15 August 2009

Presenting: The CSB slot track!

The CSB slot track is my next presentation in respect to the slot tracks in Braga. CSB stands for "Clube Slot de Braga" - Braga Slot Club, and has been in activity from late 70's, which makes this club older than me! I joined the club only recently as a member, but I've raced on their actual and previous tracks before joining.

The current CSB track has been placed in April, after a change in the location of the CSB headquarters. Basically, the previous shape was kept largely unchanged, with additions made to the lenght of some straights and a change of the final turn. The track consists of a 40 meter 6 lanes Carrera 1:24 track, holding a total of 8 turns. Voltage is set to 15 V, and power comes from 6 individual DS power supply. Timing and lap counting are the "responsability of a DS-300 system.

Like I did previously for the GT Team track, here's the diagram of the CSB track:

(click image for larger resolution)

A lap around the CSB track:

The CSB holds the longest straight section from all tracks in Braga, with the main straight being 9.25 meter in length. Cars are usually fitted with a somewhat long gear ratio to take advantage of the long straight, specially since the track's braking strength is high.

Drivers are met with Turn 1 after the main straight, where speeds are at their highest. It's a simple 90 degrees left turn with tight radius on the left sided lanes. Cars running on the external white and black lanes need only slight braking, depending on the magnetic downforce - some hard-tuned beasts only need "flash braking". The left sided blue and yellow lanes require more solid braking.

Turn 1

Exiting Turn 1, drivers enter the pits straight, a short 2 meter section, until they reach the most important section of the track, in terms of laptime. Turn 2 and Turn 3 form the "Esses". These are two wide radius turns. Turn 2 is a 240 degrees left turn, attached to a 150 degrees right turn. The middle lanes can be done at consistent speed, but the outside lanes are quite a challenge, changing from wide to narrow angle - the wider angle sections need high speeds, and correctly balancing the speed through the "Esses" can make a difference in laptime.

The "Esses", coming after the pits straight.

After leaving the Esses, cars go through the back straight, parallel to the main straight, but run on the opposite direction. This is the second longest straight section of the track, with almost 4 meter in length. This makes the approach to Turn 4 needing more attention, since this is a tricky narrow right turn, with 120 degrees radius. While not being demanding in terms of technique, it needs a stable car and solid braking, specially on the tighter black and white lanes.

Turn 4

After dealing with Turn 4, drivers take on another short launch through a 2 meter straight until reaching Turn 5, the only 180 degrees hairpin on this track. This is not a very complicated section - most de-slots are caused by exaggeration from drivers. The exit of this turn needs to be taken cleanly, as the only sloped section of the track awaits the drivers.

Turn 5

After climbing the slope, cars face other tricky section, Turn 6. This is set after the change from slope to plain section, which promotes tendency for lifting the front. This bend has a 120 degrees radius and is narrow for the black and white lanes - these are the ones requiring heavier braking. De-slotting here is very punishing in terms of lost time, since track assistants are placed a bit far away from this section, for the sake of the driver's visibility of the track.

The tricky Turn 6...

The next straight section leads to the more technically demanding section, Turn 7, or the "Big Curve". This is the only sloped turn, continuously descending through its 270 degree radius. The main issue to deal with in this section is the change in turn radius - it starts wide, then narrows sharply, to have a wider exit section. Cars not only feel the radius change to narrow, but also a "vertical" change in slope - it almost resembles descending a staircase.

Turn 7, the "Big Turn", as seen from the opposite direction from driver's point of view.

After Turn 7, cars go through a short tunnel and head to Turn 8, or "Final Turn" (the almost 3 meter long straight section allows great visibility of braking points after the tunnel). This turn has a variable radius, with a wider entrance and narrow exit. Aproaching from the outside lanes, cars need very sharp braking to enter the turn, and then a slight decrease in speed for the exit, without braking. The innermost lanes face quite a challenge, but since they are not very grippy, cars can "power slide" through the exit to achieve better laptimes (not sliding too much, though).

Tunnel exit section and Turn 8, the Final Turn

So, this concludes our tour of the CSB slot track. In sum-up, this is a somewhat long track in perimeter, with few bends, but each one has a nature of its own, and the key to achieve good laptimes is understanding each turn requirements. Cars need a longer gear ratio since straight sections demand for it. Balance is also important, specially with some curves changing direction or radius, and even height as in the case of Turn 7.

Hope you enjoyed the visit to the CSB track. Until next time, see you soon...

14 August 2009

NSR Mosler MT900 - Anglewinder

Today I'll present the car that I contested the last year's GT Open, the NSR Mosler. Much has been said about the extraordinary performances of this model on Ninco tracks, but on Carrera, things get more balanced and it faced serious competition from the Ninco Mosler, the Spirit Peugeot 406 Silhouette (also a great racer for Ninco tracks), and a couple of well prepared Ninco GTs too.

This is the looks on my Mosler, which I bought way back in 2007. I bought it for Xmas, and eventually raced it almost a year later.

A racing car should also look cool...

I purchased this car in sidewinder guise, with the astonishing (and brutal) 25.000 rpm Shark motor. The car was much too violent to drive in Carrera tracks in this configuration. This photo shows the original chassis and motor configuration:

The OpenGT regulations required that all cars should present an anglewinder configuration. So, I changed the whole car, only kept the bodywork and NSR wheels from the original car. Here's how it ended up:

Notice that the photo presents the NSR Evo 21.500 rpm motor, which is the one that the car bears today, but the OpenGT was run with Ninco NC6 motors, to comply with the regulations (the NSR motor makes the car one to two tenths of second faster).

As you can see, the car received the all-new Evo-2 chassis, which lower the centre of gravity in comparison to the original chassis. Also, the harder material makes it more rigid, but still suffers from some undesired flex. The front wheels were a nightmare to set, but in the end I used 17'' Slot.It wheels with the 17x10 mm "Z0" tires. Setting the blade guide was also troublesome, and my best configuration was the Slot.It guide for wooden tracks, trimed to fit the Carrera slot depth.

The chassis front detail - the great looking rims come from the Racer Sideways Riley

NSR has its own gear dimensions, and no other slot car brand produces gears that fit this car. Still, the odd 7,5 mm pinions fit really well on the special NSR anglewinder crowns, and the first thing that strikes you when you take the car to the track, it's the great smoothness of the whole system! The car runs smoothly and best yet, silently! I used to joke with the other guys: "Hey people! I'm taking my car to the track, ok?" - just in case they didn't hear it! Also, I used to tell that this must be the only slot car that complied to the European Euro-4 standards for noise and emissions from vehicles!

Grip came from the usual Slot.It P1 compound, smaller 19x10 mm tires. NSR fits the "air system" wheels at the rear, which I find unsuitable - I actually prefer the solid front wheels:

The rear (left) and front (right) wheels that NSR fits to their cars.

I really appreciate the NSR mechanical parts, but it's a shame that they're not "true" 3/32'' standard - there's almost no compatibility with other Slot.It parts. But the larger M3 screws are great, I never had to change one as they are much more resistant than the M2s that most brands fit. I even had to trim the screw that holds the crown in place, as it hit the chassis while rotating - and trimming it worked! Try doing that with an M2...

In the end, the car proved its worth, although most people antecipated it as being THE car to beat in the OpenGT, it failed to live to that expectation. A very competent racer indeed, which may be a killer in Ninco tracks. This configuration was tested on a rally track (Ninco "tarmac" only) and it scored laptimes faster than some rally-preped cars! Imagine it if set up for Ninco!

Have a nice weekend... see you soon ;)

13 August 2009

Track test of the new Slot.It F30 tires

One thing that surprised me was the release of the new Slot.It tires, using three different compounds, the F22, F25 and F30. The surprise was more on the fact that these were not an announced release, they came to the market rather quietly, and no information on the suitability of these tires was given.

Since we race on Carrera tracks, tire performance is crucial. We have long been using Slot.It P1 tires, treated with several oils (and other things that might be hazardous to health...). Slot.It has ceased production of this product, and they are hard to find on any shop throughout the world nowadays.

So, looking for other options seems to be on the order of the day. I was interested in trying these new compounds. The P1 was the harder compound of them, so I opted for the F30, which is he hardest of the three. They are sold in some quite odd dimensions. We were used to the small 19x10 mm or the bigger 20x11 mm, but these are sold on... 20x10 mm.

The lettering on the side of the tires appear to be a new style for Slot.It. And, in a very welcome adition, they refer the compound used. In the photo below you can see the "30" reference on the side:

The tires appear to have a little more mould flash than the "P" series. Dispite that fact, glueing them to a couple NSR hubs was quite easy and straightforward (for example, the newer P6 tires require more time and patience to glue). The surface come with some slight imperfections, but we know that at our scale, these are felt...

So, I decided that some truing of the surface with very fine grain sandpaper would do no harm. To my surprise... IT DID! The surface started to peel off the tire even sanding it lightly! I tried to correct it adding some lighter fuel, but the harm was done. Since they had a "sticky" feel to the touch, like it was covered with contact glue, I decided to fit them to the test car anyway and hope that after some laps, it might started to become more even.

This was the test car, a NSR Porsche 917 K, David Piper:

Right from the start, the car had a feel of riding on really hard tires - nothing strange on this, these are expected to be hard tires. That "riding on marbles" feel at the start started to decrease, so as laptimes, which started to encourage me. But it was pointless, look at the tires after a long series of laps (or 30 minutes, if you prefer):

After some running, tires seem to start working better, but midway through the stint they started to fade lightly. The best laptime was 8,7 s, nothing that special, given that this car can perform better than that.

So, I was rather disapointed with these new tires. Maybe I'll have to test them "right out of the bag" with no kind of treatment whatsoever. At least I discovered "what NOT TO do" - and now you know too!
I still believe that Slot.It should give their references to what compound suits which track brand better.

Until next time, see you soon...

12 August 2009

Presenting: The GTTeam slot track!

Since I already started posting some track tests, I think it would be helpful for reading analysis if I described the track first! Well, later as it may be, here is the presentation of the GT Team track.

The GT Team track is one of Braga's three permanent slot car tracks, but the only that also belongs to a slot shop (other are clubs). This configuration has been placed back in 2006 and left unchanged since. It replaced a Ninco 4 lane track.

The layout features a 34 meter Carrera 1:24 track with 6 lanes, with DS power systems and race controls. The track has a total of 9 turns and a single long straight. This is the track layout, with some detail much to the style you can see in the F1 website :)

(Click image for higher resolution)

One lap around the GT Team slot track:

The start/finish line is placed 2 meters into the 7 meter straight. It leads to Turn 1, a tight 90 degrees left hander. Since speeds are the highest at this point, it's the longest average braking distance for all lanes (inner lanes require heavy braking).

Turn 1

After Turn 1 there is a short straight (1 meter) that still requires going full throttle, with a slight braking into the "Grand Esses", a combination of a 150 degrees left turn with a 180 degrees right hander. Track parts forming these turns are the narrower ones, which makes going through these "Esses" a very technical challenge. The outside and inner lanes offer an interesting narrow to wide change, or the opposite, while going through the "Esses".

The Grand "Esses"

After the "Esses" there's a 3 meter straight heading into Turn 4, an 180 degrees narrow left turn, also known as the "Door hairpin" (it's the section of the track closest to the shop's door!). Inner tracks need heavy braking here, since they leave the previous "esses" on the wide side with higher exit speeds and reach Turn 4 on the narrow side. After Turn 4 there's a small slope to climb until Turn 5.

Turn 4 (also known as the "Door hairpin")

The small slope meets Turn 5 at its end, but Turn 5 is already on a plain section. This makes Turn 5 another highly technical section, although much more on the inner lanes (the ones that leave Turn 4 on the wider side). The small slope disappears just before the turn, which causes a tendency to lift the front of the cars, so caution must be taken here.

The dreaded Turn 5, a nightmare for the cars driving on the inside lanes.

Leaving Turn 5, there's a small descent into Turn 6 or the "Big Curve". It's the highest radius turn on the track and also the only sloped turn, it descends continuously. The exit parts are sharper than the rest of the curve, which causes complications to the nervous drivers, who hit the throttle before reaching the straight.

The Big Curve, the longest turn of the track

The straight section after the Big Curve is actually the second longest straight, after the start/finish straight. It goes through a tunnel into the Small "esses". Don't let the "Small" part elude you, because this is a complicated section that requires some practice to deal with. It's a combination of a narrow right hander with a very short straight into a wide left turn. Motion is brake - quick full throttle - brake again, and this is why most people have troubles here. Also, the entrance is very narrow on the inner side, cars have a "tail-happy" behavior here, many going sideways.

Tunnel exit and the technical small "Esses"...

After leaving the small "Esses", cars go through the pits straight (this is where cars needing repairs are taken from the track or replaced after mechanical intervention). This is a moderate straight, but since cars leave the esses on a wide turn they reach the Final Curve at quite high speeds. Also, the Final Curve is a wide 180 left turn, which is rather easy to take on, even on the inner lanes (these only require a somewhat heavier braking).

Final Curve, seen on a 90 degrees rotation.

Well, this is it... the tour of the track where I first contacted with the world of slot car racing. In the end, it's a very "start - stop" driving style, with some sections needing more atention, others needing fast trigger motion. After getting to grips with the track, it's quite a relaxed driving, even for endurance races.

In the future I'll present the other tracks in Braga. The track layout will also be placed on the bottom of this blog, for future reference.

Hope you enjoyed this tour. Until next time, see you soon...

11 August 2009

Sloter Opel Corsa - the track test

Last week I wrote the first review of this blog on the recent Sloter Opel Corsa, so now I thought it would be appropriate to write my first track test on the same model... now that I had the time to test it!

I changed some parts for this test. I fitted Slot.It aluminum 15'' wheels front and rear (fronts are "short hub" type). The front tires are 17x10 mm "Z0" Slot.It (covered with cyanoacrilate glue to remove any grip) and the rear tires are some used Ninco I had from some previous series. I think they are "regular" Ninco rubber, and trimmed down to a mere 18 mm diameter. As you can see from the photo beneath, the front tires are almost the largest diameter you can fit to the car, with the wheels almost touching the arches. For the rear ones, 18 mm still leaves a good margin for larger wheels.

Now, on the power side: I've chosen the 20.000 rpm Boxer 2 motor, fearing that it would be a bit too much for the small size Corsa. A gear ratio of 9:25 with light components (aluminium crown and axle bearings, 50 mm hollow axle). More detail on the photo below:

Sloter came up with an interesting motor pod configuration. Not only for the versatility of inline and sidewinder configurations available, but also for the different screwing procedure: rear screws lock both the pod and chassis to the bodywork. The car comes with 6 screw holes: 2 for the front chassis lock, 2 for the front pod lock to the chassis, and 2 longer screws for the rear pod and chassis lock to the body. The next couple of photos give some detail on this.

The Opel Corsa screws from their respective position in the chassis: the rear ones are longer than the others.

The rear section in detail: screw holes from the bodywork fit the chassis (top) and pod (below) holes.

I had some suspicions on whether this system would work well. Loosening the screws would promote pod motion, or both pod and chassis motion? To my surprise, the system did work well, provided that the front chassis screws were tightly locked. Loosening the 4 pod screws caused only pod motion.

Taking on the track with this Corsa proved a lot of fun! The car runs very smoothly with almost no noise at all, it's a real pleasure to drive. The car has a very "light" feel (notice that the original interior was changed to a lexan rally interior from NSR). The awesome power from the Boxer 2 motor is easily controlled, with the car really leaping out of corners with an amazing acceleration, not loosing much on braking. The strong magnetic downforce, coupled with the lowered rear tires, are a welcome help, since the front does not support too well high cornering speeds - much to blame on the fact of the front tires not touching the track, when the car stands still. This is due to the great height of the guide blade, which comes off the chassis too far. This photo explains that:

Perhaps trimming the guide blade would provide some stability to the front. Anyway, the car is easy to drive at a steady pace, with laptimes improving after some running. In the end of the test, a 8.7 s laptime was achieved on the GT Team track (I promise I will present the track layout and detail soon!), but it easily ran on 8.8s with much effort. Other drivers took on the track with this car and all them seemed to enjoy this Corsa. Some margin for progress still exists: since this is a Carrera track, maybe replacing the Ninco tires for the Slot.It P1 would give more traction. Also, replacing aluminium wheels for lighter ones would give this car even more acceleration, but I've chosen this material since I'm more interested in running this car for rally events.

And we can't forget: next test, SIDEWINDER configuration!

Hope you enjoyed this post. Until next time, see you soon...

10 August 2009

Racer Ferrari 312 P shown... and raced!

Racer cars are known for their really astonishing look and fine detail... but they're also known for their high price! No wonder we don't see them racing around too often! Well, sometimes you see great deals on Racer cars on the web, and that was the case when I found the Ferrari 312P bodywork and chassis for a more affordable 40 € sum - still a bit high, but nothing like those 150 € plus they cost!

The bodywork comes with less detail than the complete car, looks like a pre-finishing form. The parts for front and rear lights were missing, as for the exhaust pipes. I emailed Racer to know whether it was possible to buy those parts from them, and it was! A great costumer service from Racer.

So, it's time I show you my best looking classic slot so far:

Notice that the Slot.It motor pod and motor were not present when I bought it, this was after transformation for racing.
The details in black were added by me (cockpit windows rubber, front air inlets, engine cover and rear lights). The interior was left unpainted since time was short to prepare this car for racing - and even so, I wouldn't have painted it for racing if I had the time, but replacing it instead for a lighter interior. This one weights a ton, it seems!

From this picture, we can see the headlights, which were bought separately from Racer. Much better looking than the ugly black covers that came with the car.

As I told before, this car was born to race. While most Racer cars may find their places at the shelves of many slot enthusiasts, this one does not seem at ease there... So, the advent of a 4 Hours Endurance for Classic 60-70's cars seemed too great a chance to miss it! That race took place back in July the 4th.

I contacted a couple of Ferrari fans and one heeded my call, so together we formed the very appropriate "Scuderia Ferrari, SpA." Initially, we had some doubts about the added weight from the Racer car, so we were also preparing a Scalextric Ferrari 330 P4 and a Fly Ferrari 512 S Codalunga (one of my favorites). Rules for this race made cars with motor placed at level with the bottom side of the chassis forbidden, but an exception was made for Racer cars to help them be competitive despite the weight handicap - provided that no "offset" configuration of Slot.It motor pod was employed. Our fastest car was clearly the P4, but the 312 P was a tenth of a second shy on the lighter P4 - but way more stable and easy to drive! Our (tiffosi) hearts fell on the Racer, and so we went racing.

The outcome was rather disapointing for the Scuderia, 4th place from 6 teams, but we held the 3rd spot just minutes until the end. The podium was taken by the three Fly Porsche 917 Spyders enroled... still dominant in slot cars too, it seems. Our car had an evident lack of straight line speed and that caused some dificulties in holding off the opposition... a later measure of engine rpm saw that our motor - supplied randomly by the organisation - rated some poor 19.000 rpm when nominal figures should be 21.500 ! No wonder we couldn't perform better... but there was another team with an unlucky motor - they even had to replace since their's completely shut up!

Anyway, a great Saturday afternoon, like all our Endurances end up... this Racer still has something to show to the rest of the guys, at some later opportunity - looks like we'll have a series with these cars in September, but I'll have to conduct further tests to the P4 and this one.

I'll leave you with some photos of the race, even from the "Ferrari Memorial" we held at the track - we're hardcore "tiffosi", or not?

The starting lineup, with our 312 P qualifying in 4th place.

A great looking "mean machine" standing on the track.

Final cerimonies - 4th place seemed insuficient after cruising all race in 3rd place...

The Ferrari Memorial, with many classics parked in the grass of the last corner of the track. One of the P4 was actually the other option for the race (the one standing on clear plastic). The 312 P on the plastic base is NOT the one we raced...

9 August 2009

Sunday is Sunday...

Today is the first Sunday since I created this blog... I'm not a "Sunday racer", I leave that for the F1 guys. So, today I'll cut the writing short, and present you some of the many photos I've collected from the web on the "Jagermeister" theme (just Porsches, for today...). I do own some of these cars in "slot form", but that's a story for a later post.

Photos were mainly taken from the "Racing Sports Cars Archive", check the "links" section.

So, have a nice weekend and enjoy:

The legendary Porsche 956:

The Porsche 917/20:

Porsche 934 & 935: