Extended Accelerator

Extended Accelerator

Pinewood Derby Times
Volume 8, Issue 4
November 12, 2008

In this Edition:

- Editor's Notes

- Feature Article - Rail Riding

- Humor

- Product Showcase

- Car Showcase

- Memory - My Three Sons

- Q&A

Editor's Notes

New DerbyWorx Tools and More!

At Maximum Velocity, we are always looking for new products to help you build a winning pinewood derby car. Today, we are announcing four new products:

  • Pro-Body Jig - New from DerbyWorx, this jig is essentially a dual Pro-Body tool which is used to accurately set and hold the distance between the front and back axles when drilling axle holes.

  • Pro-Rail Rider Tool - New from DerbyWorx, this tool works with the Pro- Axle Press II to put precise bends in axles for alignment adjustment and/or for running with angled axles.

  • Accelerator Car Kit - New from Maximum Velocity, the Accelerator is a low-profile, tungsten weighted, extended wheelbase car kit for those who are looking for performance with style.

  • 1 gram Awana Speed Wheels - If you are involved in a Grand Prix through an Awana club, then to achieve top speed, you need a great set of wheels and axles. These official Awana wheels, machined by DerbyWorx, have been precision trued and then reduced in weight to 1.0 grams for an ultra-fast start.
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, PineCar-brand 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: info@maximum-velocity.com

Feature Article

Rail Riding

One of the five keys to performance1 is alignment. The purpose of alignment is to adjust the steering of the car such that the car rolls in the desired direction.

But what is the desired direction? The seemingly apparent answer is "straight", and that was the answer I would have given in the past. But does straight alignment really produce the best performance?

Nothing Is Perfect
The answer is no (this will be proven experimentally later in this article). If the track was perfectly level and smooth (no deviations whatsoever), and if the car could be set perfectly straight (again no deviations), then clearly, straight alignment would be the best. But a perfect track is an impossibility (most tracks are far from level and smooth), and in fact, perfectly straight alignment is not possible. So, what happens if a car that rolls reasonably straight is raced on a track that is not perfect? It will exhibit one of the following behaviors:

Now let's add one other factor: a raised wheel. The purpose of the raised front wheel is to reduce the energy required to start the wheels rolling. If the raised wheel can be prevented from spinning, an advantage will be gained. But if the raised wheel contacts the guide rail, even one time, the advantage will be lost.

So what can you do to get the best performance within the limitations of the track and the carís alignment? The answer is: create a Rail-Rider car.

To get the best performance under non-perfect conditions, we must minimize the number of wheels that contact the guide rail, and ensure that the raised wheel does not contact the guide rail. Thus, the alignment of the front dominant wheel must be adjusted so that it steers towards the raised wheel (thus keeping the raised wheel away from the center guide rail). So, if the front-left wheel is raised, then the front-right wheel is adjusted so that the car drifts to the left. If the back wheels are aligned straight, then the front right wheel will be the only wheel that contacts the guide rail.2 Thus, the front-right wheel, more or less, rides the rail down the track.

This discussion is all academic, so letís set about proving whether or not rail-riding really provides the intended benefit.

First, we must create a car with a front-right wheel with a toe-in/toe-out adjustment. This allows the car's drift to be adjusted without removing the axle, thus minimizing experimental variance.

The toe-in/toe-out adjustment was accomplished using set screws. Aluminum tubing was used to hold the axle and provide a pivot point (see Figure 1).

Figure 1 - Toe-In/Toe-Out Adjustment

Additional equipment includes:

Six heats were run, each with six different toe-in/toe-out settings.6 The inches of deviation is the amount of drift over an 8 foot run on an alignment board.

After the heats were run, the high and low times were removed and the remaining heats averaged.

The results of the experiment are shown in Figure 2.

Figure 2 - Rail-riding results

The experiment clearly proves the benefit of rail-riding. For this experimental setup, a drift of up to 5 inches (and probably more) provides an incremental performance benefit. But, please note that the aluminum track on which this test was performed has a very smooth center guide rail. On other tracks, especially wooden tracks, the best amount of drift would need to be experimentally determined. A rougher center guide rail may require a lesser amount of drift.

Pinewood Derby Times, Volume 6, Issue 1 - Five Keys to Performance.

2To further ensure that the back-right wheel does not contact the guide rail, the front right of the car can be narrowed slightly such that the front- right wheel runs slightly closer to the guide rail than the back-right wheel.

3During this experiment, no graphite was used. However, the same car was used for a later experiment which used graphite. The photo in Figure 1 was taken after the second experiment, so graphite can be seen on the tread surface of the wheel.

4Pro-Stock Speed Wheels are available Here (Part #4080/4081).

5Speed Axles are available
Here (Part #4095).

6I would have liked to have had finer settings, but the threads on the set screws were too coarse to readily allow a finer adjustment. I also would have liked to have tried a larger left drift, but my alignment board was not wide enough to go further.

Rail-Rider is a trademark of DerbyWorx / Warp Speed, Inc.


A taxi passenger tapped the driver on the shoulder to ask him a question. The driver screamed, lost control of the car, nearly hit a bus, went up on the sidewalk, and stopped inches from a shop window.

For a second everything went quiet in the cab, then the driver said,

"Look man, don't ever do that again. You scared the daylights out of me!"

The passenger apologized and said he didn't realize that a little tap could scare him so much.

The driver replied "Sorry, it's not really your fault. Today is my first day as a cab driver, I've been driving a hearse for the last 25 years!"

Product Showcase

    Pro-Rail Rider Tool    

In pine derby racing, winners and also-rans are often separated by fractions of an inch. Although many factors affect car performance, precision alignment is a key to reaching the winner's circle.

Setting the alignment of a car has always been a tricky process. If a bent front axle is used to make the adjustment, getting a precise bend in the axle has literally been a "hit or miss" process.

But now this has all changed. Introducing the Pro-Rail Rider Tool, which works with the Pro-Axle Press II to put precise bends in axles for alignment adjustment and/or for running with angled axles. When coupled with the Rail-Rider alignment technique, significant performance improvements can be achieved.

Until November 25, 2008, you can purchase a Pro-Rail Rider Tool for $2.00 off the regular price. To take advantage of this limited time offer,
Click Here.

    Pro-Body Jig    

Many people have asked for a "Dual Pro-Body Tool". Now it is a reality. The guide bar on the Pro-Body Jig is precision ground to provide a high degree of alignment accuracy between the front and back drilling guides.

In addition, the Pro-Body Jig will slightly lower the center of gravity of the car, resulting in a more stable car.

Until November 25, 2008, you can purchase a Pro-Body Jig for $4.00 off the regular price. To take advantage of this limited time offer, Click Here.

Car Showcase

We are almost out of showcase cars, so I thought I would share our 2007 cars (not shown is the original prototype of the Velocinator, which was included in Volume 7, Issue 4).

Speeder: Stephen Davis

My youngest son, Stephen, has always liked the Speeder (I do too). This is the second Speeder he has made (the first was in 2002). It was quite fast, taking 3rd place, but not fast enough to catch his sister's 1st Place car.

Detonator: Janel Davis

My youngest daughter built this Detonator. It was extremely fast, easily taking first place.

Wedge SE: Elisa Davis

The extended wheelbase Wedge SE is weighted with tungsten, and is equipped with Outlaw wheels. It was nosed into 2nd Place, behind an extended wheelbase Bolt equipped with Outlaw wheels (built in our shop by a friend).

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!

Pinewood Derby Memory

My Three Sons

As a Cubmaster with three boys in Cub Scouts, I didn't know anything about pinewood derby racing when I first started. But I always believed in my sons doing as much work as they safely could. They would do about ninety percent of the work with me by their side helping them, or they watching what I was doing. I always believed in the "Do your Best" motto. More importantly was that they were happy with the way the car looked. I would suggest that they do a little more sanding, or touch up the paint, but only if they wanted to do it.

The best my oldest son did was about 10th place. I learned how to build fast cars with him.

My middle son came in first place two years in a row. At the end of the race he was hearing some comments from his buddies like, "I bet next year he'll win again". So when the next year came, I suggested we do something different and not worry about speed. He agreed. So when the next race came we made a great looking hot dog on a bun. Talk about NOT being stream lined. Well, he came in fourth place in the race and won "Best of Show".

Now my youngest son, who is a Webelos 1, knows what he wants. He wants low, slick, and fast; and he has come in first or second place every year. But, the best thing is that we have fun together and learn from each other.

Bill Whittaker

Share Your Pinewood Derby Memory!
I am sure there are many stories to share. Please jot down your humorous, unusual, sad, or heart-warming pinewood derby tale and send it to:

If your memory is used, you will receive a $10 coupon in May of 2008.

Don't worry about literary polish. We will edit as needed. Also, please read our Submission Policy


Do you recommend jewelry polish for axles? I think it is called rouge. How do you use it?

Jeweler's Rouge is a polish that can be used on axles. Red jeweler's rouge (which is iron oxide) is the most common variety. It generally comes in a bar which is somewhat brittle.

To use it, rub a damp cloth on the rouge bar. Then apply the damp rouge to a spinning axle. Make sure to buff off the axle with a clean, dry rag. Then lubricate as usual.

When using NyOil II or powdered graphite how do you apply once the axles are glued into place? I've read about gluing axles with hot glue, etc. so it seems that this would be difficult to accomplish once the axles are set in the body.

I recommend lubricating before the wheels/axles are mounted on the car. Generally, you do not relube during a race.

If the car could progress to a future championship race event, then glue the axles with white glue. This will hold them in place, but the glue bond can be easily broken for axle removal. Then clean, lube, and remount before the next race event.

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

Back Issues

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If you would like to look up an article by name, please use our Newsletter Index.

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Volume 8

  1. Volume 8, Issue 1

  2. Volume 8, Issue 2

  3. Volume 8, Issue 3

  4. Volume 8, Issue 4
Volume 7

  1. Volume 7, Issue 1

  2. Volume 7, Issue 2

  3. Volume 7, Issue 3

  4. Volume 7, Issue 4

  5. Volume 7, Issue 5

  6. Volume 7, Issue 6

  7. Volume 7, Issue 7

  8. Volume 7, Issue 8
  9. Volume 7, Issue 9
  10. Volume 7, Issue 10
  11. Volume 7, Issue 11
  12. Volume 7, Issue 12
  13. Volume 7, Issue 13
  14. Volume 7, Issue 14
  15. Volume 7, Issue 15
Volume 6

  1. Volume 6, Issue 1

  2. Volume 6, Issue 2

  3. Volume 6, Issue 3

  4. Volume 6, Issue 4

  5. Volume 6, Issue 5

  6. Volume 6, Issue 6

  7. Volume 6, Issue 7

  8. Volume 6, Issue 8

  9. Volume 6, Issue 9

  10. Volume 6, Issue 10

  11. Volume 6, Issue 11

  12. Volume 6, Issue 12

  13. Volume 6, Issue 13

  14. Volume 6, Issue 14

  15. Volume 6, Issue 15
Volume 5

  1. Volume 5, Issue 1

  2. Volume 5, Issue 2

  3. Volume 5, Issue 3

  4. Volume 5, Issue 4

  5. Volume 5, Issue 5

  6. Volume 5, Issue 6

  7. Volume 5, Issue 7

  8. Volume 5, Issue 8

  9. Volume 5, Issue 9

  10. Volume 5, Issue 10

  11. Volume 5, Issue 11

  12. Volume 5, Issue 12

  13. Volume 5, Issue 13

  14. Volume 5, Issue 14

  15. Volume 5, Issue 15
Volume 4 is available as a PDF file, ready for immediate download.

Volume 3 is available as a PDF file, ready for immediate download.

Volume 2 is available as a PDF file, ready for immediate download.

Volume 1 is available as a PDF file, ready for immediate download.

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Please read our submission policy.

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

Copyright ©2008, 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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