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Building old school modular track - progress pics


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#1 Ken Bryan

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Posted 14 May 2016 - 01:09 PM

OK, I have been assembling materials and making plans for months.  Today we start cutting.  Three club members are going to try to make it to help.

 

The intention is to build a track that is transportable in 4 4x8 pieces.  Initially it will be assembled into an 8x16 foot track.  But the pieces are designed to be interchangeable, so that it can later be expanded or rearranged into other configurations.

 

The "anchor" piece for the track is an over/under "ampersand" looking piece, shown here.

 

DSC00755.JPG

 

This attaches to the rest of the track, shown here:

 

DSC00756.JPG

 

Today's goal is to cut out all of these pieces and mount then on 4x8 plywood, then route.  I say this is "old school" because there is no CAD or high tech equipment here.  There will be 4 connections, each 40" wide (or 48" if they include an apron).  Each of the 8 lanes on one piece are "supposed" to connect exactly to each of the 8 lanes on the connecting piece.  I realize there will be some casualties along the way, and I know from previous experience that there is a way to fudge slightly, but not much.

 

To make the connections work, I use a master template, a piece of metal from Home Depot that I put 4 notches in to designate the exact locations of the 4 lanes:

 

DSC00760.JPG

 

I have learned from previous experience NOT to cut or route wood in my basement.  I cleaned up sawdust for months.  So this project is going outside.  More photos as this develops.

 

 






#2 Ken Bryan

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Posted 14 May 2016 - 01:14 PM

Cut out first two pieces with a jigsaw.  Working on 4x4 MDF until I can get help with larger pieces.  My original plan was to have both 4x4 and 4x8 plywood pieces, but decided to stick with 4x8 for the underlayment for each of transport and connections.

 

DSC00762.JPG

 

DSC00763.JPG

 

 



#3 Ken Bryan

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Posted 14 May 2016 - 01:15 PM

MDF is not exactly 4x8, so I am trying to true up the width as I go along, which is why the markings on the wood doesn't appear to line up.

 

:)



#4 Ken Bryan

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Posted 14 May 2016 - 05:08 PM

Thanks to Tom Brown for the help!

 

DSC00764.JPG

 

No routing, but all cut out.  We left some of the infield pieces where practical.

 

DSC00766.JPG

 

 



#5 eshorer

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Posted 14 May 2016 - 07:03 PM

I really like the idea of a modular routed track. As much as I love my Mini King, I wish I could reconfigure it to have some variety. Can you post pics of the various layouts these modular pieces will make? Thanks much.

Eddie


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#6 Ken Bryan

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Posted 14 May 2016 - 09:11 PM

Eddie --

 

That is funny.  I told my wife my big choice was...do I build a modular track, or do I build a Mini King?  I have always admired your track.  Here are some of the possible layouts I did on paper ahead of time.  There is an 8x12 version, a second 8x16 version, and an 8x20.

 

track 1.JPG

 

Track 2.JPG

 

Track 3.JPG

 

Next weekend will be the next steps forward.

 

Ken Bryan

 

 


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#7 schoolteacher52

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Posted 15 May 2016 - 11:19 AM

Really looks nice. The idea of the modular is a winner!


A. J. Smith

#8 Joe Mig

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Posted 15 May 2016 - 09:05 PM

I'm keeping an eye on this one.  ♡


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#9 Ken Bryan

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Posted 21 May 2016 - 08:29 PM

OK, back at it today.  Even though the track is going to be transported to Montana, and they have already built a base for it, I decided I needed to put it on a base while building.  I need to be able to access the bottom of the plywood, which I can't do while it sits on the floor.  So I am building two 8' x 8' tables to put under it.  Built the first one today.

 

8' is an awkward size, especially with a basement ceiling that is slightly smaller than 8.

 

DSC00767.JPG

 

Then, when I decided to put wheels on it, I realized they would have to go on before most of assembly.  That meant when assembly time came I had all sorts of fun.  Nothing would stay where I put it!

 

DSC00768.JPG

 

But at the end of the day, here is the first table structure.  The closest side has a low cross bar, because this is where the track pieces will connect, and I wanted plenty of space to work underneath on electrical connections between the sections.

 

 

DSC00769.JPG



#10 Ken Bryan

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Posted 22 May 2016 - 11:06 PM

OK, the base is in place.  Need some help for the next step, which is laying the plywood on top.  I can't move sheets of 3/4" plywood from the garage around to the basement by myself.

 

You will notice the different orientation of the 2 halves.  The cross members support the center of the 8' side of each 4x8 sheet.

 

If you look closely, you will also notice that I ditched the wheels.  Too wimpy.

 

I have a special routing guide coming soon.  If it arrives in time, I will route the track over the next (holiday) weekend.   The legs are braced to be perpendicular in both dimensions, although it doesn't look like it in the picture.

 

DSC00771.JPG

 

Ken



#11 Tom Brown

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Posted 22 May 2016 - 11:44 PM

Ken

I'll be there. Let me when.


Tom Brown


#12 DAZ

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Posted 23 May 2016 - 03:06 AM

Ken. please contact me and I will try to be there to lend a hand.  Looking good


David Ziuchkovski

#13 Ken Bryan

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Posted 23 May 2016 - 12:50 PM

Dave and Tom --  Could we do this either tonight or tomorrow night around 6:00?

 

Ken



#14 Tom Brown

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Posted 23 May 2016 - 08:57 PM

Ken, I can be there Wednesday about 6:30pm.


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#15 Ken Bryan

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Posted 27 May 2016 - 11:43 PM

Thanks to Dave Z for helping haul in the plywood, and to both Dave and Tom for figuring out next steps.

 

We determined the frame was too wimpy.  "More 2x4's!!"  Looking good (and much more level) tonight.  Tom and I are going to work on the overpass section on Saturday.  Not sure we can get the elevation change we need in this space, but we are going to give it a shot.

 

Montana Track Progress.jpg



#16 MattD

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Posted 28 May 2016 - 08:22 AM

The legs looked skimpy to me, too, but I thought it might just be my viewpoint. At 235 pounds, I have to have a pretty substantial table to lean on, which invaribly happens. Not everybody has that concern! Braces on the legs help out, but plywood gussets on the legs add a lot more support area.

I also find that legs made from two 2X6's that make an angle can support a lot and be really firm. My current track is on an 18X5 foot table with 2X6 legs only at the corners. I can kneel on that table with no strength issues.
Matt Bishop

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#17 Ken Bryan

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Posted 28 May 2016 - 12:18 PM

OK, displaying the build as we go, LIVE on Memorial weekend!

 

The overpass will be the hardest piece, and the hardest part is getting the wood to bend in this narrow space.  Needs underside kerfing, which I have never done.  So we estimated the right depth and started with a series of cuts which I suspect will have to increase in either depth or number.

 

DSC00772.JPG

 

DSC00773.JPG


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#18 Ken Bryan

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Posted 28 May 2016 - 11:23 PM

OK, so we made a lot of progress today, it just doesn't look like it.  And we took several steps forward and a final step back.

 

Dave Z and Tom were here for about 5 hours or so, and we worked on the two hardest parts of the remaining construction.  We figured out how the overpass is going to work, and we cut the missing piece of the puzzle  

 

With an overpass, you have overlapping pieces in one location.  I made the mistake of having the piece on the top be continuous, meaning we had to insert the hidden section under the overpass.  Rather that use the short piece leading in, and add another short one, we created one very odd shaped piece.

 

The hard part of the overpass is getting enough rise to clear the inside lane.  I had envisioned the track rising to the overpass, then descending on the other side, with the overpass itself being level.  This is not practical given the space constraints.  So the overpass will be low (about 3.5" above the lower surface) on the inside lane, and more like 5.5" on the outside.  Since cars slide to the outside, this is better to marshal than the reverse.

 

We ended the day on a backward note.  As we flexed the surface, the MDF began to separate (see picture below), breaking along the lines of the kerfing.  We will use some wood glue and clamps to fix this, then get back to the work at hand.

 

I came away extremely encouraged, and glad for the help, although it doesn't look like as much progress from the outside.

 

DSC00774.JPG

 

DSC00776.JPG



#19 Ken Bryan

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Posted 30 May 2016 - 11:30 PM

OK, like Kenny Rogers says, "you have to know when to hold 'em"  and "know when to walk away."  Today i finally gave up on this particular section.  So after spending 3 days on the track this weekend, we scrapped the original overpass section, bought a new piece of MDF and started over.  That was AFTER:

 

I glued the part that came apart, letting it set clamped overnight.

 

DSC00778.JPG

 

DSC00779.JPG

 

Then went to elaborate lengths to figure out the most effective bracing system

 

DSC00789.JPG

 

Using my outdoor workshop on a perfect mid-70s day

 

DSC00791.JPG

 

To get a carefully graduated ramp

 

DSC00797.JPG

 

It didn't work.  I tried kerfing more.  Nope.  In desperation I hooked up the trailer and decided to look for 3/8 MDF, thinking that would work, but leave me the challenge of connecting the 2 heights.  Finally, I started cutting the piece in sections.

 

At that point Dave Z showed up and talked me off the ledge.  We threw in that hand, went back to Home Depot, and cut a whole new, way simpler section.  Instead of an ampersand, this looks like the letter Q.  The best part is that the overpass is over a straight, so there's less of an issue fishing out cars in a tight, dangerous space.

 

I cut every piece except the overpass itself.  So for the picture I laid a larger piece over the top so you can see how it will go.  The rise is all on a straight, and it passes over a straight.  My original hope had been to not have to have any other piece have elevation.  That shop has long sunk.

 

I am reminded of the immortal words of Henry David Thoreau:  "Our life is frittered away by detail.  Simplify, simplify."

 

DSC00803.JPG

 

10% of the work of the weekend resulting in actual progress on the track.  About 90% resulted in...education.

 

 

 

 



#20 Ken Bryan

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Posted 30 May 2016 - 11:45 PM

I may not have explained this well.  What I learned is that, in the space I have and with the thickness of MDF I am using, an "x" crossing, looking from the end of the track, doesn't work.  A "plus" works just fine.

 

The x v 2.jpg

 

 

The Plus.JPG

 


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#21 Ken Bryan

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Posted 31 May 2016 - 11:31 PM

GREAT progress today.  I cut all of the pieces today and without nailing down put everything together.  Since MDF is 49x97, I had some pieces that were an inch too long or wide.  And I had to retrofit one of the abandoned pieces to make a one piece bridge overpass.  But in the end it all fits!  Here is what it looks like at the end of the day:

 

DSC00805.JPG

 

This is most, but not all, the trimmings.  Think we created a little sawdust?

 

DSC00806.JPG

 

And I still have plenty of material for bracing.

 

DSC00807.JPG

 

I cut the final piece about .5" too long on purpose, just so I could make sure I had some leeway to make things fit.  It makes this connection about .5" off.  But as we nail everything down I will trim that final piece.

 

DSC00808.JPG

 

As it stands, the bridge will be 3" high.  But there will be a straight underneath, so few cars should need to be fished out.

 

DSC00809.JPG

 

And I also received a track building video, along with a routing guide in the mail.  Just in time for the routing process.  Can't wait to view it!

 

DSC00810.JPG

 

 


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#22 James Wendel

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Posted 01 June 2016 - 12:10 AM

I hope that you are planning to raise the 180 degree turn before the bridge (first picture of post #21).  That will smooth the transition to the bridge and reduce the off-camber turn in the 180. 


You can't always get what you want...

#23 Ken Bryan

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Posted 25 June 2016 - 10:28 AM

It has been several weeks since I posted pictures.  I took two days vacation during that interval to work on the track.  The central slot is now routed for the entire track.  Now I need to:

 

  • Bondo the mistakes
  • Route the braid recess
  • Paint
  • Braid
  • Attach to the plywood
  • Wire

I have a week...

 

Here's some pics of the progress:

 

Set up for more routing outside

 

DSC00817.JPG

 

First I route the first half inch to make sure all the pieces will line up.  The original pen markings were not accurate for final placement.

 

DSC00818.JPG

 

While keeping a tarp handy for the possibility of rain

 

DSC00819.JPG

 

I had occasional mistakes on the straight section.  A router in MDF is like a hot knife in butter.  You can make big mistakes in a hurry.

 

DSC00820.JPG

 

And I had difficulty using a routed lane as a guide, particularly for tight corners.  Goober here...

 

DSC00826.JPG



#24 Ken Bryan

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Posted 25 June 2016 - 10:43 AM

My first routing day, I did 3 of the 11 pieces, all smaller ones.  The second day I did 5 more.  The final day (yesterday) I did the last 3, including the biggest and most difficult section.  And I went back and replaced the section above that had the big goober.  In all, it probably took me about an hour to an hour and a half per section.  I got better as I went along, learning what works and what doesn't.

 

Here is the base plate I got from Oldslotcarguy.com.  It is set up for 3 different lane spacings.  I used the largest (4").

 

DSC00832.JPG

 

I use window blind plastic for the guide for the straights.  I got this free from Home Depot (return on a special order they couldn't use)

 

DSC00830.JPG

 

The same plastic is also used to make the circles.  Drill hole, insert pencil.  Slick!

 

DSC00835.JPG

 

Here is the guide, also from old slotcarguy.  Nails every inch or so in stiff but bendable acrylic-like plastic.  I came to love this.

 

DSC00837.JPG

 

Overpass section done.

 

DSC00838.JPG

 

Here is the track, ready for the next step.  Since MDF has little structural integrity, it can be trained to bend just by letting gravity take effect (aided in this picture by some heavy picture albums).  We are getting it ready for making a smoother curve to the overpass.

 

DSC00840.JPG

 

 


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#25 Ken Bryan

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Posted 01 July 2016 - 12:33 PM

Fix-it time.  Tom Brown came over on Sunday afternoon and we put bondo in all the goof-ups and spackle in all the nail holes.  Roughly a can of each.

 

 

DSC00850.JPG

 

Thursday night I routed the braid recess for 7 of the 11 sections.  Will finish that today, paint and mount to the plywood.  Pictures later today.  Tomorrow (Saturday) I plan to braid the track, then deliver it on Sunday.  Would welcome anyone who wants to help.

 

Ken

 







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