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There’s no limit to the tools that some racers have, but there are only a few tools you do need to keep you HO cars in good condition.

Tweezers and cotton buds: These are essential to keep your HO cars clean - dirt is the enemy of speed. Tweezers are the best way of getting hair, fluff and other big bits of debris out of the gears and from the axle. Be careful with the motor - often a good puff of air is the best way to dislodge unwanted muck. Cotton buds get grime off the chassis, round the guide pin and also mop up excess oil.

Nine volt battery: The easiest way to check your car is working properly. Always run the +ve terminal to the left hand (passenger-side) pick-up - that’s the same as the track power. Using the battery with a cotton bud is also a good way to clean the shiny brass commutator at the front of the motor on a Tyco or Mega-G. Push down gently as you run the motor - the cotton bud will pick up the muck and improve the power.

Glass fibre pen: This cleans up and polishes pick-up shoes. Not recommended for children, as the glass fibres can get into fingers, eyes etc. Yet it is the best way to keep pick-ups shiny. Safer alternatives include abrasive ink rubbers or fine sandpaper.

Oil / lubricants: There are a lot of brands to choose from, but you need a synthetic (plastic-friendly) oil - so 3-in-1 is NOT a good choice as it will damage the plastic on the HO car. Use lubricants little but often. Usually a quick oil of the gears before a race night will be sufficient.

Unless you are modifying your car, those tools are enough. To go on to the next stage, you might consider using double-flanged hubs or change the gears on your car. Useful additions to your tool kit to help with these modifications are:

Gear / wheel puller and pusher: These tools allow you to remove old gears or hubs and then fit new ones. For fitting the new parts you need both the puller and pusher to get the placement just right. Pictured are the Lucky Bob tools (in purple and red) which retail for $17.95 each - a good investment. Scale Engineering tools offer more precision for $50 for the basic package.

Plastic pinion tool: This tool from Scale Engineering has got to be the best $10 I’ve spent. It’s perfect for installing, removing and adjusting plastic pinions on the motor shaft - a tricky job otherwise.

Digital vernier calipers: These measure precisely the width of your new axle assembly - to make sure it’s within the 34mm limit. It’s also the best way of measuring tyres on the car’s hubs. This can be useful when you are trying to get the best balance of speed and grip from a car. They also let you know if your  Mega-G tyres are high enough to run in F1. Get a six inch long caliper (or smaller) with a digital read out that has three digital points. Measuring 0.001 of an inch is useful in HO.

- Andy Player

The basic HO tool kit

Tools for fitting hubs and gears

The HO Tool Kit

Some of the lubricants available