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Seeking advice on repairing copper taped wood track

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  • Seeking advice on repairing copper taped wood track

    After years in storage and moving, I'm finally reassembling my routed-wood, copper-taped track and I have two questions for which I'm seeking advice:
    (1) When repairing/replacing copper tape, is it necessary to scrape of the old adhesive left by the prior copper, or just put new copper down? OR... should I just put new copper over old copper?
    (2) I considering repainting the track with something with more traction. Any advice?

    Here are pics of track before moving and damage:

  • #2
    The adhesive on the Venture Black Backed Copper Tape is electrically conductive - so you can lay new tape over the old, without removing the old, unless it's really messed up....

    Simples !

    Really like that layout design too! What the overall dimensions and lane spacings? Making that long banked curve is quite an achievement...


    • #3
      The procedure that we have used is to lay new ~1.5 inch long pieces of copper tape over each break and then punch small holes through both layers using an X-acto knife or a wire nail. We have moved a number of copper taped tracks and ended up replacing the tape with braid on all but one of those. The one track that still has copper tape has a fair number of splices and the power is down by a small amount. That could be compensated for by turning up the voltage a little and adding a set of jumpers.
      If you wanted to replace the tape it would be difficult to remove without damaging the paint. Since you might repaint your track that would not be as much of an issue. Most of our tracks are painted with flat latex, one track has an epoxy finish, but the grip is the same for both types. You can get a little more grip if you put a coat of semigloss polyurethane over whatever is on the track now. A number of builders have reported getting good grip using chalkboard paint that contains sand. It has also been reported that the extra grip eventually goes away. The chalkboard paint is likely to cause extra tire wear.


      • #4
        Thank you for your answers. I did get the kind of tape that has conductive adhesive - or so they claim. I should test that. Hmm... I think I might be more inclined to try semigloss polyurethane than chalk board. To answer your questions about the track:

        "Vintage Point" is a home-built, routed-wood slot car track having 3-lanes, 51.25 ft lane length, with 9 turns twisted onto a 13 ft x 5.75 ft rectangle. Lane spacing is 3+1/8 inch with a total track width of 12 inches. The slots are 1/8 in. wide by 1/4 in. deep, like commercial tracks. All three lanes (w/ copper tape contacts) are fed from a single 12-V, 20-Amp power supply, with each lane fused for 5-Amp. Also, the direction of each lane can be individually switched, which adds variety. No lap counter is yet installed.

        Construction started on November 8, 1998. After 9 months and 320 hours of construction, the first car could run laps, but it wasn't fully ready for action until January 9, 2000, with a grand total of 350 labor hours, when all the remaining gaps had been filled and guard rails were in place. I'm not keeping tabs of the scenery labor. The long hours of construction are part of the recreation. The track is used for home recreation and has not been around long enough yet for me to form regular racing meets, but I have a few friends over from time to time.

        The whole track is stylized in 1960s European motif, including the cars, scenery, and people. The course starts with a main straight in front of a 4-ft long pit row (8-bays) inspired by LeMans, Nürburgring and others, then through a tunnel with a minor bend at the entrance, followed by a 3-hairpin mountain climb, which was inspired by Italian hill climbs of the 50's and 60's. At the top of the hill is a wide radius transition into a lazy-S downhill overpass, which was inspired by Nürburgring, and which is now "greened in" with scenery. Immediately following the green S is a straight followed by a high-banked turn that was inspired by Monza, Daytona, and others. Shortly after the exit of the bank is the "dead man's curve" hairpin, followed by a bigger turn back around to the main straight. All the tight turns have more track width on the outer edge to allow for drift (4 inches between slot and edge).

        About the Pits and that Extra Tunnel:
        The pit area has several slots where I can park cars, and one slot is connected to the closest track lane power. It is possible to drive from the pits back onto the track, but not into the pits from the track. I did not create a lane switch at these joints. Instead, I put ramps in the pit slot so that the guide is lifted up out of the pit slot and allowed to fall back into the track slot. You have to hit it at the right speed to get the car back onto the track. I did it this way because I did not want to interrupt the track's power rail. The extra tunnel is part of the scenery. Since the pit area is completely surrounded by track, I installed the extra tunnel as the pretend "exit" to the paddocks and parking.

        Building Materials:
        Surface: The track surface is made from birch plywood, 3/8 thick (ACX Superply). Because the banked curve and hill climb required bending and twisting, I went with a 3/8 thick material instead of the more typical 1/2 inch thick medium density particle board. The birch plywood worked great, BUT plywood has the problem with voids between the layers that creates problems where the slots are cut. It was tricky putting filler putty on the sidewall voids of the slots, and making sure wood splits didn't protrude into the slot. The bank section is also plywood. I made paper models first to determine how splayed out to layout the track when flat so that when I pulled in the ends to be parallel, I would get the amount of banking I wanted. I then cut supports to match the angles of the bank at its various locations after that, then installed the supports and then the banking. The top is finished with Sherwin Williams "Industrial Enamel" - paint intended for garage floors.

        Base: The track is built onto a frame of pine and plywood. Basically, it is a frame of 1-inch pine walls and a 1/2 inch BC ply base, with 2x3 framing studs where the track is sectional. Yes, I built it so that I can take it apart if we ever have to move [UPDATE" I moved 5 times in 5 years (2013-2017) and in the final move I was able to get the frames sections back together]. I also added extra strength to endure the stowage feature. One of the challenges of construction was ensuring that the supports for the track surface were the correct height and angle - which I often could not judge until after I installed them.

        Stowage: The whole track is built so that I can tip it up on edge and stow it against the wall when not in use (for the wife or kids to share the basement space). Actually this tipping feature makes wiring and cleaning much easier. When on edge, both the top and bottom are easily accessible. The stowing sequence is: (1) Fold up the outer two leg assemblies, (2) Pivot up the track and lock it in the 67 degree angle of its castored A-frame. The pivot point is at the apex of an A-frame leg assembly that is mounted not-quite in the center of the track. The whole A-frame leg assembly is on castors. (3) Fold in the forward-center leg assembly. (4) Wheel the track over to the wall. (5) Tip it up the rest of the way (90 deg.) so that it now fully on edge. This also tilts the A-frame base so that its castors are off the floor. (6) Collapse the A-frame into the base of the track.

        Pits: The pit building is made from a combination of materials:
        - 1/4-inch Luan plywood for the 1st-floor superstructure
        - Mostly Basswood and some Balsa wood for the control room, grandstand, and refreshment stand (the refreshment stand is behind the pits).
        - Railing is a combination of solid brass rod, aluminum tube, and wood dowels, with the strongest stuff used at the points were it is most likely to get hit by a reaching arm.
        - The placards were printed on adhesive-backed paper from computer images, reconstructing the styles of the mid 60's. Only the pit placards are of the period, so far. Eventually I'll fill out the rest of the track with period advertisements.

        Scenery (so far): The landscaping is either on a plywood, foam core, or burlap base, covered with "Great Stuff" spray foam insulation. When the foam has cured it is carved and then sculptured with lightweight vinyl spackling. Woodland Scenic products dominate the greenery. The hill climb now has the kind of stone fences typical of Italian mountain roadsides. The fences are made from a dense foam rubber core covered by a vaccuformed plastic stone fascia. I have not yet added landscaping to this area, as I am having a hard time picking exactly how I want it to look. Behind the bank, I plan to have a pine forest.

        AFTER MOVING - the top of the pits got destroyed in the moves. The guard rail wall between the bottom of the bank and the curves inside that also got damaged. I'll have to bang it out and replace it.


        • #5
          Very nice track. And the tilting table/A-frame is a very clever idea.


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