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New Oaklands Park

21546 Views 99 Replies 32 Participants Last post by  Ian H

1:1 - And so it came to pass that the mighty god SANDWELL COUNCIL looked upon the home of the Oaklandites and did speak "thine hut is offensive to mine sight" and thusly the oldest running slotcar club in the land of the Britons (yay, even unto the time of Methuselah and railracing and Mac Pinches) was shuttered and tumbled and the Oaklandites were scattered amongst the wilderness.

1:2 - And there was much wailing and gnashing of teeth.

1:3 - And Parker of Great Barr did say "Pharoah, let my slotcar track go" but the track was nailed into the firmament, yay unto even twelve cubits deep into solid concrete. And this caused the Rabbis much theological wonderment as it appeared that GOD was indeed capable of creating a slotcar track too heavy for Him to lift.

1:4 - Thus far and wide did the exiled Oaklandites roam attempting to found a new temple to the glory of lap records. But without parting with too many shekels nor having to visit the moneylenders in the temple.

1:5 - And it was in this time that the Oaklandite Dave the Metal owned a metal-bashing workshop in the perilous hive of scum and villany known as Birmingham, a town offensive to the sight of GOD.

1:6 - And Dave the Metal performed great miracles in a high place and the inner walls of his temple up on the highest floor were rent asunder to the sound of angelic trumpets. Hark! spoke Dave, I can see that we can erect a new temple to the glory of lap records here in Birmingham above my workshop.

1:7 - In the far North at this time, far beyond the borders of Christendom in the land of the Picts there was a pagan temple called Ecurie Barnton.

1:8 - And within this temple they had a chariot racing track and that track had been wrought, not by carpenters of the Nazarne but by a imp of Satan residing within a beige box of electricity that made a iron drill bit jump and leap amidst the wood.

1:9 - And so the Oaklandites said "yay, verily we do could unto this it being the modern day and all".

1:10 - And in the far West at that time dwelt the sorcerer Eddie of Wellington he who, alone of the Oaklandites possesed the neccesary demonology and necromancy with which to communicate with the imp of Satan within his beige box of electricity.

1:11 - For forty days and forty nights the Oaklandites argued the toss over corners and radii and whether GOD would be pleased by 1:32 only or a 1:32 and 1:24 and then there was much arguing over the vanity offensive to GOD of track colours and lane colours and infield colours and advertising banners. And the Oaklandite Ralph of Great Barr was told to observe silence before GOD and get back in his chair as befitted his venerable age. And Cassandra, daughter of Ralph, was told not to bring him again. And Owen of the Tiptonites was told that if he was prepared to only have a 1:32 track he could be cast asunder into exile at Wolverhampton and go with the Oaklandites blessings. And the Lord's name was taken in vain, yey unto a multitude of times.

1:12 - And then Eddie of Wellington completed his divine track plan and saw that it was good. And the Oaklandites were told that this was what was happening for Eddie had spoken and he would not be doing unto it again.

1:13 - And so it came to pass and Stan of Edgbaston went around the people of the Oaklandites cried "Render unto Caesar what is Caesar's" and demanded tribute.

1:14 - And after forty days and forty days of fasting some of this had actually been handed over unto him.

1:15 - And then it happened that imp within the beige box was shewn graven images of the temple of Ecurie Barnton and was commanded thusly "it is in this pleasing form that you will deliver lengths of medium density fibreboard(*) unto us in exchange for our tribute of shekels such that Stan of Edgbaston has been able to extract from the peoples of the Oaklandites".

(*) But not mixed fibres at the same time. For that is an abomination unto the eyes of GOD as Leviticus doth command. Like shellfish and "experimenting".

1:16 And there was much rejoicing amongst the multitudes of the Oaklandites. Thus endeth the lesson.

To cut a long story short, which some of you will know bits and pieces of anyway...

February. Sandwell Council shut the hut that some of us have been using weekly since 1968. We have a look around at typical rents (i.e. not local council subsided nominal figures) and noisily mess ourselves in fear. It appears that starting from scratch is economically unviable and the haphazard way in which the track has been built upon old tracks (there are layers of slotcar archeology in the track from about 2009 down to 1968) means the track cannot be salvaged and is a total loss.

So about 10-12 club members, no roof, no track, not enough income to cover a small industrial unit or similar. Things look grim. eBay beckons for a fire sale of racing kit.

Other local clubs are very nice to us (shout outs to Dudley, Wolverhampton, Great Barr and Bearwood - the latter remembering being sheltered at OP when the Phoenix hut was condemned) with offers of club nights but none of them would particularly keep the real heart of OP together which is the members. We have evolved into a club that does a bit of BSCRA racing, a bit of 1960s vintage, a bit of modern retro and a lot of faffing around with toys. A scene fairly tied to OP and it's relaxed way of doing things.

Then club member Dave Beeching decides that he can knock through a few walls upstairs in his factory to make a space smaller than the old hut but certainly usable for a track of some sort. And then things look a lot better.

(If this were a film of the book of the story based upon true events, the following section would be a montage dubbed over with inspirational soft rock music - sledgehammers through plasterboard walls, debates on whether to concentrate on 1:32 scale only, three dozen rejected track plans, disagreements about the decorating, more rejected track plans, disagreements about the practicalities of running open meetings in a smaller space, Eddie wearing out Autocad with track plans, track plan discussion eventually gets nailed down to disagreeing about one corner, Eddie draws the corner as he wants it anyway).

So now we have a nice L-shaped room with rubber flooring and nice new bright white wall paint on the walls along with a palatial rooftop terrace in the style of the North Staffs club only without the vertigo-inducing drop. All this in a building not too far from our old home, in fact if you used to come to the Harry Mitchell via J1 on the M5 then the new place is only an extra 10 minutes or so down the dual carriage heading towards Birmingham City Centre just past City Hospital (aka Dudley Road Hospital).

Track-wise we decided it's the twenty-first century so we can investigate the practicalities of getting a track CNC routed. Ecurie Barnton have already done this so armed with their in-build photos we were able to find a CNC routing specialist in Worcestershire who grokked the idea of what we were after and could work with us thanks to Eddie's AutoCad skills.

Wind the clock on a bit to right here right now and we have this as laid out in it's new home on Wednesday night awaiting the tender ministrations of our tame carpenter.

You'll probably notice a lot of similarity between this and OP tracks of the past and that's intentional. Somewhat shorter than the last Harry Mitchell generation of the track (96' compared to 110') we are planning on the same direction of travel - the rostrum will be in the same sort of place adjacent to the main straight with cars passing right to left.

We have Lee Parsons of BSCRA-fame coming in over the next two weekends to put the beast upon her legs, so hopefully more progress shots next week!

Everybody is very delighted to be back and able to picture the end product and get bloody racing again!

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We're not 100% certain on how much pit-space we will have once the track is up so possible numbers as regarding open meetings is all a bit up in the air. There's a scale plan of available space but obviously proof of the pudding is in the eating so to speak. We are partly resigned to maybe only being able to do invitational meetings. Will let you know though.

QUOTE (not alone after all @ 2 Aug 2012, 17:47) <{POST_SNAPBACK}>Nothing to do for the last few weeks?

No nothing, just running around buying paint and primer and brushes and rollers and hardware fittings and running it to and fro to Birmingham and MDF priming and....

Anyway, track and room plan via Eddie's AutoCAD mad skillz.

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QUOTE (vfr750 @ 2 Aug 2012, 14:24) <{POST_SNAPBACK}>Great to see all the progress but shouldn't the rubber be on the walls not the floor?

I can assure you it's wall-to-wall rubber on OP's infamous rubber night...
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It's only a pic from an ancient cameraphone but Eddie sent this to me live from the scene of the New OP build, state of play as of fifteen minutes ago.

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Last pic from today - the bridge and new [email protected] are up and on their legs. That's a good third of the lap erected.

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Day 2 and... well actually it was a morning rather than a day. When I arrived at New OP this morning at 9:40 the last section was just going in and we had what I believe is generally called a slotcar track...

The precision of this stuff is incredible. The CNC routers followed our AutoCAD drawings and cut the straights around the elevated section to be overlength so that there was material that could be removed to get the thing to fit together properly. In other words because we produced a flat plan with no allowance for the vertical dimension we needed enough slack to allow for trimming as we really didn't know how steep the inclines and declines would be or indeed where the elevation changes would being and end. This was all the great unknown of the track plan.

As it happened, and I'm not sure how this is even geometrically possible, Lee had to do no cutting and no sanding (or at least no sanding while I was present) and the very last section slid in to such an accurate degree that just a few of taps with the mallet was needed to get it to sit down flush with it's neighbour leaving us with a track 50mm longer than expected but only because leaving the excess in seemed to work OK. The alignment is absolutely perfect. Lee then spent a long time with adjustable clamp-stands and spirit levels effectively "tuning" the track to set the camber correct and avoid troublesomely sharp changes in elevation. The whole geometry of the elevated section is entirely a product of Lee's craftmanship.

We are all gobsmacked at the speed of erection and the precision of it all. After Lee left for home this lunchtime, we hung around for an hour and a half drinking tea, polishing off the biscuits and just soaking in the view of our finished track. It's looking bloody good now, back when Dave offered us the room and we thought "yeah, I think we could do something here" it was difficult to picture a end product. Now it's so close I can almost taste it (then again, that might just be ear, nose and throat full of sawdust).

In a fortnights time the barriers go up so expect more photographs then. In the meantime there are a couple of tasks that Lee requires completion of before he can proceed with stage 2 so OP members can expect a nagging email me from me tomorrow morning.

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Lee was over again this weekend so now we have barriers so now it really looks like a slotcar track.

Barriers on the straights are 12mm MDF which are so solid that they will probably survive the Apocalypse. Barriers on corners are laminated from two lengths of 6mm ply with the grain running at 90º to the track surface which is astounding stuff that can be bent almost like paper while showing no signs of splitting. Bends nicely into the tightest inner corner of the track as can be seen on the first picture in the bottom right. It's noteworthy that to keep the laminated pieces together while the glue dried we only had to use lengths of masking tape which seemed to resist stretching sufficient enough to work OK.

You can see in this picture how the barriers are made up from the two differing types of wood (primered - ply. Not primered yet - MDF) with a rebate in the MDF to allow the ply to overlap it. Tacked in place by using a pneumatic nail gun and then properly drilled and screwed.

The rostrum has been split into two in the interests of improving sight lines.

Next up is filling the screw-heads and the odd nick out of the barriers with Isopon or similar, sanding and primering whatever bare wood is still there, then we make a start on painting. I'm currently thinking dark grey surface, white or silver inner barriers and BRG outer barriers with red/white rumble strips where appropriate. Nobody else seemed to like my track aesthetics idea of Nürburgring-style tarmac graffiti under the varnish!

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We now have primer on all of the track and barriers so next Wednesday it starts to get very grey!

Also, by insistance of Parker, you can have exclusive pics of the new Oaklands Park sun-kissed rooftop waterfront terrace, just awaiting it's Martini umbrella-ed tables.

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There's an old Spitting Image sketch in which the young John Major drops an acid tab and get plunged into a world of flowing colours - grey, grey and more grey. Much like OP after today's workparty session (interupted only by a brief break to watch Mr. Grosjean attempt to return F1 to the good old days of a pile-up on corner one of every race).

Following the age-old principle of track building that whosoever gets there first with the paint picks the colour we have now Dulux Arctic Grey gloss barriers (inside and out) and some slate grey floor track for the track surface. Track surface needs an inbetween coat sanding, followed by a second coat (also sanded) then we will mask the barriers and do the edges of the track with a half-inch brush. The two unpainted sections couldn't be reached without leaning against wet barriers.

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Current progress...

We've now got three coats of that dark slate grey on the track surface with the first two having been sanded flat after application. Probably only a couple of hours work to just touch-up and sand out any ridges along with a bit of remedial work on the barrier paint. It appears that, despite initial thoughts otherwise, the second coat of barrier paint is a different colour and the original, whiter shade, is showing through in some missed bits. We will do all this on Wednesday there is no Sunday work-party this weekend.

The stage after that will be to get all Von Dutch (and I don't mean the chavvy clothing range...) with the pinstriper to do the lane markings. Ralph has sorted out a bunch of scrap offcuts painted track colour with which to test out the technique and paint flow. Then it will be at least two coats of varnish on top of all lane markings (including 'bits' and the relevant numbers).

I have got hold of a couple of chequered and Union flags for the track edging, 5' x 3' and cost around £2.75 a piece so this would be as cheap as buying fabric and has the advantage over fabric of coming with a hem already sewn in. I'd prefer people to have a look at the flags in situ and say yay or nay before I order enough to do the whole track.

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Pinstriping and painting the slot in lane colours. Note Ralph securely emplaced in his favourite "delegating" armchair. We also have some the old pictures from the Harry Mitchell up on the wall.

Because of the rough resemblance of this layout to the last track (and the same direction of travel) we are keeping the same lane colours with the exception of changing white to green to avoid problems with white and yellow appearing the same under poor lighting conditions or when the track is dirty.

There have been three coats of floorpaint on the track surface, sanded between each coat which is why all the lovely gloss has vanished leaving behind an ugly matt finish. That will disappear once the gloss varnish starts going on.

Next stage (Sunday hopefully) will be to finish off painting the slot, tidy up the pinstriping on yellow where it went awry and then we can look at fudging the dividing of each lane distance in 100 "bits".

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Ha-Ha! No, Sandy is not guilty (this time), she's just painting inside the slot and sealing the braid bed.

The pinstriping was done previously, just that a solder joint failed on the pinstriper when it was time to do yellow and so the line wavered a bit.
After todays work-party, lane colour coding is done. Humbrol and Revell enamel tinlets are perhaps not the most economical way to paint these but do work very well. Don't use water-based acrylics - they will solidify in the pinstriper whereas with enamels, the pinstriper can be stripped down and left in a jar of white spirit to effectively clean itself.

Rostrums (yes, two) are primered and ready for painting, we have two split either side of the door to the "sun terrace".

These will have colour-coded horizontal surfaces.

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Lots of progress at OP (twice weekly work parties will do that for you), just that not much of it was photo-worthy until this afternoon.

The lanes are now marked up, using vinyl that was CNC cut for us by Mark Wattam. A single bar at every single "bit" with double-bars and numbers every five "bits". As the track plan started life as an AutoCad file we knew the exact length of the slot, so it was a question of dividing the length by 20, and then cannibalizing an old steel retractable tape measure by smashing it open with the hammer and cutting a length of it down to 5% of the slot length. This is then laid in the slot (where it stays in situ as it's natural springy-ness wedges it in place against the wall of the slot) and a pencil mark made on the braid bed at the end of the now-truncated tape. This gives us the "fives", then another length of ex-tape measure is cut to 20% of this and the "ones" marked out on the track once we are happy that the slot really is twenty lengths of the "fives" tape. A more elegant solution than stealing several dozen nylon tape measures from IKEA.

Following this we had three coats of polyurethane satin varnish rollered on and then ready to braid!

We are using the double-sided tape method but somewhere along the line, the maths has gone a bit wrong so we've ended up having to double up the tape in order to get the distance between the top of the braid and the track surface to an acceptable tolerance. There's no real trick to laying the braid, just a question of taking your time, making sure the braid is laid snug to the wall of the braid bed and later smoothing the braid with a block of wood and a custom-built ballraced roller that our metal basher landlord (and club member) knocked up for us. Because we are braiding individual sections of the track (a section corresponding to an original section of MDF supplied by the CNC router) and running braid down under the track at each track joint, care needs to be taken to ensure that the section-to-section transistion is level and flush.

Here's Stan at work on braiding the inside lane of the tightest corner on the track.

End of the afternoon and all of red lane (bar a strip for the lap-counting dead section) is braided. You'll see how the thick stripes of lane colour will be narrowed down once two strips of braid are laid so it will no longer look like a My First Scalextric set.

Obviously at this point it's time to get the all-important testing gear out and check it does what it should...

Also, we were lucky in that champion of the Dutch Neo-Plasticism school of modern art, Piet Mondrain (1872-1944) was able to return from the afterlife this afternoon and paint our rostrums for us. Cheers Piet, much appreciated.

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There's been a fair bit of radio silence about OP recently, work slowed to a bit of a halt over Christmas due to the usual Christmas thing and shift patterns but back in the saddle now.

Today, the connectivity between each braided section was sorted by the rather low tech solution of stapling to the underside of the track.

Looks crude but it joins the relevant sections of braid together and holds them nicely in place isolated from the others by the good old fashioned air gap. We did investigate crimping the two ends of the braid together but access to the underside of the track meant that this would be awkward and we would still have sort out some method of stowing the crimped braid so that it could not short against other sections.

Greg and Mark spent this afternoon sorting out the wiring and erecting some trunking/conduit and plug sockets around the walls, Stan has fabricated a shelf for the power supplies to live in under the track. Rostrums have been attacked with the hole saw for mounting the controller sockets. More work parties are planned for Wednesday night and next weekend.

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We should be there (barring some form of catastrophe) every Wednesday so just send me a text msg whenever you fancy it. Tea-making skills always useful.

STOP PRESS - Slotcars seen moving under their own power this evening at New Oaklands Park. More later, when I've returned from a bloody hot curry.
That's better.

Rumours were flying around OP that maybe, just maybe we could have the power connected up after this afternoon's session of Greg and Mark connecting pieces of wiring. So I dragged out the slotbox, some Scalex-type cars and some resistor controllers (what, test my electronic controller on an unproved wiring job on a virgin track? Oh, sorry, seem to have left it at home. Anybody else got one with them?
) and discovered to my chagrin that the controllers were still wired up with colour-coded banana plugs for the retro race at Op Zolder in Belgium back in September 2012. So I haven't pulled a trigger since then

Anyway, BSCRA plugs back on controllers and down OP this morning.

To cut a long story short involving some head-scratching under the track, at about 6:30 pm today a trigger was tentatively pulled (by Greg) and a Scalextric Ferrari lunged down the straight. Within seconds all four lanes were occupied with people using my controllers and cars and the next thirty minutes was spent in cut-throat (and very sideways) race action.

The race control system is not plugged in yet (but the flashing green LEDs suggest that the dead strip is functioning as it should). We've proved that it works with an electronic controller and it works with Carrera cars with the polarity switch flipped but we're not if the lapcounter will work in reverse so the practicality of the "Carrera cars going backwards" class will be a suck-it-and-see job.

The plan is for Mark and Greg to have a go at connecting race control early Wednesday evening and then after that we are going to do bugger all work and just drive the track around for a few hours. Bring cars. Recommended tyre compound is one best suited to ice and loose surface unless it gets vacuumed.

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No problems (I think I've texted you actually...)

8 o' clock Wednesday, ring me when you get there and I'll let you in.

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