In this article we are looking into Scalextric track and track maintenance. There are several areas where your Scalextric track can cause problems, these are:
Bent or warped track pieces - Scalextric track has a tendency to bend or warp over time. This may have many causes among which are people stepping on the track laid on the floor and perhaps the way that the classic track clips together doesn't help. Warped track works well enough but can give your Scalextric cars a very bumpy ride, especially down the long straight. Also, the newer Scalextric cars will struggle as they are far more likely to ground out on a bumpy Scalextric track layout. The answer is to shape the Scalextric track pieces back to level. To do this simply reverse the bend in the track a little at a time and a bend at a time until the track is visibly flat again. The most common problem then is that the vertical sides of the steel track rail bend outwards and block the slot in the track. This is remedied by pushing the bulge back out of the way with a flat blade screwdriver. There you have it, flat, level Scalextric track that works for new Scalextric cars as well as your older Scalextric cars.
Poor electrical connections - An odd phenomenon that can occur with a Scalextric track layout is that over time part of the track layout looses power. The Scalextric cars run great near to the track power base or where the power is connected to the track but slow down away from the power connection point. This effect can happen several weeks or even several months after a circuit has been constructed and not usually right away. We are not too sure of the exact mechanism that causes this but we know it's the joints between the track pieces that introduce a high resistance to electrical current. There are 2 readily used fixes for this problem with Scalextric tracks; one is to regularly take up the track and relay it with the track pieces in different locations, strange but true. The second is to run a Scalextric track power booster cable around the track and make connections to the track every couple of meters or so. If your Scalextric track layout is permanent then you'll be best advised to make an electrical connection to every track piece with the Scalextric track power booster cable. The best type of connection is a solder joint.
Dirty and dusty track - The only form of grip for a Scalextric car is between the 2 rear tyres and the track surface. Grip provides the acceleration force, deceleration force and the cornering force too. Physics tells us that the amount of friction is proportional to the amount of force pushing the surfaces together and the friction between those surfaces. Force = Friction x Normal force To give the most grip the track surface has to be as clean as possible. So, how do you keep your track dust free? The simplest way is to wipe your Scalextric track over with a damp (NOT wet) cloth and ensure the track is dry before you go racing. This will remove the dust and debris and give you the best possible grip from your Scalextric track.
Compatibility between different track types - Over the years there have been several different types of Scalextric track systems used. The earliest is the rubber track used in the very early 1960s. This changed to the plastic track with the round clips which remained in production until the early 2000s and is still very common today. Currently there is the modern Sport track with it's straight clips and the Start track. All four types of track are NOT compatible with each other. The most common types are the current Sport track and the classic track with the round clips. There is a Scalextric converter track piece available to join these two track systems together.
Building your own track layout - Putting together lots of Scalextric track pieces is a good way to build a temporary or a semi permanent track layout. The choice of interesting Scalextric track pieces is OK especially with some of the digital options. For a fully permanent layout the limitations of using Scalextric track pieces can be done away with by making your own slot layout. There are only two things you need, the slot and the conductors. After that, you can design what ever shape circuit you like. The slot can be cut into the base board using a router with a suitable bit and for the conductors you can use self adhesive copper tape. The copper tape is available on rolls with plenty of length. The board can be painted to form the track, run off areas, add height, infield and all sorts of props to give your layout realism. Finally, the best benefit of this type of layout – the magnatraction magnet doesn't work!!