Pinewood Derby Times, Volume 16, Issue 3 – November 2, 2016

Volume 16, Issue 3
November 2, 2016

In this Edition
– Editor’s Notes
– Feature Article – Vintage Autoweek Article
– Humor
– Product Showcase – Derby Stop
– Pinewood Derby Memory – Scenes from a Weigh-In
– Pinewood Derby Car Showcase
– Q&A

Editor’s Notes

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.

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.

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
Vintage Autoweek Pinewood Derby Article

Today’s article is a reprint of an article written by Kevin A. Wilson, which appeared in Autoweek a little over 25 years ago. The article is posted in a PDF file here: Autoweek Article

I hope you enjoy the article. The article is used by permission of Autoweek.


Running Away From Home
A man scolded his son for being so unruly and the child rebelled against his father. He got some of his clothes, his teddy bear and his piggy bank and proudly announced, “I’m running away from home!”

The father calmly decided to look at the matter logically. “What if you get hungry?” he asked.

“Then I’ll come home and eat!,” bravely declared the child.

“And what if you run out of money?”

“I will come home and get some!” readily replied the child.

The man then made a final attempt, “What if your clothes get dirty?”

“Then I’ll come home and let mommy wash them,” was the reply.

The man shook his head and exclaimed, “This kid is not running away from home; he’s going off to college.”

Product Showcase

Derby Stop 60 – $3.00 Off

Stage Your Cars in Safety and Style

Finally, a staging system that will keep your cars organized and safe, but won’t break the budget. Derby Stop is a set of car staging platforms that:

Keep the cars safe – The front or rear wheels rest snuggly in a trough in the platform, keeping them from rolling away.

Keep the cars organized – Each staging position is clearly marked, and the included car stickers make it simple to find each car’s assigned location.

Supports small to large races – Derby Stop will support races of up to 30, 60, or 90 cars.

Can Be Reused or Replaced – Derby Stop is inexpensive, so if desired you can use it again and again or replace it each year.

Through November 15, 2016, you can get a Derby Stop 60 for $3.00 off. To take advantage of this limited time offer, add part 7552 to your shopping cart, and use coupon code NOV02NL during checkout.

Pinewood Derby Car Showcase

Awana Slot – Mike Henkelman
Here is our Outlaw car built using slot car components and a lithium battery. On the floor it will “smoke the tires” and spin doughnuts. On the track — who knows?

Frozen – Mike Henkelman

This car was built as a wedge under my granddaughter’s guidance to better show “Frozen” stickers — more important to her than to look like a car or set fast times!

Blue Zander  – Russ Lyman

My grandson, Zander, built this car. He got fourth place at the pack race, after which we discovered the car had two broken rear axle housings. He still qualified for District. We rebuilt the axle housings, realigned the frame and axles with your full body alignment tool. Out of the 400+ racers overall he set two track records. His car “raised some eyebrows” from the previous race participants.

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
Scenes from a Weigh-In

Four events that actually happened at our weigh-in many years ago:

Scene 1 – The boy seemed to be holding the car in an odd way and there were pieces of paper between the wheels and the shiny, slime green car body of “The Green Machine.”  But I was in ‘weigh-in mode’, and was not allowing these warnings to affect my behavior. I grabbed the car and put it on the scale.  In that instant, the boy spoke up and I realized my mistake. You guessed it, the paint was still very wet. Now the paint was on my hands, my hand print was on the car, and the Green Machine had become the Green Smear.

Scene 2 – The wheels didn’t really spin well. In fact, they seemed to spin slower than untouched wheels and axles.

I said to the mom, “You probably should put some graphite on the wheels and axles.”

She replied, “That isn’t needed, we already lubricated the axles.”

“If you don’t mind my asking, what did you use?”

“Ivory bar soap.”

“That’s a new one,” I said.  But I was really thinking, “Ivory soap may float on water, but this car is sunk.”

Scene 3 – The little girl brought the car to the scale.  It looked like a last minute job.  That was confirmed when I saw that the molding spikes were still on the Awana wheels. The car wouldn’t even roll. (We fixed that problem)

Scene 4 – When the car was taken off the scale I noticed some liquid had been left behind.  I wiped it with my finger and said to the dad, “What is this stuff?”

He replied, “It must be the 3-in-1 oil we used to lubricate the wheels. Maybe we put on too much.”

No doubt about that. It was losing oil faster than the Exxon Valdez.

Randy Davis

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: My daughter’s kids have an annual Pinewood Derby competition at their school with practically no “rules” except length and width. So my question is: is there is a weight amount that maximizes speed? I’m thinking about adding tungsten to get to 10 ounces.

A: In the previous issue, I posted the results of an experiment on maximum weight. See:
Volume 16, Issue 2

Using Krytox 100 as the lubricant, the peak weight was at 14.5 ounces. But I have heard that graphite’s point of diminishing returns is less, something like 12 ounces. So 10 ounces should be fine in either case; it should perform better at 10 ounces than at 5 ounces. Just make sure that you use Krytox 100 or a good quality graphite (such as Max-V-Lube), and follow the recommended lubrication procedure..

Q: We just had our derby today and this is the second year we have used a plastic track with no center rail. Last year my son finished 3rd and this year we finished 2nd in the den. The car is plenty fast enough but it gets the wobbles and slows down. When it didn’t wobble it had a time of 3.06; when it would wobble it would have a time of 3.1xx. All the cars in the pack had times under 3.50 and the track record today was 3.03. The overall winner is determined by average time and we came in 4th overall. If the car would have not wobbled I believe we could have moved up to at least second place. Is this just an issue with the plastic tracks or is something off with the car. I noticed a few other cars would wobble also but not nearly as badly.

A: Wobbling is usually caused by either:

– Too aggressive of a COG: Check the balance point of the car. If it is under an inch in front of the rear axles, I would move the COG forward. Since you cannot rail-ride on this type of track, you have to be a little less aggressive with the COG.

– Rear wheel alignment issue: If you used bent axles, then they may not have been adjusted properly. If you used straight axles and axle slots, then possibly the axles were not inserted parallel with the bottom of the car (slight angle), or the axle slots were a little crooked.

Q: Thanks for all the great tips. Generally speaking what should the center of mass be on your standard pinewood car? Should the balance point be about 1 inch in front of the rear axle slot, or 1 1/2 inches in front of the slot? What’s  a good target to shoot for?

A: Here is my recommendation on center of mass:

In most cases the best location for the COG is between 3/4 and 1-1/4 inches in front of the rear axle. Specifically:

– Wood Track, no alignment consideration: 1-1/4 inches

– Wood Track, Rail-Riding: 1 inch

– Aluminum track, no alignment consideration: 7/8 inch

– Aluminum track, Rail-Riding: 3/4 inch – Better performance may be attained with a COG closer to the rear axle (5/8 inch or so). However, this reduces front wheel tracking which can result in poor performance near the finish line. So, generally a more aggressive balance point is used when the target track is available to test the car to make sure it will perform properly.

– On long tracks (greater than 50 feet), the COG should be less aggressive; typically it is located between 1-1/4 to 1-1/2 inches in front of the rear axle.

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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