Introduction: Taking Your HO Scale Slot Car Track to the Next Level Cheaply
In this instructable, I show you how I took a pile of track and a door and made it into a great looking raceway that can be set up in a few moments
Its a technical track for the racers having high speed straits and tight curves.
Its also a good track for the non magnetic cars, it has skids around the curves to make the outside lanes more like the inside lanes.
This track has a little under 40ft, and my Wizzard brand cars can pull 3.5 seconds laps!
You can of course make your own layout, with more lanes if you wish and use a different brand of track, though the AFX track I used here is sold in more sizes and shapes than any other brand of HO scale track.
I also use an AFX electronic race controller, you can simply use the cheaper mechanical lap counter or build your own as documented here:
All and all if you already have the track you can make this system for under 100.00, even lower if you have a door already,
Step 1: Part and Materials Used
AFX (new style used here, any can be used but the layout will need to be changed)
1-36x80" slab side flat door, 27.00 at home supply store
3-8'x 2"x3" pine wood stock
1 pair of folding table legs (optional I sit mine on the coffee table)
3 yards of felt I used green
3 yards of 1/4" astro turf
miscellaneous wood scraps to make bridge supports and spacers
1/4" thick cork
3" wood screws
2 AFX standard 22v power supplies
small chisel or scraper
staple gun or allot of carpet nails
heavy duty scissors
circular saw or other means of cutting wood.
spray adhesive or upholstery glue
testers paint pens
Step 2: Getting the Base Ready
I used a hollow door because no one in my area had a solid flat door available ( they did for like 125.00!) and wile its cheap, flat and ridged, the track just laid down on a bare door of this type would make allot of noise during a race. To stop all this race detracting noise, I covered the door in felt. This keeps the hard plastic track away from the door.
I also framed the door in 2x3" stock to make it very sturdy and give it a nicer edge around the track.
Begin by bordering the door with your 2x3" stock, securing it with 3" screws ran threw pre-drilled holes.
Then spray the top down with the spray adhesive and cover it with the felt, I used green felt as some might show threw.
If you want this track to free stand you can now install some legs, like folding legs. screwed to the bottom of the door.
Step 3: How the Track Is Secured
The track is secured with small trumpet head wood screws,
This type of screw is needed because the door is soft and nails pull up.
The heads are made flush to the track by heating the heads with the soldering iron until they will melt level with the top of the track.
Melted plastic is trimmed off and you end up with a very flat surface. The screw heads are painted black to hide them,
AFX track sections and others have two pre drilled screw holes at each end.
Begin by holding the track down, then screw both ends down, dont over tighten the track can split,
You will notice the screw will push the track in a little, and remain raised, you remedy this by heating the head of the screw up slowly with the soldering iron, Once the screw is hot turn it a little more until its flush, then trim the excess plastic with a small chisel or scraper.
Go slowly until you get the hang of it, you dont want to over heat the plastic and ruin a section....
Step 4: Laying the Track
With the base covered in felt you can now lay the track. I started by cleaning my track and polishing all the connections, this step will save some dead track section problems later.
I put the whole layout together and lined up the whole thing, getting rid of any gaps and making sure it was cantered on the base.
You will need to stand up the over passes now, and make your supports, to help hold the track together I used AFX track clips to keep the sections tight.
My supports are made from 3/4" particle board scraps cut the same width as the track used, The thinner ones near the start and stop of the over passes are 1/8" solid cardboard and 1/4" cork.
The longer over pass supports are screwed down to the door from below with long screws. The thin ones are simply fitted under the track before its screwed down.
After you get the over pass secured, screw down all the flat track, this will take some time, but once done you never have a problem with it coming loose.
I also slightly beveled the taller support to give it a slight banking, This will make the curve faster.
Step 5: Track Curve Borders
The red and white borders can be made two ways, allot of office supply stores sell cork in 1ft ft square sheets in carious thicknesses.
This is what I used, I would loosen the screws holding the track down and slip the cork under the curve, trace the profile and cut it out.
Then I would leave about 3/4" to 1" width to make the piece. If you need to make it thicker to be flush with the edge of the track, glue some strip balsa wood to the bottom to build it up.
It was lightly sanded, painted flat white with cheap acrylic hobby paint. Then the red stripes were added.
After your paint dries, its simply nailed down around the track curves.
The second methode is to buy the model railroad cork, its used under the rails to quiet it down, its a little pricey and will still need to be built up to the level of the slot car track.
With either one you use after you have nailed it down, paint over the nail heads to hide them.
Step 6: Infields of Astro Turf
The astro turf is 1/4" thick and you can get enough to do the whole track for under 20 bucks at Home Depot, You put it on after the track is laid so its level with the edge of the track.
I started by nailing the strait parts down and using heavy scissors to cut it in around the curves, larger areas were glued down as well as nailed, this got rid of wrinkles.
It makes a nice mess of loose turf, this can get in the slot car motors so vacuum it fully before you race.
The first picture is how it looked without the astro turf, its not bad but I wanted a different look.
Step 7: Overpass Completion
I had a busted rubber made tub, this was cut up with the heavy scissors into strips to wrap the overpass. They are cut to come up 1/2" above the track level, except for the sharp curve at the end of the long strait away, this one is a little higher to help catch the cars when they fly off.
It was fitted removed, painted and screwed to the track using little screws, the decals were added after everything was screwed down.
Pre drill the holes, this will keep you from splitting the track sides
If your low on plastic, make templates out of cardboard to get your design right, then trace it on the plastic.
The lane indicator sign was made from scrap balsa wood and some model railroad bushes add a little more detail.
Step 8: Timing System and Finishing Touchs
As mentioned before I used a Tomy/AFX timing system that counts laps, runs the races with a countdown and has a sensor that is mounted under the track.
This timing system is cheap if you live in Australia, for some reason thats the only place I could find to buy it.
The shipping to the states will cost you as much as the device itself. I like it because its all the timing system I needed in one place without the need for a computer to run it.
The only drawback to me is that the track sensor is kind of thick, so it was mounted under the over pass.
Other types of home made one are out there as well as free software to run them .
just google slot car timing systems.
Step 9: Controller Wiring Stock or After Market
If your going to use stock AFX cars that run at 22v and dont mind the little controllers that come with the track, you will simply use two power tract sections and two power supplies. This is done so that power isn't shared on the track and the wreck of one car doesnt send a surge of power to the other car and it then wrecks.
But if your like me and want to run the older cars as well as the new higher current cars you will need to get a better controller, I chose the Parma brand economy controller, its 20.00 bucks and has a three wire hook up shown in the picture. The third wire gives the cars braking capability, when you let off the trigger the cars stop on a dime, instead of coasting a bit.
I also added banana plugs to the AFX power track segments, the old connections were only two wire.
Step 10: Final Touches
The track goes back and forth so much it was hard to tell what lane your car was supposed to be in if you wrecked, so I painted the slot of each lane a different color, its easy to do if you use the Testers paint pens, the tip can ride in the slot to make it easy. Multiple coats are applied to make them bright.
Model railroad trees were added, their basses nailed to the door.
Decals were added to the overpass, stripes, numbers, ect...
Track adjustments are now made to match the lanes, some sections may throw the cars more than others, you must check and level each section of the track, smoothing out the bumps all around it.
The transitons from level to the overpass are especially tricky. Take your time and shim each one so the transition is very gentle. I done his by loosening the screws and sliding in hard cardboard strips or cork strips then screwing it down again.
I also used the AFX guard rails, but I nailed them down around the edge of the door to catch crashing cars.
Step 11: Race Time !!!
The Wizzard cars used in this video have very strong magnets, and silicone tires.
My vintage non magnetic cars go allot slower, but are harder to drive they tale slide and skid all over the place!