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Beyond Beyond the Loft Hatch

Hello! Some of you might have been following Beyond the Loft Hatch. So, here's what I'm up to at the moment beyond the Loft Hatch. 
A fresh start, hopefully!

Dull grey boards, I always felt they looked a bit too industrial. I'd like to have a scenic track but not massively detailed as I don't have the time or inclination, as much as I love seeing other peoples work. Maybe something a bit simpler and more abstract. We'll see!

Stuff piled into boxes:

Cars being underused:

First coat, maybe a bit bright though!

A bit darker around the edges, 

Then a mixture of the two greens

And left a bit rough around the edges so it doesn't look too fake.

More to follow...
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Definitely looks better with the second green on top. Thumbup

It’s time to pick this thread up again and fill in the last couple of years. Which won’t take too long as not much has happened. 

I’ve still being buying slot cars, just haven’t had a track set up since I took the last one down.
As a reminder, here's the old track before I took it down, from left to right:




Here's the track I made for an event in a local hall, the reason why I took the old track down:

[Image: post-9564-0-60346700-1512644733.jpg]

[Image: post-9564-0-54775200-1512644742.jpg]

[Image: post-9564-0-54455200-1512644756.jpg]

And here's where to read about my previous exploits Beyond the Loft Hatch

I’ve been going through my cars and trying to streamline the collection a bit… basically looking at every car and deciding whether I love it enough to keep it or whether it can go to make room for one I might want more. The one-in-one-out has been working well for the last few years, helping to focus on what new cars I really want to own and which I’m not so fussed about and keeping the collection under control. 

I was doing some digital club racing for a few years and although it was brilliant fun I found I was buying multiple cars to fit into classes we raced rather than buying cars I really wanted to own and run. 

I’ve accepted I have no interest in NSR, Scaleauto, Racer Sideways type cars, nor slot versions of real life GT3 or GT4 cars. I don’t really follow real life motor racing, certainly not the big name stuff so F1, Nascar, LeMans etc cars don’t interest me at all. I’d like to be racing cars I can relate to and get excited about Rallying and rallycross and maybe BTCC floats my boat, especially the older super tourers and Group B rally stuff. I suppose that's because of the age I am, and because 70s and 80s cars were the best cars. Give me a Scalextric MG Maestro or Metro, a Revell NSU TT or some Pioneer American Muscle to throw around the track and I’m happy. So that’s the sort of thing I’ll be sticking to from now on… the fun/hobby end of the market, and buying more older cars rather than trying to keep up with new releases. Basically getting back to what I originally got into it slots for. 

I’m not of the view that club racing is the ultimate form of the slot car hobby. I’m also, from experience, not of the view that digital is better/more fun than analogue. I think any fun benefit over analogue is made marginal by the temperamentally of it and the problems /complexity of the systems, hardware and software needed. Having had a decade or two now to find its feet I believe digital hasn’t delivered on its promise… it’s too expensive, too unreliable, too much agro for the small number of times that it is way more fun than analogue. Track flippers that move when racing analogue so the guide hits them and damages the car… run away cars that get damaged through no fault of my own, other than being an early adopter and buying early faulty chips so I have to investigate which rev all my my chips are and sell them all off to replace them with ones that work from the factory. DPR Scalextric cars bought with internal wiring not long enough to be able to connect/disconnect a DPR chip to without damaging the car…Scalextric powerbases that won’t count every lap that every car does, therefore ruining races. 

Just a few examples amongst many, a shame really because digital promised so much. It has very little to offer the casual slotter who has spent good money on high tech stuff and just wants things to work 100% of the time. 
I feel I’ve wasted lots of time soldering chips into cars and had to ruin them by cutting bits out to get the chip to fit. I’m not a natural at electronics, I’ve no interest in working out what a ferret man is or does, just want to run some fun laps. 
So I’m going with an analogue track, at least to start with, but still using my APB as I love the lap timing and pace car options. This track is going to be for my own self indulgent enjoyment, any race evening hosting will be secondary. But that might change. Anyway, this isn’t an anti-digital rant, it’s an explanation of where I’d got to with the hobby, why I was feeling a bit despondent and where I plan to go with this track. 
I’m not after a fast circuit, as I would like to make each lap slower and more technical so I have one fun 10 second lap rather than 2 fast 5 second laps. I’ll still be racing for the same amount of time so speed doesn’t matter so much. 

The base board is the same as before, but it’s been painted green as posted in 2019 above. Yes, a slow start! I might do a bit of limited scenery as mentioned before, but it won’t be much. I’m going to start simple with the track and let it develop through use, rather like I did before. Just less ambitious. The hill climb loop that never really ended up working is still in position so I might add that to the track, or I might rebuild it so it works a bit better. But I won’t do anything for now, just aim to get a simple fun circuit that runs well. I came up with this one, small, but perfect for one end of my base board around the loft hatch:


I thought I’d have a fiddle with a track designer app to see if I could get it to fit into my board dimensions but on a Mac there’s not much available. I had a go with Railmodeller express and it was nice and easy to use but the free version limited the track to 50 elements so could only do a basic track. I managed a version of the doodle above and I had a go at another more elaborate track I’d like to try:



Before I tried to find all the bits to make these tracks I built up a simple track with whatever pieces came to hand from the boxes on the top of the pile, just to have something up for a bit of fun. I’m using one end of the track surface that goes around the loft hatch, so it’s a smaller track, at least for the time being. After not using the APB for the best part of a year, I couldn’t even get it to start up in the right mode or change it from digital to analogue without having to dig through several boxes of slot stuff to find the manual and have to read it through. Again, another element of digital slot racing that’s a big turn off. My PS4 doesn’t need a forum-user generated manual before I can work out how to get it to play games. Slot car system manufacturers have a lot to learn about accessibility and user interaction. Oops, moaning again! 

Here’s what I came up with, back in early 2020:





This track stayed up for a while but didn’t get much use. The track was temperamental and the cars didn’t run well, which sort of put me off for a bit. Also despite National Lockdown v1 kicking in, which you might think would have been great for slot car hobby time, COD Warzone got released on PS4 which ended up taking up a lot of my spare time during 2020.
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I had a fiddle with one end of the track but didn’t do much else in 2020. I just couldn't get it to run well and I couldn't be bothered to take it all apart and fiddle with the connectors. So more Warzone!





Fast forward to Christmas 2020 and my son and I decided to make up a Christmas track so we could have some fun over the hols, in the absence of family coming to stay for Christmas.

We pulled up that previous track, wiped over every single track piece, fiddled with the connectors, and started again. He planned and built the left end and I did the right end and we met in the middle with the straights. I have to say it’s a fun track and it got well used over the hols.



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It's taken a couple of years to sort out my plan to make covers for the slot car table, but they're finally made and installed. My wife sewed a seam all the way around each of them and a loop along one end for the wood to fit into. 
I used a router and radiuses cutter to make some square section softwood into long round strips that got pushed into the loop in the fabric, and they are screwed into the timber along the back of the board. When lifted they're held up with some bits of wood with angles cut into them so the round bits of wood stay wedged in. There's just enough stretch in the fabric that they are held in tension. And being blue they sort of look like the sky with a bit of imagination!





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But what's underneath? 

I popped up to the loft just before bedtime the other evening because I'd been thinking about an idea for a combo of curves at the far left of the track. Before I realised, it was a couple of hours after bedtime and I had a fully formed track. Oops!







The aim is to have a hilly end with a raised loop and a bridge or small tunnel, and at the other end a more meandering curvy slow section. I'm sure there will be problems to sort once I get to have a proper play with it, but a least it's something interesting to have a play with. 
Anyway, the 'keep it small and simple' plan didn't last long!
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