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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

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

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.

Basic Assembly

After attaching the fenders, the body is complete and ready for

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!).

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

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.


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:

2. Black window material can be found Here

From Pinewood Derby Times Volume 10, Issue 12

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