Pinewood Derby Times, Volume 16, Issue 5 – November 30, 2016

PINEWOOD DERBY TIMES
Volume 16, Issue 5
November 30, 2016

In this Edition

– Editor’s Notes
– Feature Article – Open Weight Pockets – Do They Affect Speed?
– Humor
– Product Showcase – Holiday Shopping – 10% Off
– Pinewood Derby Memory – Star Ship Tribute
– Pinewood Derby Car Showcase
– Q&A


Editor’s Notes

New Products
Maximum Velocity is introducing two new products just in time for the prime racing season:

15030smallSpecial Tungsten Cylinders – We made a special buy of these cylinders and are offering them to you at a much lower price than our regular cylinders. Each cylinder measures 0.45 inch in diameter and 0.36 inch in length, and weighs 0.56 ounce (7 cylinders equals 3.9 ounces). A cylinder will fit in a 15/32 or 1/2 inch hole. You can find these cylinders Here.

5468smallPre-Cut Bulk MV Car Kits – We made a special run of pre-shaped bulk car kits. The kits are shaped and sanded, and ready for final sanding and painting. Each bulk pack contains three each of four shaped car bodies, wheels, axles, instructions and baggies. You can find them Here.

STEAM/Ford Races
The Ford Motor company has been sponsoring STEAM academies (STEM with Arts) for many years. Recently the STEAM program has been promoting pinewood derby-style races for Girl Scouts. The races are called “Fast Track Races”, and are intended to teach engineering and design. While this program is focused on portions of four states (Texas, New Jersey, Michigan and Florida), pinewood derby racing is a great activity for Girl Scouts troops everywhere.

For more information on the STEAM program and Fast Track Races, Click Here.

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.

Call for Photos
Help, we are virtually out of photos for the pinewood derby car showcase.  Please send us a photo of your car along with a description of any special features to:
info@maximum-velocity.com

Please include your full name. If selected, we will include the photo and description in this newsletter.

Photos must be sent by e-mail in JPG format (minimum size of 640×480, maximum size of 1280 x 960). Please shoot photos from the front left of the car, similar to the orientation of car shown at:

Make sure the photo is not blurry. If your photos are blurry, try holding the camera four or five feet away from the car, and then use the camera’s zoom to fill the frame with the car. Also, use a solid (preferably white) background for the photo.

Send only one photo per car, unless an additional photo is needed to   adequately show a feature. Don’t forget to include your name, the name of the car (if it has one), and a brief write up on any design features, inspiration for the design, and how the car performed at the race. Thanks.

Inventory Clearance Sale
We are clearing inventory on several items including:

– Discount slotted blocks
– Formula One car kit
– Wheel Flares and Paint Stencils
– Raingutter Regatta Decals

We don’t have many left, so don’t delay. You can find these items Here.

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 E-Mail Us.


Feature Article
Open Weight Pockets – Do They Affect Speed?
By Randy Davis

A common method of adding weight to a car is to drill holes or create pockets in the bottom of the car, and then glue weight into the pockets. Generally, not all of the pocket or hole space is used, so there are open cavities in the bottom of the car.

Some people advocate filling in open cavities, thus creating a smooth surface on the bottom of the car. The belief is that open cavities affect the aerodynamics of the car, leading to slower speeds.

But is this true? If it is true, then certainly the effort required to fill the cavities is justified. On the other hand, filling in cavities creates weighing issues as the weight of the filler must be taken into account. So if open cavities do not affect speed, then the effort is wasted (other than a possible improvement in the looks of the car).

Let’s see if we can answer this question.

Experiment Setup
To test the effect of open cavities on performance, a test car was created with a large amount of open cavities. The car was weighted to 5.035 ounces, and was equipped with the following features:

– Balance point at 11/16 inch in front of the rear axle,
– RS wheels with nickel speed axles, (1)
– Krytox 100 lube
– Alignment set to rail ride
– 32 foot aluminum track

Figure 1  Test Car

Figure 2  Test Car Bottom – Without Tape

A strip of clear packing tape cut to the proper width was placed over the entire bottom of the car, thus creating a smooth bottom with no cavities. The car was then re-weighed – 5.05 ounces.

The Test
Five heats were run with the smooth bottom. The tape was then removed, and tungsten putty (.015 ounces) was added at the center of the car to account for the tape weight. Then five heats were run with the open cavities.

The Results
The runs averaged and the standard deviation calculated:

Smooth Bottom – Average – 2.466 seconds, .0012 standard deviation

Open Cavities – Average – 2.466 seconds, .0013 standard deviation

Conclusion
Obviously, open cavities do not affect performance. My belief is that since the peak speed of a pinewood derby car is less than 20 MPH on a standard track, the aerodynamics of a car are only affected by:

– changes in the frontal cross-section of the car,(2)
– creating a smoother profile, and improving air flow with fenders,(3)
– elimination of sails, streamers or other air catching accessories.

So, unless you are an aesthetic purist, I wouldn’t bother covering open pockets or holes in the bottom of the car.

(1) I chose to use disk wheels instead of full width wheels to
minimize the overall aerodynamic profile of the car, so that if open
pockets did affect speed the effect would tend to be amplified.

(2) Proven in a test done in 2004, which will be revisited in a future
article this season.

(3) Proven in a test done in 2013. Click Here for the article.


Humor

Want To Go Out?
One Saturday, as Mom was finishing the dinner dishes, my father stepped up behind her. “Would you like to go out, girl?” he asked.

Not even turning around, my mother quickly replied, “Oh, yes, I’d love to!”

They had a wonderful evening, and it wasn’t until the end of the evening that Dad finally confessed that his question had actually been directed to the family dog, laying near Mom’s feet on the kitchen floor.


Product Showcase

Holiday Shopping – 10% Off

Here at Maximum Velocity we wish you and your family a great holiday season. To help with gift giving, through December 13, 2016, you can get 10% off your entire order. To take advantage of this limited time offer, please Click Here.


Pinewood Derby Car Showcase

Today’s cars are from Jeff Bartel.

Silver Stealth
This was Nickolas’ second car and his fastest (2nd in the Pack).  It was based on two or three designs he found online and combined.

Scout Spirit
This was Nickolas’ first car as a Webelos.  He wanted to go for scout spirit (which he won) and speed (which didn’t work out quite as well due to some alignment issues). He was proud of using the scroll saw to put his initials into the front of the car.

Space Shuttle

This was Nickolas’ final car. He was done with trying for speed and was focused on the design award, which he won. He carved the shuttle out of two pieces of balsa wood, and the external fuel tank and SRBs were dowels that he sanded down (and added toothpicks to the former and wire nuts as the engines to the latter). The shuttle sits on a skateboard of the original PWD kit.

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 description of any special features to:
info@maximum-velocity.com

Please include your full name. If selected, we will include the photo and description in this newsletter.

Photos must be sent by e-mail in JPG format (minimum size of 640×480, 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. Also, use a solid (preferably white) background for the photo.

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.


Pinewood Derby Memory
Star Ship Tribute

My wife Jennifer accepted the call to become the children’s pastor at a church in Kansas. One of the first things I asked when I got to the church was “What would you most want out of my time here?”

Knowing that I had experience with the pinewood derby, the youth pastor Philip spoke up and said (among other things): “The District Director of Kansas has never lost a Ranger Derby Race in ten years.”

I knew that we could be competitive with the ten-time champ but, I did not make any promises.

About a month later the Ranger Derby building started, While the Royal Rangers made dragsters, speeders, racers and other high performance racing machines, Pastor Philip wanted to make a Starship Enterprise from the movie Star Trek. I told Pastor Philip that his car looked cool and it could also win – if we ran it backwards. So, Pastor Philip began building his car. He was at the primer step, when he had to have tonsillectomy surgery.

During the surgery something happened and Pastor Philip died, leaving his unfinished Ranger Derby car. The Royal Rangers and the youth group were stunned, and wondered how we could show honor to Pastor Philip. We all decided to finish Pastor Philips car and race it in his honor.

The Royal Rangers worked hard on their cars, and on Pastor Philip’s car. They were able to run two test races against the reigning ten-time champ with their own cars. They almost won. But we had one trick up our sleeve. For the state race we had finished Pastor Philip’s car with a fresh paint job. We also ordered new wheels and lube from Maximum Velocity.

Race day arrived! All of our cars passed inspection with flying colors, even Pastor Philip’s with a split nose that went around the start pin. So the race was on, we had two Rangers that got third and fourth in the state, and all that was left was the leader’s class with Pastor Philip’s car. As expected with a split nose the race officials allowed us to put tape across the nose so the car would stay behind the pin on the start gate. The first race we lost by an inch, but the next three we won by a inch or more! We knew all of the times would be close, but would Pastor Philip’s car win?

The District Director explained what had happened to Pastor Philip, and that we finished and raced the car for him. He then said, “First Place, winning by three thousandths of a second: Pastor Philip!!!!”

That Sunday, I presented the car and medal to Pastor Philip’s Mom and Dad. Most everyone was at least a little misty eyed. The Royal Rangers wanted in our own way to give a little honor to Pastor Philip to remember what a good man he was.

Tony Grim
Morrow, Arkansas

Do you Remember?

If you have a pinewood derby story that is funny, unusual, sad, heart-warming, etc., please send it to me in an e-mail. Don’t worry about literary polish. We will edit as needed before publishing. Also, please read our submission policy.

If your story is used, you will receive a $10 coupon in May of 2017.


Q&A

Q: This year, we’ve been trying to utilize more Physics; we’ve heard the competition is going to be tougher this year. Last year we didn’t worry about putting the weight in the rear, aerodynamics, or anything; we just polished the axles and did the work on the wheels and we won. For this year we found out that one of our competition is utilizing aftermarket BSA speed wheels and speed axles, and he’s using a type of “Quick Start” tactic by putting a “V” cut in the front of the car and using the paperclip trick to leverage the top of the starting dowel. Supposedly when the lever is pulled, his car may get a head start to help him along. What do you think about this quick start trick?

A: Don’t worry about this. On modern tracks, the quick start trick has no benefit, and may be detrimental if the paper clip gets bent or does not trip the finish line sensor. For more information, take a look at the article in This Newsletter.

Q: I’ve always been told that graphite breaks down and wears out after about 10 races. Yet, on your website, there was a test run that was done with 20 races and the results seem consistent. What’s the truth behind graphite usage and how soon it wears out before needing to be reapplied?

A: If you do a thorough lube job, then you should get 20 heats. That is why the instructions say to spend the time adding, spinning, adding, spinning, etc.  I recommend five minutes per wheel for this process, always ending with spinning.  What you are doing is building up multiple coatings of graphite on the wheel bore. If you get enough layers, it will last the 20 heats, and you will have a very fast car. If you don’t get enough coatings, then it will wear out prematurely. If you don’t spin after the last addition of graphite, then the first few heats will be slower as the last added graphite must be worked in.

Want Answers?

Do you have a pinewood derby-related question? If so, e-mail us your question.

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 16 are posted on our web site Here.

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


Newsletter Contributions

We welcome your contributions. If you would like to contribute an article, a web site review, a speed tip, or a pinewood derby memory, please e-mail us.

Please read our submission policy.


Subscription Information

The Pinewood Derby Times is a free e-newsletter focused on pinewood derby racing. It is published biweekly from October through March.

If you haven’t already done so, please forward this issue to your pinewood derby friends. But please don’t subscribe your friends. Let them decide for themselves. Thanks.

If this newsletter was forwarded to you, why not subscribe to receive this newsletter. There is no cost, and your e-mail address is safe, as we never sell or share our distribution list.

To subscribe, send a blank e-mail to
mailto:pinewood-derby-times-on@mail-list.com

You will receive a confirmation e-mail. Reply to the confirmation e-mail and you will start receiving the Pinewood Derby Times with the next issue.


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

(C)2016, Maximum Velocity, Inc. 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.

Maximum Velocity disclaims any personal loss or liability caused by utilization of any information presented in this newsletter.

The Pinewood Derby Times is not specific to, and is not affiliated with the Boy Scouts of America, YMCA, Awana, or any other organization.

(R)Maximum Velocity is a registered trademark of Maximum Velocity, Inc.

(R)Pinewood Derby and Regatta are registered trademarks of Boys Scouts of America.

(R)Awana is a trademark of Awana Clubs International.

All other names are trademarks of their respective owners.

Mailing list services are provided by:
www.mail-list.com

Pinewood Derby Car Showcase – November 25, 2016

Some pinewood derby cars that aren’t cars.

Little Red Wagon – Jeremy Isaac

This was my daughter’s car for the AWANA Grand Prix this past year. It placed 3rd in Speed and 1st in Novelty.

Liebherr LTM 1095 5.1 Mobile Crane – Robert Knapp

As a scout leader I like to show the boys what is possible with a block of wood. I got my inspiration for this year’s car when I passed one of these driving on the interstate. The boys loved it! I could not count the times I heard the word cool!

Banana Mobile – Christine DuVal

This is the “Banana Mobile” that I made for the leaders race at our Awana Grand Prix earlier this month (January 2011).  I made it for fun, not for speed, but I was pleasantly surprised at how well it did! It beat pretty much all other cars except for a few wedges that were definitely built for speed. And to answer the question I know you are dying to ask…  No, I did not have help from my husband, I did it all myself 🙂

From Pinewood Derby Times Volume 10, Issue 10
Subscribe to this Free Pinewood Derby E-newsletter
(C)2016, Maximum Velocity, Inc. All rights reserved.
Maximum Velocity Pinewood Derby Car Plans and Supplies

Pinewood Derby Times, Volume 16, Issue 4 – November 16, 2016

PINEWOOD DERBY TIMES
Volume 16, Issue 4
November 16, 2016

In this Edition

– Editor’s Notes
– Feature Article – Light Trees – Rev Up Your Pinewood Derby Race
– Humor
– Product Showcase – Pro-Axle Bender – 10% Off
– Pinewood Derby Memory – Coping with Wood Block
– Pinewood Derby Car Showcase
– Q&A


Editor’s Notes

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.

Call for Photos
Help, we are virtually out of photos for the pinewood derby car showcase.  Please send us a photo of your car along with a description of any special features to:
info@maximum-velocity.com

Please include your full name. If selected, we will include the photo and description in this newsletter.

Photos must be sent by e-mail in JPG format (minimum size of 640×480, maximum size of 1280 x 960). Please shoot photos from the front left of the car, similar to the orientation of car shown at:

Make sure the photo is not blurry. If your photos are blurry, try holding the camera four or five feet away from the car, and then use the camera’s zoom to fill the frame with the car. Also, use a solid (preferably white) background for the photo.

Send only one photo per car, unless an additional photo is needed to   adequately show a feature. Don’t forget to include your name, the name of the car (if it has one), and a brief write up on any design features, inspiration for the design, and how the car performed at the race. Thanks.

Inventory Clearance Sale
We are clearing inventory on several items including:

– Discount slotted blocks
– Formula One car kit
– Wheel Flares and Paint Stencils
– Raingutter Regatta Decals

We don’t have many left, so don’t delay. You can find these items Here.

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 E-Mail Us.


Feature Article
Light Trees – Rev Up Your Pinewood Derby Race

In early 2016 I was asked by a customer for information about single lane timers. I knew that John Shreffler at New Directions(1) offered a single lane timer, so I called him up to ask a few questions. In the course of the conversation, John mentioned that he had a new light tree (the LT4) and asked if I would be interested in having one to show at our shop. I told him, “of course,” and a week later one showed up in the mail. Now that I had a new product, I (of course) had to write an article about it.

Although this article is a review of the LT4 light tree, first I want to provide an overview of light trees and the related topic of start gates. Then, after the review of the product, I’ll briefly cover competitive offerings.

What Are Light Trees?
Light Trees are used in drag racing to signal the drivers when they can pass the starting line. The tree progresses through amber lights, and then a green start light turns on, signaling “go” to the drivers. A red light is used to signal a car fault, i.e., the driver crossed the starting line before the green light.


Figure 1 – Typical Light Tree
(Source: Laverne Magazine)

Carrying this idea into pinewood derby racing, a light tree is typically used to help create a racing atmosphere at the event. But it can also be used for staging pinewood derby drag races.

There are three ways in which a light tree can be used in pinewood derby racing:

1. Non-integrated Tree – If the track has a manual start gate, then the light tree is activated by the gate operator to show that the cars are about to race. When the green light turns on, the gate operator triggers the gate. In this case, the tree is strictly for show.

2. Integrated Tree – If the track has a solenoid start gate, then the gate operator (2) activates the light tree, which in turn triggers the start gate when the green light turns on.

3. Drag Racing – If the track has a split gate (two levers which operate two different lanes), then two racers stage their cars, and trigger their gate when the green light appears. In this case only, a red fault light would turn on if one of the gates was triggered before the green light appeared.

Start Gates
Traditionally, pinewood derby start gates have been equipped with a manual release, whereby the gate operator triggers the gate using a lever of some type. Generally, the start gate has a spring that rapidly opens the gate when triggered. The gate is manually closed before the next heat.


Figure 2 – Freedom Track Manual Start Gate

More recently electric-powered gates have become available. These powered gates are triggered with a button or, in some cases by a signal from race management software. There are two types of electric-powered gates:

1. Solenoid Release – With solenoid release gates, the operator’s hand is essentially replaced by a solenoid, a device that uses an electromagnet to move a cylindrical rod when power is applied. By hooking the rod to the start gate, the gate is opened when power is applied; power is applied just long enough to release the gate. The gate must be manually closed before the next heat.


Figure 3 – Solenoid Release Gate on a Freedom Track

2. Full Motion – Full Motion gates use a rotary solenoid to open the gate when power is applied. When power is removed, the gate closes, eliminating the need for human intervention.


Figure 4 – Full Motion Gate on Freedom Track
(Source: newdirections.ws)

LT4 Light Tree Review
Now that we have discussed light trees and start gates, let’s take a look at the LT4 and how it interfaces with a start gate.


Figure 5 – LT4 Light Tree
(Source: newdirections.ws)

The LT4 is a low-cost light tree that can be used with any track and start gate.(3) It is small (5-1/4 inches from the top to the white area) so it is easily stored with the track. However, the LEDs are quite bright, allowing the lights to be easily viewed from across a large room.

For $129, you get the light tree, mounting hardware, the controller box, and a cable to connect the box to a solenoid gate. The unit operates on three AAA batteries. The control box mounts to the underside of the track with double-stick tape (supplied). It has three connections:

Light Tree (cable included)
Solenoid gate (cable included)
SCI – This is to connect either a pushbutton switch or a PC running race management software. The pushbutton switch or the computer connecting cable are optional add-ons.


Figure 6 – LT4 Control Box
(Source: newdirections.ws)

As shipped, the LT4 is activated by a remote. I tried a Samsung TV remote, a Sony receiver remote, and a Cox Cable remote, all of which activated the tree. The use of a remote allows activation by a race official, or by a member of the audience if desired.

I also tried the pushbutton switch (model PB2 – $26). It, of course, works fine to activate the light tree.

On my Freedom Track, I have a solenoid release start gate. The video below shows the LT4 activation and resulting gate triggering initiated with the pushbutton switch. Note that I mounted the LT4 on a wall. I could do this since my track does not move. Typically the LT4 is mounted at the top of the track; mounting hardware is provided for that purpose.

LT4 Video – Click on Photo

When idle the light tree repeatedly flashes a brief red light. When activated it cycles from bright flashing red to amber (two lights), and finally to green. After triggering the gate, it reverts back to the idle mode.

Split Gate Racing
When drag race-style racing is desired, split start gates are available to allow independent manual gate operation by two racers. In this case an option is required for the LT4 to show gate faults.


Figure 7 – BestTrack Split Start Gate
(Source: besttrack.com)


Figure 8 – LT4 With Fault Lights
(Source: newdirections.ws)

When used in this mode, the light tree does not trigger the gates, but instead monitors the gate status. When the light tree is activated, the lights sequence to the green light, at which time the racers trigger their gates. If a gate is triggered prematurely, a red light indicates the fault.

In order to detect gate activation, magnetic switches are mounted on the gate.


Figure 9 – Fault Detection Switches
(Source: newdirections.ws)

Competitive Offerings
There are two competitive offerings on the market:

— Micro Wizard TLG —
The Micro Wizard offering consists of a track mounted light tree and solenoid release gate. The light tree is activated with a button, and it triggers the gate when the green light turns on. The price is $220 for the light tree and gate release mechanism (does not include the start gate itself). See www.microwizard.com for more information.


Figure 10 – Micro Wizard TLG
(Source: microwizard.com)

— DragMaster Light Tree —
The DragMaster Light Tree is a scale representation of a drag racing light tree. It includes several operation modes ranging from display mode to pro mode. The gate can be connected with the Jewkes Engineering ESS gate release for gate triggering. The DragMaster can work with a split start gate for drag race-style racing. The 32-inch-tall, free-standing light tree is priced at $485 (ESS gate release, split start gate, and drag racing hook-up are sold separately). See www.besttrack.com for more information.


Figure 11 – DragMaster Light Tree
(Source: besttrack.com)

(1) www.newdirections.ws
(2) As we will see, the LT4 light tree can be started by the gate operator, a member of the audience, or by Grand Prix Race Manager.
(3) The LT4 works with all of the New Direction solenoid gates, as well as the Jewkes Engineering ESS gate.


Humor
While waiting at the veterinarian’s office, I overheard two women chatting about their dogs.

“What’s your dog’s name?” asked the first woman.

“Well, we used to call her Pork Chop,” answered the second lady. “But after the vet bills we’ve had for her, we now call her Filet Mignon.”


Product Showcase

Pro-Axle Bender – 10% Off

Stage Your Cars in Safety and Style

The Pro-Axle Bender provides an accurate, simple, and repeatable way to put a bend in pinewood derby axles. On typical axles, the tool supports any angle between 1/2 and 8 degrees. Axle bending allows rear wheels to run canted, and/or the front dominant axle to be aligned for rail-riding or straight alignment. Accurate alignment is one of the five keys to producing a fast pinewood derby car.

Through November 29, 2016, you can get a Pro-Axle Bender for 10% ($8.00) off. To take advantage of this limited time offer, add part 5198 to your shopping cart, and use coupon code NOV16NL during checkout.


Pinewood Derby Car Showcase

Black Widow – David and Gavin Liller
My son Gavin and I built this Black Widow car for his Wolf pinewood derby race. Gavin is deathly afraid of spiders, so he thought all the other racers would be afraid to race a car built like a black widow. Unfortunately, we didn’t know about Maximum Velocity, so we didn’t know of the speed secrets offered here. We came in 4th place. Next year we will use your web site and parts to give us that little edge that will push us into the top three.

Buzzsaw – Eric Lanam

This year the older boys in our Trail Life troop were a bit under- enthusiastic for our Pinewood Grand Prix. So we added an Outlaw class that allowed up to 1 pound of weight, up to 3.25 inches wide, up to 8.25 inches long, used MV Wheels, and didn’t use any propulsion or interfere with other cars.

The Buzzsaw is my entry into this Outlaw class. I wanted to try building a car that ran inside the rails on an aluminum track. I added fenders, left the wheels full-width, and brought the weight up to 7.5 ounces. It set the track record, tied it, and then beat it again.

Titliest  – Eric Lanam

The Titliest (spelling intentional) is another experimental car I’ve been wanting to try for a while using golf ball dimples as an aerodynamic aid. It turned out to be a very fast car, coming in third place overall (out of 38 cars) behind two heavy Outlaw cars.

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 description of any special features to:
info@maximum-velocity.com

Please include your full name. If selected, we will include the photo and description in this newsletter.

Photos must be sent by e-mail in JPG format (minimum size of 640×480, 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. Also, use a solid (preferably white) background for the photo.

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.


Pinewood Derby Memory
Coping with Wood Block

(A British perspective on America and the Pinewood Derby)

It is easy to forget, as the United States wades through corporate scandals and debate rages over a possible war in Iraq, what a gloriously wholesome place this can be.

Monday night in our neighbourhood was Derby night. This was not my idea of a Derby: the raffish, faded charm of Epsom on a summer’s afternoon. It was the Pinewood Derby (“dur-by” to you), organised in the school gymnasium by the Boy Scouts of America. There was no champagne tent, just apple juice and Diet Pepsi. And the nearest legal bookmaker was in Nevada.

This derby involves model cars, made of pine wood, which race down a 32 foot track using only gravity. On winter nights, it goes on in communities across the United States, a secret slice of Americana. The point, however, is not the racing. What matters is the building of the car, which is supposed to be a collaboration between father and son. For modern susceptibilities, the official instructions are non-gender specific. But this is an event that dates back to 1953, and the underlying intent is clear.

Each cub scout gets a kit with a block of wood, four nails for axles, and four plastic wheels. Then, in the words of one of the 27,700 relevant websites tracked by Google: “The boy and adult should make the car together as a project! It is not the intent that the parent show the scout the garage door then walk away; nor is it the intent that the boy play video games while the adult cuts and sands.”

The reference to video games is anachronistic. In all material respects, this is something straight out of the 50’s when American boys were expected to have freckles, table manners, a kid sis who was a bit irritating but okay really, a mom who was cooking in the kitchen and a stern but fair dad who could do amazing things with a tool kit.

The Engel family fit this stereotype in some respects but not in others, most importantly this: Dad can barely undo the petrol cap of the Toyota, never mind build a car, even one that has to weigh less than five ounces. The Pinewood Derby has been preying on my mind for weeks as the moment when my failure as a parent would be exposed to the entire local population.

Fortunately, my friend Neville came to the rescue. Neville is “Good At Things”. Neville, though not a Pinewood man himself, made a handsome job of turning our block of wood into something resembling a racing car – with a bit of nine-year-old help. It was simple, one of the other dads explained on the night: “All you need is a coping saw. It cuts beautifully through the pine.” A coping saw? I can’t even cope.

It was a lovely evening, really it was. We were supposed to start with the national anthem but, unfortunately, the tape broke so we had the pledge of allegiance instead. Then Jim, the starter and MC, took centre stage. He was a scout leader with a heap of personality and a skillful knack of finding ways not to use boys’ surnames of more than three syllables.

He compères these evenings on what appears to be a semi-pro basis: he is doing 63 of them this season for cub troops all over the Washington suburbs, and has to be booked months in advance. The track is like a wooden slide with a long straight at the bottom, but grooved, so that up to four cars can race in lanes down to an electronic finish line. Jim can whip through a race in about 20 seconds.

It soon became clear that the opposition was even more formidable than we realised. Most of the fathers were Cub Scouts themselves, so had been competing in one capacity or another almost since the race began. Some of the 27,700 websites apparently operate as grey markets so that the unscrupulous (or incompetent) can buy ready-made cars.

But most of the fathers had grasped the science: the need for weight at the back to build up initial speed (I think); the importance of getting the friction right. It was clear that the builders of the cars that made the finals understood a huge amount about aero-dynamics. I must have been sick the day we did that at school.

But the Engels were not disgraced. In five races, we had three gallant seconds. We nearly won once. It would have been unBritish to do better than that at the first attempt. My Cub Scout was a little disheartened.

“Look,” I said. “We did brilliantly. You didn’t know what you were doing. Neville didn’t really know what he was doing. I didn’t know what I was doing…”

“Dad,” he interrupted. “You didn’t do anything.”

Matthew Engel
Washington, DC

Matthew writes the “Engel in America” column for “The Guardian”, a newspaper published in the UK.

© 2002 Guardian Newspapers Limited. First published on Wednesday, February 13, 2002. Used by permission

Do you Remember?

If you have a pinewood derby story that is funny, unusual, sad, heart-warming, etc., please send it to me in an e-mail. Don’t worry about literary polish. We will edit as needed before publishing. Also, please read our submission policy.

If your story is used, you will receive a $10 coupon in May of 2017.


Q&A

Our pack is making the jump from graphite to Krytox 100 this year. We are making the change en-masse, banning graphite completely. We are tired of dealing with the mess, and from everything I read the racing will be more fair. The pack is going to buy the lube to facilitate this change. We have a few questions:

Q: Is Krytox something to add when assembling the axles/wheels in the final build process, or something to add just before racing at the event?  I think you add it during the build process, not at the event, as it appears it should dry before wheels are placed on. Is that correct?

A: Yes, Krytox 100 is applied before attaching the wheels/axles to the car body. This allows the excess oil to be wicked off. Note that Krytox 100 does not “dry”. But as long as you wick off the excess there will only be a thin film of oil on the rubbing surfaces.

Q: How many cars can I lubricate with one bottle? We are trying to figure out how many bottles we will need to buy. We have five dens and about forty boys. More bottles would make it easier to share, but increases the cost for the pack.

A: You can lubricate forty cars with one bottle. But as you point out, a bottle or two extra would improve logistics.

Q: If we have cars that go to districts, they will have to revert to graphite (trying to get them out of the “buggy whip” days, but they are stuck here for now). What cleaning should the scouts do to remove Krytox 100 before lubing with graphite?

A: The wheels and axles would need to be removed, and then cleaned with isopropyl alcohol followed by rinsing with water and then drying thoroughly. Once dry, graphite can be applied.

Q: We are banning all other dry lubricants, allowing only Krytox 100. We think we should ban all other oils, silicones, and other liquid lubricants as well. Have you seen a good “written rule” that has good language to keep us to Krytox 100 only?

A: I don’t have any wording, but why not allow other liquid lubes? Silicon spray is commonly used, as well as a few other liquids that are applied similar to Krytox 100. The key is that you do not want any lubricant to be seen on the wheels.

Want Answers?

Do you have a pinewood derby-related question? If so, e-mail us your question.

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 16 are posted on our web site Here.

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


Newsletter Contributions

We welcome your contributions. If you would like to contribute an article, a web site review, a speed tip, or a pinewood derby memory, please e-mail us.

Please read our submission policy.


Subscription Information

The Pinewood Derby Times is a free e-newsletter focused on pinewood derby racing. It is published biweekly from October through March.

If you haven’t already done so, please forward this issue to your pinewood derby friends. But please don’t subscribe your friends. Let them decide for themselves. Thanks.

If this newsletter was forwarded to you, why not subscribe to receive this newsletter. There is no cost, and your e-mail address is safe, as we never sell or share our distribution list.

To subscribe, send a blank e-mail to
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You will receive a confirmation e-mail. Reply to the confirmation e-mail and you will start receiving the Pinewood Derby Times with the next issue.


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

(C)2016, Maximum Velocity, Inc. 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.

Maximum Velocity disclaims any personal loss or liability caused by utilization of any information presented in this newsletter.

The Pinewood Derby Times is not specific to, and is not affiliated with the Boy Scouts of America, YMCA, Awana, or any other organization.

(R)Maximum Velocity is a registered trademark of Maximum Velocity, Inc.

(R)Pinewood Derby and Regatta are registered trademarks of Boys Scouts of America.

(R)Awana is a trademark of Awana Clubs International.

All other names are trademarks of their respective owners.

Mailing list services are provided by:
www.mail-list.com

Pinewood Derby Car Showcase – November 11, 2016

Bunny Car – Tim Grimstead

This is Tessa’s Bunny car which took 2nd in Juniors and 2nd in the Girl Scout Open at the 2010 council Powder Puff Derby.

Fan Car – Charles Baum

Attached are pictures of my fan-powered car.  I purchased the kit from Maximum Velocity and then made my own car from a standard block with racing wheels and axles from Maximum Velocity.  The bottom of the block is hollowed-out for the battery.  This car totally wiped-out all other contestants in an Adult Pinewood Derby (Open-class) that is a fundraiser for a local Scout troop.

First Car – Tom Peterson

This was my son’s first car.  It took second place at the Pack and second place at the Districts – the same scout beat him both times.

From Pinewood Derby Times Volume 10, Issue 9

Subscribe to this Free Pinewood Derby E-newsletter

(C)2016, Maximum Velocity, Inc. All rights reserved.

Maximum Velocity Pinewood Derby Car Plans and Supplies

Pinewood Derby Times, Volume 16, Issue 3 – November 2, 2016

PINEWOOD DERBY TIMES
Volume 16, Issue 3
November 2, 2016

In this Edition

– Editor’s Notes
– Feature Article – Vintage Autoweek Article
– Humor
– Product Showcase – Derby Stop
– Pinewood Derby Memory – Scenes from a Weigh-In
– Pinewood Derby Car Showcase
– Q&A


Editor’s Notes

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.

Inventory Clearance Sale
We are clearing inventory on several items including:

– Discount slotted blocks
– Formula One car kit
– Wheel Flares and Paint Stencils
– Raingutter Regatta Decals

We don’t have many left, so don’t delay. You can find these items Here.

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 E-Mail Us.


Feature Article
Vintage Autoweek Pinewood Derby Article

Today’s article is a reprint of an article written by Kevin A. Wilson, which appeared in Autoweek a little over 25 years ago. The article is posted in a PDF file here: Autoweek Article

I hope you enjoy the article. The article is used by permission of Autoweek.


Humor
Running Away From Home

A man scolded his son for being so unruly and the child rebelled against his father. He got some of his clothes, his teddy bear and his piggy bank and proudly announced, “I’m running away from home!”

The father calmly decided to look at the matter logically. “What if you get hungry?” he asked.

“Then I’ll come home and eat!,” bravely declared the child.

“And what if you run out of money?”

“I will come home and get some!” readily replied the child.

The man then made a final attempt, “What if your clothes get dirty?”

“Then I’ll come home and let mommy wash them,” was the reply.

The man shook his head and exclaimed, “This kid is not running away from home; he’s going off to college.”


Product Showcase

Derby Stop 60 – $3.00 Off

Stage Your Cars in Safety and Style

Finally, a staging system that will keep your cars organized and safe, but won’t break the budget. Derby Stop is a set of car staging platforms that:

Keep the cars safe – The front or rear wheels rest snuggly in a trough in the platform, keeping them from rolling away.

Keep the cars organized – Each staging position is clearly marked, and the included car stickers make it simple to find each car’s assigned location.

Supports small to large races – Derby Stop will support races of up to 30, 60, or 90 cars.

Can Be Reused or Replaced – Derby Stop is inexpensive, so if desired you can use it again and again or replace it each year.

Through November 15, 2016, you can get a Derby Stop 60 for $3.00 off. To take advantage of this limited time offer, add part 7552 to your shopping cart, and use coupon code NOV02NL during checkout.


Pinewood Derby Car Showcase

Awana Slot – Mike Henkelman
Here is our Outlaw car built using slot car components and a lithium battery. On the floor it will “smoke the tires” and spin doughnuts. On the track — who knows?

Frozen – Mike Henkelman

This car was built as a wedge under my granddaughter’s guidance to better show “Frozen” stickers — more important to her than to look like a car or set fast times!

Blue Zander  – Russ Lyman

My grandson, Zander, built this car. He got fourth place at the pack race, after which we discovered the car had two broken rear axle housings. He still qualified for District. We rebuilt the axle housings, realigned the frame and axles with your full body alignment tool. Out of the 400+ racers overall he set two track records. His car “raised some eyebrows” from the previous race participants.

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 description of any special features to:
info@maximum-velocity.com

Please include your full name. If selected, we will include the photo and description in this newsletter.

Photos must be sent by e-mail in JPG format (minimum size of 640×480, 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. Also, use a solid (preferably white) background for the photo.

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.

Pinewood Derby Memory
Scenes from a Weigh-In

Four events that actually happened at our weigh-in many years ago:

Scene 1 – The boy seemed to be holding the car in an odd way and there were pieces of paper between the wheels and the shiny, slime green car body of “The Green Machine.”  But I was in ‘weigh-in mode’, and was not allowing these warnings to affect my behavior. I grabbed the car and put it on the scale.  In that instant, the boy spoke up and I realized my mistake. You guessed it, the paint was still very wet. Now the paint was on my hands, my hand print was on the car, and the Green Machine had become the Green Smear.

Scene 2 – The wheels didn’t really spin well. In fact, they seemed to spin slower than untouched wheels and axles.

I said to the mom, “You probably should put some graphite on the wheels and axles.”

She replied, “That isn’t needed, we already lubricated the axles.”

“If you don’t mind my asking, what did you use?”

“Ivory bar soap.”

“That’s a new one,” I said.  But I was really thinking, “Ivory soap may float on water, but this car is sunk.”

Scene 3 – The little girl brought the car to the scale.  It looked like a last minute job.  That was confirmed when I saw that the molding spikes were still on the Awana wheels. The car wouldn’t even roll. (We fixed that problem)

Scene 4 – When the car was taken off the scale I noticed some liquid had been left behind.  I wiped it with my finger and said to the dad, “What is this stuff?”

He replied, “It must be the 3-in-1 oil we used to lubricate the wheels. Maybe we put on too much.”

No doubt about that. It was losing oil faster than the Exxon Valdez.

Randy Davis

Do you Remember?

If you have a pinewood derby story that is funny, unusual, sad, heart-warming, etc., please send it to me in an e-mail. Don’t worry about literary polish. We will edit as needed before publishing. Also, please read our submission policy.

If your story is used, you will receive a $10 coupon in May of 2017.


Q&A

Q: My daughter’s kids have an annual Pinewood Derby competition at their school with practically no “rules” except length and width. So my question is: is there is a weight amount that maximizes speed? I’m thinking about adding tungsten to get to 10 ounces.

A: In the previous issue, I posted the results of an experiment on maximum weight. See:
pinewood-derby-blog/2016/10/v16i2

Using Krytox 100 as the lubricant, the peak weight was at 14.5 ounces. But I have heard that graphite’s point of diminishing returns is less, something like 12 ounces. So 10 ounces should be fine in either case; it should perform better at 10 ounces than at 5 ounces. Just make sure that you use Krytox 100 or a good quality graphite (such as Max-V-Lube), and follow the recommended lubrication procedure..

Q: We just had our derby today and this is the second year we have used a plastic track with no center rail. Last year my son finished 3rd and this year we finished 2nd in the den. The car is plenty fast enough but it gets the wobbles and slows down. When it didn’t wobble it had a time of 3.06; when it would wobble it would have a time of 3.1xx. All the cars in the pack had times under 3.50 and the track record today was 3.03. The overall winner is determined by average time and we came in 4th overall. If the car would have not wobbled I believe we could have moved up to at least second place. Is this just an issue with the plastic tracks or is something off with the car. I noticed a few other cars would wobble also but not nearly as badly.

A: Wobbling is usually caused by either:

– Too aggressive of a COG: Check the balance point of the car. If it is under an inch in front of the rear axles, I would move the COG forward. Since you cannot rail-ride on this type of track, you have to be a little less aggressive with the COG.

– Rear wheel alignment issue: If you used bent axles, then they may not have been adjusted properly. If you used straight axles and axle slots, then possibly the axles were not inserted parallel with the bottom of the car (slight angle), or the axle slots were a little crooked.

Q: Thanks for all the great tips. Generally speaking what should the center of mass be on your standard pinewood car? Should the balance point be about 1 inch in front of the rear axle slot, or 1 1/2 inches in front of the slot? What’s  a good target to shoot for?

A: Here is my recommendation on center of mass:

In most cases the best location for the COG is between 3/4 and 1-1/4 inches in front of the rear axle. Specifically:

– Wood Track, no alignment consideration: 1-1/4 inches

– Wood Track, Rail-Riding: 1 inch

– Aluminum track, no alignment consideration: 7/8 inch

– Aluminum track, Rail-Riding: 3/4 inch – Better performance may be attained with a COG closer to the rear axle (5/8 inch or so). However, this reduces front wheel tracking which can result in poor performance near the finish line. So, generally a more aggressive balance point is used when the target track is available to test the car to make sure it will perform properly.

– On long tracks (greater than 50 feet), the COG should be less aggressive; typically it is located between 1-1/4 to 1-1/2 inches in front of the rear axle.

Want Answers?

Do you have a pinewood derby-related question? If so, e-mail us your question.

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 16 are posted on our web site Here.

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


Newsletter Contributions

We welcome your contributions. If you would like to contribute an article, a web site review, a speed tip, or a pinewood derby memory, please e-mail us.

Please read our submission policy.


Subscription Information

The Pinewood Derby Times is a free e-newsletter focused on pinewood derby racing. It is published biweekly from October through March.

If you haven’t already done so, please forward this issue to your pinewood derby friends. But please don’t subscribe your friends. Let them decide for themselves. Thanks.

If this newsletter was forwarded to you, why not subscribe to receive this newsletter. There is no cost, and your e-mail address is safe, as we never sell or share our distribution list.

To subscribe, send a blank e-mail to
mailto:pinewood-derby-times-on@mail-list.com

You will receive a confirmation e-mail. Reply to the confirmation e-mail and you will start receiving the Pinewood Derby Times with the next issue.


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

(C)2016, Maximum Velocity, Inc. 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.

Maximum Velocity disclaims any personal loss or liability caused by utilization of any information presented in this newsletter.

The Pinewood Derby Times is not specific to, and is not affiliated with the Boy Scouts of America, YMCA, Awana, or any other organization.

(R)Maximum Velocity is a registered trademark of Maximum Velocity, Inc.

(R)Pinewood Derby and Regatta are registered trademarks of Boys Scouts of America.

(R)Awana is a trademark of Awana Clubs International.

All other names are trademarks of their respective owners.

Mailing list services are provided by:
www.mail-list.co