David's 1/64 Slot Car Layout
Building The 1/64 Cartierville Raceway
As a kid growing up in the early 1960's, all I looked forward to doing was playing with my Matchbox cars and spending the summer at our cottage in Val David, North of Montreal. It seemed that all I cared about at the cottage was swimming in Golden Lake and playing with those glorious little Matchbox vehicles. By the mid 1960's, the model building bug hit me, and I built just about anything, but I seemed to be more attracted to model cars. Then it happened. I read an article in a model car magazine about 1/32 scale slot cars and I was hooked. Strombecker slot cars, I just had to have one of their track layouts. What do you think I asked for, and got, at Christmas? It was a good sized set that I laid out on two sheets of plywood forming an "L" shaped table. I eventually ended up with eight different cars in my 1/32 garage. Hours, days, weeks, were spent slotting. Then it suddenly all ended with the arrival of the 1970's with high school, skiing, and of course, girls taking up all of my time. My model building also took a nose dive.
When the 1980's came, I was working as a printer making good money, and I started to build models again. This time around though, my interest was 1/35 scale WW 2 model vehicles and figures. I wanted to also get back into slot cars, but living in an apartment restricted my available space. That's when my friends and I saw some HO slot cars (actually they're closer to 1/64 scale except for T-Jets) in a hobby shop. What a discovery! They were affordable, didn't require lots of real estate for a layout, and were just as much fun to race as larger scale slot cars. That all ended as family life began, and hobbies had to take a back burner for a while as family duties took over.
When I started my online business Full Circle Hobbies, selling plastic model kits, I wanted to have some unique kits to sell that were only available from me. That's how and why I began a series of 1/72 scale military dioramas which are designed and cast by myself. Then, the slot car bug bit me once again, and I just had to figure out how to squeeze a layout into the confines of my studio / "Man Cave". While thinking about how to build the layout, I said to myself, "Where am I going to find grandstands, garages, etc.", for my layout? Wait a minute! I cast 1/72 dioramas, figures, and accessories, so why not cast some grandstands and other track structures too. So that's what I'm starting to do now, even though the layout isn't even finished. These 1/64 scale resin cast structures, figures, and also slot car bodies, are all available for purchasing on my website as of 2015. Stay tuned for more slot car products! Before I begin about how the layout was constructed, I'd like to tell you how the name of it came to be.
Cartierville is a suburb of Montreal, and I grew up there. Cartierville Airport wasn't very far away, and at the time was owned by Canadair, which became the aircraft division of Canada Vickers in 1944. They built all kinds of different aircraft at one time or another, including PBY (Canso) flying boats during WW 2. The airport was built in 1911 on property owned by the Montreal Polo Grounds, and was the oldest airport in Canada until Bombardier bought and redeveloped the land for housing. Now the title of the oldest airport in Canada belongs to St.-Hubert Airport south of Montreal. As a tribute to Cartierville Airport, I thought, what if Bombardier didn't build houses there, but built a racetrack instead? It would use some of the existing runways, and be on an overall narrow piece of land. Because of space limitations, my racetrack would also have to be on a narrow strip of land (bench actually), and that's how I came up with the name of the layout, Cartierville Raceway.
The layout is a very narrow one as far as slot car layouts are concerned. It's made up of four sections that are bolted together just like some modular model railroad layouts. Since my wife and I were planning to buy a new house, this enabled me to easily move it. As I mentioned before, space was also a problem, and the only place that I could put the layout at the time, was against three walls in my studio / "Man Cave". A bonus of having the layout against three walls, is that a photo backdrop can be used that makes the layout more realistic, again, just like a model railroad layout. The first section in one corner measures 2' wide x 4' long, section 2 is 2' wide x 4' long, section 3 is 3' wide x 6'10" long, and section 4 in the other corner, is 2' wide x 2' long. They're all bolted together with 1/2" nuts, 1/2" washers, and 1 1/2" long bolts. The total length of the layout is 16'10", and all four sections are 45" from the floor to the top surface of the layout, and are made from MDF (Medium - Density Fiberboard). I chose a 45" height so that visitors can sit comfortably on the sofa under section 3, and also because it gives a more ground level view of the track verses a traditional birds eye view. Sections 1 and 2 were made 2' x 4' to maximize the area of a 4' x 8' x 1/2" thick sheet, which was cut at the hardware store. Half of the sheet was cut into 4" x 8' strips to use as the sides of each section, the legs, and reinforcing pieces near the bottom which also double as shelf supports. The bottom support pieces are 6" from the floor, with enough clearance for a toe kick. The shelves were made from 2' x 4' x 1/8" thick MDF, and are lying loose on top of the shelf supports. Section 3 may seem like an odd size, but I had to make it like this so that it could fit over the futon (folding sofa for you non Swedish). It's also the widest section at 3' so that when you're slotting you're not leaning and bending over the futon. It's still narrow enough so that cars can be reached easily near the wall. There aren't any legs for this section, so it rests on ledges at either end, and is bolted to sections 2 and 4. I had the hardware store cut an entire MFD sheet into 4" x 8' strips for making sections 3 and 4, which also gave me pieces for all of the corner braces for every section. I used 1" brads with a nail gun and carpenter's glue to attach all of the frames, legs, and braces. Braces forming a triangle in each corner made for a very strong structure. Inside sections 1, 2, and 4, is 1" thick x 2" wide x 1'11" long lattice strips glued and nailed from the sides. Section 3 lattice strips are 1" thick x 2" wide x 2'11" long. The strips are 2" below the top of each section so that 2" thick sheets of Strofoam can fit inside. This was done to create a base for the groundwork, and to help keep the noise of the slot cars to a minimum. The Styrofoam was glued to the lattice strips with silicone caulk, and then a layer of 1/8" cork sheet was glued on top of that to provide an even surface without joins, except where the modules connect.
The track is a combination of AFX and Life-Like with one small section of AFX track modified into a custom length. This was needed because with all of the adapter track sections, I ended up with one area that couldn't be connected with a standard piece of track. The photos show the track looking as though it's finished, but it's only a running mock-up at this stage. I laid the track sections out on the modules to start designing the raceway, and as I went along, I added curves and straights adjusting things here and there until I was satisfied with the overall layout of the raceway. I never sketch plans for anything, not even the ideas for my military dioramas. I design them in my head. When I was satisfied with the way that the track looked, I took it all apart, painted the surfaces with grey primer (Any brand will do), and added the white border lines. These are made from 1/16" wide pin-stripping tape which can be found at any automotive part store. With all of the adapter track sections, and the mix of different brands of track, the pick-up shoes on the slot cars were taking a beating. Rather than create a routered MDF track, I started to think about inserting .045" Ni/Fe wire into the rail slots of the plastic track. So, online I went, and bought almost 1500' of wire from a guy that was getting out of the slot car business. All that I had to pay was the shipping. When I started to router the plastic track, the heat from the bit melted the plastic too much creating large balls of twisted, jagged clumps, and this resulted in a really crappy slot for the wire "rail". So much for that idea! I'm saving the wire "rail" for my new layout that will have track made from my own cast resin track sections. I'm thinking of using a flexible resin to make 8 inch long slot and rail areas. Then I'll glue these 8 inch sections onto a road surface. The rest of the track surface will be filled in with a type of dry wall compound to make the finished track 4 inches wide. Just as on a routered track, I'll be able to make the curves any diameter I want. I can also add squeeze lane areas wherever I want, including around some curves. These squeeze areas can be made as close, or as far apart as I want.
Once the track is complete, I'll add some red and white cast resin speed bumps in the corners, plus sections of safety walls, fences, and stacked tires. These I'm going to make masters for, and will cast them in resin.
Stay tuned as my Cartierville Raceway build continues in our new house, and more 1/64 slot car products are added for sale on the website. Scenery, grandstands, pit garages, pit crew figures, and some slot car body kits are available for purchasing now, with more to come in 2017. If you have any slot car ideas, or suggestions, please feel free to e-mail me at, email@example.com.
David Gurinskas / Owner of Full Circle Hobbies