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First attempt at a ladder car ...

Discussion in 'Ask The Pros' started by Thinkin'Bout Racin, Apr 3, 2018.

  1. Thinkin'Bout Racin

    Thinkin'Bout Racin National Contender

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    Ok, now that we are officially Pinewood Derby addicts, we are attempting a ladder car for myself and for TBR Jr.

    I am curious as to if you cover the top with plywood for added strength, what thickness do you use?

    If you are using vinyl , are you covering with plywood or just placing the vinyl over the supporting skeleton?

    I am sure there are many different ways to accomplish this, but we are curious as to what you do and the reasons for doing it that way. We are trying to learn the reasons WHY so we have a better understanding of this addiction. ;)

    Thanks,

    Team TBR
     
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  2. Mojo Racing

    Mojo Racing National Contender Pro Racer

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    You will see some who walk on both sides of that fence... Then than fence will come to a T. LOL

    If you are looking for weight reduction alone, you will just ladder your car and cover your weight section with 1/64" plywood.

    Some guys want to stiffen their cars up some and run 1/64" ply all the way down the length of the car.

    Then there are guys who think more is better... They top the whole car, then they plate the bottom of the car from the weight pocket forward.

    Now, it all depends on what you are looking to accomplish, and that is the fight that every racer has with himself... "What do I want to achieve?"

    Build a few bodies, and you will have your mind made up about what works best for you and Jr.
     
  3. Laserman

    Laserman Guest

    Hi TBR,

    Usually I like to machine out the body to leave a cover about 1/32" thick... Then I can put some double sided vinyl tape on acetate and cover the bottom.

    Other times..I will punch right through and put some 1/8" balsa in the void on top.


    IMG_4264.JPG IMG_3996.JPG
     
  4. Thinkin'Bout Racin

    Thinkin'Bout Racin National Contender

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    Thanks guys!

    I appreciate both the time you took to answer and the answers I received. I figured there was a number of ways to "skin the cat", but I was/am curious as to the why each process is chosen. The more I know both good ideas and bad, should help drive my decision down the right path.

    Laserman, pictures are ALWAYS a BIG plus in my book. :cool:

    Mojo, you raise some valid points and have stirred the thought process!

    Thanks.
     
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  5. Rebel Racer

    Rebel Racer District Champion

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    Those are some nice clean cuts their Laseman,nice work!
     
  6. cmoney atrain

    cmoney atrain Pinewood Ninja

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    Wow, Laserman! That looks so clean! How do you get the front done so well? I would love to see your setup.
     
  7. Laserman

    Laserman Guest

    Thanks fellas.

    TBR,
    I could really go on and on about why I do it this way... but my phone battery is dying...
    So for now, I will have to quote one of my favorite philosopher/wordsmith/statisticians-

    “Cuz its faster” -TRE
     
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  8. Thinkin'Bout Racin

    Thinkin'Bout Racin National Contender

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    I don't want to be in the middle of any kind of disagreement :eek:. Please try to keep this on track as possible as I just want to learn. I am truly interested in understanding lots of different reasons and methods.

    Please feel free to add as much information as you feel pertinent once you re-charge your battery! :)

    Thanks to all who reply!
     
  9. Rebel Racer

    Rebel Racer District Champion

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    Yah,what he said... take it up on the track.I wouldn’t mind watching another pinks race!​
     
  10. Laserman

    Laserman Guest

    Just having a little fun, fellas.
    Troy knows that I love him with all my heart.

    I like the one piece body/ cover for several reasons...

    -The long grain running stem to stern is pound for pound the strongest, lightest way to get it done. It holds the rear axle intact and resists any warping... it triangulates the structure of frame... it is cheap and easy... no gluing or adding other materials (except to cover the bottom) .. it is quick to shape... just need to shape the nose and inset the front axle area by .06” ish then sand the cover to about .015” and candy coat it with some thin CA glue.. it is seamless....

    The short answer is: The strength and weight.
     
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  11. Thinkin'Bout Racin

    Thinkin'Bout Racin National Contender

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    I did take notice of the long grain running from front to back. I was even thinking about commenting on it. I know that would be very strong. My question about it would be, can you have success in drilling it across the grain and not have the bit walk? In other words, have you had success in getting perfect rear alignment drilling cross grain?

    BTW. Thanks for your explanation
     
    Last edited: Apr 4, 2018
  12. Mojo Racing

    Mojo Racing National Contender Pro Racer

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    Personally, I don't use any blocks from a PWD kit when I build a car. The grain is too unpredictable. I use sugar pine because the grain is generally straight and it isn't too thick. There are quite a few people on these boards that use bass or poplar when building because of the grain issue as well.

    Drilling through a thick grain will make the bit wander, and it could cause your alignment to be slightly off.
     
  13. Vitamin K

    Vitamin K District Champion

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    IMO, a big influencer on your choice of body construction is as simple as looking at what tools you have available to you. If you have a CNC mill, well, by all means, employ it. If you have a router and you're patient and accurate enough with it to cut weight pockets that way, go for it. If, on the other hand, you're like me and only have a scroll saw and a drill press, the "cut out the skeleton and glue on the plywood" method becomes highly attractive. :)

    I suppose you could also do the drill-press routing approach as well.
     
  14. Thinkin'Bout Racin

    Thinkin'Bout Racin National Contender

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    VK,

    You are absolutely correct. The tools you have (or are willing to beg, borrow, or steal) drive the decision greatly. I am not going to and can not afford to go buy a CNC, so I am left with some of the other options.

    Personally I can cut the body and the pockets ok. Not as nice as Laserman's ;) ...but, ok. I am more curious as to what people do after the pockets are cut. So what does everyone use to cover the body and why?

    Vinyl, Monokote, Paint???

    One more question that bothers me is the question about sealing the wood. I have been always concerned that if the body was not primed or sealed somehow that over time the body could warp and ultimately change the alignment. Anyone care to share their thoughts on this? Am I overthinking it?
     
  15. TRE

    TRE PWD Royalty Pro Race Winner Pro Racer

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    glue some weight across the rear axle..i use monokote trim sheets
     
  16. Vitamin K

    Vitamin K District Champion

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    I am straight up lazy these days, so I will print a design on the computer, cover it with clear tape and then attach this to the top of the car.

    As for sealing the wood, I admit that I haven't done this. Truth to be told, I feel fairly good about the plywood underlayer helping to keep the frame square. Nothing concrete to offer but feelings, though. :)

    I've heard that basswood can be kind of thirsty, so if your car is made of basswood, maybe a sealant is prudent.
     
  17. Jimmy & his 2 Kids

    Jimmy & his 2 Kids National Contender

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    I for one, a newb of course keep that in mind... but I for one agree with VK on it depending on what you have at your disposal. My little adventure... Had to cut 3 bodies for my kids and I for our churches Awana Grand Prix. Miter sawed the 5/16 bodies with someone elses saw. Then all I have is a Harbor Freight special drill press, belt sander and router bits. Got all fancy with the router bits and tried to do weight pockets and intended to do what Laserman did. Yeah first car got weight pockets only... my kids 2 cars got the weight pocket cut all the way thru and 1/64 ply covering the top. I can not believe how much of a pain it was to try and route out areas without the bit jumping all over the place. Bulldog's vid of making a sub 7g body makes it look easy and with leverage and blocks (fence) clamped down its not too bad but omg what a pain. So my first league car went in to APR and was just a ladder body with ply over just the weight pocket and the design package taped over the top and that was it. Works just fine and looked pretty sweet.
    My Awana car I used the monokote trim sheets which are very cheap and self adhesive. I took my kids solid bodies and hit the area over the weight cut outs and sanded it down on the belt sander so that 1/64 ply was level with the body. Worked like a charm.
    I'll do ladder bodies and trim sheets from now on until warpage becomes an issue and if it does than I'll do 1/64 ply over it all. Now I have heard stories of warping due to air quality so its not unheard of. I'll go as long as I can the way I am for keeping bodies light as possible.
    The car I sent to APR did well and if it holds up I will leave as is with just ladder body and packaging tape.
    Time will tell...
    oh and ps... racing at APR was sooo much fun!!! :cool: Yeah, I'm addicted to league racing now. lol

    Laserman... your body is so sweet.
    TBR... let us know what you end up doing with your body and post pics too if ya can. Lets see whatcha do.

    Regards,
    Jimmy
     
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  18. Thinkin'Bout Racin

    Thinkin'Bout Racin National Contender

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    Jimmy,

    Thanks for the back story as that helps me to understand where you are in your learning process. It appears you are a little ahead of me on the curve. It was interesting to see you tried is several ways.

    I am glad you had a good time at the APR races! Still deciding on course of action on my first attempt. I currently have the body looking a lot like what Laserman has. You can easily see light thru the top. ....time will tell which route I will try.

    Thanks again for your thoughts and ideas!
     
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  19. Jimmy & his 2 Kids

    Jimmy & his 2 Kids National Contender

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    TBR, I did get a bunch of help from Reecedad to get along that learning curve. Gotta give credit where credit is due. He was very helpful and I would not have hit the podium my first time out without his guidance and help. It is his beautiful ladder bodies I am using and had in my BASX car. Cool thing about APR is just like Reecedad they are all great to help get new guys down the track faster. There are guys there who will grab and tune a new car to make sure to squeeze it for as much speed as possible which is just awesome and helps keep discouragement to a minimum. They help us newbies get through the learning pains. Just like gurus here too.
     
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  20. Thinkin'Bout Racin

    Thinkin'Bout Racin National Contender

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    Jimmy,

    The people around here have been fantastic with help. Reece reached out to me also and has made a generous offer to help out. It is amazing the help that is offered here by everyone!

    There is a wealth of knowledge here and people, for the most part, openly share that knowledge. I/we can use all of the help we can get! :)

    BTW! Congratulations on making the podium on your first outing! :cool:

    I am approaching our first ladder style build slooooowly, but am started to get excited about seeing how it will run.
     
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