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Tuning "Don'ts" for Newbies

2021 Embarrassingly, Looking back to myself as a newbie slotter in 2016 

When I started slotting, I approached it in the same way I deal with any challenge.
A key component is not to repeat the same mistakes so blogging my race nights was used to give me the discipline to log car setups and results so that ongoing improvement would become part of the process. 

The blog became a weekly entry  on another slot chat forum but in January 2020, all of the gallery pictures became unavailable due to a software failure. The  blog entries then became inaccessible (and still are) 

Looking back at the first entry  (below) of my first eleven race nights, it's awkward to admit that I was completely clueless. 
Some of the  cars didn't even run and NONE of them were competitive. 

The big thing that jumps out at me is that I was trying too hard to do multiple upgrades on cars, none of which brought performance improvement, some of which were completely counter productive. 

An example is the NSR gt40 in race1. 
I retrofitted a ninco guide because I assumed that it was the right guide for ninco track and was convinced that a deeper guide would bring performance improvement.
The guide was too tight in the guide hole and did not even turn smoothly, certainly did not self centre.   :angry:

A second example is race 7 where I had retrofitted NSR gearing into the Spirit pug.
The gears did not fit properly, did not run smoothly and did not mesh correctly.
The factory fitted gears were perfectly adequate for a newbie  and I should have left them alone.  :banghead:

The lesson to any newbies out there is that quality scale-scuderias like NSR provide cars with components that will work well in unison. Just check the car over and run it until you build the necessary experience to begin modifying your cars. 

For a newbie, it is a simple and reasonable assumption that all model manufacturers would make 1/32 cars with identical component specifications. Simple, yes, but wrong! 

Components from differrent manufacturers are (more often than not) incompatible.
Mixing and matching components from different scuderias is inviting problems and is really not something a newbie should be attempting before even giving the cars a test run. 

You may think that others are faster because they have better components in their  cars, but that is not the major factor. 
"Diligent preparation" and "good driving skills" ARE the main factors. 

So, read below and laugh, just AS I did when reviewing  this old blog entry.  :rofl:


Background : Newbie Slotter at a well established NINCO 6 lane track
This Weblog is just to give me the discipline to record my learnings month by month and to remember to apply them 

I knew this was going to be a tough challenge but this is much harder than I expected 
SIX classes means at least six different cars (plus club-cars)
At first I did not realise that six classes meant 6 completely different cars. 
Somehow I expected that different classes would be different bodies on the same chassis... Such is the lot of the hard-body Slotter. It is very hard to take learnings from one week and translate them into gains the week after in a different class, Especially when the classes cover all 3 motor layouts (I/L, Side and Angle) and a rainbow of permitted post-factory mods 
(from "100% factory" to "multiple upgrades permitted")  

Dates are "week of the..."  

1. 21st March 2016 : Classic GT . NSR Ford GT40 Car completely unworkable and de-stotted at every corner 
"worst prepped car I've ever seen". That comment will take some living down...
Lesson #1 use the Slot.IT E1 & Z1 tyre combination as a base case. know how to check a chassis is not bent and learn how to correct if it is. Know how to elevate the front axle (using the top&Bottom set screws) to the right height.  

2. 28th March 2016 : Touring car class. Spirit Peugeot. Car completely unworkable. Dead on the line. No amount of soldering and messing about on the night got it running properly.
Lesson #2 Test the basics at home first!  

3. 4th April 2016 : NGT class. Ninco Lightning Ford GT Medley. Ran reasonably but was no great performer
Dropped a set screw from the gear causing a DNF. Not all set screws are the same. Only NSR are 1.3 all others are 0.9. Get some tools! 
Lesson #3: Strip and PREP every car from scratch. Things will run "out of the box" but nothing is competitive out of the box and you cannot trust that everything is even tightened up properly 

4. 18th April 2016 : Group 5. Racer Sideways JPS Special BMW M1 Schnitzer
Ran every race and finished every race. (albeit last every time) 
(Lesson 3 reaffirmed) A well prepped car does not have to be opened and worked during race night  

5. 9th May : Formula 1. All-Slot-Car Generic F1 in Black Lotus livery 
Ran every race and finished every race. (last every time) 
Lesson #4: you cannot translate tyre learnings from low profile classes into F1. ASC (Factory) Tyres are just not grippy enough
Look at available upgrades for this car. 

6. 16th May Classic GT (again) NSR GT40 Second time to run 
Ran every race and finished every race. (last every time)
Lesson #5 : Everyone using similar motors so how come others have so much more "punch" ? 
Part of the answer is Power to weight ratio. Put this car on a DIET!  

7. 23rd May : Touring Car : Spirit Peugeot (second time to run) Partial retrofit with NSR wheels and SLOT.IT tyres 
Ran every race and finished every race. (last every time)
Ran well but not competitive. See "lesson 5" and apply to this and all other cars where he rules permit 

8. 20th June : Group 5 : Sideways BMW M1 (second time out) 
Running well until 2 minutes into the first race full speed impact into a de-slotted car on the tunnel exit. 
Chassis destroyed. Rear wing destroyed. Borrowed a car (Sideways Capri) for the rest of the night and learned the hard way what a well prepped car felt like to drive (Clearly mine are NOT well set up)  

9. 27th June : Club Cars (club supplied NSR ASV 100%Factory) 
At last, a level playing field! Guess what? The top guys are still the fastest even with club supplied cars. (and I'm still at the bottom)
Personal lap record of 9.68 seconds. Clearly I need to get my own cars up to this standard and my driving up to sub 9.5 lap after lap
Lesson #6. Get the "100%Throttle, Brake, Corner-Cruise and back to 100%Throttle" cycle to be completely muscle memory
Watch others and how they use the throttle during a race. Speed is not just in the car it's in the fingers 

10. 4th July : Sport GT : NSR Mosler Gravity (first time out)
Was soooo looking forward to this class. The car had been testing well in practice for the previous 6 sessions and looked and felt great. 
On the night it was the same wonderful, predictable, smooth car and I still finished LAST over all. What the farfallonious! ! (I want to put this down to my broken collar bone, but I know that the result would be the same, even without the shoulder problems) 
Car stalled once on the line once and I put this down a throttle failure (something was rattling in there for sure) 
Lesson 5 is re-impressed. create a lightweight NSR Mosler with the 25K king angle winder 
Lesson 6 prep your throttles as you prep your cars. Consider the move from 45 to 35 Ohm now.  

11. 11th July : F1 : AllSlotCar formula 1 (Black Lotus livery) second time out for this car
Not last in every race but that was only due to other's failing cars 
Right Rear tyre Popped off! TWICE!! under braking at the end of the main straight! 
Lesson #7 : If you are using oils to soften the tyres, glue the tyres on! 
Lesson #8 : F1 is CARNAGE. "Success" at F1 night is "getting home without massive car damage". 
Superglue and spare body shells are the order of the day. GET SOME
Lesson #9 Remember to "look ahead" not just right at your car, especially on the high speed sectors  

So... Eleven meetings done and still right at the back of the field but improving. 
On a good night can finish some races on the same lap as the leaders 
Made the change to 35 Ohm in one of the DS controllers and will test this week. 
Interestingly, during the upgrade, I found that "full throttle" is not Zero Ohms on the meter ! 
This might explain why some controllers I see at the club are wired up like something from Ghost-busters 
[+] 8 members Like Nonfractal's post

While you are using a resistor controller make sure you keep the resistor & wiper clean, full power SHOULD be zero ohms, dirt will create a resistance.
[+] 2 members Like Qman's post

Ask others, hopefully some of the quick guys to try your car and controlller, what issues do they find. Maybe they can also help tweak the car.

Hmmm, a recognise a few things in there. I came last in all my first races in December 2019 and there hasn't been a club night heavy is that on my shoulders! 

I like the fact that 'must get some tools' come after the third attempt at tuning.

Whist there does seem to be a recognised set of dos and don'ts with tuning, I think there is still a place for experimental thinking and the re-evaluation of old ideas.

I love puttering with gears

That's a brilliant diary Alan! And eight good lessons too Thumbup 

When I look back to my first club racing experiences - simultaneously at a BSCRA club and an HO weekend series - I was lucky to have really helpful new clubmates who reminded me "Don't forget to have fun".

Although having fun was my priority, I also wanted to do well. At the BSCRA club, the guy who invited me loaned my his previous year's car - nicely set up and easy to drive - and his spare entry-level SCD transistor controller, also nicely maintained. I didn't come last and got lots of encouragement that my scores and lack of offs were impressive for a newbie. However, I also was reminded that the front runners had been running on the same club track for over a decade and were sinking up to £2-3,000 a year into their cars. That was a reality check about where I could expect to be running until I'd completely mastered the track and found that sort of racing budget. I did stay and persevere for a while, but ended up focusing on HO, which suited me much better at the time.


The HO series was equally friendly and helpful. I turned up to me first race at Pinewood Raceway with two cars that I enjoyed running at home. I was gently told (and brutally discovered on track) that they weren't competitive. Instead I was told what to get, the tyres to use and some simple preparation tips. It turned out I already had the cars (one had cost me £8, the other £12.50!), so spent £5 on spares in the club shop and another £20 on a Parma Eco 45 ohm controller. I did much better at the second event in Kings Lynn, qualifying in the middle of the F1 race (everyone took part in that one) and briefly led the Nascar A final. It was a different track at each event, so that was a bit of a leveler. And I could be competitive on a realistic budget.

Having the right cars gave me confidence to concentrate on my driving. Although we all blame our tools sometimes, starting out in club racing should really be all about learning to drive the track and then some race craft. As Alan said, "Diligent preparation and good driving skills ARE the main factors".


I stuck with HO and gradually developed those two cars, initially with help and encouragement from more experienced racers and then - as I gained in confidence - on my own. Podiums, race wins and championships followed. Those two cars have both remained competitive and the Nascar helped me to the WHO club championship in 2013 and 2019. I've also had a lot of fun building and developing other cars - some of them quite eccentric choices requiring a huge amount of work to get anywhere near competitive. That might suggest "don't always choose cars the front-runners are using".

I think for any beginner at any club and any scale, Alan's diary is well worth reading and his lessons are spot-on. From a club perspective - good friendly advice, plenty of genuine encouragement and the carrot of a 'rookie of the year' award all certainly help. Rookie of the year winners get a taste for winning...


It's also true that occasional 'handicap' or 'seeded' team races give newbies the experience of racing alongside more experienced club racers, getting some great coaching and have the chance of winning. It's something we enjoy at WHO and one of my top slot car  moments was winning the Easter team race at the Roedale BSCRA club - although our handicap was perhaps a little generous!

Here's looking forward to the return of club racing and - hopefully - plenty of new people visiting their local clubs for the first time.
[+] 4 members Like woodcote's post

Excellent stuff Alan. When I started club racing in 2003 I faced a similar steep learning curve and was unable to understand why my cars were so slow no matter how I prepped them. I was convinced that the top racers had some secret formula which made their cars so much better. Then, one night the club champion tried out my car and promptly proceeded to circulate some 1.5 seconds a lap faster with it than I had ever managed! A lesson learnt and I have never blamed my cars for a poor performance since.
[+] 1 member Likes CMOTD's post

I'd laugh at some of the things Alan wrote in his history lesson .... except I have been guilty of many of the same, and about a 3 page post of others besides ........

I must say, the best cure is time, who is an excellent teacher, provides we remember her cruel lessons in "how not to succeed"
The second best teacher is the mutt that just kicked your backside.......

And remember, plagurization is copying the work of another person.
Research is copying the work of at least two people. Wrench
[+] 4 members Like slotloco's post

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