I want to build a track....

Discussions on buying, building or rehabbing a race track. Topics like plans, materials, tools, construction, finishing, commercially available tracks, and so on.
chromegsx
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I want to build a track....

Post by chromegsx » Tue Jan 29, 2013 8:10 pm

It for the kids....:sarcasm:... really... it is. The Mrs. thinks its a good idea :w00t: :yahoo: :dance: and even wants to host a derby birthday party some day. :party: So we really should have 4 lanes right?

So initially I was thinking just get it built and have some fun then add a DIY timer for testing but I have a hard time doing anything half heartedly. Plus we have a lot of old tracks in this area that are pretty ruff on cars... Maybe someone would want to borrow one that is a bit updated and kinder on car construction. So I've been reading for a few hours this afternoon on past posts on track base materials and decided that I want to use something of slightly better quality than "just get it built".

So these are the materials (in no particular order) I have availble locally at my lowes. I may be able to find something different or have it ordered in at a local yard or two as well, haven't checked yet.
3/4" will likely be to stiff to make the curve. I'm wondering if 1/4 would be ok or would I need to reinforce the curve to make the bend more gradual or will I end up with a kind of slope/curve/slope/curve/flat kind of track? Can you add another layer of a product such as 1/4 underlayment or 1/8 mdf paneling to make the curve more gradual and sturdy and still have it lay flat to put it away?

I like the melamine idea just as a happy medium between just getting it built and having a quality track, and I think it would look great too with finished edges. but its not wide enough to support 4 lanes.

I also thought the masonite bathroom paneling product was nice as well but would need a full frame work, I'd think to maintain straightness and level. Then I also wouldn't be able to lay the curve flat for storage or potential transportation. I can't seem to find that locally at my lowes anyway and I know I can't get it at one local yard, but can check another.

I've see suggestions of formica for which I'm sure I can get some severely discounted 5x12 sheets where I work if and acceptable sub layer was used. but will the curve still curve properly after gluing the laminate to the sublayer?

Using laminate flooring would probably be too stiff by itself and you'd have to put them on a backer board as they are well less than 8' which would be even stiffer. Probably not very cost effective either.

Anyway just a few thoughts going through my head. I'll probably make a trip to lowes on my lunch break tomorrow just to browse around to see what's available.



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whodathunkit
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Re: I want to build a track....

Post by whodathunkit » Tue Jan 29, 2013 8:29 pm

chromegsx,

Heres a cool topic about a track.
http://www.derbytalk.com/viewtopic.php?t=371" target="_blank


What type of automobile can be spelled the same forwards & backwards?

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FatSebastian
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Re: I want to build a track....

Post by FatSebastian » Tue Jan 29, 2013 9:13 pm

Troy Thorne has some simple plans on pp. 112-15 of his latest book, using PVC planking. Interestingly, after some research, we built a very similar track, using the same material, many years ago. (A major difference is that we used 12' sections instead of 8', and thus we were able to elevate the starting gate to 4' with a single piece of PVC plank.)

IMO, 1x- ("one by") PVC planking is an almost ideal material for a homemade track. It will curve appropriately. It is smooth and does not require finishing. It is not too heavy. It does not splinter. Etc. Most importantly, it packs away easily and (unlike many wood-based products) is relatively maintenance free and somewhat indifferent as to where you store it. (Our 36' PVC track conveniently stores on a 5" x 12' long shelf high on the garage wall.)

We went single lane (as did Troy) to minimize cost and then used the savings to invest in a one-lane timer. Two lanes might be more fun if your competing rather than testing, but factors such as weight, portability, and storage are also considerations for a track that will be set up and taken down around the home, and extra lanes impact the convenience and expense of a homemade track.

And here's an idea for a cheap timer, info courtesy of knotthed.



chromegsx
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Re: I want to build a track....

Post by chromegsx » Tue Jan 29, 2013 11:23 pm

Is particle board really a good surface to race on?

Interesting. I've used pvc product in brick molding for exterior doors and familiar with how flexible that is. That would make a nice one lane track but i'd venture a guess that it would be to heavy for 4 lanes. If it even came that wide. There will most certainly be competition as little brother is itching to get in on the action so two lane is a min. Still undecided if i want to add more lanes for other friendly compitition. What did you use for guidesthen?

I've been reviewing the arduino thread and like the idea that adding lanes is relatively cheap and painless. It seems to be within my capabilities and has enough documentation that i can grasp the concept and write some code for it...we'll see though...need a track to put it on first.



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Re: I want to build a track....

Post by FatSebastian » Tue Jan 29, 2013 11:35 pm

chromegsx wrote:What did you use for guides then?
I used wood lath, whereas Troy used PVC lath.
chromegsx wrote:There will most certainly be competition...
Yes. The way we handled sibling competition with a single lane was each took a turn with the timer and the times were compared.

Even without a timer, a track can useful for checking whether a car might wobble in the flat.



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Re: I want to build a track....

Post by JSG » Wed Jan 30, 2013 9:28 am

I used PVC lathe on my basement track and it worked really well. In hindsight I wish I would have looked for a used wooden track for sale by a Cub Scout pack. They can be had for pretty cheap and come with a starting gate and sometimes a timer. An aluminum track would have been ideal but it was not within my budget.



chromegsx
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Re: I want to build a track....

Post by chromegsx » Wed Feb 13, 2013 8:59 am

What do you think? :thinking: Pass or jump on it? Track 40' in 2 rigid lengths of 20'. I'd need to add timer and automate the start gate which I was going to do anyway if I built a track. I'd also need to add a stop section. The only thing holding me back is that's it's not your typical slope-curve-flat track profile. I'm thinking I could modify it so it is a typical profile, but then I'd probably also break it up into smaller sections as well for future storage and transportation (probably 8' sections), so I'd be getting into fair bit of work modifying it to my liking, but It's a fair bit of work to build a track from scratch too...soooo :idk:

Here's what keeps me from just walking away... asking price is $50.

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having_wandered
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Re: I want to build a track....

Post by having_wandered » Wed Feb 13, 2013 7:35 pm

So with the changes you are suggesting, that's not a $50 purchase anymore. You should walk away and send me his number. :-) seriously though, if you race on aluminum, your test results might not be valid.


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chromegsx
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Re: I want to build a track....

Post by chromegsx » Fri Feb 15, 2013 1:15 pm

having_wandered wrote:So with the changes you are suggesting, that's not a $50 purchase anymore. You should walk away and send me his number. :-) seriously though, if you race on aluminum, your test results might not be valid.
Well on that note I decided to buy it. picking it up tomorrow. I figure the kids could easily have $50 worth of fun on it... and if not I could sell it to you for $100 ;)

Regarding aluminum, we don't race on it but I do have an interest in trying a proxy race or two... just for comparison purposes for now. If I compare test results on the same track before/after, why does that make them invalid for aluminum? Are you saying if I test a change on wood I might get the opposite results on aluminum?



chromegsx
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Re: I want to build a track....

Post by chromegsx » Mon Feb 18, 2013 8:56 am

Well picked up the track...was disappointed to find out that it was not 40' (actually under 32' end to end), but that made it easy for hauling. The kids played on it all day yesterday mostly with matchbox cars....probably 8+ hours straight till they ran out of matchbox cars to test against each other. Mom was also playing for at least 6 of those hours. :)

Lots of things going against this track. A few nice things are the finish seems pretty nice and the guides seem relatively smooth except at the joint. The under frame at the joint got wet at some point and the wood swelled and shifted the guides a good 1/16" when assembled. Seems very steady.

Starts about 3' high, slopes for about 15' then curves for about 1' and flat the rest. I'll probably change this to be more like a traditional profile. and change the frame underneath to stand a little narrower and make it cantilever the starting gate as my younger one likes to stand on the base when staging cars.

First thing that caught my eye was start gate is held up by hand and needs some tolerance work on the pivot points and the handle needs to be more securely fastened. the gate is metal pins welded to a metal round bar same size as pins with a wood handle on side. The track joint obviously needs a fair bit of tlc for alignment. but the there is a small corner piece of the track "chewed" away. I'll probably just knock an inch out of this area rather than try to patch it.

Not sure where I'll start, but I'll have to wait till the "newness" where off a bit so that I can break it down for a while. Maybe I'll go work on my timer for a while. My friend hooked me up with nearly all the electronics including arduino and lots of segmented LED displays. Not sure what I can do with a 40x2rows of LED number display... but I'll figure something out. Maybe feed it names of racers and car names and mount it parallel with the track.



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Re: I want to build a track....

Post by Topspin.D » Tue Feb 19, 2013 6:26 pm

Sounds like you have a great plan.

If you decide to build, I have to second FS on the PVC. We just finished a 24' single lane (probably going to add one more section this weekend w/ the timer) track and it's working great! Followed Thorne's design except that we build a simple stand to hold the start near 4' like on a standard track. Also, his starting gate lever needs improvement, but use of the hinge and screw works well.



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Re: I want to build a track....

Post by FatSebastian » Tue Feb 19, 2013 9:37 pm

Topspin.D wrote:Followed Thorne's design except that we build a simple stand to hold the start near 4' like on a standard track. Also, his starting gate lever needs improvement, but use of the hinge and screw works well.
Good advice. Our PVC track predates Troy's book and we went a slightly different route than Troy's lever. However, our hinge arrangement worked similarly.



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Re: I want to build a track....

Post by Topspin.D » Tue Feb 19, 2013 9:48 pm

If you don't mind. Could you pist a photo of your start mechanism from under your track? I have to re do ours and couldbuse some ideas. Thanks



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Re: I want to build a track....

Post by 2slow4u » Wed Jan 22, 2014 7:34 pm

Whats pvc planking and where do you get it



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FatSebastian
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Re: I want to build a track....

Post by FatSebastian » Wed Jan 22, 2014 7:49 pm

2slow4u wrote:Whats pvc planking and where do you get it
Search Home Depot for "pvc trim", for example. (Local type and availability will vary.)



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