Thursday, February 7, 2008

Not Quite Nascar

Racers start your engines!

My boys go to a club at church called AWANA and one of the activities they enjoy the most is the annual pine car derby, with this year’s being held tomorrow night. It always proves to be a great time when fathers, (and mothers too), get to act just like the kids, watching their cars race down the track.

The photos you see here are the creations my boys and I have come up with over the past few years. The last two years I did most of the work on their cars while they instructed me on how they wanted them to look. This year I took a different approach. I really wanted them to have more of the hands on building with me being there to help them as necessary and to make sure fingers didn’t get cut off in the process.

If you’ve never been introduced to building one of these, the basics are as follows: You start with a block of pine that measures approximately 7(l) x 1 ¾(w) x 1 ¾(h) inches. You are also given four plastic wheels and four metal axles. From here you are allowed to make any type of design you want as long as the overall weight doesn’t exceed 5oz.

So equipped with our car kits, a lot of imagination and a good amount of enthusiasm, the boys and I headed to the “body shop” otherwise known as the garage. After they decided on their design it was time to break out the power tools. (Insert a Tim Taylor grunting sound here). Tool number one would be the band saw. They held the block of wood and guided the blade along the lines they had traced while I kept my hands on top of theirs.

Mission accomplished…both cars got cut out and everyone had the same amount of fingers as when the evening began. Next up, the belt and disc sander. I once again helped them safely learn how to use the sander to smooth out the rough cuts from the saw.

Time to paint. They both decided to start with gloss black. I think my youngest would have picked sky-blue pink with purple polka dots if that had been the color his brother picked. Being the youngest of three boys I can totally relate to this. I always wanted to be cool like my big brothers. Well, this signalled the end of evening number one and the most difficult part for them. Waiting for the paint to dry.

Night number two consisted of helping them add racing stripes, apply decals and paint things such as, windows, doors, and lights. We then glued the axels in place and applied a liberal amount of graphite to the wheels so they will (hopefully) zip down the track.

This was definitely one of those proud papa moments when my boys and I could bond while playing in the garage.

Pine car kits, $3.00 each… Spray paint, $5.00…Time spent with my sons, Priceless!

I’ll give you an update after tomorrow night to let you know how the competition went.


Anonymous said...

Thanks Jeff for sharing this bonding experience with us. What a neat way your church has found to bring families closer, while having good clean fun. Like you say, priceless....Please give "A" and "M" hugs from great aunt Frankie and tell them she wishes them luck and fun tomorrow night.

Desert Songbird said...

More power! We need more power!

See you next week, Jeff. Have a great weekend racing with the boys.

Jeni said...

Hmmm - remind me sometime to do a post with pictures of my son's 1967 Volkswagon bug that he rebuilt, painted, has all jazzed up. (Currently, it is in storage in his garage, waiting for a new motor.) But it's really cute what he did with it - "Baja" type thing you know. Maybe it might inspire one of your boys to do their next "car" like a VW Bug!

Jeff B said...

Frankie- The hugs have been givin. They both think it's so cool that your words show up on our computer even though your in Texas. They're right you know. the net is pretty cool isn't it?

Thanks for checking in, it's always nice to hear form you. See you in a few weeks.

Songbird- I'm givin it all she's got! I can't give 'er no more!

Good luck to you my dear.

Jeni- That would be fun to see. Who knows, maybe next year that will be their design choice.

david mcmahon said...

You had so much fun and didn;t tell me when and where?

Tsk, tsk ....

I would have loved to be there, Jeff.

I have always spent time with my kids, all the way thru, and it has been such a great blessing for me.

Have been remiss in not adding you to my blogroll but will do it today ....

Dana said...

The Pinewood Derby has become an annual event in our home as well, and yes, mom does help!

Kid is in charge of design, Dad is in charge of speed, mom is in charge of making sure Dad and Kid don't fight over design and speed!

Mel said...


Make 'em go REALLY fast!

Oh, what a great thing for the kiddos and the dad.
AND you end up with a really cool toy.

Very well done!
Good luck with that race!


Leighann said...

What a great post! I think that this experience is fantastic for you and the boys!

Good luck with the race!

Matt-Man said...

Best of luck to your "midget racers" Jeff. Sounds like you all are having a great time with it. Cheers!!

buffalodickdy said...

Did the same stuff with Cub Scouts! We made to regionals a couple of times- I'm kind of a an engineering type.. If I can find those old cars, I will post pictures! To generalize, we went skinny on body, added weights, and polished axles treated afterward with graphite..

Anndi said...


You Sir, are a wonderful dad.

Thank you for sharing this. And as a 'safety person', I know your boys will thank you when they get through life with all their parts.

CrystalChick said...

Neat cars! My hub always got involved with our son and the Scouts version.. Pinewood Derby.
p.s. I posted my 'cleft' story. It's too long for most people, but there's some before/after pics. Amazing what can be done these days.

Sandee (Comedy +) said...

How fun. I love putting models together too. Must come from having a son that so enjoyed this. You sized it up nicely with, time spent with my sons, Priceless! Have a great day and I hope you do well in the comptition. :)

Jules~ said...

Jeff, it sounds like you had a wonderful time...both you and your boys. That is so awesome. Those times mean more than any amount of pricey things you could possibly do.
Have fun at the races!

~Deb said...

I loved building cars when in my shop class in high school. We made them out of pine and used those sanders and cutting machines - it was so much fun. The best part was getting them painted up and lacquered. What a fun thing to do. We then had to stick a little explosive device (like a tiny rocket thingie) into the back of it so we can race one another.

I gotta get back into more creative things!

the teach said...

Great cars! Beautifully done! Now I want to know how things went at the competition, Jeff! :)

Hammer said...

That's a cool project. I didn't know it was that simple. Some of those designs are terrific.

Jeff B said...

David- Nice to hear that you've spent good times with you kids too. Good foundations now, great leaders in the future.

Dana- I love that comment. How true that is in so many households.

Mel- As far as the kids are concerned, we might as well be going to the Indy 500.

Leighann- I had so much fun with them. We're leaving pretty soon.

Matt- The cars or the boys? Bwahaha

buffalo- Sounds like you've got all the tricks of the trade down. I'd love to see your creations if you find them.

Anndi- Thanks, Lisa was pleased with my overseeing of their safety too.

Chrystalchick- I'll be sure to read your post later this evening when I have enough time.

Thanks for letting me know about it.

Sandee- Like you, I grew up putting models together too. I'll let you know how the race goes.

Jules- I'm pretty sure these are the things they will remember after I'm pushing up dasies.

Deb- I'd love to put a rocket on one of them, but I'm pretty sure that would get us disqualified.

Sure would be fun though!

Teach- Thanks for the kudos, I'll report on the event after words.

Hammer- One of my favorite designs from last year was from someone that did no cutting or sanding whatsoever. They just painted it to look like a school bus. Funny thing was, it did better than some of the really detailed ones.

Ron said...

Hey, Jeff...this post was way too cool! Thanks for sharing the process through your photos!

It made me want to be there with you guys having fun.

My brother and I use to put together model airplanes and cars. My favorite thing of course, was sniffing the GLUE!

What a wonderful thing you do as a dad with you sons...just GREAT!

Good luck at the races!

Leighann said...

Congrats on the COW!!

Bond said...

OH man I remember Pine Car Derby when my Matt was in Boy Scouts...He (we) never won, but came in third one year...

A fun time..indeed...thanks for the memories

Jeff B said...

Leighann- I've always been told I was full of bull. Guess it must be true.

Bond- Good times my friend, good times. We've never won either, but have had a lot of fun along the way.

Neva said...

I am so glad you let the boys do it...the year my husband finally let the boys do their own for the cub scout pinewood derby, my second son's won and continued to go on and win at 2 more levels...we still have it....what a hoot....a walk down memory lane here today. thanks.

Jeff B said...

Neva- It was so much more fun watching their little hands do most of the work. We had a blast.

Thanks for coming by.

Roger said...

Those are cool Jeff!! When I was a kid my friends Dad was a great wood carver he carved a face in the front of the car, it looked so cool! Better than the milk carton I had lol!!