The Pinewood Derby is a great experience for the kids. They get to learn through trial and error what techniques work best. Each year, their cars get better!
Scouts can pretty much do anything they can imagine. A good place to start is by typing "pinewood derby cars" into a search engine and viewing the images. The kids can get a lot of ideas on shapes, characters, and colors. Also check out our Facebook page. A lot of articles with tips are posted there.
The original car kit comes with the block of wood, 4 official axles, & 4 official wheels. You can purchase various add-ons at the Scout Stores (locations in Vernon Hills, Arlington Heights, & Chicago), Scoutshop.org, and Michael's Craft Stores (look online, there is almost always a coupon).
They don't to draw their design free-hand. There are many templates available online. They print it out, cut it out, and trace it onto the car block. Try this
. You can also look at images of "pinewood derby templates" in a search engine.
THE NEED FOR SPEED
If your Scout is going for fast, here
are some pro tips.
The total weight of the car, with its wheels, axles, add-ons, paint - everything, cannot exceed 5.0 ounces. You can add weights to a car. There are a variety of specialty weights that can be purchased. You can also add everyday objects: small stones, coins, and washers for example.
There are all sorts of specialty paints out there, but you can also just use spray paint or cheap acrylics.
WHEELS AND AXLES
This is usually the most challenging part of building the car. You will want to make sure that any burrs are removed from both the axles and wheels. This can be done with plain sandpaper. You may also want to sand the area of the wheels that will touch the track. The axles need to be placed just right so they don't rub against the wheel and allow it to move freely. Axles also like to pop out of place. You can put a dab of glue on them, but be careful the glue doesn't spread to the wheel at all. You can also purchase an axle guard (also called axle keeper), which is a plastic piece that helps keep the axle where it should be. Adding graphite powder helps the wheels move faster along the axle. Here
are some good photo instructions for axles and wheels.
At the race, cars have to go thru a check-in process where we weigh and check the cars. Once they are checked-in, they have to stay at the judges' table and cannot be worked on. In the event that a piece breaks during the race, you can try to fix that piece and re-join the race.
**Please note that rules are different for each Pack. Information you find online, may not be the same as what is required for our track.
- Width — 2 3/4?
- Length — 7?
- Weight — Not over 5 ounces
- Width between wheels — 1 3/4?
- Bottom clearance between car and track — 3/8?
- Total Height cannot be more than 4 1/2"
- Wheel bearings, washers and bushings are prohibited.
- The car shall not ride on springs.
- Only official Cub Scout Grand Prix Pinewood Derby wheels and axles are permitted.
- Only dry lubricant is permitted.
- Details, such as steering wheel and driver are permissible as long as these details do not exceed the maximum length, width and weight specifications and are secured.
- The care must be free-wheeling, with no starting devices.
- Each car must pass inspection, the owner will be informed of the reason for failure, and will be given time within the official weigh-in time period to make adjustment.
- After final approval, cars will not be reinspected unless the car is damaged in handling or in a race.
Finally - these cars are meant to be build by the kids - with an adult's help. This activity is another opportunity for kids to learn new skills. For example, kids shouldn't be using dangerous power tools, but they can mark the areas they want to be cut onto the wood, explain their design to an adult, and watch the adult cut the car. They can sand, paint, and glue with their adult's supervision. They get to watch their idea become real and take pride in all the things they did to make that happen.