pinewood derby car designs

Pinewood Derby Times, Volume 18, Issue 2 – October 17, 2018

In this Edition:
– Editor’s Notes
– Feature Article: Last Minute Weighting – Consider Steel Hardware
– Humor
– Product Showcase: Fall Sale – 10% Off All Weight Products
– Pinewood Derby Car Showcase
– Pinewood Derby Memory: You Know You’re a Pinehead if …
– Q&A

Editor’s Notes

Reader Feedback

“Just a note to say thanks for all the information and products that I have gotten from you through the years.  My oldest son is in his 30’s and my youngest in his 20’s. I have made a lot of cars over the years. I am not sure when I first found your site, but I have been a loyal customer and reader since I did.

Haven’t built a car in many years and I still read all your tips and can’t wait to see what’s new.

Having a background in metal work, I thought wood was for wimps. The pinewood cars were my first experience working with wood. Since then, I have made many, many projects with wood including kitchen cabinets, boxes, display cases and a whole lot more.

The hours and hours I spent making cars, tweaking them, looking for another tenth were extremely enjoyable. It does get in your blood.

I still look forward to your emails and study them probably too much.

Thank you for all that you do, and all the new trick parts that you offer. (Yes, I have spent way too much time and money on those little cars). Keep it up; knowing that there are some of us out here that can’t wait for the next issue.

Can’t wait to re-hone my skills with my Grandkids.

Thanks again,
Jim Koertner”

New Web Site

We spent most of the summer working on our new web site. It is quite a change from the previous site and will take a bit of getting used to (for us as well). Unfortunately, our old site had outlived its usefulness, as it was based on old technology and could not easily be changed to meet new Internet requirements.

If you have questions or issues with the new site, please let us know. Thanks.

New Products for the 2018-19 Season

We have a few exciting new products to help you reach Maximum Velocity:

New Plan Booklet: Car Plans 10 is now available with plans for the Funny Car, the Low-Rider GT, and the Dominator design.

Funny Car

Low-Rider GT


Maxinator Kit: We are introducing a new car kit, the Maxinator, which is a very aggressively weighted, low-profile car that sports a Domed Tungsten Round. Using rail-riding alignment, this car will offer top performance.

Large Pinewood Derby Tungsten BarLarge Tungsten Bar: We now have a Large Tungsten Bar (2.1 ounces) which is slightly heavier than twelve, 1/4 inch tungsten cubes. It is intended to be placed behind the rear axle, giving an optimum rear weight for rail-riding.

Inventory Clearance Sale

We are clearing inventory on several items including:

– Tungsten & Tundra Weights
– Formula One, Barracuda, and Vector car kits

We don’t have many remaining, so don’t delay.

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
Last Minute Weighting – Consider Steel Hardware
By Randy Davis

Have you been in this situation? The race is tomorrow, the car is needing weight, it’s too late to order online, and the local hobby shop is out of weight. What do you do?

One time-honored solution is to use pennies. Back in the days when pennies were mostly copper, this worked fairly well as copper is denser than steel or zinc. But today, pennies are mostly zinc, so the density is quite low. Weighing ten random pennies, the weight is 0.885 ounce or .0885 ounce per penny. To get two ounces of weight, you would need twenty-three pennies.

Pennies are still the lowest price solution (just twenty-three cents for two ounces). But are there other options? One option that many people have at their house is random steel hardware (nuts, bolts, screws, washers). Many times, these are left over from projects, or assembling a do-it-yourself piece of furniture. One nice thing about steel hardware is that it is denser than zinc (7.86 g/cc versus 7.14 g/cc). Even better, your local hardware store will have a huge assortment of steel parts that you can pick through. (1)

I have wandered through our local Ace Hardware many times, and have a few suggestions on part types, and even on aesthetics. So, let’s dig in.

Hardware Types For Pinewood Derby Weights

There are two primary ways to weight pinewood derby cars. The first is surface weighting (no pockets or holes) and the second is embedded weight. First let’s look at hardware that works as surface weighting, then some hardware for embedding.

Surface Hardware

The first item is called a “Fender Washer”. This type of washer has a small inner diameter (ID) and a larger outer diameter (OD) than a typical washer, so it contains quite a bit of material. They come in various sizes and thicknesses.


Figure 1 – Typical Fender Washer
(Weight of one, 1-5/8-inch fender washer – 0.455 ounce)

A good size for use is a 1-5/8-inch OD fender washer (just barely fits on the surface of a full-width pinewood derby block). These washers are thin enough to go on the bottom of the car, or they can be glued on top of the car. Fender washers do come with an ID much smaller than the one shown in Figure 1, so for the most bang for your buck, get washers with the smallest ID.

Common steel washers can also be used. They weigh much less than a fender washer, so they are best used for trim weighting. I have also used them on a “Speed Bolt” for an aesthetic look.

Figure 2 – Speed Bolt (With “Hardened” Hardware)
(Plans available at Maximum Velocity)

Embedded Weight

There are several types of hardware that can readily be used for embedded weight. These include bolts, dowel pins, and square keys.

Figure 3 –Typical Hex Bolt, Nut and Washer
(Weight of one, 3/8 x 1-inch hex bolt – 0.93 ounce)

Bolts would generally be used if you want the head exposed for an aesthetic look. Our Speed Bolt design uses bolts for just this purpose. Please note that in this design, the rear of the block is shortened so that with the exposed bolt heads at the back the seven-inch length is maintained.

Figure 4 – Alternate Speed Bolt
(Plans available at Maximum Velocity)

Dowel pins are also convenient for embedding. They are essentially steel cylinders of varying diameters and lengths. (2)

Figure 5 – 3/8-inch OD Steel Dowel Pins (quantity 12)
(Weight of one, 3/8 by ½ inch steel dowel pin – 0.245 ounce)
(Available at Maximum Velocity)

Dowel pins come in varying lengths, but I prefer to use shorter length dowel pins so that you can get close to the desired weight and then use a little trim weight (maybe washers) to hit the five ounces.

For weighting thinner cars, square keys work well. The real purpose of a square key is to secure a gear to a shaft. But they stack nicely and work well to fit in underbody weight pockets.

Figure 6 – Typical Square Key

Steel Bar Pinewood Derby Weight

Figure 6 – 3/16 x 1-1/4-inch Square Keys (quantity 16)
(Weight of one, 3/16 x 1-1/4-inch square key – 0.195 ounce)
(Available at Maximum Velocity)

Hardware Colors

Although not really intended for aesthetics, some hardware (3) is available in a few colors (see Figure 7 below – left to right, top to bottom).

  • Steel and zinc-plated – Light silver color
  • Hardened steel – dull gold color (usually mottled)
  • Stainless steel – darker silver color
  • Chrome-plated steel – Shiny silver color
  • Black Oxide – Matte black color
  • Bronze – copper color
  • Brass – light gold color

Figure 7 – Hardware Colors
Photo Source:

Zinc-plated hardware is the most common and least expensive hardware. The price is higher for the other types.


So, if you get in a bind for pinewood derby weight, or just want to try something different, take a trip to your local hardware store and check out the selection.

(1) Generally, you are better off visiting a hardware store (Ace, True Value, etc.) rather than a home store (Home Depot, Lowes, etc.). Hardware stores generally have a better selection and you can buy just one of an item, whereas many items at the home stores are packaged in quantities.

(2) Please note that purchasing dowel pins and square keys at a hardware store can get expensive. They are much more cost effective when purchased in a quantity, such as what we offer at Maximum Velocity. But if you are in a time crunch, sacrificing a few dollars may be necessary.

(3) Generally, nuts, bolts, washers, and screws are available in various finishes and materials, providing color differences. Other hardware types may be not available in different finishes.

Facebook Friends

I am trying to make friends outside of Facebook while applying the same principles.

Therefore, every day I walk down the street and tell passers-by what I have eaten, how I feel at the moment, what I have done the night before, what I will do later and with whom.

I give them pictures of my family, my dog and of me gardening, taking things apart in the garage, watering the lawn, standing in front of landmarks, driving around town, having lunch and doing what anybody and everybody does every day.

I also listen to their conversations, give them the “thumbs up” and tell them I like them.

And it works just like Facebook! I already have four people following me:

Two police officers, a private investigator and a psychiatrist.

Product Showcase
All Weight Products – 10% Off

Through October 30, 2018, you can get 10% off all weight products. To take advantage of this limited time offer, use coupon code OCT17NL during checkout.

Pinewood Derby Car Showcase

XLR8 – Brad Barnett

After blowing the rest of the field away last year with “Arrowhead” using your extended Vector body (1), my son Beau wanted to build a legal version for himself this year. “XLR8” is themed after a character in the cartoon “Ben 10”. Ben is a 10-year-old kid who can turn into 11 different aliens, all with different powers. XLR8 is the fastest, so that’s what Beau chose.

Viper- Dan Baker

This is my son’s car “Viper.”  His favorite baseball team is the Diamondbacks and he wanted to do a D-Backs car because the theme for the race was “Sports”. He designed the car and I helped him print out the custom decals. “Viper” took first place at his den and pack race and first place for his rank and overall at the district race. He was also surprised and excited when he heard his name called as the winner of the “coolest car.”

(1) See Volume 17, Issue 1

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 car shown at:

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
You Know You’re a Pinehead if …

Score one point for each “True” answer

1) You believe Pinewood Derby Racing should be an Olympic event.

2) You have asked to be buried in a Pinewood coffin shaped like your derby car.

3) If your derby car coffin (above) will be tungsten weighted so its COG is 1 inch in front of your rear axles.

4) If family planning means staging the births of your children so one starts the derby as one finishes.

5) You’ve recently purchased stock in Krytox.

6) Two or more of your fingers are permanently stained with graphite.

7) You’ve named your children to intentionally have the initials PWD.

8) If you refer to the afterlife as “that giant aluminum track in the sky”.

9) If you’ve ever had a vivid dream of breaking the 2.0 second barrier and woke up not knowing if the dream was real or not.

10) If you’ve ever thought of developing a snack food that looks like Maximum Velocity’s outlaw wheels.

11) You’ve watched online videos of several heats of a WIRL race, and you’ve never entered a car.

Interpreting Your Score:

1-3: Please, join Pinewood Anonymous’ support group.

4-6: With strong medicine and intense therapy; well, sorry, there really isn’t much hope.

7-10: Maybe you could be on a reality show, “Real WIRL’d.”

11: Congratulations, you are the new Pinehead Poster child.

By James Baker (with one addition from an unknown author)

Editor’s Note:  WIRL stands for “Woodcar Independent Racing League”, a league-racing site that is now defunct.

For additional indications of “pineheadedness”, please visit the DerbyTalk Forum.

If you have some additional “pinehead” indications not listed in this article or at DerbyTalk, please send them to me and I’ll include them in a future article. Please include your name.

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 2019.


Q: I have a question about glue you addressed in your booklet. You said not to use super glue for attaching the weights to the chassis under-body. Can you explain that one a bit more to me?

A: Super glue does not fill gaps. So, when it is used to glue metal to a wood surface, the glue only holds at points of contact between the wood and the metal. On the other hand, epoxy fills gaps, so it creates a complete bond across the entire irregular surface, filling in any voids. This provides a much more secure bond.

Q: I have some questions about a few of the different axles. I am looking at either the polished BSA Speed Axles, the stainless-steel Javelin axles, or the Super Speed Axles. We will be using Krytox 100 lube. 

  1. How do the axles that I listed vary in speed?
  2. Do the Javelin and super speed axles need polishing to be better than the polished speed axles?
  3. Can the Javelin and super speed axles be bent with the axle press and rail rider tool?

A:  Thanks for the question.

  1. Use the 4056-Polished BSA Speed Axles if your rules are strict on the use of the BSA nail. If the rules are not strict, then the 4051-Javelin would the best choice. They have the best fit with the BSA wheel and will fit directly in axle holes or slots. They also closely mimic BSA axles. The 4093-Super Speed Axles are a budget oversized axle. They are more trouble to install as they are oversized over the entire length. They will also not pass a magnet test. From a speed perspective, I rank them as Javelin, then Super Speed, then BSA Speed Axles.
  2. Any of these axles can be used without polishing.  But you can use Diamond Polish on any of them to get a better shine.
  3. No, you can only bend the Javelin and Super Speed with the Pro-Axle Bender. They are both stainless-steel, and thus too rigid to bend with the Pro-Axle Press/Pro-Rail Rider.

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 18 are posted on our web site.

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.

If this newsletter was forwarded to you, why not subscribe to receive this newsletter. There is no cost, and your e-mail address is safe, as we never sell or share our distribution list.

To subscribe, send a blank e-mail to
[email protected]

You will receive a confirmation e-mail. Reply to the confirmation e-mail and you will start receiving the Pinewood Derby Times with the next issue.

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

(C)2018, Maximum Velocity, Inc. 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.

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

The Pinewood Derby Times is not specific to, and is not affiliated with the Boy Scouts of America, YMCA, Awana, or any other organization.

(R)Maximum Velocity is a registered trademark of Maximum Velocity, Inc.
(R)Pinewood Derby is a registered trademarks of the Boys Scouts of America.
(R)Awana is a registered trademark of Awana Clubs International.
All other names are trademarks of their respective owners.

Posted in Featured, Posts.