Raingutter Regatta racetrack

Regatta side viewAlthough I am not the Cubmaster anymore, I wanted to share this project. In the past, the Raingutter Regatta was a troublesome event. The kids enjoyed it well enough, but for raingutters, all we had were vinyl gutters. It was always a trick to get them elevated, so that the kids could stand and walk beside them, but keep them supported enough so they wouldn't collapse when filled with water. Also, the end caps just snapped onto the gutters, and they never formed a perfect seal; so someone had to be volunteered to keep a bucket filled so the gutters could be refilled as needed. While the kids deal with it well enough, you definitely notice a drop in enthusiasm when they have to wait for the adults to figure out how to shore up a gutter and refill it with water every couple races.

Last summer, I was the Cubmaster, and I got to the church early to start setting up the gutters. I thought I had a bit of an advantage over years past in that we had a new building that had a pavilion with picnic tables. The tables, I figured, would support the length of the gutters and keep them from folding. All I needed to do was support the sides.

As I was filling the gutters with water and trying to figure things out, however, I was blindsided by nothing short of a miracle. Our newly-called Webelos den leader had taken it upon himself to build the project you see in the picture above. (Click the picture to see a couple more images — unfortunately taken from my outdated cell phone.) He pulled up in his truck and asked me to help him unload this large boat from the back. He said he didn't want to say anything before, because he wasn't sure he could finish it in time. Indeed, he had just put some of the finishing touches on it that afternoon.

It was, to say the least, amazing. A length of PVC pipe, cut in half, formed the tracks, which were wide enough to accommodate the hulls of the boat kits we were using (which were simple styrofoam blocks — much lower tech than the Pinewood Derby cars, but much easier for the boys to cut and form on their own). The half-pipes were laid in the top of the wooden form of a large boat. (Last year, the boat did not have the sail; that was something he added for this year.) A drain hole was drilled in the bottom of one end of each track, with a standard rubber drain stopper plugging it up, so the tracks could be easily drained at the end of the night.

We had some minor problems with leaks — because he caulked it earlier that day, it didn't have time to completely dry and seal — but it wasn't anything we weren't used to. There was no worrying about gutters buckling or collapsing, and the legs were sturdy enough to keep it from going anywhere when it got bumped.

It certainly made my day. And the boys', too. That event was easily one of the most successful we had all year.

No comments: