Monday, June 15, 2009

Tales of a Pinewood Derby car

Last year my friend Jeremy made a US flag for his Derby car since it was held on the 5th of July. So we were talking about what special holidays might be around this year's Derby. I looked it up and here are a few of the special holidays.

Captain Kangaroo's birthday, National Columnists Day, anniversary of the melody to Happy Birthday being written, National Orange Blossom Day, National Picnic Day....

I entertained the idea of decorating a block of wood to look like a cake and putting the words to Happy Birthday on it. I thought about doing something with a picnic theme, but then Chris said that he wanted to make a picnic basket. He's since dropped that idea.

I decided to go with National Orange Blossom Day. I drew a branch onto my block and then cut it out- making sure to leave branches for the axles. However, the problem was then that my "car" weighted .7-.8 ounces. Ugh. I cut away a lot of weight. We went in search of fishing weights. We were going to go with tungsten since they are much more dense than lead, but instead we got a variety of lead weights.

We drilled into the front and back and added half an ounce on each end. Add some stain and putty, and I'm now up to 1.7 ounces. Still nowhere near what I want. For leaves I had thought about carving them, but I tried that and although it was working, I wasn't thrilled with the way they were turning out. And it still wasn't going to be heavy enough. Then I thought about polymer clay.

But did clay flowers and leaves count as "simple add-ons"? Since I was unsure, I asked my back-up committee of judge, and he told me that it would be ok. So if anyone has a problem with it, it's Boy Chris' fault! I was going to add some bits of lead into my clay before baking, but Chris told me I couldn't do that. Something about fumes. Whatever!

So instead I took some lead fishing weights and pounded them with a hammer until they sort of resembled leaves. Hopefully I can get them to stay on the car!

Then there was the clay. Yesterday I made a bunch of leaves and flowers. I had one flower that I really liked. The directions said 130 degrees for 15 minutes per quarter inch, and don't overbake. Mine were about 1/8 inch so I did 5 minutes- checked, nope. 5 more minutes. Pulled them out. Left them for a bit and tried one and it broke. Did they need more time? I put them back in a bit longer. When I took them out, they still broke. What was going on? If you overbake do they become too brittle? That's when I re-read the directions. They were supposed to go in at 130 degrees Celsius (275 Farenheit). Wait, who puts the Celsius temp first? Maybe it's European? I checked- Made in the USA!

Tonight I tried again with much more success. The pictures that you see here were from tonight's batch. Once my lead leaves get painted I should be able to start assembling it. And if I'm lucky, when it goes down the track, it won't break or fall apart.

Finally, I leave you with a mystery. I don't think it's Derby related. Ok, there's a derby website on this post-it, but what I want to know, is what the heck I was sketching. I asked Chris what it was and he doesn't know either. Any ideas??

No comments: