Saturday, December 08, 2007

Pinewood Derby, race day tomorrow

My son's Pinewood Derby car. He painted the flames on the back, mimicking the flames I painted on the front.

My car: The Sharkmobile.

OK, I spent my entire day screwing around with a project my son and I have been working on together for the past month — our Pinewood Derby cars.

This morning, the Cub Scouts held a preliminary weigh-in. Tomorrow's the big race. While us parents set up the track and decorated for race day, the scouts compared cars and anxiously awaited their test runs. Sadly, our cars (my son and I created two — one for me, and one for him) fell far under the 5-ounce target weight. As a result, our cars came in last during the test runs. I wasn't aiming for fast. I was aiming for cool.

After all the time my son and I invested in designing and sawing and sanding and chiseling and painting and detailing, all my son has to say about the experience is, "I don't like this car. It's slow." Sigh.

I'll spare you the details of what I went though today trying to understand the principles of aerodynamics and wind shear and friction, in an attempt to make my son's car heavier and faster. And to irritate me even more, while I slaved away on the cars, my son laid around leisurely, watching cartoons on TV, unconcerned about what his dad was going through trying to make his car not only pretty but fast (I got a legacy to protect).

The actual race is tomorrow (Sunday), after church and before a Christmas party. We have a long day ahead. I'll share results later.

My son and I began by discussing our ideas. He wanted a race car, I wanted something very different like an animal. Together, we drew up several sketches before we settled on a hotrod and a shark. He was my editor and art director. I cut the wood using an electric saw, and we sanded the cars together. We were happy with the results (other than the slowness).


scott e said...

The trick to pinewood derby cars is sanding the axils. Get some medium grit sandpaper and graphite. Put the axil in a drill and sand off all the burrs. Then put some graphite on the sandpaper and run the drill until you just can't take it any longer. Then put the wheel on the axil and place it on the drill again. Run the drill while spinning the wheel the opposite direction. The longer you do this the less friction the wheels have with the axil. I hope that this make some sense. You don't need to come in first, just not last.

Put most of the weight in the back.

Good luck!

Don Tate II said...

Hey, thanks!

Rinda M. Byers said...

Love both models! Sounds like sooooo much fun. Good luck!