How to Build a Mouse Trap Car for Distance

Written by chris baylor
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How to Build a Mouse Trap Car for Distance
This is the type of mouse trap used in a mouse trap car. (conceptual - computer criminal cought - mouse in a mouse trap image by dinostock from

Building a mouse trap car can be a fun and educational science project. A mouse trap car can be built a number of different ways, with the car built for speed or for long distances. Typically, to build a mouse trap car for distance, the car will be much longer than a car built for speed. A mouse trap car built for distance will not have much acceleration, but it will gradually build up speed as the mouse trap spring is released.

Skill level:

Things you need

  • Mouse trap
  • 2 18-inch long pieces of 1/4-inch thick balsa wood
  • 3 4-inch diameter round pieces of plywood
  • Wire coat hanger
  • Epoxy
  • Wire cutters
  • Pliers
  • String
  • Power drill with drill bits

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  1. 1

    Cut off the top of the wire clothes hanger with a pair of wire cutters, and straighten out the two bends in the wire. Cut two 4-inch sections of coat hanger wire and another section at 16-inches in length.

  2. 2

    Remove the bait holder and the catch wire from the mouse trap. Cut the wire bail on the side of the mouse trap opposite where the spring connects to the bail, and straighten out the bends in the bail.

  3. 3

    Align the 16-inch long section of coat hanger with the straightened metal bail on the mouse trap. Glue the two together with some epoxy. Set aside to dry.

  4. 4

    Align the two pieces of balsa wood together, and drill a 5/32-inch diameter hole centred 1/4-inch in from each end of the two pieces of balsa wood. Drill a 1/8-inch hole through the centre of each of the 4-inch round pieces of plywood to act as wheels.

  5. 5

    Center a 4-inch section of coat hanger through the hole in one of the wheels. Attach one of the pieces of balsa wood to each side of this wheel by inserting the wire axle through the front holes in the balsa wood.

  6. 6

    Insert the other 4-inch piece of coat hanger through the holes in the rear of the balsa wood strips. Glue a wheel onto each end of the wire.

  7. 7

    Position the mouse trap on top of the two balsa rails with the long bail extending out in front of the car. Align the long sides of the mouse trap with the top edges of the balsa rails. Glue into place with epoxy.

  8. 8

    Place a drop of epoxy onto the centre of the rear axle to act as a catch for the string. Allow the epoxy to dry completely.

  9. 9

    Make a 90-degree bend 1/2-inch in from the end of the long bail.

  10. 10

    Tie a small loop in one end of a piece of string. Tie the other end to the bend in the end of the bail. Adjust the length of the string so that the end of the loop is just short of the car's rear axle.

  11. 11

    Rotate the wire bail slightly toward the rear of the car. Slip the loop over the epoxy catch in the centre of the rear axle, and wind the string around the rear axle as you pull the bail toward the rear of the car. Stop winding when the bail is flat against the rear axle.

  12. 12

    Hold the bail flat against the rear of the mouse trap. Place the car on a flat surface, and release the bail. The spring-loaded bail will rotate the rear wheels, propelling the car forward until the string disengages from the rear axle.

Tips and warnings

  • To make your car go even farther experiment with a longer wheelbase of the car matched with a longer bail on the mouse trap. You can also try using larger rear wheels, as the greater the difference between the diameters of the rear axle and the rear wheels will make the car go slower but farther.

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