Amazing Rubber Band Cars: Easy-to-Build Wind-Up Racers, Models, and Toys

Amazing Rubber Band Cars: Easy-to-Build Wind-Up Racers, Models, and Toys

by Mike Rigsby

ISBN: 9781556527364

Publisher Chicago Review Press

Published in Children's Books/Arts & Music

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Sample Chapter

Chapter One

The Basic Rubber Band Car

In this chapter you will learn will learn how to build a basic cardboard car powered by rubber bands.

Materials and Tools

1/8-inch-thick corrugated cardboard Scissors Pushpin 2 round pencils White glue 2 rubber bands D-cell battery

Time to get started. Copy the templates from pages 11 and 12 onto cardboard. You will need one Floor (1A), two Frames (1B), two Side Rails (1C), and four Wheels (1D). Cut all the pieces from a section of corrugated cardboard. Take care to make the wheels as round as possible. Use the pushpin to mark the center point of the holes for the pencils on the two frame pieces.

The wheels and the frame need axle holes. While you could use a hole punch to create these in the frame, no ordinary hole punch will reach to the center of the wheels. Instead, take a pushpin and insert it into the center point of the wheel. Then remove the pushpin and insert a pencil.

Each pencil on your cardboard car works like the axle on a real car. A car's axle allows the wheel to turn without spinning the body of the car.

Continue pushing the pencil until it passes through the cardboard. When making the holes in wheels, you want a snug fit. In other words, when the pencil turns, the wheel should turn as well.

Now make the axle holes in the frame pieces. It is best if the holes are big and loose, since the pencils need to turn freely in the frame-when the axles turn, the frame should not turn. Move the pencil left, right, up, and down to make the axle holes in the frames bigger.

Glue the floor to the two frame pieces. Place glue wherever cardboard touches cardboard.

Next, glue the side rails to the frame. The side rails go inside the frame on both sides.

It's time to attach the wheels to the axles. Push one of the wheels over a pencil and slide it close to the eraser end. Place glue around the pencil close to the eraser, then slide the wheel over the glue.

Insert the wheel and pencil through the axle holes at the back of the car frame. (The back is the high part of the frame.)

Push a second wheel onto the other end of the pencil and glue it into place.

Now assemble the front wheel and axles. Push a wheel onto the second pencil, glue it, and then insert the pencil through the frame's front axle holes. Add the final wheel onto the other end of the pencil and glue it in place.

Once the glue has dried, you are ready to attach the rubber bands to the axle. This is a simple process, and it is explained below, step by step.

First, place one rubber band under the rear pencil. Tab A in the photo has been placed on one end of the band to make things clearer. (You won't need it on your rubber band, though.)

Now pull the Tab A end of the rubber band over the top of the pencil and down through the other end of the band, as shown.

Pull the Tab A end of the rubber band up over the pencil and lay it on the floor of the car.

The rubber band with Tab A is lying at the back of the car. Place a second rubber band, labeled with Tab B here, on the floor of the car.

Move the second rubber band so that it is under the first rubber band, then pull the Tab B end through the first rubber band.

Pull the Tab B end through the forward end of the second rubber band until the two rubber bands are tightly linked together.

Stretch Tab B toward the front of the car. Loop Tab B over the two V-shaped slits at the front of the car.

You are ready for a test run. Wind the rear wheel backward. If the rubber band slips, grasp it with your fingers until it wraps around the pencil one time.

Friction-the force between the wheel and the ground-is necessary for the car to move. Without friction, the wheels will turn like tires on ice, and your car will not move. And, once the car is moving, friction is the force that causes the car to stop.

To increase the amount of friction, you can add weight to the car. Place a flashlight battery near the back axle, on the car's floor. If you race your car on a carpeted floor, you may not need a battery because the friction between the wheels and carpet is greater than the friction between the wheels and a smooth floor.

Try your racer again, with the battery for weight. Wind up the rubber band by turning the pencil axle backward, as shown. With the car on the ground, release the pencil and the car will move.

Decorating the Car

Now that you have built your car, it's time to decorate it. What follows is one idea, but you can probably come up with your own design. Be creative!

Materials and Tools

Yellow and blue acrylic paint Paintbrushes Water Pistachio nut half shells Scissors Red craft foam White glue

Start by painting the wheels of the car yellow. Paint the body blue. Use water to clean the brushes.

Take a brush and paint the empty half shells of pistachio nuts blue. When they are dry, you can glue them to the wheels. Cut red craft foam in any shape you want and glue it to the body and wheels.

Your racer is now finished!

Chapter Two

Creative Wheels

Maybe you want to try using something different for wheels, like old compact discs (CDs). Here's a modification you can make to the Basic Rubber Band Car from chapter 1.

Materials and Tools

4 old compact discs 2 round pencils Masking tape 2 rubber bands

Start by mounting a compact disc to one end a pencil. Wrap masking tape around the pencil (near the eraser end).

Continue wrapping until the combination of tape and pencil is slightly larger than the hole in the CD.

Push the CD onto the tape-it needs to be a tight fit. Insert the pencil axle through the back axle holes in the car frame.

Repeat the tape-wrapping process at the other end of the pencil. Mount a CD on the tape to complete the rear wheels and axle.

Repeat the process on the front of the car with another pencil and two CDs.

Attach the rubber bands to the rear axle using the same method in chapter 1. You're ready to go!

Decorating the Car

Materials and Tools

Paintbrush Water Silver acrylic paint 15 Creative Wheels Blue craft foam Scissors White glue

To decorate this car, use a brush to paint the body silver. Clean the brush with water.

Using blue craft foam, scissors, and glue, add stripes and trim to decorate the car. Here's an example of the decorations on a finished racer.

Chapter Three

Bearings and Friction

To make a car roll more easily, you must reduce the friction between the bearings and the axles. Bearings are the part of a machine in which an axle turns. The bearings on your car have been nothing more than a hole in a piece of cardboard ... until now. You can reduce friction with a simple aluminum foil bearing.

Materials and Tools

Scissors Ruler Aluminum foil 2 round pencils

Start with the cardboard car frame from chapter 1. Insert the scissors into the axle holes and rotate left and right to enlarge each until both are about 1/2 inch across.

Take a piece of aluminum foil, about the size of a sheet of notebook paper, and fold it lengthwise, over and over in layers, into a strip that is about 1 inch wide.

The completed strip should look like the photo here.

Wrap the folded foil strip around a round pencil.

Insert the pencil with the foil tube into the cardboard frame. Depending on how large you made the hole with the scissors, it may be necessary to remove some layers of the foil, but the foil should fit snugly. Then remove the pencil.

Testing the Bearings

Compare your new and improved car with the basic cardboard car from chapter 1. Place the cars side by side on a "hill" made by placing books under one end a piece of foamboard or cardboard to create a slope. (Be sure to remove the rubber band from the basic cardboard car. Because you are testing the cars to see which one rolls more easily, neither car should have a rubber band or battery.) Slowly raise the board until one of the cars starts to roll.

The car with the aluminum foil bearings should roll down the hill first, while the car from chapter 1 (without the bearings) just sits there. Aluminum foil bearings make the car roll more easily than a car without bearings. To make the basic rubber band car roll, raise the foam-board. Raising the foam-board at an angle causes the car to react in two ways. First, the force of gravity still wants to pull the car downward, toward the foam-board. When the foam-board was flat, it pushed back up with the same force, and the car sat still. But at an angle, the foam-board pushes back on the car in a slightly forward direction. Gravity pulls down while the foam-board pushes forward, and the car moves. Low forward force (board lifted a little) is needed to overcome low friction (car with aluminum foil bearings). Higher forward force (board lifted high) is needed to overcome high friction (basic cardboard car).

Decorating the Car

Materials and Tools

Red and yellow acrylic paint Glitter paint Paintbrushes Water Thin ribbon Scissors Aluminum foil White glue Posterboard Hole punch

First, if you want the car to be operational, add rubber bands and battery, following the instructions in chapter 1.

Decorate the cardboard frame and wheels of your car using acrylic paint, glitter paint, and ribbon.

To make the foil spinners, cut circles-any size you like-from aluminum foil and glue them to circles cut from posterboard. Cut slots, punch a hole in the center of the circles, and bend each spinner into an interesting design.

Glue the spinners to the pencil axles to finish the decoration.

Chapter Four

Distance Car

In this chapter, you will build a car that is designed to travel farther than the basic car. To make this happen, the rubber bands turn a pulley and this pulley turns an axle. Each turn of the pulley turns the axle several times, making the wheels turn more revolutions than on the basic car.

You may think this is magic-make a big enough pulley and the car will run forever-but there are limits. Bigger pulleys are harder for the rubber band to turn. If the pulley is too large, the rubber band won't be able to turn it, and the car will not move.

Materials and Tools

1/8-inch-thick corrugated cardboard Scissors Pushpin White glue Hole punch 3 round pencils 1-foot length fishing line

Copy the templates from pages 29, 30, and 31 onto cardboard. You will need four Wheels (4A), three Inner Pulleys (4B), two Outer Pulleys (4C), one Floor (4D), two Frames (4E), and two Side Rails (4F). Construct the basic car just as you did in chapter 1. The car should look like the photo above. Notice that there are two new holes at the top of the side rails. You will use these holes to mount the pulley.

Glue the three small inner pulleys pieces together, making sure the holes align. Then glue the two outer pulleys to the inner pulleys. Finally, punch a hole into one of the outer pulley wheels, as shown.

Insert a pencil through one side rail hole. Add a spot of glue to the pencil, and slide it through the pulley wheels. Slide the end of the pencil through the other side rail hole.

Your car should now look like this.

Take one end of a 1-foot length of fishing line and insert it through the hole in the pulley wheel. Loop the line over the top of the pulley wheel and tie a knot at the point where the line first entered the hole.

Wrap the fishing line around the pulley, in the groove between the outer wheels, 7 times. Then take the other end of the fishing line to the rear axle and tie a tight knot around the pencil.

Place glue on the fishing line at the rear axle and let it dry completely.

Attach rubber bands to the pulley's axle, just as you did with the basic car. Your finished Distance Car should look like this.

To wind the car, slowly turn the rear axle. The pulley should turn along with the rear axle. As the pulley turns, be sure that the rubber band is turning-sometimes you have to use your fingers to keep the rubber band from slipping on the first rotation. When fully wound, at the point where the fishing line is wrapped around the rear axle, this car will travel at least three times as far as the Basic Rubber Band Car.

Decorating the Car

Materials and Tools

Light and dark blue acrylic paint Ocean-themed stickers Wiggle eyes Paintbrushes Water White glue Scissors

Here is just one idea for decorating your Distance Car-a fish in the ocean theme. Here's a finished car.

Chapter Five

Simple Two-Wheeled Car

In this chapter you will build a simple two-wheeled car. Materials and Tools

1/8-inch-thick corrugated cardboard Scissors 3 round pencils White glue 3 rubber bands 2 3-ounce fishing weights Paper clip

Copy the template on page 37 onto cardboard. You will need to cut out two Wheels (5A). Use a pencil to punch five holes in each wheel where shown.

Insert a pencil into each of the three holes near the edge of a wheel and glue them into place.

Insert the other end of the three pencils into the other wheel. Be sure the center holes in the wheels are parallel, then glue the pencils into place.

Loop three rubber bands together in a chain.

Insert the rubber band chain through one of the two center holes in the right wheel.

Pull the rubber band chain through the loop in one of the fishing weights, then through the matching hole in the left wheel.

Pull the rubber band chain back through the other hole in the left wheel. Slide the end of the last rubber band through one end of the paper clip, as shown below. Then bring the other end of the rubber band chain through the remaining hole in the right wheel. Thread this rubber band end through the weight and connect it to the other end of the paper clip.

To wind the car, slowly roll the wheels in either direction. The force of gravity will prevent the weights from turning, and this causes the rubber band to wind up. When you release the wheels, the car will roll to return to its original position.

Decorating the Car

Materials and Tools

Small circular mirrors Colored card stock Acrylic paints Paintbrushes Water White glue Scissors

Use mirrors, colored paper, paint, or whatever else you can find to decorate your Simple Two-Wheeled Car. Here is one possible design on a finished car.

Chapter Six

Railroad Push Car

Materials and Tools

1/8-inch-thick corrugated cardboard Scissors White glue Hole punch 3 round pencils Pushpin 2 large paper clips 2 rubber bands

Copy the templates from pages 47, 48, 49 and 50 onto cardboard. You will need one Top Floor (6A), two End Caps (6B), two Push Rods (6C), two Little People (6D), one Lifter Bar (6E), one Special Wheel (6F), one Washer (6H), five Wheels (6G), and two Side Rails (6I). You will also need to cut one Floor (1A) and two Frames (1B) from the templates found in chapter 1, on page 11.

Glue the two frame pieces to the floor as you did in chapter 1, then glue the new side rails (6I) to the frame pieces, as shown.

Add the top floor to connect the tops of the two side rails.

Glue the two end caps to the front and rear of the top floor.

Glue two wheels and the special wheel together, with the special wheel on the outside. Be sure their center holes align.

Place glue in the outer hole of the special wheel. Insert a pushpin into the hole with the glue. The top of the pushpin should stick out from the special wheel, as shown in the photo.

Insert a pencil axle through the entire wheel assembly and coat the eraser end with glue.

Before the glue dries, push the pencil in until the eraser is flush with (does not stick out of) the wheel.

Insert the pencil axle through the holes at the back of the frame, and glue a wheel to the other end of the axle.

Place two wheels onto a pencil axle in the front part of the frame.

Glue the two push rod pieces together, as shown, and glue the washer onto the remaining pencil, near the eraser.

Starting on the side of the car opposite the special wheel, push the pencil (with the washer) through the hole in the upper part of the side rail, through the push rod, and through the hole on the opposite side rail. When you have centered the push rod between the side rails, as shown here, glue it in place.


Excerpted from "Amazing Rubber Band Cars: Easy-to-Build Wind-Up Racers, Models, and Toys" by Mike Rigsby. Copyright © 0 by Mike Rigsby. Excerpted by permission. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher. Excerpts are provided solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.
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