Screwing down your track, countersinking

redlinederby Sunday, 5/21/2017
Site manager

I bought myself a countersink drill bit and some tiny flathead screws so I can research screwing down my track to the board. Not just to keep it straight but to keep the waffling to a minimum, which is something that crops up quite a bit on the seamless track.

I used a wide popsicle stick as a washer which worked much better than I expected. And so far I haven't seen any negatives to it. The walls aren't pulling in and there's not serious bump created in the track. All the cars I've thrown at it have plenty of clearance both vertically and horizontally between the wheels.

All that being said (and being positive), has anyone else gone through and screwed their track down and maybe have some real world words of wisdom?

If there are any gotchas to watch out far, I'd like to try and duplicate them on my test track segments before I go drilling into my seamless track. 

So far it's gone better than I expected so I'm hopeful. Any thoughts or insight is appreciated.


Are you actually going to be drilling through the track itself, using the countersink to bowl out the track and not the wood?

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redlinederby 5/22/17
Site manager

That's the plan. Like I mentioned, a few tests on separate track worked far better than I expected. 

I thought maybe track integrity would be a thing but then realized that most of the orange track they sell now has holes all over in it to reduce plastic, not to mention it's thinner material.

I think the popsicle stick washer helps a lot as it spreads out the support down the length of the track rather than a little area created by a circle washer. I tried a normal washer and it seemed to create more dimple than the stick. And the popsicle stick is the perfect width and height to fit between the orange track rails.

As a much better carpenter than I, what are some pitfalls of countersinker? Anything serious? I just got a bit at Home Depot and it seems to work great.

I also got a cone grinder for my Dremel, thinking I could use it if the drill bit didn't work out. The Dremel bit works pretty well too but I feel like the actual countersink bit is better.

Sounds like you've got it down...looking forward to some pics. 

The main thing with any hand held drill is to keep the bit straight through decent into the track, as an angle could effect the flushness of the screw head.

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redlinederby 5/22/17
Site manager

Here's my setup and materials. Certainly very basic stuff and frankly, quite affordable. The drill bit cost the most and it was only $10 at Home Depot. 

Countersink drill bit

Tiny screws. Didn't need much since the track is so thin.

Don't have to drill in very far to create a nice divot for the screw.

I used a "fat" popsicle stick as a washer. It fits perfectly between the orange track rails and is almost the 1/16" thickness needed. I just slide it under the track where I need it and then screw right through need to pre-drill the stick, it's super thin.

Then I just hand screw in the tiny need for a auto-drill on this one. You don't need to screw it down very tight. In fact, screw it down only as tight as you need it to be flush with the track. Make it too tight and the walls will stack to straighten and you'll get a divot bump.

Then do a visual inspection followed by taking some cars and making sure they all clear it. Muscle cars are good to check narrow wheel base. And find the car with the lowest body/chassis and check it as well.

And that's what I'm doing. I think it'll work and hopefully keep my track straight and flat. Nice thing is it isn't permanent. If you need your track to travel, it'll race just fine even with the holes in it...they're not that big and don't interfere with the cars.

The other important thing to remember is that no track will be perfect, no matter what you do. Sure, you want your track to be as fair as possible but there will always be bumps, divots, waffling, curves...whatever. Do your best and have fun building your track.

Looks solid...and I agree about the track...the track I'm using is original redline track...40+ years old.

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Jdub3000 5/22/17

Good idea, was going to suggest pre drilling but you already thought of that.  My track is collapsible and I use 12'' track lengths, still I should incorporate this into my track somehow maybe leave the end track pieces unscrewed.

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redlinederby 5/23/17
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My plan is to only screw down the track where it needs it. Since my track is seamless, it tends to get waving at certain points and I want those to be more flat. All in all, it's not too many spots so impact should be minimal overall...just hoping the places where I tag it down don't cause problems elsewhere.

I've used Velcro before and it works but I think it actually creates more of a bump than drilling and screwing. My track is semi-permanent anyway so screws will be just fine. If your track is portable and gets struck often, going the Velcro route might be more convenient. Of course, if your track isn't seamless and you're using segments, the Waffle Factor might not come into play's easy enough to just buy a new segment if one goes bad.

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redlinederby 5/24/17
Site manager

Someone on Facebook mentioned they use the fat popsicle sticks as a way to glue their track down instead.

In my mind that's gluing the stick to the bottom of the track, then gluing the stick to the base board. Not sure how well glue would stick to the orange track plastic but I like that it doesn't requite drilling the track. Maybe I'll sand the underside of the track to rough it up a bit for better glue sticking. Not sure the popsicle stick will be thick enough to get full contact but maybe it doesn't need that anyway...will have to see.

I think I'll try this and see how well it works before I do the countersink screwing. I've proved to myself that screwing will work, so it'll be the fallback if using glue fails.

Only downside is that glue is somewhat more permanent than screws, obviously. I'm guessing pulling up glued track wouldn't be an issue and wouldn't ruin the track.

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redlinederby 5/24/17
Site manager

Well, I did some small testing on orange track segments and I'm not convinced. I had to use some Gorilla Glue-esque stuff to get the wood to stick to the plastic. The wood-on-wood seems fine, takes long to cure. Also kinda messy (but maybe that's just me). Overall, just feel it's easier dealing with screws even if it does chew a hole in the track.

Your mileage may vary and maybe one method is better for segments versus seamless...

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