Monday, July 06, 2009

Blue Monday #41: "Pinewood Derby"

"Pinewood Engineering"
Raleigh, NC - March 1998 (Click to embiggen)

Some of you are probably familiar with the phenomenon of Pinewood Derby Racing. It's an annual event for Cub Scouts across the ... world I guess and has been since I was a kid. The kits haven't changed a whole lot since then either. Your basic block of pine (hence the name) and four independent wheels with nails for axles. But the construction techniques have come a long way in the 30 or so years between the time I whittled my racer out with my pocket knife and the time my son and I created this sleek piece of engineering.

No pocket knife involved here. Saws, a router, and a bunch of sandpaper. My last effort as a kid was brush painted with Testors model enamel. This baby was primed with automotive primer, then sprayed with an undercoat of high gloss white (to keep the colors true), then a two coats of metallic gold before the canopy was masked off so the rest could take two coats of metallic cobalt blue. Each coat -- primer included -- was hand rubbed glass smooth with polishing compound and the whole thing was sealed with two coats of clear lacquer. Then we took it to the Post Office to weigh it and added fishing sinkers to the body until it was exactly the maximum allowable weight. Axles were sanded with 400 grit and polished smooth in a drill chuck. In other words, we left nothing to chance. And it paid off, the car advanced to the district finals where it finished second (to some ugly flying cigar looking contraption). But only the winners were allowed to advance to the next level so its career ended there. But the car lives on, which is how I came to take this photo of it 10 years after its final race.Violence Unsilenced
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Robin said...

Wow, the cub scouts have gone seriously hi-tech. That is a very impressive looking set of wheels.

Bryan said...

Ah, the pinewood derby. This was probably the event I remember most from Cub Scouts. My cars always sucked because, well, I had no help, but it was always a weird and fun to see those blocks of wood race down a short track.

Smilingsal said...

Sorry, but I don't see any blue.

Mojo said...

@Sal: You're kidding, right? The entire lower part of the car body is blue. Metallic cobalt blue, specifically.

Must be the light.

lisaschaos said...

Yours looks much fancier than my son's back years ago. Still I rather treasure his. :)