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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Here we go.....the beginning of the story of my first routed track. I've finally got round to creating this thread having delayed for weeks/months using the excuse that I didn't know how to load photos. Anyway, I'm in business now but the upshot is that as I load these up, the build may initially appear to be moving quite a lot quicker than it really is
(Thanks to AAWSSC for giving me a gentle nudge to get posting
)

Having spent the best part of a year reading 100's of posts about incredible tracks, I decided to do something myself. Having already rediscovered my old Scalextric stuff after many years, I happily got it all out on the pretext that my 4 year old daughter would be totally enthralled by it - a weak excuse I know. I then started to go a bit mad on ebay buying up lots of additional old classic track. In the end, the size of layout was only really limited by floorspace
. The trouble is, I don't have a dedicated space for a permanent or semi-permanent track. We have no loft space to talk of, and the garage is at the end of the garden and doesn't have any power. Therefore the spare bedroom is where it all happens. Unfortunately my wife feels quite strongly that the track needs to go away again whenever we have visitors to stay ("they should be able to reach the bed"), and although it provides an opportunity to come up with a new layout each time, the constant dismantling and rebuilding of the track was beginning to wear thin.

So I came up with the idea of doing a routed track, made up of a number of boards that could be stored under the bed, and then retrieved and bolted together much more easily that the plastic track. I'm very much into rally cars - my collection is all rally cars - so a rally track it was going to be
. I also figured if I could standardise the size of the boards and the position of the entry and exit points for the slot on each board, this would allow me to configure the boards in different ways to allow some variation in track design. Given the available space, both on the floor and under the bed, I 've chosen 120 x 60 cm MDF boards as my basic module size, and I reckon I can ultimately get 4 or 5 of these to fit the space.

To cut down on weight, I've decided on 6mm MDF mounted on a frame, which I'd then rout straight through.

I started with a couple of boards, which will ultimately be the 2 "ends" of the track. One's a full 120x60 board, the other a smaller left-over piece, which I bolted together and got out the kids crayons
. You'll see that the track I came up with is quite twisty and I've probably been guilty of trying to squeeze too much into a small space, but it works OK.



The plan is to have some kind of farm building in the middle of the bottom loop.



The boards were fitted to a frame, which was to be reinforced quite alot later once I'd routed the track. As I was cutting right through the 6mm MDF, it got quite wobbly in places.



The individual frames were simply bolted together



That's all for now - I need to load up some more photos - but more updates over the next day or so.
 

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Discussion Starter · #2 ·
OK. Here's the next historical update. I'm going to go long on photos short on text this time.

Unfortunately, all the photos of the routing process are on my mobile and I've temporarily lost the download cable for it
(If anyone's interested, I'll load these up once I've found the cable). Basically I used a bit of old garden hose which I attached with panel pins about every inch. It was time consuming and not ideal as the hosepipe tended to flatten a bit where the nails went through. This in turn resulted in a slightly undulating slot. Not the end of the world, but as I got more confident with the router I ended up doing a lot of it freehand. This is a rally track so I figured there's a bit more leeway


The pictures resume at the basic but running stage. At this stage the track is functioning. It's been painted with a little help from my son and a lot of help from Laurence Llewelyn-Bowen (Graham & Brown's "Laurence makes it HOME" range: "Choco Chick Lit"). The track's also taped and (shamelessly copying ideas from other forum members) I've dismantled an old Scalextric Sport powerbase to supply the power. Probably not the best solution long term, but it works fine and got us up and running.



Painting assistant getting to play at last



Scaley power supply.



Wires were run under the board and using another tip gleaned from the forum, run up through the board next to the copper tape and soldered into a groove running across the slot. Another short length of copper tape was later laid over the top. This seems to have worked fine.

Then it was play time.....








Next the basic scenery started to go down. An old foam mattress provided the basic rocks. These were then coated in jointing compound (2-3 coats) and then coated in PVA to seal them and firm them up a bit. This finally put paid to my kids favourite game of sticking their fingers into the plaster. I couldn't work out what was causing the damage (drying too quickly?) until I caught them at it.



Polystyrene sheets were cut up to make walls. These have since been covered in plaster to hide the basic texture but still don't look too great. Thankfully AAWSCC has started to produce some excellent resin drystone walls and these will be used elsewhere in the build.









And lastly for this post, a bit of papier mache work went on to create a central "hill". Ultimately this will be grassed over.



That's all for now. Any comments would be much appreciated.

Cheers, Don.
 

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Great work & photos! Enjoy your track!
Now lets have a video of the livestock getting skittled over!

Cheers,
Kev.
 

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Discussion Starter · #5 ·
QUOTE (loosesalute @ 26 Nov 2011, 11:37) <{POST_SNAPBACK}>Great work & photos! Enjoy your track!
Now lets have a video of the livestock getting skittled over!


Thanks for your comments and the livestock skittling is very tempting!!

As I read on another post today... that car/farm animal combination is a real hook for the young ones
My lad wasn't that bothered until a flock of sheep appeared on the track, then he played with it for ages.

Ok - next installment. I started work on a third module, again 120x60cm. Ultimately this will be one of 3-4 modules, which will be capped at each end with the sections I've already got up and running but, given how slowly it's going, "ultimately" may take some time
. There are new species that will evolve in less time than it's taking me.

Module 3, is an attempt to get a bit of elevation into what is (through necessity - remember the "under the bed" constraint) a fairly flat track.



The cut out in the middle is/was intended to be a pond. There's going to be a bridge down the left side and a (fake) watersplash/ford next to it going back in the other direction. My assistant was still with the programme at this point but losing interest fast.



New section with one of the other sections married up to it. The slot was routed completely freehand this time.



Close up of the lake. At this point I was already thinking it was all a bit tight between the "bridge" and "watersplash" - the planned track down into the water was right up against the bridge and barely a car's width wide. I was also starting to have some serious "how on earth do I do this?" moments!




A rethink was on the way. I needed to give the cars more space and lose some of my intended pond. Time to get the router out again and have a play with expanding foam!

Final installment tomorrow will bring you up to date with where I am now on the 3 under-construction sections (then my "how do I do this?" questions will really start
).

Cheers

Don
 

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Good development Don, I like the water splash idea, but make sure it's dead straight, as we've got one in our club on a bit of an angle and it's a pain for beaching cars!

How did the first two coppered boards run when you had a little dabble? Look like good tail-out sweepers on them.
 

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Finally you are getting on with it. Well done. Looks good so far.
If you have lots of polystyrene and you want rocks, squirt some Airfix glue (polystyrene cement) onthem and watch them dissolve. If painted correctly they will give a good effect. Careful not to put too much on though or you will just be left with a blob.
Looking forward to seeing this progress.
 

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Discussion Starter · #8 ·
QUOTE (snurfen @ 27 Nov 2011, 00:47) <{POST_SNAPBACK}>Good development Don, I like the water splash idea, but make sure it's dead straight, as we've got one in our club on a bit of an angle and it's a pain for beaching cars!

How did the first two coppered boards run when you had a little dabble? Look like good tail-out sweepers on them.

Thanks for the comments, and the tip about the watersplash. The re-routed second version (which I hope to post later) is a lot straighter than the first. Fingers crossed.

The first 2 boards run like a dream (too well actually - I keep getting distracted). To be honest the majority of the lap is sideways
. This in itself has caused some second thoughts as it was only after I put some scenery in place that I realised how wide a car could slide. Some of the rocks were trimmed back at that stage, but there's still two or three spots where the back-end will slap the scenery. I thought of eliminating these, but then it kind of reduces the challenge.

Been doing a bit of work on the bridge this morning so will take some pics and include it in the update.

AAWSCC - thanks for the encouragement. I needed a bit of a nudge!

Cheers

Don
 

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Discussion Starter · #9 ·
Right then. This should bring the story up to the present. Not much progress made today - a break in the weather meant painting window frames came first - but I can at least finish off the historical bit.

A rethink about module 3 has ended up with me redesiging the board and having to adjust the slots quite a bit. Out with the router, and then the filler! I then started to apply expanding foam to make rocks and other bits of scenery but completely overdid it. What a mess. What you see below is about 10% of what I started with and I have 2 bulging carrier bags of weird looking blobs that I've "just in cased".


Re routing right through a 6mm board created a problem or two.


The solution was to glue the "drop out" to a bit of hardboard and then stick the whole lot from underneath the MDF. Once it had stuck, a bit of wood-filler in the old slot and we were back on track.


Once 90% of the foam had been surgically removed. The bridge position will remain largely unchanged, but the water splash has been moved more into the middle. The pond idea is going out of the window and a rocky riverbed is the new hot idea. The slots come in at one end of this module, but exit off to one side. Consequently, with the new position of the watersplash, the lines were too tight for the inner slot to turn right down into the water, so I've gone for a cross over. The inner slot now goes on to the bridge, the outer slot turns across this to the water.


The river bed is made of thin sheets of polystyrene with a slot left between them. The slopes down to the water are carved from expanding foam and this is where it's gone a bit pear-shaped. I figured I could cut a slot in the foam but I was impatient and did this before the foam had completely cured. Consequently the slot pulled apart. Any ideas on how to remedy this would be welcome. I'm thinking of levelling with filler or grout and then sticking a strip of 1mm thick plastic sheet down each side, then add a surface/paint effect, but if anyone's got a cleverer idea, please help me



Next onto the bridge. I'd thought of keeping this flat but then decided to go for a humpback. I built up the profile of bridge with polystyrene sheets.


Then I created the road surface with two strips of hardboard screwed down into the MDF.


The prominent screw heads needed a bit of filler to cover them up. This stuff takes some sanding back (so I've not bothered yet
)


This shows the two routes across the water.

And now we're up to today



Work started on the bridge. The basic shape cut out of MDF and brickwork pencilled in.


I used a Dremel with engraving tool thingy to trace out the pointing in the brickwork.


And finally back in place on the track. A separate piece has been cut out for the other side but still needs trimming and pointing.

And that folks is where I'm at! Please, please feel free to comment.

One thing that I'd like some advice on is this. I'm thinking of using tile grout to create a textured road surface in some places. Does this work OK? If so, how do I maintain a smooth surface along the sides of the slot so I can lay the tape securely?

Cheers

Don
 

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RallyP is the man who used a lot of tile grout for roads. Not sure who else.

Before you cut bricks on the other side of that bridge, I'd like to see you slap a coat of plasterer's joint compound on it, just for some texture. MDF is too dead and flat. Even with bricks cut in it, it's still too flat.

Some real promise in the planning.

Embs
 

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It's great reading Don, I can almost see you tearing your hair out as you build and learn. It takes a while, but you do get there so stick with it. You'll feel great when it's done.
Suggestions for the dip. Plasterboard adhesive. It sets rock hard. Put a piece of 3mm MDF or similar where the slot is and fill to it and smooth to nearly what you want as it's a b***er to sand. Maybe vaseline the MDF for easy removal.
For texture on the brick wall you could add some sand to some spare paint and give it a quick coat with a roller. That would be enough for what it needs.

Keep posting those pics.
 

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I just couldn't think of names yesterday. Pffrrsssh(?)/Lars also did a lot of plaster roadway. As did/does/has Sig.

But I'm sure there was someone else who had used the tile grout as road dirt too.
 

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I could be wrong, but I didn't think Tileguy was using the grout on the actual road surface.

Have a look at RallyP's Safari and Morocco tracks. Both have a 'sandy' track surface to make it look like the cars are actually driving offroad or on a dirt track. The Safari track also has a ford crossing which may be of interest to you.

Embs
 

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Thanks for the pointers Embs & Mark0.

I've just checked out RallyP and Rallyhub's tracks .... to be fair I ended up completely distracted for an hour or more
. Cheers! Great stuff.

RallyP's water splash is the same basic effect that I'm looking for, perhaps witha few more rocks about. As for Rallyhub's carving, last night I started dremeling cobbles on one module (the small "end" section) where I'm going to construct a stone barn some time this millenium. I managed about half of the loop in an hour and a half, and that was only doing patches of cobbles rather that the whole yard. I'm now thinking I may limit my efforts to the area in front where the doors will be. This is probably more realistic anyway - a bit of hard standing outside the front of the barn.........isn't it? Please say it is, then I'll have an excuse not to get the dremel out again


Will post a few pictures when I've made a bit more progress.

I'm finding myself getting bored with "construction" tasks which seem to take forever (I seldom get a really good run at it), so I think a bit of paint and decoration needs to go down this weekend, even if it's only on a small section. It will make me feel like I'm making a lot more progress!

Don
 

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While it's an awful cliche there's a big truth in 'nothing worthwhile is ever easy.' I can remember cramped hands from carving bricks in a tunnel (yup, did 'em with a knife not a dremel). Took me at least 3 long sessions over a few days to get it done. And the really stupid thing? You don't even see most of it!!!

Stick with it. You'll appreciate it when you're done.

Embs
 

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Discussion Starter · #19 ·
Thanks for the encouragement!

Embs, I just checked out the tunnel brick-carving bit of your build and came across an interesting quote from you....

"Ok. If I should ever decide to carve a lot of little bricks into plasterwork again in the future, will somebody please shoot me!!??!!"

Made me laugh


Don
 

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Yup. I stand by that remark.

I've been contemplating doing a brick chimney from a derelict house. But I think it'd be nearly easier to make a bunch of little bricks and build a darned chimney.
 
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