I decided to give building a slotcar track a go as a bit of a lockdown project with my kids (6&10). Work has been progressing since March but I thought I would take stock and compile some of the notes/photos in case they are interesting to anyone here. My lad has his birthday at the end of May and I'm hoping that it will be playable rather than finished by then.
First step was to get the kids involved designing a track, or more precisely plagiarising sections of tracks they thought were cool on Youtube. We started trying to use Carrera Track Planner design software but I ended up paying for Autorennbahnplaner which turned out easier to use than to say. This work had the added advantage of counting as an ICT, Maths and a Design and Technology lesson winning me triple brownie points for homeschooling from the Head of Operations.
After getting a bit carried away with how much we could fit into the room we came up with this, it's about 38m:
At this stage the layout reminded me a bit of the Italian mountain roads I remembered as a child and I started to come up with a plan to try and incorporate some of these memories. On a practical note I realised I needed a bit more track than the 7 metres I had acquired when I bought a second hand 1:24 scale Carrera Digital set secondhand on Ebay.
A few gin-fuelled Carrera track buying sessions and we soon had a hangover and more than enough track to get experimenting.
I was fortunate to have ordered quite a bit of sheet and 3x2 just before lockdown as all local timber yards were shut now. Building the table was difficult with the kids but I managed to introduce my 10 year old daughter to mitre saws with no fingers lost but a rather frosty look from Head of Ops.
After the frame was built, 2x2 timber battens were inset to create a lattice and the table losely covered in some thin sheet board (later a second is laminated). The table is built in two sections as the layout will be stackable if there are occasions when we need more floorspace in the room.
Ideally I would have like to install some kind of low profile lift so I can lower the track closer to the ground when not in use. I had a cursory look at motorcycle lifts but nothing jumped out at me. If anyone has done this could you point me in the right direction.
We cobbled the different levels using books, cds, lego etc. At this stage we realised just how much our level changes impacted on track fit. (In the end I resorted to cutting up track to make lots custom sections in order to stay as close to the planned design as possible)
I decided to use aluminium mesh and paper mache to make the scenery because there was an excellent video on how to do it (Marklin of Sweden on Youtube) and the kids were black-belts with PVA and kitchen roll. [ Five 15m rolls of mesh, 18 rolls of kitchen paper and about 15 litres of PVA were used in this]
Things got pretty untidy with the 3 of us all beavering away at the same time
Soon we got the basics of stapling the mesh to the wood frame and slathering it in paper mache. The tricky bit was disguising the join between the two table sections.
Rock molds and Hydrocal were used to create the stone effect and then this then painted with acrylics (just as described on Marklin of Sweden's Youtube site).
Realising how difficult it was to work on the table I inserted removable plywood pieces into the layout where we planned to put buildings etc so we could work on these comfortably at the kitchen table and then insert them into the layout when completed. I also realised that I needed easier access to the middle of the table so made the railway tunnel area removable to allow access.
Next came the static grass. I was dreading the mess this would create and it was worse than I expected. On the plus side the children enjoyed electrocuting each other with the static dispenser. We mainly used 2mm then 4mm grasses. The battery static applicator I bought struggled with 6mm.
This is what it looked like after about an hour with the first layer of 2mm static grass
Repurposing a G scale Piko railway station as a house and adding some different shades of grass came next
The track then was disassembled and cleaned by me (the kids found a lot of Zoom meetings to attend during this stage)
I decided to paint the track like the Italian roads I remember in the 70's and found some photos from the period that helped. I used Hycote Adhesion promoter and plastic primer and finally got the right shate of grey by mixing a very light grey emulsion paint with some black tempura powder and applied with a roller.
Getting the grey right was tricky as the tone on colour postcards/prints of the era is not very accurate and my memory was of little help. I finally found some family photographs which helped.
Overall, I'm pleased with the way it looks for now but fretting I only have a week to go.