A Guide to Slot Motors

Modern slot cars come with a bewildering array of motors, so here is a little introduction to the main types of power plant used at Farnham.

Standard Mabuchi – these ‘short can’ motors have been the most common type used by the likes of Scalextric, Fly, Revell and others over the past 25 years or more. They are available from 10,000 rpm (the Scaleauto motor for ‘home use’) although generally most manufacturer-fitted motors rev to around 18,000rpm and have a plain metal case with a white plastic cap (the ‘endbell’). Slot.It has a range of Mabuchis fitted to its cars that are of superior quality and performance, ranging from 21,000rpm to more than 30,000rpm, differentiated by the different coloured endbells.

FF slimline – these are the motors found in laptop computers that have been used to power smaller scale models than ever before (such as accurate Formula 1 cars of the 1960s-1980s) or to allow full interiors to be fitted to saloon and GT cars. They tend to rev to around 20,000rpm and power delivery is either on or off so we turn the voltage down on the track to make them a little more user-friendly.

RX – these are open can motors with the wires and magnets exposed, introduced by Scalextric in the late 1960s and continued by SCX to the present day. These are lower revving than Mabuchis, but are much more controllable than almost every other type. A lot of modern SCX cars have a smaller version, the RK, which draws less current and works better with digital systems. On our track, without digital, the RK has often proved to have better torque

Long can – these were motors favoured by Ninco from 2002 onwards, and provide some fairly bonkers torque on their way to around 21,000rpm for a standard motor. Most often seen are the Ninco NC2, NC5 and NC6. Another proponent of Long Can motors is Slot.It, with its Boxer and Flat-6 varieties.

Open can – blame the Spanish rally community for opening up this particular can of worms! Slot car motors are magnetic, so when you expose the workings and fit more powerful magnets you create attraction towards metal rails, like those used on Ninco track. Every ‘performance’ brand like Slot.It, Sloting Plus and Scaleauto has a range of magnetic motors, which are often fitted to the most expensive versions of the standard cars. The fastest ‘non-magnet’ car around Farnham was the Avant Slot Mirage which was deemed ineligible for 1970s Le Mans due to packing around 25 grammes of magnetic ‘downforce’ in a motor that revs to 27,000rpm.

Johnson – the standard Scalextric motor from the 1960s-1970s, an open motor very much like a milder RX. When they run right they’re a delight, with plenty of torque and a unique aroma of burning dust!

Power Sledge – prehistoric Scalextric engine that was fitted to the clamshell sports cars of our Sixties Era Le Mans class, among many others.

For a full run-down of the performance of every major manufacturer’s recent slot motors, Robert Livingstone at Slot Car Illustrated has created a handy guide that we reproduce here: SlotCarNewsMotorList

Some of our classes are specific about the motors permitted (such as the Ninco GTR class for NC-1 motors only), meaning that it is best to check with members first before buying a car that might not be correctly fitted out for duty.