Much has been written about the compatibility of various brands and types of slot cars that work with other brands and types of tracks. It is well known, for example, that almost any analog slot car can perform well on a Carrera analog track because Carrera has the widest and deepest slot of any of the major manufacturers. In contrast, many Carrera cars will not perform well, or not at all, on many other makes of tracks because the guide is too wide or deep to fit on something like a Scalextric track. While articles have been written about car compatibility, little has been written about retaining walls or road barriers. This study will take an in-depth look at the Carrera, Ninco and Scalextric tracks, retaining walls and barriers, and will also show how well they work or don’t work when mixing brands.
First of all, let’s start with the Scalextric tracks and barriers as they are very likely the most widely used brand of commercially manufactured slot vehicle systems. Scalextric creates a very good looking barrier, made of a soft and flexible plastic that holds its shape well and can absorb the impacts of slot machine accidents without physical damage. These barriers can be attached to the Scalextric Sport track in a couple of ways: with small black clips that attach directly to the bottom of the track, or are inserted into slots and channels specifically for these barriers on the accessory shoulder pads. While the barriers fit well and fairly rigid on the black clips, the clips do not remain firmly attached to the rail without the use of adhesives or other methods to more permanently attach them to the rail. Also with a severe impact, the barrier or sometimes the entire section of the shoulder can roll off the track. Aesthetically, the barriers are very nice and do little damage to cars when braking or stopping. However, they often need to be put back in place after incidents.
Carrera at one time provided two different types of barriers: one was a soft, flexible rubber that slid into clips and attached to the track, and was available in black or red. These are no longer manufactured. Carrera’s current barrier system consists of a red and white striped “candy cane” piece of 3 mil PVC that slides into tight vinyl clips that adhere to the bottom of the track. The red and white stripes match the pattern found on the edge and shoulders of the Carrera track, and it looks appropriate on tight turns, though much less on straight sections where a barrier, such as a bridge, may be warranted. Also, PVC tends to become brittle over time and will crack and break on successive impacts. It also has very little flex and will pick up paint from unruly cars. This tends to add a realistic appearance to the barrier, but the cars will show signs of wear. This system remains firmly attached to the track even with severe impacts. PVC strips can also be easily cut into custom lengths, and one piece can measure up to 4 feet, allowing for a continuous look and feel on a long turn. It’s also fairly easy to create your own custom barrier walls by printing directly onto PVC sheets and cutting them into strips of the correct height. This can allow for the creation of realistic and fairly long-lasting street advertising.
Although not as widespread as Carrera and Scalextric, Ninco manufactures exceptional track and barrier products that are almost universally recognized as the highest quality mass-manufactured systems. The track is almost the same width and depth as the Carrera, but has the flexibility and aesthetics of the Scalextric. Barriers include low walls, stone-like walls, and even a wall with a high fence. The Ninco barriers are made of a material similar to the Scalextric and absorb the impact without “commercial paint”
Now suppose you have a rail brand, but you would like to use another brand for a wall or barrier. Fortunately, this is not as complex or difficult a compatibility issue as it is with 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 railings. The Carrera fixing system to the Carrera rail is very secure, and the railings stay in place as well or better using the Carrera clips on the Carrera rail as they do with the Scalextric clips on the Scalextric rail. Lengths can be less of an issue, but the material cuts easily with a utility knife. Unfortunately, if you want to use Carrera’s “candy cane” on the Scalextric track, the only way to get it right is with an adhesive, placing the Carrera strips on the Scalextric railings. Hot glue works well for this and can be removed quite easily as well.
Ninco barriers and walls are a one-piece system, with the clips as part of the wall or barrier section. These stick with ease not only to the Ninco track, but also to Carrera and Scalextric. In fact, the Ninco products seem to ride even more comfortably with the Scalextric track than their original track. On the Carrera track, the track height is slightly higher than the gap 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 imperceptibly along the bottom. Again, the Carrera candy cane can be attached to the Ninco barriers by using adhesives.
Images of these various combinations, adaptations and creations can be viewed on our website, http://www.races2u.com/photos/tracks.