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Hybrid DIY Test Track

Discussion in 'General Pinewood Derby Discussion' started by flockshot, May 28, 2019.

  1. flockshot

    flockshot Pinewood Ninja

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    I am making a 3/4 inch thick plywood test track with aluminum center rails.

    The aluminum that I have is extruded storage rack support bars cut down to 1/4 inch tall. There is a 'finish' of sorts on the aluminum and I think it could be an anodized treatment.

    My concern is, that the finish on the aluminum surface may be somewhat abrasive and act like a 'brake' to slow down the car. On the other hand, If I sand the finish off and get down to the raw aluminum and then wish I had the finish back it will be too late. Perhaps waxing the rail would be a better alternative.

    Perhaps someone with experience can help me decide on the right way to proceed.
     
  2. CFD Engineer

    CFD Engineer Pack Champion

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    No experience here, but you could just do a small little test piece first to see how it goes, and what grades of sandpaper you would use.
    The besttrack is not anodized, so you don't need anodizing, bare aluminum should be fine. I'm guessing you may have to do some sanding at the joints to get them really smooth anyways?
    You want the track to be very similar to besttrack I'm guessing? In that case bare aluminum would match, not waxed anodized aluminum, which I doubt would end up coming out too nice.
    In any case, report back, I've also been thinking about making a test track as well out of some aluminum pieces attached to some sort of wood frame. My conclusion though has been that I want all surfaces the wheel touches to be aluminum, not just the center rail, and that the smoothness of the flat surface would be just as important, if not more, than the center rail.
     
  3. Jimmy & his 2 Kids

    Jimmy & his 2 Kids National Contender

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    Check this out guys... though not aluminum...

    http://www.waynesthisandthat.com/pinewoodderbytrack

    I was tempted. But having a hard time finding the actual vinyl covered tempered hardboard but I’m sure it’s out there. Just a cheap option. I still might hold out till I can afford the single lane test track from BT. And use that with home built timer.
     
  4. flockshot

    flockshot Pinewood Ninja

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    I found that the disc sander almost immediately removes the coating on the aluminum, but leaves vertical grind marks. The belt sander with a worn out, fine grit belt is just right for removing the anodizing at a predictable rate, leaving a smooth surface with light scratches to deal with.
    Parts of a material storage rack system, 4 book shelves, a hang glider, and a 1964 Chris Craft, along with a sheet of 3/4 inch Birch plywood have been consumed by this project. I promise that it looks better than it sounds.
    My grandsons are going to have a ball with this (and probably will have several more pinewood trophies). Time will tell.
     
  5. flockshot

    flockshot Pinewood Ninja

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    I saw that one and I was tempted, but decided on something a little beefier.
     
  6. Peregrine Racing

    Peregrine Racing Pinewood Ninja

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    This we gotta see...how about some pictures!
     
  7. flockshot

    flockshot Pinewood Ninja

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    I will learn how to do that. I know that others have been instructed on how to post pictures so I will look it up.
     
  8. flockshot

    flockshot Pinewood Ninja

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    IMG_0836.JPG IMG_0837.JPG IMG_0838.JPG The brown tubing and the lane center rails are from a rack storage system, the wood sides of the transition and the transition approach are from book shelves, the bent plywood ramp is two layers of 1/4 inch plywood out of the salon of my old Chris Craft and the aluminum 'sleeves' over the legs are from a ultralight airplane and are used to level each leg individually.
     
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  9. Peregrine Racing

    Peregrine Racing Pinewood Ninja

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    I’d agree, it looks much better than it sounded. Great work so far.
     
  10. flockshot

    flockshot Pinewood Ninja

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    I completed the track. It is 42 feet long and the grandkids will see it soon.

    [​IMG][/URL][/IMG]
    [​IMG][/URL][/IMG]
    [​IMG][/URL][/IMG]
    [​IMG][/URL][/IMG]
    [​IMG][/URL][/IMG]
     
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  11. flockshot

    flockshot Pinewood Ninja

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    [​IMG][​IMG][/URL][/IMG]
     
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  12. flockshot

    flockshot Pinewood Ninja

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  13. Jimmy & his 2 Kids

    Jimmy & his 2 Kids National Contender

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    Very nice! I can’t wait to see this thing in action. Question, and you may have already said... did you do anything to treat the surface of the wood?

    Great job man.
    Jimmy
     
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  14. flockshot

    flockshot Pinewood Ninja

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    Polyunethane. Four coats sanded to 400 between each coat. Smooth as silk.
    I have not 'fine tuned' all the joints. There are 5 wood joints and 6 rail joints, but the cars are running smoothly so far.
    A family member is working on a timer for at least one lane.
     
  15. flockshot

    flockshot Pinewood Ninja

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    Just an update on the aluminum. I used 360 grit emery cloth on an 18 inch long sanding block to remove the finish on the contact areas only. I then used 400 grit by hand to polish the raw aluminum smooth and to slightly round the upper corner of the center rail. I am confident that my DFW will be riding on raw aluminum only.
     
  16. CFD Engineer

    CFD Engineer Pack Champion

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    That track looks very nice! Turned out well, good job!
    Thanks for sharing the experience. Nice smooth polyurethane finished wood, with an aluminum center rail sounds like a very good way to do it. I may copy you.
     
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  17. flockshot

    flockshot Pinewood Ninja

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    If you do build something similar, and have any questions, I will be happy to help.
     
  18. Carl ODay

    Carl ODay Hammering Axles

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    Not all Home Depots have the vinyl coated board. Two of my local stores do - the real problem is finding a few sheets that are completely flat. Locally they are stored on racks with supports about every 3 feet, so every sheet is warped. I also found out (the hard way) that if left in the sun the vinyl will curl the wood making it unsuitable for a track.
     

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