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Mousetrap Car materials

  1. Dec 2, 2009 #1
    Just a quick question about mousetrap cars....

    Does anyone have suggestions about possible materials for mousetrap cars? NOT designs, but recommendations for materials to use on certain parts of the car.

    Thanks in advance.
  2. jcsd
  3. Dec 2, 2009 #2


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    Staff: Mentor

    I'd drill a bunch of holes in the wooden part of the mousetrap, if that's allowed under the rules.

    What other tricks have you though of so far, rocker?
  4. Dec 3, 2009 #3
    Light materials? After all, F = ma => a = F / m. Most cars I googled used wood and string, both light, with something thin and light for the wheels.

    Another issue they seem to face is wheel spin. So you want a high friction material around the rim of the wheels to avoid slippage. Rubber is a good start, though maybe you can find something even stickier.
    Last edited: Dec 3, 2009
  5. Dec 3, 2009 #4
    I had a great design back in the day :)... and it could go approximately 10-13 metres on a good run (it was a shame that it didn't do a good run on the race day :( ). So here's some tips from my experience: Balsa wood is great for the moustraps body; use some type of wood for the wheels and don't have them to large or to small (they have to be just right); to make friction between the wheels and the ground use balloons to put over the wheels (like a tyre); also make sure you attach a long wooden arm to the moustrap for optimum leverage (you will see what i mean after a couple of run throughs with and without the arm). I think that should help :) goodluck.
  6. Dec 3, 2009 #5


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    Gold Member

    It never crossed my mind until reading this thread, but double-sided carpet tape could make for some pretty effective tires.
  7. Dec 3, 2009 #6
    I was guessing poster tack myself, since it's more likely to hold its stickiness after getting crud all over it. But I wouldn't know for sure without trying it. Hopefully the OP will have time to mess around.
  8. Dec 3, 2009 #7
    I have only basic knowledge of mousetrap cars, but I do agree with many of the posts discussing friction, lightweight materials, and your suggestion of the holes in the mousetrap itself. We are using a vinyl tile floor to run our mousetrap cars on, so friction is necessary, but then again I want to maximize "rolling" distance, or recoil distance after the power from the mousetrap's snap expires, and I believe that lightweight materials and just enough friction will do this for me.

    Several designs that I have seen have either four wheels or three wheels. I have decided that for my competition I want to use three wheels. However, I am not sure if one big wheel and two small wheels is best or if two big wheels and one small wheel is best. Thanks for any comments on this.
  9. Dec 3, 2009 #8
    If I were building a car this would be my first reference:

    http://www.gatortrax.eng.ufl.edu/mousetrap_lecture.pdf [Broken]

    Good discussion of basic principles and use of gears to amplify distance, although a bit involved.
    Last edited by a moderator: May 4, 2017
  10. Dec 29, 2009 #9
    Thank you all for your input. My Car was successful in part because of your suggestions. Thank you all.
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