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Tips & Tricks - Make TCR work great!

Tips & Tricks

To get the most fun and enjoyment from your TCR slot cars, the following tips will make your cars and tracks work even better than when they were new. Why better? Because we have knowledge and resources today that weren’t available in 1977 when TCR first started. The following can be applied to slot cars and tracks of all kinds, but is a must for TCR cars and tracks to perform well. We will update this page as new improvements are learned!

Prerequisites (absolute must’s for TCR Slotless Racing):

  • Tires – the rear tires must be changed if not recently (age alone ruins them)
  • Chassis - needs to be cleaned and checked
  • Track - needs to be clean and rails polished
  • Warm up – both the cars and tracks need to be warmed up (a few minutes of laps)

Tires dry out over time, no matter what the conditions are where they are stored. On automobiles, tires generally need to be replaced based on age after 10 years, even if the tread is still good. Silicone spray can be used to replenish the moisture of a tire and make it softer again, but will not help make old tires new again. Think of silicone spray as good for preserving a tire, not restoring it. I don’t recommend any other solvents or lubricants, don’t recommend using oil or WD40 on tires.

For the Chassis, learn how to disassemble it (it’s fun and easy once you know how!), and clean everything with rubbing alcohol to remove dirt and any oils. Check for any broken, worn or bent parts and replace as needed. The pick-up shoes and springs are almost never worn out, simply make sure they are clean and functional.

The Track should be cleaned with rubbing alcohol and you can use a penny to clean the rails, simply sliding it over them to clean (this is from the TCR manual). A fine (400 grit or higher) sandpaper can also be used on the rails to polish them, but never use coarse sandpaper.

Warm up your cars and tracks for a few minutes, this is required for proper operation.

The two biggest speed factors: Increase Traction and Decrease Drag

Increasing Traction - once the chassis is working well, it's all about the rear tires! Not just the condition of them, but the type of tire and keeping them clean. Always use tape (scotch tape is fine) to clean the rear tires before and after a race. They will pick up any dirt that is on the track, no matter how clean it is. We will be doing a write-up on the different replacement tires available (3 new types known as of this writing) along with how they compare to the originals and the different Mk versions.

Decreasing Drag - it's mainly about the track and car body! As slotless cars ride on the track they may be riding on the tires, but the pickup shoes and bodys are sliding over track sufaces. Too much contact with the track and a rough surface can dramatically impact the cars performance, even cripple it. Some body designs are particularly bad with excessive contact with the side of the track due to their shape (some Ideal Trucks come to mind..). This is why some of the later cars of various manufacturers added a black plastic guide piece to the chassis under the bumper to be the point of contact with the track and not the body. This made a huge difference in some cases (though admittently, in some cases, the appearence was a bit ugly). You can also modify the body (not for the valuable shelf queens!) by smoothing out the parts that make contact with the track, oftenly just the front corners.

For the track, it's not just about keeping it clean, significant improvement can be made with making the track surfaces smoother by use of paint or some other coating. The original track material is not the smoothest and could have been better. More info will be included on the track page.

Optimum Performance:

  • Lubricate the chassis at the points suggested by the manufacturer (and this site, from fan input)
  • Consider the condition of the track and painting it (more info coming soon..)

Lubricating the chassis as indicated in the TCR Manual is essential to optimizing performance. The thing is, what type of oil to use and exactly where is something that needs testing. Back in the day (1977), the household oil people used was 3-in-1 Oil and it was a bit thick. There was also slot car racing oil (such as what Aurora sold) which was even thicker. Modern oils are better and we now use synthetics that weren't around in the 70's and 80's. Since synthetic oil has better lubricant properties, you can use a thinner oil than before. Thinner oil also allows faster operation with less drag. So the oil of choice by slot car fans today is a medium weight synthetic oil. We are planning a full write-up on where to lubricate, but for now we recommend the axle joists (4 places there), along with the motor bearings (2 places, front and back), you can also lubricate where the wheel hub connects to the axle (on one wheel). We do not recommend putting oil (or grease) on the drive gears or even the pinion shaft that this point. Drivetrain failure usually results when the gears are lubricated and there is little to no noticable gain in performance.

For the track, we have found the original Ideal TCR track, though the best of the bunch, to be of a texture that produces some drag. It seems to benefit greatly from a recoating with a smoother material, such as plastic paint. Use of plastic paint (Rustoleum brand) has provided some amazing results not only in looks, but in the performance of the cars. More on this coming soon..

Pickup shoe and spring replacement is over-rated!

In our testing, original worn springs and pickups can work just fine! They just have to be clean and straight.

There is, however, modern re-designed replacement pickups available from some vendors that we plan to test. They are physically larger, but need to extensively testing before we can recommend them. Initial tests show little to no improvement.

Other potential sources of improvement (currently under evaluation/test):

  • Upgrade the power supply (a full write-up coming soon)
  • Whether to lubricate the gears and drive shaft (until further investigation, we say no)
  • Whether to coat the metal wheel gears with a coating to improve smoothness (so far, no)
  • Use grease (such as dielectric grease) instead of oil on transmission (not much luck yet)
  • Lubricate or sand body parts that touch the track (sand on some yes, lubricate no, a full write-up coming)
  • Change the pickup springs (so far we have found minimal improvement)
  • Use eraser on pickups (it seems to help, but not sure how much)
  • Change the pickups to new/different type (full write-up soon)
  • Use rail lubricant/conditioner on track (more testing needed)
  • Whether to use fine sandpaper on the track rails instead of a penny (so far, yes, still testing)
  • The effect of reversing the motor
  • Whether the red or blue coiled motor is better
  • Mix/Match parts between Mk1 Mk2 and Mk3 to produce a better overall chassis




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