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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Hi all,
I'll save you the long story as it sounds pretty typical from what I've read. Kids got scalextric for christmas, reminded me of my youth, found my old cars, now I'm interested again etc.

The kids have a digital set which is very cool, but as soon as I found the forum I took a liking to routed tracks, something I've never seen before. Of course, I decided "I can do that" so here I am. I am posting to show progress, but also to ask for some advice. I didn't want to go "whole hog" so I am going to make a single lane track on a 1/2" sheet of 4'x8' MDF to test out some ideas, my skills, level of interest and whatnot.

I built this up last night from 1/2" MDF and some "8ft" 2x4s. In quotes because as you can see in the pix, they are a bit shy in length.

Top:


From underneath:

I'm going to wait to add some more stringers until I have the track pattern decided, so I don't have to relocate any screws.

I taped off guides for a 4" border all the way around. The track will not exceed this boundary so the cars have some room to slide:


Now, here are two pictures of the layout I have marked out with some masking tape:




Sometimes during the season, I attend local autocross events. When the track is done, it will be painted up to look like a parking lot, with the necessary orange cones, corner workers etc. so it will only be a single lane. The "x" on the tape layout will be the start/finish. In real life auto-x the start/finish aren't always in the same place, but I wanted to be able to drive the track as a loop if the kids wanted to.

I have tried to incorporate some elements that I needed and wanted to have. My son wanted the "snakey thing", so the tape dots/s-curves around them will be a cone slalom, and the white piece of paper is a chicago box. Autocross is fairly slow as a motorsport, and I tried to keep that in mind, but left the "north" end fairly open and flowing, so the track isn't too boring.

What does everyone think? Any big problem areas that you see? The curves are a little rough as they are taped in, and will be smoothed and drawn in pencil before routing out.

I'll most likely lay copper tape instead of braid, and i'm not sure how I'll power it all yet.

Also, the top (what I'm calling north) end of the track, with the big flowing curve, will be slightly raised. Maybe a shallow increase in height before the curves begin/end, of about 1/4" to 1/2" just to break things up a bit. One of our local lots has a big dip/water channel in the middle, but I'm not sure how I'd do that, or if it might cause too many de-slots.

Thanks,
Al
 

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Hi last person - welcome to the asylum.

Looks good so far. A couple of thoughts.

From my own bitter experience, don't go lower than a 10cm radius on any corner. That's about the tightest you can get away with without some cars getting stuck at slow speeds. I used nothing more high tech than a round biscuit tin lid (about 20cm diameter) to give me a template.

Unless you've got some ideas about scenery you want to include in the middle, I'd be tempted to use more of the available board. For instance, in your last photo, there appears to be more space you could use at the bottom of the track. You could extend your infield loop into this space.

Looking again, the loop you've got in the bottom left corner (last photo) seems to be pretty close to the edge of the board. Will this give you sliding road without hitting/going over the edge?

Nice idea and I'm looking forward to watching your progress (hopefully you'll be quicker than me:) )

Don
 

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I think you have a good start also
4 X 8 will be a good size for a "parking lot" track. I built one a couple of years ago on half that.
If you want some more ideas google Oldslotracer.com for some routing tips.
Something you might look into....with one car at a time the lanes can cross with no problems,this will give you lots of curve possibilities and help fill the infield if you want to.

I like the snakey thing a lot.
 

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The only challenge I see is the tightness of the hairpin as already mentioned. I found the minimum should be based on a Scaley R1 Hairpin...and I can't remember what the is,

Also, DON'T rout it free hand. Use a long Lexan strip nailed down as a guide or a compass router guide so that you have a smooth flowing slot. You can see and buy these tools at oldslotracer.com. Luf is a master builder who sells the strip as well as a how to DVD.
 

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Looks good and by coincidence, I have a piece of 18mm MDF, 8x4, sat in my dining room itching to be routed. I'll watch with interest too.

A few people have used round conduit pinned to the board as a router guide - seems sensible - look at some of the recently made routed tracks on here for inspiration. I hope you have read Doncatwalker's "under the bed" thread, AWSCC's "Lets have a go at a rally track" and Jexy1's "Rally loop" amongst others, for excellent advise and ideas on how to progress.

Best of lucj,
 

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Thanks for the comments everyone.

After a bit of a talk with the wife, she suggested the track might be too slow/difficult for my son to drive. After thinking about it, it is really more for him than me, so I decided to open it up a bit, into something that will flow a lot more smoothly and should enable him to keep a decent pace without being too difficult. MDF is cheap, so I can always make another more complex track to entertain myself.

dontcatwalker: if I stay inside the tape markings in each corner, that should give me 4 inches all the way around the track. I think that should be enough, even for my longest car, when it's guide is at full lock?

I'll post a pic of the revised design tomorrow when I get to the scanner at work. It still has a hairpin, but I increased it's radius quite a bit.

Hopefully I can mark out the track in pencil tomorrow, and go and pick out a router (for guys in the US, have you had any luck with the cheaper Skil routers? I looked at the B&D one but it was really very low quality). If I cant use something to use as a curving guide, I'll have to order one from Luf, it looks the biz.

Snurfen, I have read through all of those threads. Those, and Zipps really inspired me to do it
 

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QUOTE (2FER SLOTS @ 5 Jan 2012, 12:34) <{POST_SNAPBACK}>Something you might look into....with one car at a time the lanes can cross with no problems
You could add a carousel this way. Also, perhaps instead of the slalom going through the middle of the cones, you should place the cones such that the cars will be properly backsiding them with the rear wheel, just like you try to do on a real autox course.

My old club runs a Novice School a couple of times a year, and the course is always the same (or as close as it can be). It is in a very small car park, and makes decent use of the space. It has a reasonable length slalom, carousel and chicago box elements. It might give you an idea or two.

Onboard...

From the sideline...
 

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Hi Last Person and welcome to SlotForum.

If you wanted a bit more of a challenge (and to accommodate your son as his skill level goes up) you could consider a manual set of "points" (or a drop-in section with two pieces - depending on track wanted) to divert the track into a more technical section. Having two different courses would keep it interesting for longer.

Have you looked at Sig's Mexican Airfield track? It is awesome as a whole but the bit you should look at is the "donut" section - this breaks the radius rule and pretty much every other rule but it is very appropriate to your car park theme!

Sig's donut 1

Sig's donut 2

Sig's donut 3
 

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Discussion Starter · #10 ·
Yea, I saw Sigs track. The donut hole is awesome!

I changed the layout, with my son helping. I changed my goals slightly. I wanted to open the track up a bit, so I could route in a second lane with 3" spacing if need by. My two girls are starting to get interested, and head to head is more exciting to them than timed laps. I also wanted to make it easier on myself the first time round, sticking to mostly constant radius curves that would be easier to route.

I drew this on paper:


Then modified a bit to give enough clearance all around if I want to add a second lane. On the track it looks like this, as marked (I had to use mspaint, as my pencil lines aren't too clear in the picture:


The line drawn is the outside lane, if another lane is added, it will be routed inside this one.

S1 is going to stay that straight and long.
R1 and R2 are actually the same curve, 28cm radius, linked by the short straight. R3 intersects R2 and is 10cm radius.
S3 and S4 are linked by another 10cm radius curve. I am thinking about putting a kink in either or both S3 and S4 before I route them, just so they aren't quite so straight and boring.
R5 is a 14cm radius turn. The thought here is that if I route a second lane in the inside, towards the end of the straight I will start a squeeze giving 1 or 2cm lane spacing right the way through the slalom.

On the mdf I don't yet have the slalom marked, when I do it will be much more uniform than my ms paint skills
I am currently searching for a good way to draw the gentle curves through the slalom, my free hand abilities are pretty bad.

R6-S5-R7 aren't yet drawn. I'm thinking about making it either one giant curve, or a two curves that are not constant radius, just so it isn't a mirror of the bottom end of the track. I don't have great confidence in my freehand abilities though.

The round circles you see on the mdf are cardboard templates of radiuses I made so I could try a few different layouts.

I bought a 1/8" diameter router bit today to do the cutting. I'm going to use some box section alloy as a guide to route the straights. For the slalom I picked up some milky white polyethylene tubing that I'm going to nail to the mdf with finish nails to use as a guide. I think it will be stiff enough to work once nailed.

I still haven't bought a router, and I'm not sure if when I do if I should buy/make a router compass for the constant radius curves, or try and use the tubing. Thoughts?
 

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I bought my router from Harbor Freight. They have a little trim router for about $25 that will do the trick. The only challenge with it is that the depth clamp is a little weak but it still worked for me. With the money you save you can buy tow new cars.

Here is the router web page:

http://www.harborfreight.com/1-4-quarter-i...uter-44914.html

I see it is up in price $2!

Anyway, I removed the base and made a compass from a piece of acrylic the same width. It just screws onto the router. I also made a circular base so that once I had my Lexan fence up I could just run the router along it to get an exact duplicate line.

When you nail the fence or guide, use a lot of nails. You may know this I was s Newb to routing when I did me and one of the most important thigs to be aware of is that the router torque will drive the base against the guide. I mention this for two reasons. 1/ importance in nailing the guide down. 2/ Make sure you run the router in the direction so that it drives up against the guide or it could go off line and wiggly on you.

Anyway, I can take photos of the pieces I made and post them if you are interested.
 

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I'd love to see the pictures, if you get the time to upload some.

What did you use to cut/shape the lexan base and compass? I don't have access to a huge range of tools. I'm not sure how I'd be able to make a base for the router, and keep the bases edges smooth, and round/consistent?
 

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Discussion Starter · #13 ·
I stopped by the Mall (least favorite place in town, I think) to take a quick look in Sears on Wednesday night. I ended up leaving with a router. They didn't have a circle cutting guide in stock, but they ordered one that's due in on the 25th. When I got home while unpacking the tool, to my surprise, it was packaged with some bits and bobs including an edge guide that also had hole to use as a pivot point to route circles.

Today I set it all up and did some trials on chipboard. Then I made my first cut, the lower left corner R1. It's about 28cm radius, using a 1/8" carbide bet set to go 1/4" deep.

Worked much better than I had hoped, and the router slices through the MDF like it's nothing.

Pic:


I'm going to do R2 R6 and R7 with it, then run to the local hardware store (about 200yards from my house, luckily) to get a piece of aluminum angle to use as an edge guide to do S1 S2. Tomorrow I might try tackling the polyethylene tubing guide to do the tighter radius corners and slalom.
 

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Discussion Starter · #14 ·
Got quite a bit more done this morning. I sort of wish I had the resources to just throw a piece of MDF away, so I could have tried routing all sorts of random shapes, to get used to the router.

Anyway, I routed the large curve R1:

It went pretty well, but there were some slight kinks along its radius. Nothing severe, but it doesn't look "perfect".

I then routed R7 just like R1. So I could rout the long straight S1. At first I was going to use a straight edge as a guide (I bought an 8ft piece of L shaped ally), then I remembered I had the edge-guide that came with the router. I set it up at the left end of the straight, moved all the way down to the right to make sure it would meet up with the curve, and it did. I re-checked it and it didn't. I noticed the two rods attached to the guide were a little loose where they meet the guide bracket. Then I realized I had never tightened them with a screwdriver, only finger tight. That would explain some of the small kinks/steps I noticed in the largest curve I routed then


So, I tightened the rods, checked again and it was pretty close, so I routed the straight. Where S1 meets R2 there is a slight kink (1/2mm) that I'm blending with a hobby knife and some 200grit paper, that looks like it should work out OK.

Then I set about making a guide out of the tubing I bought for R3. The results:



The guide itself worked out pretty well. The tubing is easy to manipulate, and easy to punch nails through. As you can see in the picture though, towards then end of the curve, into the straight, it's a little wobbly. This, I think, is due to me not using enough nails in this area.
To check the profile of the curve, I ran the router along with the bit close to the MDF and eyeballed it. I thought this was good enough, but the curve doesn't quite meet my expectations. I think for the next curve R4, and the slalom what I'll do is chuck a cut-off pencil into the router, use nails spaced much more closely together, and check the curve more times before I route it. I also might drill small pilots along the tube before I nail it down.

All in all this is how far I am:


All in all I'm very happy with the results so far, being my first time at it, but i certainly see places I would like to improve on if I do another track.
I'm going to eat some lunch, then have a crack at R4 and the slalom.
 

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Bon appetit LP.

It's really starting to take shape, well done for picking up the router and getting stuck into it. I'm quietly dreading that bit myself - although it's looking a long way off and disappearing fast (I just wrote all my club and other championship dates on the calendar today - looking like a busy 12 months!).

I've read lots of these build threads and they all seem to have little hiccups and wobbles like you've just had with the last bend. Seems those guys just slap in some filler on the bits they aren't happy with and go at it again when it's cured off.

I'll see if any of the other guys who have done builds are about and see if they can offer some words of encouragement.

 

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Forget the tubing. You need to find something a bit more rigid. I tried curtain track, which I thought would be pretty rigid, but even that tended to 'give' too much with the pressure of a router. Others have used flexible 'fibre glass' type strips nailed every inch or so to do uneven radii corners.
In the end a lot of comes down to practise and experimentation on spare pieces of MDF.
 

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Try using tubing that is a little less flexible as used in the plumbing trade, I found 3/8 was perfect. You will probably have to drill the holes for the nails/tacts every inch although most of the time a nail every two inches will suffice.
If you make a mistake it is not an issue simply repair your "errors" with a two pack wood filler.
Brembo
 

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Discussion Starter · #19 ·
QUOTE (snurfen @ 15 Jan 2012, 15:29) <{POST_SNAPBACK}>Bon appetit LP.

It's really starting to take shape, well done for picking up the router and getting stuck into it. I'm quietly dreading that bit myself - although it's looking a long way off and disappearing fast (I just wrote all my club and other championship dates on the calendar today - looking like a busy 12 months!).
That was, I think, the worst bit for me! It's just one of those mental hurdles you have to get over. After some analysis paralysis, I decided it really didn't matter if I messed it up, because the MDF isn't expensive in the grand scheme of things. Of course all the helpful advice and kind words from members here was a confidence boost, too.

QUOTE (sig @ 15 Jan 2012, 15:55) <{POST_SNAPBACK}>i found that if you fold up a piece of pretty rough sandpaper and run it through the rough bits of the slot (i had loads!) it smooths out the little mistakes a lot without widening the slot too much..just a thought keep up the good work
cheers sig
Thanks, this has been really helpful! A quick trim with a hobby knife, then smoothing out with sandpaper worked really well. By hand at least, a car runs through the slot really well now.

AAWSC/Brembo
Thanks for the heads up about the guides. I only have one more cut to make, so I'll stick with what i have for now. On the next one, I'll most likely go ahead and buy Lufs strip.
I did do R4 with the tubing I have, using nails much closer together and it came out a lot better.
Setting up the guide:


After the cut:


This is where I am now, only the slalom left to rout:


Obligatory rally car slot:

A note on that car: It's simply awesome! But I'm not sure I'll ever drive it in anger. I think as soon as it has an off, all the small lights and bumper will be lost. I'm currently searching for one of the liveries that doesn't have all the extra lights and whatnot.

Then luckily when I came home from work last night, this had arrived:


Now I need to decide if I want to lay tape then paint, or paint then lay tape. Decisions, decisions.
 
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