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OK here we go. Inspired by RichardTheForth's "Beyond The Loft Hatch" I thought I would have a go at documenting my first serious track build.

Having developed a serious slot habit since being gravely disappointed with my son's Micro Scalextric set we got him for Christmas 2010 I bought a "proper" classic setup from Ebay in the Spring for £50. Having discovered ten useable cars in the box (over and above the advertised two working cars) I promptly lubricated them, fixed broken guide wires and sold the lot individually for £70! This left me with 165 pieces of classic track, two C7 Minis and a Porche 911 (no typo). Should have kept the cars BUT it got the missus on side because my new hobby wasn't costing anything. Result!

Then worked out the classic track was past it so flogged some, dumped some and bought a digital "triple cup" set in the Tesco sale for £129 - yes really. So I bought another one!

Went mad on Ebay and got some more stuff and ended up with about 20 metres of digital track with 4 straight lane changers, two pit lanes and a shed load of digital cars and some classics crying out for chips.

I should have stopped there but I bought a new 6 car APB and so there is now no going back.

I have a serious slot car habit now and rug racing just doesn't cut it any more. I'm lusting after Slot.Its and NSR's and there's no way I can sneak those past She Who Must Be Obeyed.

I'm going to have to find a way to get a track, get the cars and keep Her Indoors on side.

There's no room in the house for a track. There is, however, a convenient double garage about 5.3 metres square. If I shove all the accumulated junk over to one side I can claim about 5m x 3m of useable space. But it's single skinned, cold and too damp for a permanent track. Can't afford to convert it unless I can find a way to earn extra cash so any track I lay has to be protected from corrosion.

So how the $&£* do I do that?

Can't remember if it was a bottle of Cabernet Sauvignon or a few cans of Carlsberg but inspiration did finally strike. I am going to build a portable track. It will need to earn its keep being hired out for kids birthday parties (my son is 5 - I have to be really into kiddy birthday parties at the moment), it may as well travel to his school to help them raise some money for books and stuff (I won't make money from that but I will get great publicity). This will leave me with a track that eventually cost me nothing, provides cash to buy loads of new cars and other slot goodies and is available for me and my racing buddies to use for free. If we do manage to get enough interest in a club (there's no club within reasonable travelling distance of Swansea) then this can be the club track until the club can get its own.

Of course - hiring it out for kids parties will hopefully flush out a few grownups with latent slot car habits - if I can find these and nurture the seeds of addiction we might get a slot car club off the ground. The Evangelical approach - I'm not proud - I just want to see 6 cars racing on a Scalextric Digital Track with me in the thick of things!

So I need a brief to build my track to. That's going to be the subject of the next post.

Oh and yes - I will need a name for my track so I have something to advertise to earn all those lovely slot car vouchers.

As I live in darkest Carmarthenshire (drive down the M4 until you run out of M4 and go North until you hit a mountain) and I am at the bottom of a valley, I may as well name the track after that valley. So here we are - the Amman Valley Raceway is officially born.

Here's a logo I made earlier!
 

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I promised a track spec so here we are.

There are a few things to consider here...

If I can find people to hire the track for kids parties I need to make it exciting. I have the pit lane game but that's not enough so I need SSDC and maybe Pit Pro. I have a laptop and a big monitor (24") so that's fine.

The track needs to be driveable by a range of abilities so again SSDC will allow me to limit power to say 75% to help keep the cars on the track.

The track needs barriers for kiddy racing that can be removed for club use.

The track needs Perspex barriers around the edges to stop my slot cars ending up in bits on the floor of the village hall or my garage.

The track needs enough twists and turns to keep it interesting and enough lane changers to offer regular options to change lanes as the lap progresses.

It needs to be assembled in about 30 minutes or less and packed away in a similar time.

Scenery - tricky because I like scenery but the problem is; it will make a portable track that bit more awkward to transport and set up. Maybe what I need are some discreet locating holes so I can put in scenery for club use and leave it off for other uses. I will add some advertising hoardings so I can customise them ("Happy Birthday Gethin" - or "Penblwydd Hapus Gethin" if he's a Welsh Speaker).

It needs to fit in the back of my Mondeo Estate and be light enough for muggins here to be able to move it on my own but robust enough to stand up to regular erection (!) and take-down.

So now it's time to start designing.....

PS - SSDC cable now arrived so tomorrow I will install the software and buy a license. Thanks to Snurfen, a fellow Slot Forum member, for showing me his SSDC setup and for letting me play on his track which is very similar in length (but not layout) to mine.

No piccies in this post - take a look at the next one!
 

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THE TRACK DESIGN

I confess - I have been working on this for a few weeks now but only just got around to starting the topic.

The track design is now on version 14.

I have three trestle tables in my garage that I bought on Ebay for £107 total cost including delivery. They are each 6 ft long and 3'6" wide. They fold in half and weigh about 12 kilos each so they will fit in the boot and won't break my back when I move them. They have convenient carry handles built in.

I also have 3 sheets of 12mm MDF 8' x 4' which shows how big this track will be.

Here's the design I'm working to. It changed when I set out version 13 on the middle section of MDF and realised that regardless of how accurate your drawing package is it doesn't reflect real life. One minor redesign later and I find I still have enough track but it is in slightly different places than first anticipated!

Just as well because I already bought all the track pieces I need with no spares!



So as you can see the track will be in 6 pieces. It's flat on purpose - six boards on top of each other with foam protective layers will still be around 400mm thick when I build a custom box for them to slot into. The box will have castors and will contain the track boards and the trestle tables in a separate compartment. Weight - bl**dy heavy but on wheels it should be easy to move.

The boards will be loose and will sit flat on the tables with some form of frame to fit the table top inside. The boards will have to butt up to each other tightly (10 toggle case latches on order) and electrical connectivity will be an issue so power taps everywhere. Power between boards will be handled with 4 way automotive push connectors per track join. Power between tracks on the same board will be done with normal power taps (2.8mm spade connectors). As the base of the boards need to be flat I will rout the top of the MDF to a depth of 4mm to run the cables - for power taps and for future track lighting. The channels will be concealed with 5mm thick foam board which will be velcroed (is that a word?) in place and will sit at the same level as the track giving plenty of run-off and tail sliding space. The cross-board power tap connectors will be exposed but I have a cunning plan to cover them with hollowed out tyre barriers, trackside buildings and static 1:32 vehicles with floor pans removed so they can sit over the connectors.

Driver stations will also require taps across the boards and I have mono 2.5mm audio sockets and plugs which should allow me to extend the connections to the APB to the front edge of the track evenly spaced for drivers. I may put the sockets on bendy rubber "trunks" so that if drivers get excited and pull on the throttle cable it will simply pop out rather than snag and break.

Getting excited now.

Wife's birthday this weekend. Inconvenient. Means I can't start work until she goes to the gym on Monday.

Nag me if I don't post. I need the guilt trip to get me motivated!!!
 

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Highlights of the track.

The image is a little small so here's an explanation....


The APB powerbase is the track section with the "P" on it - just in front of the Marshal.

The start position is to the left of the APB and cars travel right past the APB immediately into an R1 hairpin (the one with the tracks far apart not the squeeze). This will have barriers for kiddy racing.

A squeeze immediately after the hairpin followed by a straight lane changer (SLC) and some wiggly stuff.

A fast R2 turn at the top of the left hand side of the track brings you on to a 1.5m straight with another SLC and a vicious R1 45 degree turn to catch people out.

The you can open it up past all 6 driver stations on the front straight. 3m flat out (spare pit on the left for stop go penalties, driver changes in endurance racing and spot prizes -bags of sweets- for kids when they knock off the plastic barrel I randomly place in the pit lane). After this straight there is a R4 turn to really test traction followed by a SLC and a 1m slow down to a R1 45 degree and R2 45 degree combo curve to test you.

More wiggly stuff before entering the pit straight with pit lane game (and a mirror behind for the Marshal to see the PLG status). Room here for an exit sensor once I buy the Pit Pro.

Then a nasty R2 - R1 - R2 hairpin with no barriers before entering the start-finish straight with the fourth SLC.

Overall length about 20-21m.

All curves out of the Marshal's reach will have barriers. Curves that are easily in reach of the Marshall will have no barriers to stop people simply hoofing it all the way round.

So - what do you think. Any blindingly obvious mistakes? Any aspects I haven't thought through properly (bound to be some of them). Should I carry on or give up, go buy some more beer and sit in front of the telly?
 

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Looks like a terrific layout to me.
I know that some will not like the R1 turns but when you turn the power down for the kiddies, they will have to learn to negotiate the tighter spots.

A suggestion.... put at least one half single straight in your "spare pit lane" so the car is completely off the main track. With the enter and exit sections together you could get the end of a car nicked by a passing vehicle if the kiddies are not spot on getting off the road. If you have a 4 pack of single lane straights, or if you cut them from 1/2 straight sections, you should be able to do this.

I am curious about your "toggle case latches" that you have on order. Could you show them when they arrive and/or tell me where you are getting them? I have six tables "latched" together but I am looking for something sturdier... more like what Colsy used on his layout (check out his layout under Members).

I am both envious and looking forward to your developments.... mine is still on hold. But check my link below to see how I handled the table sections.

Cheers!
 

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I like It ! Great thinking and a enjoyable story so far.
About the track, some observations.

- I would take out the squeeze. There are enough contact-possibilties with digital and considering this track is mainly aimed at kids, It is already difficult enough.
- You mention barriers. More important, you need room to slide. I'd prefer a half straight shorter to make place for track borders.
- If there is a way (and I understand why you do It) to loose the parallel parts It would look so much better.
- Somehow It is strange to see the start in the middle of the track. Possibly because the marshall will set things up ? Personally, I would put the S/F right after the pit lane, just before the corner.
- For a more succesfull start procedure , spread the cars at least 1 track piece per car.
- I like the R4's very much !

Just my thoughts, good luck and keep us posted !
 

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Kev
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MrMod,

You seem very excited and motivated with this project.

Looks like many hours of thought and consideration have been used.

I have to echo everything Minardi's just said.

At first glance i see lots of parallel lines, and like Minardi, i understand why. You have tried to get a track joins exactly in line with the board joins.
Wooden boards are easy to cut and manipulate into any shape you want, whilst still keeping within your size spec. (i am guessing the Mondeo is the prime factor here)?
I am not even sure the design is up for debate, or if you are committed to your own thoughts?

You have a lot of R1's in your design, and with the constraints you have to work with, i understand why. Yes, they can make for a subtle throttle control section, but kids don't do subtle.

The R1 you have bottom left before the straight is gonna cause you some major hassle. You will have designed it out within 6 weeks.


Barriers are gonna be needed around all the infield tight turns regardless of who's driving. Any fast deslots will result in cars being torpedo'ed in other areas of the track. Borders would be ideal with all of them to, to prevent a leaning advantage.

Looking forward to following the progress of this one.
 

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Hi Sealevel,
Thanks for your comments. Yes you are right about the spare pit lane. I will extend it at least 350mm to give cars a chance to stop. I will also move it nearer the start of the straight otherwise cars will be slowing down to pit just as others are accelerating to use the straight!

I will put up a photo of the toggle latches once they arrive. They should pull the boards together nicely. Your latches are very elegant by the way.
 

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Hi Minardi,

Good shout on the squeeze. I had better get some more straights.

Sliding - yes. I do have some borders I can incorporate. I am intending to "fill in" the boards up to track level so in theory every piece of track has a border. Where I can the barriers will be set back far enough to allow for sliding. However, as kids are involved and they will have problems with the R1's I am going to have two barrier positions - one tight to the track to allow the kids to get round the outside lane without deslotting, and the other position further away to challenge the adults!

I am not completely happy with all the parallel parts but I am not confident enough to try angled connections - given that each board will be about 1050mm x 1200mm they will take some handling to line up anyway without the complication of non-parallel connections. I will try to disguise the parallel nature of the track with a few advertising hoardings set at angles, some static vehicles and low buildings and some lighting poles. I may also change the surface texture in the infield so there's grass in some places and sand (painted not real!) in others, just to visually break it up.

As for the start straight - starting from the pit lane would be normal I agree and that is where I had it originally. However, I moved it because I will be laying the boards flat on top of each other with a thin layer of foam (the green foam cellular underlay that's about 5mm thick and used for wooden floors) between them. BY placing the APB where I have it is on the same board as the pit lane game. The PLG will obviously come out but its base is also quite tall. By puting both of the most vulnerable elements on one board I can make sure it is the top board in the pile and covered with a custom foam lid made from at least 4 inches of upholstery foam.

Thanks for the comments -it's helping me evolve my ideas.
 

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Thanks Zipp.

The design is sort of up for debate but I don;t have budget for more that a few extra pieces of track. I have quite a few R2 curves spare but that's about it.

As I explained to Minardi - the R1 curves will be barriered tight for the kids, the power will be reduced to 75% and what I didn't mention is that the kids will get Scalextric super resistant cars or which stick really well at 75% needing a slight lift-off for R1 turns (I tried this out at Snurfen's house the other day and he has a couple of R1 hairpins at the end of longer straights than I have).

Barriers around the infield turns - yes of course. The R2 turns will all have border space for slides. The Scaley super resistants don't really slide with the magnets set back, I may try some kids with magnets in different positions to see how they get on. With my own cars and those of my racing buddies then borders wherever possible because we run all sorts with ad without mags and my favourite at the moment is an old C125 Porsche 911 without a magnet but new tyres and it does the sweetest power slides


If the standard barriers aren't enough I will custom build taller barriers out of clear lexan to sit behind the standard barriers in the trouble spots. All barriers will be located with pins into pre-drilled holes in the base board.

As to the R1 curve bottom left - yes that was maybe a compromise too far. I had some problems getting the ends of the track to join up even with staggering the board joining edges on the left hand section. My design process will be physical real world now - off the computer onto the MDF. I will cut the middle section to size first and leave the left and right boards full size whilst I lay out the track on them. This way I can make the boards a little wider than on the plan (I think the boards are about 100mm wider) and can incorporate wider borders and hopefully replace the R1 with an R2. This is all dependent on whether it will fit in my garage and allow me to close the door!!!

Thanks for the feedback - all constructive criticism like yours is gratefully received.

Richard
 

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Discussion Starter · #11 ·
RACE CARNAGE - A WALLET PROTECTION STRATEGY!!!

Following all the comments from this forum and my racing buddies I got to thinking about the way kids will drive. Perhaps I should replace the throttle with simple on-off switches?!? Hang on - isn't that what the early Scalextric sets had?

Kidding!

I will run a few classes of vehicle depending on who is driving. For kids I have 7 Transit vans (6 and a spare). I make these myself putting a cheap plastic transit body (it's actually almost up to slot car standards in terms of quality and light weight) onto a modified Scalextric F430 chassis so it's a DPR Transit. I bought a job lot of F430's when Scalextric lost their Ferrari license (I have access to a wholesaler through a contact) and I get the Transits for under £3 each! So if the kids smash up the van it costs me next to nothing to replace the entire body. I even have a few spare chassis. The transits can be customised with paint jobs and decals to colour code them. Kids that have seen the vans so far all react in one way "cooool !!!"

I sell a few of these on Ebay occasionally - it makes a little profit to plough back into cars and track - most of my track and hardware bought off ebay was paid from my paypal account funded by transit conversions!!!

Second class will be SCX Nascars. SCX discontinued quite a few NASCARS recently and my wholesaler contact came up with NASCARS at £6 each - BARGAIN. So now I have 6 different designs of NASCAR with a spare car in each design and I'm spraying a seventh white to add the Amman Valley Raceway logo to it as my spare car and my track demonstrator. I will also custom decal a transit with the raceway logo.

Third class will be Shelby Cobra Racing. Again my contact came up with the AutoArt Cobras for pocket money and I have 8 of these. 7 will be chipped (I've done one already and it's a hoot). These have lights so I am hoping to build track lighting so we can run night racing.

I also have Super Resistant Ferraris, Nissan GTR's and Minis but as I have the transits I don't know whether to bother with these - I don't have enough chips and it will be hassle swapping chips from the transits in the middle of an event. I guess I could offer a choice of either transits OR exotic road cars and I can prepare these in advance. Maybe after a couple of hires I will use the cash to buy more chips.

So in summary - the kids will get smash resistant road cars or transit vans with power turned down to 75% and some helpfully tight barriers at R1 turns.

Adults (I'm anticipating some 40th and 50th birthday party hires!) will get a trickier track with Transits, NASCARs and Shelby Concept Cobras to choose from. They will get full power but if it gets silly I will have some preset SSDC races with power turned down to 88%.

The club activities and my race buddy meets will get none of my cars - they can smash up their own on full power! If they are good I might let them play with the transits (maybe without the magnets!!!)

That's my thinking anyway.

Piccies of the transits for the curious...


 

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A transit with Ferrari wheels, how cool. Seriously, they look great. Would be nice for scenery too. Isn't the center of gravity to high for racing around R1's ?

I would like to know how you get on with the SCX nascars. In the past I had bad experience with chipped SCX cars, their motors didn't seem to like the SSD-chip, but may be things have changed and they sure make some interesting models.

Going down the Super resistant road for the kids sounds like a good idea. My 5 year old handles them pretty well, albeit on 50% but understands the lane change thingy. You are up to some great fun with the kiddies parties and definitely with the adults !
 

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Looks good!

When doing kids parties don't even think of trying to do them on your own! Even with three marshalls on my track it's hard work doing kids parties.

The transit conversions are the best ones I've seen but they won't last long with the kids.

I use Boxsters for the kids and even when run at 9.7volts they've trashed a few over the summer.

The Boxsters are the toughest cars I've found but if anyone knows of an even stronger one please say!

Don't forget your liability insurance, PAT testing and CRB checks should be considered!

Good luck!
 

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QUOTE (Minardi @ 30 Sep 2011, 11:16) <{POST_SNAPBACK}>Isn't the center of gravity to high for racing around R1's ?

Hi Minardi,

You would have thought the centre of gravity would be too high but no - the Transit is plastic (painted plastic which is why it looks good) and the top is mainly air. The transit is a bit slower than the Ferrari it's based on but not much - on a 6 second track (Ferrari 6 seconds) the Transit puts in about 6.4 seconds and that's with an R1 180 degree turn.

The magnet is quite powerful so that helps. With the magnet set in the forward position it can be made to slide nicely with quite a lot of control. The photos are before I trued the tyres - that makes a difference to the handling. The Transit deslots less than the Ferrari - maybe it's the extra few grams in weight. It can stall in the slot when you overcook it but it comes back rather than flipping out.

Thanks for the heads up about the NASCARs. I haven't tried chipping yet. Better do that soon. I noticed the AutoArt Cobras have extra resistors and THREE capacitors across the motor so if the SCX gives trouble I will try the AutoArt configuration. I will also try the Ferrite Man on the motor and if that doesn't work - across the guide as well (I have a few spare ferrite men because the Cobra doesn't need them). Failing that I guess I'll have to sell them on and use the 6 Scalextric Taurus I have in the back of my cupboard (old project that didn't get off the ground).

Looking forward to the fun! Setting myself a target for the school Christmas Fayre to launch the raceway. That's likely to be at the end of November or beginning of December so the pressure's on!
 

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Hi ss67,

Liability insurance is in place (I am self employed and have public liability cover of £2m for doing pretty much anything - I will need to check it just in case an additional premium is required).

PAT testing is only needed once equipment is 12 months old I believe and then only applies to mains powered devices so as long as I get my power supplies and extension leads tested I should be OK - may even buy new ones once a year if things go well.

CRB checks - maybe, although I would never do a party where parents are not present. £50 investment when funds allow.

This has to be run like a business I guess but it is simply to do a few events each year to fund my slot car addiction!

The transits will cost me under £3 to replace the entire body so I will give those a go. I will take 7 with me and maybe some spare bodies.

Boxters eh? I will keep an eye out for some.

As for marshalling kids parties I have a buddy who has volunteered to help out a few times. I may ask whoever books the track to ask a couple of dads to marshal - I'm sure they will want a closer look and maybe a go when the kids are eating! I tried to design the track so the spin off points were closest to the marshal. I should be able to reach across the entire track anyway (I'm 6'1") but I take your point about extra marshals - I guess you can have multiple offs at the same time on different parts of the track as racers rubber neck the crashes and then crash themselves! If I have to pay people it makes the whole thing too expensive for parents - maybe I include it as an extra cost option which can be avoided by the parents organising volunteers?

Our circle of friends have quite a few kids 6-12 years old so I will run a test event to iron out all the bugs like barrier placement, perspex guard placement, power levels etc.
 

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At least it only sounds like it's in a 3rd world country. Whereas Ipswich is actually in a 3rd world country


The name will mean something to people in this area so it is probably not going to put anybody off.
 

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Discussion Starter · #18 ·
I would like to point out that Zipp edited my post because I quoted the post immediately above so he removed the quote (and I can now understand the reasoning to keep threads short).

I don't want anybody to think it was edited because I said anything rude or insulting - because that's not me!!!! I'm all for keeping things friendly, no point sharing otherwise.

Back to the AMMAN VALLEY RACEWAY...

My garage is now clear enough to set up the boards on the trestle tables. Everything ready to go. Just got to get the wife's birthday weekend out of the way and it's game on.

Sealevel asked about the case latches - here's a picture


The latch is 82mm long so it's quite substantial. It provides about a 10mm pull in total - but the final locking part of the toggle's arc probably pulls it in about 2mm - ideal for holding my boards tightly together.

I may locate these on the top of the boards along with my cross-board power taps - the whole lot will sit underneath a 1:32 Volvo XC90, a 1:32 Galaxy and a 1:32 Transit - all static models that I can cut the floor pans out of and use as track scenery to hide stuff!

Sealevel - I got these from Ebay and they cost under £1 each for 10 including postage. Hopefully you can get a similar deal on Ebay Canada.

Next update in a few days...
 

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Kev
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Those clips are exactly like the Notts Slot Car club used to fasten their sectional track together.
It seemed to work quite well.

Been having a little play:

Tried not to deviate too far from what you had already.


8 boards in total, none too big. Bit like a slot track jigsaw??
Smoothing out of the flow. minimise use of R1's.
Plenty of room for border barriers.
Not sure if this is gonna help or hinder, but, there you have it.
 

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Wow, that transit van is neat. And you make the bodies? Tell us more... show us pics of the development!


Regarding the latches... I was thinking of something more like what Colsy used (link to his latches).
I thought his looked more "sturdy".

Regarding your layout, I have some more thoughts...

QUOTE (Mr Modifier @ 30 Sep 2011, 01:35) <{POST_SNAPBACK}>As for the start straight - starting from the pit lane would be normal I agree and that is where I had it originally. However, I moved it because I will be laying the boards flat on top of each other with a thin layer of foam (the green foam cellular underlay that's about 5mm thick and used for wooden floors) between them. BY placing the APB where I have it is on the same board as the pit lane game. The PLG will obviously come out but its base is also quite tall. By puting both of the most vulnerable elements on one board I can make sure it is the top board in the pile and covered with a custom foam lid made from at least 4 inches of upholstery foam.
If you extended the pit lane to the board to the left you could put both the pit lane game (PLG) and the PB in that board and still have the PB right before the turn so the cars brake before going over the sensors.

QUOTE (Mr Modifier @ 30 Sep 2011, 01:54) <{POST_SNAPBACK}>Thanks Zipp.

As I explained to Minardi - the R1 curves will be barriered tight for the kids, the power will be reduced to 75% and what I didn't mention is that the kids will get Scalextric super resistant cars or which stick really well at 75% needing a slight lift-off for R1 turns (I tried this out at Snurfen's house the other day and he has a couple of R1 hairpins at the end of longer straights than I have).

Barriers around the infield turns - yes of course. The R2 turns will all have border space for slides. The Scaley super resistants don't really slide with the magnets set back, I may try some kids with magnets in different positions to see how they get on. With my own cars and those of my racing buddies then borders wherever possible because we run all sorts with ad without mags and my favourite at the moment is an old C125 Porsche 911 without a magnet but new tyres and it does the sweetest power slides


If the standard barriers aren't enough I will custom build taller barriers out of clear lexan to sit behind the standard barriers in the trouble spots. All barriers will be located with pins into pre-drilled holes in the base board.

That is good to hear about the borders and barriers. Have you looked at the Ninco safety walls? Check out how they look on this track ... (link)

Also, some people have figured out ways to attach the Scaley Armco barriers to pins in the table surface so that you could put them closer to the track or further away. Just another thought.

Seems you have this well thought out...
Thanks for providing updates...

Cheers!
 
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