Tips and Tricks

Tips and Tricks

If you are new to setting up cars for running without magnets, the article in our software and links section on tuning a Porsche offers some great basics, but here's a couple of brief things as a "quick-start"
Check that all tyres are sitting correctly on the hubs of the car, sometimes they are sitting at a bit of an angle when pressed onto the hubs. Take the body off and make sure everything is lubricated, and that the eyelets are firmly pressed into the slot guide, and also that they are evenly routed to the guide, so that it sits in a naturally "centred" position, not pushed to one side by the pressure of one wire.
Flip the car and press gently on the ends of each braid, so that it opens up a little and widens. After that set the angle of the braid so it is slightly pointing downwards from the underside of the guide, but not so much that when the car site on the track the guide is being lifted from the slot. For some tracks you will also needs to have the braids pointing slightly "outwards" as they emerge from the underside of the guide, so that they align properly with the track rails.
When you re-fit the body to the car, check that the wheels are not touching the wheel arches.
Try running the car with the body screws loosened about one full turn from tight, then again with another half turn, so the body is just loose enough to "rattle" a little. Compare running with a loose body and a tight one, you may be surprised at the difference.
For cars with "pods" such as, loosen the pod screws about one turn, and compare how they run like that, as opposed to tight. Try a half turn in each direction until the car feels the smoothest and most stable to drive.

Have some cars that SHOULD be identical, but aren't?  Most likely it isn't the motors making the difference. If you drive with magnets, be aware that the magnetic field strength varies between magnets of same shape and size, so two otherwise identical cars from a maker could be getting different levels of "traction aid" from their magnets. But the magnets may also be disguising other problems. So read the other points following.
If you race without magnets, the three main things which determine how well your car goes are tyre traction, the balance of the car, and how smoothly the entire drivetrain of the car works.

- Are the tyres true? see article below
- Would some weight help balance it up. For most cars, a good general balance between weight on the front wheels and the back ones is 60/40 - 60% to the rear wheels. Weight can also help lower the cente of gravity. - See article below.
- Are the standard tyres suitable for the track you race on, and the environment you race in?
Different track plastic brands require somewhat different types of tyre for optimal traction. It is beyond our time and space to cover that in detail now, but a couple of points, silicon tyres like Indygrip or silicons will potentially give the best grip on smooth, clean surfaces, but do not perfrom well on dusty tracks. Urethane tyres have less grip than silicon on glossy, smooth wood tracks, but tolerate general dust and "marbles" better than pretty much any other kind of tyre, and also grip well on rougher surfaces. The "stickiest" rubber tyres I have found are the new F15 tyres, followed by their F22 compound, but these only fit hubs, Sloting Plus hubs, Ninco regular GT car hubs, and some other compatible sizes. - Our alloy wheels database from last month's newsletter will give some ideas for cross-matching to other wheels.

Track Maintenance

Tyre Truing

Adding Weight To Cars (for better balance and handling)
- and remember, you can also use blue-tack or tungsten weights instead of lead

Fixing those tricky "FLY Classics" - can be used on all brands of car
Fixing those tricky "FLY Classics"  2nd Article

And just for interest - ever considered repainting and decalling your own liveries on cars? How about 100 a month?

Here's what one guy does

On trueing up tyres
Trueing tyres by holding the rear axle area over a sanding block doesn't neccessarily true the tyre. Sometimes all you are doing is creating a smooth surfaced "egg-shaped" object when viewed from the side. To really remove "high spots" and make the wheel/tyre round, either the wheel/tyre or the abrasive surface needs to be fixed; and the other surface brought closer in a controlled fashion, such as by a swinging arm, or screwing in a flat surface against a fixed rotating wheel.
Getting the wheels round is only part of the job, chamfering the outside edge stops a lot of tipping and hopping as well.
Inside edges - I don't just chamfer the outside of my tyres, I also chamfer the inside of them slightly so they slide over the slot easily and don't dig in on the inside.

Weight for cars
I am not using lead. When I need weight - which is less and less these days; I mostly use “blu-tac” from the stationary stores. It is self stick; easy to push on, easy to remove, easy to re-shape and easy to add or remove a portion as needed for experimenting. I can fold it into any wee space I need to fit the best position for “balance” on a car. Even high up as sometimes desired on the underside of car bodies. Alternately, now supply "Tungsten" weights which are non-toxic. One type is the shape of the magnets and fits directly into the various compartments within the motor pods.

Rubbing bodies
With the very common practice of swapping tyres, and often hubs, we sometimes end up with a slightly higher profile or wider tyre, which may cause the tyres to rub and the edge of the wheel arch, or inside it on the underside of the body, or on the interior.
Firstly, check under the body, that the interior is seated hard against the body. Sometimes they are melted in place a little away from the body, and sit a bit low. If using a lexan interior, you may be able to trim away some hidden part of it, to stop it fouling the tyres. Lastly, for solid interiors, you may be able to grind or cut away some material from underneath to increase clearance, without the results being seen from above.
As a final somewhat crude trick, the body can often be lifted a little without affecting handling much if any, by gluing a 0.5 or 1mm spacers on the top of the chassis at rear, aligned with the body screw hole.

I have a lot of technical data sheets and databases available. These are all available by email, feel free to ask.

Here are some of them

Tyres Guide -the most comprehensive ever compiled. Excel 350Kb
Alloy wheels/wheel inserts fit database Excel 21KB
Axle diameters by brand Excel 18KB
Tyres for classic cars   WORD 47KB Parts Guide   Excel 32KB
Ninco Parts Guide   Excel 17KB

Router Jigs, roller pin use  WORD 98KB
Recess Router bit guide  WORD   60KB
Track Braiding overview WORD 2.45MB
Controller to track diagram, NZ standard for RTR cars  JPG   59KB
Wiring XLR connectors for routed tracks  WORD 67KB or PDF 103KB
Wiring Slot Car Tracks  WORD  68KB
Wiring Timing systems, and types    WORD 180KB
Timing Systems, a guide to software  WORD  200KB

I also hold the complete Parts catalogue. If you do not have one, please ask for one at no charge with your next order.

Chassis straightening and bush insertion
Upgrading with rear axle components is such a common repair option and upgrade these days, many folk just do it automatically.
From time to time I hear of people who have cracked a scalextric or Ninco chassis while inserting the axle bushes.
I recommend a couple of steps. Firstly, insert an axle in the pair of bushes, so you can press home the complete assembly at once.
BUT, before you do insert them, I recommend a process of ensuring the chassis is flat, by clamping it onto a flat metal plate and holding it in place with some spare magnets. By doing this, and immersing the entire chassis in a bath of boiling hot water, you remove the natural stresses created in the plastic by the rapid-fire injection moulding process used by all chassis. That process usually leads to SOME degree of warpage in plastic chassis. As the chassis cools, while clamped flat in the water bath, it settles into a natural flat "rest"
One thing not shown in this picture, is that I usually brace the guide mount from above and below, to ensure it does not twist while the chassis is hot. If the guide mount is raised abovw the bottom of the main chassis, I find a magnet the right thickness to sit underneath it, taking up the gap to between the metal plate and its underside, and another small one to sit on top and simply clamp it between them using the magnetic attraction. This keeps the guide straight while the chassis cools.
NOW, while the water is cooling, and the chassis still warm is the ideal time to insert those bushes. You are very unlikely to crack a warm, soft chassis.
The net result of this will be a car which chassis sits completely flat, and provides the best possible platform for the running gear. By having the axle in place while inserting the bushes, they will be pretty close to straight. Fine adjustment/straighting can be  done later, by the method in the next tip.

Bushing Alignment
Proper bushing alignment is an example of a "little thing" which when combined with other "little things" can make a big difference in how well your car performs. The SlotCarCorner bush alignment kits we sell are the best way I have found to produce a top result. There is exactly one way bushings are properly aligned as described in the Bushing Alignment how-to video. Conversely, there are an infinite number of ways they can be misaligned so the odds are really stacked against us. While it is virtually impossible to align bushings "perfectly", using the components in these kits will get them very, very close (much closer than just using an axle) and just as importantly, it will ensure consistent, repeatable results.

Chassis stiffness or flex.
People often ask why does Ninco use such a flexible chassis on their cars which have high torque motors. This causes chassis twisting which leads to the infamous "Ninco Hop" for standard cars when raced "non-magnet" in our club environments in USA, NZ and Australia, which tend to be mostly wood tracks.
The answer lies partly in understanding the racing environment of Europe, which constitutes 70% plus of the Slot Racing market world wide, and whose club environment is overwhelmingly non-magnet racing on plastic track - and in that, the dominant track brand used in most mainland Europe countries is Spanish made Ninco track.

Below is an answer given on a US Slot-Forum by one of USA's top slot racers, and a member of their team 4 years running to the Ninco World Championships. His own club track is the 457 foot 6 lane Ninco track, reputed to be the world's longest plastic club track.

I guess you could call it a "buffer". Flexible chassis'd cars hook up well on plastic, very well. I've found sometimes a "stiff" setup doesn't work as well on Plastic because the smoothness of it offers less grip. The chatter a car gets during acceleration on a rough NINCO surface actually helps give it more bite - [the] complete opposite of wood.

My cars that are prepared for NINCO track do not run well on wood, {and] vice versa. I have two cars that are great examples of completely opposite car setups - a NINCO Mosler prepared for NINCO track and a Scaleauto Toyota GT-One prepared for wood.

The Toyota is faster on wood than the Mosler, and the Mosler is faster on NINCO than the Toyota. The Mosler isn't re-inforced what so ever while the Toyota is very "stiff". We've finally got a wood track in our area that are similar to most of the wood tracks on the Proxy Circuits. It was interesting testing my past RAA cars - they were all terrible on wood, but great on the NINCO track I prepared them on

For our own environments, we require a "stiff" chassis. Ninco make aftermarket "Lexan" chassis which are a very stiff chassis. Alternately, it is possible with a bit of plastic or brass tube and glue, to form a stiff "triangle" at the rear of the car between the chassis, motor and rear axle mounts.

HRS System Tips
The "HRS" section of the range contains all the modular parts for cars which do not have their own section. This includes all guides/pickups, motor pods, both suspension systems, some HRS system screws that have wider application for holding all brands of car together!!! - and the self centre brass bushes for chassis. 

Site Tips
If you are searching for a product, such as models of Ferrari cars, limit your search words to “Ferrari”. If you include the word “Cars” in your search, the search engine will omit all listings that DON’T have the word “cars” in them – and we don’t usually say “Ferrari Car” in the product description.

If you plan on buying some items, but are not sure whether you will complete the order at the first bite; LOG-IN before you start shopping. Basically, if you log in first, then the shopping cart is held against your I.D. Then, if you time out, or decide to hold off finishing the order until another time, then next time you come back to the site, log-in again, and your previous basket contents will still be waiting there for you safe and sound. That will save many a frustration!

Also, if you login at top left corner of the site as you arrive, a new box appears at right showing a list with thumbnails of products you have purchased previously. Sometimes this is the quick, easy way to remember excactly which type/version of a particular product that you use repeatedly. eg braid, or screws; which type of motor pod amongst the many styles etc

If you are getting these newsletters in plain text, without pictures or coloured, sized text, you may have selected "plain text" in your membership profile with SlotRaceShop; instead of "HTML" OR, if you deliberately get ALL your emails as plain text, then you won't be able to see the formatting or pictures.
To see the news in proper formatting, you can also go to the NEWS link at right hand side of screen. I put the news up there within a day or so of the newsletter being sent out to subscribers.

If you AREN'T getting the newsletters and want to, you may need to go your your personal details page and correct your email address, or change your subscription status.

In the "information section" on the right hand side, our site map offers a quick overview of where everything can be found, and for the "visual thinkers" is a quick way to get to know how our products are laid out.

The "Software and Links" section has been updated to include the website of our main suppliers. This is often a lot more in depth information available on some products than we can offer within this site.

Lap Timing
First, a bit of tech-speak background.
The free software only packages use the windows internal clock, so lap times are done by a polling system to the internal windows clock, and the 3 digit decimal places shown as actually "estimates". They may be out by a few milliseconds. Lap counts are of course fully accurate.

Alternate DOS software like SRM (Slot Race Manager) avoids this, and is reputedly accurate, but lacks the graphic abilities of Windows systems. That leads on to the systems which use a hardware board to perform the actual counting of the electrical signals, and pass the information to dedicated software on the PC.

Amongst these several options for timing and race scoring, Trackmate stands out to me as being the most economic proper package, and possibly the easiest to use. The bundled software is easy to master, and the hardware board can be plugged into a traditional serial port - but more importantly, with a small, freely downloadable software "patch", it can be plugged into a standard USB port, so there is no likelyhood of it becoming redundant in the next few years. The feed cable to the Trackmate board uses an old-fashioned DB25 socket, so a cable originally intended for plugging into an old PC with one of those printer ports for use with free software - it simply plugs into Trackmate, using the same pin-in configuration. Very convenient if you are upgrading!

The one downside to Trackmate is that the software package is not particularly powerful, supporting a limited range of race styles and graphical data. Also, progressive data from completed heats cannot be readily held on screen from heat to heat to show progress. Finally, Trackmate's software does not have the ability to permanantly store race, laptime, driver or car records data within the software - although it CAN be configured to export it at the end of races to file formats inbcluding Excel.

Enter Race Coordinator. This package has been written by Dave Aufderheide in the USA, who is a commercial software developer - and also a slot car enthusiast. He initially wrote the package for himself, to replace the Trackmate software on his own track. He has continued to develop it, and now makes it available as "donation-ware" to a child cancer organisation, in memory of his son.
I am now using this package myself in tandem with the Trackmate hardware board, and find it has a number of advantages over the already useful Trackmate software.
The Race Coordinator site link is below, but meanwhile, here are a couple of screen shots to give some idea of how good this package is.

So if you are a Trackmate user, or have been thinking you would really like a better timing system, this is really worth checking out.

Ferrari 312PB tips
If you're still finding limited motor pod movement after (1) trimming the center of the exhaust section on the rear of the chassis to accommodate the chrome bit behind the mounting post, and (2) after resoldering the wire leads to the motor (soldering the forward wire under the motor tab and not to the top), try reducing the height of the two lengthwise reinforcement ribs of the motor pod itself. They can contact the bottom of the two seats molded into the interior, and thereby prevent the pod from rocking freely. The areas to trim are those nearest the magnet holders in front of the motor.

While you can also shave the bottom of the seats, that's a riskier proposition. You can take a little off the lowest points of each set, but the plastic is not that thick.