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Race Day is Here! Final Prep Questions?

Discussion in 'Ask The Pros' started by DuckOfAllTrades, Feb 22, 2019.

  1. DuckOfAllTrades

    DuckOfAllTrades League Racer

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    Hi Everyone. As the title indicates, race day is here! At least for me. Kids go tomorrow. Not worried about my car so much as it is oil, but the kids have to race graphite.

    My question is, what should the final application of graphite be? Should I apply at home, take it for a few test runs and break in, then turn in. Or do the same, and add more just before I turn it in? Or forget the test runs, and just apply the graphite just before inspection.

    How much and what's the best way to apply graphite for the final time? Is one application enough? Two, three needed?

    Basically, I want to apply graphite for the final time, but don't want it to slow down after a few races before the pack race. Needs to last for a number of runs. I'm worried if I break in the car beforehand, it robs it of some of those runs, but if I don't, I risk graphite running slower before the day ends.

    I'm assuming I need to make sure I clean the wheels. What is the best way to do this and with what should I clean them with to not gum up the graphite.

    Is there anything else I should be doing before final inspection and turn in? I have taped up the bottom holes/imperfections with clear packaging tape so they can still inspect but it will help streamline it.
     
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  2. ironband

    ironband Pinewood Ninja

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    I can't speak to the "best way", but I can tell you what's worked for us in the past. At check in, our procedure is usually as follows:

    1. Check over the car and make sure nothing got knocked askew in transit. Gaps look good, any tape is secure, etc.
    2. Turn the car upside down. Add a couple of puffs of graphite to each active wheel bore. Turn the car so that the axle is down and tap the wheel a few times, then the car upside down again and lightly spin a couple times.
    3. Put the car on a block of wood and clean the wheel treads with a cotton swab dipped in 91% isopropyl alcohol.
    4. Check the car in, adjust weight with putty if needed, then enjoy the race!

    Since I wasn't able to be at my son's most recent race, he made this checklist:
    [​IMG]

    Best of luck to you and your kids!
     
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  3. Obsessedderbydad

    Obsessedderbydad PWD Royalty

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    Thanks for sharing. I never liked adding puffs of graphite before giving the car away. I never found it did much good. If your wheels are burnished well, it should last about 10-12 races, only dropping a little speed. For us, I found adding the puffs of extra graphite actually slowed us down. Unless the graphite was broken down and into the wheel, it created more harm than good. If you do do this strategy, I’d suggest you spin the wheel a lot before turning it in. This will help work in the loose graphite. I like that you clean the wheels before turning it in. Very smart. I’d try a paper towel over a cotton swab. Swabs have small fibers that can come off and get caught in places you may not expect. If you put the alcohol on a paper towel ( I like Viva), then put the wheel on the spot and rotate it with your fingers for a few rotations, you’ll be good to go. Some tips that worked for my son and I each year.

    I will tell you a secret for us though. Once I learned wheel prep, I stopped using graphite. I didn’t use oil either and our cars were super fast and very consistent. The benefit of this is, once you build a fast car, there’s no graphite break down and your speeds are consistent. Doing 10-12 races, the graphite breaks down and you’ll see speed decrease and inconsistent times. Which is key in your last races. Not saying to do this, but it worked very well for my son.
     
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  4. DuckOfAllTrades

    DuckOfAllTrades League Racer

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    Thanks! That helps. And thanks for the good luck wishes.

    LOVE the car. And the last thing on the list! I'll have to show my son your car. He will think it's great too.
     
  5. DuckOfAllTrades

    DuckOfAllTrades League Racer

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    Wow, no lubricant at all? I've never thought of that! I guess it make sense though, if your prep is top notch. I'd give ANYTHING to get away from graphite. It does nothing but dirty up the car, your hands, and gets all over everything. Hate the stuff. I used oil for my cars for the first time this year (adult/sibling derby allows this) and I was blown away how much easier and cleaner it is.
     
  6. Obsessedderbydad

    Obsessedderbydad PWD Royalty

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    Yep. We were prepping his wheels like I did for league races, so it was a pretty good prep, it takes a while.

    Be careful with oil. It is the best, but too much is bad. Lil tip that worked for me. I never used more than what I could get off of a tip of a needle after dipping it in my oil.
     
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  7. Pinewood Outlaw

    Pinewood Outlaw Workshop Leader

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    I too would avoid adding graphite right before check in. As others said it needs to break in. I see lots of dads adding their magic powder right before check in and then during the race they complain the car was running faster before. We had 2 scouts at Pack race that added fresh graphite before race, once in each lane on 4 lane track and ran 3.20 or so....2 weeks later at District without adding fresh graphite on same track they ran 3.10s.....the earlier pack race helped the break in
     
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  8. Dizzy

    Dizzy Pinewood Ninja

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    I am so glad to be reading all of this, my son has a race tomorrow too. Polished bores and finished with red rocket then burnished in graphite. We seemed to be getting good spin times but I wondered if adding more would help or hurt. Going to fight the urge and leave it alone.
     
  9. DuckOfAllTrades

    DuckOfAllTrades League Racer

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    How much should I break in my cars before submitting? One trip down the track? Two?
     
  10. Wolfram Racing

    Wolfram Racing Rail Runner

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    You can apply the graphite right before the race if you have a good break in process as part of it. I typically don't like to spin the wheels because that not how the car runs on a track. If I can, I'll put the car on a table and slow roll it under it's own weight. I'll spin wheels free if I don't have a surface to do a roll on, or if those surfaces are dirty/unsuitable for whatever reason. If you do either, clean any graphite dust off the wheel treads before you turn it in. You should always clean the wheel treads whenever you get a chance.
    If they let you run the car, run it down once and turn it in. Any more than that and you'll wear the graphite out by the end of the race...which happens anyway, but you don't want that to be 2 runs instead of 1. That's what I do, but my prep, etc is different than everyone else. That just what I do and it seems to work.
    A lot of testing on my home track seems to indicate that the car runs fastest right after application and break in.
     
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  11. DuckOfAllTrades

    DuckOfAllTrades League Racer

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    Thanks! That's what I needed to know. I have a "Test Track" which in reality is the cheap plastic tracks you can order. But they will get the wheel's turning, so they have a purpose. I'll apply, then run down the track, and clean the wheels and turn it in!

    Funny how graphite runs out. Almost like a Nascar racer whose wheels give out, or gas is running low.
     
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  12. Obsessedderbydad

    Obsessedderbydad PWD Royalty

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    I still disagree Wolfram with adding additional before you turn it in. People are missing the purpose of the graphite. The graphite's job is to create a barrier between the wheel and the axle to create a surface that reduces friction. If your prep is done properly and burnished well, you shouldn't need anymore. Pouring additional graphite in without it breaking down really doesn't do anything. If anything, you're running the risk of this loose graphite running out of the bore during a race and getting on the wheels. You can always tell when people add additional graphite to a prep before a race. Look at your wheels after the race, there will be graphite all over them. That's because people added graphite loosely. If you're allowed to add before finals, I'd recommend it, but I would spin the wheels a bunch once you add the graphite. You shouldn't be able to see loose graphite anywhere around your car.
     
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  13. DuckOfAllTrades

    DuckOfAllTrades League Racer

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    The more I think about it, adding MORE graphite doesn't make a lot of sense. I mean when you think about it logically, what good is it going to do? If you have added adequate amounts already, then there should be no room for more to go. But it will have to go somewhere, so I guess it's going on the track or the car or worse, on the wheels. Kind of like a car. You can add more oil, but too much is bad and you harm the performance. Maybe that's a bad analogy.
     
  14. Obsessedderbydad

    Obsessedderbydad PWD Royalty

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    It's like waxing a car. Once you apply the wax and polish it, applying more wax doesn't change the finish of the surface. I know some pro's will disagree with me on this one, but we're talking about graphite prep not oil!
     
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  15. Wolfram Racing

    Wolfram Racing Rail Runner

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    Theoretically, I understand your point...but theory has to match experiment. The way I do it, the experiments show I get the fastest times right after application and break in. That's not on a single car either, 6 different builds ??? Maybe I'm making too many runs in my testing before adding it back in...but 10 doesn't seem out of line with what one would experience in a race.
     
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  16. Wolfram Racing

    Wolfram Racing Rail Runner

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    I'm open to do more experiments! Maybe we could come up with a test to figure out what's going on. I'll voluteer my track time!
     
  17. DuckOfAllTrades

    DuckOfAllTrades League Racer

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    Do I apply the Krytox before or after I break in the graphite?




    Not serious of course.
     
  18. Wolfram Racing

    Wolfram Racing Rail Runner

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    Another explanation is possibly I'm not burnishing well enough...hmmmmm. Now ODD has me questioning my process again.
     
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  19. Obsessedderbydad

    Obsessedderbydad PWD Royalty

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    Prep has a lot to do with it. There’s too many unanswered variables here with your process. All I have to go off of is 6 years of pinewood derby racing and building cars. I didn’t really have a good prep until year 3, but haven’t changed my prep since then. But the last 3 were faster than the first 3. Your burnishing may not be like, but if adding more graphite is speeding you up, I’d say it wasn’t complete. But again, one my my fastest builds was without graphite. But I did the prep for oil, just didn’t put any oil on it.
     
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  20. Obsessedderbydad

    Obsessedderbydad PWD Royalty

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    Funny thing is, I remember this question being asked 6 years ago. But they were serious.
     
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