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How to Repair Slot Cars

Slot Car Racing Just like life-size automobiles, slot cars need a small amount of regular maintenance. Simple upkeep will ensure a car's top-notch speed and performance.

Slot Car Parts

Slot cars have very few moving parts. As with any machine though, their active pieces will wear down and need replacing.

On slot cars, the moving parts amount to motors, tires, gears, axles, and springs. Some slot cars have bearings or bushings as well.

While some parts don't necessarily move, they undergo a great deal of friction and often need replacing. These parts include guide pins and pick-up shoes, brushes, or braids.

Tomy AFX, Tyco, Life-Like, Aurora, and other manufactures have created tune-up kits that include the most common replacement parts. But some cars are so customizable that a prepackaged tune-up kit would not make sense. Owners of these cars tend to by repair pieces separately in order to tweak cars to their individual preferences.

Clean and Repair Slot Car Axles

Slot car owners need to keep their cars clean. Gears and axles are notorious for gathering dust, hair, and lint. This debris will inevitably slow down a car. Hobbyists can carefully use tweezers to clean foreign particles from the car's gears and axles.

Clean and Repair Slot Car Pick-Up Shoes

A slot car's pick-up shoes and the slot car tracks will both corrode with time. Even a clean pick-up shoe can become corroded from rubbing on a dirty track.

Pencil erasers can rub corrosion from pick-up shoes without causing damage, and Marvel Mystery Oil is a product which will lubricate pick-ups and keep them from corroding too quickly. Corrosion will also be prevented by keeping the track clean with a little RailZip.

Clean and Repair Slot Car Tires

Slot car tires often get dusty and lose their grip. Rolling the tires over Scotch tape is a simple method to clean them well.

Lubricants should be used on a slot car's moving parts conservatively. WD-40 or Marvel Mystery Oil will both work in small amounts. Too much lubrication will tend to gunk up the works and make the tires slip.

Replace Worn Slot Car Parts

Smaller HO cars are held together by snaps and clips. The bodies of these cars can be carefully unclipped and pulled off the chassis without any tools. Larger cars use screws to keep the body on the chassis.

To replace a motor's worn pinion gear, it is best to use a small Ninco Gear Puller. An experienced slot car owner can remove the pinion gear with two screwdrivers by keeping the pressure even on opposite sides of the gear. First, a hobbyist will need to remove the slot car's motor. Most motors simply unsnap from their casing.

Pick-up shoes are removed by gently pulling the front end over the retaining clip. Once they are unhooked, they swivel back and slide out of the rear retaining slot. When the shoes are off, the springs are exposed and can slide right out. If these springs are worn, they don't keep the shoes against the track well enough, especially around corners.

The rear axle snaps into place on HO cars; larger cars may either use the snap method or a retaining clip held on with a screw. Most HO cars have an axle assembly that includes an axle, gear, and two wheels. Larger cars allow owners to exchange gears and wheels on an axle. Front axles are not functional and generally don't need replacing.

Tires are easy to replace; they simply slide off the wheel and new ones slide back on.

Hobbyists can also check out related articles covering slot car modification, slot car brands and scales, and maintaining slot car tracks.

For decades, hobbyists have maintained and repaired their miniature slot cars with tweezers and jeweler's screw drivers. But, according to the LA Times, the future of transportation may well involve life-size slot cars powered by nationwide electric rails. Could today's toy tinkerers be tomorrow's highly qualified mechanics?


Some information in this article found at HO Slot Car Racing.