BUILDING YOUR DRIVERS STATION PANELS
When positioning your track, make sure to leave (if at all possible) a minimum of 48" from the edge of the driver’s station to the wall. This might seem like a lot, but occasionally one of your guests might be a physically challenged individual on crutches or in a wheelchair. They need that much space to get between the track and the wall.
Good advice: have the driver’s stations located on the side of the track nearest the wall so the drivers are out of the way of the flow of traffic by marshals and other guests or customers. Sometimes this isn’t practical, but look at trying to do this if possible.
Most commercial slot car tracks have one long panel onto which are mounted the individual panels for each lane. Common sense dictates there needs to be at least 36" between each panel for ease of access by the racers. Anything less creates crowding, especially by those who might be a bit rotund. The gutter lane panels (Red and Black) can be mounted close to the ends of the panel, which you should figure to be at least 18" from each end of the long panel.
A method which I like, but requires considerably more woodworking, are individual boxes on which the driver panel is located, (See Illustration #17.) hooked to the side of the main straightaway by using long piano hinges which allow you to flip them up for easy access should you have to work on them at some point in the future.
Whatever method you elect to incorporate into your track, at least give the drivers enough space between panels and enough width from the outside retaining wall to the edge so they can lay an extra car or two, their tools, and hand control. We’ve had good luck in the past mounting pre-bent broom holders, into which the controller handle can be placed, keeping hand controllers off the track surface and preventing them from falling off onto the floor which could cause damage.
Individually colored panels can be constructed easily out of 1/8" or 3/16" thick Lexan which resists breakage when an angry racer suddenly jerks his hand controller loose from the connections. We’ve also made these out of ¼" thick Plexiglas, but even that thick of material can break with severe misuse.
The three terminal hookups can be made from a variety of metals. We’ve made them using 3" long by ¼" thick brass bolts and have had good luck making them from large (1/2" id) ring bolts. These can be hooked in any sequence you desire. The most popular was copied from the sixties tracks, putting Black on the left; White in the middle; and Red (brake) on the right. Just make sure the posts stick up at least 1" above the panel and are far enough apart that no possible shorting can occur should the controller insulator boots not be all the way down over the alligator clips.
Some tracks arrange these three posts in a triangular shape with White on the left; Black on the right; and the Red brake terminal in the center on top. Regardless of how you position the terminal posts, be sure to adequately mark them with the correct colors. Many tracks also incorporate small "power" indicator lights on the panel so that when power is applied to the lane, the bulb lights up. This feature is not necessary but a nice touch.
Many early tracks also had push-button circuit breakers mounted on the panel, but today most tracks have an automatic reset circuit breaker installed in the Red "brake" line. If a short occurs, power is interrupted to the lane and once the shorted condition has been removed, the breaker will automatically reset and power is once again restored.
Recommend a minimum of 25-amp automotive circuit breakers for this purpose. The circuit breaker is best located close to the driver’s panels. (See wiring diagram - Illustration #18.)
The individual panels should be spray painted the lane colors and appropriate items marked. If you’ve got lots of money and want to get fancy, you can have these silk-screened with your raceway logo and the other copy prior to painting. The silk screen process needs to be backwards on the backside of the panel, then spray painted. When you mount the panel, all the printing and colors are protected because they are on the underneath side. (See drawing of a panel with the name "Diamondback Racing" on Illustration #17.)
Drilling the holes in the panels. Lexan is a lot tougher than Plexiglas, but both are tricky to drill. This is not a job for the speed demon. I’ve had good luck with in the past by pre-drilling all the holes - first with a 1/16" bit. Then go back and drill the holes the correct size, using your pre-drilled holes as a guide. Be careful…I do not recommend using brand new drill bits to drill Lexan or Plexiglas, or even bits the same size as your final holes will be. A new bit can "grab" the material and spin it around. Always drill the final holes as close to the exact size of the bolts or other things that will be mounted onto the panel. The tighter the fit, the better.
Install and tighten the brass or steel terminal bolts or ½" ID "ring" bolts in the three holes. If you use straight bolts, put a nut and washer on either side of the panel plate and leave yourself ¾" to 1" of bolt sticking down because you will be bolting your electrical wiring at this point using another washer and nut. All connections must be tightened to insure good electrical contact.
This booklet contains a wiring diagram which should be followed to the letter. If you are unfamiliar with slot car track wiring, have your local electrician hook the track, timers and computer wires as shown in the drawing. (See wiring diagram - Illustration #18.) This diagram is for "positive gate" while the Alpha book shows "negative gate." Your electrician will know the difference. Positive gate is the most widely accepted throughout the world.