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New Oaklands Park

21596 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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It looks a great build and its good to see Oaklands survive!!
Best of luck Allan
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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Miss Whiplash considers the chequers are tastefull and sufficient. The national flags are a trifle O.T.T.
Tracks looking great...well done to all's always a great sense of satisfaction when you build a new track and also it smells like a New car...balti dave
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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Are you saying that Sandy can't paint a straight yellow line?!

Seriously, it looks great and I hope to try it at Southern 32 in 2013. Love the framed Steve McQueen at the end of the 'Le Mans' film.

Luton SCC
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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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Hi Coop.
Great update report!
You have certainly 'broke the back' of the work...just hope some of the less young Oaklands members have not broke their backs in the process!
Still, only 3 more mind numbing braid laying of lanes to do...then Bingo! fantastic Slot Car track and clubhouse ready for use.
I am very much looking forward to my first visit to your new facility..invitation forthcoming, of course!
Well done to all at Oaklaands
Regards Bill
Yeah Guys,

With sincere empathy, as that is what we have been going through over the last few months.

We are shortly going to have some terrific tracks to race on.

VBR Chris A. G'Slot.
Good stuff guys, looking forward to another new track.
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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As you know I'm down in Plymouth next week but when I get back I could come on the following Wednesday night to lend a hand for whatever you need a spare pair of hands for a few hours if that is of any help?

Skills include:
  1. Tea boy.
  2. Sweeping up.
  3. Moderately useful with a paintbrush.
  4. Like a brain surgeon with a Dremel!

See you soon.
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.

Staples are a very good way of joining braid. There is nothing like pragmatic engineering when one is lying on ones back under the track.
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QUOTE (Dick Smith @ 14 Jan 2013, 11:52) <{POST_SNAPBACK}>lying on ones back under the track.

Yes, I have the aches & pains today because of it!

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Hiya COOP (et al)

Sorry that I could not make it up to Oaklands tonight.

Work has been a bit mad and I spent 1hr 45mins in the car this morning trying to get from Halesowen to Central Birmingham (a distance of 8.1 miles) but thats the Hagley Road for you when there's some snow on the ground!

When I finally got home tonight I just wanted a bit of dinner and a hot shower and my bed. Hope that you guys don't mind.?

I'll try to get over next week to help out because the new circuit just looks amazing and it would nice to get my hands dirty helping out with the build.

How are things going with the build, it would be great to see a news update on these pages?
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Hi Guys

Hows it all going........
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