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Pinewood Derby Times
Volume 12, Issue 12
March 6, 2013

In this Edition:

- Editor's Notes

- Feature Article - Decals, Etc.: How to Spiff Up Your Car

- Humor

- Product Showcase - Free Sticker Decal

- Pinewood Derby Car Showcase

- Q&A

Editor's Notes

Car Photos Needed
In the next newsletter, we plan to have an expanded car showcase. The only problem is that we don't have very many photos to include. So, please send in your car photos and descriptions. For information on what to send, please read the information at the end of the "Pinewood Derby Car Showcase" section.

Kit Clearance
We have just put our Assimilator Car Kits on clearance. These cars sport a 2.5 ounce Tungsten Canopy for the main weight, and tungsten cubes for the trim weight. They are available with axle slots, standard axle holes, and extended axles holes. Click Here to find them.

Also, we are almost out of the Detonator kits. We have less than six of the standard drilled and extended drilled kits. If you have any interest in one of the Detonator Kits, make sure to Purchase Right Now

MV Basic & Wedge Car Kits

If you are planning a race and are not required to use a specific kit type, our MV Basic or Wedge Car Kit are 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. Our MV wheels are top-quality wheels. You will not be disappointed with the quality of these wheels.

So, if your organization does not mandate a particular kit type, consider our MV Basic Car Kits or MV Wedge 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

Decals, Etc.: How to Spiff Up Your Car
By Randy Davis

The difference between a boring pinewood derby car and a real eye- catcher could be a unique design, excellent craftsmanship, or a professional paint job. But in many cases all it takes are some decorative items to make a car really stand out. Let's take a look at four types of decorative items that are easy to use, relatively inexpensive, and sure to give your car a special look.

Dry-Transfer Decals
Unlike stickers, dry-transfer decals are very thin and do not have a clear edge. Thus, they blend into the paint such that you have to look closely to see that the design is actually a decal.

Unlike water-slide decals, dry-transfer decals apply with no water; and unlike stickers, dry-transfer decals do not adhere to the car body on contact. Instead, dry-transfer decals use a pressure activated adhesive. So, an advantage of dry-transfer decals is that they can be finely positioned before they are permanently attached.

Figure 1 - Examples of Dry Transfer Decals

To apply dry-transfer decals, cut out the desired design, place it on the car in the desired location, hold it down, and use a soft pencil with a rounded tip to scribble over the entire decal (you will actually be scribbling on the transfer material, not the actual decal). After scribbling over the entire decal, carefully lift up on the edge of the transfer material. If the decal is not completely detached from the transfer material, scribble some more and try again. After the transfer material is removed, take the provided tissue-like paper and rub it over the entire decal.

If desired you can apply a clear coat over the decal. But first, make sure the clear coat is compatible with your paint job, and test the clear coat on an unused decal (apply it to a scrap piece of wood). I have successfully used acrylic and lacquer clear coats over dry- transfer decals, but it is best to play it safe by testing before spraying the car.

You can find the dry-transfer decals on our website Here

Stick-On Decals
Stick-On decals, as well as stickers are also good choices. They are inexpensive and easy to apply - just make sure you put the sticker where you want it. As you know, stickers like to attach themselves where you don't want them!

Figure 2 - Examples of Sticker Decals

My daughter used stickers to decorate her Diamondbacks car; she found the stickers at a team shop. I believe that team stickers exist for every professional team, as well as most college teams.

Figure 3 - D-Backs Car

To apply Stick-On decals, simply cut out a decal, remove any dust or debris from the car, peel off the backing, and stick it in place. If you want to apply a clear coat, make sure to first test compatibility.

You can find the Stick-On decals on our website Here.

Body Skins
At our pinewood derby race, we pass out design award ballots to the kids that have a car entered into the race. So, whichever cars look cool to the kids win the design awards. At our last race, two cars with body skins won design awards. In my mind they are not outstanding in any way, since the shape was quite common and the finish was a body skin. But the kids must have thought the skin was some kind of exotic paint job.

In fact, a well-applied skin does look very unique; and if you are not aware of body skins, you will be wondering how the car builder achieved such a unique look.

Figure 4 - Examples of Body Skins

Body Skins apply quite easily to simple-shaped cars, while applying skins to complex cars is quite a challenge. On their website, PineCar, who is the manufacturer of most Body Skins on the market, shows pictures of very complex cars with Body Skins. My guess is that those cars do not really exist, but instead were made with photo editing.

To apply a skin to a simple wedge or block shaped car, follow the instructions below. For complex cars, the same technique is used except that the skin must be pieced together and the pieces must overlap slightly.
  1. Remove any dust or debris from the surface of the car.

  2. Determine how much material is needed to wrap the car without overlapping the material on the bottom of the car. Trim off the excess.

  3. Figure 5 - Trim Material

  4. Peel off the backing paper.

  5. Use a soft, wet sponge to press the skin onto the car body. The transfer paper will release when it is thoroughly soaked. Do not use force to remove the transfer paper.

  6. Figure 6 - Apply Skin

  7. Fold the design under the bottom of the car.

  8. Figure 7 - Bottom of Car

  9. Smooth out wrinkles by dipping your fingers in water and rubbing over the skin.

Figure 8 - Finished

As with other decorative items a clear coat can be applied, but make sure to first test compatibility. Body Skins can be found on our website Here.

Pin Striping
I am a big fan of pin striping; it is relatively inexpensive, easy to apply, and can really dress up a car. Pin striping is a long, thin, colored tape that has an adhesive backing. It adapts well to curves in the car and can be mixed and matched, both in color and in width.

Figure 9 - Yellow Pin Striping (1/4 and 1/8 inch)

To apply pin striping, unroll a piece longer than you need, pull it taut and then apply it to the car. Use a piece of tissue paper (not Kleenex, but the kind used in gift bags) to press down on the pin striping. This will eliminate any air bubbles and ensures that it is pressed down well. After the pin striping is in place, trim the excess with a sharp knife (hobby knife or razor knife). If the pin striping will be placed on the front and/or back of the car (as in Figure 9), wrap the pin striping under the car and trim it off underneath. This makes for a much cleaner finish.

Figure 10 - White and Black 1/8 inch Pin Striping

For other image of cars with pin striping, or to find the pin striping on our website, Click Here.

It doesn't take a lot of work or cash to change a common-looking car to a real eye-catcher. So, when designing your pinewood derby car don't forget the decorative details.


Successful Ice Fishing

Two men have been sitting out on a lake all day long ice fishing. One has been having no luck at all, while the other has been pulling fish after fish out of his hole in the ice. The man having no luck finally leans over and asks the other what his secret is.

"Mmmmm mmm mm mmm mmmm mmm mmm," is the reply.

"I'm sorry, what did you say?"

"Mmmmm mmm mm mmm mmmm mmm mmm," the successful fisherman repeats.

"I'm sorry, I still didn't understand you."

The man spits something into his hand and says very clearly, "You've got to keep your worms warm."

Product Showcase

    "Finish Line" Sticker Decal - One Free with Order    

Get into the spirit of the race by decorating your car with a finish line motif.

Through March 19, 2013, you can get one "Finish Line" Sticker Decal free with any shippable order. To take advantage of this limited time offer, Click Here and use coupon code 06MARNL during checkout.

Car Showcase

Home Depot - Stephen Henry

This is the car my son Benjamin Henry built for his first pinewood derby. He placed second in his age group! As you can see, we had to lighten the car quite a bit to be able to adjust the center of mass rearward to where we thought it would work best. We added a screw and some washers to adjust the weight easily on race day. He painted it himself using a spray can for the orange and borrowed my airbrush for the windows. The decals were from a 1/25 scale plastic model. They were a little big for the car so we trimmed them with a razor before we applied them.

Wind Cracker - Lee Klinghoffer

This is my son Jared's car called "Wind Cracker". We built it together for this year's pinewood derby. We had to use a bit of extra block to get some height to accommodate the design. We did a cutout on the underside of the front for a fast start off the line. The car was primed, and then painted with Tamiya spray paint. A purple undercoat was followed with a deep metallic blue to get a deep cobalt blue tone. He did not, unfortunately, win a speed award (we couldn't get rid of a small rear end wobble), but he did win an award for outstanding craftsmanship.

Blue AGP - Jeremy Isaac

This was my son's Awana Grand Prix car this year. He wanted to go for speed instead of design this time, so we pulled out all the stops and it paid off big time: First place in the Sparks division, followed by first place overall. After running a total of 8 heats, this car's slowest time was notably faster than the best time from any other car all day.

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:

For better focus, keep the camera four or five feet away from the car, and then use the camera's zoom to fill the frame with the 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!


I had been told that running a tap through the wheel bores reduces surface contact between the wheel and the axle, and that it is advantageous to do this. I was wondering if you have any experience with this?

I have not had much success with tapping. The plastic in the bore tends to deform as the tap cuts. So the resulting "threads" are not uniform like screw threads. This is why it is much more popular to use grooved axles instead of "grooved" bores.

My daughter got her kit today and I was going to upgrade to your wheels, but her stock ones have no writing on the sidewall. Wouldn't they know I swapped them out?

What brand is the kit? There should be a brand name on the kit, but if not, there is a kit identification page Here.

You certainly would want to only upgrade to the same brand of wheel. Generally, you must use the same brand of wheel as is provided with the kit.

If the wheels are PineCar-brand wheels (which have no writing on the sidewalls), then we do have a Speed Wheel Version

I have a right side dominant rail rider and I can't get it to steer left with any of my adjustments. The front axles are bent at 1.5 degrees and the rear axles at 2.5 degrees using the Pro-Axle Press. Any ideas on how to get it to steer left? Should I add more bend to the right-front axle, or is something going on with my axle slot?

First, I would check the rear wheels to make sure the bends are at top dead center. Roll the car back and forth and watch the rear wheels to see if they stay against the axle heads. If a wheel moves towards the car body, then rotate that axle until the wheel stays on the axle head when the car is rolled in both directions.

Next, make sure your test ramp is dead-level from left-to-right. If it is sloped one way, you will not be able to accurately align the car. Use a very round sphere to test the levelness of the ramp. A billiard ball, racquetball, or large marble all work well for testing the ramp. A bubble level is just not accurate enough to verify the levelness of the ramp.

Now work on the front dominant wheel. If you can't get the car to adjust properly, then probably there is not enough bend in the axle. Try placing a layer of paper between the rail rider tool and the axle, and then whack it again. The paper will give just a little more angle.

If this doesn't provide enough bend to allow for adjusting the steering, then there is likely an issue with the axle slots or holes.

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 13 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.

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Randy Davis, Editor, Pinewood Derby Times

Copyright ©2013, 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.

The author disclaims any personal loss or liability caused by utilization of any information presented in this newsletter.

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