Tuning The Front End
Useful Information for Tuning the Front End of a Car
Most racers spend a lot of time tuning the rear end of their car, to make sure everything runs smoothly. Of course, it's very important to have great adjustments, no interference and round/true tires/wheels in the back. But the front end is also equally important and can make a difference between a middle-of-the-field car and a winning car.
Let's look at some products that will help you achieve that. With some TLC in the front, you'll probably get your cars to run even better than they do now. Just remember that the goal is to have all four wheels on the track at all times, for traction and stability.
If you run on plastic track, the stock guide will probably be OK. But if you run on wood tracks, you can get better stability by using a deeper guide. Slot.It makes a wide variety of guides for every kind of car and track. You can also get a guide with a blade that's longer in front, again giving you more stability. Clip-on guides are easier and faster to work with. But with a screw-in guide, you're sure it doesn't snap off the car in the heat of the battle and you will also be able to adjust its looseness.
To make sure the guide goes as deep as possible, you can add some guide spacers between the chassis and the guide. We have them in two thicknesses: 0.010" and 0.025". They can also be useful on wood tracks that have a deeper braid recess.
What's the only thing that allows your car to pick up power from the track? Braid. Braid is probably the most important thing at the front of the car. Some people prefer soft and thin braid, for better flexibility and handling. They're not entirely wrong, for a quick race. But be prepared to change your braid often because it will wear fast, even faster on plastic track with all the joints. We're in the camp of those who think that more robust braid is necessary for good conductivity. We developed our own braid. It's a bit thicker but it's also a lot more durable and will not move or bend once you put it where you want it to be and give it the shape you want it to have. How durable is it? Well, what do you think of TWO complete 24-hour races without changing braid, including the tuning and practice sessions that go with the preparation of such a race? That's what our braid was able to withstand in the real world, on the HOST team car. And we're pretty sure it could do another 24-hour race. Pretty impressive, isn't it?
Adjustable Front Axle Mounts
Many recent cars from the «performance-oriented» brands (Slot.it, ScaleAuto, NSR, etc.) offer adjustable front axle mounts, with holes over and under the axle for small set screws to go in and «squeeze» the axle in a fixed horizontal position (still spinning freely, of course). But if you car doesn't have those axle mounts, we developed some and they're available for 3/32" standard axles and also 2.5mm axles (Ninco). They come with oval point set screws to adjust the height of the front axle. To secure them on the chassis, we recommend the Maxi-Cure adhesive.
For more information on setting up the front axle height, we have a very detailed explanation right here on our website.
M2 Set Screws - Oval Point
Even if your car comes with pre-drilled front axle mounts, it rarely includes the set screws that go with them. And if they're included, they're probably not oval point set screws. Flat point set screws are perfect to secure a gear or a wheel on an axle. But since the goal of the adjustable axle mounts is to get the axle spinning freely in a fixed position, set screws that have an oval tip will incur much less friction with the axle while doing their job, resulting in smoother running. We offer them in different lenghts: 3, 5, 6 and 8mm.
Now that we've taken care of the up-and-down movement of the front axle, we need to make sure it doesn't move from side-to-side. For the best stability in turns (where races are won), it's also usually best to get the front wheels on the outside as much as possible under the chassis, without the tires touching the wheel arches. In order to do that, while keeping the lateral movement to zero, we need axle spacers. Insert them between the axle supports and the wheel. They're available in 5 different thicknesses, from 0.005" to 0.100", in nylon, aluminum and steel.
Zero Grip Tires
The front tires should touch the track at all times, for more stability. But they should also create the least amount of friction possible. The first step is to make sure the front axle spins freely. Then, make sure your front tires are not gripping the track. Zero Grip Tires from Slot.it are the answer for that (some people like to put nail polish on their front tires, that could work too). Make sure they're well seated on the wheels and that their edges are round, to better slide on the track surface. Finally, for added smoothness, you can glue and true your front tires, just like you should do to the rear tires.
The braid and the motor are connected with motor lead wire. This wire is connected to the braid with eyelets that go down a hole in the guide. Eyelets have been used for a long time and there has been no revolution in eyelet design. The difference could be in the cost of the eyelets. Our own eyelets are less expensive than other brands. Why pay more for the exact same thing?
So, that was a list of things to check when you need to get a well-behaved front end. If, after all those adjustments, the car stills hops out of the slot from the front, you could try adding a little weight just behind the guide. Our self-adhesive lead sheets are available in 0.032" and 0.063" thicknesses.