zcarslotracing

 

The Anoraks’ Guide to sts

 

CARS

 

The sts range included six types of car, Jeeps, Mercedes, Nissans, Pinzgauers, Land Rovers and Peugeots. All the cars use the same chassis assembly, which the car body clips onto. Trailers were also available.

 

Chassis

 

The chassis, common to all car types, carries the motor, axles and guide assembly.

 

Illustration showing the chassis components of sts vehicles

 

The chassis is an approximately rectangular moulding with an open top. It has clips for the axle, contact arm and motor. The motor fits diagonally in the chassis and its shaft has worm gears at each end. The worm gears are made of brass and these mesh with plastic gears on both axles so all four wheels are driven. The worm gear means that the cars stop very quickly when the power stops and they will not free wheel at all. The motor is small and is probably only rated at 6 volts, hence the lower voltage power supply and high resistance controllers. The size of the motor and low gearing means that the cars are not fast but they are able to climb steep inclines in the track. It is not possible to service the motor.

 

Only one type of axle is used in sts cars. This is very simple with a black plastic drive gear towards one end and two white wheels with black, treaded tyres.

 

The chassis is formed with a keyhole shaped cut at each end in line with the ends of the worm gears. These were designed to accommodate pins formed on the end of prototype plastic worm gears so that they were held firmly onto the axle gears. Sadly, this facility does not seem to have ever been used in production cars. The result is that as the motor and chassis wear with use, the worm and axle gears are not held together so firmly and they can start to slip. The worm gears in the plasticard mock-up Mercedes (see below) are plastic and do have these pins. For this reason, the car still works better than some others, which have had less use.

 

There are two types of chassis. The difference concerns how the contact arm (see below) is retained. (Photo) Type one chassis have open clips (similar to those that retain the axles) so the contact arm can be simply pressed in. Type 2 chassis have closed clips. These require the right hand pin (around which the spring is mounted) to be located first then the left hand pin is pressed home past a bevel into the hole opposite.

 

The guide assembly is fairly complex. The guide is on the forward end of a sprung drop arm (also called a Contact Arm), which is hinged at the rear of the chassis. This means that electrical contact between the guide and the rails can be maintained when the cars are driven over high obstacles. The guide rotates about a vertical axis as normal; but it is located in a holder, which can rotate about a horizontal axis in line with the cars’ length. This allows the guide to remain flat on the rails when one side of the car is raised (for example, with the see-saw or centre obstacles). The guide also has projections (or “stabilisers”) on each side. The obstacle tracks have grooves to accommodate these stabilisers so that the guide is kept firmly in the slot as one or both sides of the car are raised. The pick-up braids come out of the top of the guide and are curved down the front and under the guide. This allows contact with the rails to be maintained when obstacles lift the car.

 

The drop arm is a flat piece of plastic holding the guide at one end and hinged at the other where it attaches to the chassis. Power is carried from the pick-up braids to the motor by two thin uninsulated braids, which are retained on the upper side of the arm. These braids then form small loops before passing through the chassis to the motor.

 

There are two types of contact arm and guide. (Photo) On earlier arms, if the thin braids came loose from the contact arm, they could touch the casing of the motor (which was exposed through the bottom surface of the chassis) causing the power to short-circuit and the car to stop. Later (type 2) contact arms differ by the addition of a flat plastic cover to clamp the braids and prevent them coming loose and touching the motor casing. This cover is sometimes missing. Type 2 contact arms, which should have the cover, can be identified by a small rectangular hole immediately to the rear of the “sts 4x4” logo, which the cover clips through. Later guides differed in two areas. The peg holding type 2 guides into the holder was about 2mm nearer the back of the guide. This meant that the guide was held further forward in the vehicle. Also the size of the holes (slots) used to hold the braids differed. Early (type 1) guides have smaller holes for 3mm braids; type 2 guides have larger holes for 4mm braids.

 

The changes in the contact arm and guide seem to have been introduced at different times so do not appear to coincide. I have not looked at many combinations but those I have noticed seem to indicate that the changes to the guide were made after the new contact arm was introduced. The most important point to notice about these differences is the size of replacement braid to be used. 4mm braids will not go into 3mm holes and, whilst 3mm braids will go in to 4mm holes, they could be loose or misaligned.

 

Illustration showing the contact arm components

 

The spring pressing the drop arm down also pushes the chassis and wheels upwards, away from the track surface, so reducing traction. This effect is counteracted by two substantial weights fitted in the chassis. These also help to lower the centre of gravity of the cars and keep them more stable in the slot. Some of the cars have metal winches on their front bumpers, which, apart from their decorative function, also add weight to the front to improve traction. Cars without these metal winches have extra weight added inside the front of the body. (Top)

 

Car types

 

There are 6 types of car, which were produced in a variety of colours and liveries. As stated above, the bodies of these cars all clip to the standard chassis assembly. All the cars except Peugeots were fitted with hooks at the rear for towing trailers. These hooks were black except in Jeeps where they were the same colour as the body. Hooks were never catalogued as spares.

 

The drivers were usually full figures missing only their feet. The left hand is on the steering wheel and the right points down towards the gear stick. The Peugeot was a much smaller car than the others so the driver was more like normal Scalextric drivers comprising only head and shoulders and both arms on the steering wheel. The drivers are generally white unless the cars are white in which case red drivers were fitted. There are exceptions; white Nissans and Land Rovers have been seen with white drivers but these cars were probably produced unofficially (see below).

 

All the cars came with mirrors except the Peugeot where the “mirrors” are little more than bumps on the body moulding. The mirrors are extremely fragile and break easily. Even cars that have never been removed from their box sometimes have a broken mirror, often on the right-hand side. The car could come away from its retaining clips allowing it to bounce around inside the box. Because the cars were always orientated with the left side showing through the acetate, the right side would hit the card at the back of the box breaking the mirror. Jeep mirrors form part of the windscreen surround and dashboard moulding which is heat-sealed to the main body. The other 4 cars used separate black mirrors with tabs, which were inserted into slots in the body. These mirrors were rectangular: horizontal on Nissans and Pinzgauers, vertical on Mercedes and Land Rovers. It is wise to remove the mirrors if possible before running the cars. Mirrors were never catalogued as spares but could possibly have been informally available. They are very hard to come by now.

 

Some of the cars were available in sets but all the official cars were available individually in boxes. These boxes are all similar in blue with yellow “sts4x4” logos, white writing and an acetate window over part of the front and top. White labels with black text were attached to one of the end-flaps. Plastic clips retained the cars through the yellow card liner clipping onto the axles. Each boxed car came with a maintenance sheet specific to the car. Some boxes also had “by Scalextric” printed on them. As the Scalextric logo has not been seen on Land Rover or Peugeot boxes, it seems likely that it only appeared on earlier boxes. It is possible that Exin had ideas about exporting sts so removed “Scalextric” from the boxes to avoid infringing the UK Company’s brand name outside Spain. This would be consistent with the production of the multi-lingual (English, French and Italian) set instruction booklet.

 

Known colours and liveries are set out below. Officially, the factory produced most cars in three or four colours, each colour usually having a specific livery. The liveries were stickers, which I understand were applied by hand so it is possible that a livery may be found in conjunction with a colour for which it was not originally intended.

 

It is known that some cars were produced in non-standard colours. The most obvious reason is that test shots were produced in colours that never went into production but such cars, if they exist at all, will be very rare. Apart from test shots, it is known that Nissans, Land Rovers and trailers were produced in limited quantities in non-standard colours and there is also some speculation about Pinzgauers (see below). The origins of these cars are not clear and there are many stories about them. Some say factory staff produced them on an informal basis but there is anecdotal evidence that they were produced unofficially outside the factory using moulds acquired from the factory around the time it closed. I have been told that at the end of its operation, Exin was having difficulty paying its staff’s wages so, in compensation, handed the factory and its contents to them, retaining only the tooling. Staff then sold the contents and eventually the building, over the course of a year.

 

It is understood that some 1:32 cars in rare or odd colours were produced in the factory, unofficially by staff shortly after Exin ceased trading. Shortly after that, the electricity supply to the factory was cut so that option was no longer available. It is believed that the moulds for the Nissan, Land Rover and trailer bodies were lent to people outside the factory. We can only speculate why this was done. It is known that there was some sts stock at the time, probably including chassis. This stock would have had little value without bodies so this would give a motive for their manufacture at this time. Moulds for the other four vehicle types were not available; no one can explain why that was so. Perhaps the choice was influenced again by what remained in the factory. Nissans and Land Rovers may have been used because, for example, model-specific parts such as livery stickers were available for those two cars but not for the others. Such evidence as there is suggests that the moulds remained at the factory until it was sold. If this is the case, it is almost certain that all the sts moulds were then sold for scrap.

 

A former Exin employee told me that, apart from the other odd colours, Nissans and Land Rovers were also produced at that time in white. I believe this to be the case because all these unofficial sts Nissans and Land Rovers had white drivers. It is most likely that, had the white cars been made officially, they would have had red drivers.

 

The list of cars below reflects cars seen by the author (except where stated) so may not be exhaustive. Car types are described in the order of their reference number. The dates indicate when the car first appeared in the catalogue. (Top)

 

2200     Jeep CJ-5 1985

Jeeps are open-topped vehicles with optional black roofs. Roofs were not always supplied in sets but were supplied with cars bought separately. Jeeps have no “glass” in their windscreens nor side window frames so the windscreen surround is not well supported and can break easily. For this reason, it is wise to fit the roof when running these cars but there is little that can be done to protect the mirrors. Jeeps were fitted with the front winch.
Red       2            “Jeep” * (Photos 1 2)
White    3            “Jeep” * (Photos 1 2)
Green    5            “Jeep” * (Photos 1 2)
Yellow  47          “Laredo” (Photos 1 2)
(* Jeeps numbered 2, 3 & 5 have slightly different “Jeep” liveries.) (Top)

 

2201     Mercedes 280GE 1985

Mercedes are open-topped vehicles with optional black roofs. Roofs were not always supplied with Mercedes in sets but were supplied with cars bought separately. The screen, etc is more robust than the Jeep’s and the mirrors can be removed. Mercedes were not fitted with the front winch but a metal weight is visible, fitted into the front of the car between the body and the black driver platform. The plasticard factory mock up of the Mercedes had a spare wheel fitted to the rear. Production versions do not but there is a tab in the same position, which looks like it may have been designed to carry a spare wheel. Exin may have decided not to fit spare wheels because they cost extra, they were too fragile, they fouled on trailers or perhaps the extra weight at the back would have acted to lift the front of the car.
Red       2            “Marlboro” (Photos 1 2)
White    4            “Rothmans” (Photos 1 2)
Orange 34          “Jagermeister” (Photos 1 2)
Blue      47          “Pioneer” (Photos 1 2)

White    4            “Rothmans” Plasticard factory mock-up with some painted decoration,
                             spare wheel and other differences. (Photos 1 2)

Red 47 “Pioneer”, blue 2 “Marlboro” and orange 4 “Rothmans” Mercedes have been seen. (Photo) (Top)

 

2202     Trailer 1985

These are simple rectangular trailers designed to be towed behind all the cars except Peugeots. They have a single axle similar to those used on cars but without the gear. This clips to the underside of the trailer body. Two bars forming a blunt V come forward from the front, lower edge of the trailer to the hitch. The hitch has two parts. The upper part has the hole to go over the hook at the rear of the car. Below that is a plain piece, which goes under the hook to prevent the hitch uncoupling in use. There is a recess at the rear of the trailer to accommodate a hook so that more than one trailer can be towed in line. Hooks were never fitted into trailers as standard and would have to be taken from other cars.

The trailers were packed with a sheet of self-adhesive decals to brighten up their otherwise plain appearance. These decals are not pre-cut so have to be cut from the sheet by hand before they can be applied. Trailers are very light and have a tendency to bounce a lot on the rough track and obstacles. They can be used to carry “loads” but a heavy load would affect the performance of the car and a light load would tend to jump out of the trailer as it bounced over the track.

Trailers were individually packed in bags and card (photo). These were then packed for dealers in boxes of four. I have been told that trailers were originally produced in the four Jeep colours, red, yellow, green and white. I have also seen blue trailers in original packing but these seem to be much less common which would bear out the idea that this colour was an afterthought. They have also been seen in three non-standard colours, black, turquoise and bright red (corresponding to the colours of the Nissan Patrols below) (photo). It is believed that these were produced unofficially at the time the factory closed in 1992 or very soon after. (Top)

 

2203     Nissan Patrol 1986

The Nissan Patrol is a pick-up type of vehicle with a closed cab and an open rear for load carrying. The model came with an anti-roll bar set into the open rear section with spotlights attached to it over the rear of the cab. This anti-roll bar with its lights is another fragile part but is more robust than the mirrors so is normally intact except on the most heavily used cars. As it is heat sealed to the body, it cannot be removed to protect it in use. Nissans were fitted with the front winch. It is believed that there were three main colour/livery combinations
Yellow  1            “Nikon” (photo)
Blue       156        “Nissan” (photos 1 2)
Red       173        “VSD” (photos 1 2)

White and blue examples have been seen with the 173 “VSD” livery (photos 1 2) and white and red examples with the 1 “Nikon” livery.

A number of white Nissans have been seen in various liveries. Normally, officially produced white cars would have had red drivers but all the white Nissans I have seen have white drivers. The most credible explanation is that white Nissans were only produced unofficially at the time the factory closed. An Exin employee I spoke to stated that white Nissans were only produced at this time along with other odd colours. Three other non-standard colours have been seen (photo), black (1 “Nikon”) and turquoise and bright red (both 156 “Nissan”). These match the colours of the non-standard trailers above and it is believed that they were all produced at the same time.

The catalogue only ever showed one colour/livery combination for each model. These illustrations were not photographs but drawn and the same drawing was replicated in all succeeding catalogues. All the models illustrated were fairy accurate representations of actual models (Cars page, 1989 catalogue) except for the Nissan. The Nissan illustration corresponds almost exactly to the blue “Nissan” liveried car except it is shown with a red driver, a white tow hook and race number 370. I have never seen a car numbered 370 and it is believed it was never produced. (Top)

 

2204     Pinzgauer 1987

The Pinzgauer is a type of box van. This basic shape means that, apart from the mirrors, there is very little that is fragile. All had Puch logos on the roof. The winch was not fitted. No weight is visible but there is a space in the driver platform, which probably accommodates one.
White    28          Totip (photos 1 2)
Blue       36          New Man/Motul (photos 1 2)
Yellow  147        sts (photos 1 2)

The factory produced cars in two different shades of yellow. A number of slightly darker yellow cars with the 28 “Totip” livery have been seen (photos 1 2). It is also believed that some red cars have been made (not seen) and, whilst the details and origins of these are not certain, it is thought that a sub-contractor in Madrid made them. Apparently, these red cars first appeared in shops in the Madrid area. I have been told that there is an example of an orange Pinzgauer (not seen), which came from the factory after it closed. This may have been a test shot or it might perhaps be a reference to the red car if the shade of red used was particularly bright. (Top)

 

2205     Land Rover 1988

This model is based on the short wheelbase variant of the classic Land Rover - now branded “Defender” - with a complete roof and windows. As well as the front winch, the model has a number of embellishments including a wing-mounted shovel, a roof-height exhaust and a roof rack. Land Rovers were produced later so are less common than the earlier cars.
Yellow  5            Camel * (photos 1 2)
Green    12          Camel * (photos 1 2)
White    63          VSD (photos 1 2)
(* Land Rover liveries numbered 5 & 12 are otherwise identical.)

I have also seen a white Land Rover with a red driver and 5 “Camel” livery.

Yellow and green Land Rovers were both produced in two distinct shades. The more common cars are those made in the brighter, richer shades typical of many slot cars. Most of the promotional literature shows the duller shades but in fact these are less common. The dull yellow (photo) is sometimes called mustard. The dull green (photo) is particularly rare and is often referred to as khaki. I always understood that khaki was a predominantly brown colour but the colour certainly has a military look to it, albeit rather light. I have been told that the dull shades were produced only for use in sets. I have also been told that they were produced towards the end of the life of sts but this is not consistent with their use in brochures. Some of the dull coloured cars (particularly mustard) were sold after the factory closed as bodies only without winches. This could indicate that either they were made by the factory near the time that production and sale of sts ended or set sales did not reach expectations.

Apart from the standard colours and variations, I have also seen Land Rovers in blue (5 & 12) (photos 1 2) and purple (12) (photos 1 2). I have also seen a white Land Rover with a white driver (12) (photo). I believe that these cars were all produced unofficially when the factory closed. A Land Rover was also been reported to me in red (not seen), this might have been a test shot. (Top)

 

2206     Peugeot 205 T16 1989

This model is based on a standard hatchback with small black spoilers forward of each front wing and a large black spoiler above the rear window. This was the last sts car to be produced and is the scarcest. The winch was not fitted and whilst no weight is visible, there is a space in the driver platform, which probably accommodates one. Only two colours and liveries were produced. (photos 1 2)
White    126        “Pioneer” (photo)
Yellow  205        “Shell” (photo) (Top)

 

Car spares & accessories

 

In line with other Scalextric products a range of spare parts was offered (photo). These were packed in bags and card.

 

2400      Motor 1985

2401      Complete Axle 1985

2402      Tyres (4) 1985

2403      Braids (4) 1985 - 1986

2404      Chassis 1986

2405      Contact Arm 1986

2406      Contact Arm Springs (6) 1986

2407      Braids 3mm (2) 1987 (replaced 2403?)

2408      Braids 4mm (2) 1988

 

Braid width should be chosen according to the guide (see above).

 

Two sheets of self-adhesive decals were also available packed in bag and card. These provided additional decoration rather than replacements for the original decals. It is not believed that decals were available to repair or replace the original liveries. As with the stickers for the trailers, these don’t appear to have been pre-cut.

 

2425      Additional decals (set 1) 1986 (image)

2426      Additional decals (set 2) 1988 (image)

 

Car bodies were also available. These were packed in bags with card covers. I have only seen a few of these in the original packing, which makes these “accessories” much more rare in MB form than the complete cars. I suspect that either few were made or that many have been used as a cheap way of making up complete new cars.

 

2500      Jeep Body 1985

2501      Mercedes Body 1985

2502      Nissan Patrol Body 1986

2503      Pinzgauer Body 1987

2504      Land Rover Body 1988

2505      Peugeot Body 1989

 

Roofs for Jeeps and Mercedes were never listed as spares but may have been obtainable. Mirrors were also never listed but again, may have been obtainable. It is not believed that towing hooks were ever available other than with cars or bodies.

 

 

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