Pinewood Derby – Propeller powered

A week ago my brother invited me to join him for an Anything Goes pinewood derby race. I have great memories of building these cars with my Dad and wouldn’t pass up an opportunity to relive those moments.
First I designed my car in Sketch-Up, and then built the car from a standard derby kit. (see image below)
The hardest part was building the propeller motor stand. I made that part separately and the glued it into place. Before I could glue it I had to drill holes and feed the wires for the motor through the holes.
Then to power the motor I used an old iPhone 4 battery I had laying around. To make the battery easier to use I soldered a new connector on the battery so I could easily plug it into the car and the battery charger. To finish the simple circuit, I added a switch so I wouldn’t have to disconnect the battery to turn it off.
And finally, to finish things off I added some tungsten weights to a cardboard cover painted to match the car.
I say the finished product always looks better than the sketch.

My First Car

1980 Mercedes Benz 300D
It was one of those cars that you buy from your parents because you don’t have any money. Since it was such an old car it is a collectors item. If only it was in mint condition I could have sold it, or traded it, for half the price of a new car. So aside from that I was fixing this car every week for the first two months I owned it. I really didn’t know much about auto repair other than what I learned in my small engines class in high school. But to me mechanics have a sense of order to them and I can generally figure things out. It just takes me longer than someone who has the know-how. Most of the repairs were relatively small such as vacuum lines leaking and starter problems among other things. Eventually, it was able to go for a month or two before problems would come up again. The biggest job was when the starter chewed up enough of the flywheel that  it wouldn’t turn over the engine. As a quick-fix, I would just take a screwdriver crawl under the car and move the flywheel a few inches to get past the chewed up part.
But I wasn’t about to do that for very long. To properly fix the car I was either going to have to drop the transmission or raise the engine to replace the flywheel. Lucky for me, my dad had 300TD Mercedes just sitting around with a good engine for parts. Since I was going through all the trouble to raise the engine and since the other car was a turbo model with an almost identical engine, I might as well swap engines. I was excited to have a turbo diesel because that really makes a difference in acceleration. It took me about two weeks to complete the job with some help from my dad in hoisting the old engine out and dropping the new engine in. Everything seemed to work fine, for the most part. It was having some trouble shifting. Since I knew nothing about transmissions and I wasn’t about to try and rebuild a transmission on my own, I decided to spend a bit of money and have a professional take a look at it. The company called Gunbarrel Import Motors in Niwot, Co is an excellent mechanics and dealers. They are a bit expensive, but you get what you pay for. I finally had a car that was running well. And while It still had a few things that needed fixing, it served me well as my first car.