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Pinewood Derby Times
Volume 15, Issue 2
October 21, 2015

In this Edition:

- Editor's Notes

- Feature Article - Staging Cars - Don't Lose Speed with Bad Staging

- Humor

- Product Showcase - Leveling Ball - $2.00 Off

- Pinewood Derby Car Showcase

- Memory - Attitude Is Everything

- Q&A

Editor's Notes

Call for Photos
As you build your cars this year, please remember to send me a photo, along with a brief write up on the car. I'm always looking for cars for the Car Showcase section.

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.

Nitro Rail

Make sure the photo is not blurry. If your photos are blurry, try holding 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. Don't forget to include your name, the name of the car (if it has one), and a brief write up on any design features, inspiration for the design, and how the car performed at the race.

Inventory Clearance Sale
We also are clearing inventory on several items including:
  • Two special purchase tungsten weights: Mini-tungsten Weights and Round End Tungsten Plates.

  • Two Car kits: the Accelerator, and the Vaccinator.

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.

Pinewood Derby Memory
This season, I plan to re-run some of the pinewood derby memories from earlier issues. If you would like to contribute a memory, please see the submittal information in the Pinewood Derby Memory section.
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

Staging Cars - Don't Lose Speed with Bad Staging
By Randy Davis Several times I have had people tell me that their car did great in preliminary events, but then in the finals the car lost speed. They asked me why that happened. I then offer several possible reasons:
I can't say for certain that staging accounted for the lower speed, but it is certainly a possibility.

But how much does staging affect car performance? Certainly it has to have some effect, but is the amount of the effect really measurable? Let's find out.

Experiment Setup
Six staging variations were tested:

Figure 1 - Car Staging Variations

The car from Shifting the Wheelbase - V14, I11 was reused.

The car is equipped with Pro-Stock Speed Wheels and Polished BSA Speed Axles. These wheels and axles were cleaned, and then the car was re- lubed with Krytox 100.

On this car, the front-left wheel was raised, and the front right axle was bent for aligning. The car was set to rail-ride, by drifting left five inches over eight feet.

Figure 2 - Test Car

Each staging variation was tested once, and then the cycle was repeated five times for a total of 30 heats.

Wheels Out - 2.549
*Wheels In - 2.547
*Shift Left - 2.547
Shift Right - 2.551
*Angle Left - 2.547
Angle Right - 2.556
The results were a bit surprising. I expected more variation, but to my astonishment the three starred results were the same, while the "Wheels Out" number was very close (this could just be statistical noise as the standard deviation was just over 2ms).

Clearly, the worst performance was attained when the car was shifted or angled right. This can be readily explained due to the raised wheel contacting the guide rail at the start. This contact would result in some energy loss, and thus reduce performance.

So, what we can draw from these results is that with a raised wheel, make sure that the raised wheel is not in contact with the guide rail at the starting line. This clearly is detrimental to performance. But otherwise, you don't need to get too fanatical about perfect staging.

Now, I guess I'll have to come up with some other reasons for slow performance in the finals.


An old, tired-looking dog wandered into the yard. I could tell from his collar and well-fed belly that he had a home.

He followed me into the house, down the hall, and fell asleep on the couch. An hour later, he went to the door, and I let him out. The next day he was back, resumed his position on the couch and slept for an hour. This continued for several weeks. Curious, I pinned a note to his collar: "Every afternoon your dog comes to my house for a nap."

The next day he arrived with a different note pinned to his collar: "He lives in a home with four children -- he's trying to catch up on his sleep. Can I come with him tomorrow?"

Product Showcase

  Leveling Ball  
$2 off

To accurately align a pinewood derby car, you must have an alignment board that is perfectly level left to right. A bubble level will get you close, but a leveling ball is required to attain a perfectly level board.

This leveling ball is 2 inches in diameter and is made of chrome steel. The diameter measurement is accurate to 0.000025 inch.

Watch the videos below to see how the Leveling Ball can help you adjust your alignment board.

Board Not Level

Board Level

Through November 3, 2015, you can get a Leveling Ball for $2 off. To take advantage of this limited time offer, Click Here, and use coupon code OCT21NL during checkout.

Car Showcase

Today's cars were submitted by Stacy Bodder

Raspberry Rocket - Lydia Bodder

My daughter called this one the Raspberry Rocket, and so it was. It received first in speed.

Crazy Fast - Lydia Bodder

This car that my daughter and I made together was crazy fast. She went on to the regional races where she took first place there as well. Simple design, but it works!

Peterbilt - Isaac Bodder

My son and I had lots of fun with this one. It was made to look like a Peterbilt Daycab which I had been driving at the time. It was pretty fast, but didn't take first place. It did get best in show. The smoke stack broke off during the race. Fun times.

IMSA GTP - Isaac Bodder

This was the first pinewood derby car my son and I ever built. It was the start of some fun years building cars together. This car was made to look like an IMSA GTP car from the late 80's. It took first place in speed even though it had a very short wheelbase.

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!

Pinewood Derby Memory

Attitude Is Everything

My oldest son Tyler was really excited about participating in his first pinewood derby race (of course so was I). The format our pack used involved every child racing 10 heats and recording only the winner of each heat. The results were displayed on a LARGE sheet of paper in the back of the gymnasium, so the boys could see how they were stacking up against the others. At the end of the day the car with the most wins was declared the winner.

The tension mounted for our whole family as we eagerly anticipated Tyler's first heat. As the cars sped down the slope of the track and hit the straight, Tyler's car began to inch ahead of the others. Our family exploded into cheers (rivaling any World Series home team crowd) when that car crossed the finish line and the electric #1 displayed above his lane. Each subsequent race generated even more excitement in our family as Tyler racked up 6 straight wins.

On the seventh race we were all disappointed to lose to the eventual winner of the day. The only reason I remember the car is because it was carved as a canoe with an Indian sitting in it paddling down the track. Tyler didn't find that amusing at all.

We had worked hard to make our car as aerodynamic as we knew how. He took that loss pretty hard and began to tear up a bit and got a little agitated at losing the heat. "We aren't going to have that attitude here son," I told him. He promptly started to give me all the "But Dad" stuff, but I stopped him right there. "Why don't you go over to the chart and count how many boys have not won any races yet," I said. He came back with a much different disposition as he told me how many he had counted.

From then on Tyler has really displayed the attitude of "Do your best" and going beyond that to being genuinely happy for others who are doing their best even if it's a little better than his.

Greg Boek
Red Wing, Minnesota

Share Your Pinewood Derby Memory!
If you have a pinewood derby story that is funny, unusual, sad, heart- warming, etc., please E-mail it to me.

Don't worry about literary polish. We will edit as needed. If your memory is used, you will receive a $10 coupon in May of 2016.

Also, please read our Submission Policy


In your opinion, which is better for wet sanding and polishing axles: a Dremel tool or an electric drill?

I prefer the drill. With the high RPM of a Dremel, you end up removing a lot more material than you do at a lower RPM. So, with a Dremel you have to be very careful to polish for a much shorter period of time. Also, if the axle head is off center, the high RPM of the Dremel can cause the axle to wobble, when really the shaft is straight.

I've been helping people with pinewood derby for several years, but have been thrown a curve with a request to help with a Royal Ranger's derby car. Three questions:
  1. I see you have a 1/8 inch bushing for the wheel shaver tool, but I noticed the Royal Ranger wheel bore was not that big and I'm not sure I can incorporate that bushing with a regular pinewood derby mandrel. Any suggestions (other than give up the business)?

  2. Also, is it more important to get the stock Royal Ranger car running straight, or can steering the car into the rail help stabilize it?

  3. Are the Royal Ranger wheels naturally harder and thus a little more susceptible to rough track conditions?

Here are my thoughts:
  1. The RR wheels that we have seen have an 1/8 inch ID bore (just a few thousandths less). So you can ream the bore with an 1/8 inch bit so that they fit the bushing. Then the wheels can be used on the Pro- Wheel Shaver XT. They turn easily on the XT since there is very little tread surface and the plastic is hard.

  2. You can Rail-Ride, but you would want to check with the end-user first. Many of the Royal Ranger tracks have side guides instead of a center guide rail. For side-guide tracks, I would align straight.

  3. The Royal Ranger wheels are made of a very hard plastic. But since they are narrow, they should be less susceptible to rough tracks as they miss more of track irregularities than would a wider wheel.

For more information on Royal Ranger kits, please view the following links:

Kit Help

Straight and Narrow is the Way - Aligning Your Pinewood Derby Car

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 15 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.

Newsletter Contributions

We welcome your contributions! If you would like to contribute an article, a web site review, or a speed tip, please send it to:

Please read our submission policy.

Subscription Information

The Pinewood Derby Times is a free e-newsletter focused on the Pinewood Derby. It is published biweekly from October through March.

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Randy Davis, Editor, Pinewood Derby Times

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