By Mike Garrison
Whether it's wheel nuts, wings, tools, tracks, trinkets and/or anything in between, the LiveRC staff gives their testimonial and review of each every Thursday morning!
Last week I reviewed the Viking Design Works Differential Service Station, and this week I'm talking about the pit mat I tested it sitting on. Now before you peel out and avoid reading a product review on a pit mat, hang with me to explain a little more. Majority of the pit mats found at the track are glorified yoga mats or various other forms of foam material, however, CowRC has taken a slightly different approach to their lineup of "Screw Catcher" magnetic pit mats. I am notorious for bumping into my pit table, and sending screws sailing in all directions. When presented with a CowRC XL Screw Catcher Magnetic Flat Mat, I jumped at the opportunity to try it out.
CowRC PRO MAG Screw Catcher Magnetic Flat Mat
#CPM-M11516232, $14.99 - $49.99
The CowRC Screw Catcher Magnetic Flat Mat was designed with the intention of providing racers and bashers alike a durable pit mat which does more than just look pretty. The "PRO MAG" version flat mat is made up of 60mil magnetic material which features a stain-resistant white top. In addition to being stain-resistant, the top coating is also designed to be easily cleaned and wiped down - which can be a struggle when dealing with foam mats. Much like buying a new car, CowRC offers several different models and sizes, and a list of options and accessories that can be added on to each: five different graphic themes, visual organization palletes, and more.
This CowRC XXL flat mat is the largest they make, and comparable in size to that of a more traditional foam or rubber pit mat. The 24" x 36" piece of 1.5mm-thick magnetic material is pretty hefty. Product testing started with packing up and travelling to the track. Surprisingly, the CowRC magnetic pit mat does in fact roll up, despite the thick material being rather rigid when laid out on a pit table. Is it as easy to roll up as a foam/yoga pit mat? No. The CowRC pit mat is heavy-duty, which means it is heavy. The CowRC pit mat is FAR easier than trying to pack and transport a pit board, but definitely not as easy as a lighter weight roll up mat - in fact, it weighs nearly 7 pounds.
After being rolled up for the car ride to the track, the magnetic mat acted as though it was going to be a struggle to flatten out. That was just an act, as within a matter of minutes the mat had flattened itself nicely on the table and made itself right at home. Once you are at the track and have the mat laid out, the extra weight and thickness of this mat makes it very stable. Foam pit mats are easily moved, slid around, or even accidentally pulled off pit tables. This bad boy isn't going anywhere without a deliberate effort to remove it from the table.
(CowRC Flat Mats are available in a variety of sizes shown here.)
With any other pit mat, this is where the product test ends, as there is nothing more a traditional pit mat can offer - but I wanted to test out the key feature the CowRC pit mats offer over others: its magnetic material. There is really only one way to test a magnetic mat, and that is by dumping as many piles of metal screws, parts, and pieces on it as you can and try to shake them off.
The shake test was made up of two parts. Part one was to shake the table the mat was sitting on to mimic accidental bumps and everyday track mishaps. The magnetic power of this pit mat is not as strong as I anticipated. It did hold the majority of the screws on the mat, and many of them stay in place, but the magnet isn't strong enough and/or there is so little material from each screw making contact, that the loose screws don't always stay completely still.
Part two of the shake test was to pick up the mat off of the table, hold it vertically, and shake. If, for whatever reason, you find yourself with a pit mat full of screws, someone comes along, picks your mat up off the table, and begins shaking it...the magnetic feature of this mat won't help you. Chances of that scenario ever happening are VERY slim (assuming you don't race with terrible people who like to bully you at the track), BUT part two of the test helped us to gauge the strength of the magnet and just how careless we can be using the CowRC magnetic mat.
To finish off the test, the internet ad says the mat is "stain-resistant." Despite popular belief, not everything on the internet is true. It turns out, after "spilling" Loc-Tite, grease, shock oil, and even air filter oil on the CowRC flat mat, I can confirm that they are not lying. These staged spills weren't all that easy to clean up - especially air filter oil - but none of them left a stain and were all considerably easier to clean up than on some other pit mats.
- White background makes it easy to see small parts and screws compared to typically dark foam pit mats.
- Surface is easily cleaned and stain-resistant.
- Can be rolled up, and flattens out in a timely manner when un-rolled again.
- Extra weight of the magnetic material makes it very stable on your pit table.
- Available in various sizes with multiple graphic themes and additional add-ons.
- Magnetic power is considerably weaker than expected and/or desired.
- Depending on size choice - can be very heavy and bulky for travelling.
CowRC has a long list of innovative and nifty products on the market. Is the Pro Mag XL Magnetic Pit Mat our favorite? No. Is it at all helpful? Yes. When travelling to the races, I don't think the added weight and bulkiness of the magnetic mat is worth dealing with. On the flip side, when placed in a more permanent pit space, such as in your home or garage, this mat is very handy, very easy to clean, and the white background color makes it easy to see parts and pieces. The magnetic strength of the mat is not as strong as I had hoped, but if made stronger some would argue that it works TOO good and makes picking the screws back up off the mat too difficult.
So the final word on the CowRC pit mat is this; if you are in need of purchasing a new pit mat, this mat is priced only slightly higher than most standard foam or rubber pit mats, offers a very easy to see work surface, stays put on your table, cleans up nicely, and offers a little magnetic assistance.
If you are looking for a travelling pit mat, stick with something lightweight and easy for the mat and purchase one of the smaller CowRC magnetic part trays (CLICK HERE) to set on it instead. If you are looking to organize and upgrade your home/garage/permanent pit space where travel and setup is not a factor, for a few extra dollars over traditional mats the CowRC Flat Mat offers added stability, cleanliness, and top notch visibility.
Beacon Rating: 3 out of 5