Serious Education ... plus the most fun you can have in metal finishing.
Pinewood Derby Car: low friction paint, or chrome plating
An ongoing discussion from 2004 through 2015 . . .(2004)
Q. I am working on a pinewood derby car and am interested in locating a consumer available paint with the lowest possible coefficient of friction. Are Teflon paints available to the consumer? Any particular brand recommended? The low coefficient of friction is needed to reduce friction between the wheels and the car body. An added benefit will be reduction in friction of air flying over the car body.Tyler Brickey
hobbyist - Phoenix, Arizona, USA
March 23, 2008
A. Add graphite and Teflon powders to 60 minute/slow set epoxy resin (where all components have been mixed, thoroughly).
--Epoxy resin A & B mixture= 79%
--Graphite powder 13%
Paint Pinewood car. Once paint dries, sand painted wheel hub contact surfaces down to pine wood. Paint black paste on potential hub contact area and semi-circular area where wheel rim might contact car body. Once hard, carefully sand hub contact area flat and smooth with fine Sandpaper [linked by editor to product info at Rockler]. Blended coefficient of friction for epoxied hub contact area should be 0.1--or less. Addition of graphite powder would not hurt. Furthermore, coefficient of friction should drop very little later in race due to "embedded" nature of lubricants in epoxy hub contact treatment. Area is NOT a "washer" and is a "dry lubricant" thus rendering treated area in compliance with Pinewood Rules.
Forget about low coefficient of friction paint for rest of car. Do make sure that you wax and buff the car, thoroughly.
- Plantation, Florida, USA
January 13, 2013
I'd like to chrome plate my son's pinewood derby car! I'll call around to the local paint and body shops to see if they will do it.
My questions are, is it possible and how should I go about it?
Thanks in advance,
- Enterprise, Alabama, US
A. Hi Ryan.
Real chrome electroplating is probably impractical, but "chrome look paint" is available that is quite good and very chrome-like in appearance. It's not impossible to do yourself but it probably isn't for beginner level spray painters.
It involves a base coat, followed by the silver or aluminum shiny layer, followed by a clear topcoat. But it's sometimes best to do it on a spin table for smoothest finish. Your strategy of calling local paint shops may be a good one. Good luck.
Ted Mooney, P.E. RET
Pine Beach, New Jersey
Ed. note: Readers may also be interested in Letter 21018, "Lubricating wheels on Soap Box Derby Racers"