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Simple ways to build home tracks


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#1 Steve Ogilvie

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Posted 29 March 2016 - 01:13 AM

I have not been involved in the hobby for a while. When my wife passed away in 1999 I became a single parent of three kids and the income from building tracks could not support us and pay for college, let alone save for my retirement. So I went back to where I started working in 1973 after graduating high school - the Bruce nuclear power development. I hold an electricians license so I went in as a temp worker for an outage in 2002 and never left. I switched to a staff field operator job in 2003 and have worked at Bruce "B" ever since.

 

But I do miss my track building days and that especially hit home when my long time business partner and friend, Brian Crosby passed away recently. I do not intend to resume my career as a track builder, Don Bryans builds all our tracks now, but I would like to contribute to the hobby.

 

I have always thought that the best way to keep slot racing going was with home tracks. I am sure there are books on how to build tracks out there, but they usually involve overly complicated construction methods. So here are a few tips to make your home track building experience much more enjoyable...

 

Cutting your corners: Corners are cut with a router riding on radius rods using a 1/4" single flute carbide tipped router bit. Use a medium-sized router that has holes for your radius rods to go in. Use long threaded rods connected to a piece of wood the same width as the router base. You can connect with L-brackets or drilled holes; use your imagination but make your jig keeping in mind how big you need for the size of the corners you are planning on. Drill a 1/2" hole for your pivot point in the piece of wood. Use a couple of sawhorses and mount the sheet of 1/2" MDF or whatever you want to make your track out of on the saw horses.

 

The formula for a corner is simple. Say you want to make a four-lane corner with an outside diameter of 60". Use the formula for the circumferance of a circle - pi X diameter = 60 X pi = 188.5 " rounded off. Divide that by 360 and you have the inches per degee of corner = .52359, etc. Never calculate by hand, always use a calculator and minimize the error factor. So if you want a 190 degree corner you multiply this number by 190 =  99.48" circumferance. Your tape measure is obviously not that precise but we can get to that later .

 

Now you need to know your corner radius. I had no problem figuring the math for the circumferance but for the first 10 tracks I built paper models that I bent to replicate banking. Very not accurate but worked nonetheless. Too much trimming to fit though. Then I built Ernie Mosseti's first track, a hillclimb, and he provided me with exact drawings with circumference and radius dimensions. That was so much better, but Ernie did not reveal his formulas so off to the library I went. (Mind you, I probably never asked him either, assuming it was some closely guarded secret.) This was 1988 so no quick Google for me. I remembered from my construction days watching tinwackers make all kinds of cones  and shapes by hand out of sheet metal and I spent a day reseaching and I figured out the math behind the physical methods they use.

 

If you want a flat turn, no math involved your radius is half your diameter. If you want banking multiply the finished radius by the cosine of the degree of banking. The circumference stays the same whether you are building flat or banked.

 

So now you have your 4'x8' sheet of whatever on your sawhorses  and you want to cut a corner. So you take your calculated radius measurement and measure down from the centre of the sheet and drill a 1/2 inch hole. Put your circle jig on the sheet and drop your centre bolt in and you are ready to cut. Except you want to cut in the proper direction. You want to cut against the rotation of your router, so that it does not pop you out at the end of the cut. I always made the cut twice, to get rid of rough edges.

 

With the outer cut made, take a straight edge and draw a line from the centre of the radius hole to the start of the outer circle. Tape the end of your tape measure to this mark and pull it around the circle and make a mark at your circumference demension. Draw a line from there to the centre of your radius hole. Now you want to change your circle cutter to the inner part of your corner. Just change it to the outer radius dimension - track width and make another cut. (You can do this by sliding it on your radius rods and then locking back in, but it is easier to make you radius block with inner and outer holes.) But this time you want to start your cuts on the lines you just drew, to make everyting more stable as you cut. After the inner circle is cut, rough cut the ends of the corner with a circular saw (stay at least 1/4" away from your finished edge) and finish trim with a straight edge and router.

 

Tomorrow night I will get in to offset routing jigs and methodology.

 

Feel free to ask questions.  

 

Steve


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#2 Zippity

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Posted 29 March 2016 - 03:04 AM

Some photographs, diagrams or drawings, might make it a bit easier for the "slower" ones of us to grasp what you are teaching.  :)

 

Keep the lessons coming...


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Ron Thornton
 

 


#3 airhead

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Posted 29 March 2016 - 07:37 AM

Yes, pictures would help. I made what sounds like a similar jig from an old aluminum road sigh. I would love to see the jigs you use.


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#4 Samiam

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Posted 29 March 2016 - 08:26 AM

I bought a book from John Ford on how to build a slot car track. Let me rephrase that. I paid for a book. Never got it. 

 

If you would put this information in book form I would pay for it. I know you will deliver.


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#5 Steve Ogilvie

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Posted 29 March 2016 - 11:05 AM

I am new to posting on this site. I will try to post some diagrams. Do we just use PhotoBucket here?

 

I really do not have time to write a book. And other people have written books on the subject. This thread will take me a while to complete and I do not want it cluttered with links to how to sites. I am going to share my knowledge of track building with everyone here so stick to technical questions please.

 

Thanks for the replies.



#6 Cheater

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Posted 29 March 2016 - 11:17 AM

Steve,

You can use PhotoBucket or another similar photo hosting site, but I prefer you upload images to Slotblog, as that way the pics will always be here.

Here's a link to a photo uploading tutorial:

Posting pics at Slotblog


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#7 Phil Worthy

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Posted 29 March 2016 - 12:20 PM

Steve,

This is really wonderful: building instructions from one of the great track makers. Wow! Thanks for the information.

Greg, you may want to pin this one...
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#8 Steve Okeefe

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Posted 29 March 2016 - 01:41 PM

Steve,

 

First, I sincerely hope your efforts to support your family and save for retirement over the past 16 years have been successful.  Family always comes first.

 

Second and IMHO, documenting your track building knowledge and experience for future reference is (to paraphrase the advertising slogan) "priceless".

 

There was an Ogilvie track at a raceway in Waynesboro, PA I frequented some years back.  Lap length was 151 feet, and I think it was called a "Grandstand II".  Very nice track, smooth and surprisingly fast.

 

Thank you in advance and please keep going!  No doubt there will be many here (including me) who will be listening carefully.


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#9 Slot Car Mods Magazine

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Posted 29 March 2016 - 04:01 PM

I'm looking forward to reading what you're so generously sharing with us Steve...   :good:

 

All the best...

 

Ron...


Ron Todhunter
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#10 Steve Ogilvie

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Posted 29 March 2016 - 05:25 PM

Funny how easy it is to make a mistake at 2 AM .But for some reason the edit button is not available for my first post .I got the formula for banked corners wrong : It is Radius divided by the cosine of the degree of banking , not multiply .Sorry about that . 



#11 Steve Ogilvie

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Posted 29 March 2016 - 07:14 PM

This is a very simple corner cutter and the only one I have laying around right now .Brian had all our tools and he got sick of paying for storage so he sold them all .We have not had a shop for 6 years , until 2014 when Brian retired completely he just did sales work and Don Bryans built all the tracks .

     Most routers have holes in them to slide a jig in to them , so just make your jig to fit those holes Use a nut at all 4 corners and you can move the router up and down the threaded rods to change your radius .To make life easier on yourself , add a second pivot block so you cun cut the inside of your corners without changing the position of the router on the rods .

     To set the jig up , measure and drill your pivot hole at the radius you want down from what will be the outside of your turn . Then put the jig in place on the board and put your pivot bolt in place to cut the outside of the turn .Adjust the jig so the carbide flute just toucehs the sheet material and tighten the nuts at the router .Usually you cut counter clockwise . 

      After you have the outside of the turn cut , draw a line from what will be the outside start of the turn to the centre of your pivot hole . Tape your tape measure on to the edge of the corner  at this line (L hook of tape measure pointing in to the pivot hole ) and pull the tape around the corner and make a mark at your calculated circumference measurement .Draw a line from there to the centre of your pivot hole .

      Now you can move the pivot bolt to the inside block on your jig and cut the inside of the corner .Do not cut the whole sheet , just cut from line to line so the sheet stays intact and then use a circular saw to rough cut the ends .Make sure to stay at least 1/8" away from the ends so you can trim the ends with a straight edge and router . I mentioned earlier about using a 1/2 " bolt for a pivIMG_4992.JPG ot , but you can use 3/8 and that will work just as well .



#12 Mattb

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Posted 29 March 2016 - 07:31 PM

Looks like the high tech compass arm I used on my first routed track!!
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#13 Steve Ogilvie

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Posted 29 March 2016 - 10:26 PM

That one is definitely lo tech .I used it to make some circular moulding for a window in our upstairs hallway .Tomorrow I am going to go buy some drafting tools and draw up some really nice tools and some simple plans for tracks .As they say , let the games begin . 


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#14 Steve Ogilvie

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Posted 30 March 2016 - 12:08 AM

I am new to posting on this site. I will try to post some diagrams. Do we just use PhotoBucket here?

 

I really do not have time to write a book. And other people have written books on the subject. This thread will take me a while to complete and I do not want it cluttered with links to how to sites. I am going to share my knowledge of track building with everyone here so stick to technical questions please.

 

Thanks for the replies.

You know I think I sounded a little harsh on that post .Sorry about that .The more I write this stuff , the more I remember about the people I met along the way that I had help from that I had fun with and that I looked up to .I could not have succeeded like I did without people that believed in me when I started out building tracks .So as the memories come back , a lot of shout outs that most of you wont understand will be coming out . Like a shout out to the 3 Lee's that believed in me way back when .Feel free to guess who .



#15 Mattb

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Posted 30 March 2016 - 08:24 AM

No need to apologize. That was a fair response to the previous post. Any and all info you post here is welcome. Post at your pace and as your time and memory permit it. All I've ever built are routed, taped home tracks. It's always good to learn tips, tricks and history of a commercial track builder.

All things "slot" are welcome here.
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#16 Steve Ogilvie

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Posted 30 March 2016 - 05:09 PM

This is what my circle cutter was designed like .When I first started , my father(newly retired) used to work with me .He would build joints , legs and L brackets while I wasted time changing settings on my threaded rod cutter . Then one day he shows up with this circle cutter he invented .Instead of taking 2 days to cut the corners for a big track , less than 6 hours .My cutter had 3/8 threaded holes to cut 4, 6 or 8 lane tracks with 4" , 4 1/4" or 4 3/8" spacing .                                                      

 IMG_4993.JPG


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#17 Steve Ogilvie

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Posted 30 March 2016 - 05:22 PM

But if you are only building one track ,  a threaded rod jig is cheap and easy to make .



#18 Steve Ogilvie

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Posted 30 March 2016 - 07:29 PM

Here is the plan for my slot cutter :

IMG_4994.JPG

You use the wide 5" from the centre pins for the first slot .I always found it easier to go to the right when standing facing the outside of a track .Start in the middle of a straight and go all the way around .Keep your pins tight against the edge of the track .On a figure 8 style track , sometimes you will be on the inside .You always route a track flat .Which means that the track is not together when you make your first passes .After you have the first slot cut , dig the sawdust out of the groove with a key hole saw , something pointy .It will be packed in there real tight .You never make more than 1 pass .After the slot is cleaned out , move the pins to the 4 3/8 " X 4" holes .Carefully place the pins in to the slot where you started from and with the bit just above track surface , turn the router on .Let the jig drop down and start cutting .Keep downward pressure on the pins (leather gloves are a must ) and always go in the same direction .So what are the pins made from ?

IMG_4995.JPG

No not an 1/8 " drill bit (too lazy to go in my parts stash to get an 1/8" axle ) You use the gear to keep it at the right height and 2 axles and 2 gears is what you use .



#19 Steve Ogilvie

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Posted 31 March 2016 - 11:02 PM

My off set router jig had holes for 1/32( I think 3.5"not sure ) spacing , 4" 4 1/4' and 4 3/8 and 4 1/2" spacing .I found one of my old relief cutter bits the other day so I put it somewhere convenient and of course now I can't find it . I will try to make one tomorrow and show how easy it is to make your own .I found an old promo picks of some tracks we built while I was cleaning up the basement on Wednesday .See if I can bring them up off the scanner :

Scan 3.jpeg



#20 Steve Ogilvie

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Posted 31 March 2016 - 11:23 PM

    The green track was our version of a Chris Dadds LTD (learn to drive ) in Oakville Ont .The grey track is one we built for Geof Somers in England and we set it up in an auditorium in a hospital for a race weekend If I remember right .Sort of a dry run before it was set up for the ISRA worlds that were held near Southhampton in a shopping centre .The blue track is a grandstand 2 that we had set up at the Toronto Auto show in conjunction with the RCMP racing against drugs progam .And an offset trioval , we built that track in all kinds of sizes and widths .One of our biggest sellers and a lot of fun to race on .


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#21 Phil Worthy

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Posted 01 April 2016 - 02:34 PM

That Green LTD may have belonged to Ramcatlarry at some point. But I believed he sold it to someone out West.

 

Steve, did you build this track, the Super 8? It is my all time favorite flat track! :D Or used to be. :frown: It may have been a Mossetti design. I heard there was a twin in Europe? Do you know if that's true?

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  • Super 8 Track 6-1-09 podium 2.gif

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#22 Steve Ogilvie

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Posted 01 April 2016 - 10:14 PM

I built and designed the Super 8 for Mr Geoffrey Somers of Ringwood England and it is my original design .Funny but when I posted the pictures last night I could not remember that tracks name .(Geoff named the track ) .It is the grey track in the pics I posted last night .After the ISRA worlds were held on the track , Geoff had me come over and modify the track to make it easier to marshal .I lengthened the main straight and back straight and the over bridge sraight .I did not sell one in North America , maybe Brian or Don built one , this looks like the as modified original . Does not mean it is not a copy though . We built 3 or more UK black tracks .The first was for the ISRA worlds in Northumberland , England around 1993? not sure .Did Ernie have a hand in the design ? I really do not remember .If he did , Geoff would have talked to him and then Ernie would have faxed me his ideas .Remember the fax machine ? Anyways , the ISRA venue had posts in the way and the design had to suit that .So it was my draft that got built , and it was a great race and everyone had a great time . 


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#23 Steve Ogilvie

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Posted 01 April 2016 - 10:41 PM

IMG_4996.JPG IMG_4998.JPG IMG_5003.JPG IMG_5005.JPG IMG_5006.JPG IMG_5008.JPG So today I made a relief cutter .It is made from a 3/4" two flute carbide tip straight cut router bit .Lets see if I can do a simple photo how to :Well I guess I got things in reverse order but I think you can get the idea .One problem that I had is that this is a really cheap drill press and the bits oscillate .So things get sloppy .So I epoxied the bit of 1/8" axle in instead of soldering like I usually do .If you don't have a decent drill press , go visit some one that does . I would not use a bit that fits sloppy for anything more than a small track .Re work is not fun . And this bit already had a hole in the centre .Most do not , but just grind the middle area flat before you try to drill the 1/8" hole .The pin is just a piece of 1/8" axle .


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#24 Steve Ogilvie

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Posted 11 April 2016 - 02:21 PM

I got some nice drafting tools the other day from Staples so now I can draft up some designs and scan them in . I have to work nights starting tonight so maybe I can throw some drawings on here Thursday .A lot of people build simple oval tracks for home tracks and as long as it is the same diameter at both ends , you do not need to draw it up .

     Lets say you want a 4 lane oval with 10 degree banking at one end and a very shallow bank at the other end .Keep in mind that the smaller the inside corner circle cut out is , the less banking you can use .So lets build our 4 lane track with  5 foot diameter corners .Track width with 5" gutters and 4" lane spacing is 22" , so that only leaves a 16" diameter inner hole .10 degrees would probably be pushing things so lets calculate for 8 * .Both corners will have a diameter of 60 xPI / 2 = 188.5" rounded off . The banked corner will have a radius of 30 / cos of 8* = about 30 5/16 " radius .Does not seem like much but this is only a five foot diameter turn .  On the other turn cut the radius 30 1/16" for a not noticeable bank.

      Unlike the formulas , banking a turn is not really an exact science .We are contantly converting from decimals to the nearest fraction , so nothing comes out exactly to the degree calculations .Also the formula does not take in to account the thickness of material .So dont beat yourself up if it comes out a little off from what you were hoping for .

      The reason I suggest one bank and one flat turn  is because they are easier to put together if you are using 1 piece of straigtaway per side .You can use a ratchet strap to pull your straights together and force the bank up  and then the other end can be bolted together easily . I will put some detailed info on this when I get around to a drawing .

       Some people will question the need for a shallow bank if all they want to build is a flat track .If you build a flat trak , you will have a hard time keeping it from going off camber .The shallow bank still looks like a flat turn .But the little bit of banking keeps the corner under tension and holds its shape better .

        If you use 2 pieces of straight per side , you can bank both ends and bend them up by leaving one middle joint open and pulling the straights together with 2 rachet straps one on either side of the mid straight joint .                                                                                           



#25 Steve Ogilvie

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Posted 13 April 2016 - 03:02 PM

Scan 4.jpeg

Track parts . I claim a copyright on all information in this thread .Not to be used for publication without permision from Steve Ogilvie .Sorry about the sideways drawing , could not find how to spin it .







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