Slots

Australian Muscle Car - - Contents -

When we asked Brett Jur­mann to take over the reins of Slot Ma­chine Ad­dic­tion, we were in­quis­i­tive about the track he had at home. Surely Brett had an in­ter­est­ing per­ma­nent set-up? Turns out, he does: an in­ter­pre­ta­tion of the Mt Panorama cir­cuit.

When I took over the reins of this col­umn, Mr Ed was in­quis­i­tive about the track I had at home. Surely I had an in­ter­est­ing per­ma­nent set-up? As it turns out, I do. So here, dear read­ers, is my home track, an in­ter­pre­ta­tion of the Mt Panorama cir­cuit.

To my way of think­ing, per­ma­nent home tracks are a real win­dow into the per­son­al­ity of the owner, so no doubt you will have your own opin­ions of me by the end of this month’s col­umn. Cre­at­ing a home track is usu­ally born of the need to get up off the car­pet and not have to pack your slot set away af­ter ev­ery use. To get there, you can go two ways: a pro­pri­etary plas­tic set, or rout your own in tim­ber. Rout­ing and elec­tri­cal wiring I con­sid­ered too am­bi­tious, so I went with a plas­tic set from the Span­ish brand Ninco.

I then started work­ing out where in the house I could keep it. Tak­ing over the dou­ble garage would have meant some do­mes­tic con­flict, so I bor­rowed in­spi­ra­tion from oth­ers’ ideas and mounted it on a fold­away tim­ber frame that piv­ots off the garage wall. The frame is sim­i­lar in de­sign to a wall frame, topped by ply­wood to stiffen it. The height at which it met the ceil­ing de­ter­mined my max­i­mum lay­out size, so with that set, I then be­gan the lay­out de­sign.

De­sign is con­strained by a whole bunch of fac­tors, the key ones be­ing cir­cuit type, pre­ferred curve ra­dius and in­spi­ra­tions. For me that meant a road cir­cuit, and re­ally there was one clear choice – at­tempt to repli­cate Mt Panorama. It’s here that I faced one fun­da­men­tal truth: the pop­u­lar ready to run cars are 1:32 scale and 6.12km in that scale equals 190m in length. There is no re­al­is­tic way to make a scale replica of the best cir­cuit in Aus­tralia that is able to fit in a space at home.

So, home tracks are about tak­ing what in­spires you to and turn­ing it into your piece of work. In my case I wanted a track that I could use that made me feel like I was driv­ing that iconic piece of bi­tu­men west of the Blue Moun­tains. To make best use of the space avail­able, I used an Oran Park-like fig­ure-eight shape, which also works to equalise the lap length for both the left and right lanes. There is a climb af­ter the Pit Straight, a tight Cut­ting, a McPhillamy Park, some Esses, For­rest’s El­bow and then Con­rod Straight.

To make it feel like the real thing, I in­cor­po­rated scenery with el­e­ments from Mt Panorama in the early ’70s, all mounted on to­pog­ra­phy carved into Sty­ro­foam. I read up heav­ily on model rail­road tech­niques, and poured over slot car fo­rums to learn meth­ods from the tracks I had seen and ad­mired most. The shaped Sty­ro­foam was then coated with plas­ter and painted in an earth-colour.

There are mul­ti­ple tech­niques and ma­te­ri­als for fin­ish­ing it off. It all comes down to hav­ing an eye for de­tail, work­ing by trial and er­ror, and be­ing pa­tient. Some of the ma­te­ri­als are from spe­cial­ist sup­pli­ers such as Wood­land Scen­ics, some are ready-made items such as scale trees from China, but some of it is sim­ply craft items like pad­dle-pop sticks and card­board from Spot­light. Any­where that was bare of veg­e­ta­tion

was made to look like Mt Panorama soil us­ing coloured grout which was ce­mented in place with di­luted PVA glue.

My in­spi­ra­tion was the slot track work of oth­ers around the world, and to be hon­est there are many who have mas­ter­pieces be­yond my mod­el­ling abil­i­ties. Hav­ing said that, I’ve seen a wor­thy Monaco track made with noth­ing more than scenery hand-drawn on card­board, but it worked be­cause it cap­tured the essence of the harbour-side track.

I worked with this ‘essence’ mantra, mak­ing a whole bunch of el­e­ments I con­sider Mt Panorama icons: the old wooden pits, the McPhillamy Park gates, the fruit or­chard in the cen­tre of the track, the earth cut­tings, the post and wire fences, and old ad­ver­tis­ing signs. I’ve been work­ing on it for years, some­times with large gaps be­tween additions. My most re­cent work is a ver­ti­cal back­drop of the Bathurst sky­line, printed from a se­ries of pho­tos I took on one of my vis­its. I don’t know that it will ever be com­plete. I’m al­ways hunt­ing around toy stores and bar­gain shops for lit­tle additions.

My track doesn’t make for great race events – that type of track is best con­structed us­ing routed tim­ber tech­niques. I’ll prob­a­bly go that way if or when I build an­other track. And what would I do if I built an­other track? I’ve got my sights set firmly on Le Mans from the 1960s.

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