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Old 01-23-2013, 14:42   #1
Eric2340
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Pinewood Derby help :(

Cub Scout/Boy Scout Pinewood Derby -


Anyone ever WIN one of these things, much less build a GOOD one?

I've done some research online and everything I have read said cut rolling resistance and add as MUCH weight as possible (total weight can NOT exceed 5 oz. TOTAL), and get the weight in the REAR of the car (???).

Well I've helped my two boys (7 year old Cub Scouts) build their cars and the practice run was last night, needless to say we got our arses handed to us in each run. :( Now I've got two upset Cub Scouts, I'm not sure what else to do to improve these things, and quite frankly I'm a bit unhappy about as bad as they did myself. Oh BTW, I've been in the car business for the past 22+ years, so jokingly, the pressure is on from the whole family to have them at least do well in this thing, I've got a reputation to uphold after all. J/K (I already told the boys ALL that matters is what they learned in this and the time we spent together building them).

Anywho, here's what I HAVE done -

- Polished the "axles" (nails) as best as possible using "Flitz" and my Dremel (they really cleaned up nicely to a nice shine )

- Cleaned out the inside of the wheels so there are no burs or anything for them to hang up on. The wheels are injected molded plastic, so there's not a whole lot you can really do with them to begin with.

- Graphite power on the axles / wheels - Boy Scout rules do NOT allow any type of liquid lubricant or grease what so ever, but they DO allow graphite power (like for lock cylinders and what not).

- Weight - I've got a small scale and right now we're right there with added stick on wheel weights (like you put on car rims) to get the total weight of both cars each to 5 oz. - again the legal limit.

Aerodynamics really do not factor in here, as we really not talking about any kind of speed where it's really going to come into factor or not. That said, both cars have nice, rounded, fluid like shapes to them and are not just squared off blocks of wood like come in the kit.


Ok, so again, any hints, tips, or ideas from anyone who has built or raced in one of these things and had SUCCESS of any kind? I'd appreciate it

PS - YES, I KNOW there are plenty of "How to manuals" you can order online and what not and pay $20-30 for to buy somone else's advice on how to win one of these things, I am hoping some GT brothers and sisters here can help out instead

Thanks!

Eric
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Old 01-23-2013, 15:21   #2
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I actually won my event 30 some years ago. We had a small pack but had about 25 entries. My dad swore graphite was the trick. After assembling the car, we spent HOURS spinning the wheels with graphite. I think it polishes the axle and the hole in the wheel without taking off any real material that would cause wobble. We sat in the evening watching TV spinning the wheels and taking turns. Just add a little graphite on the "hub" side and spin, spin, spin. The car was right at weight without adding any lead.
I took first place and the car seemed to FLY, I do remember that I would win each heat by quite a margin.
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Old 01-23-2013, 15:24   #3
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A smaller axle diameter will give you less resistance. Whatever you are useing now, go smaller. Figure out a way to shim or fill the space between the wheel and axle. Epoxy maybe? Might be hard to get them to turn true but you could experement and see what happens.

Time the speed as it is now. Mess with it and time it again and see if what you did worked.

I always hated seeing the guy with the ugly brick of a car win. The cool ones never win for some reason.
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Old 01-23-2013, 15:26   #4
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Soak the nails in slick 50 for 24 hrs...

Wipe off and re-install

Pay attention to the angle the wheels, any caster, camber
or toein/out will really slow down the car.


Here is the really big one...everyone cheats. If you
think you have a chance playing by the rules, forget it.

Year 1 = Last place
Year 2 = Mid Pack
Year 3 = 3rd

That was the best we could do playing by the rules.


Make the car the best looking one there and the kids will be
happy



Will

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Old 01-23-2013, 15:27   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by BigDog40 View Post
The car was right at weight without adding any lead.
Maybe that's why the "bricks" always win. Could be something to do with weight distribution.
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Old 01-23-2013, 15:38   #6
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I found that having a 55/45 weight distribution worked great.

Been many decades since I did pinewood derby but I remember my car having a narrow body with about 55% of the weight up front and 45% in the back. I can't remember many details but the car would always place in the top three, it just depended on who I was racing.
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Old 01-23-2013, 15:39   #7
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Seems like the cars that won when my kids were doing this were at full weight, and had the weight low and centered.

Some of the cars didn't even look like cars, just a slab with a lead plate for the bottom as low as possible.
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Old 01-23-2013, 15:41   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Willfulone View Post
Pay attention to the angle the wheels, any caster, camber
or toein/out will really slow down the car.
This is a big one, if the car is bouncing off the rails it's going to slow down. You want to make sure it rolls as straight as possible and is lined up perfectly on the ramp.
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Old 01-23-2013, 15:41   #9
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Old 01-23-2013, 15:46   #10
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One thing I do remember is the axle struts were very narrow:

The Okie Corral

Sort of like this. Both front and back, less resistance due to the entire axle is not dragging in the wide bore.
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Old 01-23-2013, 15:48   #11
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Forgot to add that to my OP -

Wheels are straight and true as possible with a block of wood, nails for axles, and plastic wheels

Caster (although caster really does not apply here , camber and toe are all as good as can be and true.


Can't change the axle dia, have to use what came in the kit and nothing else, NO bearings, washers, or shims on the wheels :(


May try more graphite, didn't seem to really matter.....

Still think weight placement is an issue here, may try moving it forward of the rear axle and rear of the center for the car???



Thanks -
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Old 01-23-2013, 15:49   #12
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And to prevent cheating, weigh the winning cars for a second time after the race. I've seen cars with plugs in the back that could be popped out so that bird shot could be added in after weigh-in.
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Old 01-23-2013, 15:50   #13
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Here is what helped me win all of my races...4 quarters. Dremel out space for 50 cents on both ends, throw putty over top, sand/paint and you should be golden.
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Old 01-23-2013, 15:55   #14
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- Polished the "axles" (nails) as best as possible using "Flitz" and my Dremel (they really cleaned up nicely to a nice shine )
Chuck new nails is a drill and start with very fine sandpaper, think 1200 or finer, then polish. I think when you use a Dremel alone you are not keeping the nails ROUND.
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Old 01-23-2013, 15:58   #15
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Bottle rockets. Just drill a hole in the front and it won't go pop when fuel is exhausted.

But seriously for a min, do you need all 4 wheels and the friction?

Anything in the rules saying you can't make it a 3-wheel job?
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Old 01-23-2013, 16:00   #16
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Quote:
Originally Posted by HarlDane View Post
And to prevent cheating, weigh the winning cars for a second time after the race. I've seen cars with plugs in the back that could be popped out so that bird shot could be added in after weigh-in.
I remember a couple of fathers in a fistfight at mine in the sixties. It was Brooklyn, though... HH
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Old 01-23-2013, 16:00   #17
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Hawker Man View Post
Chuck new nails is a drill and start with very fine sandpaper, think 1200 or finer, then polish.
I use the "poor man's lathe" all the time, works great.
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Old 01-23-2013, 16:01   #18
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Quote:
Originally Posted by droidfire View Post
Bottle rockets. Just drill a hole in the front and it won't go pop when fuel is exhausted.

But seriously for a min, do you need all 4 wheels and the friction?

Anything in the rules saying you can't make it a 3-wheel job?
IIRC, you must use all the parts that come in the kit. So you can just mount the 4th wheel higher up so that it doesn't contact the ground.
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Old 01-23-2013, 16:04   #19
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Old 01-23-2013, 16:05   #20
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Quote:
Originally Posted by HollowHead View Post
I remember a couple of fathers in a fistfight at mine in the sixties. It was Brooklyn, though... HH
I've been involved in races as a Scout, a Dad and a Cubmaster and the Dads can get out of control if they aren't kept in check.

Nothing like a little friendly competition to make them forget everything Scouting tries to teach young men.
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Old 01-23-2013, 16:10   #21
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Quote:
Originally Posted by HarlDane View Post
IIRC, you must use all the parts that come in the kit. So you can just mount the 4th wheel higher up so that it doesn't contact the ground.
Okay, so two wheels in the front, one wheel centered in the back, fourth superglued to the top as a 'spare' (it's used, right?)

Hollow out the center in the back wide enough for the wheel to be in place, pop it in and slide the axle through - done.

yes, no?

If yes, how to keep the wheel from sliding back and forth on the axle then?
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Old 01-23-2013, 16:13   #22
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Quote:
Originally Posted by droidfire View Post
Okay, so two wheels in the front, one wheel centered in the back, fourth superglued to the top as a 'spare' (it's used, right?)

Hollow out the center in the back wide enough for the wheel to be in place, pop it in and slide the axle through - done.

yes, no?

If yes, how to keep the wheel from sliding back and forth on the axle then?
The tracks I've used have a raised section under each car that keeps the car going straight and would prevent the use of a center mounted wheel.
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Old 01-23-2013, 16:14   #23
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Willfulone View Post
Here is the really big one...everyone cheats. If you
think you have a chance playing by the rules, forget it.

Year 1 = Last place
Year 2 = Mid Pack
Year 3 = 3rd

That was the best we could do playing by the rules.
Not to be rude, but I hope you didn't pass this line of thinking on to the boys. In my son's pack, I was in charge of the derby and we ran a very fair race. The cars were weighed and inspected 2 hours prior to the race. Once your car was signed in, it was handed over to the race officials...you could not touch it after you signed it in.

We also ran an outlaw race to encourage the fathers to build their own cars, with modified rules so that they could use all the "cheats".
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Old 01-23-2013, 16:14   #24
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Quote:
Originally Posted by HarlDane View Post
I've been involved in races as a Scout, a Dad and a Cubmaster and the Dads can get out of control if they aren't kept in check.

Nothing like a little friendly competition to make them forget everything Scouting tries to teach young men.
This is what happens when the dads build the cars. HH
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Last edited by HollowHead; 01-23-2013 at 16:24..
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Old 01-23-2013, 16:19   #25
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Back when I did pinewood derby you had to have all four wheels touching the track, and you didn't have slim axle studs, you just had a groove pre-cut in the bottom of the block of wood that the nails fit into. I remember one kid usually winning, and he always had a super fancy looking car. The one I remember was he had a forumula 1 style car. Don't really know why he always won, never looked into it, but he won a lot and always had the best looking car.

I really can't give any advice about how to win, because I generally was always in the last half dozen or so overall. But make the car as fancy as possible, even taking a brush and doing pin striping, or making a driver, or something, just to make the other kids jealous, and that's how you make your kids happy without having to worry about winning. Give them the fanciest, coolest car that everybody tries to replicate the next year, and your kids will be happy.
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