Pinewood Derby Car Template 3

Building a Pinewood Derby Car
Building a Pinewood Derby Car
The Cub Scout Pinewood Derby (PwD) is one of the most popular "fun event" that a
young Scout will participate in. It primarily is a race to find the fastest car, but also is a
competition for the coolest car design. Recognition of the time spent building the car
may be seen as trophies for the fastest in the race, or for most colorful, most inventive,
most "radical" and as many other “Show Car” categories as one can imagine.
Every year, boys with their parent's help, build cars of every description to enter at the
local Pack competition. Construction of the car is intended to be a parent and son
project with the son doing the majority of the work. The parent should supply advice
and limited assistance with the more difficult tasks, while ensuring safety is practiced
during all stages of the project. Please remember above all that the PwD is intended
to be fun for all. So get started early and take your time building and testing your car.
Plan to spend at least 4 to 6 hours building the car over several days. The experienced
builders / racers may spend many times this amount which will show in the appearance
and racing performance of their cars.
Planning and construction of a car can be approached in many ways. This information
will serve only as a guide to some while providing good first-time information and
pointers for others. The experienced wood craftsman will find the teaching experience
a great project for a young man while the "Klutz" may find it just a little challenging.
No matter, the time spent working and learning with your son should be a lot of fun.
If you are designing a car for maximum racing speed, here are the most important
points about car design to keep in mind:
Maximum Weight (5 ounces)
Smooth, Round Wheels
Carefully Prepared / Polished Axles
Good Lubrication (dry only)
Straight Tracking
Sleek Shape
On the other hand if your objective is to create a unique or personal design for entering
in a “Show Car” competition, then consider these points:
Model your car after something you like or adapt a theme from a Cub Scout or
other recognizable object or character.
Use color and finish as a way to get your car noticed. A bright red or yellow
paint job with a high gloss finish is always an attention-getter.
Attention to the details of car construction shows in the final product
Design on paper before you start cutting wood
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Construction Step 1 - The Plan (or What are we Doing?)
You may already have an idea how you want your car to look when built, but in order
to take this idea to a completed car, you should have a plan. Take a little time to
sketch out your idea on paper. If you haven't decided what you want to do, you may
want to get some ideas by looking at the profiles provided with this guide. Draw your
design at full scale so you can directly transfer the profile and shape to the wood block.
Using the wood block from the kit as a guide, place it on a piece of paper and draw an
outline of the Top and Side views as a starting point for drawing your design.
Ready-made templates or car outlines can also be purchased at Scout supply outlets,
the Scout Shop or Scout mail-order catalog, or from on-line retailers over the internet.
These can help you choose and transfer a predefined profile to your car, but they are
certainly not required. The creative aspects of deciding the cars shape, color and
decoration may be the most enjoyable part of the project for some.
Starting with a block of wood is like a hand full of clay. What are you going to do with
it? What kind of car do you want to build? Well, there are several basic types of car
classifications: 1) ones that are fast, 2) ones that are fast to build, and then there are
3) character, or “Show” cars. Character cars are cars that model other types of cars or
objects. Remember that a highly decorative car with characters, decals and other trim
may have more wind resistance than a "plain" car. Sleek, low profile designs tend to
have less wind drag and therefore are faster. A fast car is usually not a handsome car.
Don't limit your design ideas, but we'll be talking primarily about the plain, more
aerodynamic designs. And remember, you can paint your car just about any way you'd
like. Just be sure to paint the car several days before the race so there’s adequate time
for it to dry thoroughly. Be especially certain the paint is dry where the hub of the
wheels can contact the side of the car, or the soft paint will slow down your car.
Official PwD Car Kit Contents
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Construction Step 2 - Materials and Tools.
You will, of course, need the basic car kit that includes the wood block, axles, wheels
and numeric decals. An official Cub Scout Grand Prix Pinewood Derby kit is supplied to
each scout by the Pack. These kits produced for BSA have unpredictable quality wheels
and axles that make it challenging to produce a fast car. Learning how to build a fast
car is an excellent way to become familiar with using tools safely while following a
process for building a quality car. For the purpose of fairness, it is imperative that
each scout use the official BSA wheels and axles supplied in the kit. Do not substitute
the wheels or axles from non-BSA kits into your car design, as this will make it illegal in
most races and you can be disqualified. Following the official Pinewood Derby rules for
your Pack is a way of practicing the important values of integrity and honesty.
Below are recommended tools and additional materials:
Safety Glasses = #1 Tool (while drilling, sanding, or when near tools)
Electric or Portable Drill Motor (for preparing wheels and axles)
Wheel turning mandrel (for preparing wheels.. from hobby shop or online)
Small Metal File(s) (Mill or Fine Cut for filing axles)
320 and 600 Grit Wet-or-Dry sand paper (for preparing axles)
Small Strip of Soft Cloth (ie: cut from old Tee Shirt)
Metal Polish (for polishing axles… a mirror finish is desired)
Tracing Paper (for drawing car outline)
Coping Saw (To cutout body… power Dremel or Scroll Saw may also be used)
3/8"/10 mm Drill Bit (if round weights are placed internally)
3/8"/10 mm Tubular Weight (from Scout Shop, Hobby Shop, online)
Wood Putty (to fill holes for internal weights)
Sanding Sealer or Wood Primer (to harden surface for smooth finish)
100 Grit and 220 Grit Garnet Sand Paper (for sanding wood body)
Finish Paint (Either Spray or Brush on)
Decals and Decorations as Desired
Time & Patience (must be supplied… not for purchase ☺☺)
This set of tools and materials will vary depending what you have available and the
extent of work you have in mind. Local hobby stores usually stock Pinewood Derby
materials, supplies and tools typically available from PineCar® or Pine-Pro®.
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Construction Step 3 - Cutting the Basic Car Shape.
Decide how you want your car to look. When you have a design idea it's time to
transfer the profile (side view of the car) and plan view (top view of the car) to your
block of wood. The block included in your kit is usually close to 7 inches (17.8 cm) in
length but may vary a little shorter or longer. Be careful to measure the final overall
dimensions of the finished car to insure that your design does not violate the racing
specifications / qualification criteria that will be provided to you from the Scout Pack.
Using your side profile drawing and a sheet of carbon tracing paper align the drawing to
the block and carefully trace the outside lines of your car so the image is transferred to
the wood. If you prefer, you may find it just as easy to copy or duplicate your lines on
the wood directly. Use a hard lead pencil or ball point-point pen so that the lines are
easy to see when cutting.
Construction Step 4 - Wheel Mount Preparation.
It’s been discovered over the years that cars with a longer wheelbase can be faster
than shorter wheelbase cars. With this in mind you may want to relocate the two axle
slots in the car block toward the ends of the block. Remember to set wheel slots back
form block ends at least half the diameter of a wheel so that wheels don't extend past
the maximum car length. Remember overall length of the car (including wheels) cannot
exceed seven inches. It is very important to cut the new axle slots exactly square to
the sides of the block so that the axles have a good alignment for tracking straight.
Another method is to use a drill press to make the holes, using a #43 (2.3 mm) drill bit.
A special Derby Worx™ tool, including the drill bit, is available from various sources on
the web to provide accurate axle hole drilling without a drill press. Once website
demonstrating the tool use is:
Whatever method is used to mount wheels, make sure the final position of axles isn't so
high on the body that it creates a problem for the block dragging on the track's guide
strip. BEFORE painting the car, insert axles in each of the slots, or holes, so you know
they will fit later and so the wood fiber around slots or holes is opened, and then
remove the axles. Wheels and axles are permanently installed after paint has dried.
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Construction Step 5 - Drilling Holes for Weight.
Your finished wood block along with wheels, axles and trim will usually weigh not much
over 2.5 ounces (71 grams) while a finished car is allowed to weigh up to 5.0 ounces
(141.75 grams). Adding weight is essential if you want to be race competitive by
allowing gravity to work for you. Overcoming friction is what will allow it to win over
other cars. Your car must overcome breakaway friction and minimize air resistance,
and it will do this by being as heavy as allowed while presenting the smallest profile to
the air-stream. That's why a low and skinny body design is recommended.
There are two basic approaches to adding weight to a derby car. The easiest is to
attach pre-drilled and shaped lead or zinc weights to the outside of the car. Some of
the commercial varieties are cast such that they provide a tapered shape and break-off
ribs that permit convenient adjustment to overall weight after the car is assembled. It
is best to attach this type of weight to the bottom of the car so the center of gravity is
kept low. But be sure the weight doesn't hang down too far, as it may not be obvious
until race-day that the weight drags on the track guide, which could prevent the car
from moving off the starting line. To prevent this, mortise or "hog out" a void in the
wood on the underside of the car and then attach the weight inside the void.
The other method involves installation of weight internal to the body so that there is no
additional wind resistance. This may be only a small advantage but it just might make
the difference of a winning inch or two at the end of the track. Most car profiles will be
narrower at the nose and provide little space for adding lead internally. There is also
an advantage in placing the weight in the back. The front wheels perform the function
of guiding or steering and the less weight on these wheels the easier the car corrects
itself when it strikes the guide strip. Fewer and shorter contacts with the guide strip
means less friction to slow it down and hence a faster car.
Drilling the Car Body. Each internally weighted car will have a little different cavity
placement based on the wheel / axle position and amount of wood available to
accommodate the weight. The hole or cavity for a weight must be large enough to fit
the shape used. Using weights with higher weight per size (density) you will need
fewer holes than for other materials. Plan on drilling at least 2 or 3 holes of 3/8" (10
mm) (or 7/16") diameter typically at a depth of 1 ½" (38 mm) each. Experience has
shown that holes drilled from the side or back tend to work the best. Locate and drill
the holes being careful to make sure you are leaving enough wood around the hole to
provide a margin of safety in your drilling operation. Due to the precision required,
these holes should only be drilled on a drill press with the body held by a vise. If you
are using the BSA kit wood block for the body, it’s advisable to drill holes for weights
BEFORE cutting the block to the profile shape.
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Construction Step 6 - Adding the Weight.
There are many things you might use to add weight to the car, but lead, zinc and
tungsten are used most often. These are the heaviest materials available for their
volume. Lead works easily and is commonly available in a number of forms. You can
use steel in plate (mending plates) or tubular forms (rod or bolts) cut to length with a
hack saw. Other metals (brass, copper) may also be used, but just as steel, you may
find them difficult to work and sometimes awkward to attach or insert.
Lead is toxic and should be handled as little as possible. Use gloves and never put
your hands in or near your mouth after handling it. Always wash hands thoroughly.
NEVER use mercury at all! It is toxic, difficult to handle and should never be
touched by Cub Scouts or adults.
Weigh your car on accurate scales - household scales are usually not very accurate. If
you have access to calibrated scales, compare a known item weight on the calibrated
scales to your home scale indication for that same item. Mark this reference for use
later. Allow for scale inaccuracies by not adding to exactly the 5.0 oz. (141.75 grams)
to avoid having to remove weight on race day. Consider also, while you may have an
accurate scale, your pack may not, which could weigh items heavier than they actually
are! Another solution is to use weights designed to easily allow removing a small
amount at the official weigh-in.
Weigh your car body, wheels, axles and any other parts that will be on your car all at
once. This weight is usually less than 3 ounces (85 grams). Now, with your car also
lying on the scale add your weights until the total weight is just over 4.5 ounces (128
grams). Allow enough space in the holes so that you can add filler material in the next
step. If you find there isn't enough room to add weight to get to 4.5 ounces (128
grams) you will have to drill an additional hole or holes. Remember, you will be adding
wood filler and paint to your car later which will add little more weight. When you are
satisfied, it’s time to permanently install the weights and go to the next step.
Construction Step 7 - Sealing the Holes.
Once you have the correct amount of weight installed, you are ready to seal the hole(s)
in your car body. There are a number of materials that you can use to cover the weight
holes in car body. If you are in a hurry and want a good seal, try using automobile
body putty (like Bondo®). This type of filler material is a two-part mix that sets in 15
minutes. You will need only a small amount but it works very easily and may be
sanded, drilled and painted easily. Standard wood fillers that don't use a catalyst will
take longer to harden (usually overnight) and may need to be applied with several thin
coats. Apply the filler so that it may be sanded down smooth to the original wood
surface. You'll want to recheck you total car weight after holes are filled.
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Construction Step 8 - Sanding and Smoothing.
Sanding the wood body will eliminate any of the saw blade marks as well as any small
blemishes in the wood surface. If you have access to a motorized belt-disc sander your
work will be quickly done but for most of us a sheet of sandpaper and a sanding block
will do just fine. Start by using a 100 or 120 grit paper and wood or rubber block on
the filler and rough portions of the wood car body. Gently smooth the edges and
corners of the car while using a little more pressure on the flat areas. Then switch to a
220 grit paper to smooth the sanding marks left from the initial sanding.
DO NOT WET-SAND UNPAINTED WOOD, as it will “raise the grain” of the wood.
Construction Step 9 - Painting and Finishing.
A bare wood surface will act much like a sponge when paint is first applied, and even
after several coats of paint the finish can appear textured and uneven in smoothness.
A better approach is to first apply a wood sanding sealer to penetrate the wood soft
grain that hardens for sanding to provide a good base to apply the color finish paint.
Prepare a place to paint your car that will be out of the house while you are painting
and out of the reach of younger children while your car is drying. You may either paint
one side at a time waiting between coats or suspend the car on a string with a nail in
the axle slot and paint all of it. Brush or spray the sanding sealer on the car with a
complete coat and wait for it to thoroughly dry. You may notice the grain of the wood
will raise slightly. After the paint is thoroughly dry, sand it with lightly with 320 or 400
grit sandpaper until the sanding-sealer is smooth, but through it to bare wood.
You are now ready for the finish coats of paint. The best and smoothest finishes will be
had with a spray paint, but brush-on paint will not affect the overall speed of the car.
Use fast drying enamels and avoid using different brands on top of each other. Above
all don't use lacquer paint on top of enamel paint. Your paint will wrinkle and bubble.
If you get a run in the paint, let it dry then sand it smooth. Re-coat it later. You can
achieve a very, very smooth finish if you wet-sand between coats with 600 grit wet-ordry sandpaper. You can also use fine steel wool followed by polishing cream on a soft
cloth to achieve a glasslike finish. Several coats of paint and fine sanding are usually
required before polishing can be attempted. NOTE: Make sure your car is painted
several days before the race to allow adequate time for the paint to thoroughly dry.
If you are going to apply decals and detail work, now is time to do this type of work. If
you are careful, you can apply a clear coat of finish over the decals to seal them. Don't
use too much clear-coat at one time, though, or decals could become wrinkled.
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Construction Step 10 - Wheel Work.
The wheels are one of the most important elements in the car. The biggest challenge is
there’s not much you can legally do with them. For maximum speed, wheels must roll
smoothly, in a straight line and roll very easily. The wheels contained in BSA kits are
generally very inconsistent, so there are things to check and fix on each of the wheels.
First, wheels must be perfectly round to roll smoothly. BSA wheels are produced in
Multi-cavity molds and some molds may produce slightly out-of-round wheels which will
be slower than others. To check for this, place the wheel on an axle and spin it. A
good wheel should turn with the outside surface at a single reference point never
varying, and with no vibration felt. The run-out or the wheel movement along the axle
axis should also be minimal. If you find an out-of-round wheel discard it and buy the
BSA axle-wheel kit (≈ $3.00 for 5 wheels and axles) or another car kit at your Scout
supply outlet. There isn't much you can do to correct a bad wheel.
Inspect wheels for burrs or mold injection marks on the running surface of the tire and
hub areas. These need to be freed of any extra plastic residue or molding marks. Most
Packs and council races require racers to do minimal work on the wheel surface. This
means that the outside wheel surface must be sanded or filed to remove the mold
marks making it flat across the bottom of the "tire". To perform this work you need a
means of spinning the wheel with a drill motor while placing the wheel surface in
contact with sandpaper or a fine file. A good solution for this is to purchase a
commercially-available wheel turning kit from the Scout supply distributor or PineCar®
source, such as a hobby shop / store. These kits include a wheel turning mandrel
designed to hold a single wheel in a drill motor for turning (see below). With a wheel
mounted, turn it slowly in the drill to quickly reveal out-of-round wheels to discard. For
wheels that are “true” when spun slowing, spin the wheel faster with the drill motor and
sand or file off enough of the surface to eliminate the injection mold marks. For further
wheel testing, please see later discussion on testing wheel-axle lubrication, and how to
tell if a wheel is well balanced and round.
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Construction Step 11 - Axle Preparation – CRITICAL PROCESS
The official 'nail' type axles included in the BSA Pinewood derby kit must be used in the
construction of your car. These axles provide no bearing surface so there is friction
between the plastic wheel’s internal surface and the metal axle. Since this friction
reduces speed we need to minimize it by making the mating surfaces smooth and
lubricating them. It is usually against the rules to machine the plastic wheel and these
procedures usually require a lathe or other tools not typically available to a Cub Scout.
That still leaves the axle open to "play with". The following suggestions are things you
can mostly do with hand tools and drill to greatly improve performance of the axles.
Axle Burr Removal. Heads of the nails used as axles in the kit have a mold or casting
mark in two places just where the head attaches to nail shaft. Remove the metal webs
with a file, being careful not to gouge or scratch the running surface of the shaft. This
will prevent the axle from grinding the wheel hub area, slowing down your car.
Axle Filing. Use a small, fine file to remove crimp marks and improve roundness of
the axle. To do this, chuck the pointed end of the axle into a drill press or drill motor
that’s secured with a vise or clamp. Spin the drill slowly and look for wobble in the axle
shaft (not the head). If the shaft is not straight and wobbles while spinning, discard it
and try another axle. With the drill spinning, carefully place the flat file against the
rotating axle and apply even pressure while moving the file slowly. Do this only to ½"
(10 mm) of the shaft nearest the head until the crimp marks are removed completely
and the axle becomes round, which means the shaft will become slightly smaller than
the rest of the axle body. Be careful not to remove too much metal or the axle
becomes weak where it will not tolerate being dropped or withstand handling without
bending. This is a trial and error process with testing required to result in a fast turning
wheel. You may want to buy extra axles for this step and use the best on your car.
Filing Burrs underneath Head
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Filing Crimp Marks from Shaft
First-Surface Polishing. Axles can be finished to a high luster by following the steps
detailed here. First, mount the axle in drill motor chuck exposing the head and the first
1/2" of the axle. Secure the drill so that it doesn't move. Cut 320 and 600 grit wet-ordry sandpaper to strips approximately ½" (10 mm) wide and 4 to 6 inches (about
100mm) in length. Starting with the 320 grit, wet the surface of the sand paper with
water, start the drill and stretch the sandpaper over the axle (see below), pulling it back
and forth like a shoe polish cloth. Repeat the same using the 600 grit paper, working
the sandpaper until the metal is smooth in the wheel running area (1/2” next to head of
axle). This usually takes a several minutes per axle.
Wet sanding axle shaft
High-speed axle polishing axle
Final Polishing. Now, using pumice paste, polishing compound or metal polish in a
soft cloth (like an old tee-shirt), start the drill spinning at the highest possible speed
and stretch the cloth and polish compound and hold it against the axle shaft with a
slight movement back and forth (see above). You should see the color of the cloth turn
black as the polish removes some metal from the axle shaft. This will take a several
minutes to produce a smooth finished axle with a mirror-like appearance.
BSA Kit Axle “Nail”
Finished Axle after polishing
The axle preparation process should transform the nails with flaws from the PwD kit
into a set of highly polished axles, as shown, above.
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Construction Step 12 - Lubrication.
The type of lubrication is restricted to dry lubricants at most Pinewood Derby races, but
there are great advantages to using the right lubrication. By the same token there is
harm in using the wrong lubricant. First, let’s discuss what it's all about.
The wheel should turn on a dry axle without any undo force, but friction between the
two parts will act to slow it down. This friction is the #1 enemy to eliminate. While we
can't eliminate friction completely, it can be greatly reduced. Automobiles use steel
roller or ball bearings to reduce friction on its wheels, but our car isn't permitted to use
those. We can only lubricate what we already have. A lubricant is any agent that
provides a reduction of friction. While there are many types, some lubricants will either
not work on lightweight parts or are not formulated to work with plastics. Petroleum
products such as motor and household oil will soften the plastic wheels, where, after a
period of time, could fail to turn at all. This is not the surprise you'd like on race day.
Liquid or aerosol lubricants including spray-on Teflon, WD-40, CRC and 3-in-1 oil, which
you'll want to avoid, as they are illegal for Pinewood Derby races, anyway.
The most common and successfully used lubricants for PwD are dry lubricants from
graphite formulations and Graphite-Moly blends, which provide a very thin plating of
microscopic spheres to greatly reduce rolling friction. Plain graphite, usually in a plastic
squeeze tube, is available in hardware and some variety stores, and Graphite-Moly
blend lubricant, such as PineCar Hob-E-Lube™, can be found at hobby stores. After
inserting an axle through a wheel, hold the axle where its point and the wheel hub are
pointing up and the wheel’s spoked side is resting against the axle head. You will
notice a gap between the wheel and axle. Hold the lubricant tube at an angle so the tip
is pointing to this gap then squeeze the tube to “puff” out some lubricant. Spin the
wheel to help distribute the lubricant through the running surface. Repeat this several
times to ensure the wheel-axle gap has lubricant spread throughout.
Popular PwD Dry Lubricants
Puff between wheel and axle
A good test of reducing adequate wheel friction is a spin test. While holding the axle in
a horizontal position, spin the wheel with a flick of your finger. It should spin smoothly
and quietly, then slowly come to a stop after 20-30 seconds. If it didn't spin that long,
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take a look at wheel clearance, axle finish (polishing) and lubrication, then correct any
problems and test again. If you hear noise and / or feel vibration while the wheel is
spinning, this indicates the wheel is out-of-round, or out-of-balance and you should try
another wheel. If you don’t find 4 wheels that spin smoothly, consider purchasing the
BSA axle-wheel kit (approx $3.00 for 5 wheels and axles), again follow steps 10-12 with
each wheel and axle, then pick the best four wheel-axle combinations to install on your
car. Remember, a smooth spinning, quiet wheel is key to having a fast PwD car.
Construction Step 13 - Wheel Installation and Alignment.
A pinewood derby track must have a guide strip in each lane to keep cars on the track
and to prevent them from hitting each other. But each time a car's wheels hit it the car
slows down a little. This is where wheel installation becomes important because a car
will hit the guide strip fewer times during a race if it runs straight down the track.
Install wheels so there is approximately 1/32 inch clearance (0.95 mm) between the
body and wheel hub, and insure the car body surface has a hard, smooth finish where
the wheel hub touches it as it rolls down the track (no washers allowed).
At this stage of car building there are some additional tricks to consider. First, while
you must race with all 4 wheels, they all don't necessarily have to touch the track
surface. If each wheel has rolling resistance, don't roll all of them. Simple. Usually,
the best one to elevate off the track is one of the front wheels.
Second, you might prevent additional rolling resistance by installing axles at a slight
angle to the body where wheels ride the end of the axle against the head, instead of
the car body. This can be a tricky thing to do, so if you decide to try this, be careful
the angle of the axle is just slight off 90°.
Test roll the car so you are satisfied it rolls in a perfect line. Put the car on a flat board
or other smooth surface with a straight line scribed for reference. Lift the board so the
car begins to roll. It should roll very close to the line. If it doesn't, then a front end
alignment is required. Slightly bend the wheel axle(s) to correct the drift.
Checking Alignment. Another test using a long smooth surface is to check for
tracking or wheel alignment. Draw a straight reference line on your surface and place
the car on the surface with the wheels on top of that line. Now elevate the surface to
the rear of the car to start the car rolling. Your car should roll along that line if it’s
tracking straight.
Construction Step 14 - Other Testing.
Now that you’ve finished construction and initial wheel alignment of your car, you will
want to test and re-test it until you're sure you have achieved the best the car can do.
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This will involve reviewing the last few steps in the construction phase of the car and
verifying those details. Go back to any previous steps if you feel the car isn't right. You
might just decide to build another car for comparison, and then race the fastest☺☺.
Breakaway Friction. Using a smooth board or table, evaluate how soon the car(s)
start to roll. To judge rolling resistance and the initial breakaway friction resistance,
place your car(s) on the surface then slowly elevate one side until they just start rolling.
The lower the angle, the lower the friction and the better your car.
Forward or "R" for Race. You will find sometimes for no apparent reason a car runs
faster when racing backwards. Maybe its weight position, alignment, wheel placement
or other more obscure reason, but for whatever reason, it is a fact that most cars will
run slightly faster in one direction than in another. Please understand that while there
is a slight difference it may not be enough to make a huge difference in the long run.
Just the same, if there's difference you're just as well to take advantage of it. Run your
car against another car and try racing it both frontwards and backwards to see which is
faster. Maybe that "R" on the gear shifter is for RACE in Reverse.
Step 15 - Racing your Car.
It's too bad that you don't have a chance to race your car every day, but that makes it
all the more special when you do race. We'll talk about technique and technical racing
tips in just a minute. First we have to remember what this is all about. Fun! Of course
we’ve spent a considerable amount of time building this car and we expect it to do well,
b-u-t so did a lot of other racers. At the end of all the racing there will one car declared
Champion. It may or may not be yours. It may not be your fault or something you
have control over. Sometimes luck may in the end help determine the winner. This is
where your sportsmanship will come into play. Sometimes it’s hard to be a good loser,
but remember you are in good company, you will have done your best, and that’s what
scouting is all about! It’s a Cub Scout tradition to “Do your best!”
Even with the fastest car you can lose a race.
It is a fact. How can this be you ask? Well, first you should try to determine if you are
playing a fair game. Does your car comply with all the rules for the contest? If it
doesn't you may be eliminated before the race starts.
Are all the other cars obeying the racing specifications?
For instance, you won't have a chance against a car that weights an ounce or two over
the limit. The race committee should be uniform in checking everyone's cars.
Insist all cars be weighed by the same scale and that no car races heavy!
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All cars should be inspected prior to the race to a set of specifications published well
before the race day. Cars not in compliance must be repaired before being allowed to
Is the race track fair?
It is highly likely that a track will have some lanes that are faster than others. For the
sake of fairness, races must be managed so each car races in each of the lanes to avoid
any car having an unfair advantage. This requires a racing scheme where each car is
assigned to race once in each lane.
Is the racing chart fair?
There should be a race chart or elimination technique designed to make sure that each
racer races at least twice before being eliminated. Single elimination races are not very
good or accurate contests. The more races the better.
The following hints will help give you the best chance to win:
1. Insure your car is tracking (steering) in a straight line before check-in
2. Insure that you have thoroughly lubricated your car before check-in
3. Check your wheels for minimum friction. Can you spin each of the wheels and
have them spin 20 to 30 seconds before they come to a stop?
4. Always handle your car by the body not the wheels.
5. Don't roll your car in the dirt or on concrete surfaces. It's a sure way to ruin
the wheels and axles before the real race even begins!
6. Don't run while carrying you car. While running you’re more likely to drop your
car, which may break something you cannot repair.
7. Insure your car is placed on the track with wheels spaced so that they do not
touch the lane guide at the starting gate.
8. Insure when placed at the starting gate the car points straight down the track.
9. If your car doesn't do very well rolling forward try racing it backwards. Cars may
run faster one way than another.
With a good attitude and Scout Spirit, no matter what happens, you'll
always be a winner in everyone's eyes.
Good luck! Have fun!
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Some Reference Websites for Pinewood Derby
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