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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Thanks for coming on my journey,

I had posted some of this in another forum a while back but that forum withered and had tech issues, so I thought I would engage here.

This first part is about the track that was, then I will get to the one that is under construction.

It begins with me chasing down an internet rabbit hole into the slot car world, I found digital slot cars and all their variations. I researched BLAST, and Oxygen, as well as the mainstream manufactures. I arrived at Scorpius and was impressed at the potential, but it was a significant investment to go in full bore. I also ran across a pretty cool video of a track that lowered from the ceiling. Being a DIY addict and a bit of a tech geek, I knew where I was going. At the time, I had a large addition happening to the homestead which included a game/media room. This clearly needed a slot car layout. With Christmas looming, I knew we needed a fun family thing to share and saw the opportunity as the testing ground to see if slot cars could gain traction as family entertainment.

I started hunting and collecting used Carrera track and digital components, purchased Ultimate Racer, and started dreaming. Where I ultimately wanted to land was somewhere between the pure fluid elegance and simplicity of BLAST and the endless variability and control available from high end digital systems like Scorpius. More on that later.

I have spent most of my life playing with model trains, so the vision also includes a time period and detailing of a finished layout.

I grew up in So Cal. My father worked for Car Craft and Hot Rod Magazines, and sports cars and racing were part of my childhood. Riverside was a like second home and some of my fondest memories from childhood are from wandering the track on Sunday race days. Back in the days before the world got so regulated, a kid with a pit pass could walk among Mark Donohue, Denny Hume, Bobby Allison, or Richard Petty, etc. and come right up to the cars on the grid.

I was in the crowd for this too at the Big 0. (a few pics always makes for a better thread)

evel.jpg


So, it is a given, early-mid 70's(ish) was the favored era with an initial focus on CanAm.

On a side note, where are all the 70's Indy cars: Unser, Foyt, etc? I know, endless one-off cars are not economical to make, but there are some cool ones back there.
 

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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
I determined the maximum available size would be 6'x10'. I know, not huge, especially when working with Carrera track, but it was the right fit. For Christmas, now 2 1/2 years back, I embarked on creating a first draft.

My son and I knocked out the following layout in about three days. We were testing thin and light platform building, layout design, modeling techniques and most importantly family adoption.

So, here we go.

Starting with the platform, thin, rigid, and light was the goal. All things that don't really go together. My first attempt was with aluminum extrusions but the section I was targeting resulting in the aluminum being too flexible. I ended up going with steel strut (unistrut). It has a vertical section of 1 1/2".

Then we welded up the frame. We used 1" rigid foam insulation as the base to keep things light.

Font Gas Publication Machine Advertising Wood Font Parallel Hardwood Wood stain

Here is an early test fit of the track. The platform was first covered with two layers of cardboard. Then the track was set up. This was a template that was used to cut out the upper layer of cardboard under the track.

Wood Flooring Floor Art Rectangle
 

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Discussion Starter · #4 ·
Once the track was set flush, the cut out for the boarders was laid out. For this test track, the plan was to use black foam core. At the time, I thought it was an original thought. Since then I have found that it is a long used cheap boarder technique. The boarder is about 2" wide.

Brown Automotive tire Wood Flooring Rim Tire Automotive tire Tread Synthetic rubber Automotive design

Next came the sand traps. This was modeled with 1/16" cork. Followed by turf look. I used just a woodland scenic roll grass for the fast application.

Bumper Audio equipment Gadget Automotive tire Wood Automotive tire Wood Material property Automotive wheel system Cutting mat

From there I added some walls out of PVC trim. These were held in place by metal pins drilled into the wall and then the wall was simply punched into the cardboard and foam.
 

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Discussion Starter · #5 ·
The project was a hit with the family and friends. Holiday race days became popular.

We quickly found the Carrera app to be a POS and moved to SmartRace. We have been very pleased with how that has developed, but casting to a large screen always had too much lag so we are still working on that.

Automotive design Urban design Art Car Road Automotive tire Automotive design Flooring Wood Floor

Tire Automotive tire Motor vehicle Hood Automotive design Automotive tire Hood Tire Race track Motor vehicle

Over time I added call buttons in multiple points around the track. A pretty easy hack which is now obsolete since SmartRace addresses this.

Eventually, the track was relocated down to the future game room. As one would imagine, a temporary track in a remodel does not maintain itself for very long. About a year ago (probably more) we had to pack it up and dismantle version 1 so the room could be finished and version 2 could come to life.

The string of posts will be the development of the ceiling slot car track that hides in plain site in a regularly occupied room.
 

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Discussion Starter · #6 ·
Time to give this thread a little more attention.

Here is where I am at today. Behind that ceiling is a operable layout but just getting started on the scenery.

(Ok so that was a tease)

Property Building Furniture Table Wood Property Furniture Couch Table Building

Moving from the version 1, I did learn a few things -

I needed to minimize hard to reach crash areas.

I needed to have less R1 curves, which is not easy in this small space.

I wanted some opportunity to get some speed

The pit needed to accommodate a couple cars

The track plan was laid out with Ultimate Racer. After quite a few variations that are driven in part by the size and limited vertical opportunities.

This is where I landed.

Rectangle Font Pattern Art Circle

The plan allowed for some higher speed sweeping turns which did help.

There is some track mods in there and I will get to that as I go along.

First the build.
 

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Discussion Starter · #7 ·
As stated before, space was limited, I wanted to recess into the ceiling and create something that was not impactful until it was time to break out the toys.

The previous construction method was light but too flexible for the circumstance, especially when finish materials are added to the bottom.

My son and I welded up a frame of 1' x 2" steel with some 1' angles across the middle.

Wood Building Floor Flooring Hardwood Wood Window Flooring Floor Building

As you can see, this was in the midst of the finishing of the room and the old exposed layout quickly was turned to this -

Wood Bumper Automotive exterior Gas Automotive tire

I epoxy painted it and added nailers to allow for future finish materials attachment. And we got it up in the air.

Building Window Wood House Composite material Wood Window Beam Shade Wood stain

So we got to stiff, but not so much light and it was going to get a lot worse.
 

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Discussion Starter · #8 ·
Unlike some hoist builds in garages, I did not have the luxury of lots of space for block and tackle, counterweights and big motor. Everything was going to be tight.

Getting this thing to up and down evolved many times over the course of a year as more and more weight came into play.

My original concept evolved around a garage compression coil lift and a jack shaft operator. I had no vision of needing counter weights because the coil would add the additional lift.

I sized the coil for my anticipated calculated weight plus a few pounds and ordered accordingly. There are some key mechanical logic reasons that made this not work out,

but in the end my final weight is probably double what I estimated back then.

Wood Hardwood Beam Plywood Composite material

While the frame and wood was only about 80# all worked fine, but as more was added, things did not go as smooth.

The big mechanical issue was my not seeing that on a typical garage door coil, you reduce the load on the coil as the sectional door goes from vertical to horizontal.

So as the coil unwinds, its lifting capacity goes down along with the amount of force it needs to exert to move the door. In my build, the load never changed. So as one would imagine, the heavier the track got, the farther from the ceiling the platform would be when the lifting capacity stopped.

It was time to abandon the spring and go to counter weights. This additional torque played havoc with the end mounted motor, so that got relocated to the center of the shaft.

There was a lot of up and down and taking apart and redoing. All this while I continued to finish the space. But at some point I eventually got here.

Wood Window Door Flooring Floor

They are not shown here, but that was the beginning of the final operator that has two stacks of lead counter weights connected to cables that are coiled in reverse of the cables that raise and lower the track platform.

In its current operating condition, there is probably 160# all going up and down within the stud wall cavity. The operator, a belt drive ZAP Lift is also within the wall and the shaft is just outside the studs on multiple pillow blocks.

Below is an in-process shot of the final cable pulley system, larger radius pulleys on shafts set with axel bearings at each end. The goal was to minimize friction as much as possible.

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Discussion Starter · #9 ·
Before I call it quits for the evening, here is where the actual layout is at as of a few weeks ago.

The scenery is just getting going. Everything is from light weight materials. You might note the blue tape on the edges. This indicated the locations of floor joists above that any vertical scenery over a couple inches tall must fit between.

Cabinetry Automotive design Urban design Wood Flooring

Wood Flooring Art Floor Font

Hood Automotive tire Automotive design Wood Grille

Many components are are being fabricated now including bridges, the first of three pit buildings and custom figures.

Be sure to check out the 3d figure thread pinned at the top of the tracks and scenery section.

Tire Automotive tire Window Wood Tread Guitar accessory Wood Engineering Flooring Composite material Toy Gas Soldier Machine gun Personal protective equipment
 

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