Sunday, June 10, 2012

Antioch Grand Prix

The past few weeks have included many nights with me secluded out on the porch doing more woodworking. I wasn't finishing the dollhouse, nor was I making any more beds. I was carving pinewood derby cars, three of them. It was supposed to be four, one for me, but I ran out of time. I thought about doing a step-by-step of the process, but they took enough time as it was. I couldn't imagine how much longer they would have taken. I'll tell you what I did. I just won't be able to show you.

When I asked Jake what kind of car he wanted he told me, "A race car that the hood opens." Really? Do you understand how this race works? Opening hoods don't matter, you're not going to do anything to the engine. It won't have an engine! After some talking we determined that winning a race was more important to him than the car looking cool. So we looked at other low profile cars for ideas. We decided on a design and cut the shape. I didn't start carving right away because I was more concerned with how much work I had to put into Alyssa's, so I started hers first. When Jake saw it take form, he decided looking cool was much more important. A completely new idea, and a new block of wood later; we were on our way. I decided on the Camaro aspect, he chose the black with green flames and the red number six.

Alyssa's design was easy to come up with, "I want a pink My Little Pony car!" "Pony Car!" A Mustang! Idea, easy; following through, not so much. I decided on basing it off the 2013 model on Ford's website and Alyssa decided on Pinky Pie being the art work.

When I asked Zac what kind of car he wanted,"I want blue one!" So the design was up to me. I chose to try and win a race with this one. While still trying to keep it stylish, I removed as much wood as possible. Once I finished the cutting, sanding, and priming I let Zac do the painting.
Zac's car did not require any extra wood but the other two did so that they would look real.
I used the standard block of wood you are given with the kit but added a piece of wood 1 1/2" wide and 1/2" inch thick (actual measure) to the car. Before I could glue it to the block I had to cut openings for the wheels.

I measured the distance from each end to the axle cut and mark it on the side pieces. I used a 1 1/4 inch spade drill bit to drill the openings. About one-third of the bit goes over the edge of the board, so clamp it down and go slow. Or drill just enough to get the line to follow the edge and cut it out with the scroll saw. I did some of each. Once the holes are done glue them right to the block with wood glue using clamps to hold it over night.

With the added wood the block would not fit under my scroll saw so I had to use a band saw. I simply cut out the basic shape with the saw and used a Dremel to do all the carving. Most of the work was done with a sanding bit, but a lot of excessive removal as well as much of the detail was done with a variety of high-speed cutters. Use what tools you have, but be PATIENT! Speed leads to mistakes. Trust me! When I was little my dad would cut the basic shape and I would do the rest with a pocket knife. It just takes longer.

I did just about all the priming and painting with sprays. The tail lights and some touch ups were done with acrylics. Use fine sand paper before you paint if you want a fine finish when you're done. A lot of people at the race thought our cars were plastic because of the finish. I also added a coat of clear to make them really shine. Word to the wise though, don't draw any designs with a Sharpie if you're gonna use clear coat. It makes the marker run.

The races went completely backwards of what I expected. I lost one of the polished axles that I prepped so I had to use a spare axle that was too tight of a fit for the wheels so Zac's car didn't go anywhere. Jake's car with it's blunt nose won second for speed and Alyssa's won third. I had assumed that their cars would not do well on the track due to how much wood was on them. But it turns out it comes down to what you do with your axles. Polish your axles, it pays off. But depending on the age, as long as they end up with a car to play with they're happy.

I already mentioned that Jake won second and Alyssa third for speed. But Alyssa also won first for design. I'm sure that had nothing to do with the pony to mustang reference.

Have you made any pinewwod cars? What creative designs did you come up with? Any cool paint jobs out there? Any success tips to share? Make a car and have fun!
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