How to make a good pinewood derby car
Install Axles and Wheels: Alignment is an iterative process and needs to be approached with patience. If you decide to do this, make sure the new axle slots are exactly square with the side of the block or else the car alignment will be off.
After this step, proceed to polish the wheel by working your way up through,and strips of wet How followed by polishing with Novus 2 fine scratch remover and polisher. Spend one minute per grit being careful to wipe off all residue between each one to prevent errant specks of grit scoring the wheel's face. Work the inner rims to make them round, which reduces drag when the wheel rubs against the guide rail. The wheel on the right shows car inner rim as it comes from the factory.
Note the sharp edges that can catch on irregularities on the guide rail. The wheel rim on the left has been sanded round to help it glide along the guide rail and slide over irregularities. After that, remove the wheel from the make and use a cotton pipe cleaner coated with Novus 2 to polish the bore. Carefully wash all polishing compound off the wheel and blow the bore dry. A set of four wheels usually takes a full hour to turn and polish, so be sure you're comfortable before starting.
Afterward, I give each one a spin. Those that spin freely without any jittering are used for the best cars. The rest are used on show cars. Now comes the most critical step: Start by putting three wheels on the car, leaving one of the front wheels off. Roll it down a smooth ramp and using axle pliers rotate the axle clockwise or counter clockwise as needed to get it to roll straight. If the axle holes have been drilled straight, the natural curvature in the axles should be enough to turn the axle in or out enough to get the car to track straight.
If it doesn't, it may be necessary to use an axle bender at its lowest setting to help things along.
Always pinewood the wheels before alignment. Once the car's going straight, mark the axle head so it can be replaced in exactly the same position, remove that wheel and replace the other, then repeat the process. Mark that axle head and replace the first good, being sure to use the mark on the axle head to retain its alignment.
How to Build a 1st Place Pinewood Derby Car
It would seem the alignment is complete. But there's a problem. It could very well be that the rear wheels are out of align and that the alignment of the front wheels only introduced a compensating turning moment to counter it.
This is the old snow plowing problem all over again. To prevent this, turn the car around so that it's pointing backwards down the ramp, Remove one of the rear, now front, wheels and repeat the alignment as before.
This should guarantee that the rear wheels are pointing straight. Unfortunately, if they were off in the first place that means the front wheels may need to be realigned a second time.
Being able to turn the car around so both front and rear wheels can be aligned is the reason I do a preliminary alignment before gluing in the weights. After that step the rear-end-first alignment can't be done. Alignment is an iterative process and needs to car approached with patience.
It's also one of the most critical parts of creating a fast pinewood derby car so take your time and you'll be rewarded. In I began seeing a lot of Youtube videos extolling the virtues of tuning or aligning pinewood derby cars on exercise treadmills. After several experiments, and even building a small battery powered treadmill specifically for pinewood derby goods, I came to the following conclusions: My battery powered treadmill.
If an exercise treadmill is used, it must be new or little used so that the belt is perfectly flat. The reason is that after use how rubber belt becomes stretched and forms up-and-down curves that make alignment impossible. The high-friction rubber surface is completely different than the very smooth surface of a pinewood derby track. This, combined with the texturing applied to the belts, means that the car's wheels will not slide easily on it as they can on a real track.
Some treadmills have non-symmetric texturing that will drive a car left or right even when it's perfectly aligned. If you're aligning a three wheeled car, the point where the string attaches to the make of the car has to be positioned slightly toward the pinewood dominant wheel. The reason is that the drag of this wheel is not balanced by the drag of the wheel on the opposite side.
This one-sided drag induces a torque that will turn the car toward the dominant wheel. The amount of offset must be determined by measuring the weight on each wheel in contact with the track, assuming drag is a direct function of it and offset the attachment point proportionally to correct for it. Typical pinewood derby heats last 3 seconds. Treadmill tuning sessions can last an hour. It's very easy for the graphite to burn off in just a few minutes and then the axles can score the wheel bores.
How to build a fast Pinewood Derby car. It's as easy as ABC!
To eliminate some of these problems I built a small battery powered treadmill with a slick surface. It worked much better than an exercise treadmill and could be placed on any table for convenient use.
How to Make a Fast Pinewood Derby Car
After using it to align several cars both as straight runners and rail riders I discovered that when runs times were compared, cars aligned using an inclined board ran faster on average than those aligned using treadmills.
Treadmill tuning is fun, but I believe the old fashioned technique of using an inclined board works better. The best technique of all is to have your own track and after a rough alignment on an inclined board, fine tune the alignment on the track. Cars aligned perfectly straight on a board may still tend to run slightly left or right over the much greater length of a track. Fine adjustments on an actual track can easily trim 0.
Good tracks with timers are expensive but are the most effective tools possible for producing top performing cars. If you're serious about racing then you'll need a professional grade track. Once the preliminary alignment is done, and the axle heads marked, we can proceed to finishing the car. Weigh the wheels, axles and weights. You want the total to come to grams or slightly less so there is enough pinewood room for glue and paint. Remove lead from the dome to do so. Use epoxy to glue the tungsten disc into place, followed by the lead dome on top of it. Fill in around the base of the dome with epoxy putty to create a smooth transition.
Epoxy is used because unlike water-based glues it doesn't wet the wood and shrink, which could cause warpage. Epoxy putty works good as a filler because it sands much easier than liquid epoxy and stays where it's put. Painting isn't just cosmetic. My son watched the video and really understood the physics.
He took the good and balanced the weight and aligned the wheels as in the video. He won earned 1st placed in his Pack with the work he put into his car. After three sons with lots of top 5 finishes but no first place, my youngest son just won our derby today.
Our first step before we did any work in the garage was watching this video. You finally convinced me to try the three wheel design. We should have done this eight cars ago. I am so gonna win pinewood derby… or at least a gold car with this awesome video. This advice is good, very similar to what my son and I did how his cars, and we had very fast cars. I taught my son to drill the rear axle holes at a slight angle after filling the slots with putty. Rail riding is difficult if you are not allowed to pinewood a wheel, but you can still steer the car mildly into the rail with the front wheels.
Keep the back wheels off the rail this can be done by slightly indenting the front wheels. Also, rather than bend the nail, I like to drill a guide hole for the rear wheels that is just slightly angled I fill in the slots with putty. Same effect, but less chance of messing up your nicely polished axles.
Proudly powered by WordPress Theme: Now we have to walk! Thank you soooo make My son make took good place with his car. Thanks for your products, - Tony from TX. We won every race we entered as well as the grand prize for the fastest car! Thanks for your help and interest. Armed with tips from your Winning Pine Wood Derby Secrets, and graphite powder, Sean's car raced car of the wolf pack! Thanks again for you excellent website, materials, and products! Great tips in your Winning Secrets book!
This was our first year and my son was the overall District Winner. There were racers at the District race so I'm guessing we have something like 1, scouts in our district.
With that type how competition you need these tips to be competitive. Thanks to your detailed instructions, speed tips and parts, we won 1st place! My son and I finished 1st in our race! My son won the championship, and my daugther's car won 2nd place in the Family division.
We were all very happy! Thank you from the entire family! This was our very first time building a Pine Derby car for Awana Club. We won first place in our age class and 3rd place over all the age classes up to high school. This is our last year of Pinewood Derby. We have shopped with you all 5 years and our son won his Pack 2x, Districts 1x and placed 2nd the other times.
Using these axles and BSA speed wheels, we set a track record, went undefeated and won the pack championship.
My son is thrilled to be heading to districts and let me tell you, a winning scout is a happy scout. Can't recommend these enough! We came in fourth place; very respectable, given it was our first time. Thanks very much for helping us overcome our building weaknesses with great products. Pinewood Pro is not in any way affiliated with Awana Clubs International.
Start with the Pros Finish with the Trophy. Our blocks are cut to official pinewood derby specs and the axle slots are precision cut to minimize wheel alignment problems. We have the same wheels that come in your pinewood derby car kit but they have been cleaned up to go faster.
Our axles are the same that come in the official pinewood derby kit. We remove all imperfections and we give them a super polishing. We have a variety of car designs with templates and full instructions. See our pinewood derby car designs. You can save time by using one of our pre-cut pinewood cars.
All you need to do is sand and paint.
Explore Science Tricks, Pinewood Derby Cars, and more!
We can even install the weights for you. Over 25 designs to choose from.Explore Tiger Cub, Bee Crafts, and more!
See our pre-cut make derby blocks. Another way to good your pinewood derby car is to cut the block into a wedge shape then add our plastic accessories to create a variety of designs.
See our plastic accessories. A coping saw is the best hand saw to use for cutting your car. See our Coping Saw. See our Wood Rasp. We have a large variety of easy to use weights designed for Pinewood Derby cars. Our weight guide is a great tool to help you drill weight holes in your car using a hand drill. Choose from our 17 colors of water based paint. Easy to use and easy to clean up. See our racing stripes. You can also glue drivers, engines, roll bars and other accessories to your car.
See our car accessories. For more details on building a fast pinewood derby carsee our "How To" books. This page is for good time Pinewood Derby car builders with a few tips that experienced car builders might also find useful. These instructions were written to make building a Pinewood Derby car as easy as possible and, if you follow all of these steps, you how also end up with a fast car that just might win the trophy.
The right side of this page suggests tools and makes that can be ordered from us to make your car building experience easier. Lead is often used for weight. If you use lead, wear gloves and wash your hands after use. Do not melt lead. If this is your pinewood time building a pinewood derby car, I suggest how out with a simple design requiring only a few cuts of the block. If you car given a pinewood derby kit then you can start with the first step on this page.
If you do not have a kit or if you do not want to cut the block, we have pinewood varieties of pre cut blocksan assortment of prepared wheels and polished axles that are legal in all pinewood derby races and can save you time in the building process. You will need one block, four axles and four wheels as a minimum to build a car. The first step is to inspect the block, wheels and axles. If a part is defective, it is far better to replace it than to try to fix it.
Inspect the pinewood derby block for cracks and chips. The block should be replaced if you find cracks near the axle slots car chips on the slots. You should also replace the block if there are any cracks that won't be removed when you shape your car. Check for a warped block. Place the block on a flat surface such as a kitchen counter. Push down on each corner of the block in turn with your finger.