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  • Slotting Cottage Industries

    I had a little bit of trouble deciding where to post this topic. If I were posting it in Slot Car Illustrated I would have posted it in "The Paddock". I don't see an equivalent forum here -- one that is a catch-all for topics that span multiple scales and interests. But I am posting in Home Racing World because it seems to be a far more active site.

    *****************

    Slot cars and slot car racing has had, since the beginning, a contingent of hobbyists who make specialty items in their garages and basements, and offer them for sale. Not people who expect to make a living at it. At best maybe adding a bit to the family income, but more often just compensating some for the costs of their hobby. I've been one of those folks, and I have known a few others. How we got into it was by crafting items that we wanted but could not find offered for sale, and then making more of them to sell to other slotters who desired those same items.

    In my time I have sold custom HO slot cars, HO slot car tracks, Slide Guides, and more recently tools and accessories for both 1/32nd and HO. Very early in my career I wrote articles that were published in slot car magazines, and in recent years I have posted tons of contributions to slot car websites. In my peak year I took in about US$10,000. Most years far less. And I have sold my stuff internationally, including sales in the USA, Canada, Europe, Australia and New Zealand. I have been at it now for close on 30 years.

    I used to do it in parallel with my actual profession as a mechanical engineer and project manager. Since I have retired it has been something I still devote a number of hours per week to. The sales trickle in. In the past month I've made about US$150 in sales, and that has been a much-better-than-average month.

    I am always keeping an eye out for new products I could offer. I have never done anything so serious as writing a business plan or taking out a business loan. I've always worked out-of-pocket on products that I could finance myself. Most of my stuff I fabricated myself. On occasion I have had parts made for me by job shops. Some orders as big as US$1,000 or US$2,000. But frankly I am not interested in doing anything big. My business is a hobby business in more than one way.

    As I said earlier, I have known others like me. Folks that operate 'cottage industries' in much the same limited fashion I do. Some make model car bodies, some make custom slot cars and tools. Some make tracks and track accessories. Some are still in business. Some are not active at the moment but might return when the fit takes them.

    We are a low-profile lot, but we are out there. In our limited way we are trying to contribute to the hobby, with more or less success.

    Maybe a few would like to make themselves known by contributing to this thread.

    Ed Bianchi

    PS - I have a website, www.horacepro.com. It is WAY out of date. One of my projects is to create a new website, www.bianchispecialties.com, which will include all of my HO RacePro items plus newer items not limited to HO. I am not very good at web design, so it is taking me far longer than it should to get my site created and published. Someday...
    Last edited by HO RacePro; December 12, 2021, 08:55 AM.
    Ed Bianchi
    York Pennsylvania USA

  • #2
    I used to have a hobby business building and selling electronics for RC helicopters. I don't have much to offer the slot car enthusiasts but I think you have a great idea!

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    • #3
      Ed this is an excellent post. I agree with your assessment of the cottage industry and its purpose for us who make things for ourselves and then make them available to others that might appreciate them as well.


      My website is broad in its offerings as I have a diverse background in movie effects from creatures to miniatures. So I offer masks, models, and props from my career and career influences from Star Trek and other films. But my love for slot cars has me venturing into car body kits and track garnish.

      It started with a Cooper T73. I'm just starting out with the slots but found your post of comfort. We just do these things mainly for the passion of the hobby. And to make things not offered by the big industries. We are makers afterall so we make.

      My website is located here: https://steveneills.art.blog/
      https://steveneills.art.blog/

      Comment


      • #4
        Ed - I've appreciated and learned a lot from the comments you've shared on HRW. I'm thankful you now delve into 1/32 scale stuff which is what I'm into.

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        • #5
          Great post Ed. A few guys on here know me and have bought from me. I initially started making LED light kits for an endurance race hosted by a guy in the GTA (Greater Toronto Area). That blossomed into some fairly consistent sales of LED light kits, which, in turn allowed me to upgrade the kits with better parts and my tools used in manufacturing, as well as add a 3D printer. Pretty much any money I make I put back into the hobby. Now I offer some 3D printed items from chassis to scenery items. Pete's Light Kits is a "Google Sites" website. It's free so you don't get your own domain but it is pretty easy to create and edit.

          Peter
          PetesLightKits

          Comment


          • SteveNeill
            SteveNeill commented
            Editing a comment
            Pete,
            Very nice. Great stuff!

          • HO RacePro
            HO RacePro commented
            Editing a comment
            Peter,

            I believe IHSR has used your light kits on Slot.It LMP cars for our annual enduro races. Kinda necessary when we turn off the room lights to simulate night racing. One team added a blue LED to the roof of their car to help distinguish it in the dark.

            A feature in one of those races was when we turned on a single lamp located at track level to simulate the setting and the rising sun. The weird lighting made racing extra challenging.

            Your products help make enduro racing a unique and entertaining experience! Thanks for making and selling them!

            Ed Bianchi

          • PetesLightKits
            PetesLightKits commented
            Editing a comment
            Ed,
            Thank you for the kind words. I have made a couple cars with interior lights - one was orange so the joke became that my driver was smoking a stogie while racing.

        • #6
          Back in the day (mid 90s) I was London Litn'n Silicone Tires. Taught by Jack "Rocket Science Road Monkeys" Stinson who was taught by George "Indy Grips" Lowe. I made a bunch of repro tires for vintage Revell / Monogram cars (that's what I had) as well as Ninco / Scalex / Fly cars. I did a handful of resin bodies, including the original Monogram Lola T70 (still have one kit kicking around in the basement somewhere).

          No outright business now, but I do 3DP on occasion, mostly bodies. And no profit, at best it offsets a portion of the parts I buy.
          Come Race at The Trace!
          Timberline Trace International Raceway - SW of Mpls, MN
          https://www.thingiverse.com/chappyman66/designs

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