Pinewood Derby Times
Volume 10, Issue 14
April 6, 2011

In this Edition:

- Editor's Notes

- Feature Article - Top Fuel Cars - Two-Wheeled Cars Revisited

- Humor

- Product Showcase - Free Tungsten Putty

- Car Showcase

- Q&A

Editor's Notes

Last Issue of the Season
This is the last issue of the Pinewood Derby Times for the 2010-2011 season. The new issues (Volume 11) will begin in early October 2011. You will automatically continue to receive the newsletter in the fall, as our mailing list will remain intact. If your e-mail address should change before then, from the NEW e-mail account simply send a blank e- mail to with your OLD e-mail address in the 'Subject:' line.

We have most of the articles planned for next season, but we are always looking for your input. So if you have an idea for an article, please send it to me at

Inventory Clearance Sale
We currently have all of our printed Car Plans booklets on sale Here.

We will be putting more items on clearance, and have an end of season special offer in early May. At that time we will send out a short notice to our subscribers to let you know more about this sale.

Maximum Velocity Car Kits
If you are planning a race and are not required to use a specific kit type, our MV Basic Car Kit is 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. We supply top- quality wheels to give great performance.

So, if your organization does not mandate a particular kit type, consider our Maximum Velocity Car Kits
Can We Help?
If we can help you in any way with your pinewood derby project, or if you have any feedback regarding this newsletter, please contact us at:

Feature Article
Top Fuel Cars - Two-Wheeled Cars Revisited
by Randy Davis

(The ninth in a series of articles on cars that "stretch the rules")

In 2008 I published an article on a two-wheeled car, running on diagonally opposite wheels (see Pinewood Derby Times - Volume 7, Issue 14).

I raced a car built using this technique in an Outlaw race in April 2008. The car did well, but due to the center weighting scheme, it didn't take first place.

Two-wheeled Outlaw Car

Later, a customer, Bob Wheeler, came in to the shop with his version of a two wheeled car. Modeled after a car that was entered at his pack's race many years ago, it runs on the right-front, and left-rear wheels; the other wheels are off the ground. Unlike my car which is center-weighted, Bob's car is rear weighted (balance point at 1-3/4 inch in front of the rear axle) by offsetting an underbody lead plate to the left. It is possible that this design could be made faster by using tungsten plates and shifting them further back. Nevertheless, the car is very fast; it has taken first in several races.

Top of Bob Wheeler's Car

Bottom of Bob Wheeler's Car

I was ready to let the idea of a two-wheeled car go into oblivion, until I ran across a car by Joe Tomelleri on the Derby Talk forum.

Joe Tomelleri's Car

Joe's car runs on two single file wheels. With rail-rider alignment, only the front wheel touches. This car was intriguing to me, so I decided to build a variation of Joe's design.

On my design, I discarded the other two wheels, and replaced them with outrigger bars, tipped with small beads. The weight is tungsten (just over 4 ounces) and the wheels are light weight H-Tread wheels. The alignment is set to rail ride. Admittedly the car could be made more elegant by hiding the weight and giving it a nice paint job, but I kind of liked the functional look.

Two-Wheeled Car - Right Side View

Two-Wheeled Car - Left Side View

On the track, the car ran very smoothly. It turned out that the outriggers were not needed, because as soon as the car reached the braking section, the car flopped over onto its right side. When raced against my other two wheeled car (first photo), this new car wins by a car length.

Flush with success, I decided to remove the outriggers, improve the looks of the car (a little), and improve the speed with the introduction of Super Stock Needle Axle Wheels (SSN) from DerbyWorx.

Updated Two-Wheeled Car

I plan to run the car in the Outlaw Division of this year's race on April 15. I'm sure it will create quite a stir, and I'll let you know the results in a newsletter in October.

If you implement a two-wheeled car, please send me a photo and a description, and I'll be glad to include it in a future newsletter.


A sloth named Herman was walking through the forest one day. A gang of snails approached him and beat him up. He was left at the bottom of a tree with several cuts and bruises.

Several hours later Herman gathered up enough strength to go to a local police station. He walked into the Sergeant's office.

"What happened to you?" the officer asked.

"A gang of snails beat me up," Herman replied.

"Can you describe what they looked like?"

"I don't know," the sloth says. "It all happened so fast."

Product Showcase

Tungsten Putty: One Ounce Free with Shippable Order
Tungsten Putty
Click Here for More Information
Tungsten Putty
Click Here for More Information

Making fine adjustments to the weight of your car is quite simple with Tungsten Putty. Simply press a small amount into a cavity or hole in the car. Since the putty doesn't harden, just remove some of the putty to reduce weight.

Through April 19, 2011, you can add one ounce of Tungsten Putty to your order at no charge. To take advantage of this limited time offer, Click Here.

Car Showcase

Here are some examples of creative uses of a ducted fan on a pinewood derby car.

Derby Plane - David White

I enjoy reading the articles of all the dads that get creative and give their car a little extra help (more than gravity provides for us). Every year I make a car that uses "outside the box" thinking. This past year I went with a motorized biplane. I put a micro switch on the front to open the circuit when sitting at the gate. There is a main on/off switch in the back to enable the circuit, and a 9 volt battery hidden behind the motor. When the gate opens, the micro switch closes and starts the prop. It easily doubles the speed of its closest gravity driven competitor. I also added a micro switch on the bottom of the vehicle so the prop turns off when it hits the end of the track, but the plane goes too fast and shoots off the end of the braking section.

I hollowed out enough room in the pontoons to hide the wheels. The plane body and wings are balsa wood. After about the 5th run down the track it flipped over after crossing the finish line and it broke the prop and tail. It sure was fun to make and the kids sure enjoyed it.

Bluesmobile - Ron & Matthew Rygelski

This car was made to resemble the Bluesmobile (from the movie "The Blues Brothers"). My son and I built it for the Dad's Race at his pack's pinewood derby event. We used parts from the Maximum Velocity Fan Car kit combined with capacitors as suggested in a newsletter article. The body is hollowed out to house all the parts with the exception of the fan, which was disguised to replicate the giant speaker (in the movie it was attached to the roof of the car with heavy rope). The weight is race legal at 4.95 oz. We did our best to make this car resemble the '74 Dodge Monaco, ex-police car used in the movie, right down to the half rubbed out sheriff's star and the Illinois state license plate "BDR-529". It was a hoot to race, and the kids had a blast taking turns setting it up and watching it scream down the track.

Sideswipe - David Bodoh

We used the parts from your propeller car kit, but went a different route on the car body. It turned a 1.83 seconds on 35 foot BestTrack.

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

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

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!


How do you get graphite to stick to the shiny axles? Can axles be over polished for use with graphite?

Graphite does not stick to the axle. Instead, a coating builds up in the wheel bore. So, the shiny axle slides on the graphite coating, and not on the wheel plastic. The better the coating, the more heats the car will run before performance degrades. That is why it is important to spend time working in the graphite by spinning, adding graphite, spinning, etc. You can't really over shine the axles, unless in so doing you reduce the diameter.

Do you have any suggestions as to where I could find some plans for a 32 foot, two lane track? In addition, where can I find a good single lane timer?

Regarding car plans, if you search for "free pinewood derby track plans" on Google, you will find several. I don't have experience with any of them. Here are two:

A single lane timer is sold by New Directions (maker of "The Judge"). You can find information and a photo Here.

At our pinewood derby meeting, three types of lubricant came up: molybdenum disulfide (MS2), graphite, and a mixture of both. Is one better than the other, and is there a significant advantage in one type over the other two?

In our testing, pure graphite (such as our Max-V-Lube) outperformed MS2, and graphite/MS2 blends. MS2 is a rather hard chemical compound that is used as a lubricant in situations where there is high pressure, high temperature, and/or the presence of electricity. MS2 can handle higher pressures and temperatures than graphite, and it is not electrically conductive like graphite. Of course none of these conditions exist in pinewood derby racing.

If you polish your axles well, then lube with MS2 or a graphite/MS2 blend, race a few times, then pull and inspect the axles, you will find that the MS2 has scratched the axles. This is counterproductive to speed.

Do You Have Questions that Need Answers?
Do you have a pinewood derby-related question? If so, send your question to: 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 10 are posted on our web site and can be found using our Newsletter Index.

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

Newsletter Contributions

We welcome your contributions! If you would like to contribute an article, a web site review, or a speed tip, please send it to:

Please read our submission policy.

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Randy Davis, Editor, Pinewood Derby Times

Copyright ©2010, Randy Davis. All rights reserved. Please do not reprint or place this newsletter on your web site without explicit permission. However, if you like this newsletter we grant permission, and encourage you to e-mail it to a friend.

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