Pinewood Derby 2009

The annual cub scout Pinewood Derby race is tonight. I spent most of the weekend working with the kids, preparing their cars for the race. This year we did everything ourselves. In years past, I leveraged the tools and expertise of my friends. This year, I bought a coping saw, a pair of Irwin Quick-grips since I lack a proper workbench and vice, and made sure I had the right types of sandpaper.

I’ll have pictures tomorrow, but the cars definitely came out better this year than they did in year’s past. The bodies are more complex and we did a more sophisticated paint job. The better results are certainly not because I’m more skilled than those who have helped me in the past, but more that I was able to take more time with it.

The kids had a hand in using a coping saw to rough our the body and learned about different types of sandpaper and how to best use them. On the paint job, we did a gradient this year and the cars look cool. Giovanni chose silver going to black and Antonio blue to black. We also use stickers to customize them further.

I set the wheels myself because there is no axle and inserting the nails into the slots is a very stressful operation because any misalignment will mean the cars won’t roll well. I didn’t think the kids could handle this yet. I doubt any parent gives this jjob to their child. Maybe next year I’ll let them do it and I’ll just make adjustments, which are easy to make.

The speed test I do every year with these cars is to race them against one another. I take a book and push them both on a wood floor. I figure if I can tune them to both finish equally in many trial runs, then neither will have a major resistance problem. Either luck or this strategy has helped us in the past since we placed 2nd in the first year and 3rd last year. Who knows what will happen this year.

The whole process took 2 weekends. I did the rough work last weekend and the painting and finish work this weekend. I probably spent 6–7 hours total.

Details on the race should be posted tomorrow.