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Consider the lowly guide flag...


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#1 Cheater

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Posted 12 October 2011 - 09:29 PM

This little elaboration on the lowly guide flag was engendered by another thread discussing broken guide flags. What I will attempt is to describe my ultimate techniques for preparing guide flags for 1/24 slot racing. As usual, this is an article I have been promising to do for several years now.

One of the most important factors in a good-handling slot car is the guide flag set-up. The guide flag must turn freely and smoothly, without any binding whatsoever, and there should be as little play and "wobble" as possible between the guide and the guide tongue.

In the "old days", the most commonly-available guide flag was produced by a single manufacturer, whose mold was arranged six-up, i.e. a single shot of molten plastic ended up as six guides on a sprue, or tree. There was a faint position number on each molded guide and due to various factors, like the rate of cooling across the mold and the precision of the tooling, certain numbers were favored over others as having the "truest" posts square to the guide flag body.

Today, most guide flags are accurate enough in this parameter. But some subtle mods can make a good guide even better.

My experience indicates that pure nylon guide flags are more durable than the graphite-filled plastic guide flags. The latter seem more brittle, though they are probably stronger than the nylon units. Bottom line is I broke more of the black ones over time, so I avoid them now.

First, a common failure mode for guide flags is breakage of what I term the braid clip "box" or "braid box". This is the flat rectangular cavity into which the braid clip is pushed to retain it in the guide flag. Often when crashing into the rear of another car, the sharp edge of the rear part of the chassis being hit slices into the braid box, splitting or peeling the top or side back so that the braid falls out more easily. Not much can be done about this problem without a redesign of the guide flag tooling. If, for example, the square rib on the top of the guide was extended forward to align with the upper corner of the blade, some of the hits that damage the braid boxes might be deflected.

broken1.jpg

broken2.jpg

A second common failure mode for guide flags is for the post to snap off the guide flag body. No picture here, but I think anyone who has raced 1/24 slot cars has seen this happen, at least once.

To address the post breakage problem, one can take a Parma Blade guide flag, which comes with a molded hole atop the post, and extend that hole down into the actual blade of the guide flag. Then a piano wire pin can be inserted to strengthen the post to body attachment. Here is a picture of a new Parma Blade that has had the hole extended.

new1.jpg

new2.jpg

Use a drill press to hold the drill bit vertical and square and extend the molded hole in the post down into the guide flag blade itself roughly 1/3 to 1/2 of the blade height. Support the guide flag with a tech block on the drill press table, to help hold the guide post upright and square. The pictures of the sides of the blade should show that hole in the blade stays centered reasonably well.

The piano wire "reinforcement" can be dipped into super glue before being hammered into the hole, but that has proved to be unnecessary. Just be certain to get the wire to the end of the drilled hole.

Squareness and concentricity are important factors in realizing wobble-free guide flag operation. One approach is to use a Magnehone diamond tool to true the top surface of the guide.

grindguide.jpg

groundtop.jpg

There are several other "tweaks" one can make to guide flags. Any time you inject hot plastic into a mold, dimensional changes occur as the hot plastic cools. These changes can cause, for example, the flat surfaces that support the braid actually not to be very flat at all. So it is usually worth sanding those surfaces to make them flat. A couple of strips of emery cloth transfer-taped adjacent to the slot on a spare tech block will do the trick.

sander.jpg

used3.jpg

A little time with a small file also can improve a guide. Note that the "nose" on this guide has been "knife-edged". The blade of a Parma Blade guide flag is actually wider at the bottom than at the top and the filing is carefully blended into a triangular shape. Compare this to the rounded leading edge of the new guide shown earlier.

usedpg1.jpg

used2.jpg

Another potentially helpful modification is to to round or "soften" the very front corners of the guide body to prevent them from digging in or "snagging" track imperfections. This mod also works to make the flag braid contact the track braid more completely, as suggested by reading braid wear patterns over time. This mod should be discernible in several of the images shown.

Finally, just as the guide top surface was trued, one can also true the bottom surface of the guide nut itself. (A central tenet of "blueprinting" is never to assume that surfaces that are supposed to be 90 degrees square to each other actually are.)

One method is to use a longish machine screw of the proper pitch and a jam nut. Run the jam nut in just short of bottoming the screw in the Magnehone tool, to provide the most "piloting" effect, and "jam" the plain nut and the guide nut together to lock them in place at that point. Then use the Magnehone tool to grind or surface the bottom of the guide nut. It is surprising how often the bottom of a guide nut is not square with the centerline of the threads.

nutgrind.jpg

Here's a pic of several Koford nuts that have been trued, along with the preferred wide and true Koford bronze guide flag washers.

washers.nuts.jpg

As mentioned in the T-Flex tome, you can also use the Magnehone guide tool to surface or face the top and bottom of the guide tongue as well. Hold a guide flag with an unshortened post firmly on one side of the tongue, with the post projecting through the hole. Then "pilot" the Magnehone tool on the post and grind away, and reverse the set-up to do the other side.

Facing all of the surfaces involved in the guide system makes it far easier to achieve the smooth, easy-turning, wobble-free set-up that is the goal.

I actually know few a other guide flag tricks used by other racers (plus some of my own that are less than legal... :unsure: ) but if I revealed any of those, I'd be at serious risk of assassination! LOL!

Gregory Wells

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#2 Guy Spaulding

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Posted 12 October 2011 - 10:16 PM

Others? :laugh2:

(BTW... nice article, good buddy.)

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#3 Cheater

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Posted 12 October 2011 - 10:39 PM

Thanks, Guy. Much appreciated.

Gregory Wells

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#4 slotbaker

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Posted 13 October 2011 - 05:03 AM

Nice one, Greg.

Thanks for sharing.

:)

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#5 Joe Mig

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Posted 13 October 2011 - 05:39 AM

Thank you for the guide flag 101.
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#6 racer6

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Posted 13 October 2011 - 06:36 AM

Great article!

Where can you get one of those Magnehone tools and what size should I purchase?

Thanks!
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#7 Cheater

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Posted 13 October 2011 - 07:23 AM

Dennis,

There's no size selection involved in the Magnehone guide tool; it only comes in one size.

Your raceway owner should be able to get one for you; if not try PCH, Chicagoland (but not this weekend!), Mid-America, or any of the other raceways that do mail-order or online sales.

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#8 racer6

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Posted 13 October 2011 - 07:35 AM

Will do. Thank you!
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#9 HarV Wallbanger III

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Posted 13 October 2011 - 09:31 AM

Great article, Greg!

I also like to sand the guide mounted on the chassis so any variation there is taken care of as well.

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#10 Cheater

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Posted 13 October 2011 - 09:40 AM

Barn,

I think Lee Gilbert uses that approach as well.

Gregory Wells

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#11 Rick

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Posted 13 October 2011 - 10:54 AM

Magnehone was bought by HEI a few years ago. I bought the Turtle stock and rights and make the Turtle now.

I also make a couple of gadgets for guides, a tool that does the surface of where the braid lays and also the surface that makes contact with the tongue.

Guide tools anodized 001.jpg

red fox guide.jpg

guide leveler.jpg
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#12 Frankie Schaffier

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Posted 13 October 2011 - 11:05 AM

Does the guide deform a bit after you insert the braid and wire clips? If so (I've never checked), maybe the braids and wire clips should be installed when sanding the guide flat. Anyone ever check?
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#13 Cheater

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Posted 13 October 2011 - 12:20 PM

Good thinking, Frankie. I've never taken the calipers to check for this but I don't think there's a lot of deformation of the braid boxes when the clips and braid are in place. After a few wall shots, there probably is some deformation.

Sanding the bottom of a new guide usually reveals that the corners are the lowest points IIRC.

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#14 TSR

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Posted 13 October 2011 - 01:09 PM

Greg,

Nicely done for an old phart! :D

We used the piano-wire trick for eons, and it really works.

R-Geo also has a very good tool to mill the base of the post, and you might want to have a look at that one, too. :)

And...

In the "old days", the most commonly-available guide flag was produced by a single manufacturer, whose mold was arranged six-up, i.e. a single shot of molten plastic ended up as six guides on a sprue, or tree.


Cox had a mold with twelve of them, but when the SimCo Jet Flag appeared in 1968 with its six-cavity mold, it did not take long for the Cox guide to become obsolete. The Jet Flag had been designed after the best period guide, one made by Pactra and used on their last RTR cars in mid-1968. The Pactra guide is today a rarity.

All modern guides were designed after the Jet Flag, that remains the strongest of them all. Never ever broke one of them, but you had to select the one that was "straight", because out of the six, only two of the cavities were providing true moldings.

And don't forget: if you REALLY do not want to break a guide, BOIL them in hot water for 30 minutes before use... you can dye them in your favorite color in the process assuming that they are not already made of nylon mixed with graphite.

One amazing thing is that while the 1/24 scale guides are today pretty good implements because they copied one that worked, it would be nice if some day, the 1/32 scale home-racing world would learn that the miserable Scalextric design that has been copied for too many years is an abomination, but trying to talk sense to these people is as effective as peeing in a violin to improve its sound.

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#15 Bill from NH

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Posted 13 October 2011 - 07:52 PM

The R-Geo tools are pictured in post #11 above.

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#16 HarV Wallbanger III

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Posted 14 October 2011 - 01:06 AM

Does the guide deform a bit after you insert the braid and wire clips? If so (I've never checked), maybe the braids and wire clips should be installed when sanding the guide flat. Anyone ever check?


Yes, it does and that is why I sand it on the car with the braid and clips in it.

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#17 Frankie Schaffier

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Posted 14 October 2011 - 10:29 AM

Barney, you're right (no surprise). I did a test last night, the bottom of the guide "humps" up quite a bit after the clips/braid are installed.

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#18 Cheater

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Posted 14 October 2011 - 10:42 AM

Yes, he is.

The more I thought about it, I recalled that I would insert the braid clips and straight braid into the guide and "touch it up" on the sanding tech block before installing it onto the chassis.

It's been so long since I actually built anything to race, I had forgotten that step.

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#19 Steve Deiters

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Posted 14 October 2011 - 11:06 AM

Barney, you're right (no surprise). I did a test last night, the bottom of the guide "humps" up quite a bit after the clips/braid are installed.


I install the braid with the dimple side up to minimize that problem.

#20 HarV Wallbanger III

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Posted 14 October 2011 - 11:24 AM

I'm still using braid from a bag of 100 pair I won at the '92 Nats and even though it has no dimple it still "pooches" the guide so I still sand it. I also for the most part make my own thin clips so it does not have as much thickness... although I do buy from time to time and most are way thick.

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Hello my name is Barney and I was... I am addicted to glue, magnets, and wings... I have been clean and sober years now... NOW I'm hooked on 1/32 club track racing! Dang!
 

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Enjoy life! Race Slot Cars and read SlotBlog!


#21 Cheater

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Posted 14 October 2011 - 12:20 PM

I'll try to post some pics later today on this latest subject...

Gregory Wells

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#22 Bill from NH

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Posted 14 October 2011 - 01:03 PM

Greg, when you were racing a lot, was it legal where you ran, to run a modified guide? Or were most changes overlooked? I've seen some pretty extensive modifications, usually made to the blade, over the years. :)

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#23 Cheater

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Posted 14 October 2011 - 01:09 PM

LOL!

Bill, the stuff shown above nobody ever blinked at or even mentioned.

And the one time I ran what I would consider an illegal modified guide, no one picked up on it. Guess you want a picture of that, too? LOL!

And, honestly, in twenty years of racing I can't say I ever saw but one other modified guide that I considered illegal. It had three or four tiny ball bearings installed in the blade!

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#24 Bill from NH

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Posted 14 October 2011 - 01:30 PM

One of those I recall seeing up here in the early '70s had mylar wings to overcome worn grooves in an old Monarch. That car would just not deslot, but the guy was told never to bring it back. :)

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#25 Cheater

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Posted 14 October 2011 - 02:10 PM

Well, that infamous "fishing line" guide I made worked really well on the T-slot Purple Mile.

You should have seen the eyebrows go up when I overcooked the lead-on and spun the car almost 180 degrees without it leaving the slot! LOL!!

Gregory Wells

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#26 Guy Spaulding

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Posted 16 October 2011 - 08:55 AM

Bill, the stuff shown above nobody ever blinked at or even mentioned.

And the one time I ran what I would consider an illegal modified guide, no one picked up on it. Guess you want a picture of that, too? LOL!

And, honestly, in twenty years of racing I can't say I ever saw but one other modified guide that I considered illegal. It had three or four tiny ball bearings installed in the blade!

 

I blinked blink.gif. That's what I meant when I said "other", meaning 'mods made by "other" people' :laugh2:


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#27 CoastalAngler1

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Posted 12 May 2015 - 10:36 AM

Bump. Guide flags are important... gonna blueprint mine! Parma cut-down, Koford lightweight aluminum guide nut, and Koford phosphor bronze washers...


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