Standard Low-Rider

Extended Low-Rider

Pinewood Derby Times
Volume 12, Issue 1
October 3, 2012

In this Edition:

- Editor's Notes

- Feature Article - Sorry, We Will Not Be Participating Because ...

- Humor

- Product Showcase - Wheel Flare (Decals)

- Pinewood Derby Car Showcase

- Q&A



Editor's Notes
Welcome to the New Pinewood Derby Season
It's fall, and time for the new pinewood derby season again. I'm looking forward to a super race season, and I hope you are too. Here at Maximum Velocity we have developed some great new products to help you be successful in your upcoming races. Some of our new products are:
  • New Car Kits - We have introduced three new car kits, the Low-Rider GT, the GTX, and a new and faster version of our popular Propeller Car.

  • Axles - A non-grooved version of our Super Speed Axles and a Needle Axle Upgrade Kit are available to give you a serious performance boost.

  • Diamond Polish - Put an extra fine shine on your axles with our Diamond Polish.

  • Wheel Flares - New from PineCar, this product includes dry transfer decals for the sidewall of the wheels, wheel covers, and a decal for the head of the axle.

Click Here to see all of the new items.

Inventory Clearance Sale
We also are clearing inventory on several items including car kits, car plan booklets, and pine blocks. Click Here to find our clearance items. Don't miss out on the great prices.
MV Basic & Wedge Car Kits

If you are planning a race and are not required to use a specific kit type, our MV Basic or Wedge Car Kit are just what you need. These attractively priced kits are equipped with:
  • Quality Block - Unlike the blocks provided by some organizations, our blocks are soft, northwestern pine blocks, cut precisely to 7 inches long, 1-3/4 inches wide, and 1-1/4 inches tall. These dimensions, as well as the axle slots accurately duplicate the dimensions of standard pinewood derby blocks from BSA and PineCar.

  • Simple Axle Preparation - Don't worry about filing off flaws, or losing hub caps. Our Speed Axles have no burrs or crimp marks, and install without hub caps. With or without polishing, they are ready to go. We supply five, so you have a spare.

  • Quality Wheels - Forget cheap, out of round wheels. Our MV wheels are top-quality wheels. You will not be disappointed with the quality of these wheels.

So, if your organization does not mandate a particular kit type, consider our MV Basic Car Kits or MV Wedge Car Kits

Can We Help?
If we can help you in any way with your pinewood derby project, or if you have any feedback regarding this newsletter, please contact us at: info@maximum-velocity.com


Feature Article

Sorry, We Will Not Be Participating Because ...
By Randy Davis

Do you have difficulty getting decent participation in your organization's pinewood derby race? Do families make excuses because of fear of failure or intimidation (I don't have the tools and/or skills, or, everybody else is too good)? Do you sell a lot of kits, but many of these kits never get made into a car?

In order to increase participation, race organizers need to eliminate the roadblocks to participation, thus eliminating the common excuses. So let's take a look at the common reasons for not participating.

We Have No Woodworking Skills, Or We Have No Woodworking Tools
In the not too distant past, virtually every family had the basic tools required to make a pinewood derby car (and some level of skills). But that has changed. Today, many families have virtually no tools, and very few woodworking skills. As an example, I was recently at a house helping with a swimming pool problem. I asked the dad what tools he had, and found that the household tools consisted of a screwdriver and a pair of pliers - not exactly a robust pinewood derby tool box!

So what are families supposed to do when they are confronted with a wooden craft project? Clearly, the event organizers must provide one or more opportunities for the families to use woodworking tools.

At our event, we have an open workshop on two consecutive Saturday mornings before the check-in event. Families can use whatever tools they need - we only restrict access to the band saw (and other powered saws). We also provide as much assistance and guidance as is requested. Generally, we get a good small turnout the first Saturday, and then get swamped the second Saturday (typical procrastination). If we did not offer these workshops, our race participation would be greatly reduced.

There Is Too Much Work Involved
Part of this issue can be addressed with workshops. However, much of this problem stems from the type and quality of the car kit. Some kits require more work than others due to poor wood quality, flawed axles, and/or cheap wheels. Simply moving from nail axles with burrs and crimp marks, to clean axles; and from cheap, out-of-round wheels, to precision-molded wheels, greatly reduces the amount of work required to prepare a car. So, consider upgrading your kits to one of nicer quality1, or at least replacing cheap axles with clean axles.

There Is Too Much Time Involved
Again, part of this issue can be addressed with workshops, and by providing nicer kits. However, another aspect of this excuse is that many people do not have the time (or want to take the time) to shape the wood block. There are two options to address this:
  1. Offer wedge-shaped blocks as an alternate to the regular block (we offer both types at our race). People that want to spend less time can choose the wedge-shaped block, and then just sand and paint.

  2. Allow the use of pre-shaped car bodies. In our race, we allow pre-shaped kits, but the resulting cars are not allowed to participate for the design awards. This opens up a lot of options for people that are squeezed for time.

We Don't Know How To Make A Fast Car
With a little time research, anyone can find the basic tips for making a pinewood derby car go fast. But as the race leader you don't want to leave any excuses available to potential participants. So, provide a list of basic speed tips with the kit. We provide a brief set of speed tips along with the race rules in each kit. Of course, not every family reads then, but they are there for anyone that is interested.

The Competition Is Too Stiff, So We Don't Have A Chance
People don't like to lose, and they certainly don't want to come in last place. But this issue is not so much of a concern with having a slow car, but with having a fast car that cannot win because the event is dominated by one or more families that know all the tricks and take the time to implement them. This is not something that can be eliminated (nor do you necessarily want to eliminate this), however, there are a few steps that can be taken to level the playing field:
  1. If your derby has rather flexible car design rules (e.g., allows modified wheel bases, machined wheels, or similar), then likely the event will end up with some high-performance cars leaving the more traditional cars in the dust. Consider tightening the rules to eliminate techniques that are not readily available to most families (extended wheelbases, modified wheels, etc).

  2. Alternately, consider offering different entry classes. How about a "Stock" class race for cars with standard wheel bases, unmodified wheels, etc., and an "Open" class race for cars with extended wheel bases, modified wheels, etc? This will require more awards, and a little more time. However, I believe you will find the increased competition and excitement will more than compensate for the additional cost.

Conclusion
There is no excuse! You can increase participation by addressing the common concerns of potential participants. If you have other ideas for increasing race participation, please send me an e-mail and they will be included in a future newsletter.

1Maximum Velocity offers a basic block and wedge kit with high quality (unflawed axles), precision wheels, and nice blocks. You can find these kits Here.



Humor

Note: The Washington Post had a contest wherein participants were asked to tell the younger generation how much harder they had it "in the old days." Winners, runners-up, and honorable mentions are listed below.

Second Runner-Up:

In my day, we couldn't afford shoes, so we went barefoot. In winter, we had to wrap our feet with barbed wire for traction.

First Runner-Up:

In my day, we didn't have MTV or in-line skates, or any of that stuff. No, it was 45s and regular old metal-wheeled roller skates, and the 45s always skipped, so to get them to play right you'd weigh the needle down with something like quarters, which we never had because our allowances were way too small, so we'd use our skate keys instead and end up forgetting they were taped to the record player arm so that we couldn't adjust our skates, which didn't really matter because those crummy metal wheels would kill you if you hit a pebble anyway, and in those days roads had real pebbles on them, not like today.

And the Winner:

In my day, we didn't have rocks. We had to go down to the creek and wash our clothes by beating them with our heads.

A few of the Honorable Mentions:

In my day, we didn't have fancy health-food restaurants. Every day we ate lots of easily recognizable animal parts, along with potatoes.

In my day, we didn't have water. We had to smash together our own hydrogen and oxygen atoms.

Kids today think the world revolves around them. In my day, the sun revolved around the world, and the world was perched on the back of a giant tortoise.

In my day, we didn't have virtual reality. If a one-eyed razorback barbarian warrior was chasing you with an ax, you just had to hope you could outrun him.

Back in my day, they hadn't invented electricity. We had to watch television by candlelight.



Product Showcase

    Wheel Flares - Decals For Your Wheels    

Wow! Decals for your wheels. Each Wheel Flare kit includes dry transfer decals for the sidewall of the wheels and the nail head, and cardboard wheel covers in two sizes and two designs. Use them together or separately. Six different Wheel Flare kits are available. Click Here to view all of the Wheel Flare Kits.

Through October 16, 2012, you can get a Wheel Flare Kit for over 10% off. To take advantage of this limited time offer, Click Here.



Car Showcase

The Elf - Robert Allen

We made this for my son's first race in Tiger Cubs. I researched for about two weeks on designs and what we could do to make the car go faster. Then I drew up three different cars, and he picked out which one he liked best and we made it. We used standard fender washers held in by wood putty for the weight. The wheels and axles are standard BSA wheels that come with every kit; only lightly sanded to remove any imperfections and lubed with graphite. Anywhere the wheel might even come in close contact with the body was graphited. The custom artwork - an elf hiding behind a Christmas tree - was done by my son. I did the power tool work, which wasn't much since I only used a Dremel tool. All the sanding was done by hand and done by my son. Oh yeah we won The All City championship in York, PA. Not bad for his first scouting event.

Ahoy Matey - Quinn & Grant Masek

The black car is The Racer and is the first car my son (Quinn) and I built since joining cub scouts. I followed your plans but really didn't do a good job on the axle alignment. He got first in the pack but 40th at the Scout-O-Rama.


My younger son (Grant) told me he wanted to build a yellow car to look like the one on the BSA box. I used your speed tips for weight, balance and axle prep. Again, we have room to improve on the axles (we weren't doing rail riding yet), but he still got first in the siblings division.

Flying Wedge & Jeep - Ethan & Dominic Patterson

This is my son, Ethan's, first Pinewood Derby Car. It took first place in all races to take first place overall in the Pack.


The apple of everyone's eye, the candy apple red jeep stole the show in the adult division on just looks alone!

Share Your Car With Our Readers

Do you have a car you would like to "show off" to our readers? If so, send us a photo of your car along with a brief description of any special features. Also, please include your full name. If selected, we will include the photo and description in this newsletter.Please e-mail photos to:
info@maximum-velocity.com.

Photos must be sent by e-mail in JPG format (minimum size of 640x480, maximum size of 1280 x 960). Please shoot photos from the front left of the car, similar to the orientation of this car:


For better focus, keep the camera four or five feet away from the car, and then use the camera's zoom to fill the frame with the car.

Send only one photo per car, unless an additional photo is needed to adequately show a feature. Also, only one car per subscriber per year please. Thanks!



Q&A

If your car design is rather square and not very aerodynamic, would the performance be helped if you were to place a tunnel through the body which air can pass through?

Possibly. Generally, aerodynamic drag is based on the amount of front cross-section. So reducing that by creating a tunnel should help a little.

A better way is to reduce the height of the car, and then use tungsten to weight the car. That way, most of the weight of the car is the ballast weight, and the front cross-section is minimized.

In any case, round off all leading and trailing edges.

One other point: aerodynamics is a secondary consideration for pinewood derby cars. The primary considerations are maximum weight, weight location, well-prepped wheels and axles, thorough lubrication with a high-quality lube, and good alignment.

What is the best type of polyurethane to use on pinewood derby cars? We have a few decals I printed off a site. They are paper. Can we just glue those on and then spray or paint polyurethane over them?

I haven't experimented with polyurethane very much. It tends to leave a yellow tint over time, so most people use a lacquer or acrylic clear-coat.

For any decal (paper or otherwise), I recommend attaching a piece to a scrap piece of wood, and then coating it with the product you plan to use. Let it dry for at least 24 hours. This will let you know if and how the coating will affect the decal.

Do You Have Questions that Need Answers?
Do you have a pinewood derby-related question? If so, send your question to: info@maximum-velocity.com. We answer all questions by e-mail, but not every question will appear in the Q&A section of the newsletter.



Back Issues

Are you a new subscriber, or have you missed some of the previous newsletters? Don't miss out! All of the issues for Volume 5 through Volume 13 are posted on our web site and can be found using our Newsletter Index.

Issues from Volumes 1 to 4 are available in four formatted documents, ready for immediate download. To find out more, Click Here.




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Please read our submission policy.



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Randy Davis, Editor, Pinewood Derby Times
E-Mail: info@maximum-velocity.com

Copyright ©2012, Randy Davis. All rights reserved. Please do not reprint or place this newsletter on your web site without explicit permission. However, if you like this newsletter we grant permission, and encourage you to e-mail it to a friend.

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