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Pinewood Derby Times
Volume 14, Issue 2
October 22, 2014

In this Edition:

- Editor's Notes

- Feature Article - Creating Accurate Axle Slots

- Humor

- Product Showcase - Pro-Body Slotter

- Pinewood Derby Car Showcase

- Q&A

Editor's Notes
Reader Feedback
We received this comment from Bob Weaver regarding a Q&A in the previous newsletter:

"We had a car do this exact same thing [slow down in the finals]. It was traced to the paint getting hot(?), sticky(?) and twisting at the contact point of the wheel to body. It was a pretty yellow paint that showed signs of smudging and twisting when I did an after race inspection. Even though it [the paint job] was done many days in advance of the races. We no longer paint behind the wheels and just press graphite into the wood using a lot of hand pressure pressing a spare wheel against the body while turning the wheel and adding the graphite."

Editors Comment: Likely enamel paint was used. Enamel paint has a long cure time (and stays sticky until it cures). I like to use lacquer paint, which dries hard very quickly.

Inventory Clearance Sale
We also are clearing inventory on several items including:
  • Light-weight (3.2 ounces and under) plain and slotted blocks,

  • Most of our SuperCar kits,

  • The ever-popular Wedge SE,

  • The special edition Funny Car Kit (only 19 left), and the

  • Propeller Car Kit.

We don't have many left, so don't delay. Click Here to find our clearance items. Don't miss out on the great prices.
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

Creating Accurate Axle Slots
By Randy Davis

Most brands of pinewood derby kits come with slots on one side of the block into which the axles are pressed. These pre-made slots generally work well, but there are occasions when the car builder would like to cut new axle slots. These include when:
  1. The existing slots are defective.

  2. The builder wishes to change the wheelbase by cutting new slots on the opposite side of the block.

  3. The builder wishes to build two cars from one block by cutting new slots on the opposite side of the block.

Previously, cutting new slots was a bit tricky. Usually, a hacksaw was equipped with two blades, and then the builder carefully cut new slots by following a pencil line. Obviously, errors were common: cutting a slanted line or cutting too deep were common issues.

But now, a new tool is available to solve these issues and greatly simplify the process of cutting new slots.

Pro-Body Slotter From Derbyworx
DerbyWorx recently introduced the Pro-Body Slotter. Similar to the Pro-Body Tool for drilling accurate axle holes, the Pro-Body Slotter is a cutting guide for cutting axle slots.

Figure 1 - Pro-Body Slotter

The tool fits over a standard pinewood derby block, and is held in place with a set screw (a clamp would interfere with sawing). Index marks on the tool are aligned with a pencil mark on the block which identifies the desired location of the new slot.

Figure 2 - Pro-Body Slotter Parts

Figure 3 - Pro-Body Slotter Parts

As mentioned before, two hacksaw blades are mounted on a hacksaw frame (one blade is mounted with the teeth forward and the other with the teeth reversed. The blades are then placed into the slot in the tool, and the cut is made.

After the first cut is complete, the tool is loosened, moved to the next slot position, reattached, and then the second cut is made.

Figure 4 - Pro-Body Slotter in Use

The index screw will leave two indents in the block, one per slot. These marks are filled with wood filler before sanding and painting. Note that the marks will be located behind the wheels, so they are not obvious.

Here are a few tips for using the Pro-Body Slotter.
  1. Use the Pro-Body Slotter on the pinewood derby block before cutting or shaping the block.

  2. When placing the tool onto the block, orient the set screw on the side of the block opposite the pencil marks.

  3. Keep the set screw on the same side of the block for both cuts.

  4. Use even, gentle forward and back sawing strokes.

  5. Make sure to stop when the saw blades reach the bottom of the tool.

  6. For an extended wheelbase, position the slots at 5/8 inch (actually I prefer 11/16 inch) from each end of the block.

  7. After cutting the slots, use a Pro-Axle Guide to insert a spare axle into each slot position, then twist and pull it out with a pair of pliers.

  8. When painting, either mask off the axle slots, insert a spare set of axles into the axle slots, or better yet, use a Paint Stand.1

Using the Pro-Body Slotter makes creating accurate axle slots a simple process. The Pro-Body Slotter is available from many on-line vendors including Maximum Velocity. You can find the tool Here. A video from DerbyWorx on using the Pro-Body Slotter is available Here.

1The Paint Stand is available from Maximum Velocity Here.


A man walks into a health-food restaurant after a day at the office, sits down, and orders a nice big dish of brown rice and stir-fry veggies.

He grabs a handful of peanuts from the bowl on the counter by the cash register while he's waiting for his order, and as he starts to chew he hears a voice say, "That's a beautiful tie. Is that silk? Very nice choice!"

Wondering who would make such a strange comment, he looks around and doesn't see anyone near him who could've been speaking to him. With a shrug, he pops a few more peanuts into his mouth.

Next he hears a voice, "Those shoes are stylin', my man. Are they Italian leather? They look GRRREAT!"

He whirls around again but sees no one near him. He glances nervously around and then at his shoes, which he tucks self-consciously under the stool.

A little weirded out, he grabs another handful of peanuts. This time the voice continues with, "That suit looks FANTASTIC! Is it an Armani? Very nice!"

He immediately calls the waiter over and says, "Look. I keep hearing these voices telling me how great my tie, my shoes, and my suit look. What's up with that? Am I going crazy?"

"Oh," the waiter nonchalantly replies, "those are just the peanuts."

"The PEANUTS?" the astonished man asks, staring at the bowl beside him.

"Yes," replies the waiter, "they're complimentary!"

Product Showcase

  Pro-Body Slotter  
10% off

The new Pro-Body Slotter is a cutting guide that provides an accurate way to cut new slots on your pinewood derby block. The slots can be cut at the standard wheelbase position, the extended wheelbase position, or a custom wheelbase position.

Through November 5, 2014, you can get a Pro-Body Slotter for 10% off. To take advantage of this limited time offer, Click Here, and use coupon code OCT22NL during checkout.

Car Showcase

Today's cars are owned by Darren Stark.

"I started a collection of pinewood derby cars and now have close to eighty. Sixty-five to seventy of them I personally built with family and friends. The photos below show a few of my favorites.

My son and I go to several races every year and display our cars with Todd Paxson. Todd is a friend of mine whos cars were used to make the movie "Down and Derby". He is the one who convinced me to display my cars rather than keep them in a box. My son and I get such a kick out of watching people's reactions to our cars and helping others figure out how they can make their ideas come to life. I hope you like them as much as we do

Editor's Note: Todd Paxson's display was featured in Volume 6, Issue 14.

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. 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. Also, use a solid (preferably white) background for the photo.

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!


We had a pinewood derby race last night and the results contradicted everything I have learned, and the racing experts teach, on how to build a winning car. I am wondering what your thoughts are.

The winning car was an uncut block of wood from a Cub Scout Pinewood Derby kit. The axels were untreated - no filing of burrs, no sanding, no polishing. Nothing was done to the wheels. The center of gravity was in the middle of the car. They took their kit the day before the race, just attached the wheels, and applied graphite to the wheels just before the race.

The car competed in a field of about 15. It beat cars of several competitors who do the standard practices of filing/polishing axles, drill holes for axels, polish wheels, set the center of gravity towards the rear axle, etc. Every kid started with the same kit.

Well there are two possiblities:
  1. The car looked like a dud but was really a ringer - block hollowed out and back-weighted. Prepped wheels/axles, etc. You would need to inspect the car (check balance point, check wheels, etc.) to know for sure.

  2. The car was a fluke. There are cases were a car makes it down the track without touching a guide rail. When that happens, it really speeds up the run.

Does your track have a continuous slope from start to finish, or is it the more typical ramp, followed by a long flat section. If a continuous slope track, then flukes are more likely to occur. They don't happen often on a ramp-flat track.

How much does temperature and humidity effect the speed of pinewood derby cars? We are in the Northeast (New York), and outside conditions significantly affect the temperature and humidity levels inside the buildings during this time of year. The cars were all off in speed again this year. Last year the cars were the fastest ever in the six years that we have been participating. The same Scouts were still fast as in previous years. There seems to be too many variables that significantly control the speed of these cars.

There are certainly a lot of variables involved in pinewood derby racing.

Temperature affects liquid lubes (cold is bad), while the lack of humidity affects graphite adversely. Graphite needs a little humidity to work well. So if the heating is cranked in the building, everything gets dry and graphite-lubed cars lose performance.

However, a big factor that affects races from year to year is the track setup. If the track is very level one year, and then not level the next, times will be affected. This can happen due to moving the location of the track or from careless setup.

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

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 14 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 ©2014, 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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