Monday, 18 January 2016

Making a spectacle of themselves

Some more colourful figures from Andy's painting bench...

Spot the truant...

Sunday, 17 January 2016

Hairpin improvement

One of the pair of hairpins that form the climb up to the back of the track has always been problematic.  Firstly, the track rails seem to get pinched and so some of the cars would get stuck going round, and secondly, the side swipe would cause more accidents than in the Michelin hairpin because it was mostly hidden behind the pit building.

I've belatedly realised that Radius 1 turns are available that don't squeeze the lanes together.  I had to buy four 45 degree turns to make the whole 180 degree hairpin (see on the right of the photo below).

I've left the original tight hairpin at the top of the slope by the Michelin Man so we'll see over the coming weeks which is the most suitable.

Friday, 8 January 2016

Brooklands-inspired pit buildings and control tower

Over Christmas, I finished the other buildings for Andy to complement the Goodwood Pits I made him in November.  Sticking with the 1930s theme of Andy's track, this time I also looked to Brooklands for inspiration - from the pitlane garages with spectators above like this...

...and this one at Goodwood...

But for the control tower, the inspiration came from the central block of the old aero control tower at Brooklands...

A combination of foamboard, mounting board, clear plastic for windows, and lots of logos and textures printed on to adhesive paper, plus quite a few hours, finally produced this:

It's really three buildings so the two pit buildings could be placed together with the control tower elsewhere on the layout.  (Note that it's only temporarily on my track for the photos).

Here's a close-up of the control tower, with the style of doors and clock taken from the Brooklands building:

The roof lifts off so that figures can be placed inside...

...and then the second floor lifts off to do the same on the first floor...

Finally, here's a view of the rear of the building with the stairs for the spectators to reach the roof:

Soon to be installed on Andy's track, this is a Limited Edition of One!

Before putting my own pit building back, I replaced the old red cardboard garage doors with silver-painted corrugated plastic, and sprayed the grey Jersey-wall concrete barriers alternately red and white.  So it's gone from this: this:

Sunday, 3 January 2016

Yet another camera car

Extending my collection of cars used in filming famous motorsport movies, here is the second camera car used in Steve McQueen's Le Mans - a Porsche 908 Flunder in special packaging.

This car was Steve McQueen's personal Porsche 908/01 Spyder (chassis 908-022) in which he had achieved second place in the Sebring 12 hour race in 1970.  For filming at Le Mans later that year, the car was converted into a camera carrier and was equipped with three cameras, one in front and two at the back above the gearbox.

Here's the real car filming at Le Mans:

About time I watched the film again!

There is only one more slot car representation of a camera car that I'm aware of.  I've got my eye on it...

Saturday, 26 December 2015

Insert coin

In Malta a couple of months ago, I came across some wooden fridge magnets in the shape of the classic British phone box.  They had an opening door, a metal phone inside and were just the right scale for Scalextric.  I bought three and, since they were unpainted, the first thing I did was spray them with grey primer.

They were then sprayed gloss red, the handles painted silver and stickers added for the crown and Telephone sign.  Here's the finished product with a vintage policeman I recently found on eBay.

Sunday, 29 November 2015

Goodwood Pits

Andy has added a routed pit complex to his 1930s digital layout and I offered to make him some buildings for Christmas.  The first of these is inspired by the early Goodwood pit structures, as in this image of Jack Dunfee and Woolf Barnato at Brooklands in 1929:

Raw materials were lengths of 5mm square spruce, some corrugated plastic sheets and a piece of metal wire sheet.

I made up frames for the pit structure and an accompanying paddock:

The frames were sprayed white and then fitted with roofs painted a mid-green.  I made up some vintage adverts to fix to the metal fencing.

They made it on to Andy's layout in time for a big digital race meeting yesterday.

Saturday, 19 September 2015


Andy and I were messing around with the Nissan 350Z drift cars a couple of weeks ago.  The cars have 360 degree rotation in the guides so they can spin round and drive in the opposite direction.  We were enjoying the challenge of approaching familiar corners from an unfamiliar direction, when we had a light bulb moment - why not wire up the track so we can switch direction and race the other way?

It's six years (to the week) since I started this project, and I don't know why that hadn't occurred to me earlier.  So I ordered a couple of heavy duty double pole switches and wired them so I could select the polarity of the power going to each track.  I fitted them to the wiring board under the table.

The various electrical projects have grown over time and this is now looking rather unkempt.  But then again, it's behind the curtain so can't usually be seen, so it's a low priority.  However, I have done some rewiring where a connection was a bit dodgy - I spliced the wires from the start lights into an Ethernet socket, and then wired a plug from the Phidget board, so that connection is now reliable.

I've set up a Highwood Reverse circuit in Ultimate Racer, my race management software, so we'll start creating a new set of lap times and data separate from the original clockwise circuit.  This will give a new lease of life to the layout.