Building a 32ft single lane track - COMPLETED

Discussions on buying, building or rehabbing a race track. Topics like plans, materials, tools, construction, finishing, commercially available tracks, and so on.
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chobo
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Building a 32ft single lane track - COMPLETED

Post by chobo » Thu May 30, 2013 10:49 am

I am not expecting it to be perfect, but I thought it would save a lot of work and be inexpensive at the same time. So, today I went to Menard's and purchased some items that I thought would work based on the very limited tools we have at home. When I say limited tools, I mean no table saw etc - just a drill and a scroll saw. I don't have the necessary supplies to finish wood or anything like that, so I figured going this route really just turns it in to an assembly operation with drilling holes and mounting switches as the hardest task - something my kids and I can do together now that school is out for them.

Tarkett laminate wood flooring 10pcs .25"*8"*48" dimensions - $18.44
Finished Lattice .25"*1.75"*8' - $7.99*4
125pc 1" #8 machine screws/nuts - $3.59
7pc .25"*1.5" bolts/nuts - $1.99*4
Wal-Mart watch with stopwatch - $5.68
RadioShack alligator clips - $2.99*2
RadioShack Roller Switch - $3.49
RadioShack Lever Switch - $3.49
RadioShack Speaker Wire 24gauge 50' - $6.49

Total: $87.08 without tax

I really do wish I could find the link for the stopwatch setup; I had found it through another person's link in a thread on this board. I know it is not going to be super precise, but as long as I have a solid baseline car that is maintained that I run first, I think I can make reliable assessments on whether or not we have made improvements in the families derby cars. I do still need to make mounting brackets for the stopwatch timer system (and start gate) and maybe in time I will get classy and make some track supports instead of using chairs like I plan on doing at the start. I was hoping to find some extruded plastic for the base of the track vs the Tarkett flooring, but I think this will work reasonably well - I'll just have more joints than I would like, but I'm thinking/hoping they will still be pretty smooth transitions, regardless.

I'll follow up this thread after we have it complete and supply pictures; hopefully after next week. I've already purchased everything, but any input would still be cool - or you can just let me know whether you think it will fail or sail lol.

[EDIT]
Just realized I had priced the lane guides as 7.99*2 and not 7.99*4 - made the proper edits as necessary
Last edited by chobo on Sun Jun 23, 2013 4:38 pm, edited 2 times in total.


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Vitamin K
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Re: Building a 32ft single lane track

Post by Vitamin K » Thu May 30, 2013 11:44 am

I love home built stuff, so I say go for it! I think if I were building a test track, though, I'd make it two lanes. Doesn't seem like two lanes would require all that much more in the way of space and materials, would it?



chobo
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Re: Building a 32ft single lane track

Post by chobo » Thu May 30, 2013 12:04 pm

I was wondering that myself. The flooring is probably just wide enough to accommodate two lanes, but it would add another $32 to the price due to the lattice strips I'm using. I'll have to discuss it with the wife and see if she'll let me burn a few more bucks lol.


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Re: Building a 32ft single lane track

Post by knotthed » Sat Jun 01, 2013 9:49 pm

This thread should help.

http://www.derbytalk.com/viewtopic.php?f=5&t=6028" target="_blank



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Re: Building a 32ft single lane track

Post by chobo » Sat Jun 22, 2013 6:29 am

Had to take a break from finishing this project due to interviews and class work, but I got it finished last night. I'll have pictures later on today sometime after the kids and I bring the sections up from the basement. I'm very happy we managed to pull it off with minimal power tools (just a drill and a dremel).


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chobo
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Re: Building a 32ft single lane track

Post by chobo » Sat Jun 22, 2013 8:59 pm

Well, ran in to two problems.

1) It's warm and humid on the lakeshore here in my neck of the woods; the laminate flooring expanded and now I have 1/8" gaps between my guide rails. I'm assuming I can grab a file, taper the one end so that when the wheel transitions to the next section it won't have a jarring impact. I'm assuming that would be the remedy for that?

2) Each microswitch works just fine with the timer independently, but when I link both of them together, the stopwatch no longer recognizes it is being switched on or off. I can unhook one or the other and the remaining switch will trigger the stopwatch. I've tried switching the wires around to no avail. I'm going to buy another watch and see what happens, unless some of you more savvy guys got any ideas what I'm messing up lol.

I'll try to put pics up in the afternoon tomorrow of what we go so far though. The kids still had fun running their old cars down the track anyways. We need to put something on the stop section to slow the cars down, they had a ball watching the cars go Dukes of Hazard jumping off the end of the track :)


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Re: Building a 32ft single lane track

Post by chobo » Sun Jun 23, 2013 4:28 pm

Timer problem is fixed. The microswitches I am using have three prongs/connectors on them - I will call them A, B, C. You can use a combination of A&B or A&C for an individual lone switch for something, but if you use A&C with a second switch, it won't work. You have to use A&B on both switches to make it work. Make sure that if you go this route and you use those particular switches from RadioShack, that you test the whole thing before you do something crazy like soldering them... lol...

As for the gaps due to the Tarket flooring swelling up on me with the humidity, on the guide that the car transitions to, I narrowed the end by 1/16th of an inch to 0 inch over a span of two inches on both sides of the guide rail. Worked like a charm, but anyone using those should keep that in mind. I was pretty floored by the effect of the weather on the track.

We know that there are cheaper ways to build a track if you have the tools, but we're very limited with what we have. All you really need for this track build is a Dremel with a wood carving bit, drill with bits, wrench, screwdriver, and tape measure. Easy enough that the kids can contribute a lot to the project.

Top of end track: Because the particular watch I am using for my time keeper doesn't allow me to just tie the wires on to anything, I opted for alligator clips to hook up to the watch.
Image

Bottom of end track: I also connected everything to screws/posts on my track so that during set-up and take-down, all that has to be done is removing the alligator clips and bundling up my 30ft of speaker wire to unhook the switches. Notice the high-tech fastening system we use to keep the timer in place - only the best technology was used... lol
Image

Top of start gate: Last years car for my kids Buckaroo class (8yrs and younger) - 1st at local, but didn't progress after districts.
Image

Start gate closed:
Image

Start gate open:
Image

32ft of track - 28ft from start to stop:
Image

And now for some times:
The orange car in the picture: 2.53, 2.53, 2.53, 2.53, 2.50
Oldest sons straight-runner (went to nationals): 2.44, 2.47, 2.47, 2.44, 2.47, 2.44
Rail-rider test car: 2.44, 2.44, 2.44, 2.44, 2.41, 2.41

Fairly consistent times on the track, but still not super accurate. Good enough to let us know that we are on the right track with the car though. We'll be hunting down a watch that goes out a bit further for more accuracy now. My kids and are already preparing to make new cars and take what we learned from the test car to them; now it's about our weight placement.

Resources:
Stopwatch timer: http://waynesthisandthat.com/awana.htm#timer
DerbyTalk of course - the people and the search function are a ton of help!
Last edited by chobo on Sun Jun 23, 2013 5:17 pm, edited 1 time in total.


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Re: Building a 32ft single lane track - COMPLETED

Post by whodathunkit » Sun Jun 23, 2013 5:05 pm

Chobo,
Just out of curiosity what does your.. Wife say about the Derby now?!!!

Nice job on the homemade 32ft test track.. &
I was hopeing to see a few photos of the General Lee flying. :lol:


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chobo
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Re: Building a 32ft single lane track - COMPLETED

Post by chobo » Sun Jun 23, 2013 5:18 pm

We will accommodate the General Lee request for you with our next test run - we used older cars for that stunt so as not to damage the good ones lol

And the wife still thinks we are crazy, but she also is very happy that the boys participate and is impressed with what they have done.


Wife:
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Re: Building a 32ft single lane track - COMPLETED

Post by DaringRacer » Sat Jan 10, 2015 8:20 am

I wish I thought about buying that flooring before I did my track. Cutting a totally straight edge is a nightmare. I think I'm going to run to home depot or lowes and pick up a box of that flooring!

By the way, Amazon sells a stopwatch with 3-thousandths of a second timing for $20. Fairly easy to open up and add wires to. I cut a hole in it for the wires to come out and its at the start of the track instead of the end so I can reset the timer easier with the buttons.

http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B0080S ... UTF8&psc=1



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