Ted Gowder, a regular visitor to this web site sent me some pictures recently of a 4-lane routed wooden HO raceway that he and several of his friends built. The two photos above show the painted and elevated track before the steel power rails have been pressed into place. The rebar wire used for the power rails comes in 100 foot rolls, enough to do one entire continuous power rail around the whole track. The picture above shows the track power rails being pressed into place using a small wooden roller. Regular 1x10 dimensional lumber was cut to varying heights to elevate and support the entire raceway approximately every running foot.
The 1x10 supports were cut with a very slight angle at the top to create a gentle banking towards the inside of each and every turn on the track. Cut the slots for all of the turns first and then join them by routing the straights so they match up with the turns.
Drill a small hole next to the rail pocket, just large enough to thread a 14 gauge stranded wire up from the underside of the track. The elevated track support system used for this routed wooden track is very similar to what model railroading hobbyists use for their fully landscaped layouts. Woodland Scenics makes an entire line of light-weight landscaping products for model railroads and museum dioramas that are ideal for landscaping an HO raceway. Ted recommends that you build a small pilot track first before diving into a big 4-lane monster like the one described above. Scenery, structures and landscaping have been kept to a minimum, so as not to distract the eye of the racers.
I gave this to a professional CAD draftsman, as I am having this track roadway cut in a CNC machine shop.
He did a great job of interpretation, and I signed off after two revisions of the final version. So at the end of day one of site work, we had the track laid out for size checking on the frame. To do this, I make a plan of where lighting would be placed on the track, decided the location of the PC, and two screens, and the driver stations and overall power control. The black panel at centre will house a DC metre showing current track voltage, which we sometimes change between classes, a track call button to freeze timing and kill power if a car is crashed in an awkward pisition; and a power over-ride butten to enable return of cars to drivers between heats while the timing system has normal track power turned off.
Each lane-colour coded driver station has the controller hook-up, a pilot light to indicate whether power to the station is currently live, a direction reversing switch, and a spare 11mm cut-out blanked off, in case I ever wish to add any other dial or switch. The table is finished, ready to route the rebates tomorrow, finalise elevations and fix it all down ready for painting.
I wanted to test all the wiring before screwing down the track, as it is so much harder to trace and fix later.


Also unsure whether to fill the seams at the joints, as paint may not fill, but the joints are smooth and won't disturb the cars, so maybe better left alone rather than have bondi cracking at the joints later.
Bit concerned about visibility of the two inside lanes far side of hairpin as you come out of the under-pass, but not much I can do now apart from trim the roadway a little. After a week of rude interruptions (work), I finally got back to the track and made some visible progress.
I have fitted the in-fills between roadway sections, and cut most of the barriers which fit on the base level sections of roadway. One thing I struggled to find when I was researching, was how to fit barrier walls to raised track areas.
My solution has been to glue and screw 40 x 20mm section dressed pine under the MDF at regular points.
I cut bits roughly to length - excess can be trimmed after fitting with a jigsaw to flush with the edge of the treack roadway.
One layer clamped in place, when they had fixed, I added the ones seen sitting on the roadway. I am using one on the flat as a fixing point for the 6mm MDF walls, then another underneath that, protruding further, for the walls to sit on. The next step has been finishing barrier walls, then laying down silicon gap-filler all over the show.
Drivers station area is finished apart from a little touch up colour and fitting the controller holders. The finish is very glossy, and promises high grip for silicon tyres and soft rubber, and medium grip for urethanes. Not sure if I've seen one of these on Canadianlisted before but I have a wood, 2-lane slot car track available for sale. The track takes up approximately 8' x 15' of space and you'll need some walk-around room for marshalling. MDF is fairly flexible, so variations in elevation can be incorporated to create a track with more visual interest.
Countersunk flathead wood screws were used to secure the routed MDF to the elevated supports.
16 gauge rebar tie wire, available at Home Depot or Loews can be pressed into the rail pockets using a wooden roller. A simple router compass can be fabricated from Plexiglas or hardboard to help route the turn slots.Drive a pin at the center of each turn you plan to cut and then move the compass so that it pivots on this pin. Press the rebar wire in place to pinch the power tap wire and then solder the joint for a good electrical connection.
There are a multitude of good model railroading landscaping books and web sites that can give you plenty of ideas for landscaping your wooden raceway.


You can practice your router technique and woodworking skills on a small 2x4 foot piece of MDF. This particular track is 8x20 feet in size, but could easily be reduced in size to become a smaller HO scale raceway. Sight lines are good and the table is low enough to allow seated or standing drivers to view the entire layout. If you come to doing the same process at any time, I can talk you through the issues to resolve up front. The roadway also appears less dominating than it would be otherwise given that it takes up 70% of the track surface.
Cars, power supply and throttles are not included but there is a timing system built in, you just need an old computer with a parallel port and some free software. The information provided below should allow anyone with basic woodworking and routing skills to build a track using his simple techniques.
Anyone with basic woodworking skills should be able to complete the project in 3 or 4 weekends. Trim and file the solder joint and then put a dab of the same gray paint you've used for the track surface to all but hide the power tap points. Try making a small 2-lane oval to familiarize yourself with the routing, rail laying and painting techniques required to build a routed wooden track.You can learn from your mistakes on this smaller layout before you commit to a larger raceway. When hard in about 24 hours, it is a finish hard enough for wooden floors which are walked on every day. The drawing is not to scale and will actually be much longer than shown and would normally have 12-20 sets of pivot points for varying turn radius sizes.
All of the techniques you use to build your small test track will apply to the larger final track you build later on. Earlier attempts using a hammer to seat the power rails resulted in flat spots in the wire. The track is braided (no copper tape for this one!), non-magnetic, and has flat latex paint as the surface. Most other techniques involve routing a wide pocket to fit a flat steel rail and then a thin strip of plastic wedged in next to it to hold the rail in place. Had to disconnect the indicator bulbs on 2 switches on the main panel, will replace them with some of another type later.



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