Monday, February 3, 2014

Pinewood Derby

With race day approaching, it was time to get Lucas excited about designing his Pinewood Derby car for Boy Scouts. It only took a quick search on Google to get his brain ticking. His first idea was very simple...a carrot shape painted metallic green. Not a bad idea. He kept searching and brainstorming while we told him that there is a lot you can do with a block of wood, a band saw and a Dad as an engineer. :) Lucas decided he wanted to have a cool design and really wasn't worried about how fast it went. He decided that a Harry Potter Firebolt Broom Stick would be his design. We showed him how to draw the different aspects (top view, side view, etc.) and soon the Firebolt was in the making. Dad found a co-worker with a bandsaw (who happens to be the Cubmaster) and he and Lucas rode their bikes across the neighborhood to carve out the broomstick. Little did Lucas know, this was only the beginning.
When Lucas wasn't looking, Dad did a little carving with the Dremel tool (how did we survive without these?) to bring it up to his standards of perfection. Then Dad recounted his austere childhood filled with many, many hours laboriously sanding his pinewood derby power tools were available back in ancient times. Dad explained how his staunch ethics of hard work, persistence, honesty and valor were all direct results of hand-sanding, and Lucas would someday thank him for the opportunity to do the same. Lucas accepted the challenge without complaint (before he realized how much sanding it would take to make it paint-worthy). Dad was a great supervisor; always willing to tell Lucas that he "wasn't quite done yet," and he shouldn't be in such a hurry.
New tools = new fun!
Finally, after many eons of sanding, it was ready for primer. As it was right in the middle of the notorious Polar Vortex (in Florida that's anything below 50 degrees) Mike set up a paint booth inside our house (don't worry, it's a rental). After a short briefing, Lucas spray painted on the primer and let it dry.
Setting up his car in the paint booth

Our kitchen table for the week.
Eventually, it was time for the fun part. Lucas is very detail-orientated and this was right up his alley. We went to Michaels Craft store with some photos of the Firebolt so he could pick out all the perfect paint colors. He loved this part but was a little disappointed that he had to wait until the end to paint the awesome gold bands. The gold paint was is favorite for sure.

It was extremely hard for Mom not to want to dictate or take over or micro-manage the painting of the car. I too love this aspect of the project but had to hold back and only give him some tips and a tiny bit of help. :) He kept reminding me, "Mooommm, I got it! Remember, I can do it!" Yes Lucas, you were right and you did a great job.
Serious business.

Mike went online and found some tips for tuning and mounting the wheels.  They filed and sanded the axels together, and the speeding broomstick was ready to race:

Looks pretty awesome Lucas!!
Finally it was race day!! Lucas and Dad headed to the Pinewood Derby early Saturday morning. Dad wanted to get there early to get registered but also to give Lucas a chance to see how things were set up. This was his first derby.
Listening to the pack leader, Mr. Lindsay

The WEBLO's had a race to kick start the day.

Lots of cool designs. Mike pointed out that designs have become much more elaborate since his days as a doubt due to the internet's ability to instantly share pictures and ideas.

Lucas registering the Firebolt, for the record, he's in Den 4. :)

The competition in Den 4.  From L to R there's a broomstick, and aircraft carrier, a "Bad Piggies" car, and big grey rectangle. 
Lucas received numerous compliments on his creative and unusual design, and Dad received compliments for the craftsmanship, we he did well to deflect. :)

With the narrow broom stick design and heavy weights in the back we were skeptical of its structural integrity. It had a weak spot at the bottom of the handle where Dad nearly poked through drilling holes for the weights, so we were afraid it might not survive the race. We decided to take our chances and not do any test runs the day before. We also made sure that Lucas knew that it might not last, though we had super glue ready to go.

He didn't seem too concerned and was eager to join his Wolf Den.

It was race time!!
There were 4 racers in his Den and here they are ready for the race to begin.

3-2-1 GO!!

Neck and neck...

Good lead...

First across the line!!
The cars are raced several times so that every car rides on every lane in the track. The Firebolt not only didn't break but it won every race in his heat (Den 4).  He then raced against the other Wolf Den (7).

The competition in Den 7.

Setup for the Wolf category race-off with all the top Den winners.

The Firebolt wins the first race!
Lucas was quick to see that he was the winner!!

This was a car with a remote camera on it for filming the action!
The Firebolt was a consistent racer, winning 5 out of 6 of the races of the top Wolf cars. He won the derby for the Wolf category, and he's headed to Districts in March! Dad and Mom cracked up. We were so worried about it surviving a race or two and didn't expect it to win...apparently there's something to sanding the wheels and axels.

Lucas was beside himself. Dad made a valiant effort trying to underscore the lesson that hard work and persistence pay off...blah, blah, blah...while Lucas nodded vacantly.  He also tried to explain that "luck" is a big part of it, and that next time we might not win, and those kids that he beat worked hard too. He agreed and was super happy luck was on his side this time around. :)

After the races the boys were awarded certificates in various categories like best painting, most innovative, most creative, etc. There were some cool cars!!

There's the Firebolt

Award time!

Lucas got the "Cub Master's Pick" award for the best design! The Cubmaster, Dr Mike Lindsay, is such a great guy.  He's a PhD in physics who develops "energetic materials" for the Air Force. He has the best qualities of a scout leader; he's very creative, patient, generous with his time, and most of all, he doesn't mind making a fool of himself in public.  He loves scouting, and puts a ton of effort into. It really shows, and the kids have such a great experience.

Top 3 from Den 4.

Lucas getting his 1st place ribbon.

Wolves Top 3 Racers

Proud 8 year old!!  The expression is priceless...genuine joy and disbelief.

Great job Lucas, we hope you had fun!! We are so proud of you!!!

1 comment:

scrooner said...


Great job Lucas!

Above Photo: Downtown Portland Oregon Bike Ride

The Danger Zone needed a little update to include not only LUCAS DANGER, but also his little brother...AXEL ADVENTURE!

Welcome to our family blog now known as:

DANGER and ADVENTURE Around Every Corner!!