Tool box essentials
Behind every successful racer is a team of mechanics and forget blaming the tools – just get the right ones. Of course you won’t have a team of mechanics or garage for that matter just a tool box when you get track-side. So in this post we explore the essential and specialist tools you may need to build, set-up, maintain and race your slot car.
We start with the most important tool – the controller. Well you won’t go far without one! Most experienced racers bring two controllers to a race night – just think about all of the energy, both electrical and physical, that goes through one. Triggers, wiper arms and wiring could all come loose in the heat of racing and being prepared with a spare is a wise move.
Essential tools include a reliable set of screw, allen or torx drivers. You will need to open and adjust slot car bodies and parts constantly in search of the perfect set-up. Different manufacturers have different grub screw sizes too so having access to a range of drivers will be key as your slot car collection grows. In addition, you will need a small set of files, or glass paper, for shaping plastic parts of the body – perhaps the wheel arches need smoothing or the chassis is rubbing against the body?
If you’re keeping up with your slot car maintenance taking care track-side will include greasing gears and oiling bearings – so don’t forget lubrication. A good tip at this point, bring a set of tweezers. Small washers and parts can be tricky to pick-up and position. Next, two very different tools – precision cutters and pinion press. Precision cutters are useful for cutting tougher plastic parts such as slot guides. This can be very useful if you fit a guide suited for a wooden track on Scalextric Sport track – you will need to reduce the guide depth to avoid grounding out. A specialist tool now, the pinion press. Says it all really and if you’re changing pinion/gear ratio it’s a must have.
We move onto tyre and braid cleaning. Much like part lubrication it is an essential aspect of slot car racing. Starting with the tyres, at the London Scalextric Club we run Urethane compounds which benefit from a de-greasing cleaner. Alternatively, if you run rubber tyres you may consider either lighter fluid or lint roller to prepare the tyre surface between races. For braid cleaning, most racers prefer to use a fibreglass tipped-pen or electrical cleaner/cotton bud.
Another essential tool is a set-up plate. Used to assess how flat the chassis is to the track and check the slot car ride height. When paired with calipers/ruler every millimetre can be measured to ensure axle and tyre widths comply with the racing category rules. Don’t forget your various coloured electrical tape! It’s used to help identify what lane your slot car is racing in.
Two often forgotten tools now. Firstly, pen and paper – trust us when we say it helps. You will want to keep track of what works and more often what doesn’t. Also, if you’re like me, you might want to record lap times to see what marginal gains have been made – if any. Secondly, glue – it’s not a sticking point but you may need this for a whole host of reasons… mainly track-side repairs. Don’t get too attached to front and rear wings as they often suffer whether you’re a beginner exploring the limits of the track or more experienced racer fighting too closely at the front.
Finally, perhaps more specialist tools now. We start with the soldering iron – if you’re planning to change the motor that comes with the slot car then you’ll need this to solder wires onto the new one. Some racers may also fit lighting or digital chips to their cars and this comes in handy once again. Power supplies and tyre truer’s also provide racers an opportunity to refine their slot cars away from the track especially – whether preparing tyre surfaces or running-in motors. Lastly, a multi-tool or hacksaw. Not for the beginner it must be said – but great for converting slot cars or cutting the chassis to fit various motor pods.
All the gear and no idea? Well hopefully not now. The hardest part is finding a tool box to fit it all in!