Monday, January 28, 2013

My First Pinewood Derby

This is the first year my son is in Boys Scouts so needless to say that I am a newbie to everything.  In December, R. received his first pinewood derby car kit.  I looked at the box and thought, "cool! We get to paint a car!" (see the pic of the car on the box).

However, when I emptied the contents, I had my first "moment" (one of many in this process).  "It's a block of wood."  Yeah, that is what I thought.  "You've got to be kidding, right?"  I had no idea what or how to begin so it sat in the box for a month.  I guess I was hoping it would make itself.


My brother in law was a boys scout so he gave me my first lesson.  I have to draw a design.  " please.." so he helped R. with the design.


R. cut out the design and placed it onto the block of wood to trace.


With a coping saw, my hubby cut along the penciled design.


Not too bad, right?  "Yay for Dad!"...but that was all my husband did.  Now, it was my turn.

I had to cut the sides of the derby car.  R. traced the design on the bottom of the block for me to cut.

Ready?  This is what I ended up with when I was done using the coping saw.  This was also when I received my second "moment."  Yes, I nearly had a heart attack when I stepped back to examine my creation or lack there of.

But with perseverance, some tools, and a lot of deep breaths, anything is possible right?

 I must say, thank you to my dremel and the sheet of sandpaper that I had because that ugly thing became this...





Yes, it is the exact same piece of wood as the picture above!  So far, no one believes me, but it is.

Sand paper can do wonders.  Next, we had to paint it so I just screwed some screws on a piece of wood so that the car can sit.

Final look of the car after R.'s paint job:

It's cute, right?  That's our first car, but its actually not the car we entered because of course if we want to even have the possibility of not coming in last, the car needs to weigh as close to 5 oz as possible.  The heavier the car is, the faster it should go (since the movement of the cars are purely from gravity).

I did a lot of research and got a lot of advice.  The only way to add enough weights to make this car near 5 oz is if I started adding weights to the top of the car.  I didn't want to do that.  I wanted to hide the weights because after all I am a girl and I wanted a "pretty" or maybe I should say, "cool" looking car.  I thought about it for a few days and so three days before the race, I decided to build a new car.  Yes, I'm crazy.  I wasn't aiming at the win, I was just aiming at not losing.

So then, R. and I built this car.  Nearly the same shape.  We just made the back far thicker so that I could add weights inside of it.

Our original car was just painted with some craft paint, but as I was at Hobby Lobby, I found this paint for model cars clearanced for $1.33 so I thought it was perfect.  R. sprayed away.  It only took 2 coats for the perfect finish.

He added transfer stickers all over the car by rubbing them on and then we finished with a clear coat of modge podge. 

Before he painted it, I drilled a couple of holes in the back so that we could slip in the weights.  I wish I had a picture to show you, but it was eleven at night when I was working on it so I was aiming at just finishing.  You can kind of tell in the picture below where the weights are.  I know I could have done a better job filling in the holes, but by the time I really noticed, R. already painted it and I didn't want to redo it.

I had to add more weights to the bottom of the car to make it heavier.  I used the dremel to cut out space for the added weights.  I added the axles and wheels to the car and used some duck tape to make sure the stayed in place.  Yes, I have penguins on my duck tape.  We ran out of the silver one so penguins it is!

So now, the weigh it.  I purposefully had the car come in at 4.9 oz (just in case the official scale didn't match mine).  I thought, it would be easier to add instead of take off.


Ta Da!  I got it to 5.0 oz on the nose with an extra weight.   You can see the extra weight on R.'s car below.


Because I'm crazy, I had spray painted the weight to match (just in case). 


There were so many creative cars that day.

6 cars are lined up for each race and each car races in each lane once for a total of 6 times.  The best of five races will be averaged for the final time.

It was pretty exciting.

In the end, I shall say, I was shocked to hear that R. came in 2nd in the Pinewood Derby Race.  The reason being, I didn't do any of the tricks people told me to do.  I didn't remove the burs from the axles.  I didn't polish the wheels.  I didn't add graphite to the wheels before the race.  Because of all this, I didn't expect to place, but we DID!

R. and I were super ecstatic.

I asked R. if he wanted to do this again next year and the answer was a definite yes, but he mentioned that next year, he would build an even faster car!  So, next year, I'll polish the wheels, sand and polish the axles, and add graphite for an added edge.

This year, I'm pretty happy with the car we built just a few days before the race.  I had such a blast building it with my son.  Next year, I'll be prepared to win.  :)

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