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Pinewood Track

[SuperTimer II]
SuperTimer II
Pinewood Timer

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SuperTrack Frequently Asked Questions

Is SuperTrack like a Hot Wheels track?
Well, yes and no. Yes, it's made from ABS and designed for racing. No, SuperTrack is made differently and is much stronger. As an example, a 7' long, two lane wide section of SuperTrack supported in the exact middle will 'droop' only about 6" at each end. Quite stiff for something that weighs only 3 pounds. Try this with a Hot Wheels track!

The Hot Wheels track (a Mattel trademark) is injection molded in many different forms and is much thinner. SuperTrack is extrusion molded in only one profile. That profile is then punched to provide the required openings for the start or finish section and, depending on the particular section has feet or other plastic parts solvent welded in place. In addition, the four lane version uses two short sections, upside down between long lane pairs, to mount the starting assembly and raise the final section at the finish line for wire clearance and as an anchor for the end to end tension rope. The six lane version uses two 4 lane wide short sections.

To better understand the benefits of using ABS Plastic for a Pinewood track click here for "A comparison of Pinewood Track construction materials"

Tell me about the different kinds of tracks.
The original Pinewood track was a three-lane center-guided track. Lanes vary from two (because it's all a human can judge) to eight. We support up to six lanes. Center-guided tracks are common, but we advise against them. The center guide should be high to keep the car in the lane and should be low to keep the bottom of the car from rubbing. Those are contradictory requirements. The place the car rubs the most is at the bottom of the downhill, at the smallest radius of the curve. It rubs on the front or back bumper, not usually the area between the two axles! An alternate design uses outside guides (think of the lane as U shaped). That's the design used by SuperTrack.

Another feature of the original Pinewood track design was a simple start gate held up by a rubber band and opened by the operator. SuperTrack and SuperTimer II turn this around, instead having the starting gate held up by a latch and pushed down by a custom music wire spring when the latch is released.

Using SuperTimer II, the solenoid operated latch is released when a Red Button on SuperTimer II is pushed, usually by the racer assigned to lane 1. The latch gate provides for a more consistent start - especially when timing to .0001 seconds. Humans can't open the gate consistently enough.

Here's a comparison of Pinewood Track construction materials.

How do the SuperTrack sections interlock?
It may be helpful to refer to the SuperTrack picture in understanding the following answer.

Side to Side - The Lane 1-2 section slides horizontally into a Lane 3-4 section (same for Lane 5-6) and is aligned over the entire length by an 'E' profile on the Lane 3-4 section and a reverse 'E' profile on the Lane 1-2 section. These just slide together, they don't snap or have any interference or integral locking mechanism. In addition to the 'E's on the edges of the track, there are 'T's under the middle of each lane. They act to stiffen the track section and are further used in the interlock as described below.

End to End - A small tab which is solvent welded onto the extension engages the slot in the previous section formed by the 'T' and the outside 'E' or Reverse 'E' profile to insure perfect alignment for up/down and left/right motion. For end/end motion, a strong 5/32" nylon cord is connected from the joiner at the end of the track to the weighted base under the start. A simple tensioner (like a on a tent rope) is used to pull and hold the track together. It also makes dis-assembly a snap!

Installation Information for SuperTrack. Includes both written instructions as well as a 5 minute video.

Why more lanes or longer length?
Assuming that you use our RaceManager, then all cars will run on all lanes. In this format the race will take essentially the same amount of time whether you use the four lane or six lane track. It's not shorter or longer to use more or fewer lanes. What does change is how many times each racer races. On a four lane track each racer goes four times, on a six lane they go six times.

The principal advantage of a longer track length is more viewing room. If you have a large organization, then there will be many racers and many parents. A 35 foot track has only about 50-60 feet of 'viewing room'. Longer tracks have more viewing room, it's that simple. Of course, you'll also need a bigger place to put the track. One disadvantage of a longer track is that you'll need to have slightly better cars. You can get much better cars and much more competitive racing by using the RaceManager Team feature. If the Team trophy is important, the parent who wants to win it will make sure all cars are competitive.

Why do you use side-guided instead of center-guided construction? Is there an advantage/disadvantage? Can the letters on the wheels 'climb' the wall?
We know of no disadvantage to a side-guided track and would expect no real difference in the way a car runs. One could make the case about the letters, in fact we looked at that. However, the side-guides are sloped slightly in a manner similar to that of the 'jersey' barriers used to protect work crews in road construction. So the wheels really can't 'climb' the rail. The 'extruded in' smoothness of the guides is much smoother than the saw cut of the normal center strip. There's also the consideration that the wheel (in a side-guided track) transfers the rubbing energy to the side of the wooden car not the back side of the head of a cheaply stamped nail. But again, we think the differences are small and in any event all cars experience them.

We do have some reports that indicate a possible problem unique to SuperTrack. Our surface is so smooth that really good cars can go really fast. The result is that they can, if the front end is very light, FLY! Knowledgeable builders frequently put the weight in the back of the car to keep the weight on the hill longer and thus get longer acceleration and a faster car. But you can do too much of a good thing! This can look like a side rail problem but really isn't. Click for starting ramp information that explains the issues.

The major advantage of the side-guide is the elimination of under carriage clearance issues especially the brief rubbing of the front or back bumper at the bottom of the hill when the curve radius is at a minimum.

There are many 'features' of the original track that have been improved over time. Do you really want a car like the Model T with a hand crank starter?

Can we buy a protective/storage case for SuperTrack? How much storage space is needed?
SuperTrack ships in a nearly indestructible corrugated polypropylene PLASTIC box that has been designed to serve as a storage box as well. The box is in two interlocking (telescoping) sections. The box is shipped with plastic banding on the outside which can be easily removed.

The box is 7' long (86"), 8" wide and 6-9" high. The actual height depends on the particular model. Four Lane SuperTracks fit in one long box and one other box for the SuperTimer components (if ordered) that is 16" x 11" x 4". Six Lane SuperTracks come in two long boxes with the SuperTimer II components in one of the long boxes. Installation Information for SuperTrack. Includes both written instructions as well as a 5 minute video.

Why 7 feet instead of the 'conventional' 8 feet?
We love our users and we listen to them. One of our very earliest SuperTrack owners called and asked why we used an 8' section instead of 7'. We had no good answer. He said, "If you make it 7 feet, it will fit in a minivan." That change meant changing our tooling, our web site, our boxes, our instructions, our packing...... So, it took a while, but you get the benefit.

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