New here, and let me start off by saying thanks for all the good info you all have put up there in posts.
So, a little back story. Back in the day like every other kid I had slot cars or more appropriately dinning room table missiles. Girls, fishing, and life ended up having more pull over me then being frustrate with cars not running or when they did run not staying on the track at any speed. Then about a month ago I had my second child and my oldest, a 3 year old, was feeling it. My wife and I bought him a battery powered slot car track, which off course the cars flew off the track. I little bit of governing and my son was off to the races. So building on this we went out shopping looking a better track.
We ended up picking up a tomy track with mega g's and the variable power controller. This turned out to be the perfect set for our needs. My boy can slam on the trigger, go fast and stay on the track.
So building on this success my son now has his on 4x8 layout in the basement, where we are building up a four lane track. Admittedly so I can go fast and get loose while the family races around a reasonable speed.
Anyway to my question. I have seem some information on the net on how soldering the tracks can greatly improve conductivity. However we plan on making a semi permanent track, and screwing things down so he can change things up as he grows.
There are some electrically conductive greases out there used in electronic devices, has anyone every used those types of products with success?
The only other alternative that I know of for a "permanent" layout would be an adhesive such as silicone--and that would be difficult to deal with if you had to get a piece or two up to say, deal with a bad connection.
Mine is screwed down, along with about a bazillion hours of soldering and fitting and smoothing... and I am happy with it.
I believe that Nico's opinion comes from the fact that they dissasemble after the races and really, that is another way to keep the connections clean and working properly--take it apart periodically & detail each piece.
Track joints--am hoping someone has tried the grease--dielectic, I think it is called.
I can tell you that I use CRC 2-26 "Electrical Grade, plastic safe, precision lubricant", it is thin, and a drop on each shoe once in a while keeps the rails nice. Probably will work well when detailing connections too.
I have used "Conducto-Lube" for over 30 years. My AFX track was the SS track at the 1990 Nats and used the lube with great success. The reason for it's success is that it is a mineral oil with silver powder in it. Since the price of silver has risen, so has the cost of Conducto-Lube. It was intended for high power (megawatt) connections to reduce the parasitic resistance which can result in heat (Think megawatt), which can damage the connections over time. While very expensive, you only need to use it once.
Others have had good results with dielectric gease, which primarily protects the connection from oxidizing.
Yes, As long as you don't wash it away while cleaning the track surface. I did say it was expensive, a 1oz tube is about $80. More than enough to do a 70ft 4 lane track.
You need to learn how much to apply to each joint, so as not to waste any. If you have to wipe the excess, you've applied too much.
I used to use grease that had copper particles in it, that could be nearly as conductive as grease with silver particles, but much less expensive. I avoid cleaning my track with water based products, water causes corrosion. I wipe my track down with a cloth that has lighter fluid (naphtha) on it. I don't squirt lighter fluid directly on the track, even though it does not seem to attack plastic. If you had put conductive grease on your track connections it would not be a good idea to drench the track with any sort of cleaner.
NannerSmoothie is correct on the soldered joints--although some have had a perfect experience with them, mine were problematic.
So... I soldered small solid copper wire from rail to rail, section to section, & glued the sections together with liquid nails small projects white. No problems, other than the months gone out of my life...
ps--in retrospect, I would be trying some conductive grease first.
Aero Car track cleaner and rail conditioner would work really well here, Di-electric grease on the connection points would stop arcing and carbon build up because of the lack of air that would be the only grease i would use and application would be with a knife point or Qtip and just on the rail sides at the contact point.
Aero car would be easier to use for that.
I've seen first hand how fast the connections between track sections degrade, within an hour you can get a huge drop in performance just from the connection at the rail joints arcing
I used NO-OX-ID "A SPECIAL" grease on my last two tracks after water based track cleaning methods resulted in extensive corrosion of the track joints. Now, no water gets anywhere near the track and my track cleaning method uses WD40 and denatured alcohol. The NO-OX-ID grease is used in the power industry for rebuilding things like 4,160V-13,800V switchgear breakers (again think Megawatts) and has an excellent record. After making sure things were nice and shiny I painted each joint with the NO-OX-ID grease and let the excess materiel flow out when the joint was assembled. You can find NO-OX-ID grease on u-pay for less than $10 a jar. A jar will do all the tracks in the neighborhood. I would not use silicone for this application.
I too would not solder track sections together as 1) they will eventually crack due to temperature changes or vibration and 2) when they crack they will fail. I have used #20 AWG soldered jumpers between track sections with great success. Jumpers soldered across each joint allows power to flow without resistance and also allow the track joints to flex as necessary.
When we built our Tomy permanant track I heeded everyone's advice: no soldered track joints and VERY few nails to hold track down. We let the track boarder material glued down with foam tacky glue from Woodland Scenics hold the track.
We had a few connection problems at some of the more stressed track joints when we first built the layout so before putting down the boarder we used some stuff from a company called Caig. The make a pen with conductive ink called CircuitWriter. It is about the size of a sharpy, about $18-$20 per pen. It is used to repair circuit traces on circuit boards. This stuff solved the problem (just clean each joint on both sides well, coat both connections with the ink and assemble). So far (about a year) the joints have staid together and the few times we had to pull a section for some reason they pulled apart with no problem and no damage then we just re-coat and re-assemble. The pen was way more than enough to do the connections on a 100+' 4 lane track.