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Falcon Slot Car Motors

Thursday, 20 January 2011, 16:17 | 1/24 Slot Cars | 0 Comment | Read 6820 Times
by Slot Car

Falcon slot car motors and an interview with Todd Radke.

The Falcon slot car motor is now in it’s 7th version with incremental improvements from each batch.

At first glance these motors do not look like much more than toy motors. I was skeptical about using them in a real slot car back when team zombie created the vintage F1 class (which later morphed into D3) and rented the king track at Buena Park to run them. The motor choice was the Falcon II. Surprisingly, they were really quick.

Later on we decided to make the Parma Deathstar 16D legal also. Stuebe and myself decided to experiment with the heavier motor. Faster down the strait but terrible in the turns due to the weight, the car could do no better than 2nd in its only outing. All future F1 slot cars used the Falcon.

I tore down the motors to see what made then tick. I was surprised to see wiper arms instead of brushes and real springs. This is usually a terrible idea, as the wiper arms get hot, lose all tension and the insulator bracket melts down. Not so with the Falcon slot car motors, so this means the amp draw is very low and efficient. This is due mainly to some excellent magnets. These little wonders are very strong and not what one would expect in a $10 motor. Falcon 7 is the best yet.

In the past this motor has been retailed by TSRF and JK Products. That is changing as on this month Top Line will now be the brand name you see in the case retailing the Falcon.

I had a chance to talk with the manufacturer of the Falcon, Mr Todd Radke.

SCF

Welcome. Tell us a little about yourself and why you decided to make the Falcon.

TR

I have been an avid slot racer since 1958. Several years ago on another forum some racers were complaining about the impending discontinuation of Plafit Cheetah (FK) motors. I bought a couple to analyze at the Chico Slot Car Club. I decided this type of lightweight, inexpensive, sealed motor had great potential as an entry level motor for slot car racing. I hoped it would level the playing field and give beginning racers a better chance to compete and win thereby increasing the number of people participating in our sport. Believe it or not the project was driven more by a desire to give something back to the sport that had given me such joy over the years than to make a profit.

SCF

There is some confusion to who owns this motor. Most people think this is a JK product.

TR

Since my hardware business takes me to China often, I decided to see if I could find a factory in China to duplicate the Plafit FK type motors. After many months of testing various motors from different factories I choose one factory and paid them $8000 to build tooling to produce motors for me. My first customer was Philippe at TSR. He required a particular motor specification for his new TSR cars. My second and third customers were Fantasy World and JK Products respectively. I sold them both a different spec than the TSR motor. I decided to name the motors I sold to Fantasy World and JK the Falcon. I assigned a part number to it of JKI to help my factory avoid mixing up motors during production, packing etc. The use of a part number including JK was my creation and my decision just as TSR1 was for the motors I sold to Philippe and violates no trademark whatsoever. I do own the tooling and have a trademark on slot car motors with the name Falcon.

Later I found out the Plafit motor was not originally designed for slot cars. I have been told it was for some type of appliance. The mfrs. of a CD player do not care if the disc tray opens .2 seconds slower or faster but slot racers care a lot. So after the initial TSR1 and Falcon 1, I decided to make the Falcon be all it could be.

SCF

But it wasn’t just that easy was it?

TR

It took multiple generations to get it “right” with one (Falcon II) disaster. This professional motor factory with over 1000 workers wound 10,000 armatures backwards despite having signed approved and correct drawings.

SCF

You are going to switch retailer from JK to Topline, why the change?

TR

My decision to discontinue sales of Falcon motors to JK Products. In my hardware business I have many distributors throughout the US and Canada. I require them to sell only my products in that particular product and price niche. With the introduction of the Hawk 7 motors, something that was done completely without my knowledge, JK has become my competitor despite the claim on their website that the Hawk 7 “is not a replacement for the Falcon 7. It simply makes no business sense for me to work with a competitor.

This decision is not about making me more profit. The MSRP will remain the same. This has not been done to punish JK. JK made a business decision to become my competitor and I responded with a business decision of my own. Why JK made this decision I cannot really understand but I am sure the rumors will fly.

I have decided to sell motors to Topline Inc. to service this segment of the market. I am confident that Topline Inc. will provide a high level of service and will maintain enough stock so there is no shortage of Falcon motors in the future.

SCF

Will have to submit this motor for approval again?

TR

Falcon motors now sold by Top Line are from the same factory, the same tooling and the same spec as previous shipments of Falcon VII motors. I take issue with those that might say the Falcon needs to be re-approved by various racing organizations. It is no different than buying a new Ford truck from Dealer A or Dealer B. The basic product is EXACTLY the same. The only thing JK added was the packaging.

SCF

China is known to have delivery issues, has this been a problem for you?

TR

I sincerely regret any present or past shortages of Falcon motors. The factory I use has a minimum production lead time of 60 days. The combined on the water transit time + Customs clearances + 911 security impounds from the factory door in China to the West Coast of the USA ranges from 17 to 25 days. My customers have been informed of this. I depend on my customers to inform me of their stocking levels and how many motors they will need and when. However if I get this information late then it means there will be shortages. I usually keep a small stock of motors in Chico for fill-in orders but even this has not been enough sometimes. Last Spring one order was 3 weeks late due to severe labor shortages in southern China.

SCF

Top Line is owned by one of the legends of our sport. Will you be working on any other products for Top Line?

TR

I expect you will be seeing additional products resulting from my association with Top Line in the near future. Thank you all for your business.

SCF That is good hear. The falcon slot car motors are a true success, I am sure future products are going to do very well.

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