II. FORMICA LAMINATE INSTALLATION
A. Fabricate a series of track section alignment pieces using .062" piano wire, brass tubing or other soft metal stock. Two will be needed to locate the guide slots of each section. These pieces should be about three inches long and sanded undersized to ensure that they are smooth and easily removed.
B. Trial fit all track sections in their intended location on the platform, including alignment pieces to ensure proper positioning. Select one track section as an "anchor" and reference point. It will be installed first. Prepare paper shims (tissue paper, newspaper, or plain paper in order of thickness), to be soaked with glue and put under track sections as necessary to make sure that adjoining track sections butt in a smooth and even racing surface. Run the shims as far back from the seam as possible to ensure that each track section butts squarely.
C. Make sure both the platform and the track sections are clean and dry. Using regular carpenters wood glue, liberally apply to within an inch of each track sections outline. Working time is usually 10-20 minutes with a 24 hour total drying time. Initially, the wet glue may be slippery enough to make securing a section difficult. In this case, use soft jawed clamps or dead weight (such as bricks or cinder blocks).
Use the alignment pieces to locate each subsequent track section by dropping one freely into each guide slot across the joint. Make sure that no previously installed track sections have shifted in the mean time.
D. Using dead weight and/or clamps as necessary, apply evenly distributed heavy downward pressure to the entire track layout, making sure that the racing surface is protected from incidental scratches or indentations during pressure application. Double check each track section's location and its alignment with other sections as pressure is applied, and that the entire track layout is flat against the platform. Excess glue can be removed with a sponge and water. Allow to dry completely. Use fine grit sand paper folded in half to carefully remove any debris from slots.
E. Once the track layout is permanently in place, seal all slots and any other exposed wood surfaces with clear commercial wood sanding sealer. Follow the sealer manufacturer's application instructions carefully.
Do not be surprised if the Formica laminate distorts as the sealer soaks into the substrate. As a premanufactured laminate, the Formica will return to its original condition once all moisture has evaporated.
This important step will not only ensure maximum epoxy adhesion when installing the rails but will also provide long term protection from thermal expansion or shrinkage, rot, mold, and mildew.