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Pre-Manufactured Slot Car Track Retaining Walls
Much has been written about the compatibility of different brands and types of track cars that other brands and types of track work on. For example, it is known that almost any analog car can work well on a Carrera analog track because Carrera has the widest and deepest slot of any of the major manufacturers. Conversely, many Carrera cars won’t work well on many other brands of track, or at all, because the track is too wide or deep to fit in something like a Scalextric track. While articles have been written about the compatibility of cars, little has been written about retaining walls or barriers. This study will take an in-depth look at tracks, retaining walls, and obstacles from Carrera, Ninco, and Scalextric, and also show how well they do, or don’t, work in mixing brands.
First, let’s start with Scalextric tracks and obstacles, as they are probably the most commonly used brand of commercially available track systems. Scalextric makes a very nice barrier, made of a soft and flexible plastic that holds its shape well, and can absorb the effects of car crashes without physical damage. These barriers can be attached to the Scalextric Sport track in several ways – with small black clips that attach directly to the bottom of the track, or they can be inserted into the grooves and channels on the accessory arm pieces specifically for these barriers. While the barriers fit well and firmly into the black clips, the clips do not attach to the track rigidly without the use of adhesives or other means of attaching them in a more permanent fashion. Also with a heavy impact, it can block, or sometimes even dislocate the entire part of the shoulder. The barriers are aesthetically pleasing, and they do little damage to the cars while slowing or stopping them. However, they often need to be put back in place after events.
Carrera at one time offered two types of fenders – one was a soft, flexible rubber that slid into the grooves and attached to the track, and was available in black or red. These are no longer manufactured. Carrera’s current barrier system consists of a red and white 3 mil PVC “sand” piece that fits into rigid vinyl strips attached to the bottom of the track. The red and white stripe matches the shape found on the curb and shoulder sections of the Carrera track, and looks appropriate on sharp turns, though much less so on straight sections where a barrier might be warranted, such as a bridge. it seems Also, PVC has a tendency to become brittle over time, and will crack and break with repeated impacts. It also has very little reliability, and will pick up paint from oncoming cars. This tends to add a realistic look to the obstacle, but the car will show signs of wear. This system also remains routed through heavy impacts. PVC strips can also be easily cut to custom lengths, and a single piece can be as long as 4 feet, allowing for a consistent look and feel over a long run. It is also very easy to create your own custom barrier walls by printing directly onto PVC sheets and cutting it into strips of the correct height. This can allow the creation of ads in a more realistic and sustainable way.
Although not as widespread as Carrera and Scalextric, Ninco makes outstanding track and obstacle products that are almost universally accepted as the best mass-produced systems. The track has almost the same width and depth as the Carrera, while having the flexibility and aesthetics of the Scalextric. The obstacles include low walls, walls that overlook rocks, and even a wall with high fences. The Ninco fenders are of the same material as the Scalextric ones, and hold the impact without the “commercial paint”.
Now, suppose you have one brand of road, but you want to use another brand for a wall or barrier. Fortunately, this compatibility problem is not as complicated or difficult as it is with cars. The height of the Carrera PVC fenders is exactly the same height between the top and bottom edges of the Scalextric fenders, and it is very easy to remove the Carrera fenders and replace them with Scalextric fenders. The Carrera mounting system on the Carrera track is very secure, and the pegs stay in place or better using the Carrera clubs on the Carrera track as they use the Scalextric keys on the Scalextric track. Length may be a bit of an issue, but the material is easily cut with a utility knife. Unfortunately, if you want to use Carrera’s “candy soul” on a Scalextric track, the only way to fix it is with adhesive, which is where the Carrera rods slide over the Scalextric guardrails. Hot glue works well for this, and can be easily removed.
Ninco barriers and walls are a one-piece system, with the brackets being part of the wall or part of the barrier. These are easily connected not only to the Ninco track, but also Carrera and Scalextric. In fact, Ninco’s products seem to lead even more in the Scalextric direction than their native footprint. On the Carrera track, the track height is slightly longer than the space between the top and bottom of the Ninco clips. However, it can be made to trim the edge of the Carrera track very slightly, almost randomly on the bottom. Again, Carrera’s sleek cane can be attached to Ninco’s fenders using adhesives.
Photos of these various combinations, adaptations and creations can be found on our website, http://www.races2u.com/photos/tracks.
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