DMSBD Tech Tips

Trackside Toolbox - by Ian Carsten

Basic Tools
When you race in soapbox derby, you must have all the tools with you needed to make repairs or adjustments to keep you car running safely and competitively. The required tools are pretty much the same that you used to build your car in the first place. The minimum required tools are: two 3/8-inch wrenches, two 7/16-inch wrenches, two 1/2-inch wrenches, a large flat-bladed screwdriver, #2 Phillips screwdriver, pliers, hammer, hacksaw with fine-tooth blade, 5/64-inch Allen wrench, 6-inch mill file, and an assortment of emery paper in medium to fine grit. Both of the 3/8-inch and at least one of the 7/16-inch wrenches must be open-end. You should purchase several 5/64-inch Allen wrenches since they are quite small, easily lost, and inexpensive. Additionally, you should include a can of lubricating oil and a small container of grease to handle any lubrication needed. You might also want to include a jar of Mother’s Aluminum polish to touch up your polished spindles. It’s also a good idea to include some clean disposable rags to wipe grease or oil from your hands. These tools will enable you to do basic trackside repairs and adjustments.

Intermediate Tools
There are several items beyond the basic toolkit that are not essential, but can make some jobs much easier and faster. If the kingpins fit your bushings rather tightly, then it is a good idea to include a 3/16-inch drive pin punch to drive out the kingpins. That would help if you needed to change axles or the washer stack under the axles. Likewise, a battery-powered electric drill with #2 Phillips bits can make the removal and re-installation of a body shell much faster than using a manual screwdriver. Also, an open-socket type ratchet wrench (usually1/4-inch) with a #2 Phillips bit is a big help in turning the inner front airfoil mounting screws (closest to the body), especially on the superstock car, since there is almost no clearance for a regular screwdriver. An alternative to this is to use an L-shaped  #2 Phillips offset screwdriver. Some racers like to have an assortment of feeler stock from .001” ~ .020” with them should they want to fine-tune crossbind at the track. Another intermediate tool considered essential by many racers is an inch-pound torque wrench. This is most often used to accurately adjust the tension on your kingpins, but can also be used on most other threaded fasteners on your car. To use the torque wrench, you’ll need sockets for each size nut or screw you want to work on. For a derby car you’ll want 7/16-inch and 1/2-inch (deep-style) sockets.

Advanced Tools
The advanced tools are rather expensive but are essential to checking and aligning axle spindles. The spindle tools most commonly used are made and sold by Dennis Wilt, 3260 Bull Road, York, PA 17404, Ph:(717)-764-5632, and sell for about $325 for the alignment gage, bending wrenches, and spindle stands. Also, some racers like to use the dial indicator-equipped Fisher gage ($85) as a guide to setting their kingpin tension. These tools are intelligently designed and nicely made. It is also possible to make your own after examining a set. You may be able to borrow spindle tools at the track without buying them.

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