Much has been written about the compatibility of various brands and types of slot cars working other brands and types of tracks. It is fairly well known, for example, that almost any analog slot car can work well on a Carrera analog track because Carrera has the widest and deepest slot of any of the major manufacturers. Conversely, many Carrera cars will not work well, or at all, on many other brands of track because the guide is too wide or deep to fit in something like a Scalextric track. While articles have been written about the cars compatibility, little has been written about track retaining walls or barriers. This study will look in depth at tracks, retaining walls, and barriers from Carrera, Ninco, and Scalextric, and also show how well they do, or don’t, work when mixing brands.
Firstly, let’s start with Scalextric track and barriers, as they are quite likely the most commonly used brand of commercially manufactured slot car systems. Scalextric makes a very nice looking barrier, made of a soft, pliable plastic that holds its form well, and can absorb impacts of slot car crashes without physical damage. These barriers can attach to Scalextric Sport track in a couple of ways- with small black clips that attach directly to the bottom of the track, or inserted into grooves and channels specifically for these barriers on the accessory shoulder pieces. While the barriers do fit well and fairly stiffly into the black clips, the clips do not remain attached firmly to the track without the use of adhesives or other methods of affixing them in a more permanent fashion to the track. Also with a severe impact, either the barrier, or at times the entire shoulder section may dislodge from the track. Aesthetically the barriers are very pleasing, and they do little damage to the cars while slowing or stopping them. However, they often need to be put back into place after incidents.
Scalextric track with Scalextric guardrails
Carrera at one time provided two different types of barriers- one was a soft, pliable rubber that would slide into clips and affix to the track, and was available in black or red. These are no longer manufactured. The current Carrera barrier system consists of a red and white striped “candy cane” piece of 3mil PVC that slides into tightly fitting vinyl clips that attach to the bottom of the track. The red and white striping matches the pattern found on the border and shoulder pieces of Carrera track, and does look appropriate on sharp turns, though much less so on straight sections where a barrier may be warranted, such as a bridge. Also, the PVC tends to become brittle over time, and will crack and break with successive impacts. It also has very little pliability, and will pick up paint off of wayward cars. This tends to add a realistic look to the barrier, but the cars will show signs of wear. This system does remain firmly affixed to the track even with severe impacts. The strips of PVC can also be easily cut to custom lengths, and one piece can be as long as 4 feet, allowing for a continuous look and feel on a long turn. It is also quite easy to create your own custom barrier walls by printing directly to sheets of PVC and cutting it into strips of the correct height. This can allow for the creation of realistic and fairly durable trackside advertising.
Carrera track with custom Carrera style PVC retaining wall
Though not as widespread as Carrera and Scalextric, Ninco makes outstanding track and barrier products that are almost universally acknowledged as the best quality mass manufactured systems. The track has almost the same width and depth as the Carrera, while having the flexibility and aesthetics of the Scalextric. The barriers include low walls, stone looking walls, and even a wall with a high fence. The Ninco barriers are of a similar material to the Scalextric ones, and absorb impact without “trading paint”
Ninco wall on Ninco track
Now, suppose you have one brand of track, but you would like to use another brand for a wall or barrier. Fortunately, this is not nearly as complex or difficult a compatibility issue as it is with the cars. The height of the Carrera PVC strips is exactly the same as the height between the top and bottom rails of the Scalextric barrier railings, and it is quite easy to remove the Carrera candy-cane strips and replace them with Scalextric guardrails. The Carrera fastening system to the Carrera track is very secure, and the railings stay in place as well or better using the Carrera clips on Carrera track as they do using Scalextric clips on Scalextric track. Lengths may be a minor problem, but the material trims easily with a utility knife. Unfortunately, if you wish to use the Carrera “candy cane” on the Scalextric track, the only way to do it well is with an adhesive, laying the Carrera strips over the Scalextric guard rails. Hot glue works well for this, and can be removed fairly easily as well.
The Ninco barriers and walls are a one piece system, with the clips being a part of the wall or barrier section. These attach with ease to not only the Ninco track, but also the Carrera and Scalextric. In fact, the Ninco products seem to mount even more snugly with the Scalextric track than on their native track. On the Carrera track, the height of the track is just slightly taller than the space between the top and bottom of the Ninco clips. However, it can be made to fit by trimming the edge of the Carrera track very slightly, almost unnoticeably along the bottom. Again, the Carrera candy cane can be affixed to the Ninco barriers through the use of adhesives.
Pictures of these various combinations, adaptations, and creations can be seen on our website, www.races2u.com/photos/tracks.