Tuning Slot Cars 101

Tuning Slot Cars 101

SLOTCAR TUNING 101

When you first get a new plastic chassis slot car, no matter what the manufacturer,there are a few things that can usually be done to improve its performance. This guide is intended to provide tips and ideas for making your slot car runbetter.

It is not definitive, and should be applied with common sense to your situation,the brand of car, and with regard to your own skill level to avoid damagingyour slot cars.Done correctly, these tips will help you to get a smoother running, quicker, smoother, and longer lasting car.

Itis very tempting when you purchase a new model to simply remove it from thepackaging, put it on the track and race it immediately.
Ifhowever you take a few minutes with each new car before running it, you willbe rewarded in the long run.

Themost common steps can be summarized as "GTL" - Glue, True and Lube

Justdoing these basic things will make most cars run a lot smoother, and last longer.

Thingsyou can do:

Check running gear
Remove body shell
Fix any friction problems
Glue in motor, or tape it to the chassis, and where applicable, prop shaft bushfor front wheel motor, rear wheel driven cars with the long drive shaft.

Oil axle bushes at rear, front axle where it runs through the chassis, a tinyamount of oil can be placed in the shaft of the guide.

Run in motor
True the tyres
Gluethe tyres to the rims ( We recommend a soft glue which can be removed later,such as a silicon or F2 contact cement.)
Adjust the contact braids

Tools& Equipment Required

Lightoil
Lightplastic safe model grease
Smallcross-headed screwdriver
Super Glue
Softer Glue such as F2
Hobby Knife or Dremmel type tool
Hot glue gun
Finegrit sandpaper
Needle nose pliers
Sandingblock*

*You can make yourself a useful sanding block by glue a part sheet of 120 -200grit sandpaper to one side of a small piece of MDF or other wood, and a finer200 - 400 grit or wet and dry paper to the other side.

StepOne: Check the Running Gear & true it up

Thefirst thing to check when taking a new car from its box is that the wheels andguide blade turn freely. If either of these important parts are rubbing or catchingon another part of your car it will seriously affect not only the speed butalso the handling when on the track.

Ifthere is a problem with either of these parts we first need to track down theproblem and then remove the body from the chassis of the car to rectify it.

Withyour small, cross-headed screwdriver remove the screws holding the car together.The manufacturers generally use between two and six screws to hold acar together, so make sure you remove them all. I usually place these in a smallcontainer so as not to lose them or drop them on the floor. Note the lengthof each of the screws, as some cars have more than one length on the same model andit is essential to put them back in the right place.

Ifyou have noticed any wheel rub on the car body, now look at the axle mounting. If either theaxle or it's mounting bushes is not sitting correctly in the chassisslots provided, it may need pushing in place. Alternately, it may be that thereis too much "slop" in the axle, allowing it to move up and down, orsideways too much. Inserting small plastic "shims" as spacers betweenthe outside of the axle mount and the wheel will limit sideways movement, andthis in turn often reduces vertical movement enough to eliminate wheel rubbingon the body caused by vertical movement. TIP. Find a source of small nylon orplastic washers just slightly larger inside diameter than the axle, and cutthem with side cutters to allow them to slip over the axle. It is best NOT toremove plastic wheels from their rims, as they do not always go back on straight.In addition, Scalextric brand cars have a knurled axle end, and once the wheelhas been removed it is doubly difficult to re-seat wheels on the axle successfully.


Removethe tyres from their rims, check the rims for any signs of plastic "burrs"left behind when the wheel was injection moulded. These can be cut away witha sharp Kraft knife, or sanded off.

If you are confident, an alternate method is to use sandpaper or a sanding block,and run the engine, holding the wheel (without tyre) against the abrasive. Thishas the advantage of truing the entire rim if it has been mounted off-squareon the rim. If you choose this method, avoid excessive sanding, as you may removetoo much material and the tyre will become ill-fitting and loose. Also be carefulthat you do not accidentally "sand" the crown or spur gear at thesame time!

Oncethe rim is prepared, the tyres can be refitted. Some people like to glue tyresto hubs, preventing future slippage, and making tyre truing a permanent finalstep. Others prefer the option of being able to remove the tyres easily to replacethem, or swap for use on a different track surface. Either way, once the wheelis mounted on the rim, run the engine and sand both wheels together againstyour sanding block. Beware that you do not allow the crown or spur gear to touchthe sanding block at this stage either.

Whenyou sand, hold the car so both wheels are sanded as equally as possible. Donot "over-sand" or force the axle too hard against the sanding block.The object is just to remove high spots from the tyres so the car runs smoother,especially if you intend to use it without magnets.

Step2 Gluing

It is often helpful to glue the plastic or brass bushes which secure the axle(s)into the chassis. This prevents movement and makes the drive train more rigid.Superglue is most commonly used, but if the bond is two plastics, then you willprobably never be able to remove the bush again, so replacement of rear axlesin future is not possible. Brass bushes can usually be removed and replacedin future if you are careful.

Gluing the motor to the chassis also adds rigidity to the drive train, and makesthe car run smoother. It also prevents engines "popping" out of theirmounts after continual crashes. I find the best option is hot glue. It holdswell, but can be easily removed later with a pair of needle nose pliers withoutdamaging the components.


Step3 Lubrication


Lubricatethe axle where it enters the bushes or the axle mount. Avoid excess! Oil betweenthe bush and the chassis may cause the bush to break free if not glued, causingchassis wear and general "slop" in the drive train.

Puta tiny drop of oil where the driveshaft enters the motor. Use a light plasticsafe grease such as a Tamiya Ceramic grease on the gears.

Someguide posts are a little tight. A drop of oil on these often works wonders.If the guide has a tendency to sit off-straight, try moving the wires from thebraids in any chassis slotting so that they have equal amount of play. Thatwill usually cause the guide to "self centre" if the car doesn"thave a self centering guide system.

Braids - Most braids are long and thin when fitted, and often jammed up tight underneaththe guide. Bend them slightly downwards, so they contact the track better. Sometracks have the power strips wider than others, you may need to pull the braidsto the ends point a little sideways, so they contact the track better. I alsolike to push the end of the braids, forcing them to "splay" widerand open up a little. It is surprising how much difference this can make topower transfer.

Remount the body on the chassis. Some cars run better with the body screws backed offone half to one full turn, - experiment.

Thisis just a basic guide. There are many in depth articles on the internet which give a much more in depth and specific help on tuning cars. Once you have done these steps on a few cars it will become second nature, and justtake a few minutes.

Weparticularly recommend you consider joining a slot car forum. You can read manyhelpful articles and car reviews, ask questions of experts, and generally increaseyour appreciation of slot car racing.

Irecommend the Australian slot forum because it is close to home, the membersare in a similar market, racing environment and culture to us; and youmay get to meet other kiwi racers through it. http://www.auslot.com/forums/