There are six major factors that influence the speed of a Pinewood Derby car. Pay close attendtion to all six of these and you can build a winning car.
Major Speed Factors:
1. Body Design
2. Weight Placement
3. Wheel Preparation
4. Axle Preparation
Advanced Speed Techniques:
1. Rail Rider Alignment
2. Rear Wheel Canting
3. Advanced Friction Reduction
There is no doubt that friction is enemy number one to the speed of a Pinewood Derby car. A major troublesome point source of friction is where the wheel hub rubs against the car body. During the race, the wheels tend to migrate back and forth on the axle shaft and make contact with the car body. Occasionally, a wheel will migrate into the body and stay there creating a braking effect all the way down the track. There are several things you can do to reduce the friction of this rubbing.
Most experts agree that its best if the wheel hubs never touch the body at all. The only way to accomplish this is to cant (bend) both rear axles. We want to bend both rear axles up so that the wheels migrate outward toward the inside of the axle head and not inward toward the car body. It is true that this process simply shifts the wheel friction from the car body to the axle head however; the amount of friction is greatly reduced especially if you put a super mirror polish on the inside of the axle head.
The rear axles are bent upward so that
the top of the wheels lean in toward the
car body. This will force the wheels to
migrate out and away from the car body
thus decreasing friction.
Perhaps you should consider purchasing the
Derby Monkey Advanced Rail Riding and Wheel Canting Kit. This kit contains the tools and detailed instruction manual to get you on your way to wheel canting and car alignment.
Or maybe you can do it without the kit. You can bend the rear axles using the same methods discussed in the Rail Riding section using Derby Worx Pro Axle Press and Pro Rail Rider Tool. The same tools found in the Derby Monkey Ultimate Rail Rider Kit. Depending on who you talk to, the amount of rear axle canting should be from 1.5 to 3.0 degrees. Derby Monkey uses 2.5 degrees canting on all of its cars.
You should make a Sharpie mark on the head of the axle so that you will know what direction the bend is. One way is to first bend the axle with the Pro Axle Press and Pro Rail Rider Tool. Then, before you remove the axle, place a black dot on the head at the most downward position (6:00). When the axles are later installed the black dot will be placed straight up at the 12:00 position.
You can also cut a groove in the axle head so that you can turn the mounted axle with a screwdriver. Just like described in the Rail Rider section. Of course, you can also adjust the rear axles with any hobby pliers of the Max V Axle Pliers.
After applying lubrication to the wheels and axles, install them with the location dot of both rear axles at the 12:00 position… or position your axle head groove in the vertical position. Look at the car from the rear and make sure that the tops of the wheels are leaning in toward the body.
Hold the car up to your eye level and on its side so that the bottom wheels are as far from the car body as they will go. Then visually inspect the rear wheel. Try to make sure that the rear wheel is parallel to the car body… at least as close as possible. The distance from the outside edge of the wheel to the car body should be the same on both the front and back edge of the wheel. If they are not then slightly turn the axle one way or the other until the wheel is parallel to the body surface. Do this with both rear wheels. The final location of the black dots may or may not end up at exactly 12:00.
Gently roll your car on a flat surface and concentrate on the rear wheel hubs. If the hubs migrate toward the body and rub against it, then slightly turn the axle with pliers or an axle head screwdriver. Continue to test and adjust until the wheels migrate out and against the axle head. Perform this with the car rolling forward and backward.
Now you’re all set.
If you want the speed advantages of wheel canting but don't want to do all the work yourself then you should consider our Stainless Steel Pre-Bent Axles. The NEW Pre-Bent Derby Worx Viper Stainless Steel 2-Groove Axles are the most advanced Pinewood Derby axles on the market. They are exactly like our Derby Worx Viper Stainless Steel Speed Axles but these axles are pre-bent (canted) with a 2.5 degree bend in order to decrease friction and increase speed! These axles come highly polished and also have grooves to serve as lubrication reservoirs and to reduce wheel to axle contact.
Typically, both rear axles are bent so that the wheels will migrate away from the car body in order to eliminate the wheel to body friction and increase speed. The dominant front axle is also bent so that you can easily adjust the alignment of the car to either roll perfectly straight or to turn the car into a Rail Rider and significantly improve speed.These super fast axles come already bent so that you can quickly and easily install and blow the doors off of the competition.
You will also receive an instruction manual that explains how to install and adjust these axles in order to optimize performance.