Pinewood Derby Stories and Photos from Maximum Velocity
The Big Rig Kit by Randy Davis
In years past, BSA offered a unique kit, "The Big Rig - 18 Wheeler". Basically, it was a pinewood-derby style semi-truck and trailer.
The Big Rig
Although they are no longer offered by BSA, occasionally one will show up on eBay. Being curious, I acquired a kit and decided to put one together.(1)
Immediately upon opening the box, I realized that this would not be a simple pinewood derby car build. The part count is considerably higher than a pinewood derby car kit, and the kit includes my two least favorite types of wood, balsa and hardboard.
The Big Rig Parts
The parts include:
Trailer Parts - 6 sides made of hardboard - Slotted pine for trailer frame
Cab Parts - Slotted pine for cab frame - Balsa for cab, roof and fenders - Pine for front bumper - Dowels for stacks and fuel tanks
- 18 wheels - 8 long nail axles (for two wheels) - 2 short nail axles (for one wheel at the front) - 1 Pivot Pin - Instructions
BASIC ASSEMBLY Let's begin. First we will need several small clamps and some wood glue. Then glue the trailer together piece by piece, allowing the glue to dry on each part before proceeding. One important point is to make sure that each piece is perpendicular to each other. I used a spare pinewood derby block as a guide to keep the sides square.
Next, we'll move to the cab. The balsa cab is glued to the base, and then the fenders and roof are shaped and attached. This is where I ran into the first hiccup. The templates in the instructions don't really match the photo on the box, nor do they fit well on the cab. So I had to do a little jigsaw puzzle work to make them look right. You can sort of see this in the photo below.
After attaching the fenders, the body is complete and ready for sanding.
FINISHING I mentioned earlier that I don't like to work with balsa or hardboard. Balsa is very porous, so it must be sealed before painting. Hardboard just doesn't sand well.
To seal the balsa, I coated the entire cab with a thin layer of wood filler, and fixed some dings on the trailer with Bondo. After priming, I made further touch-ups with Bondo. Next, I painted the entire assembly blue. Note that the cab and trailer are separate units. I just set them together for the photos.
Painted Big Rig
The paint is not perfect; I think the paint was a bit old and the temperature was really too high for painting (I think we hit 110 during the few days that I was painting -- but I painted in the morning when it was only 90!).
COMPLETION Now it was time to add the details. I used the dowel rods for the fuel tanks (painted silver), but decided to use aluminum tubing for the exhaust pipes. These parts were attached with epoxy. The windows were created with black window material.(2)
I had some wide yellow pin striping which was used for the side stripe. The letters were problematic until I found out that there are several on-line sign shops that offer custom lettering. I went with www.customonlinesigns.com. Although you can get exactly what you want, it isn't cheap. For two sets of lettering in my font, style and color, the shipped cost was $30.71.
Finally, the wheels and axles were attached and the swivel pin was inserted (to attach the trailer to the cab). I then declared the project complete. I certainly could have done more detail work such as lights, front grill, etc. -- maybe another time.
Completed Big Rig
To get an idea of the type of detail that can be added, here is a Big Rig created by Mark Robison.
Mark's Big Rig
CONCLUSION If you really enjoy modeling projects, then give this project a try. Just make sure you have the shelf space to displace your Big Rig.
ADDENDUM - TRACK CONSIDERATIONS Due to the length of the Big Rig kit, the vehicle cannot be directly staged on most tracks. So, an extension must be added at the starting line. In addition, the vehicle may be too high to fit under the finish line. So, you may need to manually judge a Big Rig race.
1. BSA has reintroduced the Big Rig kit in a 100th anniversary edition. You can find it at: www.scoutstuff.org. Alternately, semi- truck kits are sold at the following web sites: www.indyproducts.com/shop/page9.html www.betacrafts.com