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  • #16
    Re: My progress:Go Routed HO Scale Tracks Message Board

    My routing plans have been pushed back till after the first of the year due to the fact I am the only guy left in our bodyshop to maintain a fleet of over 100 buses and smaller support vehicles. The other two guys are battling cancer.

    Due to the fact that at the time of writing this post there have been 374 views of this topic, apparently someone is interested. Gotta remember, lurkers typically far out number posters. I think once we begin getting some information and pics posted things will begin take off.

    If I can find them (old computer crashed hard and wiped out and or corrupted much of the hard drive) I had a few years ago compiled a lot of information off the internet pertaining to routing track (all scales)

    Corners can be done in several different manners with the only right way being what works for you. Just remember to rout your corners first and tie them together with the straights.

    I have seen patterns made out of plywood for various size radius corners, pin and jig guides, flexible guides, simple single arm compass guides, and a few others that weren't really that successfull. I am tinkering (as I am afforded the time among my other interests) with a single armed jig for my Rotozip just for doing corners. The Rotozip is a lot easier to control than a full sized router.

    It's unfortunate that HO scale is 'saddled' with a track design that is difficult for the home builder to reproduce. Track for 1/32 scale is much easier to create using off-the-shelf tools and a little bit of experience.
    I have yet to rout an HO scale track but have been in on the construction of 3 1/24th scale tracks and the modification of 2 others and found that one of the main reasons it seems so difficult is that most have the idea it takes something "magical" to do. It don't.

    I think much of the difficulty of routing an HO track lies with the cars being run/raced. If one is wanting to run under specific oraganized rules then rail height and other specs are critical, making the routing process more difficult. However, if one is simply wanting to run/race HOs outside of a set of organized rules, it's Katie bar the door for there are no limitations. If one makes a mistake, a little filler, some sanding and it is back to routing. Personally, I want something a bit more on the realistic side of racing. A little bump here or there just adds to the realism.

    I have seen some tracks built using cable like you find on bicycle brakes. Non-magnetic but all they ran were T-jets. Works great. I have seen round copper braided wire used also. It is quite easy to rout for the installation of both of these types of rail.

    I see no problem with the rebar/tie/mechanics wire. Test it first. For magnet cars one can set rail height a bit on the low side or else run a taller tire set-up. This also would be quite easy to rout in, simply routing a 1/16th slot and 1/16th ga. wire is a very good fit.

    A routed track can be designed as one or two large sections or several smaller ones. Using the latter method one can can their layout as they choose or add on to create a larger layout. One can also easily design a layout with the perimeter being a banked oval and then design a road course for the infield and making the pieces needed to change from oval to road course when needed.

    As soon as I begin I will post some pics!


    • #17
      Routing for H.O.


      While I agree with most everything you have written, the bit about a bump here or there makes for miserable H.O. racing of any kind. Once the magnets let go the car is launched into any obstacle in its trajectory. I have launched so many I feel NASA ought to be taking a good look at this technology for getting the shuttles into space.

      As you mentioned, the real critical issue with H.O. is rail height. Not so much how tall it is but how consistent is the rail maintaining that height. A .010" difference is a BIG deal. It shouldn't be seen as an obstacle though, more like, setting up your track for your car rather than the other way around. Attention to detail, alot of patience, and a good router bit with lots of practice.

      I have some pictures I am posting on Photobucket so I can post them here in a day or so.


      • #18
        Re: Routing for H.O.

        While I agree with most everything you have written, the bit about a bump here or there makes for miserable H.O. racing of any kind. Once the magnets let go the car is launched into any obstacle in its trajectory. I have launched so many I feel NASA ought to be taking a good look at this technology for getting the shuttles into space.

        As you mentioned, the real critical issue with H.O. is rail height. Not so much how tall it is but how consistent is the rail maintaining that height. A .010" difference is a BIG deal. It shouldn't be seen as an obstacle though, more like, setting up your track for your car rather than the other way around. Attention to detail, alot of patience, and a good router bit with lots of practice.
        I am not taking about bumps that act as ramps, just minor imperfections. Besides, all it takes is to hit the "speed bump" once and one should remember it's whereabouts come the next lap. A lot like real racing, adding to the scale realism!!!!!

        HO racing, especially concerning magnet cars has gotten too "sterile" for my liking. I grew up racing on a glass smooth Tubbie!!!!:lol :rollin

        Next thing ya know lane spacing will be increased to 4" to prevent any rubbin'! Come to think of it though, I have been told that rubbin' takes the fun out of HO racing. What a sad day it is.:\

        Oh well, might as well do it. We've already got controllers that practically drive the car for ya. Now that is racing!!! :eek :lol


        • #19
          Re: Routing for H.O.

          Hi all,
          I was following this thread now for a while, and thought to write my intensions/opinions also.

          I'm about routing a HO track also, and try to work out the best (for me!) solution for applying the rails at the moment. Latest idea I need to try will be the version with rebar-wire flush with the surface, then copper tape on top. Reason for not using the wire as conductor for electricity is that installing the wire flush with the surface is much easier than bringing it to a consistent height! And copper tape does surely not wear out the pick-ups of my sometimes old and rare racers.

          As soon as this is worked out, I plan to have the first layout CNC routed:

          The design is done on a 4' x 8' sheet of MDF, with nearly equal lap lengths on each lane.

          Not too long ago I thought of another design! Inspired by pictures of the famous King track and others in the larger scales, I wondered whether this would be a good idea in HO as well! There were so many cars I have that do not rely on the magnetic downforce, that these layouts would make sense (at least I suppose). So this layout would be planned with just the guide slot routed, and copper tape for the electricity. I named this design "HOngleman" since the original inspiration came from the track named Kingleman:

          The table size is also 4' x 8'.



          • #20
            Easiest way to Start Routing for HO Scale--Routed Straights!

            Adding routed straights to HO Scale plastic track layouts seems the easiest way to expand (massively if you want to)
            HO scale (or any scale). You'll need a circular or table saw, a good straightedge, and a router with a 1/16" double-fluted (rasps also avail) carbide bit (sets of five avail at

            I picked up this link on the large scale routed track board which describes how one guy added long routed straights to his plastic track layouts by cannabalizing a few pieces of straight track to serve as adapter ends for his MDF routed straight sections. Cut track in half and rout a "shelf" at both ends of the straight MDF section so the half factory plastic track is flush with the surface of the MDF

            Each piece of 1/2" thick 2 foot by 4 foot MDF ($5 or $6 at Home depot) will give you eight 4 foot long straights the same 3" width as standard Tomy track.
            (actually you'll lose a bit of width due to the thickness of the table saw blade.

            Use copper tape or 16 ga. (1/16") rebar tie wire ($2.50 or so per roll at Home Depot)for power and use jumper wires from the factory railed end piece to the routed section. Drill holes next to the rebar and factory rail and solder jumper wires. If you use copper tape tap with countersunk screw heads and jumper from bottom of section and look out for increases in car speed when they hit the non magnetic routed sections!

            This seems to be the easiest way to get into routing for HO since straights can be routed with a straightedge guide and a router or even a straightedge and a circular saw. Use your own plastic curved sections and expand any layout with added straights!



            • #21
              Test track


              Do you have any pictures of your test track? Did you try the wire I sent you?

              I am glad you seem to find something that works for you. Turns really are just as easy as straights.



              • #22
                Haven't tried any power solution yet; I'm locking in on my method and jigs.
                Looks like I'll be doing a two lane test track using a flexible strip as the guide set on the edge of a standard 3" wide track.

                The first jig is a router plate which undercuts the large 6 1/2" footprint of my router. It cuts the first slot 2 1/4" from the strip. Then I'll be using a pin jig set to give me a 1 1/2" lane
                spacing. A second pin jig will use each guide pin slot to rout a slot for 1/16" rebar tie wire about 9/32" (Tomy spacing) on either side of the guide slot.

                I'll be trying copper tape next and then the rail you sent me.

                I'll start posting soon beginning with the test track road course I designed that fits a 21 foot lap lenght "in the flat" (no overpass) on a 2' x 4' piece of MDF. Its a design I adapted from that guy who's put all the 1:43 Artin designs on the web.


                • #23
                  test track

                  Here is a picture of my HO test track using copper tape for current and square wire buried underneath for the magnets. I built it on a 4' x 4' sheet of plywood using 3/8" MDF.

                  This is the first jig I used practicing routing on different types of sheeting until I followed those before me. The garage door wheels are easily rotating on the guide making for smooth routing. I have since gone to a small cam follower bearing like the second picture shows.

                  This is the second generation jig. I had one jig for the slots and another for the rails. This set up is really nice and a quick change over for the next slot. Just pop the follower out and move it to the next hole.

                  I will try to get a photo of the third generation jig that has the guide slot and rail slot holes up soon.

                  More pictures of tracks to come. Including some disasterous photos that may make your knees weak.

                  Last edited by LSIntegra94; 03-02-2008, 09:14 PM.


                  • #24
                    If this was readily available...

                    would any of you be interested in this?

                    Three Jigs in One.
                    Bearing Edge Guide Jig
                    Radius Arm Slot Cutting Jig
                    Track Curve Compass Jig


                    • #25
                      Re: If this was readily available...

                      I guess it depends on how much any of us would have to pay? Although I would say all the radii are pre-determined by the looks of it which, is what most track builders are trying to get away from. Great design.


                      • #26
                        Re: If this was readily available...

                        Wow! Excellent!!!


                        • #27
                          Mini Grand Prix Layout for 2foot x 4 foot Test Track!

                          I wanted to post my shot at getting the longest, best 2 lane layout lap length on a two by four piece of MDF.

                          It will scale up perfectly as well to 4 foot by 8 foot version which will be, logically, a four laner. I did a three lane oval first on the other side of the MDF but the kids got tired of going in circles. I'll probably do a 4 foot by 8 foot combination tri-oval layout with an road course infield "detour" section at some point.

                          This is the second version as the first had corners that were too tight. When the pin jig followed the guide pin slot around the tightest turn the routed slot for the 1/16" rebar moved too far away from the slot to make contact with the pick up shoes.

                          I'm using a big old Makita router with a 6 1/2" base so I had to make router plates for my HO Scale work. The first has a 3 1/4" radius for half the plate and the other half has a 2 1/4" radius to cut the first guide slot using a flexible strip nailed to the outside of the track width which is 3" just like Tomy stock track.

                          The pin jig is a full base plate with a 9/32" offset for two 1/16" pins placed only 1 inch apart that ride in the guide slot. Two passes and you've got your slots for 1/16" rebar tie wire for power rails. You need a micrometer to set your router depth by trial and error until the rebar sets with a wooden roller or side of a sharpie pen to just
                          .010 above the track surface. Lay the rebar tie wire roll on it's side and roll the wire out about a foot at a time and press it into the slot until it hold or "clicks". Go back over the rails with the side of the sharpie or the wooden roller again after it's all been laid in one continuous rail from start to finish.


                          • #28
                            MY ROUTING JIGS DIAGRAMS

                            Here are my routing jig diagrams. Hope they help anyone out there trying to use the 1/32 scale routed track techniques on HO Scale jobs. I used 1/16" brass rod I finally found at a hobby shot in their RC Plane department. I cut about a 1" piece of rod, made a right angle with a section slightly less than my guide slot depth (7/32") and routed a 1/16" deep relief in the top side of the plexi router plate to lock in the guide bid against the router's metal base. The lines are at 9/32" (for the rebar tie wire power rail offset), 3/4" (optional guide pin line for offset from 3" Tomy style Track edge guide strip), and 1 1/2" (for guide slot lane spacing). I'm using a plate with holes and lock reliefs to set the pins at 1 1/2" for all additional lane guide pin slots and the 9/32" for the power rail slots (requires two passes for each lane).

                            These are the plexi router base plates before I drilled the pin holes and routed the 2 1/4" half circle. Since I was still using the big Makita router I had to make another jig a full size base plate with holes at various distances from the bit center for 1/8" roll pins to spin around as the bit cuts circles smaller than the router base itself.

                            Note that the 2 1/4" half circle that guides the router (against the flexible strip on the track edge) lets the guide strip ride under the router's footprint. I use AZEK (or any closed cell plastic) strips cut to 1/4" x 3/8" from a 1(really 3/4")x2" x12foot trim stock --$10 at Home Depot.


                            • #29
                              Makes you sick

                              I remember being a perfectionist track builder and couldn't stand the fact my track was about an inch and a half bigger than my table.

                              I have since learned that an $80 jig saw is a good investment.<img border=0 src="" />

                              There were other issues with this track that I was unhappy with that led to its demise.
                              Last edited by LSIntegra94; 03-02-2008, 09:16 PM.


                              • #30
                                Biscuit joints

                                I didn't want to just anchor the track to the table. I wanted the track to be securely assembled then mounted to the table. If someone, namely my wife, pulled too far into the garage and hit the table I wanted to be sure the track joints would be aligned regardless.

                                First thing is to make sure the track ends that meet each other are parallel. Not necessarily perpendicular to the track, just parallel to each other. Trim the track to as close to the joint as possible. Indicated by the lines on the side of the track.

                                Using two pieces of hard wood. Secure them firmly at the point where you would like the ends to meet. They need to be parallel to each other to ensure a perfect match. The little white square between them makes them parallel. Note the very tiny gap below the white square. This is the gap between the two pieces of track. They must not be in the way of each other.

                                The whole process of keeping the hard wood parallel became quite involved.

                                The bar clamps are keeping the hard wood parallel and the black spring clamps with the roll of paper on top are squeezing the glue out between the wood and the track.

                                Next up was to trim the track even with the hard wood braces. Using a laminate trimmer bit against the hard wood I trimmed the track.

                                Finally, cut the biscuit slots using your router with the biscuit attatchment. Two is probably enough. My joints were close to the turns under stress so I used three. Half a slot per side. The glue causes the biscuit to swell just slightly forming one of the strongest joints possible.

                                After this I anchored four wooden dowels per side thru the track into the wood. In the picture you can see how close to the banked turn this joint is and I wanted to be sure nothing was gonna move.

                                Most wouldn't go to all the trouble but a permanent track needs to be solid for years of enjoyment.
                                Last edited by Yuccie Tim; 05-01-2008, 08:26 AM.