Posts Tagged ‘IndyCars’

Making a 1:64 Scale Track — Part 2 — Marking the Track on the Sheet

Thursday, July 20th, 2017

In this blog post, we’ll tape our sheet to the table, then lay out the track sections again. Read Part 1 of Making a 1:64 Scale Track to see how we arrived here. Note that you can make a similar track for other scales of cars. If you use something like 1:43 scale, you would have to adjust the size of the spaces (and a full track probably wouldn’t fit on a sheet). You could of course make large tracks on foam-core board, or other material. Part of the reason we went with 1:64 scale cars originally is that in the 1980s, when we starting making the large tracks, Hot Wheels cars were the easiest cars to find. We also found that most of Avalon Hill’s Accessory Pack tracks would fit on a sheet at 1:64 scale.

So, I finished washing and drying my twin bed flat sheet, then stretched it out on my ping-pong table, and then taped it so it would stay fairly tight so it would avoid wrinkling while I marked it up. I laid out the former track sections on the sheet, but the outline just didn’t look quite right to me.  In particular, some of the corners on the real track were sharp, 90-degree turns, while the templates I used for 90-degree turns were more gradual and rounded. So, I then printed out the actual track file using the Acorn program (from Flying Meat Software), then taped some sections together, then laid them on the table on top of the former outline. That original track plan is with the red stripe down its middle.

The new track outline is on top of the old track outline.

The new track outline is on top of the old track outline.

It was very apparent that the new outline seemed much smaller than the former outline.

The new track outline is smaller than the old track outline.

The new track outline is smaller than the old track outline.

The former outline that I used was based on templates, where all of the straight pieces had spaces that were 3″ long by 1.75″ wide, and the template corner spaces had been printed so my 1:64 cars would fit on them without encroaching on the spaces of other cars. When I printed the actual track outline (with the red stripe), I printed it at 775% of my original file’s size. That made most of the straight spaces 3″ long, but it also meant that the corner spaces were too small. If you had more than one car in a corner area, the cars would interfere with each other. Since you can only paint the track once, it is better to resolve any issues in this, the planning stage! Naturally, I had to cut out these new track sections and tape some of them together with clear cellophane tape. Note that I cut close to the track outline as eventually I will trace around the track outline with a pencil. If I just placed the printed pages on the sheet, I would have to cut them later before I could trace the edges, and that would then put pieces out of alignment.

Now, of course, the table top was too cluttered, so I picked up all of the template sections and left just the new track outline pieces on the table.

Track outline sections.

Track outline sections.

I then measured from the different edges of the track, and tried to center the sections as much as possible. This is not only for aesthetics, but for practicality, as when playing Championship Formula Racing, each driver needs to lay out their cards without laying them on the track. While you should try to leave an open “border” around all edges of the track, that won’t be possible with some tracks.

Measuring from the edges to center the track on the sheet.

Measuring from the edges to center the track on the sheet.

I then centered the pieces, and placed them together to see how it looked.

The centered track.

The centered track.

Now comes the task of checking how the 1:64 scale cars fit. Get out your scale cars and see how they fit on actual parts of the track outline.

Cars fit on the straight sections.

Cars fit on the straight sections.

It looks like the straight sections are long enough for my Greenlight IndyCars to fit. I also tested the sections with my old Hot Wheels open-wheel race cars that are the same length as the newer Greenlight cars. Note that the printed track is narrower than I will paint the finished track. The proportion of the rectangles for a poster-board size track is different than I want for my large track. When I design a poster-board size track, I make the straight spaces 1″ long by 0.5″ wide. That usually works well with small race cars. However, for the large track, I make spaces that are 3″ long by 1.75″ wide. That means that when I trace around the edge of the finished track layout, I will have to do a little more marking.

Now, to check the fit in a corner. Oh-oh! The corner spaces are too small!

Cars don't fit in the corners.

Cars don’t fit in the corners.

While the #3 car in the picture above fits on the inside space, the two cars on the outside of the corner (which is two spaces long) don’t fit into their spaces. This means I will have to allow for more space. In years past, I would just move the straight track sections a little and “fudge” or estimate the new corner area. I would put a clean piece of paper under the corner area, and pencil in where the lines should go. But this time, I decided to go back and reprint the corner sections. I printed the corners at 900% (instead of 775%) of original this time, and they printed just about right.

But before I reprinted the corners, I substituted the template pieces.

Cars on template sections.

Cars on template sections.

Using the template sections, I can see that the cars will fit. Of course, by allowing for a longer corner section in this area of the track (this is turns 1 and 2, just past the start-finish line), it will affect the alignment of other parts of the track.

Another part of the track where the cars don't fit.

Another part of the track where the cars don’t fit.

I also found a part of the track that was in a “U” shape also didn’t fit the cars well, not for the curvy-“straight” sections nor in the actual numbered corner spaces. So I had to re-print that entire section. And even after I printed that section at 900%, some of the spaces were still too short. So, I spliced in a couple of pieces of paper to “expand” that section slightly, and also used a permanent marker to mark new lines between the spaces.

Splices added and spaces re-marked in the "U" section.

Splices added and spaces re-marked in the “U” section.

After checking all of the sections so that the cars would fit the spaces (particularly in the corners), and rechecking the track alignment (also  re-centering the track sections on the sheet), it is time to tape down the track sections so they don’t move when you mark off the outline of the track. I just use small pieces of masking tape to tack down the track sections. I’ll usually just use four small pieces of tape per track section to ensure that section doesn’t move when I mark its outline on the sheet.

Taping the sections of the track.

Taping the sections of the track.

Note that the above track sections were printed at two different scales, which is why they don’t line up along their outside edge. Since I am using the inside border of the track as a reference, that is not critical.

Now is the time to mark the outline of the track. Use a pencil for the “first pass” as if you make any mistakes, you can easily correct them! At first, I only marked off the inside edge of the track sections, as that was my “reference” point. Some of the printed track sections that I used for laying out the track were not wide enough, so I had to make sure that I marked the track as wide as it needs to be for each section. Remember that I am making each space 1.75″ wide, so if the track is “2-wide” (meaning the track is two spaces wide) in an area, then the total track width is 3.5″. (Sorry, I didn’t warn you there would be math involved in painting a large-scale track!) If a track section is “3-wide” (three lanes side by side), then the total track width is 5.25″ in that area. I use the straight edge to check the width of a section before marking the outside lines of the track.

Using a ruler to check the track width.

Using a ruler to check the track width.

In the above picture, I am making pencil “tick” marks where the 5.25″ outer edge of the track will be for this 3-wide section. I had to do this because of the varying scale of my template pieces. Even if you have perfectly sized templates, you should check the width of your track before masking and painting it. After making tick marks in an area, I used a pencil to “connect the dots (ticks).” When I was satisfied with the pencil inside and outside borders, then I went over the pencil marks with a permanent marker.

Outlining the track with a permanent marker.

Outlining the track with a permanent marker.

When the outlining was completed, I removed the paper templates. I removed the small pieces of tape from the templates, then stacked them carefully out of the way, in order, as I will need them again to aid in actually painting the lines for the spaces on the track (see Part 3 of this series).

The completed permanent marker outline of the track.

The completed permanent marker outline of the track.

Note that there is a pit lane to the left. Although Championship Formula Racing doesn’t use a formal “pit lane,” we are thinking of using our older Speed Circuit era pit stop rules, and we would need to drive down pit lane. I felt it would be easier to add the pit lane at this time, rather than to try to add it at a later time, when I would have to re-mask the track and paint part of it again. Towards the right side of the picture I also made an adjustment so a 3-wide straightaway section could blend into a 2-wide corner.

The track outline has been masked with tape.

The track outline has been masked with tape.

Next, we will need to cover all parts of the sheet with newspapers (or whatever you have on hand) and then tape it down to the inside and outside track outline, and then we’ll start painting. That process will be continued in Part 3 – Painting the track.

Making a 1:64 Scale track — Part 1 — Laying out the track

Friday, July 14th, 2017

I have posted recently about playing Speed Circuit (past) and Championship Formula Racing (present) on large-scale tracks that were painted on bed sheets. Some folks on the CFR forums at BoardGameGeek  (BGG) have asked me to show the process, so here goes. Disclaimer: Since I am in the United States of America, I use inches, feet, etc, and also relate car speeds as miles per hour. If you are in a metric system country, you will of course want to adjust the measurements for your system.

Select a Track Diagram

First, you will need a diagram of the track you want to make. I recently designed the Belle Isle (Detroit) track that is used by IndyCars. I did find that track had already been designed by someone else (I downloaded it from the Files section at BGG), but I didn’t like the design. Some of the straightaway sections were too long in that other design, so cars could use a high top speed in the game to go 200 mph or so. Watching the video of actual IndyCars racing on the Belle Isle track, I never saw any car get much above 160 mph at any time. That other track design also ignored some of the corners in the corners 7 through 11 sequence, and also treated corner 14 as just another straightaway space.

I first obtained the real Belle Isle track outline diagram from online. I used Wikipedia as a source, but there are alternate sources for tracks that you could use if you were designing your own track.

The Belle Isle track layout from Wikipedia.

The Belle Isle track layout from Wikipedia. Unfortunately, the diagram incorrectly calls one of the streets “Lotter Way” when it should properly be “Loiter Way.”

I then imported that track diagram into image editing software (I use Acorn from Flying Meat Software). I then erased everything except the actual track outline, scaled it to fit a poster board size space of 22″ x 28″ (in case I want to print out a board-game size map of that track). Then I changed the track color to red so it wouldn’t interfere with other colored spaces I would create. I created spaces that were 1″ long for a board-game size track, then placed them around the track for the straight parts of the track. I then “fudged” in the corner spaces. I then assigned corner speeds based on watching race video, and added cornering arrows. Here is the track with the original red outline, and gray spaces added:

Belle Isle original track in red, with gray spaces for the board game track.

Belle Isle original track in red, with gray spaces for the board game track.

Acorn is a layer-based program like Photoshop, so you can make layers visible or invisible, change which layer is on top, etc, so that made the above process relatively easy.

Next was to print the track the size of a poster board, and then I ran some solo races on it using the CFR rules and cars of different configuration. I did make a few changes to the initial playtest track, so the “playtest 2” track above is how I finalized the spaces and corners. Except, I’m not sure about the speed of the final slight right-hand bend at the upper left of the track, just after the entrance to the pits. I have 140 mph marked on it for now, but may change it to 160 mph after I get some other folks to playtest it.

Poster board size Belle Isle track.

Poster board size Belle Isle track.

You may already have a track diagram, so you won’t need to perform the above steps. In that case, you will start here:

Gather Items Needed to Build Your Track

Gather items you will need to build a large track.

Track building items laid out on the table.

Track building items laid out on the table.

  • A large table ( I use a ping-pong table that is 5′ x 9′ in size — you will probably need something larger than a 4′ x 8′ piece of plywood, as some tracks are larger than 4′ x 8′). You could also use a large area of the floor, if you are younger than me, and have good knees!
  • Track template pieces. I used to use poster board to create various sizes of straightaways (either two-lane or three-lane wide), but now I find it’s easier and cheaper to just print paper on my laser printer. I create spaces for straights that are 3″ long by 1.75″ wide, as that size space fits my 1:64 scale race cars well. If you make the spaces much smaller than that, cars will be too tightly spaced together if they are crowded into the same area of the track. If the spaces are too large, you might not be able to fit the finished track onto a reasonable table size. I also used to just “fudge” in the corners after laying out the straight pieces, but now I also print out some generic corner pieces. I found some generic track sections online, and printed them at different scales until I got the right size. I also tested the printed corner pieces to ensure my 1:64 scale cars would fit in the spaces on those corner pieces.
Older green poster-board track template pieces in the foreground.

Older green poster-board track template pieces in the foreground.

  • A pair of scissors for cutting the track templates.
  • Carpenter’s style tape measure.
  • A straight edge of some sort to help with marking straight lines. I use an old steel ruler from an old combination square.
  • A pencil to mark the basic outline of the track once you have completed the layout.
  • A black marker (like a Sharpie), used to go over the penciled outline of the track.
  • Clear cellophane tape. Use the tape to tack small track sections together to build assemblies, so there are not as many loose pieces to move around when you make track adjustments.
  • Masking tape. Used to mask the track so you only paint the track.
  • Miscellaneous newspapers, pieces of cardboard, etc. Use these to actually mask areas of the sheet that you don’t want to paint.
  • A can of flat black spray paint. You could also brush flat black paint onto the sheet, but I find spraying is easier, and doesn’t bleed-through the sheet as much as brush painting.
  • Different colored paint markers. I use black (preferably flat black), red, white, and yellow paint markers. Get oil based paint markers, as they won’t wash out if you ever have to wash your track. These markers are used to paint the lines for the spaces on the track, cornering speeds & arrows, and the red-and-white lines along the edge of the track to denote which side of the track is the inside to the next corner.
  • A flat bed sheet. Wait to buy the sheet until after you determine how big the track will be.

Laying Out the Track

Cut out the various straight and curved template pieces.

Cutting out paper straight-section templates.

Cutting out paper straight-section templates.

Then, tape together straight sections to make longer pieces. Do this so you won’t have as many pieces of paper to move around. For the Belle Isle track, I needed straight sections of various spaces long, such as 12 spaces long, 5 spaces long, etc.

Taping straight templates to make longer straightaways.

Taping straight templates to make longer straightaways.

After you have cut out and taped your various templates, place the various lengths of straight sections about where they should go. Use the track diagram as a guide. I also wrote the number of straight spaces in each area directly on that track diagram, so I wasn’t always re-counting the straightaways.

Placing the straight sections of the track.

The straight sections of track have been placed in their approximate positions.

In the above picture, the straight pieces are roughly where they should go. Don’t worry about exactness, as you will have to make adjustments. Then add the corner pieces, and try to “close the loop” of the track by making adjustments as needed.

Curves have been added to the track.

Curves have been added to the track.

In my example above, you can see that the track will actually fit on the table. Yay!

A view of the other side of the track.

A view of the other side of the track.

The next step is to measure the longest distance of the track’s length and width, and write down the numbers.

Measuring the track dimensions.

Measuring the track dimensions.

For my Belle Isle track, I found the rough layout was about 4′ wide and 7’6″ long, so the finished track should be able to be played on a 4′ x 8′ table size. This is now the time to purchase the flat bed sheet. I was able to purchase a flat sheet that is 66″ x 96″, or 5’6″ x 8’0″, for about $5 (US). For you metric folk, that sheet is 168cm x 244cm. Of course, before you can use the sheet, you will need to wash it, as the sheets are usually packed very densely, and the wrinkles will make it difficult to paint the track later. Also throw the sheet in the dryer (if you have one) after washing to “pre-shrink” it.

Continued in Part 2 – Marking the track on the sheet.

Also see Part 3 – Painting the track.