Cross-RC PG4L 1/10th Scale Rig Complete Kit
Words & Images by Andy ‘Twinset’ Moore
Complete Kit Can be Ordered Here
UK RRP: £389.00
Required To Complete
- Radio Gear (2.4GHz recommended) A 3 or 4-channel is recommended
- Electronic Speed Controller, for brushed motor (with LiPo LV cut out)
- Battery: 7.2v 6-cell Stick pack or 7.4v Brick pack LiPo equivalent
- Charger: suitable chosen pack type
- Tools and Paints to complete
It Starts Over
Well, 2017 is winding up now; The next G6 is in May, the Nationals later in the year too, and I’ve just finished my latest Scale build!
Upon opening the box, one’s greeted with a selection of bags containing rear fenders, running boards etc., all stowed in the pickup bed of the truck. The cab section’s inside another box along with the windscreen parts.
Once the cab and bed are alongside each other, it becomes apparent this is another big build Job. Thankfully, the manual’s in English this time and although it’s obviously translated, it’s been done quite well. The diagrams are plenty clear enough though. Most of the parts are sorted into lettered bags but the manual steps don’t refer to the lettering during assembly so a fair bit of time is spent flicking back to the front few pages of the manual in order to find what else is in the bag you’re looking for when trying to identify small parts in some steps.
What I’d do next time is copy the first few pages and pin them to the wall in the garage for reference.
The first step is to assemble the gearbox – The PG4L has a 2 speed gearbox; gears are selected by a servo so the truck needs a 3 or 4 channel radio set for best operation – the 4th channel’s required to switch the headlights on or off.
The gearbox assembly is very straightforward; all the gears are retained by E rings though, so a decent set of needle-nose pliers or even a proper E-Clip tool will help. The backplate of the gearbox is also the motor mount – the motor position’s adjustable, Cross include an 18t pinion with the kit though.
TOP TIP: Cross suggest hooking the motor straight into a battery, but I’ve been advised not to do this, so just hooked the motor up to an ESC and receiver.
If the 2 speeds aren’t required it’d be easy enough to lock the box in one of the two ratios by running a zip-tie or similar, looped through the selector rod end, to a convenient anchor point on the chassis. As it was, my Carson radio’s got a 3 position 3rd channel so I’ve used that for gears.
The servo eventually mounts to the chassis to the rear of the gearbox and changes gear via a drag link running through a couple of fine springs – any standard servo is fine for this, I used a cheap Towerpro because I had one kicking about, but literally any standard sized servo will be fine.
Many, Many Screw Variations…
By this point I’d opened every screw bag and emptied them all into a bowl – for some reason each little bag contained two different screws – One bag would, for instance, have a 10mm countersunk and an 18mm button head, and another would contain a 15mm cap screw and a 2.5mm countersunk – I was spending so much time trying to find the bags it was simpler to just dump the lot and sort thru them. There are at least 24 different screws on this truck, so that’s 12 bags of mixed screws – Life’s a little too short sometimes!
Spring hangers and sub-frames are the first bits to go on, followed by the spacer frames for the running boards to mount to later on. The front shock towers do have body post holes moulded into them, but the PG4L doesn’t use them as it has a very sweet discrete body mount system fitted later on. Once the chassis’s part-assembled, all the mounts for the body and radio crate are assembled – these look quite similar to each other so it’s worth double checking them (I discovered). The gearbox and shift servo are also mounted now.
The front bumper’s mounted to the chassis next – It’s a full-width chrome moulding with recesses for fog lights. There’s also a slot through which a front tow-point passes. The rear bumper is a whole sub-assembly which includes a tow-hook, mounting plates and a set of exhaust pipes on spring-steel hangers – Proper sweet!
The rear suspension leaf-spring assembly follows and then the axles – Step 13 in the manual covers assembly of a solid spool although a set of open diffs are also included but their assembly is not covered until the last page of the manual, almost as an ‘Oh, I forgot to mention…’ addition.
The diffs are also in their own little bag and I didn’t even find them until I was prepping the body
It wouldn’t normally be too big a problem to swap a diff out but step 15 in the manual calls for the half shafts to be loctited into the diffs – It took a helluva lot of ‘persuading’ with a hammer to get the shafts back out – I fancied building the truck with open diffs just so it was a bit more steerable – Long wheelbases and locked diffs don’t do much for turning circles.
The axles themselves follow a fairly ‘industry standard’ pattern – the axle housings are one piece mouldings with a diff cover the diff or spools clamped into place with bearing retainers before the covers go on.
Shims are supplied to eliminate any play in the assemblies.
Dogbones Not UJ’s
Drive to the front wheels is via dogbones and cups. Its not a big issue, but with many kits in this price range including UJ’s as standard it, would aid both the purchasers pocket and the turning circle (with additional steering deflection)
With the axles sorted, it’s shocks next – Yay, I really love building shocks…
The rears are friction units; internally sprung with a plunger with oiled O-rings provided the friction.
Whilst the rear axle’s leaf-sprung, the front axle is four linked and the front shocks are slightly more sophisticated, oil filled assemblies. My only reservation about the front shocks was that fit of the top caps weren’t great – it didn’t take a lot for the threads to skip, even when being hand tightened – They didn’t leak in use yet, but they don’t feel that sturdy. Using PTFE Tape on the threads may help, as will sealing the shocks well with AE Green Slime.
The cap also includes a dummy/fake reservoir – not sure why this is deemed necessary; I’d much rather see them better made than made pretty…but again, a minor point in the scheme of things.
Two springs go on each shock; a stiff top-section and a softer rate main spring – Cross also include a second firmer set as a ‘free gift’.
The shock bodies are threaded for ride-height adjusters.
TOP TIP: Steering Servo…A Little Issue
The steering servo’s mounted to the front axle directly but I did have a relatively significant problem here; the servo mount posts are so big one side gets in the way of the wire exiting the servo case. I ended up ditching the mount on that side and using a stock servo post I had kicking around – Bit of an oversight by Cross – I tried three servos; Futaba, Towerpro and Core and the wire fouled on the supplied ‘post’ on all of them. At a pinch the stock post could be cut down at the back to clear the wire.
After the axles are attached to the chassis, it’s time for my next favouritest bit ever; wheel assembly – Yay!!!!!!!
Stay On Target…
The wheels take a bit of concentration as the wheels are made up of two of three different wheel-halves, used in combinations to make up front and rear, inners and outers
The front wheel and the outer rear, for instance, used the same steel halves but what’s the inner half on the front wheel is the outer half on the rear. It takes a bit of processing power to grasp the concept, but it does eventually work.
The wheels are driven by the usual 12mm hexes, the wheel nuts are hidden by a cap.
The radio crate is then fitted to the chassis – it’s not in the least bit waterproof as sections of the lid need trimming away for the battery cable to exit etc. So I drilled a couple of drainage holes in the base just in case any water ever does get in.
The lid of the crate also doubles up as a speaker mount as Cross make a sound module for the P4GL. There’s also plenty of room inside the crate for an ESC, receiver and the light controller – I managed to get a Traxxas XL5 in there no problem.
The light control looks to be the same unit as used in the MC-8 truck I previously reviewed. The ESC, steering servo and third channel are connected to the board, then pass-out leads connect the board to its relevant channel on the receiver – This allows the board to control brake and reversing lights and turn signals/indicators.
The only slight issue is the truck’s headlights are controlled by the third channel – the problem is that the two-speed gearbox also needs a channel, so for full operation, a four channel (minimum) radio is required.
There’s no mention in the manual, and I couldn’t find anything online, about keeping the headlights on without using the radio so four channels are necessary unless the headlights are connected to the tail-light plug on the control board, at the expense of tail-lights (the tail-lights are permanently on for some reason).
One other point on the light controller is if the ESC is going forwards but the reversing lights illuminate, then a jumper socket has to be fitted to plug 15 on the controller.
This is covered in the manual as “Please plug short circuit cap if vehicle go ahead but brake lamps turn on” – Not exactly accurate, but the sentiment is there!
The lid of the radio crate’s screwed down, so it’s worth cutting/drilling holes for switches etc.
The LEDs are routed around the shell and the kit includes a lot of cable-clips with adhesive pads to keep the wiring out of sight. At this point the chassis’s a roller and it’s body time
Airbrush On…Sharpies Out!
The shell for the PG4L comprises of two mouldings – the main cab and the pickup bed.
Once painted, the bed’s screwed to the chassis but the cab’s semi-removable for access to the radio crate and battery tray.
I say semi-removable as the wires for the front lights go into the radio crate, so the cab’s only removable to about 6 inches from the chassis as it’s tethered by LED wiring unless the crate’s opened and the light wires are disconnected from the controller.
The pickup bed has rear light clusters made up of chrome plated reflectors and clear lenses. In order to colour the lenses I did contemplate painting them, even went as far as buying Tamiya clear red and orange acrylic paints, but then found an article online suggesting using Sharpie markers to colour the lenses instead. Duly bought a red and orange and they worked great – No masking needed, just a slightly steady hand.
The lenses have lines moulded into the inside so getting a sharp break between the red, clear and orange lenses was dead easy, just offer the lenses to the reflectors periodically and colour-in a couple more lines are required. Note: Painting the lenses was one part I could see going wrong, so the Sharpie method really saved a “Twinset Tantrum”.
Bling Out…Rubber In
A lot of the trim for the body is chrome plated, even the door mirrors, but it seemed a little too ‘bling’ for me so I sanded the chrome off the mirrors and, after primer, airbrushed them Tamiya XF-85 ‘Rubber Black’. I also used this for the door handles and, eventually, for the window rubbers. Windscreen wipers are also included to finish the true-scale appearance.
Note: The chrome plating on the parts did prove slightly problematic when it came to gluing parts together, and the plating was very tough – I tried sanding it to expose bare plastic for the glue to melt, but in the end had to scrape away the plating with a Stanley blade.
The main shell was painted with AutoAir Colors’ Deep Purple which was kindly supplied by The Airbrush Company (www.airbrushes.com) when they sent the Sparmax Arism airbrush system which I first used on the MAN 8×8.
I didn’t realised until I was sold on the purple that the paint was ‘Semi Opaque’ so it took a lot of layers to get the colour right – Note to self; always read the label!
After a few coats and a few days drying the shell was looking good, and I topped it with Tamiya X-22 Clear for a really nice shine.
Cross supply checker-plate trim for the bottom edge of the shell, which runs the full length of the truck but I left this off for a more subtle look.
I used the checker plate on the running boards though; I think I got the balance about right – The front grille was painted black but a chrome insert shows through the slats of the grille so what with that, the bumpers, the running boards and the mirrors, it would’ve looked more like a disco-ball than a truck (I reckon)
The cab attaches to the chassis by first hooking the nose onto a mounting plate, then two pins insert into cam locks attached to the pickup bed. To lock the cab in place, two levers are flipped and the cab’s proper docked, with no body clips in sight – Tasty scale body!
The only slight gripe I have is the windscreen – it’s only lightly tinted so all the wiring and the speaker box are clearly visible and the wires aren’t that easy to hide as they need to be slack to remove the cab. An interior would solve a lot of this, but that would necessitate removal of the speaker mount so the decision of sound kit or interior needs to be made.
TOP TIP: If the sound kit’s used, then the windscreen could do with a few coats of tint to hide the wiring.
Other than that, the finished truck looks superb (despite my paintwork)
Anyone Know How To Treat Frostbite?
When it came to running the truck it was mid-December – Getting the paint right did take a week or so – I knocked it several times during final assembly and had to respray sections and that all took time.
When I did get the chance for a maiden voyage I set off for Burton Dassett early in order to catch the sunrise. Unfortunately, it was foggy and cold so not only did I not catch any sun, I got mild frostbite of the extremities.
As the truck’s so long I fitted open diffs to both axles just to see how it handled. It’s got a good turn of speed, easily faster than walking pace but the diffs meant it was manoeuvrable too.
After a few blaps round the car park I took it off road onto the grass mounds. The diffs stopped it from doing any serious crawling, but any slopes taken with a run-up were scaled easily – the extra set of rubber at the back really helped. The grass was dew-soaked and traction wasn’t great so rear tyres almost 4 inches wide per side came in handy.
Approach and departure angles are good too, despite the truck being quite low at the belly (around 50mm)
The front bumper is quite high above the wheel-centre and doesn’t stick out very far, so approach is easily 45 degrees plus.
Departure’s impeded slightly by the tow-bar, but that’s easily sorted if towing isn’t in the truck’s future. With the tow-bar, it’s around 30 degrees.
Having said that, the size of the truck might exclude it from a lot of the less-scale courses at the Nats but it would make the perfect truck for a comp-scaler and trailer or on a true-scale course.
Cross RC’s promo video for the PG4L does show it towing one of their trailers and it does definitely look the part https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XujZ0CvSGEs
Despite concerns during build, the front shocks held up fine; no leaks and the caps stayed put even with the four-linked front end offering a decent lump of articulation.
Steering lock was good too; the turning circle was smaller than I anticipated – no doubt partly due to the open diffs, so UJ’s aren’t needed after all unless you go locked and want to comp the rig!
The two speed box is a nice touch but I didn’t actually use it much – most of the time I forgot it was there. The intention now is to lock the rear diff up and swap the radio to a six channel Carson stick set, and control the gearbox from a momentary switch – Hold for first, release for second. That way the truck’s in second by default, with first reserved for grunt work.
When I first took delivery I was a little sceptical about the truck – It is big and possibly not as agile as some comp rigs, but I’ve seen similar sized rigs at the Nats (there’s a super-long ‘Chevy’ pickup competed for the last two events which is a similar size to the PG4L) and, once equipped with a winch and locked diffs I think it could ruffle some feathers – the gates might need widening a bit though!
I just wish it had a name – PG4L makes it sound a bit like a car body filler…
For more on the whole Cross RC Range head over to: Greens Models and we Hope to see you at the 2017 G6 and Nationals!