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New Oaklands Park

21604 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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Good stuff Coop and Eddie, with Parsnip on hand you'll get a good one.
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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Having seen and minutely examined the erected track for the first time this afternoon, can I just say that all involved have drastically exceeded my hopes and expectations .The effort expended and workmanship displayed have left me (comparatively) speechless and just a little emotional Thank You gentlemen.Mike Perry and Stan Whitbread would have approved.
Hi Guys.
The track looks fantastic!
A real 'slightly shorter' Oaklands Park,Shame you left the worst bit of the old track in (the mental 'kink' in the back straight!) but we all know the need for a little 'home advantage'!
I look forward to the project being completed, and coming over to enjoy your great new track.
keep up the good work.
Regards Bill.
Hi Guys

Great to see you almost up and running again.

The track looks a top job,should be great to drive and give you some great racing.

Cheers Roy.
Ralph is telling fibs again, the new track did'nt leave him speechless at all, just took him a few moments to get going & I think that was down to a bit of breathlessness, caused by climbing the flight of stairs to our new clubroom!
Can I echo Ralph's thoughts regarding Mike Perry & Stan Whitbread.
Many thanks to those who have given their time & effort so far, in bringing the clubroom & track 'to life' & to Lee, for his very considerable expertise & energy.
Stan Comley.
That looks great guys, congratulations to all involved, and thank you Coop for a fantastic post! A real Talmudic feat...


PS: Eddie, working on the address change, have to ask the mod in chief...
Great work lads.....will there be anyone there sat 11th.....greg
Good evening Greg, sat. 10 a.m.start work. Sat. 10.05-"TEA-UP!".(some things never change).
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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Hi Coop.
A credit to all the builders of this fine track! Really top class fit 'n finish! As a hard body racer, just a little cocerned about the unforgiving nature of the BSCRA barriers! You guys will have a superb 'Little Oaklands' to resume your Clubs activities
Keep up the good work ,
Regards Bill
As Sandy declined to be the sacrificial offering this is the closest we got to a topping out ceremony.
Lee fitting the last piece of unforgiving barrier

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Fantastic looking track you got there Eddie, well done to the builders!
Looks great guys, glad you've found a new abode to brew up in!

Hope to see it in the flesh soon

Beautiful track and a great design, plan and execution. Looking forward to seeing it up and running.
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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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Thanks Owen for the usual express camera work.
Owen & I only intended to do a small section of the track surface, just to try out the finish paint & colour. The sample of paint we poured did about 1/4 of the track & looked good, so we finished it off! We both like it, hope everyone else does. The track is Selco, Slate Grey floor paint.
Ralph swore (unusual) the track barriers were white, when we did the first coat of grey paint on Wednesday, so a second coat of darker grey was applied today, Sunday. So much for colour charts, we couldnt tell were we were painting & were it was the original colour! The barriers will remain 'Ralph White'!
Shouldnt be long now before we are doing the lane colours & the final coats of clear polyurethane.

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SO !! we now know what your taist in literature is, " Fifty shades of grey " perves !!
Mac P
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