Pinewood Derby Lubricants Q&A

What is the best graphite for pinewood derby cars?
In our testing, the best graphite was pure flake, high purity (99% pure), with a medium to fine particle size. Max-V-Lube meets these characteristics, and was the top performing graphite in our testing. You can find Max-V-Lube Here.

How do you apply graphite?
Before installing the wheels and axles, apply Max-V-Lube as follows:

  1. Fill the bore of the wheel with graphite.

  2. Insert an axle into the wheel bore.

  3. With one hand, firmly grasp the axle and hold the axle horizontal to the ground.

  4. With the other hand, spin the tire gently -- don't drop the axle. Spin the wheel ten times.

  5. Hold the axle with the wheel hanging towards the ground.

  6. Deposit some lube into the gap between the axle and wheel bore.

  7. Tap the wheel gently to help move the lube down into the wheel bore.

  8. Again, spin the wheel 10 times.

  9. Continue this process for five minutes per wheel.

  10. Important - Don't add any more graphite after this point. If you do, you will need to spin the wheels ten times again. Always spin the wheels after adding graphite.

What about graphite with molybdenum (moly)?
Molybdenum is a hard metal that is used as a lube in some industrial processes which require a lubricant with no electrical conductivity, high pressure, and high heat. None of these conditions apply to pinewood derby racing. In our testing the addition of molybdenum to graphite did nothing for performance, but did scratch the axles that you just spent so much time polishing.

How do molybdenum disulfide (MS2) and tungsten disulfide (WS2) work with pinewood derby cars?
Marginally. Graphite easily outperforms both of these lubricants

We can only use "Dry White". What do we do?
Dry White is a Teflon powder lubricant. In our testing, Dry White performed very poorly. In fact, running without lube was superior to running with Dry White in most cases.

I have heard of "secret" lubes that people use. What are they?
People have tried all kinds of lubes including silicon, Pledge furniture polish, various waxes, food oils (peanut, safflower, olive, etc.), WD-40, liquid graphite, etc. I have tested most of these products and found that although many of them work quite well, graphite was still superior.

Specifically, silicon sprays are generally very fast in the first few runs, but quickly wear off (spray it on the axles, let it dry, then lightly wipe it off). WD-40 is not bad, but it is a solvent so it can damage wheels. I do recommend avoiding liquid graphite, which generally performs poorly.

Our rules say "dry lubes only". Will a liquid lube be legal?
Technically no. However, when properly applied, liquid lubes are cleaner than graphite.

How do liquid lubes compare with graphite?
It depends on the application. When applied properly, Krytox 100 will equal the performance of graphite. But in situations where the wheel bore to axle tolerance is very tight (outlaw wheels/axles, Awana wheels/axles), Krytox 100 will generally outperform graphite.

Can I mix liquid lubes with graphite?
Although this technique is touted by some web sites, I have never had success mixing liquid and dry lubes.

How do you remove graphite that has gotten onto the paint?
Depending on the type of paint, and whether the paint was fully cured when the graphite was applied, removing graphite can be relatively easy or very hard. Graphite on enamel paint is usually very difficult to remove, especially when the enamel is not fully cured. But in any case, here are some techniques you can try.

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