Yes, I know: it has been awhile since I have posted! So, where have I been? Well, the Prairie Family has been very busy for the last couple of weeks getting ready for the annual Cub Scout Pinewood Derby. Usually it is earlier in the year than this, but because of logistical issues, our derby was held just this past Monday. Even though Luke is our only Cub Scout, there are classes in the derby for Boy Scouts and other family members, so it has been our practice to have everyone make cars to enter.
Every year we try to improve our cars, and so our processes get more and more complex and time-consuming. This year we ended up making eleven cars (yes, I know that is more cars than Prairie Family members!) The reason we ended up with so many is because we kept having “issues” along the way that required modifications, starting over, etc. Rather than wasting the failed cars (LOL!), we went ahead and finished them too. We are planning to use pinewood cars in our VBS this summer, so having a few more for that doesn’t hurt anything!
So what “learning experiences” (i.e. problems) did we encounter this year? Our biggest issues involved the weight of the cars. The rules for the race require the cars to be 5.0 ounces or less, and for speed purposes, the closer to the 5.0 ounces the better. In the past, we haven’t had problems with getting our cars to that weight, but for some unknown reason this year we struggled and struggled. First they were too light, then too heavy. We made adjustments to the bodies, but that is where we ended up having to shave off so much that we had to start over.
I also had problems with the paint jobs. Again, for some random reason, sometimes the paint jobs crackle when the clear acrylic coat is added at the end. I don’t know why this happens. We use all of the same brands of primer, paint, and acrylic, and even though some paint works one year on one car, it randomly crackles on another car a different year. The only solution to this is to sand the cars clear down to the bare wood and start over. We had that happen to three cars this year, but with patience, we eventually got it all worked out.
Those of us who enjoy decorating had fun making our cars unique this year. I discovered that we can make our own themed cars by making stickers using my handy-dandy Xyron machines. Those silly machines have been so useful in a variety of projects–they are well worth the price of the machines and refills. Cosette wanted to make a purple crayon car this year, and since we didn’t really know how to do that, we made a practice crayon first before making the car that she entered. That was a good thing to do. We learned a lot on that first crayon car!
We spent more time lubricating and polishing this year to try to improve our speed. I don’t know if these steps actually helped our speed or not, but I do know that it didn’t hurt anything! Besides, I figured that having the kids go through these steps helped teach them about the craftsmanship involved in these silly little cars.
So, how did our cars do? Stay tuned… My next entry will show the finished cars and tell how they raced!
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