DMSBD Tech Tips

Spare Parts For Derby Cars - by Ian Carsten

There are a few parts that every derby racer should have on hand should they fail, get lost, or damaged during the course of a race. It takes a significant commitment in time, money, and effort to travel to races, sometimes to another state, and the cost of keeping a reasonable inventory of spare parts is very cheap in comparison. It’s quite disappointing to have to retire from a race due to unexpected failure, loss, or damage to an essential part. Screws, nuts, and washers can and do get loose and fall off. They usually seem to fall off in the grass where they can’t be found. You have to replace them in order to keep racing. If you have a supply of replacement parts, then it is a simple matter to install them and get back into action. Wheel clips and wheel washers are the items most commonly lost, usually during wheel swaps. If you plan on racing in a number of rallies, it is a good idea to have at least 50 ~ 100 spares of each at the beginning of the season.

It’s also a good idea to have at least one spare wheel set for each car you have racing. For example, whether on your car or your opponent’s, should a car go out of control, one or more of your wheels could be smashed. Z-glass wheels break pretty easily it they strike a curb or some other object at speed. If you didn’t have a spare set, you could be out of business. Also, if your car struck something, or another car hit yours, one or both of your axles could be bent beyond repair. If you had a spare set with you, the damaged ones could be replaced, allowing you to continue racing. Further, when a front axle gets bent, a steering turnbuckle or the eyebolt it attaches to is sometimes ruined in the process.

One of the mishaps we’ve experienced happened racing on a street course. As our driver applied his brake, the bottom of the plunger struck a step up between two sections of pavement in the direction of travel. That bent the plunger rearward rather severely just below the floorboard. Therefore, it was jammed in the extended position making the car undriveable. Fortunately, we had a spare on hand with a new pad, screws, nuts, and lock washers already installed. We put the car up on sawhorses. Then, by removing the nut from the eyebolt at the top of the plunger, and removing the eyebolt, the ruined plunger fell free. Then we installed the new plunger from the bottom and were ready to resume racing in about one minute. Without the already built-up spare plunger, we would have been forced out of the race. Also, having a spare built-up plunger is a great time saver when you discover that your brake pad has worn dangerously thin. It is a real hassle to replace a brake pad between heats. You may not have enough time to finish the job before you are called to race.

If you run your kingpins at fairly high tension as most racers do, you should be aware that they could break. We witnessed one break in the pits at a rally at Akron. The driver’s dad was adding “just a little more tension” to a kingpin when we heard a sharp “snap”.  But he was not too concerned since he had several spares with him in his parts organizer. Therefore, it only took him a few minutes to replace the broken kingpin.

Your spare parts kit you bring to the races should include a reasonable number of each part that could disable your car, as well as any tool required to install and/or adjust them.

Our kit contains the following parts for each car:
One set of wheels, one axle set, two sets of kingpins & “W” locknuts, two spare turnbuckles, eyebolts, and wrapping wires, built-up brake plunger, 10 brake pads, two cable sets, 8 cable clamps, set of pre-drilled and fitted airfoils, set of cockpit foam and contact cement, 20 wheel washers, 20 wheel clips, two cable pulleys, 1 AASBD awning pulley kit, and1 pair of stabilizer bars for a stock car. Also, we bring a reasonable number of each cotter pin, screw, nut, washer, and lock washer on our cars. Note that the airfoil mounting hole locations vary from axle to axle. So the mounting holes you make in the airfoil are essentially custom fit for one particular axle. Some teams also bring spare brake/steering assemblies and/or steering wheels since the welds on these have been known to break. Further, you’ll need whatever tools are needed to install and adjust these items. For example, if you need to change a cable, you may wish to bring a good hard wire rope cutter such as the Felco C7 to trim the cable to length. Also, a battery-powered drill with #2 Phillips screwdriver bits enable you to quickly remove and replace the body shell of stock and superstock cars.

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