Pinewood Derby Memory – Know Your Glue

This was my son’s first year in Tiger Cubs and thus our first Pinewood Derby race. Our pack also includes a race for siblings, so his 4 year old sister and 5 year old brother also got to build cars. The children all picked out a design and we worked together on the cars over a period of about 3 weeks (I had no idea what I was getting into, but we got better and a little faster with each car we built!). A friend of mine shared some tools with me and gave me some tips. The night before the race we finished preparing the wheels and very carefully applied glue to keep the axles from popping out. Everyone was very excited about the big race and could hardly wait for the next day.
The next morning after church about 1 hour before we were to leave for the race, I went to get the cars from the workshop. To my shock and horror I discovered that the glue had greatly expanded and had glued ALL the wheels on ALL 3 cars to the axles! My heart started racing as I imagined the great disappointment for my children if they could not race after all their hard work (yes, and my disappointment too). It had taken us about 4 hours to prepare the wheels the first time, and now I only had 1 hour before the race. I just started praying and working like crazy – I had to pry off all the wheels, re-sand the axles, sand out the inside of the wheels, lube the axles and wheels, re-sand the bottom of the cars to remove excess glue, re-install and align all the wheels, and re-glue the axles (with a different type of glue this time). I could tell the wheels did not spin quite as well as the night before, but at least they moved! My wife kept the kids busy while I worked on ‘the disaster’.
Fortunately, I finished all the work with just a couple minutes to spare (I worked a little harder on the Tiger Cub car). We were off to the races and had no idea what to expect from our ‘refurbished’ cars. To our great surprise, my Tiger Cub took first place for his den (out of 7 cars) and came in 4th place for the whole pack (out of 60 cars)! My other children placed 3rd and 4th in the sibling race (out of 16 cars)! Now we are all hooked and can’t wait until next year!
Jim Heidecker
From Pinewood Derby Times Volume 3, Issue 11
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