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Table and many other questions for HO AFX layout?

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  • Table and many other questions for HO AFX layout?

    I've been figuring how to fit a nice Carrera 1/32 scale track in my house or garage and only have about 5x9 area for table anywhere. So due to space limitations, I'm going back to my roots of HO from childhood. Been watching lots of videos, reading about found a nice looking table plan for 4x8', not really sure that 3/4" plywood and 1/2" homasote sheet are necessary or that beneficial? Back in the day we used 4x8' plywood (iirc 3/4 or 5/8" thick laying on the carpeted floor or at my buddy's house we were fortunate to have saw horses to set it on. Want to do it proper but not too heavy if I want to move the table later (heard that Poplar plywood is much lighter weight?), also sometimes we wished the plywood was little bigger for our own layouts we thought up. Looks like garage is where the track will go, need to use a cloth or something to cover it when not in use.
    This section describes the process of building a complete HO scale raceway. Suggestions and construction tips found in other sections of this web site are incorporated here, along with photographs of each phase of the ... Read more

    Edit; Another table idea I just found:
    Slot car table in an afternoon! You might think that you do not have enough space to have a fun layout. Well as far as we are concerned, nothing could be further from the truth. This layout project is one that we have been wanting to do for quite awhile to show just how easy it is to not only get started, but to construct a layout that will bring you and your family hours of racing fun.

    I'm going two lane for now, but might do four later if enough peeps want to join in.
    Some nice layout ideas:
    This section provides suggestions for building several HO Scale Slot Car Racing layouts. All of the layouts described here have been built and tested by the author. Emphasis has been placed upon creating layouts that ... Read more

    I like the Ravinia 35, International 39, Whitefish Bay 33, Whitefish Bay 43, and Brookfield 50 (the number at names end indicates running feet of track). I used to have AFX Magna-Traction and G-Plus back when, nowadays I think I prefer the speed and occasional fish-tailing of the MagnaTraction better, more fun to actually have to drive the car and not just whizbang around the track at light-speed!

    I want a layout that flows well with a variety of radius turns and has some challenge to it. Before we mostly had 9" and 6" radius turns to work with, but now thankfully there's much more variety available. What do y'all recommend as a base set to buy plus track packs? I've been looking mostly at the AFX Super International track set since it includes many 1/8 turn pieces, two power track/supplies, four controllers and cars (although I don't really care for the F1s or the Mega G+ speed and stuck-ness magnets). I do plan to use the optional track clips to hold it all together but am not going to nail/screw it down as I will probably want to change the layout occasionally.
    Challenge family and friends to race the most popular 1/64th scale race set with over 18 different track layouts.

    Will the AFX Mega G+ bodies fit on AutoWorld Xtraction chassis, any other suggestions for HO cars? I'm probably forgetting something so please suggest whatever else you might recommend.
    Last edited by SlotCat; December 19, 2019, 05:12 PM.

  • #2
    1. Look into light weight benchwork designs. 3/8" CDX over a 2 X 2 lattice framework is quite rigid, but light. There's a lot of senseless overkill in benches. Sequoia death is not required.

    2. A track that flows? That means wide radius turns and ascending radii that you can drive out of. Forever pussyfooting the entrance, in order to cramp down into descending exit radii, is NOT fun (IMHO). Barreling out of corners on throttle while trading paint is.

    3. There is more than one way to alter down force. Merely raising the rear tire profile a few thousandths will loosen things right up, because the attraction effect is not linear; rather squared, if I remember Rich's commentary correctly. Translation: is doesnt take very much to put you in the weeds.

    4. A variable power supply is nifty for tailoring cars to your preference. AFX makes an affordable switched/stepped power pack with three "skill" settings.

    5. I wouldnt lash anything down right away. Tedium can happen. Build the biggest benchwork you can, and try out your layout preferences. Looking is free!

    6. When your TM counts your cars, count her shoes; then compromise. 2 cars equal one pair.

    7. Always pretend you are 10 .
    Last edited by Model Murdering; December 19, 2019, 07:05 PM.


    • #3
      Model Murdering has made some very good points. My only change would be to suggest investing in a good variable power supply in the 10 Amp range. Its an investment that will pay dividends in the long run. If you are going to stick with with wall warts then wiring each lane independently with its own dedicated power supply is the best you can do. Likewise investing in a good race management system is worthwhile.

      Magnetic downforce is proportional to the square of the distance and making a 0.020" change in tire size will have a huge effect.


      • #4
        The square of the distance math for downforce means if you double the distance between magnets and track rails the force will now be 1/4th what it was. This could be done by increasing the diameter of the rear tires or placing shims under the magnets. For me going without magnets (1:32 scale) is ideal because it's traction and driving that make for good lap times.

        For an HO track that you don't intend to sit or stand on, and can keep people from leaning on too heavily you can go very light with the bench work and be just fine. Hollow core indoor doors will work fine if you can get some that laid side-by-side are the size you want. Otherwise no more that 3/8" sheeting over a 1"x3" or 1"x4" ladder type frame will be light and strong. Find someone in your area who works with wood, tell them what you're up to, and ask for ideas on ways to do it. Most people enjoy sharing their expertise.

        Depending on how what your garage walls are like and if you can access them easily, building a table that folds down from the wall might be ideal. I had 2 tracks like that in our basement years ago. One folded down and the outer corners were supported by chains from the ceiling, the other had screw on legs that held the outer corners up. The table could also fold down onto saw horses (plastic ones are on sale at Harbor Freight now and probably at other places during Christmas gift season). I got 2 for around $12 at a Sears a few years back, and they are rated for a few hundred pounds each.


        • #5
          If you make a 5X9' table it would be difficult to reach the cars on the far side, so it may not be best to attach the table to the wall. You could have a layout where cars would be unlikely to come off in a place that is difficult to reach or you could have folding legs so the track could be moved around or stored on end against a wall.
          With any car that uses magnetic downforce you can use bigger diameter tires to get the magnets further from the rails. Replacement tires in incremental sizes are available. With Mega G+ cars you also have the option of pushing up the traction magnets to decrease the downforce and make driving the cars more challenging. Mega G+ cars have no magnetic downforce at the front because they use can motors, if you decrease the rear downforce by a lot the front of the car will effectively be light and it will tend to deslot without warning. You may have to ease off on the shoe spring tension or use a weighted front end to counteract that.


          • #6
            You can make a portable 4 x 8 foot track table, as detailed below...

            Start with a 4 x 8 foot x 3/4" sheet of sanded birch plywood. This is a better grade of plywood than average -- it might run you US$50 -- but it's worth the extra money. It will be flat, smooth and dense -- that is, it won't have the voids that cheaper grades of plywood often have. It will have a smooth surface that can be painted nicely. No need for homasote or any other topping.

            Purchase a pair of folding steel tubular table legs, also known as banquet table legs. You can find these at almost any home center, but you may have to ask for them, and you may need to do an interpretive hand dance to explain what you are looking for. If you persist you should be able to find them. Expect to pay US$30 or so for a pair.

            Attach those folding table legs to the underside of the plywood. Use the screws that came with them. That's all you'll need to create a portable table. One brave and stupid person (like me) can manhandle it by himself. Two people can boss it around no problem.

            You can edge the table with 1 x 3 inch wood boards or vinyl extrusions. You can fasten same to the edges of the table using #8 drywall screws, driven directly into the edges of the plywood. You should be able to hunt up a box of "#8 finishing washers" to use with the drywall screws. Again, you should be able to find them at any home center. Be prepared to further educate the help. Don't be intimidated by blank stares and mumbled denials.

            I've built tables like this for most of my tracks. I carried one of my 4 x 8 tracks on a roof rack on top of my car -- with the legs folded obviously. In fact I lifted and loaded that track by myself, and unloaded it unassisted too. This despite the fact that I strain to bench-press a large dog.

            If you want to make the track even more mobile you can buy casters to fit into the ends of the tubular legs. It'll take some fussing and cussing, but it'll be worthwhile. The type of casters commonly used for desk chairs, but equipped with wheel locks, will do the job nicely.

            The same kind of construction can be used for larger tracks. I've built tracks as large as 4 x 24 feet this way. In sections of course, and assembled with lap splices. Works just fine.

            If you have questions you can email me directly at [email protected].

            Ed Bianchi



            This finishing washer, also called a trim or cup washer, has an increased bearing surface and the cupped design gives a clean finished appearance. It is round with a hole in the middle and can dress up

            Click image for larger version  Name:	Furniture Caster, Locking.png Views:	0 Size:	67.3 KB ID:	12858

            Last edited by HO RacePro; December 20, 2019, 09:22 AM.
            Ed Bianchi
            York Pennsylvania USA


            • #7
              Wow, lots of great ideas and links, thanks! It's a standard 1950s attached two car garage, with storage shelves down the left side and in front of the vehicles area, insulated walls with thin plywood walls inside (done by previous owner and needs painted), ceiling is open rafters and non-insulated roof. There's an old attached workbench down the right side wall made of formica and 2x4" legs, might remove part of it, plus I have a nice plastic top height adjustable folding table for soldering etc. There's a window and wooden shelving already attached to the wall above the bench. Folding up to the wall might not be practical but maybe time to remove some of the shelving? I'm going to rearrange and move some of my stuff out of the right side floor area and considered removing part of the attached workbench for more room, am coordinating with my wife.

              Seems 1/2" or 3/4" birch plywood, 1x4" ladder type frame, with folding banquet table legs might be just what I'm looking for. Hmmmm maybe 5x9'? Easier and cheaper to build one table than redo.

              I didn't know about slightly larger diameter tires available for HO cars and that Mega G+ traction magnets can be raised slightly too. I've raced 1/24 and 1/32 (Scalextric, Carrera, Slot-It, my favorite scale!) but I don't have room for that, however lots of tire options there.
              Last edited by SlotCat; December 20, 2019, 05:57 PM.


              • #8
                A table like you have in mind could also be stored against the ceiling to free up space when not in use. Some guys on HRW have used electric winches to raise and lower such tracks, but it can be done by hand too. With one end on the floor lift the other end up and attach short chains to eye hooks to hold up while you lift the other side up and secure in the same manner. If you don't have tall scenery on the track it could be hung just a few inched below the roof rafters.

                This idea is to help think of ways to do the project despite space issues. Having the track 'go away' when not in use will also prevent stuff from getting stacked on it so you have to clean it off before using the track. Also, consider track height and how to be comfortable while racing. Both of my tracks are higher up than standard table height so I got stools that work perfectly. All of my stools were purchased for a few dollars each used. Be sure to check out used furniture places and if there's some sort of Habitat for Humanity recycle store in your area you can get wood and some hardware at good prices too.

                Thinking a project though and doing good planning is half the fun.


                • #9
                  That's a good idea too, thought about manual hoist and pulleys but I like your idea much better, it's not that heavy. I'm not bothering with scenery either, just want a good racing surface.

                  Great point about Habitat for Humanity and thrift stores, we've bought some good stools/chairs and furniture their occasionally, also donate back what we don't need. I've got a 37.5" high x 24" deep old formica top workbench in part of this area, might be too tall, probably better to remove/relocate part of this bench to make room for a proper table. About 30" height as I've been reading?

                  Yep, I've been planning and measured with my wife this morning, can go 5x10' table size yahoo, I'm excited!!!

                  I realize I'm in the HO forum, but want to fit 1/32 scale Carrera track in here....just being realistic and don't think it would be an enjoyable layout, used to race on 20x30' layout and another larger iirc 20x45' or so but they went out of business, what says y'all? Edit, nevermind that's fantasyland talk, way too small in 1/32 scale to have fun lol!
                  Last edited by SlotCat; December 21, 2019, 08:04 PM.


                  • #10
                    Started cleaning and rearranging garage yesterday, going to tear out the unused portion of workbench, purchased AFX Super International set, 2-4 lanes can be setup, decent amount of track included, more and generally larger radius turns (1/8 and 1/4) included to build more nice layouts from one set with possibly some additional track pieces purchased.
                    Challenge family and friends to race the most popular 1/64th scale race set with over 18 different track layouts.

                    Going to build 5x10' table, for borders seems many us 1x6" strips around edge of table but I saw some plastic used too, but now I can't find where I saw the mesh. Also seen 1/8" thick clear lexan/polycarbonate barriers around the boards edge. I'll be running turns without guardrail, seen 1/4" wood, cardboard,etc for the skid aprons, what's everybody recommend? Also will need a cover of some type for when it's not in use to keep dust, cat hair etc. off the layout, plastic sheeting or?

                    Deciding what kinda cars to run, Mega G+, Magna-Traction, T-Jets, AFX/AutoWorld.
                    Last edited by SlotCat; December 23, 2019, 04:56 PM.


                    • #11
                      Started a long time ago with a 5' x 9'. It rapidly got reduced to 4.25' wide. A ten foot length is a decent size. The plastic mesh is "Gutter Guard". It can be found at Home Depot, Lowes, etc.


                      • #12
                        OK, as a kid I remember that 4x8' always was little too narrow for many layouts we tried to build. Hard to find 5x10' plywood of any quality these days, going with two 5x5' x 3/4" Baltic Birch, frame with 1x4 underneath and a 2x4 at the middle joint, or maybe do as separate framed pieces and bolt together? Thanks, iirc the plastic mesh is gutter guard, all they had was metal or little short pieces at Home Depot, lumber/home supply stores aren't what they used to be.

                        Edit: Bought two sheets 5x5' x 3/4" birch plywood! Buying 1x4", 2x4", #8 (1.25 and 2"length) screws, Elmer's exterior wood glue, oil based green and white paint, and a mitre box.

                        Orderd a pair of adjustable height metal sawhorses and borrowed some from a friend until mine arrive, these will serve as table legs.
                        XDD Adjuststable Folding Sawhorse model Model# SH3801
                        All steel construction for durability. Finished with a yellow powder coast finish. The sawhorse's adjustable legs range from 22 in. to 34 in. for easy leveling on uneven surfaces and the entire horse folds down when not in use for convenient transporting and storage.
                        • Supports up to 1000 lbs. per pair
                        • Easy and fast height adjustments from 22 in. to 34 in.
                        • Compact folding design for easy storage
                        • Sturdy steel construction
                        • Durable rust resistant steel
                        • 1 year manufacturer warranty

                        Been hunting AFX MagnaTraction cars, wish AW was better quality.
                        Might want some T-Jets too, need to drive some of each and see what I like best these days. Super fast was fun as a kid when the G-Plus came out, but not sure that's my thing anymore, fast enough, challenging to drive and good looks are more important these days. Been racing 1/32 scale magnet free past few years and really enjoyed the driving/racing experience.
                        Last edited by SlotCat; December 27, 2019, 11:37 PM.


                        • #13
                          You're on the way. Consider screwing the Birch sheets to the wood if possible in case you ever want to reconfigure things. Glue will work but is unforgiving later. You shouldn't need too tall of a wall or edge to the table to keep HO cars from going off.

                          Many builders don't bother with scenery, but from my own experience with Shepherd Speedway when a track looks real it is more fun to race on. For me all it took was grass and shrubs, billboards, and 2 buildings (concession stand & bathroom). That stuff can come later, but don't rule scenery out of the build process.
                          Last edited by slothead; December 27, 2019, 09:53 PM.


                          • #14
                            Making the table in two sections makes it easier to move in the future. Some tweaks to the center joint can "key" the table sections so that it goes together the same every time. Plastic gutter guard is out there and can be found. Walls should be as high as necessary to keep cars from hitting the floor. My last track had 6" walls everywhere except for the are immediately in front of the drivers. There it ramped down to three inches.


                            • #15
                              Bought 5qty 1x4"x10'
                              1qty 2x4"x8' (for center seam between plywood sheets)
                              #8 wood screw countersink with tapered drill bit
                              Gallon of white oil based primer
                              Quart each of Hunter Green and Gloss White paint for racing surface and frame
                              2 bottles Titebond III Exterior wood glue
                              Little tub of Elmers Probond Wood Filler Stainable Interior/Exterior
                              DeWalt 3pc countersink set
                              Box of Ace Hardware Cabinet Screws 8x1 1/4"...and wrong, need wood screws as they are different profile, was looking at the cabinet screws and the countersink, it was not looking proper. :/
                              Forgot the 2" dangit, another trip to the store.
                              Last edited by SlotCat; December 29, 2019, 09:32 PM.