Wednesday, April 30, 2014

Pinewood Derby Season

Well, it's pinewood derby season for Scouts across America. My son and I are partaking of this tradition/annual event currently.

I remember my Dad building most of my car for me. I endeavoured to have my son do as much as possible.

That did not stop me from doing research into the best strategies for a winning car.  That is where I came across this video which I tweeted on April 18th:

Here is a the video I referenced:

So from this video my son and I picked the items we could use based on our Pack's rules:
  1. Aerodynamics
  2. Weight Placement
  3. Bent and Polished Axles
  4. Graphite Lubricant on the Axles
  5. We are only riding on 3 wheels
  6. Railride Alignment
Of the top seven listed in the video the only one off limits was the lightweight wheels.

He also asked me to do a design for him on his car that involved fishing. He wanted a big fish, some people fishing, and worms. So I came up with this sketch:
One thing that was great was showing my son the video (above), after I had researched several, to help invest him in the activity. You see, when someone tells you build a car from a chunk of wood and race it, it is hard to get what that means. He understood he wants to try to win and he wants a nice looking car but how to get there.

Well, while watching the video, about halfway through he turned to me and said, "Dad, are we allowed to watch this?" We talked about it and he was wondering if it was cheating to get tips. I said certainly not, we were doing our homework. No one builds a car or much of anything without planning and research. Thankfully someone already did the legwork, Dr. Scott Acton at, and then Mark Rober boiled those down into the best tips from pinewoodphysics and from regular Derby racers.

With my son's newfound knowledge we set to building his car. I worked the power tools (axle polishing and bending) while he cut the car body, sanded it, notched out a location for our weights at the optimal point, and painted his car's base coat of blue.

Here he is filing his car's weight notch.
Wood Working with a Wood Rasp

He then asked me to do his paintjob which I did happily and sealed with some clear coats.
Painted Top of The Big One
Friday night is the big night and we go to race his car.

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