Pinewood Derby Stories and Photos from Maximum Velocity
PINEWOOD DERBY MEMORY Thumbs Up!
My son wanted to sign up for scouts. I thought, "What a great idea!" I thought back to my childhood days in scouts and thought this would surely be great. I instantly started telling - and apparently boring - my son about all of the great times that I had! Of all of the activities that I remembered the most, unfortunately the Pinewood Derby wasn't one of them.
I'll never forget that look on my son's face that day he came home with his derby box in his outstretched hand,and announced to me as he was handing over the box; "Here you go dad! Make me a great car!" In a blink of the eye, I instantly became my father!! And in an instant - after the panic subsided - it all came back to me about my Derby days. The handing over of the box to my dad, the return of the box from my dad, and then, for the next few weeks, the building of "the car" together. Well, before my son could run off for the TV, I was able to apprehend him and hand back the box. Of course for the whole "we'll do this together" thing, but also for the simple fact that if this car failed, I wasn't going down alone!
This Pinewood Derby kit looked simple enough. So the box sat for what seemed like the longest time. Then as Derby day approached, I thought, "I'd better take a look at this thing! How hard could it be to attach four nails to a block of wood that resembled a car and paint the darn thing!" I was pretty handy with wood. Gosh I have a ton of wood working tools! I had made things in the past. This was no problem. I'm a dad!! Dad's know these things. The only real guideline that I understood was the fact that it needed to "look like a flag." A little red, white and blue paint would take care of that.
So we began. I thought I should cut the block first. No problem. Pulled out the old table saw (I know what you're thinking) and cut away. This experience was similar to 'ice carving' with a chain saw, something I was totally unfamiliar with! Holy Cow!!
"All right," I thought. "Maybe a scroll saw would be better." Carve a little decorative look to the whole thing. Nope!
Okay, we took our first trip to the scout shop to buy another block. My son was a little puzzled but I kept giving him the 'thumbs up' sign and assured him we were "Just practicing." What a trooper. He just smiled and jumped in the car.
Our next attempt at cutting went a little smoother. My son pointed to the band saw and said, "We haven't used this one yet." The car looked great! Well, to him anyway. Bless his heart, Daddy could do no wrong.
I overheard a parent at one of our meetings discussing their car and remembered hearing something about making your own axle slots. Well this wasn't a problem since I seemed to have accidentally removed the original ones. This was going good! Pulled out the drill; instant axle holes. Put that little nail through the wheel, glue it in the hole and 'Bam' we've got a race car! Let's paint. Whoa! OK.... pull out the wheels.
"Just making sure they fit son."
Thumbs up. Dad's still great!
"I've got my paints dad!," he said.
"Naw, let's use spray paint! We'll get a much better looking paint job."
I don't think my son had used a paint can before. But being the "eager" scout, he grabbed the can, pointed it backwards and began spraying his arm! Just another lesson in painting. What a neat father/son project! Two thumbs up!
Well, we finally got the paint on the car. Red on the bottom, blue on the top and some really cool looking star stickers all over. It was coming together. We even painted the wheels white (A real speed secret!?). We let it dry overnight.
"It's not real shiny dad. Let's spray some shiny stuff on it!"
Oh boy - instant problem! This time my son and I learned a very important thing about painting: Compatibility!
Who would have ever thought that all paints and clear coats were NOT created equal. Within moments of painting our car began to 'crinkle'. All at once flash backs of chemistry class, memories of my professor discussing things we should never mix together came rushing back to me!
With no time to react, I started wiping off the car in an attempt to save something! A few re-coats of red, white, and blue and we were back. Throw in a little graphite, a little driver to sit behind the wheel, and we were real car builders. We did it!
Well, this journey my son and I were taking was not turning out anything like I thought. We did have a car though. Not a bad looking car either. And all four wheels were in place!
Race day came. How did we do? As my son's car came down the track my fingers were turning blue from being crossed so tight. It made it! Every boy left that day with a ribbon. My son got to run six races that day and walked away with a fifth place ribbon. Overall in the whole pack of a one hundred plus boys? No idea - but we left with the BIGGEST grin on our faces, a car, and a ribbon.