Opinions of the group

General topics of interest to racers and race coordinators alike.
User avatar
rcmoeur
Pine Head
Pine Head
Posts: 74
Joined: Sat Dec 08, 2012 8:27 pm
Location: Phoenix, Arizona
Contact:

Re: Opinions of the group

Post by rcmoeur » Sun Apr 09, 2017 10:22 pm

Many of the issues raised here are why I'm keeping the job of District Pinewood Derby co-chair, even though my son has now been in a Troop for over a year.

My son's Tiger year, I witnessed a number of "lively dialogues" regarding parental interpretation of ambiguous rules at the District race. I re-read the rules and noted that much of the friction was due to unclear wording - "must use the entire kit", "must be BSA kit", "no added items", etc. I write (or should I say wrote) specifications for a living, so I submitted a rewrite of the rules to eliminate ambiguity, and suddenly I'm the new District co-chair. But I'm OK with that.

Five years later, I think we have a very good set of "parent-resistant" rules focused mainly on criteria that can be objectively measured and fairly inspected with the intent to create a "level field" for the Cubs. Short wheelbase OK, more than 4 wheels OK, drilled axle holes OK, raised wheel OK - but cars and wheels must meet other stringent measurable criteria. These rules can be seen at http://www.richardcmoeur.com/scout/2017 ... es2017.pdf. Some Packs have abridged these rules, but then ran into problems when a rule was missing, too short, or unclear. We recommend all Packs use our car specifications as exactly published in the District rules, but can run their events as they see fit.

This only works if there's thorough and fair inspection, which is professionally provided by Bob Weaver, my great co-chair. Every car gets checked for height, width, weight (to 2 decimals), wheelbase, clearance, BSA axles, and BSA wheels (no signs of machining, no tread grooves, all letters and details intact, tread width, and tread thickness). If a problem is found, the boy and his parent is notified of the exact issue, and what's needed to bring the car into compliance. We stock extra wheels, axles, and other parts, and have a good pit area. If the car can't be brought into compliance, we offer the option of moving into our "Open-Unpowered" class, which has fewer limits on modifications. We don't ever want to turn away a boy, but we won't allow an out-of-spec car to race.

I would love to see a Grand Canyon Council-level race again, but memories of the last one nearly a decade ago (which apparently didn't end well) are still strong with Council leadership. So I'll just try to run an excellent District-level race.

ThunderPeaks Pinewood Derby, serving Four Peaks and Thunderbird Districts of Grand Canyon Council - coming up on April 22nd! :1st:



User avatar
Vitamin K
Master Pine Head
Master Pine Head
Posts: 979
Joined: Sat Apr 20, 2013 7:26 pm
Location: Montgomery County, MD
Contact:

Re: Opinions of the group

Post by Vitamin K » Sun Apr 09, 2017 11:28 pm

rcmoeur wrote:Many of the issues raised here are why I'm keeping the job of District Pinewood Derby co-chair, even though my son has now been in a Troop for over a year.

My son's Tiger year, I witnessed a number of "lively dialogues" regarding parental interpretation of ambiguous rules at the District race. I re-read the rules and noted that much of the friction was due to unclear wording - "must use the entire kit", "must be BSA kit", "no added items", etc. I write (or should I say wrote) specifications for a living, so I submitted a rewrite of the rules to eliminate ambiguity, and suddenly I'm the new District co-chair. But I'm OK with that.

Five years later, I think we have a very good set of "parent-resistant" rules focused mainly on criteria that can be objectively measured and fairly inspected with the intent to create a "level field" for the Cubs. Short wheelbase OK, more than 4 wheels OK, drilled axle holes OK, raised wheel OK - but cars and wheels must meet other stringent measurable criteria. These rules can be seen at http://www.richardcmoeur.com/scout/2017 ... es2017.pdf. Some Packs have abridged these rules, but then ran into problems when a rule was missing, too short, or unclear. We recommend all Packs use our car specifications as exactly published in the District rules, but can run their events as they see fit.
That is a very comprehensive and well-written ruleset! Well done. :thumbup:



Pacfanweb
Apprentice
Apprentice
Posts: 22
Joined: Sun Feb 12, 2012 10:15 pm
Location: Wake Forest, NC

Re: Opinions of the group

Post by Pacfanweb » Thu Apr 27, 2017 9:16 pm

Speedster wrote:He tried to break the Laws of Physics, Why in the world would any car built for speed be as high as 3/8". There would be no reason for it and definitely reasons for not having it. Fenders? Tungsten putty in the Fenders? What would be wrong or against the rules for that?
Oil ? Now that's a problem and I don't know how it can be solved. Go Racing, Do your best and go on with life. You have a clear conscience. To Heck with a $5.00 trophy and cheating if that is what happened.
Have Fun with your son.
Cheers,
Speedster
Can be solved easily. Mid-America has the answer.

State that graphite will be added at check-in. If you don't bring your own, they will have some Hob E Lube for you to use.

That will ruin an oil job and probably make it slower than straight graphite, so it eliminates the oil cheaters. Or slows them down anyway, and doesn't require anymore staff and honestly, very little effort to enforce.



User avatar
rcmoeur
Pine Head
Pine Head
Posts: 74
Joined: Sat Dec 08, 2012 8:27 pm
Location: Phoenix, Arizona
Contact:

Re: Opinions of the group

Post by rcmoeur » Thu Apr 27, 2017 11:11 pm

Last Saturday was our ThunderPeaks Pinewood Derby (District-level race for Four Peaks and Thunderbird Districts of Grand Canyon Council). The event went extremely well, with greatly increased turnout from Cub Scouts, a robust Open Class, and lots of fun. However, Bob Weaver, our chief inspector, was kept very busy with more than a few out-of-spec cars being submitted for racing (mostly involving too-small or modified wheels). We were polite but firm - either the car had to be brought into spec, or it could be moved to our "Open-Unpowered" class, where the rules were much more relaxed. One car brought in had turned wheels just a few thousandths under the minimum - but even after grandpa (a former Council Derby chair) had argued it was "within tolerances", the car was rejected until wheels were swapped for ones that met the dimensions. Note that the car came in third overall anyway with the stock wheels.

The experience reinforced the importance of keeping "as level a playing field as practical" for the entrants through detailed and uniform inspection, to try to minimize the Pinewood Derby experience from being decided by "how big is Dad's wallet" and more by how much effort is put into axle and bore prep (and alignment).

Looking forward to next year (after some well-deserved rest). :)



User avatar
Darin McGrew
Pine Head Legend
Pine Head Legend
Posts: 1735
Joined: Fri Jul 18, 2003 1:23 pm
Location: Mountain View, CA
Contact:

Re: Opinions of the group

Post by Darin McGrew » Tue May 02, 2017 10:32 pm

Pacfanweb wrote:
Speedster wrote:Oil ? Now that's a problem and I don't know how it can be solved.
Can be solved easily. Mid-America has the answer.
IMHO, the Four Peaks District and the Thunderbird District (among others) have a much better answer. Allow any and all lubricants, as long as no residue leaves the car or is deposited on the track or other surfaces.



Speedster
Pine Head Legend
Pine Head Legend
Posts: 1331
Joined: Sat Feb 18, 2012 2:48 pm
Location: Toledo, Ohio

Re: Opinions of the group

Post by Speedster » Wed May 03, 2017 4:45 am

I fail to see how allowing oil and an extended wheelbase is an attempt to create a "level field" for the scouts. Each of those helps the scout following science. Krytox oil is expensive and Dad's going to buy it. The scout following science is probably going to have a car that looks like a Hershey Bar and weighted with 1/4" tungsten cubes. Dad is going to buy that too. An official BSA nail can be purchased from a Vendor which has been prepped by someone who does it for a living. Lots of wheels with the preferred mold numbers can be purchased and probably 3 good wheels will be found. Dad is going to buy these also.
Any Team who is building a car for speed is going to use any rule that is made to their advantage. The Team is also going to have all the knowledge that science provides because that's what they are interested in for this particular activity.

I applaud everyones attempt to try to make the Pinewood Derby Fair for everyone. I would suggest no rule be made that is going to give the scout following science an advantage. He already has the Best advantage. Knowledge and the willingness to use that knowledge by spending the time and effort it will take to reach his goal.



User avatar
Vitamin K
Master Pine Head
Master Pine Head
Posts: 979
Joined: Sat Apr 20, 2013 7:26 pm
Location: Montgomery County, MD
Contact:

Re: Opinions of the group

Post by Vitamin K » Wed May 03, 2017 4:48 pm

Speedster wrote:I fail to see how allowing oil and an extended wheelbase is an attempt to create a "level field" for the scouts. Each of those helps the scout following science. Krytox oil is expensive and Dad's going to buy it. The scout following science is probably going to have a car that looks like a Hershey Bar and weighted with 1/4" tungsten cubes. Dad is going to buy that too. An official BSA nail can be purchased from a Vendor which has been prepped by someone who does it for a living. Lots of wheels with the preferred mold numbers can be purchased and probably 3 good wheels will be found. Dad is going to buy these also.
Any Team who is building a car for speed is going to use any rule that is made to their advantage. The Team is also going to have all the knowledge that science provides because that's what they are interested in for this particular activity.

I applaud everyones attempt to try to make the Pinewood Derby Fair for everyone. I would suggest no rule be made that is going to give the scout following science an advantage. He already has the Best advantage. Knowledge and the willingness to use that knowledge by spending the time and effort it will take to reach his goal.
Krytox is expensive up front, but a single bottle should last you your entire racing career. I bought one bottle for our entire Pack and we've barely made a dent in it. (That said, I do feel the Scout Store charges more than it ought to.)

Extending the wheelbase is a very simple mod that anybody can do. Especially if you run a three wheeler car. I never understand why people complain that it should not be allowed. Who isn't able to cut a slot with a hacksaw, or drill a hole?

Regarding wheels, you have to find a balance between what's reasonable and what's opening the door to overly expensive mods. Allowing the outer surface to be trued without removing weight from the inside of the wheel seems like a reasonable place to end up.



Speedster
Pine Head Legend
Pine Head Legend
Posts: 1331
Joined: Sat Feb 18, 2012 2:48 pm
Location: Toledo, Ohio

Re: Opinions of the group

Post by Speedster » Thu May 04, 2017 7:00 am

The folks who don't have a hacksaw or drill are those who can't cut a slot or drill a hole. I help with a workshop where the entire Pack fits this category. It's a Pack that totals 17 scouts.
Let's forget for a moment the Best Design category. Why then would a rule be made that would allow an extended wheelbase?
As a good friend of Derbytalk stated, "They're easier to tune". If it was easy to cut an accurate slot Derbyworx wouldn't have made a tool to help you do it. As for drilled holes, there are very expensive tools sold that help you drill a hole that will help you instead of hurting you. Folks on Derbytalk have advised against buying an inexpensive drill press because they're not accurate enough to drill a decent hole. Requiring the stock wheelbase is not going to burden anyone. The Team following science is probably going to cut their own slots anyway which might give them a bit of an advantage. A rule allowing an extended wheelbase is definitely going to give that Team an advantage.

I think the folks on Derbytalk are not the general rule of the Cub Scouts and the Pinewood Derby. Derbytalk has advanced our knowledge so fast we might tend to forget the Grandma who is raising her Grandson. I know everyone is doing their Best to help their scouts. I suspect the folks on Derbytalk do far more workshops then perhaps those who do not visit this site.
This is a wonderful site.
Cheers,
Speedster



User avatar
Vitamin K
Master Pine Head
Master Pine Head
Posts: 979
Joined: Sat Apr 20, 2013 7:26 pm
Location: Montgomery County, MD
Contact:

Re: Opinions of the group

Post by Vitamin K » Thu May 04, 2017 8:32 am

If you don't have the means to drill a hole or cut a slot, I would argue that you're going to have a hard time with the other aspects of building a Pinewood Derby car as well. At our workshops, we have a drill press and an axle jig. If somebody wants an extended wheelbase, we can do it for them right at the workshop.

Yes, an extended wheelbase gives an advantage...but it's an advantage that can very easily be attained by anybody who wants it. In my opinion, this is exactly the kind of improvement that rules should strive to include. I love modifications that A) can be accomplished by a typical father/son team working together without significant monetary investment and/or specialized tools and B) reward time spent in research and investigation with real results. Why not reward those teams that do their best to keep physics on their side?

It is true that not every Scout has access to a committed dad who wants to help them build a good car. I feel badly for kids in these situations, and I think there are things race organizers can do to help, but I think that stripping away easy-to-do, practical car modifications is the wrong approach.



User avatar
Darin McGrew
Pine Head Legend
Pine Head Legend
Posts: 1735
Joined: Fri Jul 18, 2003 1:23 pm
Location: Mountain View, CA
Contact:

Re: Opinions of the group

Post by Darin McGrew » Thu May 04, 2017 10:14 pm

Speedster wrote:Let's forget for a moment the Best Design category. Why then would a rule be made that would allow an extended wheelbase?
Let's forget for a moment the Best Design category. Why then would a rule be made that would prohibit an extended wheelbase?

We require the cars to fit the track without interfering with the track or with the other cars. Other than that, we don't restrict their dimensions.

We have the necessary tools available at all our workshops, as well as volunteers who can help use the tools safely. Anyone competing in our derby has multiple opportunities to change the wheelbase. (Some have even made the wheelbase shorter, sometimes much shorter.)

What advantage would banning modified wheelbases offer?


And ditto what Vitamin K said about Krytox. We have three bottles (so multiple people can lube their wheels and axles at the same time), and they will last us for several more derbies. And it's much less messy than graphite was.



Speedster
Pine Head Legend
Pine Head Legend
Posts: 1331
Joined: Sat Feb 18, 2012 2:48 pm
Location: Toledo, Ohio

Re: Opinions of the group

Post by Speedster » Fri May 05, 2017 5:48 am

An Extended wheelbase car is a speed advantage. Recommended amounts of weight behind the rear axle slot changes. They're easier to tune. Why would anyone want to give a skilled builder any advantage? Some folks with long tracks have shortened their tracks so cars don't get spread out so much. Allowing oil and graphite is the same thing. The Mid America race proves oil is faster than graphite.

The same scout is going to win the race every year. Let's not give him any help doing it.



User avatar
Vitamin K
Master Pine Head
Master Pine Head
Posts: 979
Joined: Sat Apr 20, 2013 7:26 pm
Location: Montgomery County, MD
Contact:

Re: Opinions of the group

Post by Vitamin K » Fri May 05, 2017 6:51 am

Speedster wrote:An Extended wheelbase car is a speed advantage. Recommended amounts of weight behind the rear axle slot changes. They're easier to tune. Why would anyone want to give a skilled builder any advantage? Some folks with long tracks have shortened their tracks so cars don't get spread out so much. Allowing oil and graphite is the same thing. The Mid America race proves oil is faster than graphite.

The same scout is going to win the race every year. Let's not give him any help doing it.
I totally don't follow your logic. I mean, polishing wheel bores and axles is also a speed advantage. A skilled builder is going do this, as well. So should we forbid that in the rules, too, since it gives them an advantage? I mean, I have plenty of kids running races in our Pack races who do zero bore/axle prep. Why give the advantage to the ones that take time to do this?

If there's a modification that requires a whole lot of special tools or money (e.g. reduced weight wheels) then I am all about restricting that. But I completely disagree with removing options from the table that allow any smart and creative team to give their car speed advantages. What else is the speed aspect of the Derby about?



User avatar
davet
Master Pine Head
Master Pine Head
Posts: 503
Joined: Wed Jan 16, 2013 2:33 am
Location: MN

Re: Opinions of the group

Post by davet » Fri May 05, 2017 7:18 am

The advantage in having more options for gaining speed is that the adult and the scout get to learn more about the physics of reducing friction. The scout gets to learn how to use a variety of tools. The scout and adult get more time to work together as a team.

I told my boy when we were building scout cars that we would always use stock parts for the Pack race and would consider aftermarket stuff after that.



User avatar
Darin McGrew
Pine Head Legend
Pine Head Legend
Posts: 1735
Joined: Fri Jul 18, 2003 1:23 pm
Location: Mountain View, CA
Contact:

Re: Opinions of the group

Post by Darin McGrew » Fri May 05, 2017 8:51 am

Speedster wrote:Why would anyone want to give a skilled builder any advantage?
Why indeed?

Why not just have some adult build a bunch of identical cars in a workshop, and assign them randomly to the kids when they show up for the race?



User avatar
Darin McGrew
Pine Head Legend
Pine Head Legend
Posts: 1735
Joined: Fri Jul 18, 2003 1:23 pm
Location: Mountain View, CA
Contact:

Re: Opinions of the group

Post by Darin McGrew » Fri May 05, 2017 8:53 am

davet wrote:The scout and adult get more time to work together as a team.
Bingo. The point is to facilitate adult-child interaction.

If some kids are at a disadvantage, then we'll make resources (including adult volunteers) available to them at our workshops.



Post Reply