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Old 2019.03.24, 11:56 PM   #1
art4242
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Poor traction with RCP on auto shop floor

Looking for any advice on how to improve traction on our RCP track, it's been horrible to terrible. We've been running in an auto repair shop the last several months, as we lost our permanent track last year when Inside Line Racing closed down. The garage surface is painted concrete, fairly cold most of the time, no heaters inside. We're only setting up the track temporarily for race days, usually the day before and then taking it down right after the race.

The first couple of months traction was horrible, not really driveable. I thought a large part of this was that many of the RCP tiles were >10 years old, had never been cleaned and were used as a rental track when ILR had a retail store location.

I took all of the tiles home, put them indoors at 72F, traction was still bad, so not purely a temperature issue initially.

I then experimented with various methods of cleaning, and settled upon a deep wash with 1:5 Simple Green and a vigorous brush scrubbing and thorough rinse which worked worked on a few tiles that I tested. Took a lot of elbow grease to clean, but afterwards at home in my garage (on concrete slab), traction felt great and there was a huge improvement compared to before, even with air temperatures in the high 40's.

But when I took all of the tiles back and we set up in the auto shop for the next race, traction, although noticeably better than before, was still only fair/poor. And seemed to get worse as the race went on into the evening (maybe due to temperature drop?). I don't think it's contamination/oils picked up from the floor/transferred to the racing surface as it was bad the first race before we packed and stacked the tiles.

New rear tires do help for a while, but only for 2-3 runs which is way too short. I've tried every rear tire that I can get my hand on (Marka V1, V9, all flavors of PN KS, KS-M, Kyosho 20's, 10's..). This past weekend temp was decent in the 60F's, but again traction was not great, and we've been through rainy days and dry days and not a huge difference.

Anyone have thoughts on what might be causing the poor traction or have ideas to improve it (short of finding a new racing location)? Some thoughts I had were that something from the concrete is affecting the tiles, could be humidity or just the temp difference between the floor and the air. I would almost be up for laying down a layer of indoor/outdoor carpeting to try and isolate the RCP from the concrete if I knew that would help.

Last edited by art4242; 2019.03.25 at 12:39 AM.
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Old 2019.03.25, 01:21 AM   #2
bobbyz
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I had got two of the older ILR Wide L tracks that were in storage. They were very slick(smooth side) at first, but with a good routine of warm water and a couple capfulls of SimpleGreen per gallon with a damp mop or rag, and then vacuuming had created great traction (although just running 3500kv & 70t so far). So cleaning sounds somewhat similar to what you're doing. I also do lay down tarps to keep the dust down and create a little vapor barrier from the concrete. I'd try putting a tarp or low pile carpet under a section of track and test to see if you are able to notice a difference in traction. A couple times when a little sun gets on the track at the end of the straight away later in the day, cars will suddenly start to traction roll at that corner, until we put in a sun block to create some shade. All that to say heat and cold defiantly effect grip levels in my experience. I'll be interested to see how our track runs in the hotter summer months when it gets into the high 80s-90s.
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Old 2019.03.25, 12:06 PM   #3
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Bare concrete floors, if cold are like putting a track over ice. There are a thermal mass material in that if they are cold, they will siphon off heat from a track. Low humidity and cold are not good evironmentla conditions for RCP. RCP likes consistent temps and moderate humidity. As mentioned, just getting sunlight alone will raise track temps resulting in change in performance from one tile to another. At remnant, they race on a slab on grade concrete floor, uninsulated. They saw improvement in placing the track over commercial carpet tiles as a buffer to the cold concrete floor. When I had a track in my basement, the insulated residential slab was a mild consistent temp all year round due to depth of basement and never really had any issues unless heater was on or off or spiked during the course of a race day.

I had to clean 3 L tracks before and used a shop broom, cleaner and hose and did it on a driveway which made it easy to scrub large portions of track at a time. It took maybe an hour to clean all the track in large segments and simply left them outside to dry.

Unrelated but watch out for event practice sessions that donít provide anticipated environmental conditions for race day. Iíve heard stories of attendees showing up for practice days only to have temp settings changed race day altering track performance making testing/tuning fruitless. Canít say this was intentional but always helpful to ask if practice session environmental settings will be the same as race day. It certainanly makes for unfair local advantage when locals get to test/tune under ideal conditions and attendees do not.
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Old 2019.03.25, 02:52 PM   #4
art4242
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Quote:
Originally Posted by bobbyz View Post
I had got two of the older ILR Wide L tracks that were in storage. They were very slick(smooth side) at first, but with a good routine of warm water and a couple capfulls of SimpleGreen per gallon with a damp mop or rag, and then vacuuming had created great traction (although just running 3500kv & 70t so far). So cleaning sounds somewhat similar to what you're doing. I also do lay down tarps to keep the dust down and create a little vapor barrier from the concrete. I'd try putting a tarp or low pile carpet under a section of track and test to see if you are able to notice a difference in traction. A couple times when a little sun gets on the track at the end of the straight away later in the day, cars will suddenly start to traction roll at that corner, until we put in a sun block to create some shade. All that to say heat and cold defiantly effect grip levels in my experience. I'll be interested to see how our track runs in the hotter summer months when it gets into the high 80s-90s.

Thanks, great suggestions. Binh had mentioned you had cleaned tiles similarly with good results. It's good to know that the same batch of old ILR tiles are working elsewhere so probably not an issue with the tiles themselves.

Putting a tarp or carpet sounds like a good thing to try.
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Old 2019.03.25, 03:01 PM   #5
art4242
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Quote:
Originally Posted by arch2b View Post
Bare concrete floors, if cold are like putting a track over ice. There are a thermal mass material in that if they are cold, they will siphon off heat from a track. Low humidity and cold are not good evironmentla conditions for RCP. RCP likes consistent temps and moderate humidity. As mentioned, just getting sunlight alone will raise track temps resulting in change in performance from one tile to another. At remnant, they race on a slab on grade concrete floor, uninsulated. They saw improvement in placing the track over commercial carpet tiles as a buffer to the cold concrete floor. When I had a track in my basement, the insulated residential slab was a mild consistent temp all year round due to depth of basement and never really had any issues unless heater was on or off or spiked during the course of a race day.

I had to clean 3 L tracks before and used a shop broom, cleaner and hose and did it on a driveway which made it easy to scrub large portions of track at a time. It took maybe an hour to clean all the track in large segments and simply left them outside to dry.

Unrelated but watch out for event practice sessions that donít provide anticipated environmental conditions for race day. Iíve heard stories of attendees showing up for practice days only to have temp settings changed race day altering track performance making testing/tuning fruitless. Canít say this was intentional but always helpful to ask if practice session environmental settings will be the same as race day. It certainanly makes for unfair local advantage when locals get to test/tune under ideal conditions and attendees do not.
Thanks for the advice. I had ended up doing the same for cleaning and laying out large portions of track in my yard and scrubbing them with a floor brush. Still took quite a while as we had over 200 tiles.

Trying to insulate or isolate the concrete from the tiles sounds like the best thing to try at this point.
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Old 2019.03.25, 03:27 PM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by art4242 View Post
Thanks for the advice. I had ended up doing the same for cleaning and laying out large portions of track in my yard and scrubbing them with a floor brush. Still took quite a while as we had over 200 tiles.

Trying to insulate or isolate the concrete from the tiles sounds like the best thing to try at this point.
Technically the next best thing beyond isolation would be to use temp control devices if a central one is installed or portable ones to keep a constant room temp going which will also level off the humidity in the process, however looking at that ware house not sure how practical or economical that would be so just mentioning it as a technical point.

Another detail I've always wondered about in the back of my mind has been if any amounts of visually undetectable diff grease specially in mod cars with freshly built diffs gets flinged off on the track and gets the surface slick and if that also has something to do to with less successful CCW runs with the grease line ending up effecting CCW driveline more...this is just a random personal pondering point than anything proven but I think all tracks experience some days or periods of unexplained loss of traction, so anyway. I think its been solidly established in the RC world in general the two most proven factors effecting traction levels beyond surface issues are temp and humidity.

Last edited by mugler; 2019.03.25 at 03:30 PM.
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Old 2019.03.25, 11:18 PM   #7
art4242
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Originally Posted by mugler View Post
Technically the next best thing beyond isolation would be to use temp control devices if a central one is installed or portable ones to keep a constant room temp going which will also level off the humidity in the process, however looking at that ware house not sure how practical or economical that would be so just mentioning it as a technical point.

Another detail I've always wondered about in the back of my mind has been if any amounts of visually undetectable diff grease specially in mod cars with freshly built diffs gets flinged off on the track and gets the surface slick and if that also has something to do to with less successful CCW runs with the grease line ending up effecting CCW driveline more...this is just a random personal pondering point than anything proven but I think all tracks experience some days or periods of unexplained loss of traction, so anyway. I think its been solidly established in the RC world in general the two most proven factors effecting traction levels beyond surface issues are temp and humidity.
Yeah, we had thought about bringing in heaters but the space is probably too large to heat economically with portable heaters. At least spring and summer are coming in the next few months so temps should start to rise some.

Not sure if the diff grease actually makes it onto the track. At least for me the main problem running CCW is that is just feels foreign, sort of like driving on the wrong side of road, at least when I tried if briefly on last month's HFAY layout. I'm guessing I could easily lose 10 or more laps going CCW compared to CW.
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Old 2019.03.26, 02:51 AM   #8
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A lot of the difference in balance between the cars going CCW vs CW I suspect comes down to the differential and pod balance. Turning right with the spur on the inside of the corner is smoother than turning left with it on the outside. Much of this also has to do with the mass attached to the rear left wheel (axle) compared to the right. The majority of mini-z circuits have CW, but I have raced at plenty circuits where it was alternated on a weekly basis, or in periods.

Circuits that were not run CCW regularly, when they finally did, the cars handled poorly for a few meets. I speculate that this has to do with track wear and the groove not being set in.

The majority of CW fast corners are right corners, and the left corners are usually slower corners. The track takes rubber and wear differently. Swapping the direction, you are almost running on virgin track as the track pores do not have built up rubber on this side of the crevices and are rougher edges that will fold away more when stressed.

Just my thoughts on the matter...
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Old 2019.03.26, 07:50 AM   #9
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Ideally you will want the room temperature to be in the low to mid 70's with a relative humidity(in the room) to be about the same. As temperatures drop relative humidity rises and you are effectively "ice" racing. With the track being in contact with a concrete surface that has likely not been sealed from the ground beneath it only exacerbates the issue. You will either have to heat the room or de-humidify it making it a conditioned space. OR, leave it alone since it is posing the same conditions for everyone and presenting an opportunity to learn to chassis tune for the conditions.

I would bet the farm that in the old days when Binh hosted the PN races at the base of the escalators down at the far end of the mall that traction was a bit off as well. The result of being basically in a subterranean space where all the cool air settled. Face it. You are in perhaps one of the coolest, dampest spots in the USA just behind SEA/TAC.
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Old 2019.05.02, 05:37 PM   #10
art4242
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Just wanted to follow up and document results from our last race over the weekend. This time I put some foam underlayment (~3mm thick) with a mylar backing (mylar touching the concrete) onto the concrete before laying the RCP tiles on top to add some isolation.

Unfortunately there were a multiple other factors that changed at the same time:

- we laid the track down immediately before the race. Previously we had always put it down the day before.

- temp was much warmer since it's spring. Concrete temp was 72F, the foam underlayment was measuring 80F, the tiles also 80F.

- we started 2 hours earlier than we normally do (ending before 6pm where we had previously ended by 8pm)

Whatever the cause, traction was significantly better, the best we've ever had at this location. Again not sure of the exact cause. We did experiment and pulled the foam out from under the tiles during the last half hour, but can't say that it made any noticeable difference.

One problem with the foam was that the track ended up bumpy in areas as it was hard to get the foam to lay flat, and once the tiles were down you could not slide them around to adjust easily.
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