Two years ago my family discovered slot cars. I ended up buying a couple of scaly MINI Coopers
and started running them at Indy Slots for a couple of years, it was becoming evident that we
needed a track at home. Since we live in an apartment space is at a minimum. About the only
space we don’t use is the space under my son’s bunk bed. A quick measure reveled that we had 5’
6” by 3’6”. So to give us some working room, I cut that down to 5 feet by 3 feet. My oldest son, 5,
was visiting his grand parents so it was time to start building his surprise.
After reading the Slot Car Illustrated forums and the Home Racing World forums, I decided it was
better to go wooden than plastic. My main logic was that I could route a track for less than what it
would cost to purchase one. Granted I would only have one controller and no new cars. But who
doesn’t like getting the most bang for your buck?
5 feet by 3 feet is not much space. A two lane was not totally out of the question, but a single lane
auto cross with timing would be fun and allow for some competition. I already had a Dremel, and
the local Wally Mart had a circle cutter accessory for under $15. I also have two working PC ATX
power supplies lying around. A package of 3 high speed cutter bits was $5. My neighbor had a
lead on copper tape, for $7. Lowe’s had a 4’ by 8’ sheet of ¾ inch thick MDF for $20, I gave them
an additional $1.50 to cut it down to 5 foot by 3 foot. I sat down with graph paper and started
drawling layouts. I posted some on line in the forums for advice.
I decided that since I had ZERO experience using the Dremel as a router I would do a proof of
concept test on the 1 foot by 5 foot scrap. I adjusted the circle cutter so that the slot would be 10
mm deep and marked the center of the MDF and cut half an 8 inch diameter circle at each end.
Then I used the straight edge guide that came with the circle cutter to connect the half circles, then
came the time for the copper tape. I used ¼ inch wide tape although the stained glass shop had
all sizes, I figured that a little wider might work better when the car is sliding.. I then set one of the
cars in the slot and applied power with a 9 volt battery. The car moved to the first turn and then
stopped. 4 inch radius or 8 inch diameter is too narrow for a 1/32 car to ride. It will fit mechanically
but the brushes lost contact. This also led to my first error, not soldering tape at the joints.
Well since I could cut a turn and straights, it was time to finalize the layout. My designs had been
critiqued and I decided to do a simpler design rather than to go with a more free form design that
can only come when you route a wooden track. Then I transferred the scale drawling to the full
sized MDF. I asked on the forums again for sources for lap timing software and got a lead on a
Radio Shack accessory for the Zip Zap RC cars. The timing system had been discontinued and
was once priced at $50. I found one on close out for $2.50. I bought a Parma 45 ohm controller for
$30 from Indy Slots
The slots were finally laid out and I started cutting the turns. They were the easy part. I had 4
straights where I could use the straight edge guide and then 4 more that I would have to do another
way as they were too far away from the edge to use the guide. This was solved by using the 1 by 5
foot scrap as a straight edge. Some of my cuts were not picture perfect. I had to redo some of
them so I bought spackle compound to fill the errors and then when it dried I made the corrections.
It was at this time I bought flat latex paint. I went for a shade darker than normal. I wanted asphalt
that was not brand new (black) but not old and in need of replacement (light gray). Tape went
down and it was time to start the wiring. I went to Lowe’s and bought 1 ½ inch long ¼ threaded
bolts and two large fender washers per bolt. I got simple nuts rather than the lock nuts. I located
them in the middle of the longest side. I then focused on the power taps. A 1/8 inch hole on each
side of the board would help provide constant power all along the track. I placed he holes on
opposite sides of the 5 foot side. Maybe I should have put them on opposite sides of the 3 foot
I drilled holes in the center of the copper tape to bring the wire through the MDF. The wire was
soldered to the tape for a good connection and then covered with more tape to make a smooth
connection. This produced a bump that would unsettle the cars as I pushed them over the
junction. I then removed the tape and unsoldered the jumper. I then laid the drill on its side and
then slowly pivoted the bit downward. This creates a channel for the wire to lie in. I then laid the
copper tape so that it would start in the channel and then come out onto the racing surface. A little
solder to tin the tape and then pulled the wire down and soldered it permanently.
Next came hooking the wires from the power taps to the bolts. I had a great diagram but it was
black and white which confused me. I had the jumper for the red wire going to the black post.
Thanks again to the guys on the forums, I got this part figured out. I got impatient and decided to
finish the track rather than throw the PC power supply into the mix. I went to Hobby Town USA for
the power supply. So it was off to the hobby shop for a power supply. The guy showed me a scaly
wall wart since I had a scaly car. I told him that it was for a wooden routed track. He spoke with a
guy in the train department and handed me what he though would be the appropriate power
supply. This lead to problems, I knew the sound that the cars would make when I applied a 9 volt
battery to the pickup braid and the car was not making this noise when I touch the leads from the
power supply to the car.
This was because Hornby/Scalextric converts the 110 volts AC to 19 volts AC and uses a rectifier to
convert the AC to DC at the track. I had already cut the connector so I could not return the wall
wart. Wally Mart to the rescue, they had an AC to DC converter that offered multiple output
voltages for $15.99. I selected 12 volts and applied the power. Nothing happened.
This was because my power taps are on opposite sides of the board and the copper junctions were
not soldered. It took me going around each lane of tape with a continuity checker to figure this out.
So I sat down with the continuity checker on one side and a soldering iron and solder on the other
side. I would check each section and solder any gaps that I would discover. I got all the way back
to the connector posts and sat the car in the slot and still nothing. I realized that half way around
the track I had jumped the slot. So it meant a second lap with the continuity checker and soldering
I then cleared the track and set my red “The Italian Job” MINI Cooper in the slot and pulled the
trigger The lights lit up and the car started to move! I spent an hour with both cars discovering
where the slot was a little jagged and with a pocket knife, I cleaned the edges. The hard part was
done, now to detail the track.
Please contact Dean with any comments or Questions