunted, Porsche returned for the 1986 race and pulled of a spectacular one-two! with a third car which was the mechanics’ back up car (this model) achieving a worthy sixth place! Sadly, it was this event saw the crash of an organiser’s helicopter which killed several officials including Thierry Sabine


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With the cost of developing Group B cars sky rocketing, Porsche decided that the expense of running a team and developing a full blown group B car was outweighed buy the limited technical knowledge that would have been gained and Group B support was withdrawn. It’s interesting to note that Bill Gates of Microsoft fame imported a 959 into the USA before the DoT and EPA approved it. It sat in storage at the Port of San Francisco customs service for thirteen years before the passing of the ‘Show and display’ laws allowed it to be driven on public roads!


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This is a very attractive model which caught my eye from the beginning. The 959 has been made by other manufacturers, notably SCX some time back, but the detail on this model is exceptional and far beyond what SCX may have done. Not too sure how they got away with the cigarette advertising on what is essentially a toy, but they have and the model is a thousand percent better for it in its iconic Rothmans livery.


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Looking around the model I am deeply impressed and detail is the big seller for this model, Immaculate tampo, mini antenna, mudflaps all round and printing so small that you can only read it comfortably with a magnifying lens…..tampo has come this far! I think Scaleauto have go the balance right between amount of detail and practicality. i.e. detail that should last more than five minutes. Those who have read my DeTomaso review will see that its first shunt saw a sack full of bits spin off down the track. I don’t see this being the case with the 959.


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Some nice touches are that the door mirrors come in a spares bag, which also contains numerous suspension bits. Scaleauto have decided to portray the brake discs complete with callipers, visible through the wheel spokes, and they have been more than thoughtful by reinforcing the body posts inside the model (but the screws are a bit long)! It would have been nice to see them a little thicker as although they may not snap off from a racing incident, there is still the risk of them splitting longitudinally for no other reason than tightening the body screws! It is also nice to see a set of flexible mudflaps, but they do sit close to the wheels. Whether this was intentional or not I don’t know but they do tend to get trapped up inside the wheel wells when refitting the body to the chassis. Best trick is to turn the back wheels backwards while offering the chassis into the body! Mmmmmmm. And, if you have thoughts on putting the model back on its base in its display case……forget it!


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As well as the superfluous detail, the makers have gone overboard with practical detail such as the drop down guide, the suspension and the novel and unique ‘DAKAR’ four wheel drive system. The drop down guide has quite a noticeable spring which must help it keep the guide in the slot on some of the dedicated 4X4 tracks, but there is a drawback. RAID is not new to the group I race with, indeed, we revel in it on occasions and because of this we have got the chassis tuning down to a fine art, particularly the SCX models.


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The issue is that, in a non magnet situation (yes, we race 4X4 NON MAGNET!) the model’s weight transfer in tight bends especially, needs a lot of careful handling. We found that the spring tension on the dropdown guide was too great and as a result, in a fast or tight corner the spring guide acts as a jack, and the model will quite readily flip with the assistance of the guide spring! We race on flat tracks (no obstacles) so it is not a big deal to fix the guide in the up position. This will also be a requirement of the 959 whose spring is stronger than the SCX spring. If you intend to race this on a track with obstacles, like the SCX off road track, then you will either need to purchase the traction magnet (it is not supplied with the model !?), or you will need to slow down !


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With the model apart it is true to form Scaleauto. The body all up is barely twenty grams and very flimsy. Internal bits are at a minimum but the first casualty with my model before it has turned a wheel is the driver’s tray. As with most ABS models the tray is spot heated in several places. On mine it has possibly been overdone and as a consequence the driver’s tray is hanging by a thread inside the body. It will have a spot of full strength epoxy on the hot spots soon.


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With the body off the full glory of this innovative chassis is revealed. Someone at Scaleauto has spent considerable time devising the four wheel drive system. The wheels and tyres are well made and Mr Scaleauto has put some huge knobbly tyres front and rear to start with. Again a very realistic effect and also practicle on 4X4 tracks. The motor configuration is sidewinder but the motor drives a secondary cross shaft and not the rear axle! The motor drives this shaft through a 31:11 reduction and front and rear drives are taken off on opposite sides of the chassis.


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The rear axle is driven by a toothed belt; very imaginative! (but is it available as a spare part?) The cross shaft has an alloy toothed belt sprocket inside the plastic spur gear and the rear axle has the same. Both sprockets are held on by what looks to be minute grub screws through the drive face of the sprockets. Tension of the belt is simply achieved by fixed axle and cross shaft positions and the belt is not that tight. Both the axle and the cross shaft run in brass bushes so wear won’t be a major factor as far as belt tension is concerned.


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Assumingly, a new belt will just be flipped onto the gears should the occasion arise. One thing concerns me is that this model comes with a 20,000 rpm motor and assumingly will generate more torque than slower motors. This could see the life of the belt system be measured in minutes rather than hours….I hope I am wrong, especially about mine!! But, if you do buy this model to race, it looks extremely likely that in a transmission melt down, the belt sprocket on the axle may well be changed for a fixed spur gear, but it will need a hefty pinion??. My advice is change the motor for an NC1!!


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Front wheel drive is achieved by round belts friction driven front and rear, this will allow for a bit of deferential between the rear and front axles and offer a ‘token’ drive to the front. Again the pulleys are held on with grub screws and the belt sits on a cross milled surface in the pulley valley. Wheels and inserts are good and as true as you are going to get, there is also a degree of tension between the tyres and the rims so gluing or similar should not be necessary.


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I’m not sure if Scaleauto has further plans for this chassis but it is decidedly adjustable. The front axle and chassis assembly are adjustable lengthways with the simple removal of four screws in the side rails….interesting!


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The model has suspension all round but out of the box, only the front is commissioned, strange, as there are springs and the like in a bag in the display case plus some instructions on a card. On reading, it gives advice on the suspension set up regarding whether the traction magnet is or isn’t fitted. Only thing is, as mentioned before, although there is a place for it, there is no magnet, or ballast piece? I received this model from a reputable dealer and its tamper proof seals were intact and undisturbed. Maybe Mr Scaleauto knows something I don’t….But there is a screw to adjust the drop arm rest position! WooooooooHooooooo!


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The guide too has had some thought put into it, it is spring loaded which is vestigial and it has a degree of side slop and front to back movement. The plus is an idea I have been using sometime with long guides, especially Carrera models. Rather than mutilate a good guide, to help some of the longer guides around the tighter corners on plastic track, I Dremel the centre flanks of the guide, this creates a ‘waist’ which removes in most cases the tendency for the guide to wedge into a tight curve by removing the affected areas to allow the guide to traverse these otherwise obstacles without shortening the effective length of the guide. Mr Scaleauto has also acknowledged this and has done the same with the guide. Plus, it is a very useful deep guide!


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This model seems to be a continuation of the MSC marque which was swallowed up by Scaleauto some while back. I am very impressed with the 4X4 chassis set up even though it does appear to me to be a bit vulnerable. Shame too that the traction magnet didn’t come with the model, I expect that will take a bit of finding on the net. No matter. I think this is a fabulous model because of the livery alone and if it never turns a wheel in anger it can sit on my shelf till the drive bands perish, and I won’t mind!


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Porsche 959's on eBay


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When I'm not racing slotcars,
I'm out in the back yard, burning food!!

When I win, it's because of my talent, not my car or my controller!
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Re: Scaleauto Porsche 959 'DAKAR'

Postby wixwacing » Thu 21 Jan, 2016 6:09 pm

Good news for prospective buyers, good friend Kevin from Adelaide tells me essential spares are available for these cars. Check out Scaleauto's website at

Scaleauto
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When I'm not racing slotcars,
I'm out in the back yard, burning food!!

When I win, it's because of my talent, not my car or my controller!
User avatar
wixwacing
Marshal!!!
 
Posts: 1891
Joined: Thu 10 Jul, 2008 8:22 pm


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