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Back to the future for my final track?


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#1 Ken Bryan

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Posted 06 November 2015 - 08:34 AM

Like Many of the "veterans" on Slotblog, I have been racing on and off since the 1960s. Over that time I have owned (or should I say have "been owned by") six different tracks.
 
My first track was an Eldon home set. My folks bought it for me at Christmas. I think it was 1963, but I could be a year off. If so, I was 12 at the time, and I loved it. The next year, they bought me a second set to add onto the first one. I loved designing tracks almost as much as I did racing the cars. I also learned the maintenance issues that come with a long plastic track, especially a cheap one like the Eldon. While I loved my track, I envied the kids nearby who had a Revell race set, which had clearly superior cars and track, and a banked curve!
 
Somewhere along the line I was given a crude routed wood track. It had cheap (and relatively worthless) aluminum braid. I rarely used it.
 
When I moved away from home, I sold the whole batch, including a 1/24 GE-powered Mirage, for $25.
 
Fast forward to about 1974. I am newly married, living in Southern California, and discover Riggen still makes some 1/32 cars. I advertised in the local "Nickel Nick" and found someone who had a mother lode of Revell track. I bought it all. It had different length curves, and could be made into a four-lane layout. Being older and wiser now, I decided to mount it (good idea) onto 5/8" particle board sheets. I had two 4x4 sheets that were the 180 with two straight pieces. So I could do an oval in 4x8. I had another 4x8 sheet that was just straights, a 4x4 sheet that was esses, and a 4x8 sheet that had a 4' straight section on the top and 270 degree curve at the bottom.
 
I could make several different four-lane combinations. Maintenance was less, because the sections were screwed down and didn't move.
 
Track 4 was never assembled. I decided to see if anyone had a commercial track they wanted to get rid of.  I envisioned a club, with a full commercial layout. Lo and behold, I found one.  Bought track, 1960s power supply and controllers for about $125, as I recall. But I never found a place to set it up, and when we left SoCal it went into the dumpster. Still have the pathetically weak but cool looking power supply, though.
 
Track 5 was my first real club track. It is now late '70s and I was living in Portland, OR. Bob Ward, from Puyallup, WA, heard of a track that had been built, of all things, for a dairy.  The idea was to take it to parking lots of grocery stores to attract kids and sell milk. It was built like Fort Knox; sat inside a trailer, where the sides opened to for racing. The trailer had been sold to a farmer, who was anxious to part with the track. It was all one piece, consisting of four pieces of plywood to make a 8 by 16 table. Then four more on which the track was placed. Between the two layers were 2 by 4s. Then the track surface was on top. The plaster of Paris mountains added even more weight. It took seven grown men to lift it. We had a 1/32 club, now upgrading to Womps and even some scratchbuilt anglewinders. Many fond memories of that track.
 
When I left Portland, it was clear the track was not coming. Too difficult to move cross country, its next residence was the loft of a barn in Wilsonville. It is a mystery to me how they ever got that track into that loft, but they did.
 
My current track was designed by Bob and built mostly by him on a Thanksgiving weekend about 25 years ago. It has undergone several renovations (and a near demise). We switched from copper tape to braid, and much of the plywood surface has been replaced with MDF. Our club has raced on this track happily for about seven years now.
 
This year, the advent of Full Trigger tracks got me to thinking about my next (and probably final) track. What I want is something that combines all of the tracks of my past, taking the best from each. It will be wood, using Full Trigger pieces as my basic (and perhaps only) pieces. It will have an over under section. It will be modular, so that I can change the layout. Not piece by piece modular, like the plastic sets, but 4xf or 4x8 pieces. It will have spacing to fully accommodate 1/24 cars or 1/32.
 
Our racing season is summer, so this winter starts the grand experiment to build it. I look forward to everyone's feedback as we go along. There is a sine qua non: the track will be portable and modular. All other suggestions welcome.
 
Ken Bryan
Spokane, WA


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#2 Ken Bryan

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Posted 06 November 2015 - 08:46 AM

The plan this winter is to build and test an 8x16 layout.  Next spring we will transport it to Montana.  Bob Gugisburg will set up the track there, and it will become one of the tracks we race on next summer.  It may come back here for the winter, for "phase 2."

 

Here is my current thought.  There would be four basic pieces to this first version of the track.  They are interchangeable in the sense that the lanes have the same connecting distance between lanes at the end.  The four basic pieces are the donut (4x8) and 3 4x4 sections: straight, ell, and 180.  To begin with, we will have 1 donut, one 180, 2 straights, and 2 ells.

 

I did some crude "clip and paste" diagrams from the full trigger website to show two of the layouts we can make in 8x16.

 

I did not use all of the space, because I wanted the track to be easy to marshal.

 

There are a myriad of things to sort out.  Among them:  driver locations and connections, track connections, supports (Bob wants it on wheels in MT because of the location), edging around the plywood...

 

Comments?

 

Attached File  Two Track Options.pdf   111.43KB   170 downloads

 

 


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#3 MarkH

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Posted 07 November 2015 - 06:24 AM

I think the top layout flows better for me.  Out of the donut toward the main straight makes sense on the top one.


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There are only two things in life that make me feel alive. Racing is one of them.


#4 John Streisguth

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Posted 07 November 2015 - 11:58 AM

I agree...I had an HO track that was about 80% of that (where the donut is the track went back to the left, then back around to the right through esses and then onto the front straight).  Anyway, I think that layout will "race" better.


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#5 Ten shirt

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Posted 07 November 2015 - 01:25 PM

Cool ideas. I found the connections and rails to be more work than cutting and routing the track. I have a lot of questions about the trigger tracks. Can't beat CnC accuracy for a modular design.
Kent Meredith

#6 Ken Bryan

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Posted 21 November 2015 - 02:28 PM

Does anyone have experience with design software for a track?  I have downloaded several programs, but none seemed really intuitive to use.  Here is what I want in my modular track of the future.  Can anyone create a better looking picture for me?

 

I am looking to build an 8'x16' modular track.  It will have be mounted to 4x4 and 4x8 plywood sections.  The section types are as follows:

 
1.  The donut.  The 4x8 piece will be a donut, much like the donut in your blue series drawings.  I want it on a 4x8 instead of 4x4 because I want adequate space to gain the height necessary to accommodate the overpass, and all of the connection points will be purely flat track.
 
2.  The straight.  Will be two lanes on top and two return lanes on the bottom, all on 4x4.
 
3.  The almost straight.  Top track is straight, bottom has and loop in the middle (not illustrated on the attached).
 
4.  The ell -- will make a 90 degree turn
 
5.  The one eighty.  Will make half of an oval.  I would prefer it to be more light bulb shaped than a simple one eighty.
 
The goal would be that, once mounted to the plywood, all track sections would be interchangeable.   The donut is particularly poorly proportioned in my sample picture.  I want a tight circle, with enough track at the top of the piece to connect to other pieces while allowing space for the necessary track rise.
 
The attachment in the second post shows what this would look like,
 
Track one on the document uses 1 donut, 2 straights, 1 ell, and 1 one-eighty.
Track two uses one less straight.
 
My goal is to order the pieces to create 1 donut, 1 straight, 1 almost straight, 2 ells, and 1 one-eighty.


#7 Ken Bryan

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Posted 26 January 2016 - 01:42 AM

OK, we have advanced the project.  I have purchased 4 sheets of MDF.  Two of them I left 4x8.  The other 2 I cut to 4x4, and one will be further cut to 4x2 (to have room to marshal the 180 and to have the extra straight to put under overpass.  So there will be 6 total pieces in version 1 of the track, meaning there will be 5 joints.  All joints are meant to connect to all other joints.  When set up as 8x16, the running length will be somewhere between 50 and 60 feet, depending on the layout.

 

There are 5 basic pieces:  The "ampersand" (4x8 overpass section), straights, a short "L", a long "L", and a 180.

 

4 of the 6 pieces are set for version 1 of the track:  the ampersand, long L, short L, and 180.  These four make up the first photo below.

 

The other two pieces will either be two straight pieces or 2 L pieces.  If they are straights, here is what the track will look like set up in either 8x12 or 8x16 format. 

 

8 by 12 straight.JPG

 

8 by 16 straight.JPG

 

If the other two are L pieces, here are the layouts, in either 8x12 or 8x16.

 

8 by 12 twisty.JPG

 

8 by 16 twisty.JPG

 

Ultimately I want flexibility to go 8x20 or longer, so I will create enough pieces for all these options, along with some diversifying options.  But for now I have put this choice to the Montana guys.  It is our plan for them to host the track this summer.

 

Remember, this is a table top track, with track surface mounted on plywood and able to be transported by pickup wherever we need it to be.

 

What do you think?

 

Suggestions?

 

BTW, the track is 4" centers with 3" gutters, making an 18" width.  Everything is designed to be 4" from an edge, to allow extra apron space (probably 2-3" for all the curves.  To be interchangeable, the center of the lanes will be 7,11, 15, 19, 29, 33, 37, and 41" from the edge. 

 

Ken Bryan

Spokane, WA

 

 

 



#8 Ten shirt

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Posted 26 January 2016 - 08:41 AM

This is a very unique idea. Portable and flexible layout. A very challenging build. I can't wait to see it come together.
Kent Meredith

#9 Ken Bryan

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Posted 26 January 2016 - 10:55 AM

Finally, here is what you can do in 8x20, adding both the straights and the L pieces

 

8 x 20 track.jpg



#10 Tim Wilkins

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Posted 26 January 2016 - 12:47 PM

Looks very challenging Ken.  That will definitely be a driver's track.  I had 8 1/2 by 20 feet to work with and went round and round on what my track should look like before  the builder and I opted for a couple of longer straights making it an extremely fast track.

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  • Racetrack.jpg

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#11 MSwiss

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Posted 26 January 2016 - 02:10 PM

I think it is going to be difficult to get everthing to match up in all the configurations, especially with being built on top of a lower layer.

I think you need to go with CNC routing.

But at the very least, build it in your favorite configuration, so at least one goes together real well.

Good luck.

I hope you suceed.

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#12 Ken Bryan

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Posted 26 January 2016 - 03:08 PM

Mike

 

 I'm researching if there is an affordable CNC option available to me locally.  If I can afford it, I will do it.

 

Regarding the two levels, here is the plan for the edge of each MDF section to handle height differences.

 

Capture.JPG

 

Seems like a lot of work, but worth it in the end.

 

For making lanes line up, I plan to create a jig that will be 4 lanes wide and make an exact first 1/2".  I know by experience that this didn't work well with plywood, but it should be a little better with MDF.

 

Doing my favorite layout first is an excellent suggestion.

 

Ken



#13 Mattb

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Posted 26 January 2016 - 05:59 PM

Tim Wilkins, very nice track design, do you have any pictures of the finished track. I personally don't like tracks that have so many curves and short straights, but that is me. The current made 1/32 cars seem way too fast for such tracks to me. Just my preference.
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#14 Tim Wilkins

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Posted 26 January 2016 - 06:43 PM

Tim Wilkins, very nice track design, do you have any pictures of the finished track. I personally don't like tracks that have so many curves and short straights, but that is me. The current made 1/32 cars seem way too fast for such tracks to me. Just my preference.

Here you go.  Start to finish............and I can punch the high speed bank as well :)

 

http://slotblog.net/...-northridge-ca/


"If everything seems under control, you're not going fast enough" - Mario Andretti


#15 Ten shirt

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Posted 27 January 2016 - 05:05 PM

When I researched how to build a slot car track I found four basic ways to route out the slots.  1) The elliptical jig from the outside of the track, followed by the slot jig that runs down that slot to route the other slots.  2) The Lexan flexible router guides. 3) The circle cutting router jig adjusted for each lane with straight edge guides for straightaways.  4)CAD drawings and CNC cutting tools.

 

There must be other methods that I have not uncovered.  (once I learned #1 I knew that would work for me.)  

 

On this track.

 

#1 won't work unless the elliptical is eliminated and the jig is highly accurate. (Hillbilly has a good jig I think)

 

#2 would require a very high degree of accuracy.  My measure and cut skills could not be trusted to such a standard but there are always amazing skilled craftsman that could pull it off.

 

#3 Very similar to #2.  possible but difficult.

 

#4  Requires $$$ or CAD skills or both.

 

I'm very interested in seeing how you get this done.  It would really open new dimensions to club racing. 

 

Anybody out there have CAD skills and draw this up?  That would cut the CNC costs considerably I think.  

 

Good Luck!


Kent Meredith

#16 Ken Bryan

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Posted 26 February 2016 - 01:08 PM

OK, time for an update.  We have settled on the layouf for the first configuration.  Purchased the MDF and did the layout on the floor.  Here are pictures of the whole track and the end.

 

The key is that every place where the track connects will be the same on every section.  So in theory (although I realize not in practice), once mounted on plywood the pieces will be interchangeable and easily expandable.

 

Here is the whole track:

 

New Track.JPG

 

And a close up view of the far end:

 

New Track End.JPG

 

Ken

 

 

 


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