Building HO Slot Car Track

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Coelacanth
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Track update: Guardrails & Lanes Marked

Post by Coelacanth »

Update on the track construction progress...I got all the guardrails glued on, a task that took most of a week for all the sections to get done. I then reassembled the track once again, checked the continuity with some play-testing with my daughter, everything seems to work smoothly in either direction. This layout will definitely punish AFX Magnatraction drivers who don't respect their inside curves! I bought one of the new Mega G-Plus chassis' and put a body on it, that thing is a rocket...even on Beginner level of the AFX Tri-Power wall pack, that thing was flying around the track with no issues coming out of the slot at all. Kind of ridiculous to be honest, it's fun for a while but there's no challenge, unless you crank up the power level...and then the car must be a bloody missile. The vintage Magnatraction cars just have a more reasonable, realistic speed.

I did the lane markings with Sharpie oil-based permanent markers, then when dry, colored a top layer of the same blue & pink Sharpie Neon permanent markers so the lane markings will be visible both in the light and under the black light.

Next step is gluing down all the track and bridge supports after making sure all the heights and track transitions up/down are smooth.

Track_Rails-and-LaneMarkings1.jpg
Track_Rails-and-LaneMarkings2.jpg
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Re: Building HO Slot Car Track

Post by adam lancia »

That's seriously awesome! Takes me back to when I used to drive my Mom nuts walking through Toys R Us to go down the slot car isle, BEGGING for another track. I always wanted a full size slot car track in the basement and have nothing but the old school, hand built wire framed cars running on it, using the bulky pistol grips with the giant heat sinks sticking out of the top. Maybe one day when I grow up... :lol: :lol:

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Re: Building HO Slot Car Track

Post by RC10th »

Looking good, reminds me of my childhood when I was into slot cars. Don't forget to include plenty of pine trees in the scenery.
I was old school - when old school wasn't cool !

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Re: Building HO Slot Car Track

Post by matt1ptkn »

Is that a rumble strip section? I've never seen that, how cool! I used to love Toys 'R' Us' RC and slot car isle. I remember the glass display case with all the slot cars. I'd have to find the appropriate tag, take it to the check out, then collect the slot car from the cage. That was before the video game boom, when the cage changed over to house only video game stuff.

This is a seriously cool track. I''ll follow suit one day and have my permanent track set up. Along with my N scale train layout, a Lionel layout, a Hasbro Record Breakers track...
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Re: Building HO Slot Car Track

Post by Coelacanth »

matt1ptkn wrote: Tue Dec 08, 2020 3:56 pm Is that a rumble strip section? I've never seen that, how cool!
It's an AFX Flex Track, it's sectioned to allow you to curve it, bank it or even make hills, but I found cars would never perform well over banks or hills. It works best with mild serpentine curves, and even then, Magnatraction cars will quite easily spin out if you don't slow down. You could form it into a wiggle track too, if you wanted, but you'd probably be picking up your wipe-outs every lap, unless you're using the modern stick-to-tracks-upside-down cars that are for lame-o's. :lol:

EDIT: I should add that Flex Track only comes in the old AFX snap-lock track connections, which are always having the tabs break off. But since I wanted to incorporate Flex Track in my layout (and that section won't be glued down, of course), I had to use some 3" AFX-to-Tomy track adapters. Nearly all of the rest of the track is the much superior Tomy track. Also, I think the Flex Track is an ingenious design; the rails are obviously not solid rails, but extra-long springs. The problem is, when you buy a used one, if the track was ever over-stretched or bent, those springs got stretched, like a damanged Slinky...and the track wouldn't want to curve or flex back the way it should anymore. I got lucky buying that NIB Flex Track because the one I bought before it, although it looked great in the eBay ad, didn't let me flex it where I wanted...like it had kinks in it. You want Flex Track, not Kinky Track!
This is a seriously cool track. I''ll follow suit one day and have my permanent track set up. Along with my N scale train layout, a Lionel layout, a Hasbro Record Breakers track...

Thanks! I had a lot of fun with slot cars in my youth, and again in my late teens/early 20's, and again a few years ago (around 50) when my wife found my box-o-AFX-stuff and asked about it, and I ended up putting the original layout together on the basement carpet...this time, I meant to do it right and make it permanent, because everyone had a blast. With my idea to take it to another level with the UV-reactive & neon accents, racing in the dark is going to have a whole new feel.

Tonight is Night #2 of the track gluing process. I'll update with some ideas I'm trying to make that easier. This layout is very finicky and I'm not sure why. I used that Flex Track section purposely to give it some slack once assembled, in case some areas had tracks wanting to disconnect, but the way the layout curves in on itself a couple times, every time you fix a continuity issue at one end means you have to go through the entire track to make sure something didn't come loose at the other end. It's been a chore, that's for sure. I'll be so glad when the track is finally glued down!
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Gluing down the track

Post by Coelacanth »

How do you glue a track down? Do some Googling and the answers you find all sound so easy. Example: Put a blob on each end of the track. But how do you do a nice, clean job of gluing down the track, and have it securely fastened to the base? What if you don't want to see unsightly blobs of glue squishing out from your track sections? It also sounds like you're advised to glue each track section individually, gluing and reconnecting each piece, one at a time. What if you have a huge, complex layout like this, where a slight deviation of the exact plan will cause track disconnects and possible breaks in continuity? It took me hours, multiple times, to disassemble and reassemble this layout, and each time I had to spend much time correcting the overall position on the base, and reposition every one of the bridge supports so they make proper contact, and fix any cracks that appeared between track pieces. So, gluing down a track layout without disassembling any track pieces is not so simple a task as people would suggest on various slot car enthusiast websites.

I did some thinking about this and I think I came up with a pretty clever idea, and it actually works very well. Looking carefully at the bottom of the track sections, you can see which areas make the best contact with the base. Just blobbing glue all over would be a major waste of glue as most of it will end up in the spaces making no contact with the base. Also, the track edges themselves are very thin, so you won't get good adhesion there if that's the only place you apply the glue, too little surface area making contact...plus, it would look like ass when it's done that way. I saw that the plastic channels where the track slots are routed, and the small square sections where the track ends' middle connector tabs are, and the screw posts, all make the best contact with the base. So, how do you apply glue to those areas on the underside of the track sections, without disassembling the track?

I figured I could raise sections of track carefully by a small amount, maybe a half-inch to an inch, max (or else the track sections might disconnect), and apply glue to the bottom. But doing this with a plastic applicator, trying to reach underneath the track and guess where the best contact surfaces might be, would result in a holy mess and a lot of harsh language as I'd be constantly wiping up glue that got onto the sides of the track. So the idea I came up with was to fabricate a "track glue template". Any piece of thin, sturdy clear plastic with a 90-degree bend at one end should work, but I cut up a piece of a tape drive tape container for this. Hey, I'm in I.T. and I was just looking around the office to see what I could come up with, and I had a bunch of old server backup tapes, so that's what I used. :mrgreen:

I connected 2 track sections and put my template underneath, and marked on the bottom of the template (the opposite side of where the glue would be applied) with Sharpie the aforementioned areas: the slot channel bottoms, the screw posts and the middle connector sections. I then marked a line on the 90-degree side, right in the middle, where 2 track pieces mate.

TrackGlueTemplate1.jpg

I applied the Liquid Nails Fuze*It glue to the marked areas. With this template being so thin, I could now raise up sections of the track just a bit, slide the template-with-glue underneath, position it exactly between 2 track connections, and press down on the track to let the glue apply to the important areas. Lift the track up again, press down on the template to slide it back out, and press down on the glued track sections and there you have it...a nice, cleanly-glued track with no glue visible on the base. It almost worked too well! I thought this stage of the project might take a few weeks to do, but I was able to do over a dozen connections at once (limited by how many weighted items I had available to press down on the glued track until the glue cured, as well as the glue setting time, which was a bigger concern--the Fuze*It starts to set in only 15 minutes or so, so the more you can lay down quickly, the better).

TrackGlueTemplate2.jpg
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Re: Building HO Slot Car Track

Post by Lastplace »

Nice set up. After seeing this I may have to get my Thunderjet set up out.

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Re: Building HO Slot Car Track

Post by Coelacanth »

I've been putting in some time tweaking the track, race-testing in both directions various cars. I had to carefully file down several track connections that didn't transition smoothly in one direction or the other. You can tell which areas weren't perfect by listening as the faster cars went around the track; they would make a louder "tack" sound when they passed over one of those areas, then you can find it and feel with your finger one track had a tiny step instead of a smooth transition. It's almost always the middle of the track pieces where the connecting tabs are. I read that you could cut those all off before assembly, but when I was trying to snip them off, after about the 5th one, a chunk of the track broke off in addition to the tab. I fortunately had a replacement piece. It's 35-year-old plastic and I'm sure quite brittle. I could've ground them all off with a Dremel but that would've taken forever. I'd say 80% of the connections were smooth so it was easier to just assemble and then correct the problem areas with a small file.

The worst spot was to the left of the terminal track where I had to use an Aurora-to-Tomy track adapter to add in the Flex Track and old squeeze track. Here, the entire track transition had a step, not just the middle, and the slot rails from the Aurora track were higher than the Tomy rails, so I had to file down the rails a bit so they matched the height of the Tomy rails. Now, cars go smoothly all around the track in either direction.

I also have to glue in a few guardrail extension pieces as I found the bigger cars and especially the fish-taily rigs would have their ass ends strike the guardrails going into a few of the corners of their outside lanes.

Some of my cars had bodies changed as I scored some on eBay lately that I liked more than what I had. It was time to rebuild all the cars. I added lights to a few that had lighted chassis tubs but the wires/bulbs had ripped off. I do a light mod with my lighted cars that have the clear light buckets, I color the entire light bucket with silver acrylic Sharpie marker. I do this to prevent the light from shining under the front of the car, I want the light to shine only through the headlights as much as possible. It looks lame when you see light shining under the cars' front wheels. It's an easy mod so why not?

SlotCars_LightMod.jpg

In addition to the usual cleanup of the brushes and commutators and chassis lube, I read about a small performance mod you can do to cars that have too much space between the magnets and the plastic magnet slots...slipping some cardboard pieces to take up the slack and push the magnets closer to the comm. I used some strips of Lexan instead as I have plenty of spare pieces in different thicknesses. It looks a bit more professional, too. You can see it here at the top and bottom of the magnets. I would say at least 80% of my MagnaTraction cars benefitted from this mod, most of them had a fair amount of slack.

SlotCar_MagnetMod.jpg

Here is the current collection of just under 40 cars, all rebuilt...it took about 3 nights to get them all done.

SlotCars1_Dec2020.jpg
SlotCars2_Dec2020.jpg
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Re: Building HO Slot Car Track

Post by Coelacanth »

What to do with the crap slot car bodies, broken and/or undesireable? I had these just sitting in a box and I'll never use them and they're not worth the trouble to sell them. They're one toss short of the trash. How about letting my daughter color them up with some Sharpie Neon markers? :idea:

I present to you: AFX Glo-Cars! :lol:

These will look really cool with the lights turned off. Who needs headlights??

Glo-Cars.jpg
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Re: Building HO Slot Car Track

Post by adam lancia »

Each one of your posts in here takes me back to messing around with these as a kid. Maybe one day my kids will want to mess with these little guys, but until then, I'll watch here and decide if I'm dedicated enough to put the work in that you have so far. It's beyond admirable!

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Re: Building HO Slot Car Track

Post by TRX-1-3 »

That Hemi 'Cuda and those Daytonas are pretty slick. Is that a sublime green Charger upper left? Nice collection.
Hope you're doin' something fun.

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Re: Building HO Slot Car Track

Post by Coelacanth »

TRX-1-3 wrote: Sat Dec 19, 2020 11:17 am That Hemi 'Cuda and those Daytonas are pretty slick. Is that a sublime green Charger upper left? Nice collection.
Yes, that's a 1970 Charger, I believe it's a more recent AutoWorld X-Traction body that I mounted on a vintage MagnaTraction chassis. The AutoWorld bodies are very nice and good quality, but their slot car chassis' are pretty iffy with some sloppy quality.

1970 Charger 1.jpg
1970 Charger 2.jpg

To keep my daughter involved, I thought it would be a cool idea to give the track a name and have a long name bar running near the rear straightaways...I had some leftover Lexan. I just needed to fabricate supports for the track name bar. I found some spare thin aluminum 90-degree angle, cut some 1.5 cm strips and used some unused aluminum spacers from my Red Tide Lucas Agitator build to fabricate 4 supports. I cut up some pieces of Lexan and attached them to the supports with 3M double-sided tape. There's just enough space to slot in the Lexan name bar. I even polished the visible sides of the aluminum supports up to 1000 grit...heck, it's COVID times and we got too much time to spare! :roll:

NameBar1.jpg
NameBar2.jpg
NameBar3.jpg

And an updated test of the black light and some of the "Glo-Cars"...play-test will be coming soon! You can really see how much they stand out compared to the regular non-neon cars. My daughter came up with the name and some ideas for the name bar graphics, but she hasn't finished coloring them in yet. "Karera" is "race" in Tagalog (the wife & daughter are Filipina).

NeonGlowTest.jpg
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Re: Building HO Slot Car Track

Post by RC10resto »

It's a shame you didn't put much effort into this, it could have been nice :lol: :lol: :lol:

Amazing Job!

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Re: Building HO Slot Car Track

Post by matt1ptkn »

Since your initial post, I've been looking through the money pits in eBay for some old HO slot cars, but everything I like must be made of gold. :roll: The name and sign are fabulous! I need to find some of these fancy Sharpies!
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Re: Building HO Slot Car Track

Post by Coelacanth »

matt1ptkn wrote: Mon Dec 21, 2020 12:16 pm Since your initial post, I've been looking through the money pits in eBay for some old HO slot cars, but everything I like must be made of gold. :roll: The name and sign are fabulous! I need to find some of these fancy Sharpies!
I bought them on Amazon while shopping for neon glow black light markers and I trust the Sharpie brand, it always lives up to the claims, unlike a bazillion other Made-In-China brands. Then I was walking through Walmart and saw them there, too. A little over $5 CAD for the set of 5 colors. I think my daughter had more fun coloring her fingernails with neon Sharpies than the actual sign. :lol:
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