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Pinewood Derby Tricks?

Discussion in 'The Hokey Ass Message Board' started by BAILEIGH INC, Apr 5, 2012.

  1. Dr_X
    Joined: Oct 21, 2004
    Posts: 231


    When I was a cub scout leader, we had a parents class to give the dads with the "cheated up" cars a race of there own. There is nothing more obvious than a pine wood derby car that was actually built by a kid.
    Last edited: Apr 5, 2012
  2. Cali4niaCruiser
    Joined: Aug 30, 2005
    Posts: 488


    I think this thread is insanely funny. I can't believe how many Dad's have chimed in with F1 car weight ratios and such. Serious tech! Shane, your son is lucky he has you to guide him. My dad is an operating room nurse, my cars always sucked! Wobly wheels and everything. You know who always kicked my ass? The kid whose dad drove a 33 coupe to the church every sunday. Damn hot rod dads made me look silly every year. Damn you AWANA pinewood derby! hahahah!
  3. Trichop
    Joined: Jan 8, 2008
    Posts: 219

    from Eaton,Ohio

    Learning some tricks..helps...............
    But teaching your kid "How to" run all the machines and do the work himself... last forever
    The winning part is secondary
    Your kid will remember the time spent when "Dad" taught him.... more that winning the Derby
  4. Our pack had an adult class with a $10 entry fee which went to the pack. So a bunch of us made cars that still had to conform to the rules that the kid's cars did.

    My tricks were:

    Turn all the wheel diameters within .001 of each other

    Bevel the tire treads so they rode on a .100 wide strip

    Clean up the axles

    Drill the 4 axle holes, picking up a front tire by .020 (made a drill jig)

    Use lots of graphite

    Used a denser wood block, not sure if it helped

    Center of gravity 1.5" in front of rear axle

    Sink the weight below the bottom surface (used the Pinecar lead weights)

    Know the scale they use. Ours was a postal scale that read 0.0, the 2nd decimal place was blocked off so a 5.099 ounce car was legal

    I used some of the above tricks on my kid's cars, just hated them getting beat all the time year after year. Not the right thing, but my kids knew every aspect of what I was doing and maybe they can pass it down to their kids.


  5. Back in 1960 when I built my car (by myself, my father had divorced my mom and left), it actually looked like a kid built it! I made it through the first round before getting beat by a buddy's car in the second round (he finally ended up winning the top prize). Now comes the clincher, his car was an absolute piece of art! His dad (the scout master, BTW) was an engineer at Kaiser Aluminum and his car had been built there in the shop! The darn thing was carved from a chunk of billet aluminum and polished to a mirror finish! It would finish each round a couple of feet ahead of the car in the next lane, as nothing could come close! It had every trick done to it that an engineering shop could think of. That has stuck in my mind for over 50 years, while I still have my car and the satisfaction that I played by the rules .....and lost!

  6. Jpriebe66
    Joined: Jul 12, 2011
    Posts: 141


    My duaghter's PWD car was never fast but we won every judge's award. This is how I taught my children how to wet sand, tape a flame job, pinstripe, spray candy paint and use an airbrush. We had a ball...boy were our cars slow. Still every kid would've traded with us after the race.

    Attached Files:

  7. One year we had one kid and his dad show up late as hell on race night, the dad obviously just got off the train from work. The son assembled the car on the spot, it was already painted with poster paint (flat black...) and had the kit-supplied numbers slapped on.

    That car went as a winner to a couple of rounds and I can say it was the only car I ever saw that the kid actually did the whole thing himself.

    I used to get some flack from my wife now and then about my over-involvement, but I did have a couple of build clinics for the other dads who weren't that handy.

  8. shinysideup
    Joined: Sep 1, 2008
    Posts: 1,627

    from ruskin, fl

    I would stop worrying about winning first. This is an exercise for you and your son to build the best car you can. Let him think for himself with SOME helpful hints when hes on the right track. If you give him all the answers or basically build it yourself you have missed the best part,teaching the young to think out a problem.
    At least that my opinion.
    racinman likes this.
  9. wagoon78
    Joined: Nov 13, 2008
    Posts: 352


    pinewood derby is also about father son bonding. i remember working on them with my dad in the garage. he tried to make one look like a vintage lamborghini miura and it came out all lopsided and goofy looking. no one knew what a miura was supposed to look like anyway so it didn't matter.

    my best car was just cut into a wedge, weight bolted to the top and i spent the rest of the time polishing the axles and wheels. didn't win, but placed high enough to get a trophy.
  10. There are always extreme cars that show up. One kid had this car that was shaped like a 1/2 of a egg. Perfectly radiused, had a blank onyx paint job that had to be lacquer with a mile-deep clear over it. It even had a machined out aluminum case that the car sat in. And the kid was forbidden to handle it. The car wasn't the all around winner, but went far.

    One other kid, his dad would make these elaborate carved wood cars that were simply too heavy, they'd come in at 8 oz and he'd be on the side lines turning it into swiss cheese to make the weight.

  11. WZ JUNK
    Joined: Apr 20, 2001
    Posts: 1,622

    from Neosho, MO

    Build the car slightly overweight. When you enter the car at the event, trim the weight until it is the most allowable weight using the event scales.

    Many of the already mentioned tips work.

    As a retired shop teacher, I helped kids build a lot of these. We even built our own test track so that we could test and tune. Personally I found that turning one of the rear wheels slightly smaller so that only the other three wheels touched, made a significant improvement. I added a small amount of weight on the opposite corner to keep the small wheel raised off the track. The casual observer thinks that it was poor workmanship in the build, rather than a modification for speed.

  12. Oldstrk
    Joined: Jan 23, 2010
    Posts: 98


    Helped my son and grandson with his derby car this year we tried all the tricks and it did well 3rd place. My son built one the night before for one of his friends didn't do crap to it but make sure the weight was right and it tracked straight and it killed everyone. We did get best looking car award though.

    Attached Files:

  13. TonyVan
    Joined: Oct 15, 2008
    Posts: 120

    from Vancouver

    I loved the pinewood derby races. My son had three years' racing while in the cub scouts. First year we/he tried every go-faster trick we could think of and came in second behind the kid who had just stuck the wheels into his completely-unmodulated block of wood. For the next two years we gave up on speed and concentrated on best-appearing. Our Lakester lost to a flat black 'batmobile', and the next year our split-window VW crew cab lost to a camouflage tank. Whatever happened - we had some great fun and he genuinely learned some practical skills.
  14. WZ JUNK
    Joined: Apr 20, 2001
    Posts: 1,622

    from Neosho, MO

    A related note.

    I helped my son and some of his cub scout buddies build a coaster car for a scout race. It was a very crude version of a soap box racer. When we finished I added about 50 pounds of lead ballast to the bottom of the car. The rest of the car was built as the plans and rules required. There was nothing in the rules that said anything about the limit that the car could weigh. Of course it was much faster than the others. It took three of them to pull it back up the hill. All the dads were mad at me. 25 years later my wife still gets mad at me when the subject comes up. It was probably a bad idea on my part. It is hard not to be competitive when every thing else you do is a competition.

  15. I never won anything with my cars (not a single damned race!) but they looked pretty neat. Had one that was shaped like a salt flats streamliner. I guess we really just didn't consider turning the axles on a lathe or using anything that techy to win a boy scout's contest.....I sure as hell didn't know how to use a lathe when I was 10....jus sayin....

    We used shotgun shot for weights. We just drilled into the bottom with a 1" hole saw and mixed up some 2 part epoxy and mixed the shot into it. Then just poured the mix into the holes and smoothed it out. We were able to weigh the shot pretty easily before we mixed it so we could get right on the limit.
  16. redzula
    Joined: Jul 6, 2011
    Posts: 820


    align wheels so only 3 are contacting the track with one wheel in the air there is less friction at that wheels axle to slow it down. dry graphrite on the axles. and weight in the front.
  17. I wonder if Smokey Yunick ever entered a pinewood race?
  18. Our rules are pretty strict- no railriders (3 wheelers), NO lathe work (you can chuck it in a drill), etc.

    What size tap do you use for the wheels?
  19. skidsteer
    Joined: Mar 19, 2007
    Posts: 1,251


    Do anything you can to keep the wheels from wobbling, get them going straight and steady.
  20. LOWCAB
    Joined: Aug 21, 2006
    Posts: 1,989

    from Houston

    Here are a couple of cars that my kids made many years ago. I asked them if they really wanted to win and they told me "no, we just want them to look cool" They put a ton of work into them and I did not help them. When they had a question though I was there. And it was a great father/son project. No, they did not win, but they enjoyed building the cars and it taught them how to use a bunch of different tools.
  21. grease4life
    Joined: Apr 24, 2008
    Posts: 234


    I remember when my dad and I built ours for the big race. To anyone saying that the dad's shouldn't get too involved, I respectfully disagree. All the great tips on drilling weights into the body etc, actually give your son knowledge and develop a engineering like thought process that will allow him to apply those general rules to future similar projects. He is learning and looking up to you as his cool and all knowing teacher and shooting for a win is fun and competitive for the both of you. As long as you instruct and make the kid do most of the labor that doesn't involve any machinery that can hurt him of course. Going out with some crap build and allowing him to fail miserably isn't that fun for either. Every dad wants to be his son's hero. Just my humble opinion.
  22. I had two boys in the scouts we built all types of bodies , the one that won 1st place one year was the shape on the box. All the rest of your ideas do work.
    BTW your son is one the one that sholud build the car. However, dads just can not help to get involved.
    good luck.
  23. TxRat
    Joined: Dec 22, 2004
    Posts: 1,412


    This is for the Boy scouts right? My son and I built his for the boy scouts race it and won 1st in his class and set both ends of the record that still stands today (5 years now) I cut the body and he sanded it and painted it with testors rattle can. I striped it for him He ran the drill press and installed the weights.

    The trick is in the wheels and getting it on the bottom end of the weight. The rules state using the kit provided wheels so we chucked the nails in a drill and spun them and worked the wobble out of the and he polished them out to a hi chrome shine ( we raided his Mom's emery boards and used those to shine the nails). Better than paper and keeps little fingers away from the drill. One trick we learned at test and tune was not to over do the graphite it slowed our down... no tape on the axles just shine them up






    I hope this helps...
    Last edited: Apr 5, 2012
    Joined: Aug 8, 2008
    Posts: 3,615

    Alliance Vendor

  25. derbydad276
    Joined: May 29, 2011
    Posts: 1,286


    I am also a BSA leader / district activities chairman / the pinewood derby falls under my area
    BSA rulles (DO NOT) ALLOW anything to be done to the wheelsand axel other than lightly sand the outer surface... knurling the hole is a big no /no

    I go through this every year at the district race with the (enginer/ machinist) fathers cheating

    now with that being said....

    we also hold a #1 rule race.... there are no rules!

    polish your axels
    machine the wheel to round out the contach area
    under cut the center area of the axel where the wheel rides over it
    use molly lube
    pre drill your block on a dril press so that he axels are straight
    make it run on 3 wheels
  26. Phil1934
    Joined: Jun 24, 2001
    Posts: 2,649


    Soap Box trip but should help with Pinewood is wipe tires down with dry ice before race to make them harder. if they allow work on tires, turn them down and leave narrow ridge in center.
  27. ehrawn
    Joined: Sep 21, 2011
    Posts: 68

    from Oahu

    After reading some of the things you guys have done, I picture you standing over crying children, yelling at them for being losers. Of course, I hope to instill the same drive to win in my kids, but, yeah, what grease4life said: letting a kid flounder without the tools to succeed is cruel. Teach them the physics, the construction techniques, and the attitude.
  28. flatheadhero
    Joined: Feb 17, 2006
    Posts: 273

    from California

    Insert a 1/2 drill bit lengthwise, insert half filled tube/vial of mercury, once ideal inertial weight shift amount of mercury is discovered, plug hole sand and paint.
  29. Bigjake
    Joined: Jan 21, 2009
    Posts: 278


    My son and I both did our first pinewood derby this year. I got the block out and asked him what he wanted to do and he said Luigi's Go-Kart. I didn't know how to do shit to make it go fast but we both had a blast. We got 2nd place and he was estatic.

    Attached Files:

  30. xhotrodder and jersey mike i aggree with both of you the same thing happened to the soap box derby ..parents got involved

    its for the kids seems most parents today want to shield bobby and suzie from all the "bad' stuff in this world like losing losing is part of life and it builds character and teaches them if they want something they have to work for it not oh forget how to figure out something lets just cheat it is easier

    im all for helping kids but not for giving nthem an unfair advantage we built co2 cars in my industrialarts club in 9th grade and had arun off in the gym infront of the whole school when it was my turn everyone was like heres the winner because everyone knew i was a car guy well i set my car up and it took off down the string and about halfway down the wheels fell off of it the only car to do so yeah i was a bit embarassed and not happy but i didnt go home and write a hit list of all the kids that laughed at me i was used to being laughed at

    a few years ago while helping out the awanna kids in my church build thier pine wood cars i built one also and on practice night well all ran them adults and kids for fun and again everyone thought id have one of the fastest ..wrong i was the slowest

    not everyone is supposed to win

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