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Discussion Starter #1
If your track was lost and you had to build a new one from scratch again

-- what would you do differently (either in the construction or in design)?

-- what would you make sure you did the same (ditto)?

-- Bill
 

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I wouldn't click-click-click track after track together, without paying attention to the detail of each of every track connection. I would take a magnifying glass, and review each connection - check each slot for hiccups - check each tab for sitting flush. If it wasn't a perfect fit between 2 tracks, I would investigate why - right there and right now. I would try and solve and disparity between track connections, before moving to the next track.

I got a feeling that Cordoba did something similiar when laying his track - he did not accept anything other then perfection between tracks - and it pays off in the end.

Am I on the right track for what type of responses you are looking for?
 

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I would only embark on a track that is a near-perfect design (i.e. last track piece meets within a yet-to-be-personally-determined-minimum-tolerance of first track piece) before beginning assembly. I'm going to be real reluctant to build a layout that Tracker 2000 shows a x gap between start-end, because I now know that an x gap is not so easily rectified over the lenght of the lanes.
 

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I would be much more selective when choosing my table-wood at Home Depot, to make sure I got the flatest 4x8 sheet of plywood they had (i.e I would not take my wife to help me put wood on a cart on Thursday evening 30 minutes before Survivor starts).
 

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Discussion Starter #9
Scafremon --

I think you're on the general track. I've just moved into a new house with room for a decent layout, and will be building a track later this year.

There have been a lot of suggestions in this forum regarding track construction issues, but I'm wondering which ones people feel make a difference.

I've read about layout width, borders, different ways of fastening the track, sound deadening, power taps, etc., etc., etc.. The problem is I don't know what people feel is important, and what is not. This is my way of asking.

-- Bill
 

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I think the most important factor is builders remorse....ending up with something you're not really happy with...

That's why we all stress building a temporary layout...and tweaking it several times....even if you eventualy plan on a routed perma track....

Many times...a layout that looks awesome on paper or program...turns out to be a stinker with areas too technical and prone to deslots...
 

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Well Bill, I've sorta been lurking along here to see what was proffered.


Scafs dead on the nut about sectional track, each piece should be carefully scrutinzed and groomed.

First off establish how much space your gonna need and carefully plan some quality bench work. Nuthin' worse than lumpy, rickety bench work! At the same time start roughing out what you think you want in the way of a layout design. I like four lane. Especially cuz you can still race lanes two and three till you get your borders done. After you've raced it a while in it's unscrewed down state (or slightly secured here and there) Ya quickly may find changes are in order and you'll have less to undo.

I'm a blasphemer. A pencil and paper dude myself, track design software holds no appeal for me. I just keep scribbling till I like it. Geometry is an exact science. Most sectional track has enough slop to put any outcome in the questionable category pretty quick. You can plan it out to the nth degree, but but the gaps, lumps and bumps aren't in the program. I liken it to the old "looks good on paper" cliche. Each to his own. In my book there's no substitute for slapping it onto the table and giving it a go.

Laying track is one thing, grooming it to fit and run smooth is the art form. The great ones have huge amount of time in this area. For power taps I'd go somewhere between the bare minimum and what Scaf did. LOL

Crimnick and Scaf nailed it here too. Initially I like to just let it lay loose for some time. It seems like like the slot gods have an unwritten proportional rule that the more you hammer things down the more apt your gonna wanna change it. Ask yourself if you love it before you commit to any kind of permanent arrangement!

Like anything, the fundamentals are where the time should be spent. Consideration to marshalling, drivers stations are of great importance.
A track is only as smooth as its benchwork.

To answer your original question; If I had it to do all over again it would be a modular routed affair like Max Trac. At this point it seems to offer the best of both worlds- smooth but with some flexible attributes regarding layout design and the inevitable changes to follow.
 

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I would rethink the common table area usually 4x8 and adding a little bit, 10x8 or even 12x8 if room permits of course.

Then you'll be able to add some interesting bends which will only add to appearance of the layout.
 

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We're actually building a new 6-lane Tyco track to replace our 12 year old worn out track. We're definitely going to get rid of any 6 inch radius turns to make the overall action faster. As well, we'll add a chicane section and possibly a crossover (bridge) to allow for more track. Our table is 22 feet long, by 3 feet at one end and 11 feet at the other (to allow for a trioval setup when we're not racing the roadcourse). We're also not going to stripe the entire track, just small markings on the turns and every 4 feet or so on the straights.
 

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Scafremon said:
I got a feeling that Cordoba did something similiar when laying his track - he did not accept anything other then perfection between tracks - and it pays off in the end. . . .
Mine is far from perfect but there is a lot of room to work in minimizing the shortcomings inherent in using mass-produced toy track.

Grinding off the tabs on Tomy track to ensure flatness at the connections is the best way to start. Then, if there are gaps, massage the track so the gap is spread evenly across the straightaway pieces. A bunch of small gaps is better than one or two big ones that could cause de-slots or power hiccups.

And I know a lot of people screw or nail their tracks down, but mine isn't mounted to the board at all. I've found that when you mount the track to the table, sometimes you can inadvertently ADD bumps and dips to your track, and we all know slot cars hate bumps.

Unless you have to tip your table up for storage, or have elevation changes to worry about, I would not recommend mounting your track. And then, if you have to mount it for those kinds of reasons, I'd say use a couple dabs of clear silicone caulk to mount each piece -- it will hold your track in place but you can still pull it up if you need to work on it and it comes off and cleans up easy. A bonus is that you get some sound-deadening qualities with silicone too.

'doba
 

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Building Layouts ive learned that one thing is far more important than anything.

BUILD.............Quit thinking and start building. There is NOTHING you can do that you can not re do. If you try to overthink you will never get started.

Enjoy the building.............Learn from it........Then build another.........You will get better and better each time , and building can be alot of fun IF you allow yourself to make mistakes.
Quit fretting and start building, We have enough ARM CHAIR RACERS in the World and far too many guys that reach the end of their allotted time saying coulda, woulda, shoulda!!! :)
 

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Bill -

I wish had access to this board when I built my track. I did have the chance to set up my track after 4 years of planning (pencil and graph paper) and tweak it when we moved. I am happy with the 8x16 table construction.
I would have used different materials for track support and would have provided larger aprons. I cut the plywood flush to the inside radius of the turns and there is no room to blend in landscaping. I would have used cut foam for rocks to add insterest. Instead of taping and spraying painting lane colors on 166 feet of track per lane, 4 lanes. I would have used ink markers or other lane tape. I have lane jumpers every 10-12 ft of track. ( I staple gunned the wires to the underneath and had no power to the tracks! Had to redo it). I would have properly ballested or nailed the railroad into place. The train track has shifted in the most difficult place to get to and the train catches on the side of the tunnel.

I am sure there is more, but these are off the top of my head.

Jim
 

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Discussion Starter #19 (Edited)
I just wanted to step in, and thank everyone for contributing. I think everyone has contributed some really good tips. As I was hoping, there were some things here that I had not thought of before, or new twists on tips I've read elsewhere.

The track grooming one was one that somewhat surprised me. I knew about grinding out the tabs, and the tip about spreading the gaps around was a good one, but I suspect that I have more to learn about making the joints smooth.

What else can you do to make the joints smooth?

-- Bill
 

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wm_brant said:
What else can you do to make the joints smooth
I'd like to learn more tips on grooming tracks also.

I noticed on my track that at some connections, the slot groove was not lining up correctly, even if the track pieces themselves were accuratly aligned. This is most noticable on some curves, especially tighter curves, but not limited to them. I'd hear a 'clunk' as the car passes, so I would take a car an manually push it around the corner, and notice that the guide pin would catch on the next track, to the point of stopping the car when pushing. So, I would take an emory board and slightly sand down the protruding edge in the slot. While this would solve the problem, I know I am creating a future problem if/when I redo my track layout.
 
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