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  • Getting started

    I've been lurking and watching youtube videos on slot car racing, and am excited to be getting started soon. I've got my 3D printer running properly and I've got a decent amount of space in my shop to get started in the hobby. I have been planning on building a wood-routed layout in larger scale, but I am a little confused regarding the technology capabilities. Is it possible to run a wood-routed track and integrate either Scalextric or Carrera *digital* components essentially inset into the wood table? What's the success rate on this sort of thing, if so? I'm retired from IT now, but of course this means I want to play around with every bell and whistle - pit stop, tire wear, weather, etc...

    Thanks to everyone here. I'm enjoying reading through the forum and the amazing layouts some of you have done!

    Edit: Adding to this post. If there is a recommended set to purchase that you would recommend to start as a sort of base, I'd be interested to hear which. I can see lane changing and the pit function as being most useful for me. Initial staging area is about 8 x 8. I hope to build in some altitude changes, but won't deal with that until I am decent with flat track.

    The methodology here is as I build sections I will start moving them to some property we've got with a decent-sized outbuilding that I'll be moving to fully in a couple of years. I'm thinking maybe 20-25 feet long, 12 wide, but it's hard to say... a lot depends on how well I can figure this all out!
    Last edited by DC_OR; August 22, 2021, 12:39 AM.
    Bill
    Eugene, OR
    Thingiverse stuff

  • #2
    I will retire from IT for the 3rd and last time at the end of August. I also like to play around with all the bells and whistles. I started in this hobby around February and just completed my second routed MDF track. I have been fooling around with integrating Carrera digital components in a routed MDF track. Aside from making sure the lane spacing matches it isn't difficult to integrate the components you need. I chose Carrera because it's easier to do 3 or 4 lanes than with Scalextric. I really don't want just 2 lanes, but that's personal preference. There are a few things you should consider first:

    1. Designing and routing a track is a lot more involved than you think it is, at least it was for me. My first track was a disaster, in my eyes anyway. Too many routing issues, uneven lane spacing, not enough apron space, bad corners, etc. A good track has to have flow and balance. You need a layout that accommodates lane marshals, which isn't something you usually think of. My second track was much improved in all aspects. My next will be just about perfect. You definitely learn by experience and looking at other layouts doesn't really help as much as you think. You don't know the builders intent or how it will be used. I have looked at a lot of other tracks and can spot things that are going to create really crappy situations. I guess I'm saying crawl before you walk!

    2. Scalextric and Carrera cars don't work well on a routed track. They are designed for plastic track with magnets and handle poorly on a routed track. They tend to bounce around a lot because their wheels and tires are not true and you want a better guide for routed tracks. I have modified a number of Carrera and Scalextric cars to use on my track and the modifications cost as much as the car. So now I just buy better brand cars. They are much more satisfying in the long run; easier to maintain, easier to tune and perform better.

    3. I don't know who you intended users will be, but there isn't much interest in slot car racing around here. Think of what would attract others. A decent flowing, fast track that isn't overly complex will draw more people than a lot of gimmicks. All you really need is a lap counter/timer. The bell and whistles are things you incorporate later.
    Last edited by Bal r 14; August 22, 2021, 12:57 AM.

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    • Billy boy
      Billy boy commented
      Editing a comment
      ive found that scalextric and carrera cars run great on wood tracks with good tires some weight and a little bit of tuning.carrera gives you a wood track guide that pops right in. sometimes you get a car with bad wheels ill agree,but tuning a car is part of the fun.im sorry you've had a bad expierience with those brands.please dont tell people that those brands are no good,let them know that YOUR experience wasnt good.

    • Bal r 14
      Bal r 14 commented
      Editing a comment
      But you still can't adjust wheel height or pod float, you can't pull wheels for cleaning bearings and adjusting clearance and you can't change gears. If that doesn't bother you, great. But, it's better to know before you spend a lot on these brands.

  • #3
    Welcome aboard! You're going to get a lot of feedback here from many perspectives so you can choose what works for you.

    I've created 2 1:32 scale routed wood (MDF) tracks, and had the 3rd CNC routed (highly recommended). Both tracks I created use Scalextric Powerbases mounted underneath with wires connected to the copper tape - this resolved any wiring issues and allows use of my Professor Motor plug in controllers. Originally I only had Scalextric wall wart power packs which output AC and their powerbases have diodes to convert AC to DC. I now have adjustable DC power supplies which also plug into the powerbases.

    Track dead strips are connected to PC mice so a passing car generates a click to trigger lap counting and timing using a stopwatch program. I paste the output file into a spreadsheet for processing and manipulate as needed. This could also be done using a lap counting/timing program with the options you asked about. Or, if you are handy at the keyboard you could create your own program that does exactly what you want.

    Your basic question seemed to be, can you make your own dream track? Definitely!

    Comment


    • #4
      I'm really looking forward to getting a couple of nice cars. I'm enjoying watching Dave Kennedy's car previews/unboxings, the Slot Car Talk shares and the Slot Racing Oldschool Club on Facebook, so I'd imagine once I have my sea legs I'll focus on 'em So many cool cars!
      Bill
      Eugene, OR
      Thingiverse stuff

      Comment


      • #5
        Originally posted by slothead View Post
        Welcome aboard! You're going to get a lot of feedback here from many perspectives so you can choose what works for you.

        I've created 2 1:32 scale routed wood (MDF) tracks, and had the 3rd CNC routed (highly recommended). Both tracks I created use Scalextric Powerbases mounted underneath with wires connected to the copper tape - this resolved any wiring issues and allows use of my Professor Motor plug in controllers. Originally I only had Scalextric wall wart power packs which output AC and their powerbases have diodes to convert AC to DC. I now have adjustable DC power supplies which also plug into the powerbases.
        Thanks for the nice welcome!

        I may very well go the CNC routed option, some of it depends on the nerve I'm able to build up for the task at hand. I lost a finger and damaged two more in a home improvement accident (leave that safety guard on the table saw fellas), so I am pretty reticent about the woodworking portion. But I like the wood option and do my best not to shy away from the hard things in my life. Still, outsourcing that wouldn't kill me. Any estimate as to how much something like that would cost for a wood shop to cut, for your standard 4x8 sections?
        Bill
        Eugene, OR
        Thingiverse stuff

        Comment


        • slothead
          slothead commented
          Editing a comment
          I got Brad Bowman (Brad's Tracks) to create the files for me, that was about $100. Then I go the MDF CNC routed at the theater department of the state university, about $120 for the tech's time and machine use (25 cents a minute, which is only $15 an hour). Ended up with smooth radius turns, no botches to patch, and no dust or cleanup (priceless). As well as having the slots routed the section were cut out on a final pass so all I hauled home was track sections which line up perfectly. Brad's program cut the corners so it was easy to pull them in during assembly to get the desired banking. Easy peasy.

      • #6
        I recently completed a 4-lane track for 1/32nd scale cars. The material is 1/2" thick MDF. I designed the track sections in CAD and had them routed and cut-out by a marine shop with CNC routing equipment

        The track measures 8' x 13' and has a 40-foot lap length. It's a small track, but it is all I could fit in the space I had. The routed track sections cost me about US$500. Probably another US$500 in the platform, braid and wiring. The layout came together pretty much perfectly. I intentionally left one straight section to trim to length, to adjust for any inaccuracies.

        Here is some footage I took of the partially-completed track in action. Tweaks and touch-up since:

        https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=T61YEqPsN-Q

        The track has no special features except for a large-radius "sweeper" curve and one curve with a smoothly decreasing radius -- something CAD design and CNC routing makes relatively easy to do. I have held one club race on the track to date. Despite it being a very small and simple track the racing was exciting and folks liked the track's flow.

        I have also hand-routed many tracks for HO scale cars. I created routing templates for those tracks -- practical for HO, and it allowed me to easily rout many identical tracks for sale.

        Hand-routing a track isn't particularly dangerous. I use laminate trimmers -- smaller and easier to handle than full-size routers but with plenty of power for routing slots and cutting out track sections. I consider a router to be intermediate between a power drill and a skill saw in terms of danger. You can keep all your fingers if you use a bit of good sense and self-discipline. ALWAYS unplug it before changing or adjusting bits!

        If you choose to hand-rout a track I strongly recommend making a small test track first. You'll learn a ton. A newbie mistake on your test track will not be nearly so disastrous as on a full-size project.

        If you have the resources and the skill to design your track in CAD and have it CNC'd that is what I'd recommend. It costs more, but saves a ton of hand-work. Should you have a test track CNC'd? If this is your very first routed track it may make sense. Routing a track is actually a fairly small part of the project. And only by completing a track will you learn how it is to drive on. That could be very valuable in designing your full-size project.

        If you want all the bells and whistles of digital racing you are probably much better off sticking with plastic set track. Reproducing the special features of digital tracks is going to be pretty tricky in MDF. A really skilled track builder could probably do a bang-up job of it. A newbie is going to struggle and probably end up disappointed.

        Ed Bianchi
        Last edited by HO RacePro; August 22, 2021, 06:53 AM.
        Ed Bianchi
        York Pennsylvania USA

        Comment


        • #7
          If you expect to move your track some day it would be a good idea to make it modular. A modular track can be taken apart easily and quickly be re-assembled at its new location. A bonus feature of a modular track is that you can replace an old module with a new one and have what amounts to a new track.

          Comment


          • #8
            You're going to get a lot of advice . First routing a track is not difficult for anyone with moderate tool and building skills. Not finished cabinet skills but just basic doghouse skills. Watch videos and ask questions, do internet research. There is plenty pf advice and info that can guide you correctly. As to adding digital to routed, this has been done plenty of times and I think there are several forums that have quite a few track builds doing this, usually they put Carrera hardware into the routed track. I'm sure this is a little more complicated than a traditional routed track.

            If you follow this forum, you will see that all those magnet style cars can be tuned to run without the magnets on wood tracks. You may find that buying rtr cars is not really where your interest will be. Scratch building cars in your own design may be your interest and magnet stuff may not even be of interest to you.

            My thoughts are that you may want to try digital and see if it is really what you want before you start a big track. I would suggest buying a Carrera digital set and just playing with digital for a time to see if it is what you want and how it works. Get familiar with the hardware and with actually using it. See what is involved in cutting up track sections and embedding them into a routed platform. You may find traditional analog is actually what you would prefer. A lot of people try digital and go back to traditional. Try a set before you jump into routing and track design. You may even decide to just run Carrera for a year or two and buy some expansion pieces. This would be a good learning process to decide what will be your long term project. You will have plenty of time to learn, to read internet posts and ask questions here.

            Ed gave some good advice about routing a small track as practice before you jump into the full blown track build of your future.

            Slot Car Corner is your go to shop for anything you need to rout a track and either use tape or braid. Their supplies make it much easier.
            Last edited by mattb; August 22, 2021, 11:20 AM.
            Matt B
            So. In
            Crashers

            Comment


            • #9
              I was unable to find a shop that would do CNC for me, so check around. Another consideration I had was I had no way to transport 4 x 8 sheets. As for doing your own routing, I found a Milwaukee cordless trim router worked perfectly. It's light weight, easy to handle and doesn't have so much power you have to fight it... it follows exactly where you want it to go. You can buy a lexan guide that works really well from a member here. It also helps you shape your turns because of how it bends, so I used it during design. My first track was routed with my own guides and big router and looked like it was done by a drunken sailor. My second was done with the lexan guide and trim router and came out near perfect.

              Comment


              • #10
                Options for transporting MDF:

                - Roof rack. Tie down TIGHT front and rear. No superhighways.
                - Rental trailer or truck.
                - Have store cut in half. A 4 x 4 sheet can often be weaseled into a car's back seat.
                - Buy beer for a buddy with a suitable vehicle. Long mini-vans like a Honda Odyssey or Toyota Sienna can carry a 4 x 8 if you clear out the rear seats.
                - Home stores like Lowe's and Home Depot have pickups you can rent by the hour to haul your stuff.

                Bal r 14's cordless trim router is brilliant. The power cord on a conventional trim router can snag on things and cause ugly slots.

                I strongly agree if you are interested in digital, buy a set and play with it. Be very sure you want to rout a digital track before you attempt it.

                Matt b is correct that professional carpentry skills are not needed to rout a slot track. But there is a sad history of bone-headed attempts by newbies who didn't do the reading or bother to practice. People have been successfully routing slot tracks for something like 65 years. You don't have to go out and create your own mistakes. Learn from folks who've done it and done it right.

                Ed Bianchi
                Ed Bianchi
                York Pennsylvania USA

                Comment


                • #11
                  Thanks to you, Matt & Bal r 14 for your insight. It helps clear up some confusion I've had.

                  I'm planning on picking up a set in the next few weeks, most of the challenge is determining which platform/brand to use. I'm leaning more towards Carrera as it appears to be the sturdier option and works for 1/24 as well. Planning on focusing primarily on 1/32.
                  Bill
                  Eugene, OR
                  Thingiverse stuff

                  Comment


                  • #12
                    Welcome.

                    You can't go wrong with Carrera track. It's still the top shelf choice in plastic. Only takes a little more room, but worth it IMHO.

                    Have fun, thats what its all about.
                    -Harry

                    Comment


                    • #13
                      Thanks Harry. "Only takes a little more room, but worth it IMHO."... I'll try to word it that way to my wife, let's see how that flies! Still, I learned in my tech career that buying your second-best choice almost always means buying something twice ultimately. And if I have folks racing on the set I don't want the excuses to come down to "Well if it was CARRERA track I wouldn't have had that trouble" kind of arguments, so maxxing out tends to be the usual route for me. Do clubs race on Carrera track or is that pretty much a wood-only type of thing?

                      Any recommendations on the best set to get for lane changing, pit, controllers, etc? I am not really looking at the initial purchase as one to complete a track - I just want the most efficient use of my dollars as applied to what will likely end up being a pretty large track. For example, starting with the Carrera 30012 Digital 132 GT Face Off, and then combining it with a Carrera "Example set name" to attain the best number of lane changers, etc. I'm not sure if there even is such a suggestion that could easily be made, but I'm drinking the koolaid so I'll run with it if there's a "system" to building larger tracks.
                      Bill
                      Eugene, OR
                      Thingiverse stuff

                      Comment


                      • #14
                        First:
                        Do clubs race on Carrera track or is that pretty much a wood-only type of thing?
                        Clubs race on all sorts of tracks, from vintage Revell to custom wood. There is no "perfect" track...only the one YOU OWN.

                        I am not a digital person. But looking through LEB Hobbies this set might make a good match, even with the cars.

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                        Final slice of advice...build this For YOU. Not others.

                        Many a would be enthusiast starts out with these big dreams of a large club and all the action they see from others. Sadly, it is not that common.

                        Build a slot car track that you find interesting and FUN. If the folks nearby find it fun, then they will likely come back.
                        -Harry

                        Comment


                        • #15
                          Chiming back in here to show some love for Scalextric and similar cars. Of course what works best for someone depends on what they are doing. My first track was a replica dirt oval and I gladly built most of my own cars because no one makes those types of cars. I used stuff from when I raced at a commercial track - Parma stuff such as stamped metal chassis, 1/8" axles, and set screw gears and wheels. Over the past few years I've created a classic stock car series and now have many Carrera, Pioneer, and Revell-Monogram cars. All have plastic chassis without motor pods, press on gears and plastic wheels. I don't ever see Slot.It, NSR, Thunderslot, etc. making Ford Fairlanes & Torinos, Dodge Chargers, and other cars from that era so I get what's available and prep them as needed.

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                          I built a road course to replicate classic Trans Am races and those releases have only been available from Scalextric, Pioneer, and SCX. Since they are raced against each other they are great. As seen in the above photo I now have 200+ cars representing the 60's to 70's that race against each other in oval, Trans Am, Le Mans, and Can Am series. Almost all my cars are Scalextric, Pioneer, Fly and MRRC. They all have plastic press on wheels that have been upgraded to PG urethane tires. What I love most about cars is the era they're from and having replicas of legendary cars driven by the best drivers.

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ID:	116365 Scalextric and Fly Ford GT40's from the mid-late 60's that all run very well.

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ID:	116367Classic American iron.

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