Pinewood Derby Times, Volume 17, Issue 4 – November 15, 2017

In this Edition

– Editor’s Notes
– Feature Article – Designing The Car Body For Performance
– Humor
– Product Showcase – Polished Rail Rider Axles – $3.00 Off
– Pinewood Derby Car Showcase
– Pinewood Derby Memory – Great Karma!
– Q&A


Editor’s Notes

DerbyWorx Videos

A few months back, DerbyWorx, the manufacturer of Pro Tools for
pinewood derby cars, worked with BSA to create three how-to videos.
These professionally produced videos are posted on YouTube, and are
very informative. You can find them here:

Wheel/Axle Prep

Body Prep

Final Assembly

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:

– Tundra and tungsten weights
– Velocinator and Formula One car kits
– Paint Stencils

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
Designing The Car Body For Performance
By Randy Davis

I am continually amazed at the creativity of pinewood derby builders. My talent (and the talent of my kids) tends toward straight lines and basic geometric shapes. But there is clearly a lot of artistic talent among car builders. Cars take all shapes from minimalist sleek designs to artistic wood carvings. One of the fun aspects of the derby is the wide variety of creative cars that are entered into the race. The intent of this article is not to stifle this creativity. Instead, the intent is to raise awareness that the fastest cars tend to have certain design features in common. Although cars of all shapes and sizes have done well in derby races, my observation is that overall, winning cars tend to have several basic characteristics. Whether you design a car with these characteristics or not is entirely up to you.

Maximum Weight
Design the car so that it will achieve the maximum weight (typically five ounces). Thus, decide ahead of time what type of material you intend to use for added weight and then ensure that the design can accommodate sufficient added weight to bring the car to the maximum weight.

Minimal Wood
On the majority of tracks, the center of gravity (COG) of the car should be positioned somewhat less than one inch in front of the rear axle. This gives the car the greatest opportunity to accelerate down the slope while ensuring enough weight on the front wheels to keep the car on the track. To locate the COG at this location a lot of the wood must be removed, and weight must be added around the rear axle. Thus, make sure your design leaves room around the rear axle for the added weight. Also, it is generally best to keep the car at the maximum allowable length (typically 7 inches). With a shorter car, it is difficult to add weight such that the COG is properly located.

Another reason for removing a lot of wood is to focus the added weight in as small of an area as possible. Cars with weight focused in one area will traverse the curve in the track faster than a car with the weight spread out.


Figure 1 – Minimal Wood

Aerodynamics
While the amount of effect from wind drag on a derby car is minimal, it is prudent to recognize the presence of wind drag and avoid design features that would increase this effect. So, while I don’t suggest being overly concerned with wind drag, I do suggest using a basically aerodynamic design, and avoiding the use of accessories that could catch air such as sails, streamers, etc. If you implement the first two topics above, you will likely have a low-profile car. You can further streamline the car by rounding the back of the car, and adding fenders in front and behind the front wheels, and in front of the rear wheels.

Symmetry
Another design factor that affects the speed of a car is left-to-right symmetry. By this I mean that the left side of the car should be a mirror image of the right side of the car. (For an example of a non-symmetrical car, click here:


Figure 2 – Non-symmetrical Car

Why is symmetry important? Because a car that is not symmetrical will be heavier on one side, and will tend to steer to that side. Thus, after the wheels/axles are aligned, there will be an increase in friction as the car tries to turn, but the wheels/axles prevent the turn. This extra friction will slow the car down.

Many cars run with a raised front wheel, which will slightly shift the weight. Careful weight placement can correct this, but usually the shift effect from a raised wheel is virtually non-existent.

Blunt Nose
Avoid designs that have a sharp pointed front end. There are two reasons for this caution. The first is that most tracks have round rods that hold the cars at the starting line. A car with a sharp point will tend to slip off the rod, which could cause the car to start at an angle. The second reason for avoiding a sharp point is that the point may not trigger the finish line sensor until the car has progressed a little bit past the finish line. This could be important in a close race. So, make sure that the nose of the car is blunt so that it will sit properly at the starting line and properly trip the finish line. I recommend a minimum of 3/4 inch width at the front of the car.

Maximum Wheel Base
If allowed by the local rules, extend the wheel base to the maximum length. Long wheelbase cars go straighter, are more stable, and allow the COG to be located further towards the rear of the car. For the opposite reasons do not shorten the wheelbase.


Figure 3 – Maximum Wheelbase

Raised Wheel
As mentioned previously, a raised front wheel is a common speed technique. A car with a raised wheel is easier to align, and will start rolling faster than a car will all four wheels on the ground.

Alignment
One of the most overlooked topics for novice racers is alignment. Significant performance improvements can be gained with proper alignment, especially rail-rider alignment. I won’t go into the “How” of rail-rider alignment in this article (1), but the “Why” is as follows:

– Car travels in a straight line, thus traveling the shortest distance.

– Rear wheels, which carry most of the car’s weight, avoid contacting the guide rail.

– The raised wheel avoids the guide rail.

– The front steering wheel rolls on the guide rail instead of scraping on the rail.


Figure 4 – Rear View of Car Set to Rail-ride

Summary
The basic design characteristics listed above are very common in high performing cars. By implementing these characteristics, you will be on the path of creating a competitive pinewood derby car.

(1) For the “How” of rail-riding, please see:

Volume 14, Issue 4, “Rail-Riding – Getting that Extra Speed”.
and
Volume 16, Issue 10, “Rail-Rider Alignment Walk-through”.


Humor

One day a little girl was sitting and watching her mother do the dishes at the kitchen sink. She suddenly noticed that her mother had several strands of white hair sticking out in contrast to her otherwise brunette hair.

She looked at her mother and inquisitively asked, “Why are some of your hairs white, Mom?”

Her mother replied, “Well, every time that you do something wrong and make me cry or unhappy, one of my hairs turns white.”

The little girl thought about this revelation for a while and then said, “Mom, how come ALL of grandma’s hairs are white?”


Product Showcase

Polished Rail Rider Axles – $3.00 Off

Say “Goodbye” to burrs, crimp marks, polishing, and bending! These BSA Pinewood Derby Speed Axles are precision-made to replicate the official BSA nail, but without the burrs and crimp marks. They are polished to 3,000 grit, and then bent to allow for rail-rider alignment. Just lube, align, and race.

Through November 28, 2017, you can get a set Polished Rail Rider Axles for $3.00 off. To take advantage of this limited time offer, add part 4035 to your shopping cart, and use coupon code NOV15NL during checkout.


Pinewood Derby Car Showcase

Some “Outlaw Cars” for your enjoyment.

Jet Bus – Brian Tomblin

I built a ducted fan bus I thought you would enjoy. It was really ugly and everyone was making fun of it in the pits. I was checking people in and could hear them behind me. But it was a “sleeper” in street racing slang. Of course, it blew everything away.

Plum Loco – Eric Werner

I built this fan car, Plum Loco, last year as a pre-race demonstration. At that time, I hid the true nature of the fan, simply lining the car up with no charge, and letting it run. When, of course, nothing happened, I charged it with a palmed 9v battery as I slowly walked back to the starting line. The second release, of course, saw the fan kick into action, and Plum Loco lived up to its appearance.

For our pack racing this year, we ran three classes; Cubs, Open, and Outlaw. In the Outlaw class, there was no competition for trophies, so I placed Plum Loco with that class. With a full charge, the 40′ track was completed in under 2 seconds. To illustrate the devastating nature of the fan, our race starter held it in place one time after the pins dropped, allowing the other cars to reach the flat before he let Plum Logo go. It still managed to beat the other cars to the finish by more than five car lengths. Fun to watch race, Plum Loco got many “Oooh’s” and “Ahhh’s” each time it ran.

Two-Wheeler – Jesus Carillo

 

Inspired by your two-wheel cars(1), I created the “green” car with aerodynamics in mind. But the COG was 1-1/8 in front of the rear axle. So, I went with a more functional look and created the silver car with a COG of one inch.

(1) See “Two-Wheeled Cars Revisited”.

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
Great Karma

My father – the boys’ grandpa – loves coming to the annual Cub Scout derby race for our cub pack. He helps everyone and loves to cheer for his boys. He also is quite involved in the building of the derby cars, and as a retired engineer spends a lot of time on the details.

One year, a couple of years ago, we showed up on race day with our cars, all of which had MANY hours in them. One of the other boys in my son’s den showed up with just his mom and no work done on the car. I kid you not; the kit was still in the box, no sanding or tweaking of any kind, and crayon colors on the block of wood. Mom was upset and didn’t know what to do, the cub was crying – kind of a mess. Grandpa stepped up, and in about 15 minutes on the sideline got the wheels on the car, some lube on the axles, and some weights glued on top to make weight. That’s it.

You guessed it. The car smoked everyone in the den and took second place in the districts. Just goes to show you that all the paint and engineering can’t top great karma!

Joe Cusack

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

Several questions from Phillip H:

Q: I treat the wheel bores with wax after I polish them. Should I also consider applying wax to the axles? If yes, what are your recommendations?

A: Generally, wax is not put on the axles. However, people do use various products to put a slick coating on the axles. I have heard of “Sail-Kote” and “Jigaloo”. Both are aerosol sprays that leave a dry film.

Q: If no wax, the last thing I do after polishing the axles is to remove any residue with 91% isopropyl alcohol. I have read that some think the alcohol leaves a film on the axle and recommend washing the axles in soapy water, rinsing, and drying them before lubricating.  Any thoughts on this?

A: If you are just using wet/dry sandpaper to polish, then there is no need to use alcohol. However, if you finish with diamond polish (which is typically oil-based), the axles should be rinsed in alcohol and then water. I don’t believe soap is really needed, and may be detrimental as soap and hard water results in deposits that are not easily cleaned off. Also, some soaps have additives such as lotion or aloe, some of which would stay on the axle. So, I would skip the soap.

Q: One of the last things I do for the wheel bore is to burnish it with graphite. I’m not aware of a way to burnish graphite on the axle since it’s metal.

A: Graphite doesn’t stick to metal so no need to try. Graphite sticks to the wheel bore.

Q: After I install the axle through the wheel bore I just add more graphite to the wheel bore and spin the wheel on the axle a few times. Is there any new way to add graphite?

A: You need to add graphite more than one time. I recommend 5 minutes of adding graphite, spinning the wheel on the axle, adding, spinning, etc. Always end by spinning several times. You are trying to apply layer upon layer of graphite to the wheel bore to build up a thick coating that will last through the event.

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 17 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.

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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)2017, 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 is a registered trademarks of the Boys Scouts of America.

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

All other names are trademarks of their respective owners.

Pinewood Derby Car Showcase – November 10, 2017

Here are a few ducted-fan cars from our readers.

Batman – Nicholas Burgess

Batman is powered by a Maximum Velocity fan with a 7.2V LiPo battery. We used components of a mouse trap for the front bumper, and the internal trigger mechanism to arm the car. Batman won the no-rules race with a scale speed of 355mph (1.5 sec on a 30 foot best track).

Gulf Jet Car – Tom Burgess

The Gulf Jet is powered by two Maximum Velocity fans with two independent power circuits, each energized with a 7.2V LiPo battery. The integrated bumper actuates two triggers inside the car simultaneously to arm the fans. The jet tubes were built by covering two paper towel tubes with synthetic wood and then sanding them down to a smooth finish. The car was slightly heavier than the Batman fan car, so even with two fans it came in second place in the no rules race with a scale speed of 297mph (1.8 sec on a (30 foot Best Track).

Mega-Fan – Richard Staron

Last year I ordered one of your propeller car kits, and it was fantastic. For this year’s derby I decided to try and go bigger. I made a car with a 56mm fan. I was running it on five 10F, 2.7V capacitors and a 12V battery pack (just short of the 14.8v the motor could handle). The Mega Fan car is faster (about 0.4 seconds) than the previous car. My design was a bit bulky; I hope to improve it for next year.

From Pinewood Derby Times Volume 12, Issue 10
Subscribe to this Free Pinewood Derby E-newsletter
(C)2017, Maximum Velocity, Inc. All rights reserved.
Maximum Velocity Pinewood Derby Car Plans and Supplies

Pinewood Derby Car Showcase – November 3, 2017

1969 Dodge Charger Daytona – Andy Holzer

For his 2012 car, my son Noah decided to build one of his favorite cars, a 1969 Dodge Charger Daytona. While we were attempting an alignment we found the dominant front axle hole was not drilled deep enough and we had compromised the hole when removing weight from the bottom. I tried to clean up the hole using the pin vise with a #44 bit, but this did not help. We decided to over bend the dominant front axle and run with it. We got the drift set and were ready to run.

The Charger Daytona was quite fast, but the alignment held it to seventh place in the open race at his old pack. A couple of weeks later we attended a pinewood derby sponsored by a local motorcycle shop. Before the race we took out the bad axle, fixed the axle hole and re-aligned the car. The Daytona placed 3rd in that race. Not a bad car for a five day build!

Lil Deuce Coupe – Joe Bowen

After I had almost completed this car, my son said it would look better with headlights and tail lights. I used a Dremel tool to carve out all the wood possible to squeeze in the wiring, batteries and lights. It won Best Design in the Open Division.

Can-Am Racer – Joseph Baron

On the Can-Am Racer, weight and weight distribution rapidly became a factor with the addition of fenders. So, the car and windscreen were completely hollowed out with a roto-tool, filled with spray-in foam, and then skinned over and painted. The stock wheels were lightened by drilling and then checked for balance and trueness. The car has not raced yet, but following your tips on axles, wheels, lubrication, etc., it should be a winner. We’ll let you know…

From Pinewood Derby Times Volume 12, Issue 9
Subscribe to this Free Pinewood Derby E-newsletter
(C)2017, Maximum Velocity, Inc. All rights reserved.
Maximum Velocity Pinewood Derby Car Plans and Supplies

Pinewood Derby Times, Volume 17, Issue 3 – November 1, 2017

In this Edition

– Editor’s Notes
– Feature Article – Use Air Guides to Improve Aerodynamics
– Humor
– Product Showcase – Air Guides – $2.00 Off
– Pinewood Derby Car Showcase
– Pinewood Derby Memory – A Proud Moment
– Q&A


Editor’s Notes

Reader Feedback
We received two e-mails regarding our article on Timers in the Last Edition:

“Hi Randy, I still subscribe to your newsletter since I enjoy it so much, even though my boys are in college!

I wanted to pass along a tip about a discovery we made a few years ago; we hosted workshops for our Pack and owned our own Piantadosi Track and MicroWizard timer. All the timer manufacturers mention the sensor specs in their literature, but the one factor they don’t include is the amount of occlusion that must occur to trip the sensor. This would also vary based on room conditions and lighting.

Without testing, I can’t say there is a difference between various manufacturers, but I can say that having a nose design that doesn’t block light either by aspect ratio or being reflective on the underside will cause negative results.

For that reason, we always painted the underside of the nose a flat black, and made sure to include enough width in the design to block the light as quickly as possible. Every small gain adds up, and light blocking can have significant results, it’s also easy to implement.

That might serve as a fun demonstration for your readers, broad nose versus pin nose, and reflective versus flat black.

Take care and keep up the awesome work!” – Mike Doyle

From Randy: Mike, thanks for the information. Your observations are quite valid. I did cover this somewhat in the footnoted article:
Pinewood Derby Times Volume 7, Issue 2 – “Is Your Finish Line Providing Accurate Results?

“I enjoyed your article on timers, but in your list of timer vendors you missed one. In my opinion this is the best timer system on the market. It is Supertimer. This system does not use lights for timing but rather, piezoelectric switches. This allows precision timing without an overhead rail so there is no height limit on racers. …” –
Vaughn Martens

From Randy: Vaughn, thanks for the note. As indicated in the article, I chose to not include timers that are intended for use on only the manufacturer’s track. The SuperTimer is intended for use only on a SuperTrack – although as you point out, with good handyman skills you can adapt it for other tracks. I also left out the Champ Timer as it is made only for the BestTrack.

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:

– Tundra and tungsten weights
– Velocinator and Formula One car kits
– Paint Stencils

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
Use Air Guides to Improve Aerodynamics
By Randy Davis

In September of 2017, Maximum Velocity introduced Air Guides(1), which are clear plastic discs that fit between the car body and the wheels. The purpose of the Air Guides is to improve the flow of air around the wheels, thus improving the aerodynamic profile of the car.


Figure 1 – Air Guides

The manufacturer of the Air Guides claims an improvement of 5 to 7 milliseconds on the track when Air Guides are properly installed. However, trying to test the Air Guides on the track is problematic. In order to test a car with and without Air Guides, the wheels/axles must be removed, reinstalled, and realigned. This configuration change introduces variability in the results and makes the numbers somewhat suspect.


Figure 2 – Air Guides Installed

However, the effect of Air Guides can be tested in a wind tunnel. The results cannot directly be tied to milliseconds on the track, but they can give a feel for the magnitude of the improvement.

So, off to the wind tunnel we go.


Figure 3 – Test Car with Air GuidesWind Tunnel Testing
Well, that was a short trip as I actually have a wind tunnel, which was described in Volume 5, Issue 9 – “Wind Tunnel Testing”.(2)The test car was equipped with Air Guides(3), Pro-Stock BSA Speed Wheels, BSA Speed Axles, and Krytox 100 lube. Data was captured for three wind speeds. The Air Guides were then removed, and the tests ran without the Air Guides.
Results
The results are shown in the table below. The numbers represent grams of force due to air flow over the car. Lower numbers represent less force and a more aerodynamic car.

       Guides         No Guides
       Average       Average
Low    2.600         3.200
Med    3.200         3.667
High   4.467         4.900

Below is the difference between the two numbers in the table above and the percent reduction in air resistance due to the presence of the Air Guides.

            Delta    % Reduction
Slow   0.600    19%
Med    0.467    13%
High   0.433    9%

The slow speed number shows the greatest difference, and is really the more important number, as the air speed in that test is closer to the actual air flow in a pinewood derby race.

Note that the nineteen percent reduction in air resistance does not mean a nineteen percent improvement in race times. What the number represents is a nineteen percent reduction in the effect of air resistance on the car. Other factors in car performance, such as friction, weighting, alignment, etc. are still in effect.

Conclusion
After running this test, the manufacturer’s claim of 5 to 7 milliseconds on the track does not seem out of line. Clearly, the hollow of the wheels does detract from the aerodynamics of the car, and filling in the hollow area has a significant positive effect on air flow.

(1) Air Guides can be found HerePlease check your local rules for legality before purchasing and using Air Guides.

(2) You can find the article on the wind tunnel Here.

(3) For this test, the Air Guides were installed using a very thin, double sided tape, so that they could be removed without damaging the car or the Air Guides. Normally, they are glued to the side of the car.


Humor

My grandfather worked in a blacksmith shop when he was a boy, and he used to tell me, when I was a little boy myself, how he had toughened himself up so he could stand the rigors of blacksmithing.

One story was how he had developed his arm and shoulder muscles. He said he would stand outside behind the house and, with a 5 pound potato sack in each hand, extend his arms straight out to his sides and hold them there as long as he could.

After awhile he tried 10 pound potato sacks, then 50 pound potato sacks and finally he got to where he could lift a 100 pound potato sack in each hand and hold his arms straight out for more than a full minute!

Next, he started putting potatoes in the sacks!


Product Showcase

Air Guides – $2.00 Off

Air Guides are clear, dish-shaped plastic inserts that attach to the car body. They are held in place with glue (epoxy is recommended). The Air Guides are slightly smaller than the inside diameter of the wheel, so the wheel spins round the air guide without contacting the guide (except for the inner hub – see more under “Important Notes”).

Air Guides direct the flow of air past the wheel cavity, thus reducing turbulence. This reduces drag, and improves the performance of the car. Wind tunnel test results show up to a 19% reduction in aerodynamic drag when Air Guides are installed.

Through November 14, 2017, you can get a set of Air Guides for $2.00 off. To take advantage of this limited time offer, add part 4044 to your shopping cart, and use coupon code NOVAIRNL during checkout.


Pinewood Derby Car Showcase

Vintage Truck – Randy F.

I don’t see too many old pinewood derby pickups so it was nice to try something different.I came across this truck at this years World of Wheels expo. I tried to match the patina the best I could. I like to put as much texture into my cars as I can, that’s  why I like to carve out the windows, door lines, hood lines, etc. It was very tricky trying to carve out those rear fenders. I have a passion for old trucks and it was fun trying to recreate this particular truck.

Super Bowl Champ – Rick & Jaden Simmer

This is my 9 year old’s (Jaden) pinewood derby car, which was the pack and district champion. His car (in the spirit of the New England Patriots Super Bowl win in 2015) came from behind to win the District race, having been beaten in the first heat of the double elimination.

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
A Proud Moment

There is a Cub Scout in my den whose name is Brett Ott. He missed out on our Pack’s Pinewood Derby Race. When it came time to have the district race he showed up and said that he wanted to race. In his hands were two cars that were very obviously cub scout built, crude and rough, but of course beautiful as all cub-built cars are.

It so happens that we have an open class in our district race where anyone can enter a car as long as it passes the same inspection as the cub scout cars. Since the other classes were only for the first place finishers from the packs of our district, I told Brett that he would have to race in the open class with all of the fathers, mothers, sisters, brothers, etc. This included running his car against mine and some other “pineheads” like myself. There was a large showing of open class cars this particular year, so his chances of placing seemed to be zip. But he would get to race.

He said, “I don’t know which car to race,” as he held out the two cars that he had brought with him. I looked both of them over and suggested the car which looked to have the best chance of performing. I weighed the car which was quite light. I took him over to the pit stop area where we quickly hot glued some lead to the top of the car. We graphited the wheels and ground in the lube by rolling the car back and forth on the counter. Then I placed the car with the rest of the open class cars, told him when they would race and then went back to the business of getting the other hundred and twenty Cub Scout cars registered and set in place for racing.

The races went on through the day with much excitement.  Finally it came time for the open class races to occur. Off they raced with over 30 cars competing. Then the dust cleared and the results were announced. “In 3rd Place,” I yelled , “In the open class racing against many adults, the winner of the Thunderbird district 3rd Place trophy is BRETT OTT!”

I think that I was every bit as proud of him as I was of my own 1st Place finish in that race, possibly even more excited as I became quite emotional and choked up when presenting him with his trophy. He had produced, nearly all by himself, one of the fastest cars in the district, without the knowledge of how to do so.  This after missing out in racing with his fellow scouts in his pack. This was a proud moment.

Randal Veenker
Cubmaster, Pack 248
Sandy, Oregon

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: Thank you so much for answering my e-mail the other day. I had my buddy use your Pro-Axle Bender to put a 2.5 degree bend in each of the rear axles. I angled the axles “up” so that the wheels would “migrate” towards the axle heads rather than the car.

In the past, I could always “steer” my rail riders by applying a 2.5 degree bend in the dominant front axle and by turning it one “hour” at a time until the car drifted slightly towards the raised wheel. Now, no matter what I do, the car drifts toward the dominant front wheel.

Help!

P.S. I did what you said and, after installing the bent rear axles, I rolled it back and forth a few times to make sure that both wheels were always moving and never touching the car body.

A: I assume that you can get some steering adjustment as you rotate the front axle, just not enough to get the car to drift the other way. If so, then likely the front axle slot/hole where the dominant axle is mounted is not parallel with the rear axles. I would check to make sure it is mounted properly. If you cannot correct the situation by remounting the front dominant axle, then you would need to increase the bend on the front axle to get more steering adjustment.

Q: Explain to me again why, when rail-riding, you want five inches of drift over eight feet. If you can get less than that, wouldn’t that be better?

A: You need enough drift to overcome any tilt to the track. Most tracks are just slapped together quickly and are not leveled. So the track could lean left or right, or even some parts left and some parts right. Usually, five inches over eight feet is enough to overcome these problems.

You also need enough drift to ensure that the dominant wheel stays firmly against the rail. If the drift is not enough, the wheel may lose contact with the rail, leading to the death rattle (car rapidly moving back and forth around the lane guide.

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 17 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)2017, 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 is a registered trademarks of the Boys Scouts of America.

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

All other names are trademarks of their respective owners.

Drilling Axle Holes With Precision

Excellent wheel alignment is a key factor in creating a competitive pinewood derby car, and using drilled axle holes (instead of slots) is a key way to improve wheel alignment. Of course, this assumes that the axle holes are drilled accurately.

Today’s article will share how to drill accurate axle holes (and some inferior techniques that you want to avoid) with either a hand drill/Pin Vise or a drill press. But before drilling axle holes make sure to check your local rules to make sure they are acceptable for your race.

Drill Bits
The first question that arises with axle holes is, “What drill bit do I use?”1 Generally, to have a snug fit you want to use a bit that is essentially the same size as the axle. The chart below shows typical bits for common kits:

Kit Axle Size Bit
BSA 0.086 to 0.087 #44 – 0.086
PineCar 0.088 #43 – 0.089
Awana 0.092 3/32 – 0.938

Hand Drill/Pin Vise
To accurately drill axle holes with a hand drill or a Pin Vise you must use a drilling guide. Do not attempt to freehand-drill axle holes – the results will likely be much worse than using the axle slots.

The Pro-Body Tool is a drilling guide designed specifically for drilling axle holes in pinewood derby blocks.


Figure 1 – Pro-Body Tool

It is placed over the bottom of the block, and then clamped into place. The drill bit is then run through the holes in the Pro-Body Tool with a hand drill or a Pin Vise. The metal of the tool ensures that the drill bit goes straight into the wood. Full instructions for using the Pro-Body Tool are located Here, however, here are a few additional tips.

  1. Keep the drill bit aligned with the hole in the tool. Don’t flex the drill bit – it can break.
  2. Make sure the Pro-Body Tool fits snuggly on the wood. If it is loose, use paper to shim it; if it is too tight sand the sides of the wood block.
  3. The Pro-Body Tool is equipped with a separate guide hole for drilling a raised hole for one of the front axle.

Drill Press
The Pro-Body Tool is highly accurate, and in some ways is preferable to a drill press. But for more flexibility in hole placement, and for drilling larger quantities of blocks the drill press is a good option.

The principle employed by the Pro-Body Tool is that all holes are referenced to the bottom of the block. Thus, an out of square block will not affect the accuracy of the axle holes.

This same principal must be employed when using a drill press. Thus, when using a drill press, an accurate, vertical fence must be present. 2 By pressing the bottom of the block to the vertical fence the holes will be referenced to the bottom of the block, eliminating any issues due to an out of square block.

However, most people with a drill press do not use a vertical fence. Instead, they place the left side of the block on the drill press table and drill the right side holes. Then they flip the block over, and drill the left side holes. This is okay if the block is perfectly square. But if not, the resulting holes will not be parallel to each other, leading to poor alignment. This is shown – in an exaggerated fashion – in Figure 2.


Figure 2 – Inaccurate holes due to out of square blocks

Some people attempt to resolve this issue by using a long drill bit to completely drill through the block. However, since the drill bit is narrow and long, it will flex, leading to inaccurate holes. This is especially true for dense pine such as is often found in BSA kits.

Instead, it is best to use a short bit, and drill half way through the block. As mentioned earlier, issues due to non-square blocks can be resolved by using an accurate vertical fence. The key is to make sure the block is clamped firmly to the fence, even if the side of the block is not flush against the drill press table (see Figure 3).


Figure 3 – Vertical fence creates accurate holes regardless of block shape

Conclusion
Axle holes can mean significant improvements in alignment, however, they must be drilled accurately to provide any benefit.3 So use the proper tools and techniques to make your car go as straight as possible.

1Regardless of the size, cobalt split point bits create more accurate holes than any other type of drill bits. For more information, check out: “Drilling Small Holes” from Volume 11, Issue 2.

2Meaning that the side of the fence is perfectly parallel with the drill bit.

3Maximum Velocity offers pine blocks with accurately drilled axle holes. Both standard and extended wheelbase versions are available Here.

From Pinewood Derby Times Volume 12, Issue 9
Subscribe to this Free Pinewood Derby E-newsletter
(C)2017, Maximum Velocity, Inc. All rights reserved.
Maximum Velocity Pinewood Derby Car Plans and Supplies

Pinewood Derby Car Showcase – October 20, 2017

Cobra – Jim White

My grandson, Aaron Shain, and I built this car that we named “Cobra” for the 2012/2013 racing season. We hope the front and rear fenders produce favorable air flow and high speeds.

Street Rod – Jim White

My grandson and I built this car to compete in the “Street Rod” class of a Pinewood Derby Racing League. The basic car is a stretched wedge shaped car, and the body shell is from a 1 to 25 scale AMT model kit.

Following the rules for the “Street Rod” class, the car is 9 inches long and weighs 6 ounces. There are two sets of front axle mounting holes to allow for shortening the wheel base. In our first race the car ran in the middle of the pack for times, but it sure was an eye catcher.

Corkscrew – Wess Eslinger

The Corkscrew is completely impractical (the only place to put weight is behind the rear wheels) but I thought it would be funny. I had the idea several years ago, but didn’t think I could actually make it. But this last summer I got bored on a Saturday morning, and decided to give it a try. It was easier than I thought to get the basic shape, but because I thought I would ruin it, I had used a really awful block of wood that I was going to throw away. So, it took a lot longer than I would have liked to get it looking even respectfully smooth. The gold paint was also tricky to get right. Since I spent a LOT more time on this than I ever anticipated, I hope it will get some laughs at our next race.

From Pinewood Derby Times Volume 12, Issue 8
Subscribe to this Free Pinewood Derby E-newsletter
(C)2017, Maximum Velocity, Inc. All rights reserved.
Maximum Velocity Pinewood Derby Car Plans and Supplies

Pinewood Derby Times, Volume 17, Issue 2 – October 18, 2017

PINEWOOD DERBY TIMES
Volume 17, Issue 2
October 11, 2017

In this Edition

– Editor’s Notes
– Feature Article – Timer Features and Comparisons
– Humor
– Product Showcase – Micro Tungsten Cylinders – 1 Cent
– Pinewood Derby Car Showcase
– Pinewood Derby Memory – Better Lucky than Good
– Q&A


Editor’s Notes

Ford Steam Races
In the fall of 2016, Ford began sponsoring pinewood derby races for Girl Scouts as part of their STEAM initiative (Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts, Mathematics). In 2017, Ford has expanded the race schedule and has announced eight events (one has already occurred). Likely, other events will be announced at a later time. You can find more information about this program and stay up to date on the race schedule Here.

New Products for the 2016-17 Season
A few weeks ago we introduced several new products to help you have a winning race season.  These products include:

New Car Kits: We are introducing three new car kits: the Dominator, the Funny Car, and the Truck. The Dominator is an aggressive, bone-shaped car that sports a 3.5 ounce tungsten canopy. Using rail-riding alignment, this extended wheelbase car will offer top performance. Our Funny Car and Truck kits are more traditional, to allow you top performance and style. The Funny Car is also available bundled with speed wheels, speed axles, and Max-V-Lube.

Funny Car
Funny Car
Dominator
Dominator
Truck
Truck

Weight: In addition to our 1 inch diameter rounds, we now offer a 1-1/4 inch diameter tungsten round which is thinner than our other rounds to allow for lower-profile cars.
1-1/4 Round

1/16 Ounc CylindersWe also added 1/16 ounce tungsten cylinders, which are included in our Incremental Tungsten Cylinders. This smaller weight allows for finer tuning when using cylinders.

Air GuidesAir Guides: Popular in the league racing circuits, Air Guides are clear plastic domes which mount to the side of the car to improve air flow around the wheels. With Air Guides installed, aerodynamic drag can be reduced by as much as 20 percent.

Additionally, we have added five new dry-transfer decals from PineCar,




Rockin Diva

To see all of the new items, please Click Here.

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

– Tundra and tungsten weights
– Velocinator and Formula One car kits
– Paint Stencils

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
Timer Features and Comparisons
By Randy Davis

Although a few groups still manually judge pinewood derby races, the vast majority of races are determined by electronic timers. Today’s timers are extremely accurate, are quite reliable, and readily interface to race management software. These capabilities help to make races run more smoothly and more quickly.

Just a quick Internet search will provide a list of many companies that offer pinewood derby electronics. Depending on the capabilities, prices range from $200 to over $600. Prices are driven by the number of lanes, the type of readout, and the feature list.

So before purchasing a timer, make sure you understand the different features that are available, and select those features that best suit your race situation. This article will first cover timer basics, followed by a discussion of the main timer features, and conclude with a list of companies and their offerings.

Timer Overview
Although there may be subtle differences, all timers consist of a set of light sensors which are normally mounted under the track at the finish line.(1) A light source is suspended over the track. This “bridge” generally has a light source for each lane, and it holds the electronic circuitry. A switch is mounted on the starting gate.When the gate is opened, the switch opens which signals the timer to start counting. When the first car passes between the sensor and the light source for its lane, the sensor signals to the timer to capture the time for that lane. The timer then displays 1st place for that car, optionally shows the time for that car, and continues monitoring the other lanes. When all the sensors have been triggered, the race is complete and, if there is a connected computer, the finish times are sent to the computer.

Timer Features
The main features to consider when purchasing timers are listed below. We will look at each one individually.

– Number of supported lanes
– Timer readout capabilities (what the audience sees on the timer)
– Timer accuracy
– Computer connectivity
– Track clearance
– Robustness and storage

One feature not mentioned is the “wow” factor. Some timers have aesthetic qualities that give a “wow” factor to your race. Other timers are more “bare bones”. Generally, you will pay more for a timer with a “wow factor”, but the extra price does not mean that the timer is necessary better.

Number of Supported Lanes
When a timer is purchased, the number of track lanes must be specified. The number of lanes is a decision that is made as part of the track purchasing decision.(2) Just like with the track, timers are not readily expandable to more lanes.(3)

Most timer companies support between 2 and 6 lanes. A few companies go to 8 lanes, while a few companies offer a single lane time (used for car testing).

Timer Readout Capabilities
There are four options for timer readout:

1. No readout – These timers send information directly to an attached computer and have no readout on the light bridge.

2. Flashing light results – Place order is shown by flashing lights. For example, solid on is for first place, fast flash is second, slow flash is third.

3. Numeric results – Place order is shown by numbers.

4. Numeric results and time – Place order is shown by numbers; elapsed time is also shown.

The type of readout has a direct correlation to cost. At the low end are timers with no readout. These timers still have a light source over the track, and sensors under the track. But the race information is just sent to a computer, and then displayed with a video projector. This is an inexpensive solution, but does have two drawbacks. First, the audience watches the race completion, and then must look at the video projection to see the results. Depending on where a person is seated, this may be fine, but could be an issue for a person with their back to the screen. A second issue is if there is any issue with computer communications, the timer is basically useless. With timers that show the results on the bridge, results can be manually entered into computer software if needed.

Figure 1: Timer with No Readout
Source: pinewood-derby-timer.com

Moving up, we get to timers with flashing lights to display the results. This works fine, but a numerical display is generally easier for the audience to understand, as no explanation of the meaning of the flashing lights is needed.

Figure 2: Timer with Flashing Lights
Source: microwizard.com
http://microwizard.com/images/k1small.gif

Next, we have timers which numerically display the race results. Large numerals make it easy for the audience to see the winner, and provide a sanity check for the race officials.

Figure 3 – Timer with Numeric Readout
Source: besttrack.com

If you are using a video projector to display results, then an elapsed time readout on the bridge is not really necessary as that information would be shown on the screen. However, it does add a “wow” factor.

Figure 4 – Timer with Numeric and Elapsed Time
Source: etekgadget.com

Note that some companies offer bridges with numeric and/or timer readout on both sides. Typically, the timer display is on the side of the bridge facing the starting gate. This allows visibility by the race staging officials, and by most of the audience. Some timer companies offer dual display, where the information is shown on both sides of the bridge. This option provides better visibility for the audience, and facilitates locating the computer at the end of the track. But it does add cost, so determine if you need dual visibilitybefore investing the money.

Timer Resolution
Generally, pinewood derby heat times are shown to three decimal places (e.g. 2.565 seconds). However, many timer manufacturers advertise resolution to four decimal places or even more. A higher resolution tends to minimize ties, but there is a caveat.

On a typical track, a difference of .001 seconds equates to about 1/16 inch of car travel. But a .0001 difference equates to 1/160 of an inch (.006) of travel, a number that is virtually unmeasurable. When installing sensors under the track, the accuracy of hole alignment is very critical. For example, if a sensor is misaligned by .01 (less than 1/64 inch), then times beyond three decimal points are meaningless. But even if sensors are perfectly aligned, sensor occlusion becomes a factor when measuring to four decimal points.(4) Generally, sensors trip when they are 50 percent occluded (blocked). But if one sensor requires 60 percent blockage while the others require 50 percent blockage, then the fourth decimal point is meaningless. Finally, the size of the hole in the track is also a factor. A larger opening allows more light, leading to less accurate timing. Light reflectivity can cause sensors to not trip until the car is beyond the sensor. Best accuracy is attained with a small aperture (about 1/8 inch diameter) in the track.

So, while a high-resolution timer may seem important, in real life times of more than three decimal points are suspect.

Computer Connectivity
Most timers use a serial cable to connect between the timer and a computer. Since most modern computers no longer have a serial connector, the serial cable connector is attached to a Serial-to-USB converter, which then plugs into a USB port on the PC. The reason for using a serial cable is due to the USB distance limitation of five meters (16.4 feet – a serial cable can run 50 feet). If the PC were always located at the end of the track, then USB could be used. But in practice, many officials prefer to locate the computer near the starting line to provide easier communication between the officials staging the race and the computer operator. So, serial communication continues to be the method of choice, especially since Serial-to-USB converters are relatively inexpensive (around $30).

Figure 5 – Serial-to-USB Converter
Source: grandprix-software-central.com

Track Clearance
The height of the bridge above the track determines the maximum height of cars that can be ran on the track. Most timers have plenty of clearance for any event, even including 18-wheeler races. However, some timers have a lower profile. So, make sure to know what clearance you need before investing in a timer. Then include the maximum height of cars in your race rules.

Robustness and Storage
Timers are electronic equipment, and as such should be treated with due care. A dedicated box with proper padding should be used to store the timer between events. But during a race, mishaps do occur, so the timer needs to be rugged enough to handle typical issues such as:(5)

– Car derailing and smashing into the side post,

– Errant foot kicking the timer,

– Tripping on a cable causing the connector to torque the timer (make sure all cables are taped to the floor and out of the normal walking area),

– Dropped timer during installation or tear-down.

Timer Companies
Here is a list of companies that offer timers. I have left out “Do-it yourself” timer companies, and companies that make a timer only for their track. Note that the listing order below is random.

Micro Wizard – microwizard.com – Offers the FastTrack line of timers with flashing lights, numeric, or numeric/time readouts. Supports 2-6 lanes, dual display optional, 5.5 inch clearance, 0.0001 second internal resolution, external display of three decimal digits.

SmartLine – etekgadget.com – Offers SmartLine timers with numeric, or numeric/time readouts. Supports 1-8 lanes, dual display optional, 6-7 inch clearance, .00005 second internal resolution, external display of three decimal digits.

Newbold – pinewood-derby-timer.com – Offers the Turbo timer with numeric readouts. Supports 1-8 lanes, dual display optional, time readout on side module – not audience visible, clearance not specified, internal resolution not specified, external display of four decimal digits, optional USB computer connectivity. Also offers DerbyStick, a timer with no readout on the bridge.

DerbyMagic – derbymagic.com – Offers the DerbyMagic timer with numeric, or numeric/time readouts. Supports 1-6 lanes, dual display optional, clearance not specified, .0001 internal resolution, external display of three decimal digits, USB connection to computer.

New Directions – newdirections.ws – Offers the Judge timer with flashing light readouts. Supports 1-8 lanes, single sided display, optional time readout – not audience visible, 3 inch clearance, .00001 internal resolution, external display of five decimal digits, full sunlight option. Also offers Transponder, a timer with no readout on the bridge.

Conclusion
I hope this article is helpful to you, should you be in the timer market. There are a large number of options in the timer market, which can greatly affect the final cost. So, my council is to first decide what options are needed for your race, and then select a timer that meets those options.

(1) One exception is the Judge timer from New Directions. It has the light source (non-visible frequency) in the track and the sensors in the bridge. This eliminates light reflection issues.

(2) For more information on the track purchasing decision, please see Pinewood Derby Times Volume 16, Issue 8 – “Buying a New Track? Let’s Consider Some Factors”.

(3) Except for the Turbo timer from NewBold Products.

(4) For more information on timer accuracy in real life, please see Pinewood Derby Times Volume 7, Issue 2 – “Is Your Finish Line Providing Accurate Results?”

(5) All of these have happened at a race I have ran or attended.


Humor

A lion woke up one morning feeling really rowdy and mean.

He went out and cornered a small monkey, and roared, “Who is mightiest of all jungle animals?”

The trembling monkey says, “You are, mighty lion!”

Later, the lion confronts an ox and fiercely bellows, “Who is the mightiest of all jungle animals?”

The terrified ox stammers, “Oh great lion, you are the mightiest animal in the jungle!”

On a roll now, the lion swaggers up to an elephant and roars, “Who is mightiest of all jungle animals?”

Fast as lightning, the elephant snatches up the lion with his trunk, slams him against a tree half a dozen times leaving the lion feeling like it’d been run over by a safari wagon.

The elephant then stomps on the lion till it looks like a corn tortilla and rambles away.

The lion lets out a moan of pain, lifts his head weakly and hollers after the elephant, “Just because you don’t know the answer, you don’t have to get so upset about it!”


Product Showcase

Micro Tungsten Cylinders – 1 Cent

We made a special purchase of this Micro Tungsten Cylinders, and we are offering them to you at a very low price. This is the least expensive tungsten you will find on the market today.

Each package contains one ounce of weight (17 cylinders). Each micro- cylinder measures:

0.209 OD (just under 13/64)
0.185 long (just under 3/16)
1.7 grams each
0.040 through hole (some of these are plugged up)

Micro Tungsten Cylinders are typically used as trim weighting for cars. They can be inserted individually into holes (drill 7/32), or can put poured into a larger hole or cavity. Secure with epoxy or hot glue.

Through October 31, 2017, you can get one ounce of Micro Tungsten Cylinders for 1 Cent. To take advantage of this limited time offer, add part 15046 to your shopping cart, and use coupon code OCT18NL during checkout.


Pinewood Derby Car Showcase

Batmobile and Ghostbusters – Charles Gaffron

My son won 2nd for best design at pack and district derby with his Batmobile. Other son’s Ghostbuster car won 1st for best design at pack and district!

Mad Max Road Fury – Logan and Sam Last
This car won first place for best design for the pack and district races. The car is completely hallowed out and a one dollar coin was used on the inside to add weight. Thank you so much!!

Old and New – David Keith

Forty-two years ago my father helped me make one of my first pinewood derby cars. It was an awesome experience which instilled in me the love of pinewood derby racing. For Father’s Day this year I took all my knowledge (mostly thanks to you) and built him one of the fastest cars I’ve ever built. He was so excited! Now, all of my adult children have a love for the Derby, and their kids are excited to make their own cars someday soon. This time honored tradition of car building and racing is transcending our four generations and has created great family memories for many! By the way, the paint job on the new car was created with a dipping method that I’ve been working on.

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
Better Lucky than Good

This happened years ago when my son was still racing. He is an Eagle Scout now, and I am now enjoying pinewood derby racing with my grandson.

The second year my son raced his car, I had to work and was not able to be at the race. He had come in 3rd Place at the race the previous year, but came in 1st Place the second year. The top four finishers went to the district race.

Before the district race, we spent what seemed like hours polishing, lubing, aligning – everything we knew to do.

After the check-in at the district race, we were walking around looking at some of the other cars. One of the boys in our pack had a car that would not pass inspection. He had rounded the wheels. This was not caught at the pack race – I’m sure that he didn’t know that this was not allowed. I told him that we had brought another set of wheels, and if it was OK with the judges he was welcome to use them. We had not done anything to these wheels, not even removed the mold marks. The boy added some graphite, and then put them on the car.

Even though my son’s car had beaten him at the pack event, this boy placed 7th or 8th out of about 80 cars, well ahead of my son. That goes to show that it’s sometimes better to be lucky than good!

Kenny

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 son’s car qualified for Districts, but we’d like to tweak a bit more speed out of it. It is rail-riding but only getting ~196 MPH. The front dominant axle is bent at 2.5 degrees or so. Testing it on an Awana track yesterday the fastest times came when it was “fish-tailing” the whole way down. When “going straight” and not fish-tailing, the times were slower.

1) Do you think this is due to something on the car rubbing against the guide rail?

2) Do you think that canting the rear axles would help us?

3) If so, how do we make it go straight?

A: It is possible that when the car is going straight, the rear wheel on the dominant side is also riding the rail. This would slow down the car. Angling the rear axles should help this. here are some key points:

1. Make sure that the front dominant wheel is steering the car towards the raised wheel, so that the front dominant wheel rides the rail.

2. The front dominant axle needs to angle downwards (wheel rides on outer edge).

3. The drift needs to be a minimum of 5 inches over 8 feet. Oftentimes, people set the drift much too small. When a car fishtails, increase the drift to stop it.

4. The rear axles angle upwards (wheels ride on inner edge).

5. Make sure the rear wheels are properly aligned. For rear wheel alignment help and other rail-riding topics, please read the main article in this newsletter.

Q: We have had our bottle of Max-V-Lube for about five years. Is it still effective or does its effectiveness diminish over time? We have always kept the lid on.

A: As long as the cap was on the bottle it should fine. Graphite has an indefinite shelf life.

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 17 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)2017, 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 is a registered trademarks of the Boys Scouts of America.

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

All other names are trademarks of their respective owners.

Prepping Nail Axles

When looking at the axles in your car kit(1), what do you see … four nails? four metal rods? If so, I suggest you reconsider and take another look. For what you actually see are precision parts for a high-speed racing machine! Well, at least they will be after some preparation.

Proper axle preparation is a key factor in creating a top-performing pinewood derby car. Without proper preparation, performance will suffer. Fortunately, the axles can be prepared satisfactorily by the car owner with minimal household tools.

Nail-Axle Preparation Steps
If you plan to have a top performing car, then these nail-axle preparation steps must be performed. But be careful; when using a drill always wear eye protection, secure loose clothing and long hair, and remove loose jewelry.

Straightness
The first step in preparing axles is to ensure that the axles are straight. This is most easily accomplished by inserting each axle in the chuck of a drill with the head facing outwards. Start the drill and observe the shaft of the axle (not the head). If the shaft of the axle moves from side to side, then the axle is crooked. If the axle shaft is bent, then it can be straightened using the Pro-Axle Press after the burrs are removed.(2)


Figure 1 – Pro-Axle Press

Now look at the head of the axle. Does it appear to be moving in an elliptical path? If so, the head of the axle is not exactly centered on the shaft. If the head is more than just slightly off-center, then I suggest replacing the axle.

Removing the Burr
The next step in preparing axles is removing the burrs on the head of the axle. The required tools are a drill, a clamp or vise, and a fine file (I prefer to use a triangular file). To remove the burr, perform the following steps:

  1. Fasten a drill or rotating tool to a work surface using a Drill Mount, clamp, or vise.
  2. Insert an axle into the drill chuck with the head facing outwards.
  3. Start the drill and set the speed somewhere between 3/4 and full speed.
  4. Slowly apply the file to the inside of the axle head. You may find it helpful to hold the tip of the file on the work surface, and pivot the file up to the axle.
  5. Stop the drill and check the axle. Repeat the previous steps as needed until the burr is completely removed.
  6. Before removing the axle from the drill, use the side of the file to create a slight taper on the nail head. This will minimize the frictional loss between the wheel hub and the axle head.(3)


Figure 2 – Removing the Burr


Figure 3 – Creating a Taper

Polishing

The third step in preparing the axles is polishing. I will describe how this is done using Maximum Velocity’s axle polishing kit.(4)


Figure 4 – Axle Polishing Kit

  1. Cut the axle polishing papers into strips about 1/4 inch wide.
  2. Insert an axle into the drill chuck with the head facing outwards.
  3. Start the drill and dip the first sandpaper strip into a cup of water.
  4. Apply the sandpaper to the portion of the axle on which the wheel will spin. Also sand the inside of the axle head.
  5. After polishing for about 10 seconds, dip a second strip in the water and repeat.
  6. Repeat steps 4 and 5 for the next finest paper. Continue through all five grades of paper.


Figure 5 – Polishing

Diamond Polishing

To get an even higher shine, Maximum Velocity’s Diamond Polish(4) can be used.

  1. Fasten a drill or rotating tool to a work surface using a Drill Mount, clamp, or vise.
  2. Insert an axle into the chuck of the tool, and start the drill.
  3. Apply a small dab of polish to a clean, soft rag.
  4. Apply the polish to the axle for about 15 seconds. Make sure to polish the portion of the shaft on which the wheel will spin, and polish the underside of the axle head.
  5. Buff off the residue with a clean part of the rag until no more black residue comes off the axle.
  6. Repeat the above steps for each axle.
  7. Gently clean the axles with Isopropyl Alcohol, rinse with water, and then dry thoroughly.


Figure 6 – Diamond Polish

Summary
Axle preparation is an important step, and must not be skipped. So plan ahead and make sure you have time to perform the required steps. Have fun and good luck with your race!

(1) Nail-type axles are used in BSA, PineCar, and a few other kits. Awana kits and Maximum Velocity kits use pin axles which need polishing, but do not require filing. A few kits use screw axles, for which you would follow the same procedure as for nail-type axles.

(2) The Pro-Axle Press can be found Here.

(3) An alternative is to use the Pro-Axle Press to create a slight bevel.

(4) The Axle Polishing Kit and Diamond Polish can be found Here.

Pinewood Derby Times, Volume 17, Issue 1 – October 4, 2017

PINEWOOD DERBY TIMES
Volume 17, Issue 1
October 4, 2017

In this Edition

– Editor’s Notes
– Feature Article – Understand Your Local Race Rules Before Building
– Humor
– Product Showcase – Truck Kit: $2.00 Off
– Pinewood Derby Car Showcase
– Pinewood Derby Memory – Solid as a Rock

– Q&A


Editor’s Notes

Welcome to the New Pinewood Derby Season
Well, somehow it is fall again and  pineheads everywhere are preparing for the new racing season. We hope that you had a great summer and that you will be visiting us again soon for all your pinewood derby needs.

Here at Maximum Velocity, we have a full agenda of articles and photos to educate, entertain, and (hopefully) inspire you. But we are always looking for your input. So, please send us your photos, speed tips, articles, memories, etc.

New Products for the 2016-17 Season
A few weeks ago we introduced several new products to help you have a
winning race season.  These products include:

New Car Kits: We are introducing three new car kits: the Dominator, the Funny Car, and the Truck. The Dominator is an aggressive, bone-shaped car that sports a 3.5 ounce tungsten canopy. Using rail-riding alignment, this extended wheelbase car will offer top performance. Our Funny Car and Truck kits are more traditional, to allow you top performance and style. The Funny Car is also available bundled with speed wheels, speed axles, and Max-V-Lube.

Funny Car
Funny Car
Dominator
Dominator
Truck
Truck

 

 

 

 

1-1/4 Round

Weight: In addition to our 1 inch diameter rounds, we now offer a 1-1/4 inch diameter tungsten round which is thinner than our other rounds to allow for lower-profile cars.

1/16 Ounc CylindersWe also added 1/16 ounce tungsten cylinders, which are included in our Incremental Tungsten Cylinders. This smaller weight allows for finer tuning when using cylinders.

Air GuidesAir Guides: Popular in the league racing circuits, Air Guides are clear plastic domes which mount to the side of the car to improve air flow around the wheels. With Air Guides installed, aerodynamic drag can be reduced by as much as 20 percent.

Additionally, we have added five new dry-transfer decals from PineCar,




Rockin Diva

To see all of the new items, please Click Here.

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

– Tundra and tungsten weights
– Velocinator and Formula One car kits
– Paint Stencils

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
Understand Your Local Race Rules Before Building Your Car
By Randy Davis

You have that Pinewood Derby kit in hand and you’re ready to build a car. Will it be a race car, a rocket, or maybe something a little crazier? You can let your imagination run wild – well almost. As in all of life there are written and unwritten rules that we must follow. So, put down the pencil or tool, set the wood block aside, and read the rules for your race.

If you were not provided with a set of rules, contact the race or club leader to find out what rules are being used. Sometimes only the rules that came from the kit manufacturer are used. Other times, rules are posted on the Internet, but are not included with the kit. But whatever the case might be, find the rules and read them.

Listed below are topics that you need to know before designing and building your car. Much of the information should be written in your rules. The rest you can learn from the race leader.

Car Dimensions – Each race has rules for the maximum length, height, and width of your car. There should also be a rule for the minimum distance between the inside edges of the wheels. It is easy to take these measurements into account when you are designing and building the car, but very difficult to adjust them at the weigh-in. As an example, this problem was experienced firsthand by a young car owner in our local race a few years ago. In our race, 3 inches is the maximum height (so that the car will fit under the finish line). A young lady brought in a car that was carved to look like a duck, complete with a long curving neck. The car looked great! But unfortunately, it measured nearly 5 inches tall. What could we do? Amidst a few tears, the young lady gave us permission to “operate” on the duck. So, we shortened the neck enough so that the car measured 3 inches tall. All in all, the situation ended well, but a simple check of the rules would have avoided this tearful situation.

Underbody Clearance – You may want to attach weight under your car, but make sure that with weight attached the clearance specification is still met. It is relatively easy to recess weight into the bottom of the car as part of the building process, but much more difficult to do so at the weigh-in. Recently a car owner brought their car to the weigh-in with weight screwed to the bottom of their car. Unfortunately, the clearance specification was not met. The only option the car owner had at the weigh-in was to remove the weight and screw some of it on top of the car. Not only was the car underweight, but the car no longer looked as nice.

Maximum Allowable Weight – Before cutting out your car have a plan to meet the maximum weight. Holes and/or pockets can be readily machined into the original wood block, but not easily machined into a shaped car body. So, first make pockets or holes to accommodate the weight. Next, make sure you can easily add or remove weight from your car. It is very difficult to make large adjustments to the weight of your car after it is complete. I can think of many cases where cars were very much underweight or overweight at the weigh-in. As an example, I remember one car shaped to look like a bus that was made from a fir board instead of the supplied pine block. Not only did this violate the rules, but since fir is much heavier than pine, the car was nearly double the maximum allowable weight! On the opposite extreme, many times cars have been brought to the weigh-in with no added weight. Frantic attempts were then made to add weight, with the result being a damaged car.

Adding/Removing Weight – Find out if you will be able to add, or only remove weight at the weigh-in. If you are only allowed to remove weight, make sure your car is slightly overweight when you take it to the weigh-in.

Wheel Rules – Generally, you must use the wheels that come with your car kit, and most commonly the only wheel modification allowed is a light sanding. However, some races do allow more extensive wheel modifications, and if done well those modifications can improve speed. But know the rules, and don’t modify the wheels unless the rules specifically allow wheel modifications.

Wheel Base Measurement – Generally, the wheel base (distance between the axle slots) on the supplied block must be used. But in some races the wheel base may be extended, providing a speed and alignment advantage. If specifically allowed by your local rules, then by all means extend the wheel base. But don’t do it unless specifically allowed by the rules.

Axle Slots/Holes – Even if extending the wheel base is not allowed, you may be allowed to replace the axle slots with axle holes so long as the wheel base is not changed. If allowed, and if you have access to a drill press or have a Pro-Body Tool(1), you may want to use axle holes as they simplify wheel mounting and alignment. Just flip the block over and drill the holes on the blank side. But again, know the rules.

Track Configuration – Rail-Riding is a common alignment technique to gain additional speed. However, rail-riding works on tracks with a center guide rail. Some tracks have side guides. So, before implementing rail-riding make sure you know the track configuration.

Starting Procedure – In most races, the car owner places the car at the starting line and picks up the car at the finish line. If so, make sure the car owner understands how to place the car at the starting line, how to carry the car safely, and how to gently put the car back in the staging area.

Other rules – Other rules to know include:

– Lubricants – Is a specific lubricant required? Sometimes only dry lubes are allowed. If so, then Max-V-Lube Graphite(2) is a good choice. However, if any lube is allowed, Krytox 100(3) is a good choice as it is easy to apply, cleaner than graphite, and lasts longer than graphite.

– Washers/bushings – Can a bushing or washer be used on the axles? Probably not, however, some groups are starting to allow washers or Air Guides(4) to be mounted on the side the car.

– Accessories – Are decorative accessories allowed? Are there any restrictions? Generally, accessories are allowed so long as the dimensions are met, and the accessories are firmly attached.

Well, I think the point has been made that you need to understand your local race rules before building the car. So now that you understand your rules, pick up those pencils and tools, and start building those cars!

(1) Pro-body Tool
(2) Max-V-Lube Graphite
(3) Krytox 100
(4) Air Guides


Humor

As I left the grocery store, I noticed two little kids, maybe six or seven years old, selling candy bars in front of the store to raise money for their school band.

“I’ll buy a chocolate bar on one condition,” I said to the boys. “You eat it for me.”

I bought one and handed the candy back to one of the boys. He shook his head. “I can’t,” he said.

“Why not?”

Looking me in the eye, he responded gravely, “I’m not supposed to take candy from strangers.”


Product Showcase

Truck Kit– $2.00 Off
Truck KitLooking for a cool design for your next race? Back by popular demand, our Truck kit looks great and allows tremendous flexibility in weighting.  Just attach your favorite weight in the bed of the truck. You can make it look like cargo, or something more exotic like a big engine.

The Truck Kit includes a pre-cut and drilled pine block and instructions. Wheels and axles are not included, so use the wheels and axles supplied by your club or order them separately.

The Truck kit is equipped with a standard wheelbase with axle slots. These precision-cut axle slots match BSA specifications in placement, depth, and width.

Through October 17, 2017, you can get a Truck Kit for $2.00 off. To take advantage of this limited time offer, add part 15685 to your shopping cart, and use coupon code OCT04NL during checkout.


Pinewood Derby Car Showcase

Arrowhead – Brad Barnett
My Vector car, “Arrowhead”, was the crowd favorite – and the fastest car by far – at our Trail Life Grand Prix this weekend. I had a blast building it and teaching my son and our Trailmen the science behind building a fast Pinewood Derby car.

Husky – Eric Werner
Here is my youngest son’s 2017 Pinewood Derby car. He wanted to go as thin and minimal as possible, so we made use of 3/16 inch tungsten cubes as our base for weight. Using the band saw, we cut the non- slotted side of the block to just over 3/16 inch. Then we measured an area for the axles to be drilled for an extended wheelbase platform, and cut everything else away with the scroll saw. This resulted in a frame that weighed only 0.210 oz. After the cubes were installed the top and bottom of the car was covered in 1/64 inch plywood. After Bondo, primer, and base paint were applied, a custom cut vinyl of the University of Washington Huskies mascot was applied, and clear coat added. With some quick modifications, the car weighed in at exactly five ounces on the official race scale. As a testament to preparation, the car took first place.

Seahawks – Eric Werner
The Seahawks car was my youngest son’s entry for 2016. Being lifelong Seattle residents, the paint scheme was an obvious choice.

For this car, we drilled 25/64 inch holes for tungsten cylinders in the back side, placing about 4 oz of weight this way. At 5/16 inch tall, it’s a very slimmed down design. Almost as much time was spent on axle and wheel preparation as was spent cutting and painting the car. Rail riding alignment was implemented for the first time in any of our builds. All of this helped to make a car that easily won every heat it was entered in. Not only taking first place in the pack, this car also garnered “Fastest Looking”, which was voted on before the racing even took place.

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
Solid as a Rock

We had prepared my son’s car months in advance, getting the car body to a high gloss with about twenty coats of clear finish. The wheels were sanded and polished – perfectly round and true – and the axles were filed and polished to perfection. We put everything together and set up our test track. The car performed better than expected – it blew everything away. Cars we thought were fast couldn’t even come close. We had a few other parents over at a couple of workshops with cars they had built, and a couple of so called “district winners” purchased from the Internet. My son’s car left them all in the dust.

The night before the pinewood derby we double-checked everything to make sure we were ready. As we turned the wheels to work in more graphite I noticed a couple of the axles were working their way out of the body. I figured I’d just pull them out and put some Super Glue on them. No problem – until I came out the next morning to put the car in a special box my son had prepared for the car.

I picked up the car and thought, “What the heck, I’ll add a little more graphite.” So I placed some on the left side wheels and worked it in; the wheels spun like they were ready to fly off. I placed some on the right rear wheel; it spun like crazy. The right front wheel was next. It was solid as a rock. I couldn’t turn it for anything.

So there I was frantically trying to figure out how to get the car fixed. I tried a hair dryer figuring that maybe a little heat would loosen it up. Then I thought I’d get it too hot and damage the wheel. So I stopped and thought, “What do you use to remove Super Glue?” Nail polish remover! But would it damage the wheel? With only hours before the race, I had nothing to lose.

I applied the polish remover, and in a few seconds the wheel started to turn. But would it perform as good as it did before? It seemed to still be dragging a little, and the remover had gotten on the wheel. I could pull the axle, but I didn’t want to damage the many hours of painting and finishing we had put into achieving the perfect paint job. What to do? I bent the wheel up slightly and placed it in the box.

We got to the Pinewood Derby registration and I told my son “I’ll put some more graphite on the wheels for you.” I didn’t want him to turn the wheels and find out what I’d done. I was thinking to myself, “Is he going to notice the one wheel is up? Will the car perform? Am I the world’s worst father for not telling him?” All these thoughts were racing through my mind as the race began.

First the Tiger Cubs; we cheered on the boys who came to our workshop. Then the Wolves; more racing, cheering, etc. Meanwhile I was sweating bullets wondering and hoping that the car would run.

Then they announced the Bears were about to race – the time had come. I was beginning to feel faint so I went to the restroom to splash cold water on my face.

When I went back to face the music, the first heat had just finished and my son’s car was at the starting gate. People were yelling and cheering. But in my mind all I could hear was, “Dad what happened to my car!”

But wait! The race started and his car won by two car lengths! Could it be? Did it really happen? “There really is a God,” I thought.

More cars raced. Then his car was up again, racing against a really fast car. I thought, “This is it, it’s going to lose.”

The gate opened, and the cars raced down the track neck and neck. All at once his car seemed to surge ahead, winning by a car length.

By this time the pressure was really getting to me. The race format was double-elimination and he was up against the best of the best. Two chances; if he lost he was done.

As the gate opened the other car shot ahead by two car lengths, but somehow my son’s car caught up at the finish line. A tie! The race was re-run. Another tie.

The official wiped down the track and ran them again. The other car surged ahead. Could it be, did the axle seize up? I couldn’t watch so I turned my head. I heard cheering and yelling. Then the announcement, “Number 24 wins.” Wait that’s my kid’s number! I turned around in disbelief – I could not figure out how the car had won.

Now it was down to the final three cars, the best of the best racing against each other. He had already beaten one of them, but the one he was up against for the finals was unbeaten.

They raced; the cars were neck and neck. “Number 12 wins.” My son’s first loss. I thought, “Well third place, that’s okay.”

The cars had to race till one of the cars lost twice. They switched lanes and raced again. “24 wins!” I heard over the yelling. At this point I couldn’t watch anymore. “One more  time,” came the announcement. I figured, “Well they’ll put him back into the other lane he just lost in. Second place will be good.”

The gate opened and I turned to watch. Why? I don’t know, maybe to watch the car lose. But the anxiety of watching his car go down the track was almost too much for me to handle. It seemed like everything was in slow motion; the cars were neck and neck. They went through the timer, then everyone cheered and shouted, “24 wins, 24 wins!”

I couldn’t believe what I was hearing, it couldn’t be happening! Was it all a dream? I walked over and picked up his car. The right front wheel was solid as a rock. By my turning it up slightly, it was running on three wheels the whole time.

I had read about turning a front wheel up slightly, but had never done it before because we always had such good luck running on four wheels. Now I’m a believer – but I hope my son never finds out that his father messed up his car to help it win!

John Sigafus
South Range, Wisconsin

 

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: I have been ordering the bulk MV Basic Car Kits from you guys for a few years now. They come with the blunt tipped axles instead of the brad nails. What size bit should I get for drilling axle holes?

A: Generally, you would use a #44 bit, which we sell on our site Here.

When you drill wood, over time the wood fibers “relax” resulting in smaller hole. Also sawdust and paint can get in the holes, which tightens them up.

So, before installing axles, ream out the holes with the same drill bit (you can use a Pin Vise for this). That opens up the holes, cleans out any sawdust or paint, and thus allows the axles to go in easier.

If you want a larger hole, you can use a #43 bit (we do not sell it). But the hole may be too loose for the axles.

Q: I’ve been using your Max-V-Lube for a couple of years, but just decided to start canting my axles and make this year’s car a rail-rider.

Do you recommend bending the axles before or after breaking in the wheel/axle assemblies with the Max-V-Lube? I was considering breaking them in, then bending them, then breaking them in again, but wasn’t sure what would be best for speed.

Also, I plan to put a 2-2.5 degree bend on the rear wheels. What bend do you recommend for the front dominant wheel on a rail rider?

A: I would bend the axles, then work in the graphite (before mounting them on the car).

I prefer a 1.5 degree bend for the front dominant wheel. Some people use a larger bend on the front dominant wheel, but the greater the bend the more difficult it is to get the alignment set.

 

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 17 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)2017, 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 is a registered trademarks of the Boys Scouts of America.

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

All other names are trademarks of their respective owners.

Pinewood Derby Car Showcase – September 29, 2017

Today we have a selection of ducted fan cars.

Red Bull – Travis Burkhardt

I added substantially more efficiency with the addition of a thrust tube. A Red Bull can is a perfect fit for the 40mm fan unit, 9V battery, front nose switch included. Total car weight of 5.0 ounces and all dimensions, axles, and wheels stayed within BSA standard rules. First Place finish and track record at 2.2 seconds.

Batmobile – Brian Amato

I decided to go for both form and function with my version of the propeller car kit. Of course I won the parent’s outlaw race!!!

Blown Away – Dennis Bjorn

I wanted to build a ducted fan car that didn’t show all the components. So I built “Blown Away”. The capacitors are inside the body. The car weighs 3.6 ounces. Running on a 35 foot Best Track my best time was 1.56 sec at 315 mph (scale speed).

Outlaw – Mike Henkelman

The “Outlaw” car was built for demonstration heats in the upcoming pinewood derby season. It features a ducted fan jet engine with a functional hood scoop, eight side air scoops, a mesh windshield (air scoop), and lithium polymer 11.1 volt batteries.

From Pinewood Derby Times Volume 12, Issue 7
Subscribe to this Free Pinewood Derby E-newsletter
(C)2017, Maximum Velocity, Inc. All rights reserved.
Maximum Velocity Pinewood Derby Car Plans and Supplies