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VIP Electric Model Roadways

The New Hobby 

Part 12

The original concept behind the Roadedge and Pathfinda project had been to develop a means for fans of road and racing cars to emulate their counterparts in model railways, allowing them to build tracks and layouts around which individual cars could be driven.  This idea stemmed from various articles which had been appearing in the British Model Maker magazine around that time. The Roadedge & Pathfinda system was a simple way to produce a working roadway utilising the existing Victory model range. It went some way towards meeting that concept, but suffered from the fact that even the most basic of layouts took up a great deal of room. Fine for a car showroom where space was less of an issue, but rather impractical for most households. The reaction of the press and the public to the display at the 1956 British Industries Fair convinced everyone that whatever the shortcomings of the Roadedge & Pathfinda system,  a truly viable commercial project was not far away so even before the fair closed it doors, Victory's designers were set to work on the next step.

The pages of Model Maker revealed how electric rail car enthusiasts at the pioneering Southport Model & engineering club had settled on 1/32 scale as a standard for their track. The Southport club adopted this scale for a variety of reasons chief among them being that 1/32 scale offered a good compromise between cars that were big enough to avoid over-sophisticated engineering (i.e. existing motors would fit without extensive modifications) and tracks that were small enough to be manageable. Victory were quite happy to follow this and many other leads from the pages of the magazine in the configuration of their own design.

Electric rail cars did suffer from a basic failing. Because the cars had to ride a fixed rail above the surface of the track, the cars had to be designed to run with a relatively high ground clearance placing many restrictions on motors and gearing. Victory's un-blinkered experience with the electrified track at the B.I.F. meant that a clear solution to these problems was self-evident. Simply split a conductive road surface into two separately insulated halves and guide the car by an insulated peg between the two. Not only was this simpler to mass-produce, it also avoided the problem of the raised rail which proved to be an unnecessary throw back to gas-powered rail cars

Victory's experience with small electric motors and with injection moulding plastic meant once the basic parameters were established, the design of the models became fairly straightforward. It did however take some time to produce the tooling for the injection-moulded cars and in the mean time Victory lost valuable publicity to Scalextric by only revealing their prototype system to a select few. When both systems reached the shops, Victory's product was vastly superior but by then Scalextric was the name that everyone heard about.

The first advert for V.I.P. Model Roadways from July 1957

VIP Model Roadways Part 2

 

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