We at GuitarAttack support the Boy Scouts of American wholeheartedly.  We've spent years in the program, and one of our favorite Scout endeavors is the Pinewood Derby.  While this is not guitar repair, you can probably learn some things from the techniques I use to repair the car that are applicable to guitars.  The bottom line is that this is a really important repair.
Step 1: The Patient

My father and I built this Pinewood Derby car in 1970 when we were living in Leavenworth, Kansas.  It was our first Pinewood Derby car, and I remember my Dad taking the kit to the wood shop on Fort Leavenworth for some help.  We didn't have anything bigger than basic hand tools at home, and he wanted to ensure it looked cool.

The challenge was that somewhere during the countless moves I've been through since 1970 this car got damaged and the original front wheels were lost.

Recently a little boy across the street, who is an active Tiger Cub, had to build a Pinewood Derby car while his Dad was away on a business trip.  The little boy's mother approached me to help with the project, and I was too willing to help.  I believe if you spend some time with kids it will pay off with their character and citizenship.

The time we spent with the little guy's Pinewood Derby car got us thinking -- could we repair our original 1970 car?


Step 2:  The Donor

Where in the world could we find some original thin wheels?  The kits sold today have much thicker wheels which clearly don't have a vintage appearance.

The answer?  eBay, of course.

I found this early 70's rig on eBay, and wound up paying about $12 for it.  There is something sad about this -- selling a part of your childhood for a lousy twelve bucks.  The key pieces I needed from the donor was a wooden axle, two nails (axles), and two wheels. This one actually came with three functioning wheels and one broken one.  The piece of the axle near the rear of the car would come in handy.  Note how the nail holds the wheel on the car.

The car arrived in about five days, and we got to work.

Step 3:  Repair the Front Axle

You can refer to Step 1 and see what looks like a poorly-done repair on the axle.  We pried the remaining piece on the left side of the car off and decided to try to use it.  We used the partial axle from the eBay car to repair the right side of the axle.  Using an Exacto knife and thick CA glue, we started piecing the axle back together.

We wanted to retain as much of the original paint as possible, but, like our guitar repairs, wanted to make it virtually invisible.

Note:  The council was so big at Fort Leavenworth that boys were assigned numbers for the cars before the race.  Mine was 298, and this was in the days before decal film and computers!  My Dad made number 299 into 298 with a black magic marker!


Step 4:  Shape and Grind

When the glue was dry and we felt pretty good about the structural repairs, we did some creative work with our Famowood wood filler.  The original car had axles with smooth tops, and you can see how the back axles look in Step 1 above.  We used some tape to build a "roof" for the cavities for the nails which hold the wheels on.  Next we spread on several coats of wood filler.

Once the wood filler was completely dry, we shaped the axle with a Dremel tool.  We used a medium sanding drum and shaped by eyeball.  When the shaping was complete, we used water thin CA glue to make the wood filler as hard as a rock.  We squirted it both inside and outside the nail cavity, and made sure it dried smooth.


Step 5:  Prep for Paint

Once the shaping was complete and the CA glue was dry, we primed the exposed parts with BINS primer.  The main reason we used BINS was to ensure paint compatibility between the CA glue, the old paint, the filler, and everything else on the car.  Here is a shot of the car with the BINS sprayed.  What you can't see is that we primed the bottom of the front axle as well.

Step 6:  What Paint Shall We Use?

I had originally thought that I would use some leftover ReRanch Goldtop Gold I had in the paint locker, but I couldn't get it to spray.  So, it was off to the store to look around.

I don't remember the kind of paint we used, but it was probably from a hardware store being that we had used sandpaper and wood filler on the car.  I went to Lowe's and found this Rust-oleum Metallic Gold paint, and I thought it looked pretty good.  I bought this can and sprayed some test coats on some scrap.  The match turned out pretty good.

Here is a shot of the first couple of coats drying on the car.  You can see that the distant match is pretty darn close.

Step 7:  How does it look close-up?

Here are a few shots of the touch-up in progress.  These photos represent a couple of coats with no "aging".  While the match isn't precisely correct, it sure looks better than having that smashed axle!

I continued to spray coats, and aged the finish with a little graphite to take the shiny edge off.  I rubbed it on my finger and rubbed it into the finish to make it a little dull.  I also cleaned up the rest of the car with some Turtle Wax white polishing compound to make it a little more shiny and better match the new paint.

Mission Complete!

Here is a shot of the finished repair with the vintage wheels in place.  I aged the nails (axles) to make them look more like the ones on the back.  It just took a little bit of Radio Shack etching solution to get some oxidation on the nail heads.  Click on the photo to see a large scale version.

I am very proud of this car and the repair, and it was well worth the effort to get the car back the way I remember it.  Hey -- take the time to preserve those memories!


Back to Top


Builder's Gallery Repair Techniques Our Original Music Guitar Forum
The "Saga Sagas" Links

Play Guitar

Opinion Page
  Guitar Collection

Listen on Reverbnation

Interesting Guitars

Contact GUITARATTACK GuitarAttack Store KGS Store   HOME