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Scalextric or Carrera Track Selection Help

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  • Scalextric or Carrera Track Selection Help

    I am now ready to start my 1:32-scale layout after finally finishing my three-year HO layout endeavor. I am taking the summer off but am starting to form my track requirements and want to start purchasing track to evaluate track plans. My platform is 8x24 in a temperature and humidity controlled room and I will again make a scenic fixed layout.

    I know some requirements already:

    - two lane analog
    - paintable surface
    - will run mostly stock Fly, Slot it, Scalextric, MRRC chassis with likely silicone replacement tires
    - will leave magnets in for most cars but may remove for older era cars that did not have much aerodynamic grip

    So I am looking at either Scalextric or Carrera track pieces. I already have a big power supply and Professor Motor controllers.

    I have read that Carrera has a deeper slot and wider spacing that are positives. I also read Carrera rail has lower magnetic properties that reduce magnetic attraction.

    So given above can those knowledgeable members share their comments and recommendations?

    All help is appreciated as I have more experience with HO than 1:32.

    I will also document my build when I get started.


  • #2
    I'm documenting my Carrera build as I write this. Here's a link to the thread. Biased, I am. I chose Carrera over 10 years ago and am glad I did. For the sole reason I can run 1:24 scale cars without doing anything but turning up the voltage, the track is awesome. I have the same cars you have (not all of them, of course! You have a Tremendous collection!) and some Fly Trucks that I love to run. Carrera track is durable, but the oldest track I have is getting brittle - if I handle it incorrectly it will crack... ask me how I know I believe it's that way because of being in Southern Florida for the past 8 years, not in an environmentally controlled garage.
    I think you should go with Carrera if you want to choose track to purchase off the shelf - otherwise build your own custom MDF layout with braid.
    Hi all, I need help choosing one of these layouts I just came up with. I've decided to build a 4'x10' platform (green rectangle) and fill it with as much track as I possibly can! The limiting factor for equal track length is the 4' depth, so one lane will be roughly 4 feet longer than the other for every one of these layouts.

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    • #3
      Dinglebery - nice track build.

      I am leaning towards Carrera. I also read that the their rail is less susceptible to tarnishing or rusting.

      What is your experience with magnetic down force? I actually like a car to drift a little so even with chassis magnets the Carrera track may allow for drifting.

      I have a lot of real estate to work with so the wider Carrera track won't be an issue.

      Misc 003 by bonez 300, on Flickr

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      • #4
        Hey Bonez, like Dingleberry I'm also am bias towards Carrera because of the ability to run 1/24. I was going to suggest Scaley until you said space is not an issue. You can get more track in the same space with Scaley. Carrera uses a stainless steel rail that resists corrosion. There is less magnetic attraction but how muck I'm not sure. My track has been painted for 5 yrs now and is holding up well. No issues. Dave
        Dsc00016.jpg

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        • #5
          Based on your requirements, the fact that you like the wider lane spacing, and that you have plenty of room, I think Carrera is the clear choice.

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          • #6
            Dw555 - nice track.

            All - flip flopping here. If given a choice between factory track or routed MDF which would you choose? I am fortunate that cost is not a concern. I have a local guy that routs using a CNC cutter and charges about $40/foot.

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            • #7
              Another question. How does one determine if a routed track has a good flow/rhythm before you cut the design?

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              • #8
                Bonez - the rail on my oldest track pieces have no corrosion whatsoever - it's literally impervious to rust I think! I had a track set up in Ft Lauderdale for about 5 years and then stored for another 4 (in the same garage) before I shipped it to me here in Southern California. My banked curve is some of that track. It's also great because you can use all kinds of cars - with tons or no magnets - for whatever style of driving you want. Both scales also! TIP: If you plan on running 1/24 scale often, I suggest getting the track border for the curves to provide more sliding space - it's a must if you want to drift a 1/24 scale. In fact, with all the space you have, I would incorporate border for every piece. You'll be able to paint sidewalk on some pieces I'm sure.

                The only MUST DO if you go with Carrera is to paint the track with Rustoleum paint. I've been lucky the same color is still being made, from the original track sections I painted over 9 years ago. It's very easy to tape up and paint also.
                This was December 2009, painting orig track pieces:
                IMG00105 Resized.jpg

                I'd be happy to help you come up with a track design.

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                • #9
                  Originally posted by Bonez View Post
                  ... If given a choice between factory track or routed MDF which would you choose? I am fortunate that cost is not a concern...
                  I don't think this is that easy of a question to answer because it depends how technical of a track you want. With a Routed track you'll be able to make it however you want with regard to lane spacing and pinch/squeeze points. The only negative IMO to routed is banking. I believe it'll be extremely difficult to route a banked curve the equivalent to what you can purchase from Carrera, including transitions to the banking, which with Carrera is relatively short - 1 or 2 track pieces.

                  I absolutely love a technical track to drive - elevation changes, multiple levels, and must have banked curves. The track I had in FL was ridiculously technical - here's one view of the layout...
                  DSC_9004 copy.jpg I think this would be nearly impossible to route with MDF.

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                  • #10
                    Definitely go routed with Magnabraid - this will give some magnetic attraction ( not as much as Scaley / similar to Carrera ) - but the driving experience is superior to either plastic option. Smoother, more variety in corner radius etc. In that table area you could have either 2 or 3 lanes, and still have room for plenty of landscaping. Don't fill the area with track, surprisingly - less is often more.....

                    Cheers, Tony.

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                    • #11
                      Given a choice I would also go with a routed track. They are much smoother. That being said no matter how much I like a track design I'm the kinda guy that likes to change things up a little bit even if it's just a few tweaks every couple of years. A lot more difficult to do on a routed track. Also you don't know how the design works until you drive it. It may look good on paper but may not have the flow you want.

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                      • #12
                        Originally posted by Bonez View Post
                        Another question. How does one determine if a routed track has a good flow/rhythm before you cut the design?
                        Track flow is something you learn with experience. However, there are some basic track design principles that usually work. ("Usually", because everyone has different tastes.)

                        1. Avoid too many sharp turns. Curves are great and necessary, but too many tight turns force a lot of stop-and-go driving. Try to include some technical sections - maybe a hairpin and some esses - but also some long curves with gentle radii. With plastic track, it is important to expand beyond the basic radius of curves included in starter sets.

                        2. Straights are great, but too many straights going back and forth the same direction gets boring. Also, a long "straight" with a gentle bend in it can be more interesting (and scenic) than just a straight drag strip.

                        3. Include curves that change radius: increasing and decreasing both have benefits. A curve that starts wider but gets tighter is good at the end of a long straight, because cars don't have to stop before entering the curve. A curve that opens up as it exits gives drivers a chance to see how soon they can start applying throttle on the way out, to get a good run on the next straight. Parabolic curves (wide-tight-wide) can give both benefits.

                        4. Try to give each turn its own character. Short or long; changing radii; uphill or downhill; banked or off-camber: these are all ways to make a turn different from the last one.

                        5. Avoid a bunch of short straights between curves. They are choppy, annoying, and not fun to drive. Flow comes from smooth curves that allow drivers to feel their way through.

                        6. Feel free to break any of the above rules if you know what you like!

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                        • #13
                          After having a small routed track for years, I bought a used Carrera track. I set it up as a Bertrand 8 with a long straight and some twisty bits using decreasing radius turns. 1/24 cars are a blast. I first tried a magless BRM 962 and a 512S. Fun but no brakes. Carreras with Auto Art motors were different. I had never experienced running a magnet car. Totally different experience. I then tried a BRM 917 with a magnet. That experience was in between the other cars.
                          I then switched to 1/32 cars. The cars looked lost on the big track (track has borders all the way around). I tried cars with and without magnets but the whole 1/32 trip was meh.
                          If all you want to run is 1/32, Id do Scalextric in a heartbeat. Use the larger curves and borders.
                          I still prefer a routed track. This Carrera was my chance to readily try different layouts. As for flow on a routed track - do your best on the design stage and go with it. I know of no 1:1 racers that boycott courses because they dont like the flow.

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                          • #14
                            My own preference would be to build a routed track from MDF. I would probably use magnetic braid since it is so easy to remove the traction magnets from 1/32nd scale cars -- gives you the option to run with or without magnetic downforce.

                            Creating banked corners with MDF is done all the time. My advice is to keep the banking mild -- no more than 20 degrees, max.

                            There is a trick to making banked corners. You need to make the corners a few degrees less -- that is, for a 180 degree corner you might need to make it actually 178 degrees when routing the flat material. When you bend it into a 180 degree corner it creates the banking. Fewer degrees on the flat creates a steeper bank when formed.

                            I have had success modeling tracks -- including the banked corners -- cutting it out of poster board in 1/10th or 1/8th scale. I'd draw the track sections on a computer, print them out, glue them to the poster board, cut them out, and then assemble them on a flat substrate. It is a great way to check out your design before committing to routing it.

                            A routed track gives you ultimate flexibility in design. You can create curves with huge radii, curves of any arc length, curves that are not circular, or straights that are not really straight. Much more interesting than what you can do with set track.

                            As for flow, I have found that you want at least one straight long enough to open up on. You should have at least one tight corner, and come out of it into a technical section that allows you to progressively increase your speed going through a series of widening turns. And/or the opposite -- a portion of the track with a series of turns that progressively tighten. The point of "flow" is to allow you to drive smoothly, with the car under full control. Yes brake hard, yes hammer, but not all the time. Routed tracks are great for this because of their flexibility in curve radii and arc.

                            My classic road course has a right hairpin corner in the middle of the track that empties onto a short, not-quite-straight straight, Then a short, larger radius right into a 180-plus left sweep at the same radius. That into a short straight and into a somewhat larger radius left 90. A very short connector to a still larger radius left 90 launching onto the main not-quite-straight. That whole complex allows you to progressively increase your speed. Done right you enter the main straight with substantial momentum.

                            I have a vague memory that someone has created a slot track simulator that can be run on a home computer. If that is available it might be a great tool for modelling and testing track designs prior to routing.

                            Ed Bianchi
                            Last edited by HO RacePro; 06-28-2019, 05:21 AM.

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                            • #15
                              Bonez - Any update on what you've decided?

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