Pinewood Derby Cars, Engineering to Win

Back when I was a scout, I built a couple of pinewood derby cars. They didn’t do too well when it came time to race, but I was very proud of them regardless. Although my bedroom has moved through at least four homes since I built my last one, the cars have remained displayed throughout the years.

Now as an adult, I have an opportunity to construct a good pinewood derby car: a real race car. I don’t know what rules there are behind this competition, but I do know that I have a block of wood in my bedroom and regulations wheels and axles.

Some initial thoughts that I had when I picked up the kit were to cut the wood to keep the center of gravity lower on the body. An increased wheelbase should result in increased stability down the track. Thinner wheels will have lower resistance.

Should be a good time 🙂

Building this car was a real learning experience.

I learned that I ought to exercise more caution with power tools.

While cutting my block down to a wedge, I neglected to realize the importance of utilizing the proper tool. The resulting damage to the block was immediate and severe, and debris was flung from the tool at high speed. I was fortunate not to have been injured, and that no damage was done to the structures and property near my workspace.

I learned that the rotary tool can be used pretty well for rough wood removal.

I learned that having access to a drill press would have come in handy.

Consult these if you’re interested..


Given the relative popularity and success of the writeup that I did on solutions for adding Bluetooth to any A/V receiver, I decided two things:

  1. It makes sense to separate hardware reviews like my review of Belkin’s Bluetooth HD Music Receiver, from informative posts like the Bluetooth ‘article’ linked above.
  2. I should feel free to flaunt my relative expertise in consumer electronics (whatever my expertise is) for the benefit of myself and of the English-language using netizens finding their ways over here.

I have orphaned a great many posts on this site. There are some that I had grand designs for, and I’m somewhat dismayed that I’ve let them fall through the cracks a bit. However, I’m happy that I made the decision to post a good enough number, such that there are people who are visiting (and supporting my site through visits to!)

So, in celebration of the semi-successful format of the informative/review posts above, I’ve separated out my (still percolating) thoughts on whether the EatSmart Body Fat Scale is a Stinking Scam (or not?) from any content that serves strictly as a review of said EatSmart Body Fat Scale.

OK, done.

Spud Inc. Dip Belt Review

My Rating: ★★★★☆ – Enthusiastically recommended

Functional, sturdy hardware, and comfortable to use

The Spud Inc. Dip Belt that I bought to replace my last dip belt is so good that I have only these words to describe it.

  • It just works. Everything is right.
  • It holds a lot of weight.
  • It invites confidence.
  • The hardware is solid.
  • The chain is long.
  • It’s uncomplicated. Just made out of durable materials.

Compare this against Cap Barbell’s leather dip belt (click for my review) that I returned to Amazon. Which would you rather have?

What’s really funny to me is seeing the unit price differences for hardware. Cheap leather dip belts like the one marketed by Cap Barbell cut corners in areas that matter. You will pay marginally more for the Spud Inc. Dip Belt, and Spud might make more money on each unit sold than Cap Barbell and the other guys who are selling lousy leather dip belts, but sometimes that’s just the way the cookie crumbles.

Spud Inc. delivers on this one. Enthusiastically recommended.

Buy it on and support my site in the process! May the gains be with you.

Chattering sounds and camber plates

I’ve just gotten through swapping sway bar end links and a tie rod assembly.

I was so certain that the sounds I was hearing from the front end were due to the sway bar end links. They failed visual inspection — the boots were clearly torn.

The new Lemforder sway bar end links went on fine, and I got them on quite tight.

I drove over to the shop to get an alignment done, and the front end chattered as it went over bumps in the road surface, which can be indicative of any number of issues, but I’ve got the SPC caster/camber plates on as well.

I looked up SPC camber plates and was pleased to find that they’re used in a range of applications, which means I’ll have an easier time finding other cases to review.

I’m really hoping that it’s not the camber plates that are causing this new noise. Without them, I’d still be up against one degree of cross-caster. My gut tells me that it might be them – I read about the springs doing something with the spring perch. Going to have to investigate this further.

On second thought, the greatest probability should be assigned to the event that there is something that hasn’t been torqued down enough. Given that I don’t have the BMW special tool to torque down the front upper strut nut, this nut should be most suspect.

In the past, I would have used an impact wrench, but I learned from my mistakes.