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thorski

Your Pinewood derby help....CONTRIBUTES TO SUCCESS!

27 posts in this topic

My son is in Cub Scouts and his first Pinewood derby is coming up late next month. Wondering if anyone has any pointers, suggestions, advice, etc? Thanks.

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Sand the nails/axles with fine steel wool, and use silicon smile

Also, don't let a little brother hold the car before a heat! ha, my bro dropped my fast car and three wheels broke off. I was bummmed...

I also think keeping weight slightly more in front of car is better than in back, but not sure...

Most of all, make sure you son gets to work on car, not just Dad and buddy doing it all. He will have more fun the more he gets to do on it. With that said, you will have to do plenty too, so it gets done wink

Have fun! It will be a great time, making the car and racing it!

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Good advice I'm still crushed a wobbly back right wheel cost me advancing to the next round!.

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I agree the weight in the front is better.

Do a internet search of Pinewood derby and you will find a lot of help.

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Weight forward.

Box has the axle thing nailed.

Put the wheels in your electric drill (or better yet a lathe), and run them over emery sandpaper and emery cloth to smooth and get them trued and round. Those wheels may have some little bumps or imperfections.

Hope you and the boy have a riot with the project. Jr. and I sure had our fun back in the day, and his cars and trophies still grace the bookshelves in his room.

One year his car was shaped like a shark - another year it ended up being a black bear. Two others were more conventional, with one looking like a Formula 1 racer and another that looked like a 68 Camaro.

Edit: Oh yeah, and get as close to the maximum weight as you can without going over. A postal scale is very helpful. Lead is your friend.

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My son is a veteran of 5 Pinewood Derby's. A word of caution, read the pack rules very carefully related to car construction/lubrication. Sometimes Pack car construction rules differ from District car construction rules. If your son wins at pack level and gets a berth to district, but gets disqualified due to a construction rule/lubrication difference, he will be crushed.

Having said that, as mentioned before, there are tons of ideas/tips on the web. My son was pretty motivated so we did a lot of research. (But he did the all the actual work he was capable of, I was hands off.) Far and away the biggest factor in making the car fast is reducing friction (assuming you make sure that you are near the weight limit.) Weight positioning is actually pretty low on the list. Axel prep is huge, but larger still is alignment. Make sure the car tracks straight on a flat surface. It will drag far less on the guide strip in the center of the lane that way. Also, usually there is no rule stating all 4 wheels must be in contact with the track. Keep the 4th one just above the other 3 wheels and off the track to eliminate it's friction all together. It only hits the track if the car bounces a little. If your rules allow, trim your wheels to reduce the surface area in contact with the track..... You should be starting to get the idea, there are tons of little tricks. Just find out what is legal in your pack.

If your son is really serious about doing well, the research and construction is almost as much fun as the races themselves. There is a guy out there that did a physics paper on what factors play into it the most. He goes into great detail about a lot of things, one being weight locations. Optimum weight placement depends on the track shape, but after he goes through all that, he points out that in testing it made very little difference in overall speed as compared to the benefit you can get by eliminating or reducing all the various sources of friction. If you can find that paper/HSOforum, you will have all the hints you need. Have fun!

By the way, according to that physics paper, most of the track designs out there are run faster with weight rearward, not forward. That physics paper I mentioned has all the details, all I remember is the general statement. Something about gravity, the amount of time gravity can work on the weight when it is higher off the floor, etc. Again, we are talking miniscule differences here. But a much bigger reason to have weight back is that every time the car's front wheels contact the guide strip it is easier for the front wheels to realign themselves on the track with less weight on them. Less weight on the front says more weight on the rear. Reduces friction essentially.

(As I said, my son was pretty serious about this, we learned a lot.) grin

Most important, make sure your son has fun and learns the skills you are teaching. That is arguably more important than the races.

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Whatever you do let him paint/finish the car to make it "his". Some of the strangest looking cars win but the kids think they're really cool. I can't wait til the grandsons' are old enough to start doing the cars again

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I know a little about Pinewood Derby Cars. grin

OK post those pictures.

Derby.jpg

A couple 1st places, and Best Overall. laugh We got two 2nd places cuz it was our rookie year. wink

The Cheez-it and Chartreuse Dragster were a big hit.

Yes Dads got to build a car too. cool

Most of the cars were foiled and some painted over bright.

All were clear coated to make the paint job pop.

You know you'd have to pay big money for this info don't ya. grin I'm only telling cuz I'm retired.

You'll need to take the casting off the wheel and make them round. Then narrow the contact surface. One front tire should be shorter or mounted higher to not make contact with the track at all.

The inside of the hub should be polished as well as the nail/axle. Check your rules, our troop does not allow and aftermarket axles, washers, or tires. Even then a parent would try and cheat but I still smoked them. Most of the weight should be on the rear tires. Don't make me explain the slingshot physics behind that, just do it or else you'll be in last place. Don't use the slots for the nails/axles, flip the car over and drill your holes and do that before you shape the car. When your all done shaping and painting, polish the side of the car where the axel inserts, then set your axles. You might have a dry lube rule in which case you'll use graphite, tip here, use a pencil. If they allow a wet lube use something very thin. Pledge furniture polish or kerosene. Just remember that wet lube will attract dirt and dust and you could end up in last place.

If you did a major mod and changed the distance between the wheels you better make sure its not going to scrape the nose in the transition. Get your weight up to the full 4 oz. I used 9mm bullets, drill a hole and press them in. Get a little tool box with some padding to put the car in to keep if from getting damaged. The top tray can hold your lube and special tools.

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I never had the chance to do any of this when I was a kid, and I don’t have any kids, but don’t you think it’s great how a block of wood a couple of axles and 4 wheels can create such a passion?

I mean you have “old timers” (sorry Frank smile ) recollecting about their toy cars and even still being able to “smoke” the competition who tried to cheat. I love it, keep em coming guys!

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Love the variety! My son did a Cheeze Whiz car, a car shaped like a wedge of swiss cheese, complete with a bunch of dremeled out holes, plus a tiny mouse driver sitting in one of the holes. Also had a Spongebob Car, and a couple of interesting looking dragster type bodies. He's got a shelf full of trophies too. It was a blast. If I can find a pic of the Cheese Whiz I'll post......

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Yes, the Pinewood derby days. I won a pack championship and the metro championship in the cities.

We had a great time building and racing the car.

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Our troop has a class for the dads, so they don't put all their time in the kids car. Trim the wheels so they only run on the very center like a tire thats overinflated. have it so only 3 wheels touch the track and run as straight as you can

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Ohboy Pinewood derby, I am a champion, my two brothers ore champions, my son is a champion, an my daughter is an open division champion, I am also a vintage division champion. One thing that has always helped us is to take the nails an insert them into a drill then put the drill into avise an lock it in the on position the take some fine emerycloth an sand of the rough edges especially the little tiny molding edge on the underside of the nail head, the take some 000 steel wool an tear off clump an twist it in your fingers so you have a small rope like piece of steel wool, with the drill still running finish smoothing off the axil. Now of course you have all used graphite, but what you need to look for is ultra fine graphite old hardware stores might still have some, I'm still using the tube my father used when I was in cub scouts. taking care of the tires is a very important factor, I finely sand down the tires to remove all molding blemishes. I also develope a very thin profile car. Good luck Boar

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Why didn't I have this info back when I did derby? I would have been the king. Oh I forgot there wasn't the internet back then. And I am only 49. Man have things changed quickly.

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I don't know what happened, but there used to be more posts on this thread? It must have been deleted, including my thanking everyone, so here goes again.....

Thank you for all the responses. I had no clue that pinewood derby was so technical! Thanks for the tips and advise. My son and I are really getting excited. I will post how he did.

Thanks again.

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My son and I would like to thank everyone for their help and advice! My son had his Cub Scout pack's Pinewood derby yesterday morning. What a blast. My son won every heat except one, where he came in second to the car that ended up being the overall winner of the day. My son's car took second overall. The top 5 cars go on to the district competition.

I will post pics as soon as I figure out how.

Thank you all!

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Thorski, I was in the same shoes 20 some yrs ago with my dad. I had the same 2nd place results in the pack as your son did. I still have that trophy stashed away in a box somewhere. You've brought back some fond memories that I'll never forget and I'm sure you and your son will have the same. Good luck to you at the distict competion and great job!

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Here are a few pics I promised.

First, I made him a carrying case for his car out of a plastic tool box he had. I just cut some foam out and used some adhesive to attacht the foam to the tool box.

3292008245.jpg

3292008247.jpg

Here is the winning car with the trophy and medal.

3292008285.jpg

Thanks everyone!

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Way to go! That is really cool, something your son won't soon forget. I still have my car and third place trophy from 30 years ago, lots of good memories.

Tunrevir~

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