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Building the Fastest Pinewood Derby Car: Speed Secrets for Crossing the Finish Line First! Paperback – December 1, 2012


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Product Details

  • Paperback: 136 pages
  • Publisher: Fox Chapel Publishing (December 1, 2012)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1565237625
  • ISBN-13: 978-1565237629
  • Product Dimensions: 9.1 x 7.6 x 0.8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 12.8 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (19 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #650,080 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

Review

You can read my review of the other four Pinewood Derby books from Fox Chapel Publishing. What you're going to find are some of the coolest books EVER on cutting, drilling, painting, balancing, and racing a pinewood derby racer. So why another book? Glad you asked. While this new book certainly has some overlap with the other three books (mainly with advice on cutting and drilling), it's the new designs and techniques that make it a nice addition to the collection. The book uses the same cartoon character, Dash Derby, and he's got two new friends, Max Design and Professor Speed. These characters provide some fun and colorful antics to the discussions that include wheel balancing, building a test track, and using tungsten weights. There are a number of new car designs (my favorite has to be Quick Comet) - templates are provided for all of them so you can duplicate the shape and style of your favorite. Like the other Fox Chapel pinewood derby books, this one is in full color, offering super-detailed photos of the various aspects of creating a racer. I'm very impressed with the simple yet easy-to-follow instructions for using a variety of tools (some hand tools and a few machine tools). The book also demonstrates two commercially available products called Derby Worx Pro Body Tool and the Derby Worx Pro-Wheel Shaver XT - I wasn't aware of these tools but based on the photos, they appear to be providing some serious benefits with their machined bodies that are used as jigs. Pinewood Derby is going high-tech! The back cover talks about additional benefits of the book that include expert priming and painting instructions to give your car an automotive-quality finish and up-to-date materials and techniques for weighting and alignment. Building the Fastest Pinewood Derby Car is written by Troy Thorne and is 135 pages of full-color instructions.

Author Troy Thorne has followed up his Getting Started in Pinewood Derby publication with a new book, Building the Fastest Pinewood Derby Car. Starting with basic design, including cutting, attachment, lubrication and balance, the new book also includes a section offering championship secrets, offering options on how to shave seconds off a race time Building the Fastest Pinewood Derby Car (Fox Chapel Publishing, ISBN 978-1-56523-764.99.2-9) is priced at $14.99.

Good Read Fast Track to Success Get the authoritative lowdown for Pinewood Derby success from Troy Thorne's Building the Fastest Pinewood Derby Car (Fox Chapel Publishing). Filled with helpful graphics and super photos, the book transports you from beginning car construction to prize-winning modiciations, including infor on shaping, weighting, and axle prep. $14.95 at national bookstores.

Before we discovered Derby Talk, the 2006 release of David Meade's Pinewood Derby Speed Secrets was a boon to our family's racing experience. It made a lot of reputable information visible on the bookshelves of Scout shops at a time when speed-tips seemed to be closely guarded or otherwise sold via (sometimes dubious) mail-order pamphlets, etc. Since then, I've often recommended Pinewood Derby Speed Secrets as a starting point for those new to PWD. However, there was some advice that seemed questionable or outdated, and thus we recommended it with certain caveats. In December 2012, the same publisher released a revised title called Building the Fastest Pinewood Derby Car (BFPWDC). Authored by Meade's illustrator Troy Thorne, this new book admirably supersedes Meade's landmark work. [This new book is not to be confused with Thorne's other offering from 2011 -- Getting Started in Pinewood Derby -- an earlier work which is less focused on competition. Even though both books carry the same artistic elements and duplicate some information, BFPWDC represents a significant revision to both Getting Started in Pinewood Derby and Meade's Pinewood Derby Speed Secrets.] We now recommend Thorne's Building the Fastest Pinewood Derby Car as a more up-to-date starting point. For example, treatments like sprue-removal and hub-coning are absent, as these no longer apply to BSA wheels made after 2008. Also gone are some overemphasized tips like "quick-start" devices (aka cheater bars) and block-baking. More importantly, BFPWDC embraces and instructs on recent advances such as rail-riding, currently available tools, and new weights and accessories. It includes not just speed tips, but design templates and plentiful advice on detailed finishing. BFPWDC is not presently offered via BSA yet arguably less-useful titles are; for this reason it seems worthwhile to call attention to BFPWDC here. The value of a well-rounded reference is appreciated once one tries to scrounge up information through many varied sources. The author graciously acknowledges Derby Talk as a source for some information (and in the interest of full disclosure, Troy asked some people on DT, including me, to offer some early technical feedback). But there are still some circumstances where BFPWDC does not go quite as far as prevalent opinion on DT; this seems reasonable to limit the scope of the book, which is already pretty long at 136 pages. So (as was done with Meade's book), this thread is dedicated to pointing out some of the differences for the benefit of those less familiar with DT content. (It is not intended to disparage BFPWDC, but to simply complement this excellent resource with other content that might be gleaned from DT.) Of course the reader is always free to decide which information he feels is best: Weight Placement (p. 18) - Guidance on how to accurately determine the center of balance is absent. For a fixed wheelbase, the load under the front wheel can be "weighed" to calculate the center of mass (CoM) relative to the rear axle. The relevant equation is simple. Taper the Axle Head (p. 92) - There are differing opinions as to the need to taper the underside of the axle head with BSA's stepped outer hub. Polishing the Axles (p. 94) - Some find it beneficial to go much further with polishing, down to sub-micron-levels using lapping papers or liquids. Making Grooved Axles (p. 96) - It has been conjectured that excess graphite captured in axle grooves might actually impede rolling, rather than help it. Polishing the Wheel Bore (p. 104) - BFPWDC recommends polishing the wheel bore using a pipe cleaner and plastic polish, but most people on DT who have tried Sporty's bore-prep method prefer that approach. Building Your Own Test Track! (pp. 112-115) Although a fun-looking project, the top speed of a car on a 2'-tall test track will be 70% slower than the speed reached on a conventional 4'-tall track. For testing, the plans could be improved by replacing the first section with a 12' length (to raise the starting height), and then adding a timer. Bending Axles (p. 116) - Some prefer to install unbent axles into canted holes drilled with the aid of a drill press. Rear Wheel Alignment (p. 118) - An alternative alignment method allows the front of the car to skid down an incline on a piece of tape or thumbtack with the front wheels removed. The car should roll fairly straight if the rear-wheels are correctly aligned. Front Wheel Alignment (p. 122) - In BFPWDC, the camber of the rolling front wheel is not mentioned. Most DTers prefer positive camber on the dominant front wheel (DFW), and negative camber on the rears. I've included a few links as jump-off points to show where DT expands on BFPWDC content, but these links don't come close to covering the wealth of discussions and opinions expressed on DT. As usual, both newcomer and seasoned pro will greatly benefit from Derby Talk's search feature.

From the Back Cover

Your Speed is Guaranteed! Cross the finish line in the fastest car with the designs and techniques included in this book by established Pinewood Derby authority, artist, and Scoutmaster Troy Thorne. - Discover how to build the fastest Pinewood Derby car with the patterns and speed secrets inside this book - Choose from any of the 8 car patterns -all designed for speed - Follow the expert priming and painting instructions to give your car an automotive-quality finish - Learn about the most up-to-date materials and techniques for weighting and alignment - Enjoy step-by-step instructions and kid-friendly content that make this book great for parents and children "Yet another great 'how-to' book from author Troy Thorne ...Fasten your seat belts and be prepared to go fast!" Jimmy "Shine" Falschlehner So-Cal Speed Shop Host, Speed Channel's Car Warriors

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Customer Reviews

4.7 out of 5 stars
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This book is an easy read and and very instructive at the same time.
tschlich
The book contains sample designs and about the right amount of info for novice designers with good tips and hints on reducing friction on the wheels/axles.
Chris Lorang
Another great book from Troy showing us how to make pinewood derbies more fun and more FAST.
dmeldrum

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By David A. Williams on February 22, 2013
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Great book. This is sort of like the updated version of the David Meade book, but addresses topic Meade only glosses over that are now the standard thinking on what makes a fast and consistent derby car. As with Thorne's other book, it's well illustrated/photographed to make it accessible to adults and kids. It also spends a fair amount of time on design/decoration. The book includes several very good templates for fast cars.

Unlike the Meade book, this book includes discussion on several techniques that are considered essential to having a competitive car ... rail riding, wheel boar prep, and what to look for in doing your alignment/testing. Additionally, this book addresses a broad set of weighting options (Tungsten, steel, and lead weights).

You could spend a year researching techniques and tricks on the various PWD message boards (like derbytalk.com) to go from 101 (meade's book) to 201 or just buy this book and follow the steps.

My favorite part of this book is a plan for a test track. I would've liked it more if the plan was for a 24' or 32' foot track with a traditional starting height (about 48"), but it's got enough information to get you started if that's how you want to go.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By J. Rautenberg on January 8, 2013
Format: Paperback
My oldest will be doing his first derby in a few months. We got this book for Chrismas to start planning and hopefully learn a few cool secrets. The book is very well layed out with chapters covering all the major topics of building a successful derby car. I learned a bunch just in a few minutes flipping through the pages. It will be a huge help when we do our first build.

3/29/13 Update: We had our first derby last weekend, and the tips from this book helped us bring home a 1st place trophy for my wolf scout, and a 2nd place trophy in the sibling/dads category. The first place car was 3rd fastest overall. Great tips!
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By T. Meyer on December 3, 2012
Format: Paperback
Great new patterns, the same "let your child make it THEIR build" approach and theme, even more pictures, cartoons and diagrams than the earlier books! My son (Wolf Cub, 2nd year in cubs) goes to bed reading this book and then suggests ideas to make his pinewood derby cars faster when we have breakfast together.

You will not find a better "tuners guide" for kids than this book. Not only fun, but it is packed with engineering concepts, their application, and their relevance to making pinewood derby cars go faster - presented in a manner that is accessible to 7 year olds and parents alike.

There is a little bit of appropriate repetition of photos from the authors previous book(s), but overall this is a fresh focused "How to go faster" tuning guide for young gear heads. Buy it, you won't regret it a bit!
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By William R Keith on January 20, 2014
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Great tips and ideas that I hadn't thought about when designing and building a PWD car with a young scout. Book has great pictures and walks you through tips and tricks with pictures and words. First time building a PWD car and don't think we would have had the success we did in the race without this book. Don't waste your time searching the internet for "tips and tricks," just buy this book. Will use it every year.
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Pinewood Derby has been around since the fifties in my lifetime. The competition is fun, and the chance for parents and children to work together on a cool project is transforming. This book is a great resource. The more you race the more you will find that pinewood derby secrets are as closely guarded as favorite fishing holes. This book will introduce you to some fine points of making a fast race car, including rail riding, cambering the wheels for speed, weight distribution, and other things.
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By Tom Perkins on April 22, 2014
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I bought this after our 1st year of Pinewood derby and not doing to well. Our first car was designed by my son, and (unfortuntely) built more by me than him. This book is easy to read and has directions that are easy to follow for a young boy. Next year he will do the majority of the work with me helping with the dangerous parts and fine tuning. We hope to be more compeditive next year.
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By Sage E. Pierce on April 4, 2014
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
My son and I really enjoyed this book and it was a great resource and guide for building his first car. We didn't do everything that the book suggests and still did really well. Axle straightening proved to be a stumbling block for us. The axles we received with the car were far from straight (and the axle straightener suggested in the book was completely ineffective) so notching the axles as the book suggests wasn't really an option for us.

I bought the book several months before we started to build the car so that my son would have plenty of time to look through it an familiarize himself with some of the things that it takes to build a really fast car. It was his first pinewood derby so I think that some of the instructions were a little over his head, but he was really grateful that we followed the book's instructions when it became apparent that he had one of the fastest cars at the derby.
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The book is written in a clear and concise manner. The book contains sample designs and about the right amount of info for novice designers with good tips and hints on reducing friction on the wheels/axles. Our 8 year old daughter was able to do most of the work on the car with and really had a great time racing the car. The smile on her face and the confidence she gained from working on the car herself was well worth it. Overall I would buy this book again.
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