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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
There's a few questions I have that I cannot find directly answered in one place, and seem like they should be in a stickied thread on a forum about custom tracks


-What bit size should I be using for a custom routed track?
-What is the minimum depth I should be routing to?
-What width copper tape should I use?
-What's the best way to do curves/etc? (template, constant radius string method, nailed tubing method, etc)

Even if no one likes the idea of a FAQ it'd be great if someone could answer these for me.

Thanks!
 

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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
QUOTE (MrFlippant @ 15 Feb 2012, 15:19) <{POST_SNAPBACK}>1/8"
1/4"
1/4"
nailed tube/lexan/whatever to guide the router. Constant radius things are boring.

So for those of us in metric land...

3mm (or 4?)
7mm ?
7mm ?

The design I'm going with can't really use constant radius so it's good to hear the nailed "thing" route is a winner.
 

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Greg Gaub
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yep, those metric numbers sound about right.
if you plan to run stock Carrera cars and have some tight bends, a 4mm bit might be better, but most blades will get through most bends if it's 3mm.
The depth is just that of your deepest guide blade. slot.it blades are the deepest ones I have. Even 1/24 cars don't have deeper guides, really.
the copper tape will come in whatever width it comes in, 1/4" being quite common. Since you're going right to wood and will be creating your own power taps, you don't need to pay extra for special tape with conductive adhesive.
 

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One petunia in a field of onions
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3.2mm routing bit is what I've got ready to roll with, BarbyNinja. Plan is to use 3/8 braid rather than copper tape as track is a little more open to the elements than I'd like. Our weather is about as inclined to extremes as what Canberra has to offer, though possibly not as cold on winter nights.

Someone suggested 8mm slot depth to me when I asked the question.

Cheers
Embs
 

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Greg Gaub
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Ember is right, too.

Admittedly, I've only done a couple test tracks so far, using the bit size and depth and tape width I mentioned. They work fine for my cars.
The important thing is not to worry too much about it. It also couldn't hurt to get some scrap and do a little practice track, even just an oval or figure 8 will teach you a lot.

Ember has a point about braid versus tape, though. If your track will not be in a 24/7/365 temperature controlled room, but will experience temperature fluctuations, braid might be the better way to go for overall longevity. Then again, some people tear down and rebuild their track often enough for anything more than tape to be a waste of money. I think OldSlotRacer is into the double-digits on his home track count by now. ;-)
 

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Discussion Starter · #7 ·
QUOTE (Ember @ 15 Feb 2012, 15:24) <{POST_SNAPBACK}>3.2mm routing bit is what I've got ready to roll with, BarbyNinja. Plan is to use 3/8 braid rather than copper tape as track is a little more open to the elements than I'd like. Our weather is about as inclined to extremes as what Canberra has to offer, though possibly not as cold on winter nights.

Someone suggested 8mm slot depth to me when I asked the question.

Cheers
Embs

-where do you get braid in Australia?
-What's the cost.... the one time I looked into it (had to import it from UK) it looked like it would be a few HUNDRED dollars just in braid
-where can you get the special bit to route for braid?
-My house is brand new (august 2011). Fully AC, EER6 (including insulated garage) etc. Do I really need braid? It won't see any higher temp than 26 and no lower than about 8.

Thanks for the reply, looked through your work and it's awesome!
 

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One petunia in a field of onions
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If you want MagnaBraid you could try Mobile Raceways, Dandenong or Armchair Racer, Artaman. For non magnetic braid it's actually hard to go past Slot Race Shop, NZ. Extremely good postage price to Australia (not going to advertise the price, you will have to investigate it.)

When you talk special bit are you after one that will route slot and gains in a single pass? If so, again I'd try Slot Race Shop NZ. But really, the overall consensus seems to be do it in two passes.

I haven't yet completed a routed track. I'm a little bit further on than research, but not much.

The choice is completely yours as to whether you want to go braid or copper tape. My reasons for selecting braid are a track that is open to fluctuations of temperature. My Scalex track lives in a bungalow that is insulated with R26 batts and lined with flooring boards. It buckled this year due to expansion for the first time in 3 years. Why this year and not last I have yet to work out.
 

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Hi bbqninja,

Like you I'm on my first routed track build. Struggling to get the info all in one place I called Armchairracer in Sydney and spoke to Jim Berry. Jim recommended to go with a 3mm slot width and a depth of either 8 or 9mm based on his experiences. But i'm interested to hear from ember if 3mm is a tad too narrow?

Armchair don't stock router bits so I was referred to slot car corner in the US - really good service - I ordered a 3mm router bit and the have a special router bit which then works to cut the braid depth via a second pass. Do practice cuts to figure the ideal depth for your braid recess - depends on a variety of factors eg make, how tight you've stretched it etc.

I also got in touch with luff at old slot racer via the website and picked up his lexan bit, router kit and video. Highly recommended by a few people and if your like me (never touched a router before), it's essential kit for a quality build.

Jim also recommended 1/4 inch braid which armchair stock - its magna braid so good if you have kids running, but I mainly run without magnets, so it gives me the option at least.

Another site to visit is Chris Frosts website which is good for helping you consider various factors in track design and other technical aspects.

All the best with your build - look forward to your photos as you progress


Cheers,
 

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One petunia in a field of onions
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OK. I repeat. I'm just beyond the research stage. But.... 3.2mm is the the metric conversion of 1/4". And why go to somewhere special for a router bit when you can pick up a tungsten straight cut twin fluted 3.2mm bit from the local hardware supplier for under $20. And I'm in the sticks so I just know you city lads will find a way better price if you just go and look.
 

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QUOTE (Ember @ 15 Feb 2012, 15:24) <{POST_SNAPBACK}>Plan is to use 3/8 braid

QUOTE (Ember @ 15 Feb 2012, 20:52) <{POST_SNAPBACK}>But.... 3.2mm is the the metric conversion of 1/4".

Not nit picking here Ember, but to avoid any confusion the widest braid commonly used for 1/24 is 1/4" (just over 6mm) and for 1/32 scale 3/16" (around 5mm). A 1/8" router bit is 3.2mm and what I used.

If your thinking of running any 1/24 cars (Scaleauto, Plafit, MJK, BRM, Flexis etc) go for 1/4" braid, 18mm wide recess for the braid, 8.5 to 9mm deep and min 100mm lane spacing. Of course 1/32 scale cars will run perfectly well on this setup. Get a good carbide router bit for the slot and recess and I highly recommend getting Lufs routing kit (the video is good also)....well worth the money. Google oldslotracer.

Xtreme Trax in Wollongong sell braid at reasonable prices.
- Cam
 

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We built our track based on the info we found here: http://www.slotcar.org.uk/trackbuild/index.htm - sorry, some of the Forum's features seem not to work here at the office. It (the track) turned out to be a very good one and supports 1/32 and 1/24 racing perfectly. Maybe you could have a look there...


Cheers!

Fernao
 

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Good info at Luf Linkert's website (oldslotracer.com). He has a routing kit for sale that's absolutely the best thing for guiding your router; makes the task as simple as it can possibly be. Slot Car Corner in Canada has the router bits you'll need for the slot and the "gains" (braid recess, if you're going to use braid instead of tape, which I would strongly suggest). Their website (which also has very good information, track wiring templates, driver's stations, etc.) is at: http://www.slotcarcorner.com/.

Granted, these are far away from you, so I don't know if there's something similar in Oz, but you couldn't go wrong with their products.

You can see the progress of how the products worked on my track (I was an absolute beginner; never used a router in my life before) here: http://www.farroutslotcars.com/MemberTalk/...amp;whichpage=4

Progress pix are on pages 4, 5, and 6.
 

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Oh yeah! I forgot to say that we also got Luf's routing kit, which was fundamental from start to finish! Great buy at a reat value - don't miss it!!!


Cheers!

Fernao
 

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QUOTE (Ember @ 15 Feb 2012, 10:52) <{POST_SNAPBACK}>But.... 3.2mm is the the metric conversion of 1/4".
In fact 3.2mm is the approximate metric conversion of 1/8"
and 6.35 mm is the the exact metric conversion of 1/4"

QUOTE (Camber @ 15 Feb 2012, 12:10) <{POST_SNAPBACK}>Not nit picking here Ember, but to avoid any confusion the widest braid commonly used for 1/24 is 1/4" (just over 6mm) and for 1/32 scale 3/16" (around 5mm).
In the UK 6mm or 1/4" wide braid or tape is standard for 1/32 club tracks (and 1/24) although narrower braid is sometimes used on 1/32 home tracks.

8mm is the international standard minimum slot depth for the faster metal chassis cars. Plastic chassis cars often have shallower guides. The slot needs to be deep enough for the deepest guides you want to run on the track.
 

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One petunia in a field of onions
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QUOTE (Camber @ 15 Feb 2012, 23:10) <{POST_SNAPBACK}>Not nit picking here Ember, but to avoid any confusion the widest braid commonly used for 1/24 is 1/4" (just over 6mm) and for 1/32 scale 3/16" (around 5mm). A 1/8" router bit is 3.2mm and what I used.

QUOTE (300SLR @ 16 Feb 2012, 05:43) <{POST_SNAPBACK}>In fact 3.2mm is the approximate metric conversion of 1/8"
and 6.35 mm is the the exact metric conversion of 1/4"
Yes... apologies for slipping a digit. And 3/16 braid is what I meant. Damn imperial measurements.
 

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One petunia in a field of onions
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The call for a FAQ is a good one though. Everything in one place. Slotforum does claim to be the premier resource for slottiness.

And a list of resource for each region would also be good.
 

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There are already a few very good web sites on track building - see the links in earlier posts on this thread.

Any suggestions for FAQs that are not already explained on these sites?
 

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Having learned from recent experience, It's advisable to route your straights first then join your curves to the straights. It is easier to pair a radius to a pre-cut straight than to perfectly match a straight to a pre-cut radius.

Repairs - Use Bondo! It dries quickly and can be sanded or routed within an hour. It dries hard as a rock and you don't have to worry about it shrinking or cracking over time. Don't worry about making mistakes while routing, Bondo can make you look really good.

Throw the power cord over your shoulder (hangups will really mess you up) and don't take your eye off of the cutting surface while routing!

Rob
 

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Fast Co.
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Baby, don't fear the router.

Here are some lessons I learned routing a couple of mdf tracks. Maybe these tips will help you avoid some of the mistakes I made:

1. Use a new router bit. For 1/32 use a 1/8" bit and rout to a depth a hair more than 1/4" On my second track I used an upward spiral bit because the guy who used it to rout his track before me preferred it over a straight, double-fluted bit, which is what most guys generally use. The upward spiral bit removes material from the slot as you rout. That's all well and good, problem was the bit had already routed through 240 linear feet of mdf prior to my using it. It took some effort to pull the router through the mdf and the slots were ragged. It was easily fixed with a little sanding but when I changed the bit for a brand new double-fluted straight bit the router cut clean and without effort. Why make yourself and the router work harder? Whether upward spiral or double-fluted straight, use a new bit. It seems that a router bit is good for about 240 linear feet or one 4-lane, 60' circuit. I used 7/32" copper tape to deliver power to both my tracks.

2. If using a lexan strip such as the ones Luf sells online be sure to use straight nails to hammer it in place. Nails that have even a slight bend in them will tug the lexan strip in one direction or another resulting in slots that are wavy.

3. A plunging router will eliminate slight nicks in your slots at the point where you begin routing. If you do not have a plunging router balance the router on the bit so that it is plumb and level and against your guide fence and give the switch a little blip to drill a hole as straight and plumb as possible at the correct distance from the guide fence.

4. Rout across the seams of adjoining sheets of mdf. This will ensure that your slots line up perfectly at the seams. You will find that you have to do this anyway as your guide fence will extend past the point where you begin and end routing.

5. Always rout with the guide fence to the LEFT of the router as you push the router. (If you are pulling the router towards you then the fence will be to your right). The router will wander away from the fence if you push it in the wrong direction.

6. Rout banked turns flat and then bend into shape after routed. Remember the arc of the turn will increase as you form the bank so that a 180° turn may end up being 185° or more depending on the angle of the bank.

7. When using a pin jig to rout equidistant parallel slots make sure that the slot the pins travel through is clear of dust and debris. You don't want the router to unexpectedly stall because the pins hit an obstruction in the already routed slot. The torque of the router will kick the router slightly causing small nicks at each point where the router is stalled.

8. An alternative to using a pin jig is to use a Sintra strip in the already routed slot to act as a guide fence. This will work only if the radius of your router base is equal to the lane width you desire. If I were to rout another track I would use the Sintra strip versus a pin jig. The jig I used was a home-built version made of wood and attached to two steel rods that directly attached to the router with set screws. I realized as I attempted to close the loops on my slots that the wood portion of the jig was slipping ever so slightly along the steel rods resulting in slight lane width variations so that the starting and ending points of my slots did not fully meet.

9. To calculate necessary track width multiply the desired lane spacing by 1 less than the number of lanes, add another 1/8" for each lane and another 8" for borders (In turns you'll want a minimum of 5" for an outside border and about 3" on the inside - you may be able to get away with less than this depending upon the turn but this is a good general starting point for a 1/32 scale track). For a 4-lane track with 3.5" lane spacing this will be an 18" track width (3 X 3.5" + 4 X 1/8" + 8"). The more room you have for track width the greater the flexibility you will have in your routing. A track width of 16 or 17" in the turns is restrictive for a 4-lane circuit with 3.5" lane spacing.

10. Bondo is great for fixing routing errors. Be sure to apply enough so that it sits above the level of the track as Bondo shrinks as it cures. If you scrape the Bondo so that it is flush with the track surface while it is still wet you will end up with a depression where the slot is and you will have to apply a second coat. So apply a little more than necessary and sand down to track level once dry.

11. Durham's Rock Hard Putty works great for filling small nail holes and screw holes. It is water soluble, easy to work with, and gives off no harmful fumes. It doesn't work as well as Bondo for fixing routing errors because it's too brittle to rout.

12. Luf's tape laying tool is a great time-saver but I found that on sharp corners the tape would sometimes try to cut the corner short. To prevent this I applied a couple of self-stick felt pads to the base of Luf's tool. This burnished the tape as I was laying it and prevented it from cutting sharp corners short. Afterwards, I burnished the tape again with the curved edge of a Bic lighter or similar shaped "tool".

13. You reap what you rout.

That's all I have for now. I'll add more tips as I think of them.

Steve
 
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