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Driving in the slow lane

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  • Driving in the slow lane

    As mentioned in previous posts, the slot cars are primarily a toy for my daughters. It currently gets set up on the floor and reconfigured now and then as to the desires of my kids. Last week it was a tight layout with multiple crossovers and this week is it a more wide spread layout with a single cross over. So now to the root of my issue.

    With the new wide spread layout, it is clear that one lane is much faster than the other (I previously believed it was the cars). And by faster, I don't mean the layout gives one lane an advantage, but rather one car seems to receive more power than the other as the car on the "slow lane" appears to go at a speed as if you were holding the trigger half way.

    I have checked the track connections and they appear well connected with consistent contact between the connecting rails. Without any additional knowledge off hand, I can only assume that this means one of two things, either an issue with the terminal track or an issue with the controller. I will test the controller theory this evening after work. I have no clue as to how I would test the terminal track itself.

    Any other thoughts/suggestions? The was purchased new less then 6 weeks ago.

  • #2
    Wood, If you have a voltmeter you can check the track around various sections to determine any power fluctuations. Just short across the connector track to simulate full power (or tape the controller to full on) while you measure. Make sure you are getting full power everywhere.
    The likely issue is probably a bad connection between one (or more) of the track sections. You can use an eraser to clean these up as they can oxidize. Should be good as new after that.
    If you don't have a voltmeter you can do the same thing (above) and use one of the cars. Hold the back wheels off the track and listen to the motor pitch. Move the car track to track while you do this. If the pitch (frequency) changes anywhere along route it is indicating a problem.
    Last edited by AptosC6; 11-07-2014, 09:10 AM.


    • #3
      When you say single crossover, I am guessing you mean a single pair of crossovers. If you only have one crossover what you actually have is a giant single lane layout so the second car would be robbed of power. Actually both would but you get the idea.

      Otherwise as above. Use the voltmeter or tape the throttle down and test the car as you slowly move it across connections.


      • #4
        Good advice from AptosC6. I think you said previously this is an AFX set? If not apologies...

        I like to reconfigure my track using Tomy (AFX) plastic now and again, and as solid as their track is, I usually wind up with one piece that is being goofy once everything has been moved around. I have accumulated enough track that I can usually just substitute a different track piece. Sometimes just turning the track piece to the opposite direction solves the problem. But yes, removing any possible oxidation is not a bad thing to do as long as you're at it.

        If the problem is a Racemasters controller, they are VERY solid about replacing those. But the new sets have the new controllers, which by all accounts have been extremely reliable.

        As for terminal pieces, you can also test that with the voltmeter. I had an old terminal piece once that got goofy, but generally speaking they are pretty reliable too.


        • #5
          Originally posted by Gareth View Post
          When you say single crossover, I am guessing you mean a single pair of crossovers.
          I'm guessing he means single/multiple *overpasses*. That's how I read it at least.


          • #6
            If you have poor, but not completely open, connections voltage measurments will appear to be good. To test your track properly you need to put a load on the circuit. First disconnect the last section next to the one where the power comes in and strap down the trigger for the lane that you want to test. Put a car with the rear axle removed on the last section. Hopefully the motor will run, if not you will have to move it back around the track until it does. Now you can take voltage readings going around the track from the connected side.


            • #7
              That is a easy way to test your track, smart thinking Sir.
              Thanks for the help.


              • #8
                I think shorting across the rails would not be optimal, unless I am wrong that would be a dead short, not the best situation and if it were fused would blow. When you have a car on the track you have the resistive load of the motor of the car plus the controller, a must in a circuit or you have a short circuit.


                • #9
                  Post #2 is a good one.

                  And unfortunately you have found one of the weak spots of the hobby.


                  Clean, fiddle with, clean some more, forever, your joints.
                  Solder them up. Time consuming, and they soldered joints can break and so on as well.
                  There are conductive pastes and so forth that seem to work quite well.
                  Buy a routed track. Load up your home equity line...
                  Add "power taps" around the track. Again only a partial fix, as the "in between" joints can still be problematic.
                  I soldered small jumper wires from one section to the next. Took weeks, and every one of them was a pain.

                  Most of those also make the "changing it up" deal more difficult or impossible.

                  So, as mentioned, tape a controller down, lift the wheels up and listen carefully to the motor on the terminal track, move the car back and forth across each joint. When you hear a drop in rpm, stop and clean and adjust until it is good. Repeat, ad infinitum, forever. A pain, but the cheapest and probably least painful solution in your case.


                  • #10
                    Thanks for the tips. And yes the track is AFX and by "crossover" I did mean overpass. While I don't have any true "crossover" track, I am aware that you have to use them in pairs.

                    I'll have to go the way of testing using the car method. It does make sense now that it is a connection as when I had first built the latest layout I had one lane that went completely dead after turn 1. I will take a close look at the connections.

                    What is the blue sandpaper for that comes with the AFX set? Is that for the rails, or for car maintenance?


                    • #11
                      the sand paper is the clean the rail. I use those cheap paper board finger nail sanding sticks on my track rails before i clean my track with windex.


                      • #12
                        So I am at a loss here. I disconnected the last section of the track from the terminal track piece. I used elastics on the controllers to hold in the trigger. I then ran a car along both slots with the rear wheels up comparing the pitch. Both sets of rails give the same pitch from the get go and the pitch sounds consistent as I go along the length of the track.

                        I then reconnected the track, while keeping the elastics on the controllers, set the two cars down for a race. Instantly the car on the slow lane drops back even though both cars are starting on the terminal track. After 3 to 4 laps the car on the slow lane is being lapped, that's how significant the difference is.

                        I switched the cars, same results, the same lane is slow.


                        • #13
                          Try swapping controllers in the terminal track and that will tell you if the problem is the controller(s) or the terminal.


                          • #14
                            Also plug in only one controller and make sure it is not running both lanes. Switch to other lane and check again. Sure sounds like a short somewhere.



                            • #15
                              Doesn't seem to be a controller issue.

                              This is an issue I notice only when I set the power to "Beginner" as both drivers can have the controllers pinned without worry of the cars flying off the track. Once it's set up "Intermediate" or "Expert" the difference in power is unnoticeable as you need to slow down on the corners to stay on the track.

                              I am wondering if anybody else may have a tri-power pack and notices the same thing?


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