Michael Munno's Model Motoring Raceways
This page describes the construction progress of my current HO slot car track. I am hoping that others will find it either interesting to read or useful for suggestions with your own layouts. Suggestions, questions and comments always welcome. I hope you will enjoy reading this page!
NOTE: This is in reverse chronological order so that returning readers can read the latest news starting at the top, in order to read it from step 1 through present, start at the bottom of the page and read towards the top.
02/25/01: After searching around the house and coming up with more of the right cardboard, I have now completely redone the corking on all turns. I have used a better looking scheme of 1 inch per stripe on the red/white corking that I hand painted for the severe turns areas. Photos have been taken and placed on the photos page. The model motoring curved bleachers set has finally been completed. I had to add some finishing touches to the paint job, a realistic wood finish, and then craft the flags from some colored notepaper I picked out for it. I also glued some of the spectators into their seats. The bleachers have been relocated which provides them with a far better view of turns 3, 4 and 5 as well as 2 straights. A photo of this is also on the photos page.
2/17/01: I completely redid the cork on one turn. I found a piece of cardboard that shims up the cork to the perfect height for the track. After cutting a few pieces, then using my staple gun to hold down the cardboard, I was able to tack on the cork bed to the edge of the turn. This provides a far better slide out area than I had before with no cardboard underneath. I will be doing the rest of the turns over with this method, once I find more cardboard of the same thickness. I took some more photos and have added them to the photos page.
2/15/01: The barriers have been completed on the edge of the table. I am just about done painting the last area. I am going to attempt a checkered black and white pattern on the outside edge by the start finish area. The outside edge is now painted the color of the closest lane, photos will be put up soon. I have recently upgraded to the latest version of TrakMate, v. 1.53. This seems to be a major change over the last few versions. I will be testing it out some more soon, I just ran through a few mock races on my own, seems that it is now set to run a race automatically, previously you had to confirm with keystrokes in order to proceed to the next screens and then to the next heat, start the race, etc. Now it has some default timeouts which allow you some time to view the screens, but then gets right back to racing. This should help keep the pace a bit better during our races and also keep some people out of the pits during the races. We'll allow for tweaking before the races, and then only pause for emergency repairs during a race, but only between heats...
1/25/01: Work got the best of my time in 2000 and not a whole lot was done to the track. The photos page was updated so you can see some of what had been done already and not documented. Painted the table top green and am working on the barriers at the table's edge. More to be done soon. The wiring is a mess, still the temporary wiring I started with, so that is a project for the near future.
8/31/99: New photos have been taken and the photo page has been rearranged.
8/15/99: I purchased the 9” and 12” banked turn sets by Tomy in an effort to add a banked curve to the layout. I am testing it out in a section of the track at present but am not sure they are TJET friendly enough for me to keep them in the layout. I’d probably have to have a longer straight available in order to use the banked curve set. I’ve been spending some time learning to airbrush so I can refinish some cars in poor condition as well as paint some lexan bodies. I am having fun with this so far. I only purchased a $15 airbrush and it’s good for base coating, but I still do the fine details with very fine brushes by hand.
8/13/99: The chicanes of death are no more, although the graveyard is still there. I have reworked the entire turns section and am very pleased with the outcome. The S-turns section is much smoother and more TJET friendly. As soon as I finish painting the red and white striping on the slide off areas I will get some pictures of the new design up. I'm also working on a Corel Draw version of a diagram of the track, which will be easier to see what tracks I used to make the layout. I purchased a pair of Ninco 70-ohm controllers and I am currently testing them with TJETs, but so far I am very impressed with the control and comfort of these controllers, especially considering they only cost me $17 each as opposed to the more expensive $20 and up Parma controllers. I may have found my dream controller at last, only time will tell. I also mounted a nice mirrored 96-car display case on the wall, it’s not full yet, but it will be soon. I’m searching for a car-oriented wall clock to add to the atmosphere and help prevent the time vortex we all seem to get sucked into when we venture down to the track.
7/23/99: Due to warm weather and tons of other things to do around the house this time of year, construction efforts have been minimal to non-existent. Part of the netting system is up. Another night's worth of work should complete the job.
5/02/99: 4 old Aurora controllers have been repaired and/or rewired. The cork-bedding slide-off areas were completely removed so I could re-align the track on the board. The track was then nailed into place with 3/4" RR nails. Once that was done, the cork bedding was replaced for the slide-off areas. Planning and testing has begun on the netting system that will go into place on the table edges to prevent concrete death syndrome.
04/24/99: Well, after Brian braved bad traffic and nasty weather, we began the epoxy stage. With the exception of a short break where we went to Zeppelin Hobbies, we moved along pretty well. It seemed like after our break, we got into a rhythm and before you knew it, it was 4am and all the tracks had been epoxied. I'll get a picture of the underside of a track so you can see what we did. But basically the rails are now epoxied to the plastic so that they should not be able to be pulled up by strong magnets. Major Kudos goes out to Brian for his dedicated help last night. (We also cleaned all the rails on every track as we went.) It was a major project and it's now behind us. Once the track is tacked down, I plan on attacking the re-wiring of the track and driver stations.
04/21/99: Lots going on again. I have begun to add HO cork track bedding as skid off areas in the turns. I'll get some photos up when I have some time...I have purchased some epoxy so I can glue the rails in place on the bottoms of the tracks to prevent strong magnets from pulling the rails up. The track will then be nailed back into place. I've calculated the track distance at last! Using 110 sections of track, the layout has an overall center-line distance of 555.93 inches. Which equates to 46.3 feet. In scale terms, the cars are traveling 2,965 feet per lap, or a little over a half of a mile per lap. Our club (mad racers?) held a Thursday Time Trials event where all 4 of us raced for 3 minutes in each lane on the track in four separate events. We used the TrakMate software to time our cars in TJET, Tuff Ones & Magnatraction heats. The results and photos are on the MAD racers Page. Future projects include netting on the ends of the track where cars may fly off into the concrete death that waits below to smash your car. I recently suffered an original 2+2 mustang crushing its roof by diving off the table so this is becoming a priority. Start/finish LED setup for TrakMate to replace ugly lamp on table as light source for the timing system. Add an outlet near the track and finalize the under-the-table wiring for neatness and permanency. Add a shop light for better light in the dark area of the room. Finish the cork bedding, including painting. And about 10 million other ideas we all have for the track's future...
02/15/99: More photos added to the photos page. Next projects are going to take some time. I plan on epoxying the rails to the plastic from underneath to prevent strong magnets from pulling the rails up. Once that is done, the next project will be to screw or nail the track to the table. Once the track is secure, I will be working heavily on re-wiring everything from underneath, including adding an outlet that will be under the table on the wall at the end of the "L". I also plan on adding better lighting; hopefully some cheap "shop" lights will do the trick, keeping in mind that at some point I still plan on using a pulley system to store the entire layout hanging from the ceiling. I also need to do something about the outside lane in all curves. Currently we're using guardrails and billboards, but this gives the outside lane an advantage in turns. Without these though, it's too easy to slide off the track since there's no place to skid out to. I haven't figured out the answer to this problem yet, I do welcome suggestions. So, it's moving along, but there's still a ton to be done.
02/09/99: Ok, it's been too long since the last update, so there's a ton to update you on. I've been going nuts here. All four lanes are now powered by separate power packs. The lanes have been painted White, Red, Blue and Green. I used paint markers from a local art supply store. They worked great! Took less than 20 minutes to complete all 4 lanes. Just wet the marker tip by shaking it furiously, then run it down the center of the slot in each lane for professional looking lane colors! Pictures to be up soon. Some posters have been hung on the wall. (Bob Hardin posters) 4-lane version of TrakMate has been purchased and installed. I currently use a lamp for the overhead light source, but plan on replacing that with an LED bridge because it will look better. I have not installed the relay option yet. I've wired the jacks with 1/4" stereo RCA jacks and the connectors on the end of the controllers are the 1/4" RCA plugs. Works nicely, this way people can use their own controllers, we can swap between the 35-ohm and 45-ohm or 60-ohm controllers depending on which cars we are racing. I have taken some pictures and plan on putting them up on the photo page in the next day or two. The layout has been modified again. There is now an 'S' curve section, small but cool. The curve of death has been smoothed out a bit; the 6" radius 180-degree turn is no more. There are still 6" radius curves, 2 in each pair of lanes, but they are now only 90 degrees and not 180. Everyone seems happy with that. We've had some races to test out the lap counter and the layout. We decided we need some kind of barrier on the edge of the table badly as a few cars have skidded to horrible accidents off the edge of the table. I have built a model graveyard and placed a painted figure "keeper of the chicanes of death" near the yard and turns. The keeper shovels the dead into their graves quickly so as not to interfere with the other racers. The track is now known as the "MIS" (Munno International Speedway). [Also a pun since I work in the computer field, specifically networking]
01/12/99: The outside two lanes are now powered by separate power sources. I still need to separate the inner two lanes. I have a lot to do with electric; I want to light the area better. I want to put a new outlet in the wall that would be more convenient to powering the track and accessories with. Sometime in the next few weeks I also want to add the computerized lap counter/timer system, complete with relay to automatically turn power on at the beginning of race and off at end of race. I'm seriously considering purchasing TrakMate, which seems to have the best bang for the buck! A shelf has been put up to display some of my mint AFX cars. I'd love to add some nice posters on the wall as well. Things are moving along smoothly! I've also modified the layout yet again, certainly not for the last time.
01/09/99: The table has been constructed and 4th version of the track has been laid! After a lot of serious talk and purchasing some more 1x3" boards, some mounting hardware and two folding tables, construction began. Due to bad weather, only one of my friends was able to make it over to help out. We were able to get the basic frame of the outside edge of the table done before he had to leave. Being in the spirit to finish the table if possible, I continued on my own. I finished the frame, then laid the 2 plywood boards on top of it and began drilling and screwing that down. Once I felt that was secure enough, I unpacked the 2 folding tables and placed the board up on the tables. Everything worked out very nicely! After the table was up, I couldn't wait to start laying track, so the newest version of the track was laid and then cleanup began. I vacuumed all the sawdust and the tracks. Then I had to test it of course. So I raced Super G-Plus in every lane, and then tested it with T-Jets in every lane and I am quite pleased with how well it all works! Next steps will be to finalize the track layout and then wire each lane with it's own power supply and create 4 separate "stations" for each driver. I'd like to add an "S" curve section to the track, but I need more turns to do that. We'd also like to rig a pulley system to store the table up near the ceiling. This will require some more planning. The first official race of our forming club (4-members strong at inception and to be named) will take place in February. I'd also like to purchase a computerized sensor setup for lap timing and race management. Photos of the table and track will be taken soon.
01/05/99: I have chosen a section of the basement to construct the 4-lane track. The attic is not an ideal climate to be in, the basement is nice and cool 95% of the year. One of the challenges in my basement layout plan is that I'd like to have the table constructed in a fashion that would allow it to be "put away" when not in use or if the space were to be needed for something else. There are a few options, setup the whole table so that it can be raised and stored close to the ceiling, or make a segmented table that either folds up against the wall, or collapses and can be stored laying against the wall. Not being even a decent novice carpenter, this should be interesting. Thankfully my friends and I are putting our heads together and the plans are coming along. Another challenge is to make a layout that is not boring, not too easy and yet a challenge for all levels to drive. It should also make good use of the space I have, which is approximately 5' by 11'. A large legal file cabinet was in the way, but that has been moved now. After drawing out the dimensions of the board, the wood for the board has been purchased. We decided to go with Lauan plywood. It was around the same price as good pine. It's 3/4" thick. We are going to frame the table this weekend. I'd like to have the table sitting on two folding tables for support. This will give me the added flexibility of having the folding tables available for gaming, parties, etc, when the track is stored away.