by Arie Viewer
We occasionally get inqiries from customers about poor electrical contact between track sections on their plastic track layouts. We have also experienced the occasional continuity problem on our Scalextric Sport test track, and we have come up with an easy modification to prevent 99% of the electrical issues that occur with this particular track system. All you will need to do it is a hammer and a small straight-blade screwdriver.
Sport track uses solid steel pins in the ends of its track sections. When the track is snapped together these pins slide into the adjoining section to make electrical contact. The tab portion of the contact strip that is bent under the bottom of the track to secure it in place creates a socket of sorts into which the pin is inserted. When problems of poor contact occur and are not solved by cleaning it is almost always due to pins being loose in their mountings or not making good contact with the socket in the next section or both. The pins sometimes are not tightly secured in their mountings as they come from the factory. Also, as track layouts are assembled and disassembled the pins are sometimes subject to bending forces that can further loosen them. in most cases all that’s needed to fix continuity problems is to get them really tight in their mountings and to make the sockets on the next section a good, tight fit also.
The process for doing that is simple. Snap two sections of track together and lay them on a hard surface upside down as in photo 1.
You can see the 8 sheet metal tabs, 4 on each side of the section joint, that enclose the pins, creating contact between sections. We are going to tighten them up. Place the tip of a small straight-blade screwdriver on one of the tabs as shown in photo 2.
Give the handle of the screwdriver a good, sharp rap with a hammer. Do this to all 8 tabs for this joint. When finished the tabs will look like this:
We have now crimped all 8 tabs tightly around the pins. Each pin is now tight in its own track section and making solid contact with the next section. Take the two track sections apart and check the pins for tightness. If a pin is still not completely tight, give it another whack with the hammer and screwdriver. When all the pins are tight in their mountings snap the other ends of the two sections together and repeat the process. Keep doing this until you have done all your track sections. The track sections will still go together and come apart just as before, but you will notice a tighter fit. When you put your layout back together you will find much better continuity where you previously had problems and more even power all around the circuit. In many cases you will eliminate or reduce the need for booster cables.
This process occasionally causes the part of the contact strip that’s inside the slot to bulge out a little, creating a tight spot in the slot. You can bend these small bulges back with a coin or a screwdriver blade inserted into the slot at the point of the bulge and worked back and forth to press the bulge back in place.
If you assemble and disassemble your track layout frequently you may find that over time the pins work loose again from the same forces that loosened them up to begin with. You can repeat the tightening process as needed to keep everything making good contact. It’s also important to keep the contacts clean. Dust and other foreign substances gradually work their way into the track joints and may degrade electrical contact, so it’s a good idea to take your layout apart every 6 months or so and clean all the connections. At the same time you can tighten up any that may need it.