Pinewood Derby Rules

General race coordinator discussions.
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rcmoeur
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Re: Pinewood Derby Rules

Post by rcmoeur » Fri Dec 14, 2012 9:28 pm

Mr. Pope:

I think your comment on 1C raises some concern. What "racing team?" The parent and Cub, or the Den, or the Pack? And although you're correct that it may be rather difficult to enforce, there's nothing against the Cub Scout trying to improve the performance of the car between races within the rules - as long as it's the same car.

Re 3E: the rule used to just refer to the shape of the "bottom part of the nose of the car", which created a potential loophole. And the height of the pin is dependent on which track type that we're fortunate enough to borrow. So it might be better to keep it clear & general, and if a problem arises to allow the Cub & race staff to adapt for a fair start if possible. I'd tend to think a nose-protrusion issue would be obvious at check-in, and addressed prior to an actual heat.

The wheel rules make it clear - the wheels may be subject to removal and inspection for cause, so plan accordingly. And we plan on carefully using precision calipers on the wheel exteriors - not Vise-Grips. Understood re the axle alignment issue - but that's why we'll ask the Cub (with the assistance of their parent) to remove a wheel or wheels themselves, and only if requested, and provide them with tools (such as a marker, etc.) needed to ensure correct reinsertion. It's my understanding that axles can make a big difference, and a Cub who spent time & effort filing & polishing shouldn't be put at a disadvantage by someone who bought their way into a fast axle. I am aware that vendors sell BSA axles that are near-perfectly smooth, and that our system can't do much about that (in fact, I might think they'd resemble axles that a Cub spent a long time working on by himself). But at least we should be able to catch more-egregious violations (professionally-machined or impregnated axles, etc.)

I was originally worried about the 1.170" diameter rule, especially after hearing firsthand of rejections at last year's race. But I went out & bought & tested 44 US-made wheels from the Scout Store from both kits and sleeves, and 3 sets of Chinese-made wheels from three separate hobby/craft stores. The smallest of all of them was 1.182" - so someone showing up with 1.171" wheels is likely to invite additional scrutiny, as it's somewhat unlikely the wheel could shrink so much with just "light sanding".

Again, thanks for the feedback from such experienced hands.



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Stan Pope
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Re: Pinewood Derby Rules

Post by Stan Pope » Fri Dec 14, 2012 10:50 pm

Sorry, I thought that the reference would be obvious. Racing Team: Cub and mentor (mom or dad or granddad or etc.). BSA recommends PWD as a parent-child activity. (Not, as a few packs do it, as a den leader-Cub activity, nor as a Cub alone activity.)

re nose height: Think of it as a compromise between specs for building the car AND specs for securing a track. What is the shortest pin height you are apt to encounter when trying to borrow a track? Then specify that height as the maximum nose contact height. Add that the car can't reach above that nose, and you have a simple specification that folks can interpret and that insider information can not give benefit.

Our compromise was 1 inch. If part of the car rolls past a 1" pin on our inspection jig, the car needs to be adjusted in order to pass inspection. Easy to specify and easy to inspect; usually correctable in a few minutes.

Reinspection should be limited to (1) visits to the repair pit and (2) issues which a misguided participant might alter the car "on the fly", such as sticking an ounce of lead to the top/rear of the car! The more potentially subjective rules need to be inspected before racing begins so that they may be repaired and reinspected. It is unacceptable that a car which passes inspection prior to racing and which races unchanged might be disqualified later. In the worst case, such occurrence will get the PWD removed from your council's program.

Some may have to remove wheels and some not? That is a recipe for more controversy! That is worse than requiring all participants to remove their wheels!

My initial impression in reading the car specs and racing specs was that the role of the adult staff is far too prominent. It is an event for the boys and the boys should do everything during the event that they can reasonably do. Staff should only do what the boys can not do. That includes staging the cars.


Stan
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Re: Pinewood Derby Rules

Post by Speedster » Sat Dec 15, 2012 12:27 pm

Are the Wotamalo District rules published anywhere?



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Re: Pinewood Derby Rules

Post by Darin McGrew » Sat Dec 15, 2012 2:44 pm

rcmoeur wrote:It's my understanding that axles can make a big difference, and a Cub who spent time & effort filing & polishing shouldn't be put at a disadvantage by someone who bought their way into a fast axle.
It's my understanding that alignment can make a big difference, and a Cub who spent time & effort adjusting & aligning shouldn't be put at a disadvantage by someone randomly inspecting for purchased axles.

Most of the kids in our derby just slap the wheels on (or have a parent or other adult slap the wheels on). But some might invest hours aligning their wheels and axles. At a regional derby, I would expect hours to be more the norm. Are you prepared to allow them hours to realign after the tear-down inspection?



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Re: Pinewood Derby Rules

Post by Stan Pope » Sun Dec 16, 2012 12:43 am

Speedster wrote:Are the Wotamalo District rules published anywhere?
Good question!

They used to be posted permanently on the Wotamalo District Web Site. Since someone else took over and then merged it into the new Council Web Site, the PWD rules seem to come and go. :(

I'll get you a "best available copy" ... I'm told that the Car Specs, Racing Environment Specs and Conduct of Races Specs are unchanged from 2012, so the copy should be good.


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Re: Pinewood Derby Rules

Post by FatSebastian » Sun Dec 16, 2012 12:12 pm

Stan Pope wrote:the PWD rules seem to come and go. :( I'll get you a "best available copy" ...
There is a longstanding wikibook that includes them, but the specifications may be dated now. Perhaps that could be updated?



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Re: Pinewood Derby Rules

Post by Stan Pope » Sun Dec 16, 2012 10:12 pm

FatSebastian wrote:
Stan Pope wrote:the PWD rules seem to come and go. :( I'll get you a "best available copy" ...
There is a longstanding wikibook that includes them, but the specifications may be dated now. Perhaps that could be updated?
It is definitely dated! And, even when current, it included incorrect interpretations.

Who made it? Dunno!


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Re: Pinewood Derby Rules

Post by FatSebastian » Mon Dec 17, 2012 9:02 am

Stan Pope wrote:Who made it? Dunno!
It's a wiki, so the content represents an ensemble of individual contributions like DT. So you should be able to fix it directly if there is concern about inaccuracies.



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Re: Pinewood Derby Rules

Post by tims » Wed Jan 02, 2013 7:29 pm

rcmoeur wrote:there's nothing against the Cub Scout trying to improve the performance of the car between races within the rules - as long as it's the same car.

The wheel rules make it clear - the wheels may be subject to removal and inspection for cause, so plan accordingly. And we plan on carefully using precision calipers on the wheel exteriors - not Vise-Grips. Understood re the axle alignment issue - but that's why we'll ask the Cub (with the assistance of their parent) to remove a wheel or wheels themselves, and only if requested, and provide them with tools (such as a marker, etc.) needed to ensure correct reinsertion. It's my understanding that axles can make a big difference, and a Cub who spent time & effort filing & polishing shouldn't be put at a disadvantage by someone who bought their way into a fast axle. I am aware that vendors sell BSA axles that are near-perfectly smooth, and that our system can't do much about that (in fact, I might think they'd resemble axles that a Cub spent a long time working on by himself). But at least we should be able to catch more-egregious violations (professionally-machined or impregnated axles, etc.)

I was originally worried about the 1.170" diameter rule, especially after hearing firsthand of rejections at last year's race. But I went out & bought & tested 44 US-made wheels from the Scout Store from both kits and sleeves, and 3 sets of Chinese-made wheels from three separate hobby/craft stores. The smallest of all of them was 1.182" - so someone showing up with 1.171" wheels is likely to invite additional scrutiny, as it's somewhat unlikely the wheel could shrink so much with just "light sanding".

Again, thanks for the feedback from such experienced hands.


Hi Richard,

I'm in the San Tan District (in the same council.. Grand Canyon) and can share some firsthand knowledge and input regarding the rules modifications.
First I want to say *THANK YOU* for the work you've done on the rules thus far. Also, I'd be glad to assist if you need further input, and or feedback.

On 'must be the car used at the pack race'
---------------------------------------------------------
Two years ago, my son built a 'Lego' car.. It ran okay at the Pack level, but in the process of racing, the cars collided at the end of the track and one of the axle slots was damaged to the point that we couldnt repair the car. For district, we decided to build another car. We followed Doc Jobe's 'Simple But Fast' car instructions very closely, and he ended up placing in the rank races at district (San Tan) and something like 5th/6th overall? He learned a ton in the process, and it was a thrill to see him so into building the second car for the District race.

What about Cubs whose pack for some reason or another cannot hold a 'pack' PWD race?
IMHO The rule requiring *Must be the same car used in the Pack race* is too restrictive. (for the reasons noted above)
You definitely need to keep the rule about 'must be build after date XXXX' however.


On polishing axles...
-------------------------------
My son and I spend quite a bit of time in the garage, polishing axles, working on the wheels.. (polishing the bores.. light sanding of the treads.. picking out the wheels from several kits that roll the best)

He can tell you first hand that it really sucks to be asked year after year to remove the axles from the car for inspection.
With a dremel (under supervision), a set of $9.99 diamond jewelers files from Harbor Freight.. some wet sandpaper and a bit of brasso on a microfiber cloth. He does the work, he knows how and why, and understands that putting the time/effort into it makes the car go faster...

The rule at our house is when the Cub stops working on the car, then Dad stops working on the car :) It's a team effort and a shared learning experience. Part of that learning is that you 'get out of it what you put into it' In this day of video games and instant gratification, it's one of the few Father/Son experiences that teach patience, teamwork, attention to detail, and project planning.

Every year we're accused of 'working the axles'.. !? "Of couse you work the axles.. " My son explained to the inspector.. "There are stamp marks on the nails that will scratch the wheels!" (those are his words.. not mine :) )

The first year, we were only asked to remove 'one' wheel/axle, so my son pulled the 'raised' wheel.
The next year? despite having drilled holes to allow the axle tips to also be visible, it was more than one.

Even with marking the nail, the hours spent in careful alignment and prep basically goes out the window when this happens.
He's not decided if he's going to participate in the district races this year.. because of last years experience.



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Re: Pinewood Derby Rules

Post by tims » Wed Jan 02, 2013 8:11 pm

Also, this year for our Pack rules, I included additional pictures and less text.
I can send those over to you if you'd like. Basically took the ones that someone
generated for the San Tan District race (that may or may not be on this year.. still TBD I heard)

Parents thanked me! :bigups:



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Re: Pinewood Derby Rules

Post by tims » Wed Jan 02, 2013 8:14 pm

Darin McGrew wrote:
rcmoeur wrote:It's my understanding that axles can make a big difference, and a Cub who spent time & effort filing & polishing shouldn't be put at a disadvantage by someone who bought their way into a fast axle.
It's my understanding that alignment can make a big difference, and a Cub who spent time & effort adjusting & aligning shouldn't be put at a disadvantage by someone randomly inspecting for purchased axles.
.... At a regional derby, I would expect hours to be more the norm. Are you prepared to allow them hours to realign after the tear-down inspection?
Exactly.. see my previous post regarding the same.



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Re: Pinewood Derby Rules

Post by tims » Thu Jan 03, 2013 7:46 am

rcmoeur wrote:As I mentioned in another thread on tracks (and ways to damage them), I've been "volunteered" to co-chair our District Pinewood Derby.

After meeting all these new dynamic and passionate people not fully enjoying a fine day of racing, I looked at the Council rules and thought: "can they be clarified & cleaned up?" I write detailed specifications for multi-million-dollar projects for a living, so I figured I could tackle something involving a hunk o' wood and 4 wheels. I cut, pasted, and rewrote, and submitted the result to the District.

And of course, the inevitable response: "Thank you so much for agreeing to co-chair next year's event!" ;)

Fast-forward to last month. Turns out both co-chairs from last year have moved on, which means both of us new co-chairs are "newbies". Fortunately, the other newly-appointed co-chair is a local legend in terms of fast 5-ounce cars, so between the two of us we're doing OK. Turns out my proposed rules revisions didn't make it up the food chain at Council - but, seeing an opportunity for a controlled(?) experiment, we were given the blessing to pilot revised rules at the District Derby this year, with an eye for possibly adopting the revised rules Council-wide in future years if they work out.

District Rules:
http://www.richardcmoeur.com/cub/4pdpwd ... 13v013.pdf" target="_blank
Annotated District Rules (commented with changes from 2012 Council Rules):
http://www.richardcmoeur.com/cub/4pdpwd13v013annot.pdf" target="_blank

"Why The Rules" information sheet, explaining the rules changes:
http://www.richardcmoeur.com/cub/whytherules.pdf" target="_blank

We'll see what happens in March 2013!

I like your annotated rules, makes it easy to see what's different from the previous year.

On the 3/8" clearance aspect. Unless you mandate that the 'slots' be used, it is difficult to
enforce this one. Drilling the axle holes, can set the car slightly lower than 3/8". On
all 'modern' tracks, there will be plenty of clearance. Adding a disclaimer about the scout
being responsible for making sure the car has enough clearance for the track might be good.

We've been using the 'go/no go' box from (Max Velocity sells them) as the first check during the
inspection process at our Pack races. This catches many of these issues early, and gives the boys
a chance to run over to the table and fix the issue.

Extending the wheelbase and getting rid of Graphite/Dry Lube would be the other two large
items to tackle at the Council level. I'm not sure if those two can be overcome, given the size
of the Phx. Metro area and so many differing opinions?

I like Stan's comments regarding the 'adult' centric nature of the event. I mentioned letting kids
stage their cars and several of the leaders kinda 'freaked out' :) That is one thing our District
races has done right. Also, we'll routinely corral older scouts to help with our pack event (Den Chiefs?)

My youngest has only this year and the next before he moves on to Boy Scouts. I would be glad
to help with any Council wide committee on this if necessary. Both kids have gotten into this and
really look forward to the Dec/Jan PWD months, and pushing the design envelope, building sibling
cars and the like.



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Re: Pinewood Derby Rules

Post by rcmoeur » Thu Jan 03, 2013 9:18 am

Don't have a lot of time for a response now, but I wanted to make a comment or two.

First, thanks for the considerable "in-town" feedback. We weren't aware that San Tan was dealing with many of the same concerns (I've been trying to make contact with other Districts with mixed success).

The 3/8" bottom clearance is recommended, not mandatory. If there's a problem, it'll unfortunately be self-enforcing, as the car scrapes the track.

Almost all the other rules are holdovers from 2011 Council rules - the only one we really changed was waiving the requirement to use the Official kit, and the provision for wheel/axle inspection (which has indeed inspired quite a bit of commentary).

We used a go-no go box last year at District, but it may have been part of an (expensive) track rental. May have to buy one, or ask tonight at Roundtable to see if a Pack has one to lend.

Wheelbase may continue to be an issue, and the rules address it (Pack races can allow long wheelbases, but District has to be within "near-box" limits). If there's consensus for dropping the wheelbase rules, it could be omitted. And if there is a Council committee to standardize rules, I'm hoping to be on it - and I'll see if I can drag you onto it as well.

So... are you up to bringing your family's cars to compete in our Open Class on March 23? Registration should be up on the District page in the next week or so... :)



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Re: Pinewood Derby Rules

Post by rpcarpe » Thu Jan 03, 2013 2:06 pm

That's a LOT of rules. We've been adjusting our rules by simplifying and educating.
I'll send our 2013 rules to your e-mail.

Please let the DT forum know how these rules go over...
Good Luck!


My wife started a new support group... Widows of the Pinewood Derby.

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Re: Pinewood Derby Rules

Post by Stan Pope » Fri Jan 04, 2013 1:45 am

rcmoeur wrote:The 3/8" bottom clearance is recommended, not mandatory. If there's a problem, it'll unfortunately be self-enforcing, as the car scrapes the track.
This is a possible fairness problem. Here is why:

There is a slight speed advantage in utilizing the space below 3/8" for ballast. The problem is that those who know what track will be used and can test on a like track can take advantage. Those who do not know must be conservative or risk major overhaul on race day.

Consequently, I recommend that the 3/8" limit be enforced.


Stan
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