Thursday, February 26, 2009

5 Quick & Easy Tips For Improving Your Pinewood Derby Car's Speed

Found a nice blog about the Pinewood Derby. I have a couple years before i need to worry too much about it, but hey - I can always get a head start.

Original Post @ (

It's that time of year again. In schools and churches and community centers around the globe, Cub Scouts are gathering to put their building skills to the test in the annual Pinewood Derby race.

Thankfully, our Cub Scout pack has a category just for dads, so I can build my own car. My son -- although I help with the more difficult and dangerous tasks -- is largely on his own. I believe it's important that his car be his own. That's not to say I haven't searched long and hard to find the best performance tips for making my car as fast as possible.

I'm sharing some of them here.

It's my understanding that there are as many different rule sets as there are packs, so what I've tried to do is keep these tips as universal and broad-based as possible. Be sure to double-check your pack's rules before your first cut into your pine block.

  • Put all of your weight in the back. Much has been written about the physics of pinewood derby cars, and this is one rare case in racing where heavy = fast. Aerodynamics have little effect in such a short race, but weight does and putting the weight at the back of the car will make your car faster on the flat of the track. Tungsten weights, in most cases, are best because of their high density.
  • Lube the car at the body/wheel friction point. Do not paint the car on the small semicircle point where the wheels meet up with the body (where the wheel well is on the car in your driveway). Rather, sand this point to a smooth finish with a very fine sandpaper. Next, after masking off the body's paint, gently massage some dry graphite into the wood. This will reduce friction and increase wheel speed.
  • Spend a fair amount of time on axle prep. Using a file and fine sandpaper, make sure you remove any burrs and defects from the axles, near the head of the nail. Some people will put a number of axles in a power drill and spin them to find the axles that are most straight (and eliminate any with noticeable wobble).
  • Make sure your wheels are ready. Depending on your pack rules, polishing (or sanding) the business side of the wheel can improve rolling resistance. You can also massage powdered graphite into the wheel edge to further reduce friction. There are plenty of vendors who sell improved wheels, but if your group is like ours, these are outlawed. You can also polish (with graphite again) the wheel's bore. Once your axles and wheels are finished, a good rule of thumb is that, with a flick of a finger, they should be able to freely spin for 20 seconds.
  • Finally, once your wheels are mounted, check their alignment. Find a long board and mark off a racing lane, about 6 inches across. Put the board on a very slight incline and allow your car to roll a few feet. If, at the end of this test run, your car has moved significantly to one side or the other (or the wheels have moved in or out), move the axle up or down to adjust your alignment.

That's it! These are my quick tips for improving your pinewood derby car's speed. Do you have a speed secret that you can share with us for making your car move? Let us know in the comments.

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Burrito Bailout

Tuesday, February 10, 2009 at 3:53pm
Initiative Includes Free Burritos for Recently Unemployed and Double Loyalty Points

ROCKVILLE, MD – While many companies across the nation are looking for a handout from the government, East Coast quick-casual chain California Tortilla has introduced their “Burrito Bailout Program,” a temporary response to the current economic hardships.

Anyone who recently lost their job can send a copy of their proof of termination or unemployment papers to the company and they will receive a Burrito Elito card loaded with a free burrito redeemable at any of the chain’s 36 locations. Paperwork dated from November 2008 will be accepted.

“Times are tough for just about everybody," said California Tortilla President Bob Phillips. “We know one burrito won't solve all of a person's woes but it might put a smile on their face and that is what we are all about at California Tortilla."

Free Burrito requests will be accepted from February 9 through February 27, 2009. The unemployed can send paperwork to bailout@californiatortilla
or California Tortilla’s World Headquarters at 20 Courthouse Square, Suite 206, Rockville, MD 20850. Coupons may only be requested from the Headquarters. California Tortilla will not return paperwork so customers are encouraged to send only a copy and cross out all personal information except for name and address.

In addition to the free burritos, the restaurant will award their Burrito Elito cardholders with double points on all purchases from February 16 to March 15. Members usually receive one point for each dollar spent and earn a $5 gift card after accruing 50 points. Under the “Burrito Bailout,” the $5 gift card will come after just 25 points. The offer is valid for all purchases, except for catering and gift cards.

Earlier this year, California Tortilla pledged to stock the kitchens at the DC Central Kitchen and So Others May Eat by donating 400 pounds of rice and beans to the non-profits.

Just what is California Tortilla? A quick-casual, Mexican restaurant with can’t-find-them-anywhere-else, award-winning, critically-acclaimed, outrageously-popular burritos, bursting quesadillas, fabulous salads, the freshest ingredients, spunky cashiers and so much more. Check out our website for all of the scoop.

Where can I find California Tortilla? We’re EVERYWHERE! Go to, for a listing of all our locations.

For more information, please call 301-545-0035 or visit our website,, be our fan on Facebook or follow us on Twitter (

Friday, February 6, 2009

Food Watch 2/5

Calorie Allotment = 2282
Calories Spent = 2310

Variance = + 1.2 %

Better than the day before, but still over. Looking at the nutrient count, i need to get my sodium under control. the USDA recommends that we consume less than 2,300 mg (approximately 1 tsp of salt) of sodium per day. Wednesday I consumed 7, 017 mg of sodium and Thursday I consumed 3522 mg. I am way off of those charts.

Thursday, February 5, 2009


Need to get a smoker so i can try this...

Eating Habits

So i found an application through my i-tunes store that will help me track how much i am supposed to eat (calorie wise). I can enter in the food that i do eat, and it already has a lot of the foods pre-programmed into it so it knows the nutritional information on them.

Calorie Count Allowed: 2282
Calorie Count Consumed: 2737

Variance: +19.93%

Not a great start to the effort, but at least it encourages me to input my intake and allows me an easier way to see where i could cut back / make changes.

Wednesday, February 4, 2009

"We didn't lose the game, we just ran out of time."

"We didn't lose the game, we just ran out of time." ~ Vince Lombardi

Saturday was week 3 of the winter soccer league. We were defeated once again (1-4). Our record now stands at 1W - 2L. It was a good game overall. Our team had a couple good players out sick which made my strategy a bit of a challenge. One of the things i am trying to do is let the kids play the positions they want to play (within reason that is). If someone wants to play offense, I will give them a chance. I have one boy on our team who is GREAT at being a keeper. He doesn't like to play it much, but I have been trying to appease him by ensuring that i rotate him into other positions during the game. This past weekend he played the first half of the game in goal and i let him choose his position for the 2nd half. Needless to say, the other team scored 3 times during the second half. Overall everyone seems to be having a good time. They play pretty well for only being able to practice together once a week. Practices are hard for me. The county only gives us 1 hour a week in the gym. By itself that would be cool, except for the fact that we have to share the gym with the 3 other teams in our division. This means that for our hour, we get 1/4 of the gym to practice. Makes almost all of my drills that i know very difficult to pull off. I spend a few minutes today pulling some drill ideas off of the net (power of google :-) ). Hopefully if i can teach them in a different way we can strengthen our play and get some more wins under our belt. My main goal for this winter is that the kids have fun, but i know winning is nice too ;-) .