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It has been a long time in the planning but I finally made some progress towards retiring my Scalextric set and building my first routed MDF track.

 

Things fell into place when we built a new garage at home; leaving the old detached single car building crying out for another use – the slot room! It is only a small space but at least it meant a permanent track could be housed. The roller door has been replaced by a glass sliding door and a couple of coats of paint has tidied it up quite a bit. I’ve also had some additional power points installed as well as better lighting.

 

The room measures about 5.2 m by 3.4 m only, so the size of the layout was always going to be modest. The lack of width in the space meant that a long and narrow table down one side of the room was the way to go. The width of the table had to be such that I could reach to the corners to retrieve a de-slotted car.

 

I had given up hope of finding someone local to do the CNC work for me even after a generous fellow Auslot member sent me the relevant files to build a copy of his track. Somehow $750 to get a track done from two 2.4 X 1.2 m sheets seemed like a rip-off to me, given the original was done for one-third that.

 

Routing my own was the only option left to me — I know I am not the first to attempt anything like a slot track as a first routing project but I thought I would give it a go! I’ve never held a router before much less use one to route anything like a three lane slot car track.

 

The design

I wanted something simple in design as a first up exercise at building a track. It was about this point I decided not to include a cross-over but add interest by including elevation changes. To keep it simple yet interesting was a challenge. I also wanted to ensure it had some degree of flow to it so I thought I needed to make sure the turns were not too tight either. I did not get too obsessed with filling up the entire space with track; flow and varying curves were the priority. It was about this point my wife must have thought I’d lost it as I would doodle on just about any blank spot on a sheet of paper!

 

Here’s my final design of the track. Lane spacing will be 100 mm as I almost always run 1/32.

 

01_Final_Track_plan.jpg

 

The dimensions mean that 2 full sheets of 2400 mm X 1200 mm (12 mm thick) MDF and a third ripped lengthways are all I need. The long straight will be up against the side wall of the room. There will be just enough space to access the left and right sides if needed. The driver’s stations will be along the middle section at the bottom of the plan (the 2400 mm side). I’ll be running in both directions; and I have decided on a full gloss surface. I plan to elevate the long straight and ‘C’ curve (on the right after the straight) will lead downhill into the curved ‘straight’. The esses on the left will be uphill/downhill depending on direction.

 

I am going with copper tape as this track will only be for me, my daughter and her cousins. I guess there may well be some of the mates from the 1:1 car club on occasions. I think copper tape will serve me well for something like this. I expect that I will be moving on to something more complex before too long so I opted for the lower cost of this option!

 

The table

I started the construction of the table over the weekend. I’ve designed it as four separate sections so I could build it outside and move it in for final assembly. Being glued and screwed, the sections are much more rigid than they look. Quite simply, the legs will be bolted and braced to the individual sections and the four sections then bolted together.

 

Here are the completed sections sitting on the floor of the slot room for the moment so a decent photo was rather difficult.

 

Cheers,

Jon

 

02_Track_frame_1.jpg

 

03_Track_frame_2.jpg

Edited by M3Fanatic

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Hi Jon,

 

Good to see things getting started.

 

I am amazed at the variation in costs of the CNC routing. I just don't get how far apart some of these places are in pricing.

 

Look forward to seeing the progess.

 

Cheers


Alan Stubbings

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Guest jazzbell

Nice layout with your new track.

 

Guy's remember these CNC machines may be worth anything up to half a million dollar plus machines. Hourly rates a pretty high

to run a CNC.

 

I know what our new track was worth to be done here at Thunderbirds and $750 would not have paid for a bend on our track that's how expensive ours was .

 

Looking forward to your end result.

 

regards shane a

 

team thunderbird

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Thanks Alan, Shane.

 

I made a little progress with the table over the weekend. The individual sections have their legs attached; and the individual frames are now bolted together.

 

04_Track_frame_3.jpg

 

05_Track_frame_4.jpg

 

The MDF sheets are now on, temporarily, and I have started drawing out the design on the top surface. I’ve got myself a 1/8” straight cut bit and hope to pick up the routing guides before the weekend.

Edited by M3Fanatic

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Mate,

 

All good.

 

Please allow me to throw in that it will be good if you can fit in a crossover/bridge (you have the space to fit it quite easily) to help even up your lane lengths - nothing quite as demotivating when you get beaten by another driver only because he has less distance to cover. Just plan your race direction and marshalling before you decide the over/under combination. Another point, try not to make all the corners constant radius, always good to vary that - some to tighten up and others to open up. Finally, don't cramp yourself anywhere for gutter space, even on the inside of corners. Paint the track area narrow, but provide surface anyway - leave as much of the track surface MDF as you can before adding the walls and barriers. With a well designed track and 100mm lane spacing it will be possible to race most 1/24th cars too, so give yourself the option now - especially if you go with the 1/27th Mini Z cars.

 

Enjoy the build, it will be a great achievement.

 

Cheers,

 

Jan


'The older I get the faster I was.'

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Steve, thanks for the encouragement, time and advice. I’ll be seeking further advice each time I am in at W2F ...

 

Jan, thanks for your input also; it is much appreciated. In marking out the track on the table, I have already made some minor adjustments that address your very good point about cramping. At the very least, I’d like to run my Mini Zs at home once in a while and I think I have managed that by leaving myself more room on the insides and outsides of corners.

 

Adding a cross-over is another issue and I do take your point that it is a solution to ensuring even lane lengths. The balance to that is the potential to even up lap times with the car on the inner lane having to tackle slower/sharper corners – perhaps only a theory a novice could come up with. I guess if I really find I want to get serious at the racing, then I will make each driver swap lanes. In the end, the truth is I am using this build as a learning exercise as I am not that confident at tackling a bridge and the complications of ensuring lanes line up, etc.

 

Lastly, now that I have my routing strips, I have realised how easy it is to mix up my corner radii so I am using them as much as I can!

 

Cheers,

Jon

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I'd love to see how you are going with this project, as I am about to start on one myself.

I could use as much info as I can get before I bite off more than I can chew.

 

Cheers

Andrew


A man without a woman is like a neck without a pain.

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Well, no progress that I can show you as the next major step is the routing. As the weather here has just been plain wet, cold and windy these past couple of weekends (yeah, I know ... Canberra), that has not happened as I plan to do this outdoors.

 

Progress has really been in sourcing things like timing gear, controller stations, power supply and controllers. I have taken the opportunity to lay carpet tiles in the slot room and undercoat the undersides of the MDF - anything to keep this project ticking over. Details of the above items will follow as and when things progress.

 

Cheers,

Jon

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The great weather over the weekend meant that the routing could go ahead. Having set up the table outdoors, I used the routing strip guide method to route the centre lane (using a 1/8" Carbitools straight cut bit). This strip is the one documented many times here on Auslot - the 16 X 10 mm Icon Plastics bead from my local Bunnings (you can see part of it in these photos). This strip is amazing in its flexibility and I can now see why it is the guide of choice locally at only about $4.50 a strip (2.1 m long). [As a side note, I bought the last 4 strips in stock and was told by the helpful guy there that the item is being deleted from Bunnings stock - get it while you can, if you can find it.]

 

So with the centre lane routed in one long hit all the way around, I then slipped in 3mm thick masonite packing strips in the centre slot, all the way around. The inner and outer lanes were each done in one smooth pass of the router and really took next to no time. I could not believe the result and that I had finished what I thought would be the most difficult part of the build.

 

Cheers,

Jon

 

05_Routing_slots_3.jpg

 

06_Routing_slots_1.jpg

 

07_Routing_slots_2.jpg

Edited by M3Fanatic

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So now that your finnished with your routing strips, can I borough them for my track?


A man without a woman is like a neck without a pain.

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nice job jon,

saved some $$$$ by doing it yourself.

you interested in selling me one of the routing strips??

i need to build another track for my new slotcar room.

cheers, steve

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Come on Steve, I'll need them before you, I have the table built and the board fitted, just waiting to pick up the router from Paul tonight, and then it's full steam ahead to rout out the lanes.

Hey Steve can you supply the braid? I'll need at least 150m of it.

 

Cheers

Andrew


A man without a woman is like a neck without a pain.

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The frame and track boards are now reassembled in the slot room after completion of the routing outdoors. I decided to go with braid rather than copper tape. For two reasons: ease of maintenance and because the room is subject to a large temperature range.

 

Here I have been playing with the elevation changes and although not screwed down yet, gives some idea of what I have in mind.

 

08_Rebate_and_slots_done_1.jpg

 

09_Rebate_and_slots_done_2.jpg

 

10_Rebate_and_slots_done_3.jpg

Edited by M3Fanatic

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I was able to put some time into the build over the last weekend. I have managed to undercoat the whole track and then coloured the slots - they will match the controller stations I have chosen. Managed to do the final track surface too.

 

The undercoat was fine sanded between the two coats as was the final surface in a full gloss enamel. I was quite pleased with the final finish. Here are a few shots from different angles showing where it's at right now. I think I will tackle the electrics over the weekend :-)

 

Cheers,

Jon

 

11_Roadway_and_slots_painted_1.jpg

 

12_Roadway_and_slots_painted_2.jpg

 

13_Roadway_and_slots_painted_3.jpg

 

 

14_Roadway_and_slots_painted_4.jpg

 

15_Roadway_and_slots_painted_5.jpg

Edited by M3Fanatic

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I'm not far behind you Jon.

I got my braid last night and will be busy when I get home.

I should have at least one lane up and running this weekend.


A man without a woman is like a neck without a pain.

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The braiding and electrics to have all three lanes working has been completed ... finally. Many thanks to Mark 'SlotsNZ' and Steve 'Way2Fast' for assistance with supplying the required bits and pieces.

 

I should say the result is great and being able to switch running direction is a huge plus on a small set up like this — the driving experience in one direction is quite different from the other. Grip levels are very good as I run NSR Ultra- and Super- Grips; and Slot.it F22s on all my cars. Well trued Ultras are especially amazing — I am very happy with my decision to go with gloss.

 

And now for completing the rest of the track surrounds, barriers and installing the timing gear; if only I can resist being distracted from doing laps!

 

16_Braid_completed_1.jpg

 

17_Braid_completed_2.jpg

 

18_Braid_completed_3.jpg

Edited by M3Fanatic

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Looks so clean... my next track may just be gloss now.

 

Yep very nice looking surface John, (love the Crows lane colors :) ) After having a couple of thousand laps done on my smooth acrylic paint surface that was sanded smooth I am convinced that a smooth track surface is equal to or better than the ferrodore surface as far as grip is concerned. It is also easier to clean and doesn't scratch cars. An enamel paint / clear will make the surface harder and more durable as far as marking and scratches are concerned.


* Avatar used with permission

 

Normal people worry me

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Thanks guys; it is a relatively simple track compared to the ones some of you have done but I am happy with it. The gloss surface has many advantages like good grip, easy to clean and is easy on tha cars and tires. It is not as 'realistic' as a matt/low sheen surface but I think the advantages far outweigh the minuses.

 

The lanes colours are also those of Red Bull Racing. I have a bunch of their posters ready to on the walls thanks to a Canberra connection in the team.

 

Very nice Jon, Is that your bedroom in the background of the second picture?

 

Thanks Alan - yes, but only when I spend too much time in the slot room ....

 

Very nice, was the gloss brused or rolled on?

Looks so clean... my next track may just be gloss now.

 

Brushed on. I think the trick is to make sure the undercoat is nice and smooth after fine sanding. Then the gloss enamel is applied with a fine long bristled brush with minimal strokes. It tends to find its own level quite quickly and gives a smoother finish. Sanding between top coats is a good idea too.

Edited by M3Fanatic

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