Pinewood Derby Times, Volume 16, Issue 2 – October 19, 2016

Volume 16, Issue 2
October 19, 2016

In this Edition
– Editor’s Notes
– Feature Article – Weighting – How Heavy is Too Heavy?
– Humor
– Product Showcase – Car Plans 9
– Pinewood Derby Memory – Pinewood Derby Car
– Pinewood Derby Car Showcase
– Q&A

Editor’s Notes

New Products for the 2016-17 Season

New Plan Booklet: “Car Plans 9” is now available with plans for the Jaguar, the Annihilator, and our new Raptor design.

New Car Kits: We are introducing two new car kits: the Detonator II and the Raptor. The Detonator II is a redesign of our popular Detonator design. The Detonator II is much more aggressively weighted to accommodate rail-riding. The Raptor is an aggressively weighted kit, and it looks intimidating. We even designed a paint stencil especially for this kit.

Specialty Tools: We are pleased to offer the T-Tool Weight Drilling Jig. The T-Tool is a precision-machined, aluminum jig that allows you to drill precise 3/8 inch (or 25/64 inch) weight holes into the side, back, or bottom of a pinewood derby block with a hand drill.

We also have a 1-1/16 inch Forstner Drill Bit for recessing our tungsten rounds in your car body.

MV Wheel & Long Axle Sets: We now offer lower prices on our MV Wheel & Long Axle Sets, and offer a bulk package of these popular sets.
To see all of the new items, please Click Here.

Inventory Clearance Sale
We are clearing inventory on several items including:
– Discount slotted blocks
– Formula One car kit
– Wheel Flares and Paint Stencils
– Raingutter Regatta Decals
We don’t have many left, so don’t delay. You can find these items Here.

Pinewood Derby Memory
Again 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 submitter information in the Pinewood Derby Memory section.

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.

Feature Article
Weighting – How Heavy is Too Heavy?
By Randy Davis

Although there are exceptions, most pinewood derby races have a weight limit of five ounces. Why is there a limit? Because a heavier car will potentially be faster. So to keep parity, a limit must be set. Five ounces is an arbitrary limit, but it seems about right. If the limit was lower, a larger percentage of cars would not make it to the finish line. If the limit were higher, the cars would tend to overshoot the braking section leading to damaged cars.

However, there are races with no weight limit or with a much higher weight limit. Generally, these are “Outlaw” or “Adult” races, where the rules are stretched to allow more creativity. In these races cars sometimes are weighted up to one pound, two pounds, 5 pounds, or even more.

Do these bricks on wheels really perform better than a lighter weight car? Is there a point at which the car actually slows down? What is the optimum weight?

These are not questions with hard and fast answers. There are many factors at play that can vary the optimum weight. These include:

1. Track length – It is generally believed that heavier cars perform better on longer tracks, as the additional momentum keeps the car rolling for a longer distance.

2. Lube – Graphite and Krytox 100 will likely give different results. It is generally believed that Krytox 100 will carry more weight than graphite.

3. Wheel Alignment – Since most of the weight is on the rear wheels, rear wheel contact will have a greater negative effect on a heavier car than on a lighter car.

I am sure there are other considerations as well.

Experiment Setup
Unfortunately, I couldn’t address all situations. So, this experiment provides a result for one set of factors. These factors were:

1. Track length – 32 foot Freedom Track (aluminum).

2. Krytox 100 – I considered graphite, but my concern was that it would not last through the number of heats involved, thus relubing would be required. Since that would change the behavior of the car, it might invalidate the experiment.

3. Wheel Alignment – The car was set to rail-ride, but the rear wheels sat virtually flat (the wheels did run to the nail heads in both the forward and backward direction). I did not angle them as I thought that they would take the load better in the flat orientation.

4. Weight Amount – I designed a car (described below) that could be adjusted from 4.5 ounces up to 16 ounces without varying the balance point or the exterior profile of the car. This minimized the effect of other factors.

Test Car
The car is shown in Figures 1 – 3. The base car (without added weight) is 4.5 ounces. The balance point is in the middle of the metal plate (note the black line on the plate in Figure 2). When weight is added, it is stacked on the rods in pairs. When there is an odd plate, the plate is placed between the two pins. So, in all cases, the weight is placed symmetrically around the balance point.(1)

Figure 1 – Test Car

Figure 2 – Bottom of Test Car (Note black line showing COG)

Figure 3 – Weight Stacking

The car was equipped with Pro-Stock BSA Speed Wheels and polished BSA Speed Axles. It was lubed with Krytox 100. The front left wheel was raised, and the front right wheel was adjusted to rail-ride.

The Test
One plate was added between the two pins to bring the car to five ounces. Two heats were run to achieve an average time for the weight. The weight was then incremented by 0.5 ounce and the test was repeated. This continued until sixteen ounces was tested. After the sixteen-ounce test, the car was adjusted back to five ounces to verify that the car still performed as originally measured (it did).

The results are shown in Figure 4. As you can see, best performance was achieved at 14.5 ounces. After that, the performance began to degrade.

Figure 4 – Test Results

So, if you are involved in a race with a high weight limit, and the track is of typical length, then I would limit the weight to about fourteen ounces and use Krytox 100 lube.

Another consideration is that heavy cars take a lot of force to stop. So make sure there is an adequate braking section on the track, and that the car is robust. Cars with fragile parts or thin sections may not hold up to the stress of racing and stopping.

(1) Not shown is a Kleenex that was stuffed into the cavity to keep the plates from rattling.


Three Things You Need To Survive
A Scout Master was teaching his boy scouts about survival in the desert.

“What are the three most important things you should bring with you in case you get lost in the desert?” he asked.

Several hands went up, and many important things were suggested such as food, matches, etc.

Then one little boy in the back eagerly raised his hand. “Yes Timmy, what are the three most important things you would bring with you?” asked the Scout Master.

Timmy replied: “A compass, a canteen of water, and a deck of cards.”

“Why’s that Timmy?”

“Well,” answered Timmy, “the compass is to find the right direction, the water is to prevent dehydration…”

“And what about the deck of cards?” asked the Scout Master impatiently.

“Well, Sir, as soon as you start playing Solitaire, someone is bound to come up behind you and say, “Put that red nine on top of that black ten!”

Product Showcase
Car Plans 9 – $3.00 Off

Whether you are involved in a Pinewood Derby race through Cub Scouts or Boy Scouts, an Awana Grand Prix, or a similar race through Royal Rangers, Indian Guides, Christian Service Brigade, or another organization, Maximum Velocity Car Plans 9 provides you with three car design plans to turn your car kit into a winning car. All plans include templates and step-by-step instructions, and the plans provide for:

– Optimal quantity of weight

– Optimal weight placement for both the standard (scouting) wheel base and the extended wheel base.

Also included is a construction timetable, woodworking tips, weigh-in instructions, thoughts on adult involvement in the pinewood derby car building process, and a bibliography. Most importantly, all of the information is in an easy to read format with many helpful drawings and diagrams.

The three plans in the Car Plans 9 booklet are relatively simple to build, thus, they are ideal for those who have had limited experience with woodworking and with pinewood derby racing.

Through November 1, 2016, you can get a Car Plans 9 download booklet for $3.00 off. To take advantage of this limited time offer, add part 1060 to your shopping cart, and use coupon code OCT19NL during checkout.

Pinewood Derby Car Showcase

Heath Bar – Mark McGrew

This year – in addition to the Cub Scout race – family members were invited to race in an adult race as well. I modeled this car after my favorite candy bar.

Family Cars – Deryck Robertson

Here are some cars we built this year and raced this past Saturday in Peterborough, Ontario.

My son, Stuart (yellow car) came in second in our Kawartha Waterways Area Rally and had the fastest time. This was the third year in a row he had the car with the fastest time.
The red car is mine, which was sponsored by a friend who is a manager at Christian

Horizons, a group home that cares for adults with developmental disabilities. The car came in third in the leader’s race.

The blue car is my wife’s car, which I used to thank some friends of mine who ran a contest this summer for canoeists called “Paddle in the Park”. It came in second in the leader’s race.

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 description of any special features to:
[email protected]

Please include your full name. If selected, we will include the photo and description in this newsletter.

Photos must be sent by e-mail in JPG format (minimum size of 640×480, 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
Pinewood Derby Car
The Pinewood Derby race fast approaches in my son’s Cub Scout den, so you know what that means for a handy guy like me: updating the homeowners insurance. I have all of the neat power tools a dad would need to make a classic Pinewood Derby car. And, I know how to plug every one of them into the socket. It gets tricky after that.

So, needless to say, when my son received his rectangular block of solid wood, four wheels, and four nails to hold the wheels in place, and he stared up at me with those hero-worshipping eyes that said, “What masterpiece are we going to build dad?” – I went right for the rules.

“What are you looking for?” my wife asked. “The rules on how much a dad can do to help build the car?”

“No,” I answered. “The rules on how much a dad can pay to purchase one on eBay.”

“Oh, won’t that be lovely,” she said. “I can hear it now. On race night, when the Cub Master goes around the room asking the boys what part they played in the design and build of their Pinewood Derby cars, our son can say that he typed in your credit card number? Maybe there’s a patch for that?”

I got the point. I also explained I was inept with tools, but, she reminded me that our son had his hopes pinned on making a car, and as his father, it was my responsibility to help him realize that dream. So first, I tried the easy approach.

“What are we going to make, dad?” my son asked as we walked ceremoniously into the garage.

A wide, dramatic smile spread across my face (the same I used when telling him the doctor’s shot wouldn’t hurt). “This,” I said as I pulled the uncut block of wood from the original box and held it above my head.

My son’s face sank. “A block of wood?”

“Yep,” I said excitedly.

“We aren’t going to cut it and sand it and put in a steering wheel?”

“We don’t need to,” I explained. “Now, don’t scream for joy too loud and frighten the neighbors, but, this block of wood is really…now brace yourself…a RUNAWAY TRAIN.”
His face brightened. “Cool! You mean a steam engine with cow catcher and smoke stack?”

“No, silly,” I said, maintaining my enthusiasm. “I mean a box car with Southern and Pacific.”

After my son stopped crying, I switched to Plan B: Making a sports car.

Several hours later, my wife walked into the garage. “You’ve been working on that car all of this time?” she asked looking at her watch.

I nodded. “All except the two times I drove to the Boy Scout store to purchase more Pinewood Derby kits.”

She studied my efforts. “What are you making?”

“Guess,” I said, holding up the near finished car.

“It looks like driftwood.”

“Because it’s smooth and sleek?”

“No, because it’s bent.”

Plan C called for sending my son to his grandpa’s house with a new Pinewood Derby kit. They made a beautiful car.

Later, my wife told me that it was okay I’m not handy – she said there were plenty of good things I did with our son. She also said to look on the bright side.

“Which was?” I asked.

“We now have kindling for the fireplace.”

I wonder if power tools burn too?

© 1999-2002 Ken Swarner
Used by Permission

Do you Remember?
If you have a pinewood derby story that is funny, unusual, sad, heart-warming, etc., please send it to me in an e-mail. Don’t worry about literary polish. We will edit as needed before publishing.

If your story is used, you will receive a $10 coupon in May of 2017.


Q: Pro bore wax….have you ever tried it on axles prior to using any dry lube?  I thought it may work, but wasn’t sure. I’m not interested in being the first to try. 😉

A: Generally, if an axle pre-coat is used, it is not wax. Typically Sail-Kote, Jig-a-Loo or a similar product is used.

Q: The instructions with the Low-Rider GT kit state that I should avoid spray painting with enamel paint.  Why is that?  I already purchased a can of enamel spray paint that I would like to use if possible.

A: I don’t recommend enamel paint as the dry/cure time can be quite long. Until the paint is totally cured, it tends to remain spongy. Also, recoat times for enamel can be a little odd. Certainly read the instructions on the can and if you use it, make sure to follow the instructions exactly.

Q: The instructions with your Pro-Stock wheels state that the wheels will become damaged if used with unprepared axles. I spun each wheel from the set for about 20 seconds each on unprepared axles. I was holding the axle in my hand while spinning the wheels. Do you think I have anything to worry about?  Any suggestions?

A: If you spun the wheels on raw BSA nails (with the crimp marks on the shaft), it is possible that some damage was done to the bore. But they may be fine. If you have a strong magnifying glass you can check out the bore.

Want Answers?
Do you have a pinewood derby-related question? If so, e-mail us your question.

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 16 are posted on our web site Here.

Newsletter Contributions
We welcome your contributions. If you would like to contribute an article, a web site review, a speed tip, or a pinewood derby memory, please e-mail us.

Subscription Information
The Pinewood Derby Times is a free e-newsletter focused on pinewood derby racing. It is published biweekly from October through March.

If you haven’t already done so, please forward this issue to your pinewood derby friends. But please don’t subscribe your friends. Let them decide for themselves. Thanks.

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Randy Davis, Editor, Pinewood Derby Times
E-Mail: [email protected]

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