Track Maintenance \ Timer \ Start Gate

Discussions on buying, building or rehabbing a race track. Topics like plans, materials, tools, construction, finishing, commercially available tracks, and so on.
Norbin
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Track Maintenance \ Timer \ Start Gate

Post by Norbin » Tue Jan 13, 2015 5:08 pm

Thank you for welcoming me to this forum. Lots of good information is available here, I have done a bit of reading here and perhaps the questions I'm about to ask may have already been answered. Please pardon me if this is posted somewhere else.

I'm an involved parent with my local cub scout group and I'm researching for ways to improve our Pinewood derby race event. I would like to make improvements in the following areas.

1) Track timer\start gate\GrandPrix software - We currently have a placement sensor (3 tracks) and a manual gate. The pins that hold the cars in place have been replaced with screws and it's isn't a pretty site. Also the sensor and a "not so fair" process of elimination leaves the kids questioning if they would have actually done better if raced among other cars. Our cubmaster has done an excellent job at keeping the game as fair as possible but I think adding the following to our track we make his job a whole lot easier and a fair game to the kids. What are your recommendations for a track timer and electronic start gate to use with the GrandPrix software. Keep in mind that budget is an issue, I will be covering the cost and then run a fundraising event to recoup the money spend.

2) Track maintenance \ repair - I'm not sure of the maker of our track. The frame and base of it is wood and tracks are 4/5 session of aluminum. Our last race clearly showed disadvantages on two of the lanes (the cursed lanes). I filmed in super slow motion (1/8 speed) some of the races and it is clearly visible that at the track joints the cars jumped and hit the rails everytime - just slowing them down (this was not much of an issue in the middle lane. Majority of the heats had the middle lane as the 1st place). I know little maintenance is applied to the track and it was actually put together the morning of the race without any cleaning etc. I want to suggest to our pack to let me put together a group of skills individuals to replace uneven screws on the tracks, readjust the frame joins and see if we can perhaps polish it. Do you guys have any suggestion?


Thank you all in advance for your inputs.
Last edited by Norbin on Wed Jan 14, 2015 11:08 am, edited 1 time in total.



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whodathunkit
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Re: Track Maintenance \ Timer \ Start Gate

Post by whodathunkit » Tue Jan 13, 2015 5:45 pm

:welcome: Norbin,
For cleaning the aluminum track plateing .. simple green cleaner will work.
As for finding the topic's your looking for just use the advanced search in the uper right.
http://www.derbytalk.com/viewtopic.php?t=3174


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

ngyoung
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Re: Track Maintenance \ Timer \ Start Gate

Post by ngyoung » Tue Jan 13, 2015 10:17 pm

From what I read use 1000-2000 grit sandpaper to wet sand the aluminum. I would first work on getting all the joints lined up as goid as possible then you can sand down any bumps at misaligned lane joints. If you cant get them perfect at least make sure the downrange section of the joint doesn't stick up. Use a block with a good 90 degree corner to get even contact to the lane ans sides of the rail. Then clean with a non ammonia cleaner, most popular being simple green. Then buff with pledge.



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Stan Pope
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Re: Track Maintenance \ Timer \ Start Gate

Post by Stan Pope » Wed Jan 14, 2015 4:24 am

Your aluminum track is probably composed of separate lane sections that are locked together with 3 or more "straps". Your first step could be to assure that all track sections have their lane sections adjusted to the same separation. A long vernier caliper can do the job, but 3 or 4 identical fixtures/gages can speed to process. For instance, in a length of 1X6 oak, cut rail-width dados on 4" centers (or whatever the lane separations are for your track), then rip it into 3 or 4 sections. Use these to assemble each track section and hold the parts in place as you lock down the screws that hold the section together. [This applies specifically to the Freedom Track, but would apply to other tracks that follow a similar plan.)

The gages can be used periodically to assure that the sections have not come out of adjustment as a result of handling and storage.

Best Track includes alignment pins between sections, but the gages assure that the spacing is maintained along the whole section.


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Norbin
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Re: Track Maintenance \ Timer \ Start Gate

Post by Norbin » Wed Jan 14, 2015 11:05 am

Thank you guys for the quick replies.

Simple green it is then! I have use this product for other applications but wanted to check with people experienced with these tracks for doing anything. Thanks ngyoung for the pledge idea, did a quick search on it and tons of people are using it to repel dust and lightly preserve aluminum products (will start using this on my bikes :) )

Stan - That is a fantastic idea. I got some oak boards left from a wood floor installation I did at home. I'll use those to make the blocks.

Here is the video of the last run. You can see clearly the misalignment on the first track (to the right) and how the car wobbles and soon as it hits it. The kid didn't lose the race because the car was superiorly faster than the opponents on that heat but that's an issue that would hopeful be fixed by introducing a timer\speed base system.



Thank you again for all your input.



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Re: Track Maintenance \ Timer \ Start Gate

Post by gpraceman » Wed Jan 14, 2015 12:12 pm

One thing that can help is to taper the sides of the lane guides on the uphill end of each track section. Then, there won't be a lip that a wheel could catch on. You can do that with a file.


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Re: Track Maintenance \ Timer \ Start Gate

Post by ngyoung » Thu Jan 15, 2015 8:24 am

For a simple solenoid electric start gate actuator I have heard good things about this:
http://www.newdirections.ws/glb.htm

For a timer on a 3 lane track I think the most economical option is the Derbystick. You will need to use the computer to display the results, it uses a USB port. If you already have access to a projector or a TV connected to a PC most people are fine watching that vs the finish line display. This package comes with the timer stick and a light source bridge as well as GPRMpro for a little over $219.
http://www.pinewood-derby-timer.com/cat ... 144453.htm

If you want a timer with a finish line display most are around $300 or more. The Fast Track K2 sequential display which is one of the most popular and also used in NPWDRL will cost $360 for the timer and computer interface. One that displays sequence and times will be even more.
http://www.microwizard.com/k2page.html

Whichever one you choose I think I would actually call up the place to talk to a real person. Most of the online ordering forms are pretty complicated figuring out all the options you may need to work with your setup.



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Re: Track Maintenance \ Timer \ Start Gate

Post by gpraceman » Thu Jan 15, 2015 9:38 am

ngyoung wrote:For a timer on a 3 lane track I think the most economical option is the Derbystick. You will need to use the computer to display the results, it uses a USB port. If you already have access to a projector or a TV connected to a PC most people are fine watching that vs the finish line display.
Such a timer is great for test tracks, but I don't recommend them for running a race event. What are you going to do if you have problems with timer communications? There is no fallback other than eyeball judging the heats. Not a good option. At least with a timer that has a results display of some kind, you can have a good Plan B of manually entering the results into the race software or even using old fashioned pencil and paper.


Randy Lisano
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Awana Grand Prix and Pinewood Derby racing - Where a child, an adult and a small block of wood combine for a lot of fun and memories.

ngyoung
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Re: Track Maintenance \ Timer \ Start Gate

Post by ngyoung » Thu Jan 15, 2015 2:59 pm

You said your track is wood and aluminum but based on your video it at least looks really close to a Best Track. I am wondering if the wood was added later. I found this video a while back and it may give you a better picture of the build process with regards to getting the lanes lined up and sanding out any remaining bumps.




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gpraceman
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Re: Track Maintenance \ Timer \ Start Gate

Post by gpraceman » Thu Jan 15, 2015 5:43 pm

ngyoung wrote:You said your track is wood and aluminum but based on your video it at least looks really close to a Best Track.
Actually, it looks to me to be a "The Challenger" track, using Beta Crafts aluminum track plating on a wood framework. The other option is someone took a regular wood track and just added the plating. This plating was available well before Micro Wizard/Piantedosi and Best Track aluminum tracks first appeared. BSA actually carries the track plating on the Scoutstuff website.

http://www.oocities.org/~pack215/pwd-challenger.html

Image


Randy Lisano
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Awana Grand Prix and Pinewood Derby racing - Where a child, an adult and a small block of wood combine for a lot of fun and memories.

Norbin
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Re: Track Maintenance \ Timer \ Start Gate

Post by Norbin » Thu Jan 15, 2015 5:53 pm

I'm going to check with the Cub Master to see if he knows the brand of it, but it looks like the track predates him and last I heard has never been treated. I got pictures of the track. I'll show them to you guys later.



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Re: Track Maintenance \ Timer \ Start Gate

Post by gpraceman » Thu Jan 15, 2015 5:57 pm

Norbin wrote:I'm going to check with the Cub Master to see if he knows the brand of it, but it looks like the track predates him and last I heard has never been treated. I got pictures of the track. I'll show them to you guys later.
Well, for aluminum tracks, you've got the possibilities below. These are the cross sections.

Micro Wizard/Piantedosi - All aluminum track
Image

Best Track - All aluminum track
Image

Beta Crafts - Aluminum plating on wood
Image


Randy Lisano
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Awana Grand Prix and Pinewood Derby racing - Where a child, an adult and a small block of wood combine for a lot of fun and memories.

Norbin
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Re: Track Maintenance \ Timer \ Start Gate

Post by Norbin » Fri Jan 16, 2015 11:51 am

As promised see the link below. I spoke with the cubmaster and he has no clue where the track came from or its history. I'm planning to run a fundraising event, selling tshirts, to help cover the cost for the upgrade. I hope we can have a huge turn around and be able to buy a new track altogether.

https://drive.google.com/a/wappingerscu ... sp=sharing



ngyoung
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Re: Track Maintenance \ Timer \ Start Gate

Post by ngyoung » Fri Jan 16, 2015 12:40 pm

I think if you guys take the time and give it some TLC you could get that track to run pretty smooth. I think the biggest investment would be your own time. Aluminum is pretty forgiving when it comes to slight adjustments and doing all the wet sanding, polishing, and cleaning. The joints can be lined back up with shimming and even with new high end tracks it takes a good amount of time getting everything lined up every time it is assembled. Not to mention getting the whole thing level all the way down the track. One thing to keep in mind is coming up with a system to get everything lined up close and being able to easily make adjustments. It is rare that any floor you install it on will be level anyways.

The start gate you can at least replace the piece of wood where the back wheels rest with something that matches the profile of the lanes. I would also recommend wrapping the bolts with electrical tape or vinyl if the cars are resting on threads. There are some sources that show hand made start gates that you can maybe modify yours to work more consistently. You ever happen to take a close up slo-mo shot of the start gate in action? Does it snap down hard or get bounce back?



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Re: Track Maintenance \ Timer \ Start Gate

Post by gpraceman » Fri Jan 16, 2015 12:48 pm

Norbin wrote:As promised see the link below. I spoke with the cubmaster and he has no clue where the track came from or its history. I'm planning to run a fundraising event, selling tshirts, to help cover the cost for the upgrade. I hope we can have a huge turn around and be able to buy a new track altogether.

https://drive.google.com/a/wappingerscu ... sp=sharing
That does look to be the Beta Crafts aluminum plating. The wood frame looks to be a custom job, instead of built off of "The Challenger" plans.

Unless there is some real good reason to buy a new track, that track might just need some tuning to get it to run well.


Randy Lisano
Romans 5:8

Awana Grand Prix and Pinewood Derby racing - Where a child, an adult and a small block of wood combine for a lot of fun and memories.

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