Camber Bent Angled Steer Pinewood Derby Axles (Canted)

We will discuss camber axles (wheels)

Camber wheels / axles are an advance technique. There will be a great amount of detail in ensuring that you get the most out of this technique. You will easily add an additional 2-3 hours of build time. The only reason you should bend an axle is so that you can tune your car. If you plan on just slapping on the wheels and axles. DO NOT bend axles.

Camber Wheels reduced the surface area to a near silver of what a straight axle will present. Reduce the surface area, reduce the friction, increase speed. Camber axles also pushes the wheels during motion so that there is no side to side travel and therefore greatly REDUCES FISHTAILING!

Making BSA axles into speed axles is an art and process. You have to have very specialized tooling to do it correctly as well as efficiently.

This technique requires MANY visual references.

How to make bent / camber / steer Pinewood Derby Axles

One of the most reliable ways to bend axles requires 2 tools from the Derby Worx product line. You will need the axle press and the Pro Rail Riding Tool. Follow manufacture’s instructions to achieve your desired axle of bend. Derby Worx instructions suggest the use of a hammer. There is always variations to all methods and we think we found a way to tweak the process a little better.

First prep and polish at least 6 axles if this is you first time doing this. It is far better to have 2 extra axles for next year than to be short this year if things don’t go your way.

First mark a line (like the tick of a clock) in the direction of your bend. When using the press, it will always bend the axle in the down (6 o’clock) position. Mark it now so that you know which direction your bend will be.

Author’s note—We actually have a dedicated press that we do this with. This ensures repeat-ability without axle movement. We found that with multiple hits of the hammer, that the axle slightly moved during the process and compound bends were common. We understand not everyone has this option, just be aware the if your cubber goes beating against the press, remember to try and keep the axle from rotating.

What are the Best Angles for bend Pinewood Derby Axles?

When choosing your angle of bend, you have 2 master choices. 1.5 or 2.5 degrees. 1.5 degree bend will have a larger tolerance level of tuning. However, depending on your car block, sometimes it is necessary to use a 2.5 degree bend. As your angle increases, your ability to fine tune decreases. 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 not much! I’m not sure how to describe it other than just telling you the results.

Each block is unique, and there is no set standard. We always start with 2.5 for the rears, 2.5 for the high wheel, 1.5 degree for the steering wheel. Sometimes it is necessary to swap out axles to get our choice of tuning. We do negative canter (axles pointing up) for the rears, the high wheel, and start in the positive canter for the steering wheel. (3 to 9 o’clock we describe it as negative steer)Unless you have prepared more than 4 axles, you are pretty set in your decision. We found that pairing the rears the same degree canter is best practice.

It might be best just to bend all 4x axles at 1.5 degrees and go from there for the first time builders using this technique. DO NOT under any circumstances, attempt to re-bend a bent axle. You will simply cause a compound bend and JACK things up and waste your time! Move the axles around if you do not get the desired result. If no change, then bend a new axle.

Process Improvement……………..

Wheel spin would seem fine with finger spins when installed on the car body. However during racing, we would hear and see small wheel shimming even with the wheels being pushed against the axle head with negative canter. This was definitely slowing us down. We found that installing straight axles at an upper angle would usually yield faster times.

After many, many repeated occurrences, we had that “ah ha” moment. What we noticed when bending axles as instructed, we found that the bend of the axle was falling inside the last portion of our wheel hub when gapped properly. We needed more straight surface for the wheel to travel on before the bend began.

How do we fix that problem? We started to “gap” our axles to the exact distance we would gap the axle on our install. Simply placing the appropriate gap gauge between the head of the axle and the jig prior to bending will assure that your bend will be outside of your wheel hub.

Once you have completed your axle bends. You are ready to install. At this point in your build, your car body should be finished painted and your center of gravity should be appropriate. Your final weight should be within a gram or two. Installing axles is almost LAST step in a car build. Because you do not want to EVER remove the axles once it is TUNED. Especially not for painting.

Pinewood derby speed axles are far from the official pinewood derby axle that comes in the kit. It takes time and skill to turn remove those imperfections that come on the official axles into speed axles. There are many how-to’s and books that show you how to do it. It just takes time and practice.

After looking over your information, if you feel it is too much to takle, let us take that headache away. We can do it right the first time and free up that extra time needed to spend making your car body and tuning.