Introduction: Rejuvenate Slot Car Track
Slot car racing is a fun way of bringing the excitement of motor racing into your home. Its great to race on new track, but when your track gets old and worn, you may find that the cars wont run so well. This Instructable will show you how to improve those bad joints and get your cars running better without stopping.
Handtools of the right size such as screwdrivers or pliers
A clean lint free cloth
Step 1: Clean the Rails With Wire Wool
First disconnect the track and move it to a work space (best not to do this on a dining room table!). Next if the track is bent then gently get it so it is flat again. Do not try to straighten track that is intentionally curved like hump backs or banked curves. Lightly rub the rails with some light/fine wire wool. This is available from good DIY/Hardware stores. Ensure you DON'T do this on live track or you will damage your power system! The idea here is to ensure any heavy deposits or rust is taken off the surface, you are not rubbing till the track becomes shiny as this would scratch the surface and cause premature wear of the brushes.
Once this is done, shake off any bits of wire wool. If possible use a vacuum cleaner to ensure the slot is clear of any bits of wool. You could also use a high power magnet to pull any stray bits out. If you skip this step, you may do permanent damage to your power system or even the cars.
Step 2: De-grease the Track
First using a damp cloth, wipe over the track and allow it to dry. It should dry quickly as the idea is to pick up dust, not to soak it.
Next take a lint free cloth (microfibre cloths work well for this) and spray a bit of WD40 onto it. You don't need to soak the cloth, its enough to make it a little damp on the part you intend to be in contact with the track. Then wipe this over the surface of the track and pay closer attention to the rails. This will help to remove grease from the rails. WD40 is good to use on electrical contacts for cleaning as it wont leave an insulating film behind when you are done.
Once done, again wipe the track over with a damp cloth to remove any excessive build up of WD40, and ensure that you wont leave any marks on your best carpet!
Step 3: Find a Tool to Fit the Slot
This could be anything that is easy to hold and will fill the slot without forcing the slot. It does need to be a snug fit, or it wont work. In my case, I found a pair of long nose pliers fit perfectly. In your case you may have a large screwdriver which fits, this would be fine also
You then need to insert this at the end of the track between the last metal tabs.
Step 4: Tighten the Metal Tabs
Using another suitable tool, possibly a screwdriver with a smaller flat blade, press down on each of the metal tabs to make them grip the plastic part better.
Once you are done on this slot, move to the opposite lane and repeat. Then once this end has been completed, swap ends and do those tabs also.
If they are particularly bad, then you can do the tabs in the middle of the track, but this is not often necessary.
Step 5: Maintaining Your Track
Now you have finished this piece of track, repeat it for all the track pieces that need attention. Once you have finished, your track will be tighter to fit together improving the continuity and your races will run better. Your cars will also be faster. Not only this, but the reduction in resistance over each join will improve the performance of multi-car races on digital circuits.
To maintain your track and keep it in good condition for longer, wipe it before and after use with a damp cloth and this should ensure that your track doesn't get build ups of grease on the rails.
I have also found that some new pieces of track can benefit from this if you notice any continuity related problems. For longer tracks, this process may not solve all of your issues due to volt drop, but look out for my Instructable on how to build your own power distribution system which helps a lot!
It can be time consuming to do this, dependant on how much track you have to maintain, but for younger racers, always do this under the supervision of a competent adult as you should always when using tools and liquids.