GregK· Premium Member
Discussion Starter · #1 · (Edited by Moderator)
There is a new guide on the track, it is quite different to the rest because it has been designed specifically to be as utilitarian as possible. Many slot car enthusiasts often have several makes or brands of cars in their precious collection. Some will only fit and use the original parts and others are now beginning to look around for generic parts so that they do not need to keep a growing inventory. There can be no doubt that the guide is one of the most important parts of a slot car. So if you can come up with an elegant solution, that encompasses the strength of the good ones whilst removing the weaknesses that can plague a good car, then you can't be far wrong.
Richard Perry of Route1Racing kindly sent me some sample guides for review. I received two standard white ones and two of the full-Monty black kits complete with braids and a spare infra-red LED. My viewpoint on slot cars is very much leaning towards the digital side, and I spend a lot of time digitising cars both for myself and others. One aspect of digitising a car that can take quite a time and will ruin it if done badly, is the siting of the infra-red LED. It is essential to find a suitable place and drill an accurate hole for it. This must be as near to the guide as you can get so as to diminish the effects of tail drifts which moves the LED further away from the track sensor as the car waggles from side to side. The driver depends on the chip's ability to activate the various lane changers and pit lanes required in a digital track. Miss a pit stop and your race may end if you run out of fuel, miss the chance to overtake and you can say goodbye to the chequered flag. Track design has been held back somewhat because you could never place a lance changer or pit lane immediately after a turn, an extra piece of track was always need to straighten the cars up for the sensor. On a fast track this might have been a full straight. The downside of this strategy was that you had to reduce the length of the pit lane to compensate as very racers have the luxury of a lot of space.
With SureChange, all that is now swept away. These guides locates the LED right at the front of the blade so that you will never miss a sensor again if the car is waggling its tail around the track. The LED will always be able to communicate with the sensors as the signal strength is as high as it can be. The hole is made so that it is a firm interference fit for the LED.
The guide is also engineered with two small ridges on the topside to prevent the dome of the LED from protruding too far down; these can be removed if you need a greater depth. This thoughtfulness means that you do not need any messy hot glue or finger-sticking super glue neither do you need to find a drill bit or a reamer, all you have to do is gently press down with your nails until the LED is snugly in place. It is so snug that it is impossible to damage the bulb of the LED whilst racing.
Some manufacturers often change the shape of the chassis around the pivot point for the guide. This is a natural progression for a manufacturer as they strive to improve their products. The SureChange guide can cope with that because the guide is made from sintered nylon which allows it to be easily shaped with a craft knife or by sanding. In keeping with this design philosophy, the guide post is deliberately made long so that you can trim to whatever size you need for your car. The design features do not stop there as there is a small hole in the blade to work the steering mechanism as pioneered by Chase Cars.
It is possible to use any types of braid that suits you and your track. The versatility of this new guide allows for two methods of attaching the braids. Some racers like the SCX method of allowing both ends of the braid to be in contact with the track so eliminating the bulkiness of a double fold as used by Scalextric. The more traditional approach of using pins to trap the pickup wires against the braids is also catered for by the addition of two small hoops on the top of the base plate. Another neat design element are the two small horns at the front of the guide that keep the braids tidy and prevents them from splaying too much.
The talk is all well and good but what does it mean if you use a Surechange guide on your car or in this case a FLY Sisu S1250 ETRC racing lorry ……
I choose this vehicle to demonstrate how to fit the SureChange guide because it is very different to the usual cars that we are used to seeing. In the next photograph, you get an idea of the differences between the old style FLY guide and the new SureChange one.
The extra protuberance that holds the infra-red LED in place can be seen at the front on the bottom guide. The white marks on the shaft is where I have sanded it for a smoother fit.
The next stage is to prepare the Scalextric F1 C7005 chip prior to fitting. The motor leads will be left at their original length and an extra Ferrite Man is added to cut down on the spikes produced by the back-EMF from the motor. We want to eradicate as much interference as possible.
The green and yellow pickup wires have been shortened and the front Ferrite Man has been re-attached. Short lengths of the original pickup wires has been added to the Ferrite Man's feet, preserving the eyelets.
On the older style Scalextric vehicles which use springy bars to provide the connection from the braids to the pickups, I would have soldered the feet directly onto them.
The guide was prepared and the wires were secured in place and the LED has also been fitted in place. Notice the absence of any extra holes in the chassis to accommodate the digital chip. This can be clearly seen in the photo.
The only giveaway that this truck has been chipped is the LED just peeping out in front of the guide.
Digitising this truck was a lot simpler to perform than previous vehicles I have done. It was easy to get the lengths of wire just right and despite me having to re-wire the pickup wires the work was really quick.
All that remains now is to spot some hot-glue on the floor of the chassis to hold the chip securely in place. It is not wise to leave chips loose especially in large vehicles as short circuits may occur in shunts and crashes ……. then bang would go your chip and it would release all the magic smoke that digital is known to run on.
The finished article …….. ready to hit the track and race.
Summing up: ….. the SureChange guide is very easy and adaptable to use. It fits many different vehicles from several different manufacturers and can be adapted by sanding or re-shaping with a sharp knife. You will never miss a lane-change sensor again and with the infra-red LED so close to the track sensors, maximum efficiency is achieved. The design of the guide allows for two different ways of fitting the braids so you can choose the way that suits you best. You can also choose how you fit the eyelets, if you need to use them.
OK now we come to the downsides ……. the worst one that I could think of is that the white one does start to look a little grubby after a lot of use. Other than that, the two small "horns" at the front of the guide that firmly lock the braid in place might need to be trimmed back to allow the guide to fit better.
The $64,000 question … would I buy some? Without a doubt and without a hesitation. Though it has to be said that the vast majority of my cars are made by Scalextric and are fitted with the round "easy-fit" guide system. Richard and Gareth did not design their guide for to replace these particular guides but I have heard that they are working on another new design that could replace them. When that happens, I will be moving over to this system as I should be able utilise my chips in a similar fashion to the DPR ones that are now taking hold in the digital sector, which means that I will not need so many of them.
SureChange Guides Review
Greg Kilkenny - 24th April, 2013