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Pinewood Derby

Pinewood Derby

The Pinewood Derby is one of the most popular events in Cub Scouting. It is an event where the Scout, with the assistance of his parent or adult helper, takes a block of wood, four nails and four plastic tires and creates a race car. The model cars are made to specified dimensions, created, carved, assembled, and decorated by Cub Scouts (under the guidance of the parents or helpers). The cars are gravity powered and run down a special track

The purpose of the Pinewood Derby is to help the Cub Scout build a team relationship with their parent or helper, experience the sense of accomplishment and the excitement of competition, learn Win/Lose good sportsmanship, and to have fun.

Every year more than a million boys and parents team up to carve, decorate, weigh, adjust, fret over, and finally race a Pinewood Derby car. The first Pinewood Derby was held in 1953 by Cub Scout Pack 280C of Manhattan Beach, California, and today more than 81 million Pinewood Derby model car kits have been sold. Wow!!

Because of the inherent dangers of carving and cutting wood, we HIGHLY recommend that all carving and cutting be done under the very watchful eye of a parent or adult helper. We also recommend that and "big cutting" be done by a parent or adult especailly for the younger Cub Scouts. However, because it is the Scout's car, we do ask that the Scout be present and that the adult doing the cutting explain to the Scout what is happening and why so they can learn from the experience and take that lesson with them to use in the future. We also ask that the Scout be allowed to determine his own design, help do some of the carving (especially the older Scouts), the sanding and the decorating so that this is the Scout's car.

See the CubScout Derby rules document attached below.


It's Time To Go Straight TIPS!

1. Put the axle in at a downward (5-10 degrees) angle. This provides two benefits. The first is the only the inside edge of the wheel is in contact with the track. This seems to make the car go straighter with less wobble. The second benefit is that the wheel rides to the outside of the axle and doesn't come in contact with the body.  This tip is for experts only.  .  

2. Axles must be in straight front to back. That is square to the body. True the axles, don't trust the slots! If you have one, use a drill press to ensure all axles are straight. One of the front and two of the back should be measured to be the same height.

3. After pressing in the axles, test the car for crooked wheels...roll it on the floor. If the wheels are on straight, the car should roll 8-10 feet in a fairly straight line. Should the car turn left or right, you need to tinker with the axle placement without removing them from the car body, until it rolls straight.

4. Do not put the axles in at the top of the groove. Put them in at the middle. This lifts the car off the track a bit more and reduces the chance of rubbing on the center strip.

5. Glue the axles in place. Nothing is worse than having the wheel fall off as you cross the finish line.

6. Once you match a wheel and axle together with graphite, keep them together. They wear into each other as a matched set.

Joshua Sanders,
May 16, 2010, 12:14 PM