Building a wooden track. Which surface?

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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pwrd by tungsten
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Building a wooden track. Which surface?

Post by pwrd by tungsten » Tue Nov 26, 2013 2:17 am

Our pack is building a wooden track. Which surface should we use: Formica, varnished wood, etc... Thoughts?


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Re: Building a wooden track. Which surface?

Post by BallBoy » Tue Nov 26, 2013 9:33 am

I think the answer depends on how consistent you want your racing surface. Varnish, polyurethane, paint or other such finishes can leave a nice surface, but will be inconsistent when applied and cured at home. For example, when applied with a brush the start of the brush stroke will contain more finish than the end of the brush stroke. Wipe-on products can have similar problems. With that said, race tracks have been surfaced with these products since the beginning. Variances in the finish will be minor, but such variances can contribute to the fabled 'slow lane.'

I mentioned appying and curing a finish at home above. Pre-finished plywoods have very consistent finishes since they are machine applied and radio cured within seconds. If you want to go with a natural wood look and a really stable surface, check with a nearby lumber dealer to see if they sell prefinished plywood.

If I were to build a wood track, I would put Formica or other laminate product on the running surface (the tops of the center rails could be finished with anything). Laminates have a very consistent surface. Some laminates look like a paved road, which could be used to make the track look like a real drag strip.



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Re: Building a wooden track. Which surface?

Post by FatSebastian » Tue Nov 26, 2013 10:36 am

BallBoy wrote:Variances in the finish will be minor, but such variances can contribute to the fabled 'slow lane.'
I suppose that wood, as a natural product, will have variances regardless. Finishing tends to harden and smooth the surface, and this results in faster speeds v. unfinished wood. Faster speed may exaggerate any natural variances between lanes, but natural wood needs to be finished regardless to maintain cleanliness and general protection.
pwrd by tungsten wrote:Which surface should we use...?
Laminates are an interesting idea, although if I were building a track from scratch, I would also research PVC planking, which is durable and smooth. Aluminum plating from Beta Crafts is another possibility, although heavy and relatively expensive.



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Re: Building a wooden track. Which surface?

Post by bracketracer » Tue Nov 26, 2013 9:51 pm

I used Baltic Birch plywood for mine. 3/4" thick for the track section connectors and supports, 3/8" thick for the racing surface and 1/4" thick for the guide strips. Finished with shellac. I considered using polyurethane for a finish but I thought the shellac would be easier to repair if (when) it gets damaged.



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Re: Building a wooden track. Which surface?

Post by whodathunkit » Wed Nov 27, 2013 9:53 am

A little :offtopic: I know ! (About the track seen in this.. Nurdy Derby video.)
The way this wooden track is seen built in the video might just be a little crazy..
or give you some ideas as it's a little different style of track.



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