Here's the answer to the million dollar question.  What do I suggest?  First I say check you rules......  Then use the following advice.

So my choice:  Physics car body 3-wheel racer.  Lead Weight. 3k bent axles (3x 2.5, 1x 1.5), pliers, Wheel Polish kit or service, Derby Dust graphite.  You will have to choose what wheels you want to play by, but they will determine speed of car second to tuning the axles correctly


Pinewood Derby Tuning is the Key

So you are going to need to focus mainly on tuning or adjusting your axles.  You want your car to go down the track as straight as it can without going side to side.  Easiest way to do this is 3 wheels touching and make it ride along the center strip.  So you purposely make it track to the high side.  Takes time.  Not technical, Not complicated, just time.  The correct tool-- axle pliers.  This $25 purchase is the difference between a headache and a breeze.  what you will need is 4x bent axles so that you can do this:  for 4 wheels I always suggest 3x2.5 1x1.5 angles

If you have to do 4 wheel tuning....

Pinewood Derby Speed Axles

polish level.... 
3k for graphite with break-in 
100K for oil or graphite with just dust and spin.  You are substituting the lube for a higher polish metal.  
Bent axles will be fastest (rail riding) however each axle needs to be adjusted (tuned) so that it steers the car down the track and not side to side.  Each axle will have to be adjusted:  Watch the tuning video above...substitute treadmill for tuning board if needed.  Bent axles for the wheel to ride in one spot and also change the amount of tread presented to track.  Ice skates vs rollerblades just the inner part of wheel will touch. (red wheel). 
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Picture originally published on Derbytalk.com forum

Pinewood Derby Speed Wheels

Wheels

Lighter the better. Lighter wheels will require use of tuning pliers however to remove axles/wheels.  
Polish the bores.  Either you or me.  Its pretty simple.
Flawless bores will eliminate any abnormal rotation in relation to wheel spinning around axles.  

Weight reduced wheels start around 1.7 grams. Have all the lettering.  Charlie Bravo or Black Op's will be those weights. Charlie Bravo has factory outer tread.  Black Op's will have lathed outer tread.
Derby Worx makes a 1.5 and 1 gram wheel, but a little more noticeable machining done to them.   Lighter is always better! They are all very fast wheels.  Choose what will meet your pack's rules.

Pinewood Derby Graphite Lube

Graphite on graphite has a lower coefficient of friction than steel on plastic.  Our theory is build layers of lube on layers of lube.  Then you have graphite on graphite peeling off each race.  Break In / Lube building process
 
 
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Http://www.derbydust.com

This video shows you how to install wheels and axles for your pinewood derby body without breaking chipping busting out your slots!  NO MORE HAMMERING!  Do not hammer!


Tools:
  • #44 Drill Bit
  • Pin Vise
  • Derby Worx Axle Guide
  • Clamp (optional)
  • Patience!

 
 
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This stuff is so good, soon you will be asking for it by name! People can't tell us our lube doesn't work because we use our dry lube for every build. Our faster builds are reaching average speeds of 12.35+ with just sanded BSA wheels and axles  (100% legal)! 

Contains proprietary blend of the industry best dry lubes. It's more than just "graphite."  Believe it or not, our product costs more than the packaging.

Derby Dust ™ Dry Lube Feedback

  • Author: Fred-PA
    Tried the comp sample. Thanks. We won the local division! Onto districts. Now supporting you! :)
  • Author: Member id trekkie527
    Hi. I bought this item recently and used it on my son's derby car. Thanks to this stuff, it clinched the pack victory in a really, really close championship race. My son is now pack champion and he's thrilled. Was wondering if it's possible to purchase more ... and to save it for next year? Would it keep and be as effective if I save it at home for next year as opposed to purchasing it next year before his pack derby? Please let me know. Amazing stuff. Thanks so much! Now he's just eager to get his trophy!
    - trekkie527
  • Author: Gary O.
    5/5: "Well satisfied with Derby Dust , Won fastest in Pack."
    January 30, 2012
  • Author: Member id thomas13103
    Good Times!!!!! We Won!! Buyer: Member id thomas13103
    Mar-16-12 15:07
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    awsome stuff Buyer: Member id call6573
    Mar-07-12 19:33
  • Author: Member id byhisname
    Great product--derby dust--we used it & we won. Thanks!!!!!!!
    Feb-19-12 20:37
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    Fast shipping! Awesome product! 100% Satisfied!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
    Jan-31-12 19:30
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    Premium product, professionally packaged with quick shipping! A+++
    Jan-26-12 08:52
  • Author: Member id iraqivetgijoe
    WOW! This stuff really works. Product is highly recommended. A+ seller Buyer:
    Dec-02-11 16:27
  • Author: C. Volk
    Hi, I just wanted to let you know that my sons car use durby dust and took 1 place at the pack races. Then took 1 place at distric and set new track record of 3.106 at a speed of 159.7 scale miles per hour and now he gets to go to council races May 5th in Wichita Kansas. thanks Durby Dust!!!!! P.S. I will be ordering more soon!!!
  • Author: bryan 3/5/12
    Hello,

    Thank you for getting me the derby dust last week when another vendors highly rated product just did not cut it.

    I just wanted to take a moment to thank you for sharing your products with me. The experience has been really positive.

    For the derby the combination I ended up running on my sons car and three other kids car (single moms) was

    bsa certified wheels and axles rules
    The polished nail (1000 grit) with creme toothpaste polish Light initial dusting of BP2000 dry lube gently hand rubbed into the axle Pre fill the wheel and axle with another dry lube and spin 5 by hand at slow speeds with a slight shake to distribute, This could take 5-6 times Once I have 20+ spins the wheel is mounted Once the car runs straight the final dry lube is added by a needle fill to both side of the wheel and spin for maximum speed and duration.

    Progression: based on processing 20 nails, fastest 16 running on a car Straight wheel and axles nothing done 10-12 spins of time (seconds) Sand and polish (tooth paste and rinsed) 15-16 seconds of revolutions before stopping

    Light dusting and burnish maybe 1 more second of spin

    If I use bP2000 as the final lube and break in the maximum wheel spin is
    23 to 24 seconds, good for most races but not going to districts.

    With derby dust dry lube added at this level of prep the spin count averaged 31 seconds of spin before stopping.

    Based on running on the test track at the house (25 feet) with a pace car
    20 spins/seconds loses to the pace car by 1 car length (7)
    24-25 seconds of spin loses by 3 inches at the finish
    31 seconds of spin beats the pace car by 2 inches based on 5 runs with lane swapping

    In real time comparisons:
    Track 32 feet, wood with high tech finish electronic time and start gate

    5 Oz car, running 4 wheels down, 7 inches long ran the track in 2.49 seconds, which Grand Prix software calculated as 216 mhp estimated.

    At the race on Saturday, my sons car won the grand prize for best average time over 4 runs and set the track record for speed. The attached picture is his car.

    How do I know the extra revolution of spin made a difference as the number two car, lost by 500th of a second. Less time than it takes for a hummingbird to flap his wings 3 times in hoover flight.

    If you have any question please feel free to call and I'd be glad to try it. My wife this morning said she had still not sent the extra $6 for speed shipping I will make sure it out tonight. The only thing better than your product, was the teams attention to detail, in getting the product out to me quickly, to make the race day event. The three kids cars, who I used it on also did well making the day special for them.

    Thanks so much for your time and help.

    Bryan
  • Author: L. Cappelli
    We won this weekend! First try after 47 years. Thanks for all your help, great product & we would not of done so without you. 3 generations are very proud. Humble lessons are on tap.

  • Author: @403woodcrafts
    So the weekend before our Pack race, I gave a sample of Derby Dust to some friends that are in another pack. They generally have good cars and have been very helpful to us in our first year. So they watch the treadmill turn in video and used the Derby Dust on his car. Well, he won Webelows II Den and his Overall pack. He had a top speed of 195mph!!

    My sons are in the Tigers and the Wolves. Our Pack has a wooden 3 lane 28 foot track and each car runs each lane twice, then after the slowest time is thrown out they place the top 3 by average time. My Tiger won his den by having an average of 0.018 seconds faster than second and finished 4th in the Overall. My Wolf won his den by having an average of 0.086 seconds faster!!! The Cub master walked over to me after the first run and mumbled.... damn that was fast! An average car on our track runs about 2.65 seconds (180 mph) My Tiger was running 2.63's and .64's (his is the car with the fishtail problem) and my Wolf was the only Scout to run under 2.6 4 of his six runs were 2.58's and .59's!!
  • Author: Member id smb9495
    Great product, won our first derby!
  • Author: Member id mitchell_99
    Great product, love the derby dust!
  • Author: Member id phyedguy1269
    A+++ First Place with Lube
  • Author: Member id tater67_99
    ausome product. Race was friday my boy took 1st place
    Apr-15-13 13:44
 
 

Free Pinewood Derby Tips curtosy of Derby Dust

This is a 10 minute read.  Sorry about this, but a lot of words.

Don't waste cash on packaged tips and tricks until you read all of ours for free!  Video of this is posted on YouTube.  Its posted at the very end of this article.  Long process by words.  Not so bad watching the video.

Without getting into all the fancy scientific answers, the plain and simple reason to tune a pinewood derby car is for speed!  There are many different ways and theories out there.  From wax paper to set screws.  We like our method the best which shows your car traveling at its near top speed in a static setting.  Utilizing a treadmill, you can see your car at its top speed while making all the necessary real-time adjustments.  NO NEED for a PLASTIC test track! 

Don't own a treadmill?  I bet you know someone that does.  Buy them dinner, use it for an hour or two.  Beg, Borrow, Barter.  Do what it takes to get your win! 

Because a pinewood derby car is only powered by its stored gravity at the top of the track, you must tune your car so that it will use that stored energy to get the car to move down the track.  If this is your first derby, or your last derby, take a few minutes to educate your self about TUNING a pinewood derby car.

Tuning your car keeps the car moving forward.  That is the ideal direction.  A car that travels side to side, bumping each side of the car will not get you in the winner's circle.  A car that fish tails will not get you in the winners circle.  Grandpa's car wins because he puts the time in making sure the car does not do this.  There is NO aftermarket part that will replace this step in building a car.

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When you bent your axles. Did you gap your axle prior to bending? Otherwise your bend will begin somewhere inside your wheel hub which will cause all sorts of chattering and aligning issues.


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TUNING YOUR PINEWOOD DERBY for the WIN! 

Builder's Note:  It is near impossible to tune 4 bent axles without a treadmill in a fair amount of time. You’ll drive yourself crazy. Find you a treadmill. Take it to 10 MPH and watch what is happening. http://youtu.be/OyC_PTMHNe8 if you have to have 4 wheels touching- then I would bend only 1 wheel and it will be a steering wheel. Watch this too: http://youtu.be/IoQNVwTeJAA

1.5 or 2.5 degree bends? A problem is with a 2.5 degree bend you have basically 30 degrees of rotation or less to get it to ride on the axle heads. It’s just a really sharp bend. If you want to bend 4 axles, I like doing 3x 1.5 degree bends. If you need a 2.5 degree bend, make it your front steering wheel. 2.5 degrees in the rear is not really necessary. We even do straight axles and just angle them in the BSA slots. 
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Setup: Install the wheels and axles on the car, use the gap gauge to properly gap wheels. Mark the 12 o'clock position on all wheels with sharpie, depending on setup. 

Tape the string on the center of forward kick plate of your treadmill, and tape it to center on the front of the car. 

Dust the wheels and axles with Derby Dust Dry Lube.
Tuning:
Turn the treadmill on. 1-2mph at first. If incline is available, 1 degree would be great.
Note the characteristics of the car. If it is swerving all over the place, there is a lot of work to be done. If it pulls to one direction or the other, directional tuning needs to be done to get to a slight deviation off center for a center rail rider (3 wheels) or center (4 wheels).

The goal is to get your car to deviate just slight off center to make a center rail rider or straight down the middle if you have one of those type of races.

Using pinewood derby tuning pliers, make an adjustment on a single axle turning 1/8th of a turn or less until you have made up to one complete rotation. If no change in deviation, then move to another axle on the car, and repeat process. Continue this process until you get the car to be off center or straight down the middle, depending on your car and race scenario.

If no change is noted after adjusting all axles, then you will need to bend one axle. 1.5 degree would be best. I would install that axle on the front. Repeat tuning process until deviation is obtained. If no change, make sure the bent axle is touching the ground. If so, then the bent axle needs to be moved to the rear side of the direction of deviation and then tuned. If no change is noted, move axle to opposite side of car. Bending more than one axle is counterproductive. If you car does not respond to tuning with just the bend of one axle, think about making a new car.

Point being, if your inspections requires pulling of axles, and you have more than one axle that has to be bent, there is a greater chance that all of the tuning work will be ruined.

Break in:
Once tuning is complete, turn the treadmill up to as fast as it will go. Your wheels are not going to burn up! Now observe characteristics. Note if wheels are running the way you want them to i.e. rubbing on the outer wheel hub, running in the middle of your axle, rubbing against the body. Adjustments will need to be made if not satisfied. A wheel that rubs on the body needs to be bent upward. A wheel that rubs on the axle head, needs to be bent downward. At top speed on treadmill, you will be able to visualize the performance of the car. This method is better than any "tuning board" every day of the week.

Once you are happy with the wheel play, then it is time to start building up layers of dry lube.

Add a LIBERAL amount of dry lube to all running wheels as it is traveling every 45-60 seconds. Continue this process for 10 minutes. 10 minutes at top speed should yield the equivalent of approximately 400-500 races.

This process will also yield the 20-30 second spin benchmark theory! If you have a wheel that is not performing this well, it could possibly be that it is out of balance or has a warped inner hub due to cooling during manufacturing. Replace it and start process over from beginning (SORRY!)

Using rubbing alcohol applied to a rag, remove the marks on axles without getting alcohol into the hub, then reapply new marks back in the 12 o'clock position. If you had to bend an axle, then be sure to make a mental note which one it was or mark it on the bottom of the car, and BEG your inspectors not to pull it.

After the 10 minutes and the final marking. PACK your car up, and do nothing with it until race day. If you have to pull an axle, be sure to return it to the exact spot.

No other lubing is necessary. We have not seen any data that shows any additional lube after this point helps.

What you have done by doing this process is used the cars weight under load to "roll" multiple layers of lube on the axle and wheel. You have also tuned your car to eliminate fish-tailing and gain greater speeds for your derby car way beyond a simple dust/ finger roll job. We have decided to share our research with you. This technique does not require a "drift" board, it does not require a test track, and it does not require a great knowledge regarding polishing techniques. It does build layers of near frictionless surface on both the axles and inner wheel hubs that is good for many races.

This process is very hard to describe with words, and our video will show you how simple it really is.