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Building My New Track

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  • Building My New Track

    Yesterday I picked up the CNC routed and cut-out MDF pieces for my new 1/32nd scale track. I drove down to Cheasapeake Light Craft in Annapolis Maryland. I wasn't allowed into their plant because of their Covid precautions, but they brought the track pieces out to my minivan quickly. It took a bit of fussing to get the biggest pieces into my Honda Odyssey -- the large curves were the hardest to fit, but I managed. That came as a surprise. I had thought the long straights would be the tight fit. Scary there for just a moment.

    I did no checking when I picked up the parts. I didn't even count the number of parts. Should have. Didn't. My bad.

    When I got home, as I unloaded the parts, I did do some checking. I did have all 10 parts. The slots were located on the 3-1/2" centers I had specified and the skirts were 4-5/8" -- on the money. The slots were deeper than I had specified -- 0.400" instead of 0.354" (9mm). That left only 0.100" of material under the slots, but that turned out to be okay. The track pieces are still plenty rigid across their widths.

    But I am glad I did not ask CLC to rout the braid reliefs (gains). I need to hold those depths to within +/-0.002". I suspect to hold those tolerances I am better off doing it by hand. I already have the tooling to rout the braid reliefs and lots of experience doing it. I am confident I can do that job myself. And it is not a long or difficult job when you have the right tools.

    So this morning I cleared space in my garage to lay out the track pieces and see if they all fit. I had both hopes and fears.

    As it turned out, everything fit nicely. I have what I need to build my track.

    But there is always one unexpected thing you discover when you get the real hardware in hand. In this case, once I put cars on the track, it became obvious that I could have spaced the lanes closer, and probably made the skirts a bit narrower. Nothing to cry about, but something to keep in mind the next time i design a track.

    As it is there is plenty of skirt, and the cars in adjacent lanes can still trade paint.

    There is one precaution I took that turned out to be worth the effort. I had CLC cut an extra-long section of straight with the intent that it will be cut to fit. Turns out I needed that wiggle room -- by only an inch -- but I'm glad I have it.

    CLC charged me US$485 plus tax for material, machine time and labor. I consider that to be a very fair price. While I could have done all the work myself and saved a couple hundred bucks I'm perfectly happy to have farmed the job out. I will also get CLC to quote the next track I build.

    And I am hoping to build another one. I have a good friend who is interested in having me design and build a track for him. I may be back in the track building business.

    Ed Bianchi
    Ed Bianchi
    York Pennsylvania USA

  • #2

    I think you'll find out that the space between lanes is not to much. You need a little finger room for the turn marshals. You don't want them putting a car back in the slot and another car hitting their fingers while doing it. I also like enough room on the outside skirts that if a car is sitting against the wall the outside lane car can still pass it.
    Butch Dunaway
    Oxford, Ohio


    • mattb
      mattb commented
      Editing a comment
      Agree with Butch, for 1/32, 3 1/2 is as tight as you want. for 1/24 the standard now is 4 1/2 for lots of tracks, 5 inches is even better. Routing the gains for braid is very simple with the SCC bit. Pre-taped braid makes as easy as it can be.