02 03 Pinewood Derby Stories and Photos from Maximum Velocity 04 05 15 16 19 20 21 22 23 24 25 26 27 28 31 32 33


Just one car this time, but it is a doozy!

Dan's Model T Street Rod - Andy Holzer

During the summer of 2010 I attended a car club event at a drag race
track. The car owners could run the 1/8th or the 1/4 mile with their
cars (depending on how their cars teched out). I saw a friend's car
there staged for another opportunity to run down the track. While
looking at Dan's Model T Street Rod I thought to myself, this would
make an excellent extended wheelbase pinewood derby car.

I figured this would be a fairly straightforward build, not having to
make full fenders would make things easier. I started out and drew up
some plans based on the pictures I took at the track. The grille ended
up getting cut down, as it is quite difficult to use a drop axle on a
pinewood derby car and have it race down a standard pinewood derby
track. The body was s-t-r-e-t-c-h-e-d to use up the whole 7 inch
block, so the width looks fairly narrow (compared to the picture).

Now what to use for the motor? Dan's car had a Chevrolet 396 engine
in it. I was thinking of looking for a model with a 396 to use in the
car. My son, Noah offered me a couple of small block Chevy motors to
use (from some models he has purchased for parts). I didn't like the
way the Chevy small block looks in a street rod with the "siamesed"
exhaust ports, so I needed a big block. After some thought, I decided
to build the motor from wood (a pine - pinewood derby motor). So I did
some searching on the Internet to see what Chevy 396 parts looked like
(I should have taken better pictures of the motor). It may have been a
better idea to go and find a 1/25th scale motor for my car as I have
about 12 hours in the motor build. There were a lot of parts that were
made and then re-made after the learning had taken place making the
first round of parts.

At this point the motor was adding a lot of weight to the front end.
I had made some headers from 12 gauge copper wire (I was planning to
paint the copper wire silver). I removed most of the wood from the
radiator assembly and the front tank to make them as light as they
could be, but there was still a lot of weight on the front. The
headers weighed .15 ounce each.

I looked at a farm supply store for some aluminum 12 gauge wire and
found some, but it was electric fence wire and I needed to buy a
quarter mile of it (really didn't know what I would use the other 1318
feet of wire for). I went to the Internet and looked up aluminum 12
gauge wire and found they use aluminum wire in jewelry (not that I
ever needed to know that). I went to a craft store and purchased 3
feet of it for about $3. The aluminum wire was much lighter. I bent up
another header quickly and was wondering what I should use for a
collector on the headers. I found some aluminum tubing I used for
diesel exhausts for a PWD 18 wheel truck. It seemed to be the right
size to fit over the 4 header tubes. I used a flat screwdriver to
crimp the collectors around the aluminum wire and epoxied the assembly
together after polishing each component.

After the motor was painted I was thinking of adding some spark plug
wires to the distributor and run them down to where the spark plugs
would be. I was thinking this would be a big pain to do and I probably
should pass. But I decided to try it. The spark plug wires on Dan's
car are red, but only had 26 gauge, black copper wire. So I decided
to use the black wire even though it would not be easily seen.

So I went back to the Internet to find the firing order of a Chevy 396
and the direction of rotation of the distributor (if you are going to
do it you might as well do it right). I epoxied all of the wires to
the distributor and then split them into sides and drilled small holes
and epoxied the other end to the block near each header output. I
won't say this was easy, but it wasn't that bad. I also used a piece
of wire to create a belt on the exposed pulleys.

The Model T was fast but there were a lot of fast cars in the open
race, it took 5th place.

From Pinewood Derby Times Volume 13, Issue 9

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