Trackside Toolbox - by Ian Carsten
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.
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.
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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