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Wood Track Random Tip Collection. (Updated.)

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  • Wood Track Random Tip Collection. (Updated.)

    This is a condensed and edited version of SCI members tips that I've picked up over the years.

    It's not incredibly well organized, but is still under construction.

    If anyone wants to add or modify tips, just post your ideas in replies and I'll add them to my master file.

    The following list is specific to 1/32 scale, multi-lane, and copper tape.


    The biggest advantages to a routed track are that no two corners are of a constant radius and there are almost no perfect straights.

    Squeeze sections are what makes it interesting. With squeezes a whole new level is added to the racing, bringing strategy and entertainment to your racing. Just don't use too many.

    Adding small LED lights under the overpasses help with visibility.

    Don't put the light sensors on a curve. The cars can slide far enough to trip the counter for the next lane.

    2” minimum overpass clearance is required. 3” is recommended if 1/24th scale cars are to be run.

    Overpasses should not be placed over curves, in order to provide maximum visibility for drivers.

    For 1/32 scale, lane spacing is 3.5" where the lanes are parallel, down to 1" at the squeeze sections. The recommended distance from the outside lane, to the guardrail is 5”. Allow at least 2.5" on the inside.

    Lanes can be color coded to facilitate marshalling.

    Common Mistakes

    Spend lots of time planning, and when you get a design you like, draw it out as big as you can.

    Don't bend the Lexan strip too tight, always have it on the outside of small corners.

    Don't buy cheap router bits

    Parabolic turns...even when using a compass to lay out some corners, when it comes time to do the routing use the Lexan strip, it will give a smoother transitions.

    Don't make it look like a plastic track.

    A whole series of esses can be irritating.

    Don't put squeezes on straights.

    Leave ample passing spots between squeezes.

    One tight corner is usually enough


    There are a couple of common choices for paint:

    1) Latex paint.

    2) Chalkboard paint. Available at Home Depot (in Canada) for $15 Can per qt. Buy 2 quarts. And two quarts of oil-based primer (two coats. Don't thin the primer.).

    Mix 1.5 to 1 (chalkboard paint to thinner.) with oil-based paint thinner (mineral spirits). It's fairly difficult to thin. Lots of gunky stuff builds up in the tray while you stir.

    Paint it on the mdf with a wide brush, followed by light rollering (with a 4 inch sponge roller) to smooth it out. The paint needs frequent stirring, or it settles and gunks up in the tray. So every time the brush goes in, give it a stir.

    Use 4 inch foam rollers. The paint eats the rollers, so discard the roller after each coat of primer or paint. Roll the paint in the direction of travel on the track. Prime the edges and the slots really well.

    Chalkboard paint dries fast, but let the it dry for about two days before laying the copper tape.

    A new track will always be slippery at first.


    1/4" "Venture" copper tape. 105' runs about $8 Can at a stained glass shop. Make sure that it's the Venture tape, with the PURPLE spool (1mil). It has a self-adhesive backing. It sticks to itself, but the adhesive is an insulator. If it breaks, you'll need to strip some adhesive at the end with some acetone, then carefully solder the ends together. (Apparently, as an alternative to solder, conductive epoxy splices tape effectively.)

    DO NOT lay the tape flush with the slot. The car's guide will wear the edges of the tape. Lay it down so that the edge is a constant 1/32" from the slot.

    Do not try to stretch the tape! In corners, feed out about 1/2" at a time, turn the tape a bit, 1/2", turn the tape, etc. Push the outer edge of the tape down first, then the inner, because the inner will wrinkle just slightly. This will help avoid tearing the tape. Use light finger pressure to lay it down, then go back and burnish it with the side of a Bic lighter or a Sharpie.

    The tape also can be rubbed with a small tack hammer while it is still stuck to the backing paper. This tends to heat it up, which makes it easier to lay down perfect small-radius corners.

    For power connectors, drill a 1/4 inch hole, stuff the tape through and tap in a 1/4 inch wooden dowel so it's flush with the surface. Then do your connections under the table.


    3/8" MDF is the universal preferred material for building slot tracks. 1/2" MDF will also work.

    Wear masks! Routing is a sawdust nightmare! It is advisable that you have an extra person going along right behind you with a vacuum cleaner hose, sucking up sawdust as it is made.
    The slot should be 1/8" wide and a hair over 1/4" deep.

    Router Guides:
    Use a 1/4"x3/8"x72" lexan strip. Drill verticle holes every 1.5 inches so you can attach it to the track using finishing nails.

    Once you nail down your guide, put the (unplugged) router in the existing slot, and turn the bit by hand to make sure it spins. If you do this at both ends of your cut, everything should line up.

    When you try to match up the flexible strip to another curve, it's best to start back about 3 inches and work your way toward the end of the existing slot. It's a little tricky, but gets easier.

    There's nothing wrong with nailing behind the strip or even nailing or clamping small blocks of wood behind the strip.

    Lay out the track design (on the wood) using a compass and straight edge for most of it, then I do all the routing with the flexible strip, using the layout as a rough guide. Using only the flexible strip may take a little longer, but you'll get a more flowing track, and it will look more realistic.

    Lay full sheets of MDF out on the workbench, clamp them down, and route across the joints. Cut out the roadway afterwards. After cutting out the track, round all the edges just a bit, too. Just looks nicer.

    Wherever there's a straight section, give it a slight curve, and the entry to corners will be smoother. For elevations, route the slots first, then cut out the roadway, and then start blocking up areas and see how it affects the rest of the track

    Try to start and stop the routing on a relatively straight section, makes it easier to line things up when you move the flexible strip.

    DON'T cut anything freehand.

    Never pull the router, always push. And push HARD against the lexan strip.


    When repairing routing mistakes, use a piece of 1/8 inch styrene sheet cut into a 1x4 inch strip; push the strip into the slot at the area that's too wide and fill in the area with Durham's Rock Hard Putty, and let it dry overnight. Wait till the putty has fully hardened, give the strip a tap to break the seal against the putty, then slide it out. Nice clean repair. Or you can fill the whole section and rerout after the Durham's has set.
    You can also wrap sandpaper around the styrene strip to clean up some of the sloppy routing. Just slide it into the slot and sand.
    Here's a major time-saver during the sanding process. The Duram's seems to shrink into the holes a bit, sometimes requiring a second application. The alternative is to apply an excess of putty to the hole, which requires quite a bit of sanding later, after it cures. I ended up using the latter method, but instead of sanding, I used a small hand planer to remove the bulk of the Duram's, finishing with a quick run with the sander. I was able to do the whole track in about an hour. And that's fixing LOTS of routing mistakes, and more nail holes than I can count.

    Use a 1/8 inch two flute tungsten carbide router bit, rather than high speed steel.
    Check for glue build-up on the router bit. A dab of turpentine will take it off.


    Take a sheet of paper, 8.5"x11" and with scissors, cut out a big letter "U" about 2" wide. Lay it flat on a table and pull the two ends of the U together and it will pop up into a bank.


    The simplest way to wire a routed track is to get a Ninco terminal track section, the green one that has 2 jacks for separate power, unscrew the terminal part and throw away the plastic track section. Connect the 2 pairs of wires to two lanes of your track and you're done. You now have separate power to each lane, plug-ins for your controllers, working brakes and a switch to reverse the direction of your track. The Ninco terminals are nice because they use a 1/4" jack for the controllers, have a reversing switch built in, and are wired for brakes.

    Use18 gauge 2-wire lamp cord for jumpers.

    If you have 4 or more lanes, usually a good 0-20V, 10 amp power supply is good.

    For power connectors, drill a 1/4 inch hole, stuff the tape through and tap in a 1/4 inch wooden dowel so it's flush with the surface. Then do your connections under the table.

    Power taps are necessary for longer tracks to prevent voltage drop.

    Standard track power is 12.0-13.8 volts DC, regulated and filtered, with at least 3 amps per lane.

    Tracks will be wired with the right side contact positive, relative to cars facing in the direction of racing.

    Controllers will be wired into positive side of circuit, as defined by Professor Motor.

    Track wiring will include dynamic brake circuits.

    Provision should be made for quick, convenient controller hookups using alligator clips.

  • #2

    The best tip is to buy Luf's video. And do lots of research on the internet to see how others have built their tracks.


    • #3
      Re: tips

      You wrote: "When you try to match up the flexible strip to another curve, it's best to start back about 3 inches and work your way toward the end of the existing slot. It's a little tricky, but gets easier. "

      I recommend buying from Luf his special router base plate that allows three different radiuses (3, 4, and 5 inch I think) curves on the same lexan nailed strip...picture a circle with each 120-degree section having three different diameters...You can also make one yourself if you have the patience/skill.

      Re: Redoing a slot - Also, if you use bondo, apply two coats and you can usually re-rout within an hour or two of application. No need to fill with wood if you are not handy on a table saw.


      • #4
        Re: tips

        Oh yeah, if you wire your track with positive polarity, as is recommended on PM website, then, if you plan to use PM controllers, you will need a polarity switch since standard PM controllers are negative polarity.

        Parmas work fine in any polarity. Same with original "set" controllers.


        My routed track


        • #5
          Re: tips

          Some excellent tips in there super8.

          I have been putting a number of my own thoughts together on my new website which is nearly finished. I have a fairly detailed list of things to consider while in the design phase.

          My site here...


          • #6
            Re: tips

            AWESOME site...I had been there before but just noticed your super fab pictures on making switches...THANK YOU!!! Can't wait to save the pages to my hard drive for later reference.

            I really like that layout of yours too...



            • #7
              Re: tips

              No worries happy to help, I am adding things as time permits. Getting married soon so she who will be boss is taking up way to much of my slot time with trivial stuff.


              • #8



                • #9
                  Re: tips

                  only the ninco PM controllers are negative polarity... the base model of PM controllers is the 2047



                  • #10
                    Re: tips PMTR controller polarities

                    Below are the Professor Motor controllers in part number order, listing the polarities of each. All models of the Parma Turbo EC (electronic controller) are also POSITIVE polarity

                    PMTR2044 NEGATIVE polarity

                    PMTR2045 NEGATIVE polarity

                    PMTR2046 POSITIVE polarity

                    PMTR2047 POSITIVE polarity

                    PMTR2048 POSITIVE polarity

                    PMTR2049 POSITIVE polarity

                    PMTR2050 DUAL polarity

                    PMTR2051 NEGATIVE polarity

                    PMTR2052 DUAL polarity

                    PMTR2055 POSITIVE polarity

                    PMTR2056 DUAL polarity

                    PMTR2057 POSITIVE polarity

                    PMTR2058 POSITIVE polarity

                    PMTR2060 POSITIVE polarity

                    PMTR2061 DUAL polarity

                    PMTR2062 NEGATIVE polarity

                    PMTR2063 DUAL polarity



                    • #11
                      Hello everyone!

                      Newbie to all of this and I have a question regarding the lexan strips,

                      Is there a particular store or website that anyone might recommend and does it already come in the dimensions stated? I live in the San Francisco Bay area.



                      • #12
                        Send Luf at Archer Raceways an email, and he will get right back to you with all the details about his "how-to" video, lexan strip, and router base package.


                        Warning. You will spend the rest of the evening bashing around this website ... :b


                        • #13
                          Luf rips the strips of off a 4x8 sheet of lexan, then drills about a million holes in it.


                          • #14
                            With his bare hands ... :eek


                            • #15
                              ...and a table saw and a drill press


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