Hi! I'm Bill, and I have a router (two actually), and I (kinda) know how to use them.
I use my routers to build slot tracks -- remember those? Yes, those little electric racing cars of the mid-60s to the 70s are still around (or back again, depending upon how you look at things.)
While the plastic slot track of our youth is still around, a routed slot track is still the best way to go. I've build two tracks already using MDF (the preferred material for tracks, but oh, the dust!), using what I call the 'trammel and straight edge' approch. Curves are routed with the router mounted on a trammel, and straights are routed using a straight edge guiding the router base.
However, my next track is going to be more of a challenge. My previous tracks were for larger scale cars (1/43 and 1/32 scale) that did not require particularly tight routing tolerances. The slot was 1/8" wide, and a hair over 1/4" deep. There were 3 or 4 slots in the tracks I built.
My next track, however, is going to be for 'HO scale' which is roughly 1/64 scale. The cars are about 3" long, and about 1.25" wide. The 'slot' for an HO car's guide is only 1/16" wide, and I will need 4 of them. The trickier part is that on either side of each of the guide slots there needs to be a slot for a power conductor -- either 'rail' (annealed wire .015"w x .080"d) or 'braid' (magnetic wire braid .125"w x .020"d'). The rail - or braid - needs to installed so that as close to .012" above the surface of the track as possible when all is done. One builder of premium HO scale tracks claims to be able to hold the rail height between .009"-.015". Varying rail/braid height causes problems with the handling of the cars, and must be minimized.
So... how do I skin this cat? Having spent waaaay too much time on the web researching this issue, it looks like the best way to cut the guide slots is to build a template for the inside of the track, and to use it as a router guide. Thanks to this forum, I learned about router bushings, and Tom O'Donnell's 'support your router' article. That information answered several of my questions.
The remaining guide slots will be cut by the router using a jig that has pins that ride in an existing guide slot. The jig will cut the next guide slot at a precise distance from the 'master' slot. This type of jig has been used in slot racing for years, and it's something that I will need to make on my own.
A very similar approach will be used to cut the two power slots on either side of the guide slot.
I had been using a laminate trimmer as my router for my previous tracks, but for this track, I wanted something heavy and precise, and something that has an available dust extraction capability. Thus, my new PC router. You *don't* want the router to make shallow cuts because a layer of dust has built up under the jig, and in this case, a heavy router is good. And dust control is very good to have.
Well, welcome to my world, I've already learned something from you guys. Thanks!
I found out the hard way that this site does not allow links to the outside. I was going to post a link to a site that shows tracks people have made -- some good, some bad. If anyone asks, I might just let you know where you could find it.