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Post  rsv1cox Sun Sep 18, 2022 12:22 pm

I did a thread about my competing in New Hampshire's Soap Box Derby in 1950/51 but I can't find it.  

So, yesterday my son his wife and I went looking at a boat.  Not for me, for them.  On the way home we stopped at a place that had a sign "Vintage toys for sale."  Big barn, lots of stuff.  Looking through it I saw a set of Soap Box Derby wheels identical to the ones that I had on my racer.  

Confession.  When we moved in the early 2000's from Spring Hill in Florida, I believe I left my set of wheels in the loft above the garage.  Pretty dumb, but I did for some reason ship the axles.  

So I bought the wheels.  This morning I cleaned them up.  This time they get bolted to the wall above my workbench.  Not leaving them again.  Axles in front.

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Bought these on ebay a few months ago.  Some may remember.

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Post  roddie Sat Oct 14, 2023 1:58 pm

about 20 years later.. I would race mine Robert!! I found this photo of it recently with my two younger brothers sitting in it. Wish I could find some better photos of it.

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I raced it in a derby circa 1970/71 on Rt. 120 on the RI/MA state line. You may have traveled that road once Robert. It connected Rt. 122 in Cumberland, RI and U.S. Rt. 1 in N. Attleboro, MA. My Uncle Ray Mercer sponsored me. His farm "Miscoe Meadow" boarded Morgan show-horses. That's the name on the back of the car.
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Post  rsv1cox Sat Oct 14, 2023 3:27 pm

I did not know that roddie.  The Derby is an experience that I will never forget.  Week long event that included a party with prizes.  I won a can of Shell oil first year and a carpenters plane the second.

We share the experience.

I happened to be the 100th boy to enter the NH derby that year and made the newspapers.  I see that we had similiar side treatments.  Smile

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Kept a scrapbook.  I was 12 and 13.  

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I never did explain the turn-buckle in the picture above.  To test the car my Dad took me to the steepest hill in town (a travelled road) and turned me loose.  Halfway down one of the steering turnbuckles unwound came loose (I never safety wired them) and sent me into a stone wall knocking me out.  It also destroyed the front end of the racer a week before Derby time.  I built the whole thing myself but Dad helped me put it back together.

 I never got beyond the first heat either year.  Came in second both times.
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Post  Mark Boesen Sat Oct 14, 2023 11:51 pm

We did it when jr. was a kid, had a blast!

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Post  crankbndr Sun Oct 15, 2023 2:34 am

No hills down here so we had to use food carts and forty weight oil. Did have go carts to putz around in
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Post  roddie Sun Oct 15, 2023 4:39 pm

crankbndr wrote:No hills down here so we had to use food carts and forty weight oil. Did have go carts to putz around in

smiles smiles smiles... Hi Doug! You struck a nerve in my memory. A ways prior to my SBD experience; I somehow acquired a shopping-cart "bottom-end"... which I remember being a chrome-plated 1" metal tubing frame.. with a pair of nice rear wheels that were fairly large.. with visible ball-bearings. The front casters were apparently in alignment.. because we used to ride that thing down the street until our asses were sore from sitting on the metal crossbar for the basket..
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Post  roddie Sun Oct 15, 2023 5:36 pm

rsv1cox wrote:I did not know that roddie.  The Derby is an experience that I will never forget.  Week long event that included a party with prizes.  I won a can of Shell oil first year and a carpenters plane the second.

We share the experience. I happened to be the 100th boy to enter the NH derby that year and made the newspapers.  

I see that we had similar side treatments.  Smile

I never did explain the turn-buckle in the picture above.  To test the car my Dad took me to the steepest hill in town (a travelled road) and turned me loose.  Halfway down one of the steering turnbuckles unwound came loose (I never safety wired them) and sent me into a stone wall knocking me out.  It also destroyed the front end of the racer a week before Derby time.  I built the whole thing myself but Dad helped me put it back together.

I never got beyond the first heat either year.  Came in second both times.

Hi Robert, same here... I came in second both times my first year and second too.. but my 2nd year was in a Greater Boston area derby.. where I won a "Best Brake Design" award. I had nothing to do with the design. It was my dad and Uncle Ray who designed the car. Their brake-design was a hinged hollow-box with cable running through it around a pulley; low and centered in the rear bulkhead.. and back up to a screw-eye at the top of the box. The cable ran from the top of my foot-pedal.. down to a pulley on the floorboard.. and back through a plastic tube that ran along the floorboard through screw-eyes.. and between my butt-cheeks.. through a cut-out in the bottom of the seat-back. Routing the brake cable down the center-line of the chassis, with only two pulleys as points of resistance.. proved the design to be superior. I was given an award (plaque) but it's been lost for years.

I used a pair of spare turnbuckles recently.. to tension/plum a 4 X 4 post on our deck, to accommodate the swing of a gate.

Soap Box Derby revisited Deck_g10

It's really cool Robert.. that you saved the axles to your car. I seem to remember them being drilled for castle-nuts. Was that correct?
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Post  rsv1cox Sun Oct 15, 2023 6:40 pm

My brake design was real simple just a cable to the top of the brake, no mechanical advantage at all.  I'm surprised they let me race as in my brake test I went through the limit.  I did not read the rule book as well as I should have (carries through to this day) and as I mentioned I did build the racer all by myself.  Dad got the lumber and I did the rest.  It shows, my sponsor (100th boy to enter winner) probably looked at my car and thought "Oh No!"

The rule book shows several different brake designs over the years, looking back I thought this the best  12/B and C.

Soap Box Derby revisited Scan_300

Yes, castle nuts, lost them I guess. The axles have been taped together since the mid fifties.  Notice the ends on the right, top axle is bent slightly, happened when I hit that stone wall.  Probably cost me the Derby!  Smile

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Kept the Tee shirts too.  Yes, I was a little fella, still feeling the effects of being hit by a car and run over a few years earlier.  Broken left shoulder, mangled right leg, internal injuries.  Six weeks in the hospital with "Nursey" Sears looking after me. I still remember it. They opened me up and moved my spleen back to where it should be.  That made the papers too. Smile Dumb kid in the middle of the road watching his father rig up a tow line on a car.

Had to look for them, found in an old cedar chest.  

Soap Box Derby revisited P1016401
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Post  roddie Sun Oct 15, 2023 7:49 pm

Jesus Robert... God has blessed you... but I'm not telling you anything.. you don't already know.
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Post  rsv1cox Mon Oct 16, 2023 10:47 am

roddie wrote:Jesus Robert... God has blessed you... but I'm not telling you anything.. you don't already know.

Thanks roddie, I have had other close calls but that was the big one.

I still have the scar on my right foot, the only place they could find that was suitable where they could transfuse blood directly from my mother to me.  I remember the trip to the hospital in the back seat of my Grandfathers Parkard laying on my fathers lap and wondering why his trousers were all red.  Watched the rope hand hold attached to the front seat sway to and fro.  Last thing I remember until days later.

Came home six week later to a quiet house.  Seems Mom blamed Dad, Dad blamed his parents for not watching me.  Dad retreated and avoided me for years, guilt I imagine.  We only reconnected when this Soap Box Derby thing came up.
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Post  rsv1cox Sat Mar 30, 2024 6:44 pm

Well, Ill be!

While looking for something else (The big box that my AirField B-25 came in) I found my original Soap Box Derby wheels that I thought I had left in Florida. (See above)

When we moved up here to West Virginia I hired a couple of guys to unload the furniture while I unloaded all the boxes.  I must have stuck them under the stairs in the basement piled a bunch a stuff on top of the box and forgot all about them.  I dug through gun stocks, barrels and old Automobile magazines and found them.  Little thing but they mean a lot to me, and I always felt bad about thinking that I just left them on purpose as they are quite heavy.

Soap Box Derby revisited P1017362

Flea market wheels but with my original axles.

Soap Box Derby revisited Flea_m34
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Post  roddie Mon Apr 01, 2024 5:18 pm

Robert!! I hope you enjoyed Easter. We certainly did. Our dinner reservations were for 2:45 pm at the "Old Mill" in Westminster, MA. Not far from Wachusett. Accommodations are Lynne's forte..

So good that you finally found those wheels. You must still have those original axles somewhere. How about the castle-nuts? Any chance that they're still with the axles?


Last edited by roddie on Mon Apr 01, 2024 5:19 pm; edited 1 time in total (Reason for editing : with)
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Post  rsv1cox Mon Apr 01, 2024 5:35 pm

roddie wrote:Robert!! I hope you enjoyed Easter. We certainly did. Our dinner reservations were for 2:45 pm at the "Old Mill" in Westminster, MA. Not far from Wachusett. Accommodations are Lynne's forte..

So good that you finally found those wheels. You must still have those original axles somewhere. How about the castle-nuts? Any chance that they're still with the axles?

Thanks roddie........we are Soap Box Derby brothers, both sharing that exciting experience.  I can still recall the audio and visual moments of those days, especially the slam of the gate going down.  Unfortunately, I can also remember the racer in the outside lane overtaking me half way down the hill and winning the race.  Same in both '51 and '52 races.

No castle nut's but I did retrieve them from the loft and put them back with the wheels.  Castle nuts, you lit a flame, got to find those nuts.  1/2" NC I would think.  

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Alone for Easter, my son went south to spend it with his son and my youngest daughter spent it with her daughter and family.
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Post  roddie Mon Apr 01, 2024 10:13 pm

rsv1cox wrote:

No castle nut's but I did retrieve them from the loft and put them back with the wheels.  Castle nuts, you lit a flame, got to find those nuts.  1/2" NC I would think.  

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Alone for Easter, my son went south to spend it with his son and my youngest daughter spent it with her daughter and family.

Hi Robert! Yea... I'd guess that those castle-nuts were 1/2" diameter X 28" pitch articles.. but I couldn't say for sure.. The axles were drilled at their ends for a safety-wire.. when I attended the derby in 1972.
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Post  rsv1cox Tue Apr 02, 2024 12:29 pm

Yes, all drilled at the ends for a cotter pin.

Sand trap at the end of the course resulted in much sand in the bearings. Both in trials and in the competition. We never removed the wheels for cleaning, used carbon tetrachloride instead. Those wheels and axles were covered with the stuff. Carbon Tet dangerious stuff since removed from use.
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