zcarslotracing

 

The Anoraks’ Guide to sts

 

TRACK AND ACCESSORIES

 

The guide slot in sts track is plastic with the conductor rails exposed only on the top surface of the track in the style of current Ninco track. All the track sections are 130mm wide with slot centres 65mm apart except the flexible track and the narrow ends of chicane sections. The main track sections have small rectangular holes along their edges for retaining trackside accessories - borders, barriers and marker stones.

 

The plastic used seems to be somewhat less flexible than that used for ordinary Scalextric track so the track is less prone to warping but the tabs that hold the sections together can break off if not treated with care. There is some speculation that the plastic used in sts track is decaying making it more brittle. The track connections can also be stiff to join together when new – particularly the narrow ends of the chicane track sections and the flexible track sections.

 

Whilst the track seems to connect together with reliable electrical connections, breaks in the circuit might arise. With ordinary Scalextric track, “Power Boost” cables are available to overcome this problem. These will not fit sts track and none were ever produced to do this. Care should therefore be taken when assembling the track to ensure good electrical connections. If electrical problems do arise, there is no obvious way of overcoming them. Wires could be soldered to the underside of some track sections or another connector might be found that fits. The only way to produce the equivalent of the power boost cables would be to cannibalise two hand controllers per cable, which would render the controllers useless and seems rather wasteful.

 

Track and accessories were packed in boxes or in clear plastic bags with card covers. Most of the boxes were white with the light blue “sts” logo in a diagonal pattern over the whole surface. Only three later accessories were packed in illustrated boxes, the Flexible Track, Suspension Bridge and Lap Counter. Early boxes had white labels showing the contents, later these were changed to yellow. Finally, with the introduction of the new CE regulations, larger yellow labels were used which also served to seal one end of the box.

 

Track types

 

As stated above, the main track sections (straights, curves and chicane) have small rectangular holes along their edges for retaining trackside accessories - borders, barriers and marker stones. In earlier track (Type 1) these holes were simple vertical slots cut through the top surface of the track just inside the vertical edges of the section. This meant that the type 1 accessories were placed on top of the track. After some time, perhaps a couple of years, new track sections and accessories (Type 2) were produced where the holes were made so that the top of the track edge was cut away too. (Photo of holes in different track types) This meant type 2 accessories could locate entirely to the side of the track, which allowed the full width of the track to be used.

 

There is little difference in use between either type of barrier or marker stone. In contrast, the type 1 borders impinge on the width of the track in a way that type 2 borders do not. Type 1 accessories can be used in track of either type. Type 2 accessories can be used with type 1 track but the lugs that locate into the slots will stand proud of the track surface and the accessory will not go down all the way to the bottom edge of the track as they are designed to do with type 2 track.

 

Track and power components are described below in the order of their reference number. Underlined references can be clicked to see a photograph, The years indicate the catalogue in which the item first appeared.

 

2100     Transformer TR5 1985
This produces 10.5V, which is less than is normally used for slot cars. It has two sockets to allow two controllers to be connected. As the system was never officially imported into the UK, all the examples seen are fitted with round, two-pin continental plugs. Transformers were also available separately as well as in sets. (Top)

2125     Two lane lap counter including start and half straight (both 130mm) 1988
This lap counter draws power from one of the two transformer sockets via a “piggy back” connector, which allows the controller to be plugged in as well. The start section has a switch in each slot connected by a cable to the back of the counter. The action of the switch means that cars can only run in one direction as indicated by white arrows on its surface. As the guide passes through the slot, the switch closes and completes a circuit, which triggers the relay mechanism to increase the count by one up to a maximum of 99. There is a reset button above each counter. The lap counter comes in an illustrated box with an expanded polystyrene base. The box also includes an instruction sheet (in four languages) and a sheet of coloured stickers for lane identification. This was a later accessory so type 2 track sections were always supplied with it. (Top)

2150     Standard Straight, 260mm (6 per box, 2 types) 1985 (Top)

2151     Half Straight 130mm (6 per box, 2 types) 1985
The standard and half straight sections have small holes on the surface to allow various small plastic obstacles (logs, barrels, sacks, etc – see 2302 below) to be fitted so that the cars have to drive over them. (Top)

2152     Reverse Straight pair, 130mm each (1 pair per box, 2 types) 1985
The rails are cut in the middle of each track and wires are soldered underneath each rail and crossed over so that the polarity of the rails change. The driver needs to switch the controller to reverse (see 2300 below) to continue moving forward. These must be used in pairs but any number of other track sections can be put between these reversing straights so the reverse section of the circuit can be as long as you wish. (Top)

2153     Standard 90º Curve (6 per box, 2 types) 1985 (Top)

2154     2 Concave and 2 Convex track sections 1985
These are used to make elevated tracks, bridges, etc. It is possible to place straight tracks between them so that long inclines and high, elevated sections can be built. The concave tracks have holes at one end so that two adjacent sections can accommodate the Ford Crossing (see 2301 below). (Top)

2155     Rough Terrain Straight, 260mm (4 per box) 1985
These are the same size as standard straights but are a different moulding and have a bumpier surface for the cars to travel over. They have neither holes for small obstacles nor trackside accessories. (Top)

2156     Exterior 45º Curve (6 per box, 2 types) 1986
As the name indicates, these were designed to fit adjacent to the standard curves to make 4-lane circuits. They are more generally used to add variety to 2-lane circuits. (Top)

2157     Flexible Track 1987
This comprises three pieces, two chicane sections (see 2158 below) and a special flexible track that goes between the chicane sections. The flexible track is 690mm long and is made from a series of 65 very short sections (9.4mm each) of hard polystyrene, which are designed to look like logs. These are linked together in such a way that the track can bend horizontally and vertically. The conductor rails are made of coil springs. At each end there is a short (40mm) rigid section, which connects to the narrow end of a chicane track or another flexible track. At its limits, the flexible track can be bent in the horizontal plane enough to make a 180° turn and vertically enough for it to form a circle when packed in its illustrated box. Curiously the main picture on the box shows the shorter flexible section from the 2312 Suspension Bridge (see below). This uses a similar section of flexible track but with only 45 sections. Because this was a later track, the chicane sections packed with it are all believed to be of type 2. (Top)

2158     Chicane, 2 pieces 130mm each (2 types) 1987
These pieces are the standard width at one end where they connect to other track sections. The rails then curve towards each other so that they are centred 23mm apart at the other end. The track also narrows to 87mm. The second section then connects the other way around opening up the rails so that you can connect to normal track again. The only track available to go between the narrow ends of the chicane section is the flexible track. I have only seen type 2 chicane track sections but I think it is almost certain that both types were produced,. (Top)

2300     Controller 1985
These have been measured at 100Ω. They are blue with yellow triggers. A two-core lead runs to the controller from a polarised plug that connects to the transformer. A second two-core lead then runs to the track connector, which locates under standard straight sections of track. They also have a yellow levers on the top, which, when pushed forward, reverses the polarity of the output to the track making the car go backwards. (Note: the cars don’t go very well backwards.) The reverse switch has to be used when the circuit includes a 2152 pair of reversing straights. I am not sure whether the controllers incorporate a braking capability. Even if they do, it is irrelevant because the worm gears mean the cars stop very quickly anyway. (Top)

2301     Ford Crossing 1985
This is a simple obstacle comprising three pieces, which are fixed into holes in two adjacent concave tracks. They form a flat stone and wood “bridge” above the shallow dip formed by the concave tracks. The box also includes 2 sprues of log obstacles (as in 2302 below). (Top)

2302     Various Obstacles 1985
This box contains two grey and two brown sprues with a variety of barrels, sacks etc. and two brown sprues of small logs. all these obstacles have pegs to attach them to standard and half straights. It also includes six yellow plastic road signs with simple self-adhesive paper stickers which fit into the tops of the six 2304 Barrier Supports supplied (as well as 2305 Marker Stones) (see below). It should be noted that the pegs on the small obstacles are necessarily a tight fit into the holes in the track. They bend very easily rendering them useless so great care should be taken fitting them. They should also be left in the track sections rather than removed with each use. It should also be noted that it is rather difficult for the cars to negotiate these obstacles. The cars’ guides pivot along an axis in line with its length. The cars tend to be thrown sideways by these obstacles so the guide is quite easily pushed out of the slot. The barrier supports differ between types 1 and 2 (see bleow). (Top)

2303     Track Borders 1985 (2 types)
This box contains 4 130mm straight borders and 4 inner borders for standard curves. These are the only borders available for use with sts track. Borders are retained by lugs, which are pressed down into the rectangular holes in the edges of the track. Type 1 borders overlap the edge of the track by up to 7mm. The height of this overlap is about 4mm above the level of the track surface. This is not really an issue with the straight borders but on the inside of the curves, because the rear wheels will tend to trail towards the edge of the track, these borders can become something of an obstacle. Type 2 borders go completely to the side of type 2 track. Type 1 borders can be used on either track type. Type 2 borders should only be used on type 2 track. They will fit type 1 track but the lugs will stand proud of the track surface and the border will not reach the bottom edge of the track so they will be suspended above the surface on which the track is built rather than resting on it. (Top)

2304     Barrier with supports 1985 (2 types)
This box contains 6 barrier sections (275mm each) and 24 separate supports. The barriers clip into the supports, which are retained by the rectangular holes in the edges of the track. The barrier supports have holes in the top to carry flags or road signs. There is no means of joining adjacent lengths of barrier so breaks are visible when barriers are used around bends. The barrier supports differ between types 1 and 2. Barriers using type 1 supports are held 4mm or so inside the edge of the track but this does not affect the running of the cars. Both types of support can be used on either type of track.

This two-piece approach is a very sensible way of fitting barriers. Because the supports that attach to the track are not fixed relative to the barrier, it never becomes necessary to attach the barrier at a join between track sections (where it is impossible) in a way that often occurs with normal one-piece systems. The sts barriers would have been better still if they had been supplied as a single long coiled length as shown in the 1985 and 1986 catalogue illustrations. Users could then have cut sections to the exact length they required. Curiously, early price lists (and box labels) describe the 2304 product as “Barriers (2 metres with supports)” when 6 lengths of 275mm total significantly less than 2 metres. This tends to support the view that Exin originally intended to supply barrier as single long lengths but changed their mind and forgot to change the description. It is extremely unlikely that barriers were ever supplied in single long lengths, certainly I have never seen any. Catalogues and price lists from 1987 onwards (as well as the later box labels) describe the product more accurately as “6 Barriers with supports”. (Top)

2305     Marker Stones (Mojones) 1985 (2 types)
This box contains 24 marker stones, which are retained by the rectangular holes at the edge of the track and 16 self-adhesive paper flags with orange plastic poles. Each stone has a hole in the top, which can be used to hold a flag or a road sign. (The flags can also be inserted into the top of the barrier supports.) Type 2 marker stones have a tab projecting from the side of the stone so that the whole stone was to the side of the track. The tab of type 1 stones was part of the side of the stone itself (a section of which had been cut away) so that half the stone covered the edge of the track by about 4mm. This overlap is not important except perhaps if type 1 stones are used on the inside edge of standard curves. Type 1 stones can be used with type 2 track. Type 2 stones can also be used with type 1 track but the lugs will be proud of the surface of the edge of the track. (Top)

Track Supports 1985
Short elevated sections of track can be self-supporting but longer elevated sections would collapse or deform unless they were held up. These support pieces are used for this. They are designed to support track at heights set out below and to link together vertically so that sections of any height can be supported. There are 6 supports in each box.

2306     Support (Small)
The height of this support corresponds to that produced when a concave and convex track are joined together.

2307     Support (Large)
The height of this support corresponds to that produced when a half straight is inclined between concave and convex track sections. Two large supports therefore correspond to the height of an inclined standard straight.

2308     Support (Inclined)
The inclined supports are used (generally with large and small supports as appropriate) to support inclined straight sections. (Top)

2309     Centre Obstacle 1985 (2 types)
This comprises a 260mm straight track with a high obstacle running along the middle. The cars will be lifted up on one side as they go along. 4 130mm borders are included. All the catalogue illustrations show the centre obstacle having type 1 borders fitted but both types were produced. (Top)

2310     Ramp Jump 1985 (2 types)
This comprises a 260mm straight track with ramps, which the cars go up, then jump off. The obstacle includes barrels and sacks, which can be fitted to the track after the ramps. (Top)

2311     Elevated Track (Rope Bridge) 1986
This comprises a 260mm straight track with short ramps at each end and flexible “bridge” sections in between. The type of track is irrelevant as the ramps and bridges overlap the holes at the edge of the track so no trackside accessories can be fitted. (Top)

2312     Suspension Bridge 1987
This is a spectacular slot car track and comes in a nicely illustrated box. It comprises

One flexible track piece, which with 45 “logs” and an overall length of 500mm, is similar to but shorter than the flexible track in the 2157 product above

2158 two chicane sections

2154 two concave and two convex tracks

2150 one standard straight

2151 one half straight and

2 scenically decorated vinyl support pieces with 9 vinyl cross-pieces to support the track sections.

              The tracks link together in the following order: - concave, standard straight, convex, chicane, flexible track, chicane, convex, half straight, concave. The four rigid pieces at each end are supported and the flexible section hangs in mid air. The overall length is 1380mm (4’6”). Cars must travel from the high side to the low side, as end of the suspended flexible track would be too steep for them to climb in the other direction. As this was a later obstacle, the track sections packed with it are all believed to be of type 2. (Top)

2313     Chicane (Mountain pass) 1988
This has the same track as a 2158 chicane but has scenic plastic mountains on both sides which are retained by the rectangular holes in the edges of the track. A decorative flexible “bridge” (actually the centre span from the 2311 Elevated track) runs between the mountains over the track. As this was a later obstacle, the chicane sections used with it are almost certainly all type 2. (Top)

2314     See-saw Obstacle 1989 (photo’s up & down)
This comprises a 260mm straight track with a central seesaw. This will cause one side of the car to lift as it climbs one end of the see-saw. Once over the centre, the see-saw pivots and the car descends to the track again. Apart from the chicane, this is the only obstacle where the progress of one car affects the progress of the other. A car travelling behind another must be careful to wait till the leading car clears the seesaw before it can progress. Otherwise the car behind could be trapped under the seesaw or one or other or both cars could de-slot. This obstacle was the last to be produced in 1989 and is very hard to find. Almost certainly it was only ever produced with type 2 track. (Top)

Mountains 1988
Each “mountain” comprises 2 flat pieces of scenically decorated vinyl, which slot together to form a self-supporting X so that each has 4 vertical “sides”. Three sides of each mountain have flat upper edges, which will support elevated tracks (standard curves) going around them. These flat edges are set at heights corresponding to elevations produced by specific sequences of track as shown below. The large green mountain also has holes in two sides allowing tracks and cars to go through. Mountains were supplied in some sets or as accessories in polythene bags with card tops. Mountains were only shown in catalogues from 1988 but were available in set 2025 from 1986 (green) and set 2015 (medium brown) and set 2028 (large brown) from 1987.
I recently spent a few days in northern Spain and was struck by the many craggy mountains in the region. There would have been no shortage of inspiration for these accessories as well as the 2313 mountain pass above.

2600     Mountain medium
Track height: concave, half straight, convex

2601     Mountain large
Track height: concave, standard straight, convex

2602     Mountains green (3)
Small     Track height:     concave, convex
Med.     Track height:     concave, half straight, convex (as 2601 above)
Large    Track height:     concave, half straight, convex, concave, half straight, convex
                                            or concave - convex - concave - standard straight – convex

 

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