Pinewood Derby Car Showcase – January 28, 2014

Just one car this time, but it is a doozy!
Dan’s Model T Street Rod – Andy Holzer
During the summer of 2010 I attended a car club event at a drag race
track. The car owners could run the 1/8th or the 1/4 mile with their
cars (depending on how their cars teched out). I saw a friend’s car
there staged for another opportunity to run down the track. While
looking at Dan’s Model T Street Rod I thought to myself, this would
make an excellent extended wheelbase pinewood derby car.

I figured this would be a fairly straightforward build, not having to
make full fenders would make things easier. I started out and drew up
some plans based on the pictures I took at the track. The grille ended
up getting cut down, as it is quite difficult to use a drop axle on a
pinewood derby car and have it race down a standard pinewood derby
track. The body was s-t-r-e-t-c-h-e-d to use up the whole 7 inch
block, so the width looks fairly narrow (compared to the picture).
Now what to use for the motor? Dan’s car had a Chevrolet 396 engine
in it. I was thinking of looking for a model with a 396 to use in the
car. My son, Noah offered me a couple of small block Chevy motors to
use (from some models he has purchased for parts). I didn’t like the
way the Chevy small block looks in a street rod with the “siamesed”
exhaust ports, so I needed a big block. After some thought, I decided
to build the motor from wood (a pine – pinewood derby motor). So I did
some searching on the Internet to see what Chevy 396 parts looked like
(I should have taken better pictures of the motor). It may have been a
better idea to go and find a 1/25th scale motor for my car as I have
about 12 hours in the motor build. There were a lot of parts that were
made and then re-made after the learning had taken place making the
first round of parts.
At this point the motor was adding a lot of weight to the front end.
I had made some headers from 12 gauge copper wire (I was planning to
paint the copper wire silver). I removed most of the wood from the
radiator assembly and the front tank to make them as light as they
could be, but there was still a lot of weight on the front. The
headers weighed .15 ounce each.

I looked at a farm supply store for some aluminum 12 gauge wire and
found some, but it was electric fence wire and I needed to buy a
quarter mile of it (really didn’t know what I would use the other 1318
feet of wire for). I went to the Internet and looked up aluminum 12
gauge wire and found they use aluminum wire in jewelry (not that I
ever needed to know that). I went to a craft store and purchased 3
feet of it for about $3. The aluminum wire was much lighter. I bent up
another header quickly and was wondering what I should use for a
collector on the headers. I found some aluminum tubing I used for
diesel exhausts for a PWD 18 wheel truck. It seemed to be the right
size to fit over the 4 header tubes. I used a flat screwdriver to
crimp the collectors around the aluminum wire and epoxied the assembly
together after polishing each component.
After the motor was painted I was thinking of adding some spark plug
wires to the distributor and run them down to where the spark plugs
would be. I was thinking this would be a big pain to do and I probably
should pass. But I decided to try it. The spark plug wires on Dan’s
car are red, but only had 26 gauge, black copper wire. So I decided
to use the black wire even though it would not be easily seen.
So I went back to the Internet to find the firing order of a Chevy 396
and the direction of rotation of the distributor (if you are going to
do it you might as well do it right). I epoxied all of the wires to
the distributor and then split them into sides and drilled small holes
and epoxied the other end to the block near each header output. I
won’t say this was easy, but it wasn’t that bad. I also used a piece
of wire to create a belt on the exposed pulleys.

The Model T was fast but there were a lot of fast cars in the open
race, it took 5th place.
From Pinewood Derby Times Volume 13, Issue 9
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