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The history of the Cox .049 Die Cast crankcases Babe_b10
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The history of the Cox .049 Die Cast crankcases

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The history of the Cox .049 Die Cast crankcases Empty The history of the Cox .049 Die Cast crankcases

Post  Cox International on Tue Jan 31, 2012 12:52 pm

Below is an explanation supplied by famous collector Dan Sitter.

Furthermore, Estes/Cox had plans to manufacture .020 and .09 engines with Die Cast crankcases (we have the drawings).



In the early history of Cox Hobbies Incorporated, a young engineer named Bill Selzer was hired away from Pratt & Whitney and went on to become a prominent figure in the history of Cox engines. It was Mr. Selzer who developed the extruded crankcase for the Cox engines.

Cox purchased extruded aluminum in 40-50 foot length. The exterior of the extruded bar was the finished size and configuration of the finished crankcase. The extruded bar was fed into a huge machine, that machined the interior of the crankcase into a finished product. It was an amazing sight to stand at the output end of that machine and watch crankcases being spit out faster than one could blink an eye.

It was the extruded crankcase, that enabled Cox to produce and sell Babe Bee .049 engines at such a low price, that in a few years all the diecast crankcase .049 engine manufacturers such as Herkimer, Holland, K&B, Anderson, Fox, McCoy and the others could not compete and soon dropped out of the market for .049 engines.

Whereas diecasting a crankcase is a multi operation process, the extrusion was a single operation.

In the early 1960's the slot car craze swept across the USA. Hobby shops sold out to the bare walls, to facilitate the installation of slot car tracks. It almost appeared that a slot car establishment was "popping up" on each street corner. A few years later, the slot car craze collapsed almost overnight. The slot car craze was Roy Cox demise. Cox established a manufacturing facility, Cox International, in Taiwan to manufacture the slot cars and accessories. Cox got into the slot car craze a little too late, and stayed a little too long. When the collapse came, hundreds of slot car establishments went out of business, but did not pay their distributors the money owed for merchandised purchased on a 30-90 days terms. In turn, this caused the collapsed of many large hobby distributors, who in turn did not pay Cox for the huge amount of slot car inventory that they purchased on 30-90 days terms. The effect of the collapse of the slot car business was devastating to Cox. They had a huge inventory of Cox slot cars, engines, and associated items, with no market to sell them. In the end, seven large semi-trucks were fill will slot car merchandise and haul to the disposal.

The collapse of the slot car market and the passing of Roy Cox wife, who was a co-owner of Cox, sent the company into a downward spin, in which it could not recover. California taxes at that time, was such that Cox had to pay heavy taxes on the assumption of his deceased wife share of the business.

It became apparent, that Cox was no longer a viable business, and consequently Roy Cox had to sell the business. This is when Leisure Dynamic purchased Cox. Leisure was not actually a manufacturing company per se, but a "holding company" who owned companies such as Cox, K&B Mfg. Co., etc. The Cox engine manufacturing stayed in California, but Leisure transferred to Minnesota all the other aspect
of Cox business. Someone with die casting on their brains (some people never learn) decided to diecast the crankcase in the facility that still existed in Taiwan. Why? It would be cheaper. How one could develop the thinking that it would be cheaper to diecast a crankcase vs. extruding is beyond my conception. The attempt to diecast crankcases in Taiwan for the Cox .049 R/C Bee engine was a disaster. At times the scrap rate was as high as 25 percent. Back to extruded crankcases.

Many collectors of Cox models state that Leisure "ruined" Cox products. Well, "ruined" product evidently sold well. Cox never sold more that 5 million dollars in product a year. Within five years of the purchase of Cox, Leisure was selling 27 million dollars a year of Cox products. Along came the severe USA recession of 1980-81. The recession caused the collapse of Leisure Dynamic.

That ingenious young engineer, who now is a few year older, and a business associate purchased Cox from Leisure Dynamic and transported the company back from Minnesota to Southern California. Eventually the business was settled in Corona, California. Business flourished for a number of years. Roy Cox always targeted his market for 12 - 15 year old boys. That segment of the market was quickly moving away from model airplanes to computers, and other new venue of entertainment.

Again, Cox started to spiral downward, because their market niche was rapidly shrinking. Cox lost money during the years 1991 - 1994. During the year 1994, Cox decided if they did not make a profit in 1995 they would close down the business. Fortunately a small profit was developed in 1995, and again a shiny white knight on a white horse appeared in Cox history. This knight was Estes. Estes offered to purchase Cox, and Bill Selzer and his business associate jumped at the opportunity. On January 6, 1996 for the sum of six million dollars, Estes became the owner of Cox Products, Incorporated.

Estes had virtually no experience in the manufacture of model engines. As we know, Cox business revolved around the manufacture of model engines. No engine, no flying models. Estes continued the Cox business in Corona, California for approximately 18 months, at which time they decide to move the entire operation to Penrose, Colorado. It was at this point, that some critical decisions were made.

Estes apparently calculated, that it would be more cost effective to sub contract out the primary operation of machining the Cox engine parts and Estes would do the "finishing" operations. Before moving the operation to Penrose, Estes auctioned off many of the machines that performed the primary operations...including the crankcase extrusion machine.

It should be understood, that when Estes purchased Cox, they purchased a huge inventory of engines and parts. I understand that there were enough parts to assemble 25,000 Pee Wee .020 engines. Estes understood that to make Cox a viable company, they had to cut costs, and consequently dropped many engines and other product from their product line.

After settling in Penrose, Estes apparently began to recognize that the task ahead may not be as easy as envision. Early on, they decided to develop a Delrin backplate for the Cox .020 engine. Much of the information to do this was gone. I was approached for that information and the request for samples of the Cox .020 #100-4 engine with a Delrin backplate. I agreed to provide the requested material, if I would get the prototype engine in exchange. With all in agreement, the exchange was later completed. Estes could not find a subcontractor who could make the Delrin backplate for the Cox .020 engine and hold the required tolerances, thus the engine never went into production. Realization was apparently beginning to sink in, that subcontracting primary operation of engine manufacturing was not going to be as easy as anticipated.

As Estes began to deplete their supply of engine / engine parts that they obtained with the purchase of the business, new parts had to be created to continue selling engines. Whereas they sold the crankcase extrusion machine in Corona, their only avenue, was to build diecast crankcases, based upon the Cox .049 R/C Bee engine. Problem!!! They had no record of that engine. No drawings, Bill of Materials, etc. I had them.

Estes apparently approached MECO in Sierra Madre, California to manufacture diecast crankcases for them. Again, MECOA did not have drawings, etc to build the crankcases. MECOA contacted me, if I had any of the Cox .049 R/C Bee crankcases. It just so happen that in previous years I purchase all the remaining stock of Cox .049 R/C Bee engines from Cox. I was able to assemble approximately 125 engines, and still had a large supply of parts. I sold MECOA approximate 200 diecast crankcase.

From this point, my information gets a little shaky. Apparently MECOA was under the assumption that Estes was interested in purchasing diecast crankcases from them. MECOA then produced a batch of diecast crankcases that were duplicates of the R/C Bee diecast crankcase. A sample of these crankcases was shipped to Estes, who in turn sent the samples to various manufacturing facilities in China. The rest of the story is history.

But the fact remains, that Estes did not revert to the diecast crankcases because it was cheaper to make than the extruded crankcase. Estes had not choice. They sold the machine that produce the extruded crankcase, therefore the diecast crankcase was their only possibility.

Respectfully submitted,
Dan Sitter
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Post  gcb on Tue Jan 31, 2012 2:08 pm

Just like a good assembly line...now all the pieces fit! :-)

Thank you Bernie and Dan.

George
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Post  WingingIt74 on Tue Jan 31, 2012 2:26 pm

Very interesting, thank you for sharing.
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Post  andrew on Tue Jan 31, 2012 3:39 pm

The amount of history on this site never ceases to be amazing -- thanks for the posting.

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Post  Jason_WI on Tue Jan 31, 2012 4:01 pm

I bet the extruded crank case machine was sold for scrap Sad
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Post  nitroairplane on Tue Jan 31, 2012 4:02 pm

Maybe but knowing Estes it was most likely scraped for nothing but space.
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The history of the Cox .049 Die Cast crankcases Empty Thank u Bernie

Post  Jaspur_x on Tue Jan 31, 2012 8:49 pm

Thank you very much for the info/cox history.

I would have liked to be a mouse hiding in the corner at the estes board room office during a few of those conversaitions.........."what do you mean we CAN`T manufacture any engines because we don`t HAVE the machine that we bought to manufacture the engines..............." lol!

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