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Damien Straw
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562 Posts
Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Hi All,

I am going to need to build a 15' by 6' table for my track. Until we build where it'll be suspended in the garage ceiling, I will need to have it in the garage here up against the wall. So I am looking to build something that's not too heavy so that I can lean it against the wall when it is not in use and easily set it up again when needed.

Are there materials that would be good for this that are lighter than wood but still strong enough and easy to work with?

I imagine it will have legs which can be slipped in underneath and fastened for set up. I had a look through the forum but couldn't see anything that could help me.

Cheers,
Damo.
 

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Premium Member
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hi, Damo
If you just want light and stiff panels, you can't beat honeycomb in my opinion. Get something like a 1/2" or 3/4" honeycomb (in any plastic that's available and inexpensive...polycarbonate, polypropylene, whatever) and glue a 1/8" panel of cheap plywood (lauan for example) to the top and bottom and you're good to go. With 3/4" honeycomb, you'll end up with a 1" deep panel that's the weight of a 1/4" panel of cheap plywood. Attach a handle and it will be astonishly easy to move about.

Here's an example of what I mean...just a vendor picked at random btw...

http://www.plascore.com/product-honeycomb-cores.php

let me know if you need more details on this design...

best regards,
John

PS I'm emphasizing "cheap" plywood because it's lighter...You don't need the multi-layer plywood that heavy with resin...just the cheap junk that's a veneer top and bottom and single middle core. Here in the US, "lauan" is a classic example of that....stiff, light and cheap.
 

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Hi Damo
How many people will you have to move your track?
That sets the weight limit for lifting by hand.

Portable tracks are usually designed with sections around 8' by 4' maximum - those are normally a 2 man lift.
Larger one piece tracks generally work with a pulleys or trolleys etc. (because of the weight) and are only moved within one room (because getting something much larger though doorways an corridors is a problem in a lot of buildings)

15' by 6' is a BIG table!
When erected it'll need to be rigid / robust enough for people to lean on it - the normal way to do that is a leg every 3 or 4 feet.
When moving it, the support of all those legs is lost, something that size will need deep beams to make it stiff enough not to flex substantially. (standard 8' by 4' sheets of most materials sag somewhat under their own weight, the problem is much worse in the substantially larger size)

For sure there are high tech, high cost solutions to the problem, but it is questionable if they are practical DIY job.
 

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I too am looking at building a table in the garage that I can just polled up to the roof when not in use so will follow this thread with interest.
 

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I am currently building a 16x6 track in my livingroom and suspending it from the ceiling. I am using hollow core doors doweled together as a base with 1 inch aluminum square tubing as support under the doors. Currently it weighs 110 pounds. They are right while it is not heavy it is hard to move because of the size.

Cheers
Ray
 

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Damien Straw
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562 Posts
Discussion Starter · #6 ·
Hi,

The honeycomb sounds like a great idea and I will look into that. Eventually it'll be hung in the garage ceiling Andy winched up and down but until then I will have to assemble on my own sometimes I'd think. It'll need to be manageable for that. It'll need to be strong enough to roll over and lean up on one edge. I don't think there'd be much flex in the honeycomb? Sturdy attachment points for the legs might be what adds the most weight?

cheers,
Damo.
 

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Hi Damo
What sort of track are you planning - routed or plastic?
Some weight saving ideas that work for plastic track won't work for routed tracks (and vica versa)

Hi radtad
Is that 110 pounds just the doors plus frame without a track? How do you arrange legs or maybe it goes on the floor?

Also I agree 110 pounds isn't too much with a fit adult male at each end, but not all of us have 2 of those at home.
 

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Damien Straw
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562 Posts
Discussion Starter · #8 ·
Hi John,

It is a Scalextric Sport track with almost full borders. I have attached a picture below.



The pic shows my plans for borders and barriers too and ticks show the pieces I already have. It's quite a large track for a moveable table I know. I just couldn't settle without having on ramps, digital racing line, double lane pit etc... I wanted to do it once and do it right.

I want to start building reasonably soon. I have been testing all the various corners and racing line and it all seems to work ok so I am getting more track bit by bit and building it up to full size, testing as I go. I have done it this way to make sure all corners work before commiting to a layout. I am now 99% sure that everything works well.

Cheers,
Damo.
 

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hi, Damo
If you decide to go with the honeycomb, we can discuss the details in more depth....it will definitely work, btw and not be particularly costly (considering the alternative would be a welded aluminum frame for example...last time I bought a 5' x 10' sheet of 3/4" I paid $75 including shipping). The point is that you will be able to lift the finished table by yourself. For elevating it I would attach at 25% in from each end (4 foot from each end). As I said before, if you have any questions, feel free to contact me...for example, you'll need to overlap the top/bottom panels with the honeycomb so the joints are in different places. Also...I would recommend that you go with 5' wide honeycomb but 6' wide upper and lower panels. You can run a simple wood edge at the end (such as on a hollow door panel)...or of course glue in additional strips of honeycomb. Just a couple thoughts...

John
 

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My last plastic track was built on a platform that was leaned against a wall when not in use. It was over 100' of Scaley Sport, fastened to the baseboard with the standard Scaley track clips. I made a frame of 1x3 boards, with a solid frame around the outside built from ripped 1/2" plywood. Then I used Masonite or thin pressboard for the track surface.

I found it quite difficult to make something light enough to lift but stiff enough to not flex when lifting. The main problem with flexing was that Scaley Sport track does not hold it's connections well when flexing. I eventually got so ticked off with the connectivity issues, I ripped it all apart, sold the Sport track and built a routed wood track.

If you decide to continue on your current path, I recommend you solder feeders between every piece of track. I had four power feeders spread around the track and it was not enough. If I ever did something like that again (which I wouldn't after going with routed), I would solder feeder wires between every piece of track. That way it could still flex but power would remain consistent.

Randy
 

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Greg Gaub
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I agree with the power feeders/jumpers idea. If it's a "do it once, do it right" kind of thing, then definitely do that during construction.
As for flexing, you could to the torsion box idea. There was a thread about that recently here, and it seemed to work out really well.
 

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Damien Straw
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562 Posts
Discussion Starter · #13 ·
I'll do a search for torsion box, that sounds intriguing. Aiden, PMP do Honeycomb in Nz but they don't reply to emails! I will call them soon though. I was going to copper tape the track so that will help with the flexing no doubt as long as any flexing doesn't upset the tape at the joints.

Cheers,
Damo
 

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Greg Gaub
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The problem with taping is that the tape breaks at the joins. You end up adding more tape as time goes by. But, if you put jumper wires between each track underneath, and then power taps to each group of tracks that are connected that way, you'll have pretty much 100% power all around. That, plus INOX MX3 on the rail and you should be golden for years.

Taping can quiet things down a little, and reduce braid wear, but if the track is not in a stable temperature year round, it will expand/contract and break the tape. Ask Injectorman, and his is even inside his house.
 

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Damien Straw
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562 Posts
Discussion Starter · #15 ·
Oh, darn! I was really keen on taping as it would smooth everything out especially the racing lines where I have soldered the rails back together. I am not a good solderer!

Cheers,
Damo.
 

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Trevor Gordon
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1,465 Posts
Do it once do it right, you poor poor fella. There is only one "right" way to go. That is to wire up every join for every rail. Only took me two nights of full on soldering. But worth it in the end.
 

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A couple things...the honeycomb idea is simply a "torsion box" for the modern world, so is a hollow panel door for that matter. The stiffness comes from suspending two outer panels as far apart as you can, with something between them to do the separating (and resist the shear forces for those interested in the details). It's not complicated...same concept as an "I" beam.

I hesitate to enter into the copper tape zone again. I know there are people here with strong opinions. Let me simply point out that many of us here do copper tape and love it...the vast majority have never experienced the reported
problems that seem to proliferate at every discussion, always by people who haven't made the copper tape work. Personally, I would listen to those who make it work, not those who have found it unworkable. This is where
I usually remind people that I (and many others) ONLY use copper tape on our wood tracks...and before that on my plastic Carrera track. I'm only making this point for you Damo since you sound enthusiastic about the copper tape and
I thought an opposing viewpoint should be voiced before you gave up on the idea too quickly.

As for the question about honeycomb availability in NZ...I wouldn't know, however you can surely get hollow panel doors there. They will cost a bit more and be a bit heavier, but you can get the job done just the same. I would mate
them up with dowels every 6-8 inches and epoxy the interface.

cheers,
John
 

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Greg Gaub
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John makes a good point. There is a difference between copper taping a routed wood track, and copper taping a plastic sectional track.
And I've definitely heard lots of good things about copper taping plastic track. I had planned to do it myself a while ago. It was when I could see the gaps in track joins during the winter that I decided it was not suitable for my track.
 

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Damien Straw
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562 Posts
Discussion Starter · #19 ·
Maybe preparation is the key to copper taping? Maybe getting all the track pieces very tightly together and fixed down tightly to the baseboard to eliminate movement would make a big difference as would a firm baseboard with little or no flex?
Anyway, I'll ask more questions and seek more answers in another post.

I have once again emailed PMP Group in NZ about honeycomb and once again had no reply so if I get time today amongst my other jobs, I will ring and ask them about it. I'd imagine though that here in NZ, a product like that could be very expensive. It'll be interesting to find out.

Cheers,
Damo.
 

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Greg Gaub
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You can't stop the track from expanding and contracting with temperature. That's why the track clips are designed to allow motion. It depends on the geometry of your layout, and the variation in temperature of it's location, but there WILL be expansion and contraction. If you make them all snug and nailed down hard, you might get warping and buckling as the temperature rises. You'll also get gaps as the temperature goes down. And that's if you do all the work when it's at some kind of "average" temp. But if you get a heat wave or a cold snap, watch out!

That said, I'm only going by what I've read here. Usually the tape is great for a year or two, or a few years in the right conditions. After an unknown length of time, tape breaks and you have to lay on another piece. Some people got fed up enough to pull all the tape off, and then they had to clean off all of the adhesive left behind.
 
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