One thing I really wish I had done differently......

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One thing I really wish I had done differently......

Postby downtowndeco » Sat Aug 26, 2017 2:25 pm

A thread idea. We learn the most from our mistakes, right? Let's start a thread that hashes out everything that we wish we'd done differently when designing & building our layouts. Perhaps we can save others headaches in the future. Discuss either past or current layouts you've built. I'll start.

One of the things I wish I had done differently on the first layout I built was to take basic maintenance into consideration. If you can't easily get to all parts of the layout you can't maintain all of the layout & there's nothing that kills the fun more than having a hard to get to spot in the middle or the back where you start having problems, either w/deslots or conductivity. I will never again build a layout that doesn't have easy access to all of the track and wiring. Not only do you have to easily be able to access all of the track but you need to be able to actually work on it as well. It doesn't do you any good that you can reach the track if you can't put any weight on the benchwork to actually do any work on it.

OK. Who also built an "Edsel" like feature into a layout at one time?
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Re: One thing I really wish I had done differently......

Postby btaylor » Sat Aug 26, 2017 2:51 pm

Mine was in a very recent post. I built a super strong bench, then a very flat smooth wood top to back the MDF. I then routed all four 4×6 sheets. I then added a 2×4 outer perimeter to give me some banking on the oval. I did not use any support between the center of the track and the outside edges. I end up with a broken track while up on the table changing a bulb. When i rebuild. It will have way less banking. Some type of support all under the track, and joints will be reinforced. I will be able to tap dance on that sucker when im done! (If i could dance)

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Cherokee Point 80' Road course
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Re: One thing I really wish I had done differently......

Postby downtowndeco » Sat Aug 26, 2017 2:54 pm

Your post inspired the thread idea. : )
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Re: One thing I really wish I had done differently......

Postby btaylor » Sat Aug 26, 2017 3:05 pm

Lol. Something good should come out of this.

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Cherokee Point 80' Road course
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Re: One thing I really wish I had done differently......

Postby mattb » Sat Aug 26, 2017 7:23 pm

To not waste floor space, I built the platform for this track against the wall. I should have left about 14-18 inches space instead of being against the wall. I did have room to leave a space and should have. My tables are strong enough for 240 pounds to climb on them, but it would have been much easier to have access to all edges.

I thought I was building an oval in the beginning and that back access wouldn't be a big deal. It didn't take long to realize for more challenging racing I needed something with more curves and varying straights. I added on the table width and length.

I have recycled plywood and 2 X 4's for over 35 years. From train tables to slot car tracks. That makes for lots of different sized pieces.
Instead of free standing tables, I started by fastening to the back wall and building my way out, so there is one big table with each section built off the section next to it. A free standing table would have been better, but not real practical with the materials I used being so different.

One good thing about this setup, I got a 4 lane Professor Motor track wiring kit off Ebay. It was used but not damaged. I did make for easier, neater wiring then I usually do.
pix of a few...old slot cars and tracks
http://s229.photobucket.com/user/matts65/library/
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Re: One thing I really wish I had done differently......

Postby waaytoomuchintothis » Sat Aug 26, 2017 7:52 pm

A few years back, I undertook to preserve and restore the first track in our group, which had been forced into storage for years. It was old, as MDF tracks go, and made from thin (1/2"), MDF at that. After a year or so of completion, it began to sag terribly, as moisture got to it (it had never been painted underneath). It would seem that the first of several storages might have been damp, but I can't know for sure. It is certain that the building I have was exposed to moist air when the air conditioning system shut down last year for the entire summer. Whatever the case, if I had taken the time to seal the backside of all the panels, this could not have happened.

Soon, I will begin tearing it down and tossing it into the dumpster. It will be a sad day, because there will be a lot more track going there, too, but that is for a different reason altogether. A larger, more complex track will replace it, with all new benchwork, and a great deal of space saving, as well as access. But I wish I could have saved the old track. It was dear to us all. It was freehand routed, so the straights were not all parallel, the chicanes were downright cruel, and the big sweeper curves were spectacular. Four lanes of mania. Perfect.
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Re: One thing I really wish I had done differently......

Postby chappyman66 » Sat Aug 26, 2017 8:36 pm

I built my track in pieces with small supports at the joint, sort of like interlocking teeth.

In retrospect, I should have taken the time to make a full width tongue and groove joint to ensure the surface was perfectly flat across the joint.

My next track will be inside and more permanent so no temporary joints like this one.
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Re: One thing I really wish I had done differently......

Postby dreinecke » Sun Aug 27, 2017 8:32 pm

I feel your pain. On larger tables, especially against walls, it can be hard to reach. With that in mind, when I routed my first track, I specifically planned for this issue:

" In order to ensure I could touch every inch of the track, the bench work needed to be a max of 3' wide, except where I can get around it. I incorporated areas where the track comes out to 7' wide, but again, " Image
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Re: One thing I really wish I had done differently......

Postby ShotgunDave » Sun Aug 27, 2017 9:55 pm

My first track incorporated every design complication I could think of. A drastic hairpin, a squeeze section, an overpass, you name it. It was a real bear to race on without having offs. I will never do that again.
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Re: One thing I really wish I had done differently......

Postby downtowndeco » Sun Aug 27, 2017 10:58 pm

David. Exactly. People get so wedded to a strict rectangle shape when they don't really need to. The more organic looking the design, the better IMO.

Shotgundave. Yup, me too. Started off with 4 crossovers, cut it to two & then none. None was best. : )
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Re: One thing I really wish I had done differently......

Postby Apec » Thu Dec 07, 2017 12:19 am

I am making my mistake as we speak. I am trying to cram over 65’ of track on a 10 x 8 L design. I am on my second layout on this table and both are way to busy and no flow. Also, even with a straight the entire length of the 8’length, I can’t open up the cars with tuning motors.

Maybe try diagonal straight to gain 1 foot and add 2/45 bank coming onto straight

Great post
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Re: One thing I really wish I had done differently......

Postby proxieken » Thu Dec 07, 2017 5:03 am

I am pretty happy with my layout, except for the slightly unequal lane lengths. We run Carrera digital with about 7-8 second lap times with magnets. One lane is around 2' shorter than the other and with digital it should not matter, but it does. The leader will move to that lane and stay there. You can get right up to their bumper but the minute you move over to pass you start dropping back. The time is about .2 seconds slower for the longer lane. I guess this pretty much recreates real racing where the leader can run the racing line and others have to take risks to get around.

I am working on adding lane gates to the layout and plan to incorporate ghost cars to create slower lap traffic.
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Re: One thing I really wish I had done differently......

Postby slowshoes » Thu Dec 07, 2017 5:47 am

It's almost goes without saying that you try to do too much when laying down an initial layout. I think it's actually a good thing, as you get to experiment with particulars of a layout with multiple different types of cars to see first hand what is working and what needs to be changed.

This leads to, at least for me, an enjoyable process of developing a layout with good flow across a wide variety of cars. I like a road course more that a variation on an oval for the driving challenges it brings to the table. That said, for me it's been more about simplifying and eliminating tricky sections in the name of increasing flow for cars. Then I question myself about whether I've made things too easy, lol.

It's been a fun, ongoing process and all I can say is, I'm getting closer! :)

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Re: One thing I really wish I had done differently......

Postby mattb » Thu Dec 07, 2017 8:03 am

There is a big difference between a track design that is fun and easy for close racing, and a design that is just an exercise to see how many feet of spaghetti you can fit on a board. The spaghetti design never seems to make anybody happy in the long run
pix of a few...old slot cars and tracks
http://s229.photobucket.com/user/matts65/library/
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Re: One thing I really wish I had done differently......

Postby slothead » Thu Dec 07, 2017 9:37 am

For me it's simply to have been more patient. I work at a college and my year gets started in mid-August, which was when I finished routing my road course a few years ago. My grandson helped me carry the sections up into the loft area of the barn where it got sanded, painted with primer, and assembled on a rolling table. I mounted a guide flag on a battery powered test car to smooth out track joints and moved on to painting the track surface light gray. This is where I should have paused, let things dry for a day or two and made a plan for how to proceed. But, I couldn't wait to get the track running so I started putting down the copper tape only to notice later that as the gray paint fully dried the repairs I'd made with filler were showing through the paint. Plus, as soon as I had one lane running I started using it and have never taped the second lane. As a solo racer it's not a big deal, but if I'd been more patient after the first painting I'd have a better looking track and have 2 lanes for recording lap times.

I can still fix those things, but am concerned about getting paint on the copper tape when doing a top coat, and would have to roll the table back out into the middle of the loft to get at it from all sides. And I've never done anything about scenery either, once again just because I was to impatient to slow down and do things right rather than quickly.

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