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Notes on Building a Routed 1/32nd Scale Track

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  • Notes on Building a Routed 1/32nd Scale Track

    Like I said in the topic title -- notes. Disconnected, random thoughts jotted down...


    CNC routing is really accurate. My track consists of 9 pieces, and they all fit together perfectly. Four curves, four straights plus a short 'patch' straight that I custom-cut to length to exactly fill the gap I intentionally left. Of course it starts with a precise 2D drawing made on a CAD system. They did cut the slots about 0.050 inches deeper than I specified, but that turned out to be okay.

    Building a 1/32nd scale track is a much bigger project than an HO track. The scale is twice as large but that means the overall size of the track in square feet is four times bigger.

    I spent as much building the platform and the drivers' stations as I did on the routed track sections.

    Joining track sections so they are level is not easy. The raw MDF sheets are not uniform in thickness. Shims are required.

    Lining up slots in the X/Y directions is much easier. You can do it by eye. But I fitted small strips of plastic into the slots, across the joints, to line them up.

    It helps to have a lifetime accumulation of good tools. I used a lot more of my tools -- including some uncommon ones -- than I ever expected. Even so I had to make several custom tools for specific jobs.

    If you are going to do a specific task dozens or hundreds of times you really need to think if a special tool will help. I made two special tools to drill countersunk holes to an exact, repeatable depth. I needed 180 holes just for the track joints. I made another special tool to locate the braid reliefs I had to rout in the ends of each track section. I cut 144 of those.

    You are going to consume consumables. And you'll run out.

    Wiring is a pain. Crawling under the platform, wriggling around on your back and trying to focus with geriatric eyes is just physically hard. You spend far too much time and effort just getting up and getting down while trying to keep track of your tools and materials. Wiring a 4 x 8 foot HO track is so much easier because you can turn it on its side and wire it sitting down! You can even do soldering without fear of dripping hot solder in your face!

    Fasteners. I used hundreds of fasteners. Mostly screws. And I needed different sizes and types for different jobs. A couple of times I had to stop a particular job while waiting for more screws I had ordered.

    My biggest failing is getting ahead of myself. Like putting tools away and then discovering I need them again. Especially irksome when said tools live in the garage but the project is in the basement.

    Overthinking things is another failing of mine. I worry and fuss about job, then when I actually get to the point where I can see how things go together I often realized I've not imagined things correctly. Surprisingly, it often turns out that there is a simpler, obvious way to do the job. And sometimes I will deliberately put off thinking about a job to let that happen on its own. I call that "engineer at assembly".

    I am a great fan of mounting a track on casters. Having the platform on casters allowed me to move it around to make access easier. Even though the track is on carpet I was able to apply enough one-man grunt to it to move it as needed.

    I am also a fan of folding 'banquet' table legs. They can screw directly to a piece of 3/4" thick plywood to make a platform. If (when!) it comes time to move the track those folding legs pay for themselves. Also, it is easy to install casters in them. Yes, I have moved tracks, many times!

    I could hardly have bought my plywood at a worse time -- when the cost of wood spiked just recently. But I dug deep and bought quality plywood anyway. Cheap plywood is no bargain. It makes you pay over and over again for its poor quality.

    Ed Bianchi

  • #2
    One way to get precise height levels between track sections is to build a pinning jig that indexes to the top surface to account for the varying thickness of each section. This jig was built for Viper Scale Racing track.



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