Race in a box: the service center track

Zapfo2000 Sunday, 10/4/2020

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When looking around I saw a picture of the old 1979 Hot Wheels Service Center. And I remembered, that I loved to play with a very similar playset when I was a kid...
Unfortunetly I do not have enoughspace to build a permanent racetrack...but wait...the service center was foldable and a touch of genius in creating long lasting fun...so lets race it.

In the following days I thought about the way to build it, measurements, weights, materials:
- it will be build out of plywood (have enough leftovers)
- it should be foldable like the original
- it should be easy to transport (if needed with a parcel service)
- to fit the regulations for cheap transport it should measure max 120 x 60 x 60cm, <5kg
- there should be place to store some cars and race 2-4cars at a time
-if possible: it would be nice to combine two "race in a box"-tracks to have a longer racetrack

First (very professional) drawings showed a box. Therefore this kind of track is now named "race in a box"

Today I tried a model with some hot wheels-parts and it might work:

As I am pretty busy there will only be little progress, and if the Idea does not work it will be a nice fire later, but the next step is to build the plywood-box.
It would be funny to have a world tour, sending the track with a parcel service or some other stupid stuff next year...


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Rusty 10/4/20

I like that Idea!!!

Way to think outside,urr,I mean inside the box!

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redlinederby 10/4/20
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Now that's a damn good idea...bonus for taking inspiration from the service center - I always wanted that toy but never had it.

And now you got me thinking how you could product-ize it too. Like having swappable building and stuff...all blank that you could paint yourself (or have it painted for a nominal fee). You could pick the city theme, or country theme, or fantasy...whatever you wanted and it would just be different buildings the cars would race through.

Just don't forget your second lane! :) Can't have a race without two lanes. Lots of potential with this one, me thinks. Excited to follow your prototyping and build. Bravo!

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Zapfo2000 10/5/20

Today I was able to make some progress, but: I failed!
I failed in building a really small and lightweight box:-)). "Unfortunatly" now there is enough space for twice as much racetrack as I planned, the box will be 84xm x 55cm x 55cm in the End, still easy to store. 
First half of the box:

 With some support for the track:

Now the white glue has to dry...keep you up to date...

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KPS_Kustomz 10/11/20

Looks like an awesome idea...I day roll with it brother! 

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Zapfo2000 10/14/20

Today I was able to spend some time on the track. Or better: on the box.

There is pretty much space for some more tracks. I needed some attempts to place the hinges the right way, but now it works fine.

And it really folds, you only need to store one box...

Next step is adding the sides and starting with the second part of the tracks.

  • A question: what curve pieces are those, and what set are they in? I am looking for some banked single lanes, and possibly a double-lane banked curve like that. — SpyDude
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Zapfo2000 10/16/20

Only a small update:

This might create a little jump in the middle and it will be possible to add track at the begin and at the end of the track...

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Zapfo2000 10/26/20

First test to build the gas station for the service center. Everything printed on paper and later glued to some pieces of foamboard.

  • Where did you find the gas station paper model? — Rainsford
  • Its a mashup of different papermodells based on this one: http://www.gumhold.com/paper_free/tankstelle_1_BETA.jpg — Zapfo2000
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SpyDude 11/4/20

I was actually doing some thinking on this for those who have the room and the expertise. What if the box was a bigger box? Like when unfolded, the top half of the box could rest on one of those 8' tables while the bottom half rested on the floor (or caster wheels for moving it around)? The concept would be the same, just on a larger scale, and yes, using a pickup truck to move it to events would be there, but ..... 'race in a box,' and it would sure get the kids interested.  You could easily do a two-lane run in the box, or even go for a full wide track setup. You would only need to remove one curve or one section of track for the box to be able to fold up and not damage anything..

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Zapfo2000 11/6/20

What actually is a big advantage of the design: The box is stored in my workshop. It is not getting dusty or dirty and when I want to continue I just open the box...

The upper level is now nearly finished. But there are some issues at this point:
The transition from the upper to the lower level can not be build like I showed in the pictures above, "the Whump" would be to nasty for most of the cars. So I remembered the "service center" I owned when I was a kid. The turns were attachable and were placed outside the box when playing with the set and stored inside the rest of the time.

Therefore I will try to build the next turn this way and use them as a transition between the levels. Printing the parts of the turn with a 3D-printer would be great, but as I do not own one so far, I will use HW-turns.

What are some other lessons learned so far?
- first test your track, then build your box! It is much easier that way...
- the box dont have to be that high. The racetrack is getting fast and steep..
- keep the weight in mind. I only use 4mm plywood, some wooden strips for reinforcing the box and some styrofoam for everything else. No plaster or stones...
- maybe it is easier to build only a one laned track with a timer when you have limited space.

But the most important fact: its fun!!!

  • Suggestion: your start line does not have to be inside the box. As with the pieces you have to remove to close the box, you can hang a start gate outside the box at the highest point of the track. (It would technically be hanging off the top corner of the box and outside.) — SpyDude
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SpyDude 11/7/20

The service station is apparently still available from Hot Wheels - I just saw it at Target for like $40.

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SpyDude 12/26/20

How's your 'race in a box' going?  Any new updates?

I was also wondering what curves those were that you are using.  I likes 'em.

  • Unfortunatly threr are no updates recently due to lockdown and complete homeschooling. There is simply no time left, but this is one big feature of the design: closed to a box it can wait easily in the corner of the workshop. The curves are some I bought 'second hand' with some playsets. As we do not have the track sets avaidable in shops in germany I buy old playsets and use only some parts of them. The other parts are for playing with my kids... — Zapfo2000
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CapperDeluxe 2/17/21

Love this idea and is making me rethink my own 

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