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  • Another Newbie... with questions!

    I am 77 years old. My brother and I used to race slot cars at a local hobby shop in the 70s. It was a hand routed wooden track and it was a lot of fun. We lost interest when all the hobby shops were going to the giant multi-lane commercial tracks. Something sparked my interest in December and I decided to build my own track. So, with the guidance of the guys at Slot Car Corner, I built a hand routed 3 lane track. It's kind of crude, and I may redo it. But, it works and it is fun! I have acquired a mix of Scalextric, Carrera and NSR cars just to see what works. They slide around like mad so I think different tires would be helpful. I don't know what kind or compound is an improvement over stock tires, so I need some help. The second thing is I would like a lap counter/timer but I don't know what to get. I have looked at Trackmate but they don't respond to email, so I am leery. Again, some help is needed.

  • #2
    Welcome! Lots of helpful folks here, and I am sure you will get a diverse depth of opinions.
    Routing tracks is fun. The biggest thing for traction is the surface and the tires you run. On wood, you will need soft rubber, urethane, or silicone tires for better grip. The Scalextric and Carrera cars in particular generally rely on the magnets for grip, and you don't have that on wood.

    How did you finish the surface of your track? 2-3 coats of pretty much any paint will seal the wood and you should have a good surface.
    For rubber tires, lots of folks use Slot.It F22 or NSR Supergrip tires. It takes lots of laps for the track to "rubber in" and you will notice grip getting better as the rubber gets laid down on the racing lines.
    Urethane tires are widely available and Page Gage makes tires for nearly any car. Both rubber and urethane generally like to be sanded/trued for best performance (basic truing can be done on a block with sandpaper).

    Silicone tires are also available from several suppliers and generally need less truing and prep, but they really don't work well when the track is dirty because everything sticks to them.
    I personally run silicone tires, and I have to dust my track and still run 10-20 laps in each lane cleaning the tires every 3-5 laps to get the racing lines clean (a silicone roller also helps quite a bit). But they last for a very long time without replacement, which I personally like.

    For a lap counter, if you have an old PC it's pretty easy. My timing and scoring system is freeware (SlotTrak) and runs on a Windows XP machine I bought for $10 at a thrift store. There are several sites that provide wiring diagrams, and everything you need is on Amazon (I did mine for under $50 but I am on a budget). You can also get several very good commercial systems that are available.

    And by the way......don't be afraid to share your track in Reader's Roads or right here.....seeing a new track is always fun!
    Come Race at The Trace!
    Timberline Trace International Raceway - SW of Mpls, MN


    • #3
      Bal r 14,
      Some sort of name would be nice.
      I am 73, looking at 74 in a few months.
      I run a 4'x16' routed four lane track.
      What is your area? Maybe we could get together and see what can e done.


      • #4
        Clean your tires with a lint roller! Or a roll of 2 inch masking tape. Seriously!


        Why doesn't my car run like that?



        • #5
          Let me be the first to welcome you. Well when i posted I'm the 4th. I'm sure you will get many responses to your questions. Its great you took the plunge and routed a wood track. Things learned during the construction of the first track makes the 2nd track better.
          What is your track coated with? most wood tracks are some kind of water based latex paint, sometimes changing the surface will help, but most are cheap latex paint,
          What tires are you running now? stock tires that came on the cars? All cars can have some better traction by truing or sanding the tires. Out of round, cupped tires, or crowned tires will contribute to poor handling.
          If you want, you can change tires to silicon, urethane, or rubber. Silicon tires are durable, I dont know much about silicon tires. Urethane and rubber can run together, Urethane tires can be trued easily and durable . Rubber tires, harder to true, but best traction when properly prepared.
          If you go to silicon tires, urethane and rubber tires wont be as good as the can be.
          we have trackmate and it is easy to set up and you can run couple of programs. although it does need a computer .
          Where is your general location, maybe someone near you with a club or slot racer.
          Last edited by lance; February 20, 2021, 06:07 PM.
          Lance Sofa racer, SA TX by way of Hawaii


          • #6
            The track is 44' long (all lanes are within 2"). It is on a custom table that goes from 4 x 12 to 6 x12, 1/2" MDF over 1/2" plywood. Surface is 2 coats of water based latex flat primer. All tires are the stock ones that came on the cars. I have added lead weights to some cars, but there just isn't enough room in others, especially the 3 Tyrell Elfs. I don't want to get too carried away with cosmetics, because I think I may do the track over after a bit. I have a few turns that need work and my routing needs improvement. I think I would go with braided instead of copper tape next time, too. The layout seems to work well, but needs some tweaks to balance the lanes better.

            Anyway, I think I will order some tires. What do PGT and XPG mean and which is better for a routed MDF track? Also, for Trackmate, is the dead strip setup better than the overhead bridge? Does the overhead bridge require sensors in the track surface?

            I've enclosed a picture of the track. Go easy on me... it's my first attempt and my hand isn't as steady as it used to be. Next time, I'll use a better routing guide and ask one of my kids to do it.


            • #7
              Track looks fine but if you do it again just try to keep the change in direction transition a little smoother it makes for a better flowing track. Other than that you have everything you need but the tires, XPG just means extra grip you can try them but the normal Paul Gauge ( PGT) work just fine
              Welcome to the insanity and good luck on your endeavour Keep us posted
              Peterborough Ont


              • #8
                Nice track, yup. I don't see anything wrong with it at all. It's interesting....all the bobbles that we see very seldom bother the cars. Every once in while there is one that causes a problem, but it's easy enough to bondo and fix it if you decide it's really a problem.
                My track is also copper tape, and has been fine for several years. I works well, and with the conductive adhesive any repairs are very simple.
                The site has lots of routing tips if you are interested. There is a nice routing guide available, and drywall coving for round doorways also works if you don't mind filling the screw holes.

                On the PG tires...XPG is the very soft compound, PGT is the normal compound. Interesting enough, some cars do better on the stiffer compound vs the softer.

                With a wood track, you will learn to tune your cars. Sometimes a little weight is helpful, but most of the time a well tuned car doesn't need any additional weight.

                For timing, I would suggest IR or dead strip. Visible light sensors have all sorts of issues. A pair of IR sensors (one emitted, one detector) are, in my experience, much more reliable. And yes, anything in the bridge requires the other sensor in the track. Easy, just drill the hole and insert from below, glue in place. Of course a dead strip is always reliable as long as it's in a straight where the cars can cross.
                Come Race at The Trace!
                Timberline Trace International Raceway - SW of Mpls, MN


                • #9
                  looks good,nice job on the elevation change
                  bill ,framingham ma


                  • #10
                    Nice job. Harry posted on building a timing light bridge but I can’t find it. It had great tips about mounting the IR sensors as well. I spaced my lanes so that a Carrera two lane bridge worked for me. No need for a custom one. The Trackmate site has a list of their standard bridges by lane width/track manufacturer.

                    Hopefully Harry or one of the other guys can post a link to his posts on this topic.

                    I just found the entire article on the Old Forum . See the links to the Old Home Racing World forum at the bottom of the current main page and search “Trackmate timing system”
                    Last edited by Mickey thumbs; February 21, 2021, 08:20 PM.
                    Mike V.
                    Western North Carolina


                    • #11
                      Originally posted by chappyman66
                      My track is also copper tape, and has been fine for several years. I works well, and with the conductive adhesive any repairs are very simple.
                      Where do you get copper tape with conductive adhesive? I'm pretty sure mine is not (3M).

                      I barely got the track working and already I have to change it. The border I put around the end is proving to be a huge advantage for the outside lane as it prevents the car from going off the track at full speed. Oops! picture is in next post.
                      Last edited by Bal r 14; February 21, 2021, 08:27 PM.


                      • #12


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                          I like your track design. I'm in Mooresville, NC, where are you located?

                      • #13
                        I ordered it from Amazon after a search for conductive adhesive copper tape. Mistakenly used non-conductive when I built the track and when I tried my first repair I had to solder the connections. Realized my mistake and ordered the conductive kind and next repair was super easy. Both repairs likely due to poor installation. Highly recommend a tape laying tool . I’ll definitely buy one if I ever have to retake my track. I believe MrFlippant who posts here is one source of these gadgets.
                        Last edited by Mickey thumbs; February 21, 2021, 08:39 PM.
                        Mike V.
                        Western North Carolina


                        • #14
                          Looks like a FUN track! Welcome to the forum and thanks for sharing the pics!


                          • #15
                            Welcome aboard young fellar Great to hear youn's are back into slotting!!! Track looks pretty awesome from here!!
                            TOM...HOME RACING GOO GOO!!!
                            Warren, Ohio