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David Collins
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2,492 Posts
Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Like many contributors to this forum I came back to slot car racing after many (too many) years away. I was a real keenie as a 12-year old, but it rather got blown away by other teenage pursuits... the chance opportunity to pick up a virtually brand-new LeMans set (for the kids of course) with MG Lolas
from a work colleague for £30 put me back on the path!

I thought some of you might be interested in my tale for the lessons I have learned - at least some of them the hard way - and take some comfort and inspiration from the fact that even a talentless soul such as I can produce at least a moderately satisfying result.

I must also pay credit to the many extraordinarily talented and dedicated people that have demonstrated their skills through this forum - you have been an inspiration to me to do more than just stick the track on a table. But like all such credits, the errors are of course all mine own...

For practical reasons I will tell the tale in a (short - don't worry!) series of postings.

Problem #1 - space! The pleasures of racing scalex on the carpet are many, but since my recent divorce
space is at a premium in my new home, a small terrace, and putting the set up and down is tiresome to say the least. So I looked at my options for a permanent layout.

The shed, a solid brick construction with electrics, was the only solution as I did not want to sacrifice my entire lifestyle! But even here, space was a premium, with bicycles fighting a rearguard action against the new hobby. So I decided on a table-top track hinged from the wall, built from scrap 2x2 and chipboard. But I could only find 6x4 feet of space in the shed..



...and here you can see:

Mistake #1 - rushing into things! The shed was a...shed. For bikes, and wood, and tools. Not really habitable. So track construction was held back while I cleaned up, painted walls, moved the electrics, rehung the bicycles...

But I finally got the tabletop up.



Mistake #2 - chipboard is far too heavy for such an application. I was being stupidly cheap. I should have gone out and bought MDF!

While I was working out how and where I could set up the track, I was of course also thinking about layout. I use a Mac at home, and I got hold of a demo version of Rail Modeller to do my planning with. I couldn't save the layouts with the demo, but I could take screen shots:



The track was inevitably going to be tight, and that just comes with this very limited piece of territory. But I managed to design a layout with a circuit length of 30 feet - which is not too bad, I think.
 

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Hi Dave,

It is an interesting story to me that you are telling. So keep us posted to unfold it as you progress, please.
Only two mistakes yet, you are doing well if I may say so
.

Greetings,

Don Quislot.
 

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MDF Medium Density Fibreboard would also be a poor choice for an outdoor shed situation that is subject to extremes in humidity & Temperatures.
An EXTERIOR GLUE PLYWOOD w 6-7 plies minimum would be the best choice for this type situation.

My Opinion of course........But backed by 25 years of professional Contracting

Looks like a great little course in a very small area!!
 

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David Collins
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2,492 Posts
Discussion Starter · #6 ·
Well guys, thanks for your interest and your kind replies...

ninco tom - I'd love to go digital, but only when I can switch between analogue - so I guess that might be somewhile yet

Don Quislot - that's only two significant mistakes that I am aware of - lots more small ones, and lots no doubt I am not aware of

Tileguy - thanks for the tip about board - the shed is dry, and I only wish we had greater extremes of temperature in the UK (and being half Aussie that's said with feeling!) - but I will take your advice in the future.
 

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Tilguys is spot on on his choice of ply for a table in damp comditions.
Best chioce if you don't mind cost is Russian Chudo Birch Ply.

MDF of similar thickness would not be any lighter than chip board, it's heavier.

As you have already made the table from chipboard i can say it will be fine in a damp shed if:
1) You have plenty of paint (at least 2 coats) on both sides and edges of the board 2) Te boards are fixed at least every 200mm (8") to a good frame

This will help reduce any warping of you table.

Look forward to your updates.

Shaunbmx
 

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G'day JustDave!
Oh mate, I feel for ya!
Being 1/2 Aussie, I imagine you'd be screaming out for more room, let alone the temp increase!
35 here yesterday, beeeeautifull...
You're obviously doing the best you can, and thanks for the background info, allowing us to see why you've chosen the layout you have... but I've seen many tracks where space has been the very factor that has made people come up with some very inventive layouts!
Have you considered a multi level layout?
It would give you a couple of straights maximising the area you have.
I think someone built a "box" track which rose something like 2 or 3 feet in about a meter!!!
More rally than circuit... but it is possible.
You could always get back to God's own and get yourself a 6x6m double garage....ahh, the room!

Keep us posted mate, we all love to see new tracks grow!
Good luck.
Cheers Cobber!
 

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David Collins
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2,492 Posts
Discussion Starter · #11 ·
Shaunbmx - thanks for your tips. They will be used for the next layout, but that's another story!

Knoath - you mustn't wind me up about all that space in Godzone. Actually I did think about multi-level, but a major factor in the layout was for it to be kid-friendly, and they don't like overpasses and bits they can't see under. I'll explain in my next post.
 

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Alan Tadd
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Hi Dave

Great story, and I look forward to reading more....


Shed life can be very interesting!......and rewarding.

First thing to do is make the shed habitable, try to get rid of the damp and you will have a much more pleasent environment.

You can do a lot in a small space and your layout plans look very good. Just make sure you can:-

a) See the cars

Reach the cars for easy reslotting

c) Reach all areas for landscaping work.

If you want any ideas you might like to take a look at my shed layout on my website:-

Midford Combe Circuit

Regards

Alan
 

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David Collins
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2,492 Posts
It's well said on Slot Forum that you should set up a track and see how it works in practice. Personally I hate this wait when I get the bit between my teeth about something, but it did need to be done. So I set the track up to I could test it out with the kids:



Mistake #3 - letting my kids test the track with valuable new MG Lolas before putting barriers up - a very expensive lesson! The cars still run fine, but they don't look nearly as pretty...and I only find out afterwards, through this site and others, how exceptional these cars are.

This original layout is slightly different from my previous post of the final version of the track layout. I wanted the straight to run down into a hairpin in classic style, but the kids couldn't see under the bridge and were crashing there a lot. So I switched the position of the start/finish and also the direction of travel. Like a lot of the SlotForum members, I yearn for the day when we can buy a PowerBase of the shelf with simple switches for direction, analogue/digital...

Anyway, it's fun to drive, continual changes of pace necessary - obviously nothing flat out! I did swither about the crossover and sideswipe/hairpin sections, perhaps not right for 'proper' racing, but on a small home track they help to add to the competitive atmosphere, especially for drivers of different abilities. So they were in.

As I have already said, I felt that simply putting track on board didn't give an adequate model car racing feel, but I didn't have confidence in my modelling or craft capabilities to get too ambitious on this, my first effort. A post by Terry Smith on the Gaugemaster site gave me a relatively simple option - 7mm thick laminate flooring underlay from Wickes would provide a surround level with the track, and a Gaugemaster grass mat would give me some landscaping without much effort. Not exactly the right spirit, eh?



Mistake #4 - Terry clearly has much greater craft skills than I do - although it clearly can do the job, the underlay crumbles easily and there was much mess and many bodges before I got things into an acceptable state. But the grass mat was a relative doddle, even for me.



As you can see I also decided to paint the back wall and the track borders. I had some paint lying around and decided to experiment to see if an impressionist approach was better than doing nothing - you be the judge!
 

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JustDave, Hi Guy !! It was neat reading your story. Your track is looking good.
The back scape with the trees was very well done. Some go for exact detail. I like your impressionist approach. All you have to do is suggest to the human mind what you want it to see, and it will see it.
I too take the Minimalist route to sceenery on my track. Even at that, I get comments as to how REAL
the whole layout looks. Great work and use of a small space. Keep posting your progress.

TOO COOL !!

Slotrocker
 

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David Collins
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2,492 Posts
Discussion Starter · #17 ·
Thanks guys, as usual, for your kind constructive comments.

Alan, your track is really inspiring - I'll try to up the ante a bit next time (but that will be another story...)

Slotrocker, I do agree that a minimalist approach can work. Many layouts look too busy for my taste, and of course 1:1 tracks often have a lot of space with nothing much going on. But if you get the landscaping right, like Alan obviously has, then it's just great.

Final episode of the story coming up!
 

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David Collins
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2,492 Posts
Discussion Starter · #18 ·
Well the track is up and running now. I suppose even the makers of the most beautiful tracks get to the end of their project and see all the things they would/should have done differently - it's even more so for a newbie like me!



The very necessary armco was a pain - couldn't get the things to stay on! But sorted the problem thanks to another SlotForum thread here.

The white barriers which need signage were excess strips from an IKEA wooden blind, painted white. They are strong and bend easily, but the longest individual strip would be about 28" I think. Actually, as the blinds can be bought in white, it's probably a really cheap source of barriers if you need a lot!

Perhaps a little more effort with the scenics would pay off. So I have to get hold of some trees and pit buildings maybe, along with the barrier signage before I consider this humble effort finished.



It's fun to drive. The challenger does about 7.8 secs slow, 6.6 fast, but the track record is 3.8 with the MG Lolas, rebuilt and with the usual tuning.

...which brings me to 'where next'?

The short answer is - paint the track to get some grip (matt emulsion seems the consensus here?) and get rid of the magnets. Then perhaps we might have a real race on our hands with a fettled Challenger.

But...coming back to the 'fools rush in' theme that I started with, half-way through the project, when I had realised I needed to clean up the shed and reduce the room that the bikes took up, it dawned on me that other options were possible...



It's funny how this hobby can take over your life, isn't it? The available space is actually 10'6" x 5'6" (if I lose the workbench), which would give me a much more decent straight in an L-shaped layout:



But as I said, that will be another story...
 

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David Collins
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2,492 Posts
Discussion Starter · #20 ·
Thanks jmswms - I really enjoy the layout planning, it can be really satisfying (although I confess I think the pleasure is also a bit 'sad'!). I have a bit of a formula in my head - hairpin, sweeper, tightening curve, opening curve, esses, kink, all tied together with the longest straight you can fit. And I want to make a corkscrew at the end of the straight this time. I think a circuit should be a challenge - it's not how fast you can go, but how fast you can get around...
 
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