How to use the Rail Rider Tool to improve Your Car's Performance
Pro Rail Rider / Wheel Alignment Tool
The Pro Rail Rider is designed to help the builder in building a straight, fast, easy to align a Pinewood Derby car even without a test track. This tool was also designed to accurately set up the alignment to gently ride the center guide rail with a result of increased speed. Watch the video
The Pro Rail Rider is used with a Pro Axle Press (not included). For best results, prepare the axle slots (or drill axle holes) with a Pro Body Tool. Then straighten the axles with the Pro Axle Press and polish them as desired. Then perform the following steps:
1. Use a marker pen to place a location dot on one side of each axle head.
2. Install a axle into the Axle Press, with the axle head extended out about 1/2 inch. Rotate the axle so that the dot on the head is located at 6:00 (down) position.
3. Slide the Pro Rail Rider Tool over the top of the axle press. Locate the axle shaft in the groove of the Rail Rider. Use the 2.5 side of the tool for rear axles, and the 1.5 side for front axles. Press the axle head against the tool. Make sure the dot is still at the 6:00 position.
4. With the assembly on a solid surface (concrete floor is best), hold the axle head against the tool with your thumb and place your index finger on the opposite end of the tool. Squeeze firmly and tap the top of the tool with a hammer lightly three times. This will accurately bend the axle the indicated 1.5 deg or 2.5 deg.
Tuning the Alignment of Your Pinewood Derby Car
- Assemble the car with the axle head location dots at 12:00.
- Check Rear Wheels - On a clean, level surface that is at least 6 feet long, roll the car forward and backwards one to two feet. and make sure that the rear wheels stay against the axle heads. This is an indicator of correct rear alignment. If a wheel moves towards the body, rotate the axle head slightly and retest until the wheel stays against the axle head.
- Determine the front dominant wheel - If one front wheel is off the ground, the wheel on the ground is the dominant wheel. If both wheels ar on the ground, then press gently on each of the front wheels. If the car rocks slightly when pressing on one of the wheels, the other wheel is the dominant wheel. If the car does not rock, rotate on of the axles just enough so that the other wheel is dominate.
- Aligning the car - The goal of Rail Riding is to gently steer the car into the center guide rail with the front dominant wheel. Gently roll the car across the test area and notice which way the car drifts. Rotate the front dominant axle slightly, then retest until the car rolls 5 to 6 feet with approximately 1 inch of drift away from the dominant wheel (if the front-right wheel is dominant, the car should drift to the left; if the front left wheel is dominant, the car should drift to the right). Builder' note: Narrowing the body 1/16" around the area of the the dominant wheel will keep the rear wheel from touching he guide strip and help reduce friction.
- Once the correct drift is established, glue the axles in place if using axle slots.
Rail Rider Tool Video
Watch this video for more information on how to use
the Rail Rider tool to align the wheels on your pinewood derby cars.