Monday, 15 July 2013

HOW-TO: Rally Scenery Track Piece

ManicSlot's Rally Slot Car Scenery
Don't have the space for a permanent layout? No problem.

Before I had the space required to build my own permanent layout I used to take-over the lounge room (moving the dining table and lounge chairs much to my wife's annoyance) setting up temporary tracks for the weekend or even for a night of slotting.  You could say I had permanent track and in particular, track scenery envy - most of us have been there.

After a year or so and after I had built a small diorama piece (mainly for photography) I decided to get a bit more adventurous with size and complexity.  The concept was to have some small pieces (1.5x0.75 metres) of track scenery that I could incorporate into my temporary layouts.  The pieces needed to be small enough that I could slip them under my bed or store them in a cupboard, etc.

I purchased a piece of MDF (8-10mm thick so it didn't warp) and started configuring track pieces.  The objective was to make a series of curves and straights that were interesting to drive through.  I decided to cut some of my track pieces down the centre to make single lane pieces.  My goal was to make 2 separate routes through this particular piece of scenery; one across a bridge and the other through the rocky river.

Next came the introduction of a little track elevation, using flat slabs of poly-styrofoam (I got this for free from my local supermarket boxing waste bins - they use styrofoam for transporting fruit) and craft glue I built up the tracks elevation by approximately15mm at a time.  You can use plaster sheeting if you can't get access to foam, using plaster sheeting is outlined in the below 'Creating Slot Car Scenery' how-to.

IMPORTANT NOTE: Don't be too ambitious with adding elevation  remember that the scenery piece has to connect into your temporary layout at each end so it therefore needs to be a little flat at each end.

You then need to use a serrated bread cutting knife to shape the slabs of foam creating even grades and flat surfaces for your track pieces to sit on.  Use large irregular block pieces of foam to form hills and mounded features either side of the track, be sure to cut the foam pieces into approximate shapes that look natural.  The above and below photos shows how the foam can be cut to the shape of your track design.  Think of it like Lego, just add pieces until you are happy with the overall look of the hills, etc.

TIP: If you're have difficulty deciding what to construct, then look up some famous WFC rally tracks on the net for inspiration.
In the above and below photos you'll notice I completely removed all plastic from the track section as I want the track to go through a river bed of rocks and the black plastic would be unrealistic.  Be careful not to bend the metal rails as you remove the plastic, a shape knife is helpful here but obviously exercise care - you're going to need all your fingers to slot car later.

The above and below photos shows the start of the bridge construction, I have basically swapped the black plastic for 2 pieces of balsa wood which have been scored to make them look like the planks of a bridge, scoring can be done with the sharp end of a nail.  The 2 pieces of balsa wood have been attached to the foam (long pins and craft glue) to ensure they are stable when slots run across the bridge.  If you are building a bridge like this one its a good idea to regularly test your construction by running a slot over it a number of times.

Once you have terraformed your track piece (and the slot car track plastic pieces sit comfortable across it), be sure to test it well.  Make sure the slots can actually run across it and you have good electrical connectivity.  Using craft glue, attach your track pieces to the terraformed foam.

In the below photos you can see the continued bridge construction, using more balsa wood (I love the stuff) you can build any design that takes your fancy.  I use sowing pins and craft glue to put the pieces together and give the structure some structural strength.  You can also see the thin sheet of foam I places in the river bed, this will be slightly melted to shape later using heat.

Once the glue is dry you can start to add detail to your track piece to make it look more realistic.  This example is a rally piece so small and medium textured rocks, sand in river bed, dirt, etc. were used.  Again using craft glue, attach these items to the foam.  I used small smooth pebbles to represent my river boulders,  they are the same small pebbles used in fish tanks and easy to source.

I also used these small pebbles (combined with sand) to create the river crossing, again be sure your slots can actually get across any custom surface you are creating.  My rally cars are mainly FlySlot without the suspension or drop-arm guides that can be found on Ninco Raid vehicles, etc. so I had to appropriately design my track piece.
When you are applying a large amount of detail to your track (like the hundreds of pebbles in my case) it can be easier to apply the detail first and then pour some craft glue over the top.  Remember that craft glue dries clear so you don't have to be worried about seeing it afterwards.

You can see i used a combination of small pebbles and sand in the below photos, note how I have chosen flat pebbles for the creek crossing (where the slot is).  Even using these flatter pebbles the crossing was a challenge!


Before you start painting there is a bit of a trick you can use to add detail to the foam surface but unfortunately this step is for ADULTS ONLY. By applying heat you can stress and melt the surface of the foam which once painted looks quite realistic. Do not apply too much heat to the foam or it may catch on fire and be damaged.  Just apply a small amount of heat (not to close to the foam) till you have the desired look you're after. Best to do this in an outside area so you have plenty of fresh air.

In the below photo you can see how the foam has been stressed/melted making it look more like rock or stone.  Also note the painted track, a simple step that adds to the overall look of your scenery.

The final stage is to apply paint to cover up all the pieces of terraformed foam and give the track a realistic appearance.  Be sure to have several paint colours for this stage (or blend some shades of your own by adding white or black to a base colour).

On my track piece I wanted to add some water to my river and wanted it to have that glacier light blue look, (I had been to Switzerland and was amazed by the water colour).  Anyway, I used craft glue mixed with some light blue paint.  The glue took a week to dry (only second day in the below photos) but looks pretty cool I think.  You can use purpose built stuff from several manufactures but its not cheap and the craft glue looks 70% as good in my opinion for a fraction of the cost.

In Step 3 of the above 'Creating Slot Car Scenery' how-to it details the process of layering your paints to create realism and how to accentuate feature detail by using the painting technique of 'dry brushing'.

The only thing remaining is to add some greenery, either buy some from your favorite hobby store or you can always make your own and save some of those hard earned $$$ for new slot cars.  I have a How-To for making your own trees at the below link if you're not sure of how to do it yourself.

The most important thing to remember is to have fun, making your own scenery is just another part of the hobby so enjoy yourself.

You can find some more scenery tips and photos at the following resources:

Find this useful?  You'll find more useful 'How-to' content, tips and tricks at the below link.

Display ManicSlot's How To Page


1 comment :

Mike said...

This work of yours is completely inspiring. Quality work. Thanks for sharing.