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Pinewood Derby


Overview

The Pinewood Derby is a racing event for unpowered, unmanned miniature cars. With the supervision and/or help of adults, Scouts build their own cars from wood from kits provided by the pack containing a block of pine wood, plastic wheels, and metal axles. Pack 152 will typically hold their Pinewood Derby in late January/early February, with the kits being provided at either the November or December pack meeting. The Pinewood Derby typically runs for approximately 2.5-3.5 hours on a Saturday, from late morning to early afternoon. Please watch the calendar and announcements for the specific date.

Pack 152's Pinewood derby typically has 2 sets of races. The first set is for scouts only. All scouts will be placed into racing brackets, with the standings being tabulated by den. A second race is available for parents and/or siblings. We do ask for a small monetary contribution for the participants of the parent/sibling race, and the kit for this race will need to be purchased at the participant's expense.

We also are always in need of volunteers for this event. Please consider donating your time to assist with check-in, staging the cars, running the races, or even being the master of ceremonies.

My scout has never built a car before... Help!!!

We've all been there! The best place to start for help is within your Den. Ask your Den Leader to plan the building of the car into the planning of one of your den meetings. Other Den/Pack Leaders are happy to come in to show some of the tips and tricks of building a Pinewood Derby car. Occasionally we will also be lucky enough where one of our parents has access to a wood shop and is willing to host one or more "car-cutting" days. If you happen to be one of these parents, we would love to hear from you!!! If not, watch for an announcement to see if we are able to line up an event like this.

Pack provided kits will include all of the parts needed to build the car, but tools, paint, graphite, etc... all are not included. It also helps to ask around to the other parents in the pack who may have done this in prior years, often times they would be more than willing to share some of their supplies.

The internet is also a great resource for ideas on how to build your car. One thing to remember though, before making any suggested modifications found on the internet, please cross-reference with the rules to make sure it is allowed.

(Note: please refer to the Guide to Safe Scouting for the tools that are appropriate for your scout to use at their age)

Rules

Pack 152 has published a concise listing of rules with regard to how the cars can be built. The most important rule is that the scout's car should be built by the scout and not by the parent. We understand how fun it is to build a fancy or fast car, which is why we have started doing the parent/sibling race. Some key points from the rules are:

  • Cars must weigh no more than 5.0 ounces, as measured on the pack scale.
  • Cars must fit within the minimum and maximum measurements listed on the rule sheet.
  • Pre-cut bodies may be used, but we encourage using the block from the kit and having your scout design and cut their own.
  • Only parts from the offical BSA kits may be used.
  • In the event of any questions the Cubmaster has the final say.
  • Once a car has completed the check-in process, it may no longer be handled by anyone other than the Pinewood Derby staff.

After the Race

Once the races have completed, the results are tabulated and awards are presented. Typical awards would be:

  • Fastest in the Pack
  • Fastest in each Den
  • Cubmaster's Choice
  • Best in Show (voted by scouts)

In addition to our pack specific race, the Potawatomi Council also has a council wide race where the fastest cars from each pack are pitted against each other! You may also find other events around town where you may run your PWD car, such as the spring Culver's Car Show in Mukwonago.

Tips and Tricks

Here we have compiled a list of some Tips and Tricks to help both the first time and expert scouts when building their car.

  • Utilize a scale to get your car close to the 5.0 oz weight. A helpful tip is that the Post Office and most shipping centers have a scale that might be willing to be used. Alternatively a kitchen scale might also get you "close enough" to allow you to finish the day of.
  • Build a way to have the weight be adjustable. Many times adding/removing a small screw can adjust the weight of the car by a small amount, and is easier than trying to drill your car to reduce weight on race day.
  • Weight balance - there are many articles and opinions regarding this, but the general consensus is that the balance point of the car should be approx 1" in front of the rear axles.
  • Weights - Tungsten is heavier per a given size, but more expensive than other materials such as lead. Sometimes Dad has some items laying around the house such as fishing weights that can be used. There is also tungsten putty that can be ripped into any size needed and stuffed into a drilled hole to help make weight.
  • Some stores which carry PWD supplies. Ace Hardware, Hobby Lobby, Hobby Town, and most anything can also be found online.
  • Try rolling the car across a flat surface - look for any out of alignment wheels which might cause drag.
  • Keep the shape simple. Since the starting gate is a single pin approx 1/8" in diameter, the front of the car needs to be wide enough to rest against this. Keep this in mind for any "rocket" shaped cars or cars with a nose-cone.
  • Take note of where the front and rear of the car is before cutting the shape of the car.



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