More pinewood derby fun:
Packs around the country are preparing to hold their annual pinewood derby. There are many ways to make your pinewood derby car go faster. Here are some of them.
GENERAL GUIDELINES FOR PINEWOOD DERBY CAR DESIGN
The possibilities are endless when it comes to picking a shape for your pinewood derby car. Before you begin, consider the following guidelines:
Avoid designs with a pointed nose. A pointed nose will make it difficult for your pinewood derby car to rest on the pin at the starting gate. It may also cause your pinewood derby car to get bumped around when the pin drops, and it can create problems for electronic timing systems.
Leave enough wood in the rear of the pinewood derby car so you can place additional weight there. You will end up putting most of the weight in the rear of the pinewood derby car.
Be sure that it is very clear which end of your pinewood derby car is the front and which end is the back. In many races, the race officials—not you—will actually place each pinewood derby car on the track. Sometimes the officials put the pinewood derby car on the track backward because they can’t tell which end is which.
Choose a design that allows the air to move over and around the pinewood derby car body in a smooth manner. Pinewood derby cars with aerodynamic profiles go faster.
DESIGNING THE ULTIMATE PINEWOOD DERBY CAR
You don’t have to strive for the “ultimate pinewood derby car” to build a fast car and have fun competing in your pinewood derby. But if you and a helpful adult are willing to put in the extra time and effort, these tips are for you.
How to give your pinewood derby car that glossy finish
Bake the Block: Start with your block of wood, and before you do anything else, bake it in the oven at 250 degrees for around two hours to remove moisture and make it lighter.
Create the Design: Select a fast design.
Cut the Design: Draw the outline of your pinewood derby car on a sheet of paper, cut it out and attach it to your block of wood.
Make a Three-Wheeler: Raise one wheel about 1/16 inch higher so it never actually touches the track. Less friction = more speed.
Extend the Wheelbase: The front and rear wheels should be as far apart as possible.
Determine Weight Placement: A heavier rear increases speed. Add weight to the rear of your pinewood derby car.
Create Glue Holes: Glue the axles firmly in their holes to ensure that they stay perfectly placed.
Sand the Pinewood Derby Car: Make it smooth to reduce friction.
Lubricate the Wheel Well: The less friction between the body and wheel, the better.
CHOOSING YOUR AXLES
Not all axles are created equal. Here’s a tip on choosing the straightest out of your bunch.
1. Start with a set of about 20 raw axles.
2. Can you tell the difference between the axles in the top row and the ones on the bottom? The ones on the bottom aren’t straight and will slow your car.
3. To tell which are straight and which aren’t, mark each axle with a marker about 1/2 inch from the pointed end.
4. Have an adult clamp a power drill into a vise, a device that will hold it perfectly still.
5. Have an adult help you clamp each axle into the drill at the location you marked in Step 3. Have the adult turn on the drill.
6. Bent axles will wobble as they turn in the drill. Straight axles will hardly wobble at all. Pick the ones that wobble least.
WANT MORE SECRETS?
Pick up a copy of “Pinewood Derby Speed Secrets” (BSA Supply No. 30538, 1-800-323-0736, www.scoutstuff.org) for lots more info on building the pinewood derby car body, preparing the axles and wheels, alternatives to the “ultimate pinewood derby car” and putting it all together.
And once you’ve built your pinewood derby car, get ideas on making it look great from “Pinewood Derby Designs & Patterns” (DK Publishing, $12.95 softcover), also available from a BSA retail store.
Remember: The No. 1 rule of a pinewood derby is that it’s supposed to be fun. While you should always strive to do your best, don’t get caught up in winning. Just enjoy the ride.
Tags: Pinewood derby