Waxing the Track

      Updated information for track use and maintenance:

    After a year of playing with the various track systems I came to the conclusion they needed some form of lubrication on the walls of the track. WD-40 is what most people use as the first choice. WD-40 is used as track cleaner and prep for normal slot car tracks. on a normal slot car track WD-40 can improve traction. I tried WD-40 and i did not like the results. it caused other issues with the car's body and it didn't last very long. WD-40 does dry back a little. I tried INOX lubricant, didn't like it either.

   I then moved to various silicon tire replacements for the Cars the best being the AFX .474 diameter Super Tires for both the TYCO TCR and Speed-Steer / Ultra 5 cars. it still wasn't enough.

   I then began to play around with Futura Floor Wax which Slot car people had been using for Body paint protection for Years. I discovered that while Futura Floor Wax can do amazing things for a Body that because it is a Floor wax it was designed to make a Floor look like a Mirror but not be slick.

    I moved to Car wax, pure carnauba. I found that you could Wax the entire track surface just like a Car, buff it on, dry it a little remove the excess and Buff the Track glossy. the traction was excellent and the cars moved much faster since the Wall friction was reduced. the Wax also helped keep the track cleaner longer.

    Pledge Furniture polish also works well but you must try and keep it off the track floor because it will cause traction problems. if you spray it on a rag and then carefully apply it to the track walls then you are fine.If you have an over pass you can coat the entire piece including the surface this will help the cars glide over the bridge easier.

   Stay away from Liquid lubrication for the track because these will contaminate the tires and traction surface of the track. Liquid will also attract dirt and ruin car decals on the bodies. Dry lubrication is the way to go. Do not use dry graphite powders or moly greases as these are powdered forms of lubrication and they will contaminate gears, motors, tires and generally stain and make a mess. stick with dry solid waxes or coatings. 

   So give it a shot on your slot-less racing track, the cars will go faster and lane change much easier.

 

Track Assembly Tips

Not all track sections are made the same! The manufacture tolerance is pretty bad on track sections. This can lead to tracks that bounce the cars off the walls or ruin contact shoes faster.

  • When assembling tracks together Look at how the Walls match up for the inside and outside lanes. Try to match up the profile of each wall to the next track section, some will bow in or out.
  • Take into account the direction of traffic, if there is a large difference between two track section walls try to have the cars come off the wall bending into the track to the next section where the wall bends outward this will help stop cars from skipping as they go and accidentally lane changes.
  • Sometimes you have to sand or file down a track section for a nice transition.
  • The stainless steel rails tolerance is all over the place. you can get a bad section of track were the rail is actually wavy. run your hand over the rails and try to pick out one that are smooth to the touch.
  • Use your finger to check smoothness between rail and track sections if you feel a bump either replace the section or sand or file down an area smooth.
  • Older tracks from the command control sets seem to have better quality, look for sections that actually say made in the USA. later tracks say made in China, Hong Kong or Taiwan. The 1990s grey tracks are all foreign made.
  • The smoother all the track sections match up the longer the contact shoes will last.
  • Less Bounce off the walls will help the rear gear one way bushings last longer.
  • Using a speed equalizer to reduce top speed can reduce the accident damage that can occur like breaking the front bumper off or cracking wheel hubs or breaking steering linkage.
  • I DO NOT recommend casual play table top setups. If you plan to just setup a track for an afternoon of play set it up on the floor. You have no idea the damage that can occur when a slot-less car flies off a track and falls 2 to 3 feet on the floor across the room. Broken chassis, gears, pinons, bodies,etc can and will happen.
  • By comparison setting up the track on a floor reduced damage to the cars and human beings.
  • If you have a professional track layout on a table you may want to think about some form of netting to contain crashes, i had one car fly across the room fly into the wall and basically blow apart into junk.
  • Building a successful track requires flexibility you will find certain combinations of track sections look like fun on paper but do not work during play. If you find one area frequently causes accidents or stalls change that section of track to something else.
  • Use the JAM cars to test your track. setup two Jam cars and have them run the track for you, if you find one or both JAM cars get hung up in one area all the time, you can bet the passing cars will have a problem there.
  • JAM CARS MAKE AWESOME TRACK CLEANERS!!! let the jam cars clean up and warm up the track for the passing cars before playing

Maintenance Tips

TCR Tracks need more then routine maintenance to keep up performance.

The walls on the sides of the tracks and the grooves for the jam cars can allow dirt and fluff to settle inside.

  • Vacuum your tracks from time to time to clean out the larger dirt, fluff, and hairs.
  • use a nice rubber track cleaner eraser. DO NOT use sand paper to clean the stainless steel rails.
  • use 100% isopropyl alcohol to clean the track surface.
  • clean the silicon tires with 100% isopropyl alcohol. some people use duct tape to clean the tires and transfer the glue from the tape to the tires to make them stickier. TCR cars work within a slip and grip tolerance adding extra traction to the tires will actually decrease performance. The original Tire surface works very well without traction compounds or adding glue.
  • file down any grooves that develop in the pick up shoes to keep the steering agile. The pickup shoes wear out faster then a regular slot cars because of the lane change function and extra electrical arcing. I do not recommend repairing the pickup shoes with silver solder or regular solder if it can be avoided with new parts, but we all don't have a choice sometimes. Save repairing the pickup shoes with solder as a last resort if possible. As the years go by this will become harder and harder not to do. the solder will lower resistance of the cars and make them faster but you have to watch the silver solder build up on the stainless steel rails.
  • the rear axle on these cars takes a beating make sure to check for new cracks and hairs that have wrapped around the axles. from time to time you may have to clean out the rear axles pull the pins and really clean the plastic one way bushings out and make sure the pins are nice and clean. Then lightly oil them. TCR cars require more maintenance then regular slot cars due to the direction changes of the motor.
  • The CC-01 chassis originally used Silicon rear tires over the years many people replaced them with regular Rubber JAM car tires, this is a mistake. The original tires provided more grip then the JAM cars if your original tires have degraded over the last 30 years i recommend replacing them with either 440 rear tire JEL CLAWs or  pure silicon rubber tires.
  • the CC-03 rubber tires are VERY good I do not recommend replacing them with aftermarket tires.

Dealing with Curves

     many people take issue with Slot less cars because of what happens in a curved area of track. In normal slot car racing the lanes are separated allowing either car to pass in a curved section of track. For a normal slot less car this is difficult because there is no slot in the track to counter the centrifugal forces and the cars are automatically thrown to the outside lane of travel making a curve section a no-passing zone or a single lane track area.

    Now it is possible to make a slot less car maintain a inside lane while in a curve at slow speed. See my page here: How to drive on the inside lane in a turn (for real). Modifying the cars does add more realism and makes TCR slot less racing more exciting but it does put even more wear and tear on the cars.   

     Purists will argue that this method is more like cheating because now the outside lane car can go even faster with an extra magnet holding it down to the track surface keeping it from ejecting in a curve. This is true and track design must compensate for this by using outside lane obstacles in an effort to re-balance the cars in the outside and inside lane.

     Many people find slot less a turn off because by nature curves are seen as a problem. However in Routed HO tracks the lanes in curves are purposely narrowed together to force a no passing zone. This takes the concept of a squeeze track to the next logical level. This increases the difficultly level of normal HO slot cars because you cannot pass another car in a curve. Well slot less cars already have this advanced idea built into the design.

    To drive a slot less car track remember this basic idea. A curve section of track is a No-passing zone with the fastest lane of travel the outside lane. All passing is done in the straight area of track.

    There are tricks to going faster in a curve section of track. when entering a turn at high speed you can lane change to the inside lane. the car will not change lanes due to centrifugal forces it will maintain the outside lane but your front tires will point to the inside lane increasing speed through the curve section, just remember to flick back to the outside lane as you exit the curve section to maintain speed.

   By remembering over taking another player in the straight and curve sections are a no passing zone you can practice a track and know when is the right time to pass another player. It takes time to learn a new track. It is easy to become frustrated after you have mastered an older track and suddenly you cannot drive a new track configuration. practice will make running a track easier over time and reduce stall outs making it less frustrating. Adding a second player changes game play as well you have to practice together to allow for a nice smooth race since the common ground is shared by both drivers in a slot less environment power levels will constantly fluctuate for both players. Each player will need to adjust driving depending on how the other player drives on the track you have to work together as a team when playing slot less with 2 people.

   In a slotted car environment you can split up the power systems between the 2 lanes preventing power drops. you cannot do this in a slot less car environment because each car can share each lane and must share a common ground. if you wanted to get around this limitation then each player would require 2 controllers one for the inside lane and one for the outside lane you would have to switch controllers each time you changed lanes, requiring 4 controllers for 2 people to play. This would make slot less too complex and would not be enjoyable.

obstacles

      The biggest complaint with TCR sets is once a car is in the outside lane and in the lead no other car will be able to pass the front car.

       This is true: many different electronic devices have been invented to try and make racing fair for both players. The speed equalizer was designed to force both cars to have the same top speed. this eliminated the cheat of the faster car always winning. However if both cars have the same top speed then there is no way for one car to pass another car. Also anytime a car lane changed to begin the passing maneuver that car slowed down and fell back even further from the car in front. The electronic super booster was invented to give a car a momentary speed boost to compensate for the stall when lane changing and to give a passing car enough power to actually cut in front of the lead car. the electronic booster also has/had a built in speed equalizer. The electronic super booster works but the original design was only to be used in an oval with long straights.

        The Problem is the electronic booster is still a crude way of helping the car that is lagging and there is nothing from stopping the lead car in blocking your pass. Even with the electronic super booster passing is very hard and it can be used by the lead car to cheat. In fact to use the booster properly you have to cheat in the curves by lane changing when entering a corner you maintain the outside lane and have the benefits of the speed boost.

        So i took the original limitations of the super booster and created the Electronic MEGA booster and incorporated a superior speed equalizer system. The MEGA booster can be used on every kind of track and allows for a speed boost or lane stall compensation and can be customized with accessories, and customized play options superior to the original design.

        With all the improvements there are still blaring problems in having a track devoid of a reason to change lanes other then passing. When Obstacles are added to the track such as a jam car or solid immobile walls or cones it forces both cars to change lanes to avoid crashing. The constant back and forth of both cars when lane changing is the great equalizer here. Since both cars will have to deal with the disadvantage of changing lanes it allows for more passing zones.

       This was the flaw with TCR as packaged in the original sets. think of it as racing on a drag strip you go straight as fast as possible until you get to the finish line faster car always wins. that is how a TCR set without a reason to lane change behaves. one continuous never ending drag track looping. Add a reason for both cars to change lanes and suddenly you have a road course where mashing the throttle down is not a good idea and you must set the car up to take the next lane change.

      So try it. put a block on the outside lane of your home track and now the outside lane is not that advantageous as it once was. The obstacles from the Aurora Ultra 5 sets are excellent. Tyco also had red cones that locked into the jam car rails to act as lane changing obstacles that came with the 1990-1993 TCR racing sets. obstacles they are the great equalizer and give you a reason to lane change!

 

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