The Wrong Lube

Last year was a poor year for pinewood derby performance for my sons. From the scout store we had purchased the pinewood derby speed kit that included: sandpaper, extra nails, a white powder (that I thought was Teflon lube), wheel mandrel, etc. Then we went to work.
The cars were the boy’s designs. One was a limo, and the other a cross between a submarine and a shark. We used a drill press to get straight axle holes, then we sanded the wheels and nails. We painted the cars, and even bought two plastic models to get decals to use on our cars. We then lubricated with the white powder. The wheels just didn’t spin for very long, but we were in the middle of a move so I couldn’t put any more time into the cars.
Our cars performed marginally well – we won a few heats and lost a few heats. But they were a lot slower than our prior year cars. My boys were disappointed in not winning as many heats as in previous years.
After the race when we had more time I decided to find out what was wrong. Oh, you probably know already. The white powder wasn’t lubricant, but instead it was axle polish (powdered pumice). When I cleaned out the powder and replaced it with graphite, the wheels spun like crazy. We learned how to really polish axles, and what not to use as a lubricant on race day!
Michael Law
From Pinewood Derby Times Volume 5, Issue 6
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