Traxxas Finally Gets It’s Scale On…

Traxxas TRX-4 D110 1/10th 4WD Electric Scale & Trail Crawler

Words & Images: Peter Gray, Mike Worthington & Traxxas Archive

Manufacturer: Traxxas USA

UK Distributor: Logic RC UK RRP: £499.99

Specs

Ground Clearance: 80mm

Track Width: 249mm

Wheelbase: 324mm

Length: 586mm

Height: 291mm

Traxxas gave the RC car industry many firsts. The first true Ready to Run Hobby Grade RC vehicles. No building, no fuss, just add a charged battery and go run them. Then there’s the sponsorship and links for many years with Monster Jam, (I even worked at a couple of events doing the warm up with E-Revo’s and E-Maxx Monster trucks!). The iconic Grave Digger, Monster Mutt to name but two of the many licenced MJ models they released over the years.

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THe original Ken Block Replica…a Traxxas first

Then there was the original, (pre HPI) Ken Block Limited Edition Gymkhana Rally car. We all wanted one. We all bought one. Hell, I even interviewed him and shot him for a cover of RRCi back in the day. Sometimes we forget just how influential and innovative Traxxas products are. But that’s not all. They also gave us the ultimate in bashing vehicle, that was the catalyst for the global Short Course revolution, the Slash. Based on the 2 and 4WD vehicles driven by brothers Mike and Mark Jenkins in the real race series across the US, the Slash quickly became the must have bashing tool for any self-respecting RC fan.

I could go on and mention the very innovative Summit, the 103 mph X-01, the HUUUGE X-Maxx, the amazing Spartan Speedboat and many other products that have defined the company, but I don’t need to. You get my gist. The real point of this is to say that, for once, Traxxas were well behind the curve on a certain trend in RC, namely Scale and Trail Crawling.

They sat back, watched the industry, and waiting until the time was right and then “BOOM” the internet was suddenly full of images of the TRX-4, pictures leaked and speculation rife. Many of the claims were inaccurate. “It’s a 1/8th, it looks huge”, “It’s a Summit with shorter arms and a Land Rover body”, “Traxxas are too late onto the market…” yada, yada, yada.

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You have to admit, they got the look and ‘stance’ of the D110 just right…

But they had my interest straight away. Traxxas are one of those brands that hold a special place in my heart. I loved running my 2WD and 4WD Slashes, and have owned many, many Traxxas vehicles over the years. In fact I’m hard pressed to think of one that I’ve not had! The rest of the spec was finally leaked and then there was an official launch, with slick videos, a new section on their website, and an impressive list of features did it boast: –

Deep Breath…

Portal, T lock equipped axles, offering much better clearance under the axles for the diffs pumpkins. Remote locking and unlocking diffs, that could be run as both open, both locked or just front locked only.

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Remote Locking or Unlocking front and rear diffs…The Traxxas T-Lock system worked flawlessly in testing
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By far my favourite feature of the whole design. Portal Axles that again just work. They offer unparalleled under axle clearance.

A two-speed transmission, with a 21T reverse rotation motor, meaning the brushes won’t destroy themselves as the motor itself is facing forwards, not backwards as with most other scale rigs on the market.

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The two speed offers additional wheel speed when required. on 3S that can mean wheelies…NOTE: reverse direction motor alleviated the issue of damaged brushes with the forward motor position.
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The layout and natural Weight Bias is logical and well thought out. A forward mounted battery option, or weighted front wheels would just take it from a 8.5/9 to a 10 instantly.

All the electrics are also 3S compatible as standard, so wheel speed isn’t going to be an issue. Cruise control allowing you to set a speed for long sections of trail running. Shocks are 90mm and designed to be smooth and leak free in use.

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The shocks are smooth and well sealed, Just look at the depth of those seals and piston.

The whole rig was waterproof allowing you to cross streams and run in mud and wet conditions. Under arches for the Lexan (yes Lexan) “Fully Licenced” Land Rover Defender D110 bodyshell. A protective Exo-cage and roof rack.

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Proportionally its near perfect…Just those tinted windows niggle us. We want an interior.

Sticky deep treaded S1 soft compound tyres, with proper tuned inserts. Steel Hexes. 45 degrees of steering deflection and CVD’s as standard, a high torque, metal geared chassis mounted steering servo. A front weight bias and front mounted, motor position. Optimised main pack location and an easy to use reversible battery strap allowing 2 or 3S pack swaps without any hassle at all.

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The now industry benchmark 45 degree steering deflection is included as standard

Rock sliders, solid bumpers with the ability to add a real winch in place of the faux one supplied with the RTR. A very solid C-Section Steel ladder chassis and well-designed cross braces. The ESC is also programmable for Trail or Crawling modes with a “mild” or “always on full” drag brake setting an option. Lastly there’s the ability to fit LED lights and a light bar in the future. Holes are already there for this and mounting points for the LED’s.

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So far weve only run it with the Traxxas D110 shell on. but other body post options are in the box so you could in theory put any LWB shell straight on.

What It Didn’t Have Are 2 things

Windows (well it did but they were tinted), so no interior or the ability for the end user to fit one. That’s a big thing to the established scale community, but will not deter the “yet to get the bug” crowd out there. It’s an odd thing to omit, so much has gone into getting a Licenced D110, why not offer tinted window stickers that could be removed to reveal clear underneath, and the ability to retro-fit an interior (Dear Traxxas, if you read this, please amend!)

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Rear of the Year? Judging by reports of the first two production runs almost selling out on pre-order already…we think so!

True beadlocks wheels were absent too. The stock wheels and tyres are glued. I really don’t get this as there’s so much work gone into everything else, and the first thing most Scale rigs or crawlers have done to them is wheel weighting and improvements in weight bias. It’s a cheap and easy mod that can transform the way a rig ascends an obstacle or drives up a steep incline.

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The wheels look scale. The tyres work epic…but why oh why glue them? Beadlocks would have added that additional tuning aid that weighting wheels brings.

Again, why, oh why not let the end used decide this aspect of the rig. Offer beadlocks and show in the manual what weight biasing will do to the way the rig handles. More on this later…we have experimented and the findings are as we suspected.

Enough Waffle, Time 2 Test The TRX-4!

Traxxas and Logic RC kindly sent me one of the first rigs to hit UK shores and we did a live unveiling of it at the recent UK Recon G6. Brian Parker hadn’t even seen one up until this point and the general consensus of opinion was very, very positive. But as we had three days of event to run, and over 300 drivers in attendance, it was hidden back at my accommodation and I waited to run it properly the following week. I also enlisted the help of an impartial test driver, Mike Worthington, who’s been a part of the Scale and Crawling scene a while, and lives near me in Solihull. I wanted more than one opinion, and then could offer you the reader a slightly different perspective on the rig in use.

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The wheel wells/under arches are sublime. They add another level of detail sadly missing in many rigs on the market today. 10 out of 10 on this aspect Traxxas.

Over to Mike (and his son Maximus!)

Maximus & I…

A few of you may know me but the majority will not, you may have seen my son Maximus and I on Instagram or some other social media platform, or we may be completely new names to you, either way I will take just a moment to let you know who we are.

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Maximus…or “Little Scaler Dude” as RCCZ calls him! (PS: we love the Slimer jumper too!)

I have been enjoying the RC hobby for many years, my first RC car was a Tamiya Blitzer Beetle but my first memory of RC was chasing my Dad’s Tandy Landcruiser around the garden in the 80s as a child, my first scale crawler? I got back into the hobby while I was at college, discovering the online community and eBay, meaning I could get the Lunch boxes and Monster Beetles that I had wanted as a child. My Tamiya collecting allowed me to amass quite a few RC cars which in turn have been ‘traded’ into my current fleet of mainly scale crawlers and off-road bashers.

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Thats the look of a happy RCCZ guest reviewer/driver…(Well two, or three opinions are better than one!)

Amongst my collection I have had a few Traxxas vehicles and their out of the box readiness to be run has always been appealing to me, don’t get me wrong I love building rigs and I have built a fair few, but occasionally it is nice to open a box, charge a battery and hit the trails, so when I heard about Traxxas releasing a scale vehicle, I was keen to know more.

This article covers my expectations of the truck vs the reality of seeing it and running it for the first time with my son. I will touch on some of the features and things that are ‘different’ from other trucks currently available and talk about potential flaws or merits of the TRX-4.

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The wait was worth it, the real rig lived up to nearly all the hype!

Waiting 4 The TRX

When Traxxas announced they were releasing a scale off-roader, I instantly had some ideas as to what I wanted it to be, mainly based on my experience of owning a summit and seeing people on line converting them to scale-ish looking rigs, I hoped Traxxas had taken note and utilised some of the features from the big monster that the summit is, and well I wasn’t disappointed, they have lifted the remote locking Diff’s and the hi/low gear selector, (which Traxxas featured on the first EMaxx trucks years ago) and put them in the TRX-4 but they had also added some new features like the portal axles and the ‘cruise control’ function which I was keen to learn more about.

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Regardless of surface the tyres and lockable transmission just generated grip and traction.

Some early reports I read online were that the vehicle was larger than you would expect, which is common with Traxxas vehicles, their 1/10 vehicles are often closer to 1/8 like the E- Revo and the Summit, but this isn’t the case with TRX-4 it’s not too different in size to my Gelande2 and SCX10s with a 324mm wheelbase, it sits slightly higher (291.6mm) but that’s partly down to the officially licensed Land Rover Defender 110 body shell with its roof rack and off-road styling.

Aside from the size it’s a great looking rig, the scale details are there with the functional spare wheel on the back, the gas can and jack, the exterior roll cage, the fender flares, the replica winch (which can be replaced with a functioning one, I have seen RC4WD test fitting their range already online) and the snorkel which all add to the aggressive modified look of the vehicle, the blacked out windows don’t offend me personally but I’m sure people will cut them out to install some scale interior.

Turning the truck over, the first thing I noticed was the floor pans and wheel wells which provide a good scale appearance, but also will stop some of the muck and debris from entering the model.

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Look how well the underside is protected. The skid and side mouldings helping to work in conjunction with the wheel wells to stop dirt and debris getting inside the cab area

The other thing I was drawn to were the portal axles, Traxxas’ method of creating more ground clearance but also reducing torque twist by using the portals to put the gear reduction right at the wheels. The portal axles also improve the geometry of the chassis by allowing the links and drive shafts to run almost parallel with the centre gearbox, reducing strain on the drive shafts and links, the steering links are also higher as a result reducing the chance of getting caught up when driving off-road.

For the test run we were using a Traxxas 5000mah 3s 11.1v iD Lipo battery which fit the chassis perfectly, as you would expect, the battery holder bar can be rotated to hold either a 23mm or a 26mm battery, I was using the 26mm option, also worth noting there is a recess in the battery compartment which allows for the use of smaller battery packs which is common in the scale world, a big thumbs up for me in this department is the fact that the battery bar is attached on a hinge and there are no body clips used.

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Yes its waterproof, very waterproof!

The ESC is an updated version of their XL5 model, it’s now called the Trail-tuned XL-5 HV which is now capable of running up to a 3s lipo, it’s still waterproof but has the added benefit of new driver profiles such as Trail Mode, to allow for smoother slow speed driving offering a drag brake in neutral, whereas Crawl mode replaces neutral with instant reverse but also offers 100% hill holding brake, which will be useful on technical courses.

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High Torque, Metal Geared, Digital and Waterproof…The servo works very well in most situations, but as ever we felt a little more torque (say 20kg total) would take it from good, to great.

The top of the chassis also provides visibility of the micro servos used for the locking Diff’s and hi/low transmission control, much the same as the Summit, but one thing different here is the use of cables as opposed to rigid metal arms. The cables allow for smoother movement and more articulation of the chassis. The other noticeable change on the chassis is the grey standard sized servo for the steering, the 2075X is mounted high between the front shock towers and appears to be an impressive component, with full metal gears, this digital servo is also fully waterproof.

Running, Climbing & Crawling

By now my son is more than ready to try the truck out, so we powered it up and put the shell back on ready to test it on the rocks at the highest point in Warwickshire. Almost immediately you notice the speed of this crawler, in hi gear it will exceed 10mph (according to vids on YouTube) thanks to the Titan 550 21t brushed motor, it reminded me of the first time I ran a Tamiya CC01 chassis with the stock 27t motor installed. Switching to low gear provides a more scale speed for the rig which I used along with both diff’s locked to negotiate the out crops of rock we were crawling over and It did well, the suspension was just soft enough to allow the tyres to maintain contact with rocks, occasionally as a result of the lightness of the wheels and axles I had to wait for the vehicle to settle before applying the throttle.

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Side hilling was affected by the heavy exo-cage and higher than expected C of G. Weighted wheels counteracted this perfectly in later testing.

The 1.9 Traxxas Canyon Trail tyres also performed well both on the rock surface, the mud and in the loose dirt we were driving on, check the video out to see them in action! The only thing I would prefer here would be bead lock wheels, allowing the option to add some much-needed weight to the wheels, without boiling or peeling the tyres off the stock rims. I am sure some people will swap out the wheels and tyres for this reason, as the only thing which created a problem and prevented me from not keeping up with the modified Vaterra Ascender and modified Axial SCX10 that were being run alongside the TRX-4 during the test, was its high centre of gravity.

One feature I didn’t test was the ‘cruise control’ option, partly because I like to maintain control of the throttle of my vehicle, but also because I feel that Traxxas are relabelling something that almost all RC vehicles have the ability to do already, so they can’t claim it’s a new feature. The cruise control is simply adjusting the trim on the throttle on the transmitter, to trick the esc into driving forward without you touching the trigger. I used to do this on my old Tamiya to help me get action shots.

I only put a single battery pack through the truck so didn’t put the chassis to the test with regards to strength and durability, but that being said, I did run it well over 1.5 hours and it feels like a well put together truck with quality parts. It has adjustable, oil filled, coil-over aluminium GTS shocks which were created specifically for the TRX-4, the steel links are large diameter and look like they will take a lot of abuse. The rigid steel ladder style frame offers multiple mounting points for the rear shock tower, allowing the option to change the wheelbase to accommodate for different bodyshells, you can choose 300mm, 312mm, 324mm or 336mm, the rock rails are also adjustable to accommodate different width bodyshells, the bumpers are also adjustable.

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Just to show the comparison against a D90 Hard body build…the size of the D110 is perfect, but lack of interior or options to add one lets it down on the true scale front.

Traxxas advertise the truck as brushless ready, which personally gives me confidence in the drivetrain, as I like brushed motors in my crawlers, my brushless rigs are for bashing and racing, but knowing that Traxxas have used steel front CVDs, hardened steel rear axles and steel gears everywhere else, means that if I was to go down the brushless route, it would take the strain that brushless set ups put on a gear box and drivetrain with ease.

In Conclusion

So how does the TRX-4 compare to my expectations? I would say it has surpassed them, it’s not perfect, but neither am I and the blacked out windows and high centre of gravity are not enough to put me off wanting to own the truck, the overall package provides a go anywhere truck which will allow people who are not into crawling to experience the slower, technical adventure that crawling adds to the hobby, but when they have had enough of balancing on rocks like a goat, they can open the diff’s and put the truck in high gear and do some donuts and jumps without concern, as the rig is ‘Traxxas tough’.

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Its a keeper…so more experimentation is imminent, as is a body swap and interior.

My son Maximus enjoyed driving the truck just as much as I did and we will add one to our fleet in the very near future.  Ask me again in a year to find out how the truck has lasted in the hands of a five-year-old but for now, I believe Traxxas have got this spot on, a great truck, at a fair price which will keep up with the best of them on the trail.

The RRCZ video from that day:

Final Words From Mr Gray

A huge thanks to Mike for his help and his opinions on the rig, and just to conclude this review here’s my findings having myself now run 5 full packs through it. First, it’s definitely a keeper! In 100% stock form it runs trails perfectly in high or low range and the ability to switch between the two on the fly is liberating. It does wheelies and can even jump pretty well if the terrain allows (on both 2 and 3S!), especially if you run on a high grip surface. I fell short of attempting a backflip, but was very, very tempted!

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One of the most capable RTR rigs we have ever run and reviewed. Its minor niggles aside, the Traxxas fulfills most of the Scale or Trail needs any end user would have.

If crawling on rocks or up steep inclines, drop offs or side hilling over say 40 degrees, the heavy Exo-cage and body does come into play. The C of G isn’t perfect for the kind of things we attempt with many of our rigs. If I was a conspiracy theorist I would say that on many of the official video’s they are running weighted wheels, but that said it did remarkably well in stock form all considered. The trick is to drive it like you would a hard-bodied rig. Let the suspension settle and the weight relax and then drive through the odd floating wheel or almost-but-not-quite tipping over incident. If you drive it like an Axial SCX-10, you will tip the rig over on some obstacles. But take your time and learn its abilities and it will reward you by actually achieving lines that at first seem pretty much impossible.

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The optional light bar and lighting kit are our next purchase…night runs R us!

Remember when testing this rig initially we ran an Axial SCX-10 and a Vaterra Ascender at the same time, in a game of cat n mouse and follow the leader. It made most of the climbs and crawls but the C of G did hamper its abilities. I added a set of weighed beadlocks and the rigs abilities improved no end. It’s the one must do modification and tuning aid that takes this rig from very competent to extremely proficient!

Benchmark Set

Compared to the SCX10.2 and the Vaterra ascender its locking and unlocking diffs are the game, set and match winner. There are times that you need to lock the diffs and climb, and others when you need a tight turn. Flicking between the two states really does make a huge difference. I was a massive sceptic at first, it’s not like using a dig where you physically lock a whole axle and drive the other to pivot around the point the locked axle sits, dragging the rear of the rig like a dog does its back end when you have guests round for tea!!! No, it’s far more sophisticated than that. Leaving the front axle locked and the rear open allowed me to move around certain rocks and turn sharply on climbs right when I needed to. Experimentation is the key here and the more wheel time you get, the better you and the rig become at attempting things.

Traxxas have created a new benchmark in this genre of product. The diffs and driveline features aside, my favourite feature is the Portal Axles. They just make climbing over certain rocks and obstacles a breeze. If I could add any feature to all of my other current rigs and builds it would be this. Traxxas we salute you. The price may seem expensive to some, especially as you also have to provide the main pack and charger yourself. But for a fully loaded vehicle, packed with cool features, a multi-channel 2.4GHZ TQi remote, the future ability to add telemetry and on the fly paremeter adjustment and different driving profiles via a Bluetooth 6511 Wireless add on module and a smartphone app, it’s very good value for money. In fact, probably cheaper than many builds out there already if you factor in the price of a kit and all the components. I’m looking onto alternative bodies for this wheelbase as I write this. I’ve also added weighted beadlocks permanently and will be removing the tyres from the wheels with Acetone to re-use them and keep the intended look.

Now all the team responsible for this product at Traxxas HQ form a tight circle, pat each other on the back hard, and then go get me a shell with clear windows…STAT!

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Real and RC…the Traxxas looks huge against our RCCZ Suzuki Jimny…

Likes

· Portal Axles & Ground Clearance

· Remote locking diffs & 2-speed

· Licenced Land Rover Shell

· Tyres Tread & Compound

· Waterproof Electric’s

· Weight Bias of Motor

· Brushless Ready

· Winch Ready

Dislikes

· Tinted Windows Negate Adding Interior

· Not Beadlock Wheels

· High C of G In Stock Form

Some huge thanks goes to Traxxas USA, Logic RC UK and Mike Worthington & Maximus for their help with this review…

Available in the US from: Traxxas USA

Available in the UK from: Logic RC

Punching Well Above It’s Weight!

FTX Outback Tundra 1/10th RTR Scale Crawler/Trail Rig

Words and Images: Matt & Madison Ellis

UK RRP: £154.99 Available In UK: HERE Distributor: CML Distribution

Specs

  • Length: 416mm
  • Width: 200mm
  • Height: 230mm
  • Wheelbase: 250mm
  • Weight: 1350g
  • Gear Ratio: 1:88
  • Tyre Diameter: 105mm
  • Wheel Diameter: 54mm
  • Ground Clearance: 76mm

The term “Scale” can often be confused with the word “Expensive”. While it is true that most RTR offerings in the Scale/Crawler/Trail world are usually in the £350-£400 price bracket, a few companies have got wise to the growth in interest in this genre of RC vehicle and have released sub £200 RTR rigs that work just fine out of the box, but have the potential to be taken to another level of realism and performance, as and when the mood takes them (or cash resources allow). People often forget to just drive a new rig and enjoy it for what it is. They dive in and modify the heck outta them before actually learning how they handle straight from the box.

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Under £160 all in? Unheard of in Scale circles for a RTR…

Good Call CML

When I first spotted the FTX Outback press release and the prices, I had it in mind that this rig would be perfect to get my 8 year old daughter in to the hobby. So when the opportunity came my way from RCCZ to get my hands on one to review I jumped at the chance. With all that in mind though how do you fairly review an entry level product without comparing it to the more expensive rigs myself and the rest of the RCCZ crew often run. So rather than me review the Outback with all my old head preconceptions, I handed it to my daughter Madison for her to review as her first true Hobby Grade RC car. That’s a pretty big moment in anyone’s life…I hope you enjoy coming along for the ride with us!

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The traditional format of Scale Rig has been followed…from a Ladder Chassis to 4-link suspension

Before I hand over to Madison I don’t want you to think for one minute that this rig is some cheap entry level tat, the spec sheet would give a lot of more expensive RTR’s a run for their money. The Outback is Waterproof out the box and comes with aluminium suspension links and steering hubs as standard, the Outback also benefits from a 3 gear high torque transmission, locked front and rear axles and oil filled shock absorbers. Its also includes a very sturdy bumper (good enough to mount a winch without modification or strengthening and something I really was not expecting for this price; LED lights front and back (My double the price point Axial rig didn’t even come with them).

Unboxed N Dissected By A Discerning Consumer!

So the Outback has an impressive spec sheet but the proof for this little rig would be how it drives. So I put it in the hands of Madison here is what she had to say about the Outback I will give you the old head verdict after you have viewed the Outback through the eyes of a kid who hasn’t been worn down by bad RC purchases and told what she should N shouldn’t like…This is verbatim and in eight year old speak, so bear with her!

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The rig definitely punches above its weight in use…

“My name is Madison and the Outback is my first ever RC car. The first thing I liked about it was its soft tyres and the colour, its Blue and I really like the colour Blue! After my Daddy charged the battery we went to the local park because there are lots of hills there.

At first I thought it was a little bit fast but when I got used to it I found it really nice to drive. We got to drive through mud and puddles which was fun, we got to drive over an old tree which had fallen down. My Outback was able to follow my dad’s truck everywhere his could, even up this one really big hill (but daddy’s car got up first as it can go faster!)”

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Anything Dad can do, I can do just as well!

“I really liked the Outback because daddy and I got to go the park and have lots of fun together. The thing is, when he goes Drifting, the cars are too fast and hard to steer and I can’t really have a go. I really like driving the Outback we are charging the battery again ready for the weekend…”

That’s What Madison Thought…Now My Go!

Obviously when we were at the local park she also decided that she wanted to go and have a play on the swings (she’s 8 after all!) which meant dad could eventually have a turn with the new rig. And I have to say I was really impressed the Outback. For its price it’s a very capable little rig, even if at first you may think its not built as sturdily as others in the class…that’s just misguided preconceptions.

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The included 2.4GHz radio serves its purpose well and is both ergonomic and light in the hand

OK, so the throttle is a little punchy compared to other Crawler ESC I’ve used, but once you get used to the handset you have pretty good control over the power delivery. It is a little smaller than the likes of the SCX10, but its size doesn’t hold it back and once you get how it feels to drive,  it can go pretty much anywhere my SCX10 does.

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That tiny 370 can motor does struggle at extremes of terrain, but the rigs light so there’s a balance in the Force

Granted, some things can be a little more of a challenge as its only got a 370 can motor fitted, but I enjoyed that, it’s rather dull being able to get over everything with no effort. The Outback makes you plan your route a little more, which I liked. It’s back to basics RC and that’s what the industry needs more of at the moment.

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With true 4-link, double-triangulated suspension and a bumper sturdy enough to mount a winch…you simply can’t go wrong!

Scaling The Reservoir

We took the Outback out for a second run at Edgbaston reservoir. I really wanted us to give it some abuse this time, a torture test if you will, and truly test the limits of the outback. Madison went first and put the rig through its paces with ever growing confidence in both her abilities to drive it, and what it was actually capable of.

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This is what Trail Running and Scale Crawling is all about…the big and great outdoors!

Taking it through streams and over rocky waterlogged terrain, the FTX proved itself to be most definitely waterproof. She had it almost fully submerged at one point and it just kept going! When we hit certain boggy muddy patches the FTX struggled a little bit but we were getting towards the end of the battery run time, and being a NiMH its lost its punch, so that wouldn’t of helped. We re-charged the pack back at the car and I had a go myself and this led to me making a few conclusions of my own and also recommendations for end users of the rig.

Biasing Things Correctly

After this review I was going to swap out all the electrics for Madison, but to be honest it is fine the way it is. the battery life is okay, exactly what you would expect for NiMH battery, but the ESC is also capable of taking A 2S LiPo cell, so that’s a logical (and cheap upgrade). Also changing the location of the main pack to over the front axle under the hood is another that will drastically change the rigs weight bias and let it tackle steeper inclines and pull itself up and over certain obstacles it struggled with before.

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Changing the main packs position from rear to forward, improved the rigs abilities even further

Sadly as the wheels and tyres are pre-glued no weight can be added unless you attempt to de-bond and then re-glue them…not and easy or pleasant task. I wish they were beadlocks, but that would probably have added £20 to the RRP so I get why FTX have gone down their chosen route. CML Distribution sell a vast array of hop ups and after market bits for scale rigs and crawlers, so you could buy another set and weight them yourself with stick on strip weights.

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The three variations on wheel that FTX uses on the whole range…The Tundra has the most Scale of the lot as standard

Small But Plucky

As for the motor, it may be small, but the 1:88 gearing used is spot on for leisure crawling, trail running and having fun. The 370 sized brushed unit packs just enough punch to do what it needs, but it can struggle at times when the transmission is under duress, solid axles and drive shafts tend to put a lot more strain on motors, that’s why 540 can and high wind is the usual industry standard. Big torque usually requires big magnets. I live in hope that someone will come out with a third party motor plate to accommodate a 540 can in the future, or CML may get in a high torque, waterproof 370 can Brushless, Sensored combo designed for crawling? But again all that will push up the initial or future costs, so until then it stays as it is!

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I wasnt expecting LED’s as standard…that shocked me!

Big plus point for the Outback though is the minimal cost of upgrades. There are lots of little aluminium bits (Bumpers, Gear Housings, Battery Tray’s etc.) you can add to the Outback or any of its siblings that won’t break the bank. So it’s also a rig that can be improved as you feel necessary. Spares are also very well priced so should you break something when you are testing the limits of the FTX, you won’t have to spend a fortune to fix it.

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Nice and bright too…FTX lead, others follow

One thing to mention is that the bumpers have been designed in a way that they flex very slightly, but are strong enough to bolt a RC winch to and the rig will be comp ready. The supplied Tx may only be 2-channel, but you can get key fob remote winch controllers that uses Bluetooth to spool out and pull back in the cable, so that’s not biggie!

Quick Fixes

I will swap the servo horn for an aluminium one but that is me being picky it is something I always change straight away even in more expensive rigs. I will definitely upgrade the main pack for a brick pack LiPo, as the ESC is compatible and move it forwards on the chassis. This will increase the run times and add some weight bias over the front wheels. But that is about it really…for now!

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The main NiMH pack is smaller than a traditional ‘Stick Pack’ so easy to re-locate

I think if you are on a budget or looking to get your kids involved in the hobby you really can’t go wrong with this offering from FTX. CML have something in this range of rigs that many other brands don’t…true value for money RC, and that I feel, as do many on the RCCZ team is the future of helping the hobby to grow again both here in the UK and globally.

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The sub £160 rig next to my nearly £400 Axial…and they both managed the same things in testing

Yes, it will get criticised by the keyboard warriors on forums who like to stay loyal to whatever brand they are fan boys of, or those that only run high end kit, and often take things far too seriously. Yes its got a small motor, yes it has a all-in-one ESC and RX, and yes it only has a 3KG steering servo. But its light, and all the components work well together as a consequence.

If you stop and think for a second its not designed for someone wanting the pinnacle of a RTR Scale Rig. It’s a product that’s been designed to put a smile on a kids face, or as an adults first steps into true hobby grade RC, for the price of a gaming console. And it its very much fit for purpose on that count.

My daughter loves it, and I’ve been won over by it. For its price point it simple can’t be beaten…the gauntlet is now firmly laid down, I hope a few other manufacturers see the light and we see more sub £160 RTR rigs enter the market, but I doubt it somehow. I think FTX hit the nail on the head with this and the other variations in the Outback range.

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As a first Scale Rig, or for a child to get into RC it’s perfect…hats off to CML for bringing the Outback range into the UK

Now go get your own Scale Adventure, and we hope to see you at the UK RECON G6 in May and our own RCCZ Scale Nationals in the Autumn.

For more information on the whole range head: HERE

And for all things Scale, Trail, Crawl and Bash…keep your eyes peeled for more RCCZ articles very soon. We have some very cool stuff lined up!

I Need A Name…Not Just a Code Number!

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

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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.

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Everything packaged neatly and safe in transit

 

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.

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The body comes in two sections…this cab and flatbed section thats bolts to it

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.

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“E Rings are my friend…” Repeat after me…

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.

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Once the motor’s in place, gear selection should be tested by powering the motor and selecting the gears by hand, just to make sure everything’s smooth before assembly into the chassis

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.

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Any decent spec servo is fine for the shift function…even a pretty inexpensive TowerPro like this!

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!

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Each chassis side comprises of a front and rear C-section rail joined with a spacer bar

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.

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The shift servo sits neatly on a central skid, and once set up correctly works flawlessly

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!

Leaf Rear

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.

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Love em or hate em…leaf springs are the most realistic and classic form of suspension
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Stack as many or as little as you want…Fine-tune by removing or adding leaf’s…simple!

The diffs are also in their own little bag and I didn’t even find them until I was prepping the body

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I chose to build the diffs open…although for comp use or more extreme trail running, locking them is the way forward

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.

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Grease em well and they will last…simple advice, but worth heading for longevity

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.

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Note the Bling of the Diff Covers…easily painted if this isn’t your thing!

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)

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Initially I was skeptical about dog bones and not UJ’s…but, I was won over in use
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Ahh, the old body clip in the axle trick…keeps the assembly together perfectly during the build

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.

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Simple and yet effective…a little friction goes a long way
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Remember to also lube the ring gear and pinion before running

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.

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Plastic Fantastic…Again I was a little skeptical at first, but they worked effortlessly in use…

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’.

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The twin spring setup offers different compression rates and rebound characteristics…great for fine tuning the rigs handling
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The front suspension is 4-linked to offer more than adequate articulation in use…

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.

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Give the leaf springs a time to break in…they become more flexible after a few hours use

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

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Read the instructions three times, think twice and build each wheel once!

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.

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Rows of two at the rear…

The wheels are driven by the usual 12mm hexes, the wheel nuts are hidden by a cap.

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Crate, box, call it what you will its very spacious….

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.

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The lid incorporates space for the optional sound unit

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.

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6 Cell Stick Pack or LiPo Brick Pack, you decide!

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

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Rolling Chassis Check! Body prep initiate!

 

Airbrush On…Sharpies Out!

The shell for the PG4L comprises of two mouldings – the main cab and the pickup bed.

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Ther cab section ready for more primer…
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Sand and clean between coasts for a better top coat finish…

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.

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Stop, Reverse and Indicate…
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My new best friend…Mr Sharpie

 

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.

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The Sharpie trick worked a treat…

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.

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The running boards were painted separately and then bolted on

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)

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Checker plate is like great if you use it sparingly

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!

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Losing some of the bling to a Matt Blk worked a treat with the Deep Purple

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)

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Junk In its Trunk!…insert Beyonce or Kardashian joke here…

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.

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The Cross looks the part…its stance aggressive and very scale

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.

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It performed as well as it looks…just remember the leaf rear and realistic ground clearance

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!

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A huge shout out to Simon Green and Cross RC for the review sample…

Are You Ready To Rock?

rcz_tech-mi

RC4WD Bully II MOA RTR Competition Crawler

Words & Images: Scott ‘AceofAxe’ Curlin & Andy ‘Twinset’ Moore
Available Globally: HERE or in UK: HERE
Current Price: $589.99
Spec
  • CNC Machined Alloy Axles
  • MOA (Motor On Axle)
  • Wheelbase: 317mm
  • Width: 254mm
  • Height: 182mm
  • Ground Clearance: 92mm
  • Final Drive Ratio: 40.7 : 1
  • Weight: 1.99Kg
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The MOA Comp Crawler is back!…Introducing the Bully II

Prologue…

In 2010 while I was on “Holiday” in a very hot and sandy place, a buddy of mine ordered a comp crawler. When it came in he brought it to my attention as he knew I was an RC guy. I was just starting to look at the crawler and scale scene, but was still busy trying to make everything I owned go faster, and survive bigger, and bigger jumps. I was a basher through and through and didn’t have time for any other aspects of the RC car world. Sure, I have always loved racing but didn’t have a proper place to do that at the time. So, I focused on making my bashers faster and stronger. Then he brings this crawler to my attention. At first I was stubborn and said why in the world would you want to crawl when you can jump? But he convinced me to watch him on some rocks we had at work. I was interested in the articulation it had going over the obstacles he ran up and over, and was intrigued with its ability to get over some of the bigger rocks. He then handed me the transmitter and I set off on my first crawl. I was immediately hooked and needed one of my own. So, after that I went inside and started to look into my options. I saw the one he had, but thought I should get something different. I ordered a cheapish RTR and waited, and waited…(It took quite a while to get mail where we were).

Bad Move

By the time it came in I had found something else shiny and had changed my mind on crawlers. But it was there, and I wanted to at least try it. I took it out of the box and immediately noticed a lot of plastic on it. It didn’t look very bulletproof to me. But, I loaded in the batteries and gave it a go. I turned it on, tried driving up a wall and over a few objects, I very quickly decided it needed to go back. I had bought a crawler that looked cool, but couldn’t crawl very well. I boxed it up and sent it back. The car I replaced it with help me to launch my YouTube channel so it wasn’t all bad…but that was it for owning a true crawler for a while.

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Scale has been my thing for a while now…Here I am with Mr Brian parker himself at the 2016 UK RECON G6

Once I returned home, eventually I got into the scale scene and started to regret letting that crawler go, but everything happens for a reason. I bought one other shafty crawler after that, but I quickly converted it to a scale rig and that ended me owning a real crawler once more. I met Peter Gray and the RCCar.Zone (Formerly RRCi) team in 2010 and have been introduced to many other forms of this great hobby and have gained an appreciation for each one. But I always said I want another, true crawler, I felt like I was really missing out on something.

FFWD To 2016

Pete, being the mate he is, remembered my interest in a owning a ‘real’ crawler. He rang me up recently and said he had a RTR that needed to be reviewed. It was even a Motor on Axle (MOA) design, so something I wanted to run even more. Knowing how this aspect of the market had almost disappeared of late, I thought was it was probably a cheaper brand that would be shockingly bad and resemble something from the toy section of your local grocery store. He assured me however it was (and I quote) “Pure Quality” and I should wait before passing judgement…so I did!

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MOA rigs have been neglected for too long, now RC4WD offer us an affordable, complete solution

I turned up to his house a couple weeks later and saw the normal stash of incoming reviews in the hallway. The only crawler I could see was an RC4WD one. This couldn’t be it? Do they even do a Comp crawler anymore? The answer was yes, and it was mine to review! After a quick look at the box I learned a bit more about it. The RC4WD Bully II is a MOA RTR, its the second generation of the Bully MOA rig that Pete himself reviewed many years back, and that he put on the cover of the RRCi Crawler Special he wrote back in the day.

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The dimensions of the rig at a glance…

He was handing me the responsibility of both reviewing this rig, and also trying to help with my ongoing learning curve of all things RC. A MOA is something I had never run before, and learning about its nuances and the very different driving style required would be very interesting.

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Having never owned or run a rig of this calibre…I was intrigued at its abilities

Being MOA it means that each axle drives independently, so they can be Front only driven, rear only driven and by letting the drag brake keep the un driven axle locked up completely, they act as a front or rear dig. All this functionality can be easily controlled with the included 3-channel transmitter. As a one box solution its a great way onto MOA rigs and much cheaper than actually buying the components separately and building your own. I couldn’t wait to get this home and get it out of the box!

The Box Art Sets The Scene

Once I got back home, I took the box into the office and immediately opened it. But not before truly admiring the box art. The picture on the box is a great shot of the Bully II on the rocks. It truly inspires you to get it out of the box and on to the rocks as soon as! When you see this box in store with all the other boxes, it completely stands out. A lot of other companies have static pictures of their kits. Whether sat in a black background or on a track somewhere. But this shows it in its natural environment and truly makes you want to discover new lands with it! On the side of the box there are listed some of the official RC4WD hop ups for it, and even more great photos of it on the rocks! The exterior of the box is just loaded with Hi-res pics that make you want to charge a battery and hit the rocks!

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Great Promo Images from RC4WD…they make me want to hit the rocks straight away!

Once open, the rig comes out on a sliding cardboard stand as most of us are used to. The transmitter is securely fastened beneath the rig and inset into the base. The manual and spare parts are located under the cardboard base. The manual is a picture based manual, as we have come to know and love from RC4WD. The spares contain a battery strap, optional springs for the shocks and some flat bits of Lexan. I was wondering what the Lexan was for until I noticed they were body panels. These are easily attached to the Bully if you want to add a bit of colour to it. They are also ready to be painted with a protective sheeting on one side just like the normal shells you are used to. I opted to paint mine red as a contrast to my normal Blue?Green I tend use on everything I race.

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Note the elongated Delrin skid and high clearance Titanium links

The transmitter was one of the biggest surprises for me. It’s the new XR4 4 channel radio. I have never had a RTR radio with 10 model memory! You can buy relatively cheap receivers for your other kits and control them with this radio!

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10 Model memory, LCD Screen, 3-Channel…great spec for a RTR 2.4Ghz TX

The radio has all the trimmings (see what I did there) that you will find on the high dollar competitors. It also allows you to name each model with its 3-digit display. For this one I named it MOA, that way I know which rig is on memory one. There’s a backlit LED display screen that makes selecting all the functions a dream. But enough about the transmitter let’s talk about the Bully II!

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Articulation is the keyword in Crawling…and the Bully II has it, and then some!

Serious Stuff

Straight away the high clearance lower arms let you know this is a serious comp rig! The carbon fibre Twin Vertical Plates (TVP) look almost as good as they perform! When you want light weight and strength, it’s hard to beat Carbon Fibre! The twin Boost 35t rebuildable motors are exactly what I would put on a crawler kit if I was building one, so that was a nice choice by RC4WD, in my case at least.

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The included 6V 5A Turbo BEC is fine for the supplied steering servo, but go any higher spec and you will need to upgrade

The 6v – 5 Amp BEC is a great choice as well! I run one of those on my RC4WD Beast II and it performs flawlessly! The RC4WD Outcry Brushed Speed Controller with built-in drag brake is the perfect speedo for this rig and simply gets the job done!

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The twin motor ESC allows you to drive each axle independently, so front and rear dig functions are possible

When coupled with the included Rocker Electronic Dig/ESCit proves to be an almost unstoppable combination! The servo is the Twister Metal Gear Digital Servo that is rated at 153oz @ 6v. It seems kind of low for a comp crawler, but it is a RTR and it must work or it wouldn’t be in the kit. But the rocks will reveal all!

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The classic COG test of any comp rig…Not amazingly scientific, but looks coll nevertheless

The only thing I did notice on the Bully was the routing of the motor wires. The front motor wires ran down the lower links and attached to the bottom of the motor. I was a bit concerned as I knew these areas were very open to abuse from the rocks. I quickly re-routed them and plugged the motor wires into the top plugs out of the way. But enough of all this tech talk it’s time to hit the rocks.

I headed up to Derbyshire for our RCCar.Zone Scaler Nationals. I took along the Bully and was planning on testing it at our comp site in Bracken rocks. The night before we were at John Wasley’s house having a drink or more and they all got talking about the glory days of comp crawlers and how I had missed it. They knew I had the Bully with me and were basically setting me up for a trial run on John’s rock garden course. I immediately agreed and we were off to the garden…well I say immediately, I needed to find a suitable 2S LiPo first to fit on the tiny plinth on the front axle, next to the steering servo.

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the steering servo sits on the front axle and is offset to allow a small LiPo to be placed next to it
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Note that rear clearance. Thats why its important to tuck away those motor wires to avoid them being damaged

I was the first one to drive it of course, and I was really enjoying it. John along with Twinset and Pete were giving me tips as I went along. I could see how great the Bully II was, because even with my very basic crawler skills it was making most of the obstacles. John told me to try the dig. To be honest I had completely forgot about it. I hit the slider button on the front of the transmitter and the rear tyres locked. This allows the Bully II to turn by pivoting on its axis, with the front tyres moving and the rear tyres locked in position. It makes for very tight turns and the ability to position the rig accurately ready for your next obstacle or gate. Using the dig you can take approaches to gates that a non dig enabled rig wouldn’t ever attempt.

You can also lock just the front tyres and power it with the back ones and have a front dig. This actually helps get up almost impossible looking ledges as you can lock the front wheels in place holding onto the ledge as the rear wheels push the rig upwards and load the chassis almost like a spring. Then at just the right moment you start the front wheels drivi9ng again and it often magically lifts itself up onto the ledge. You  Just simply select which dig you want to use via the 3-position switch.

I decided to hand it over to the old pros and really see what it could do. I wasn’t disappointed. These boys know how to crawl and made my efforts look childish. I couldn’t wait to try it out at the old stomping grounds the next day. You see, Bracken Rock was home to the Crawler Nationals for many years. But when Comp Crawling started to get taken a bit too serious, the fun-loving group decided to switch over to Scale. That’s why we now have the Scaler Nationals there! I charged a couple batteries for the next day had another drink and went to bed thinking about the Bully on the rocks!

Learning To Dig Real Crawling

Next day was the UK Scaler Nationals. We got there early, briefed the drivers made sure they all knew where they were going and headed out to the trails. This year I was judging course three and decided it would be a great place to run the Bully. So after about 6 hours of scoring the course it finally started to slow down a bit. I went and asked my favourite photographer (Twinset) to do a shoot for me. He was happy to oblige and we headed out to the rocks.

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Tyres are a very stick, soft compound with micro block type tread. They grip amazingly well on most dry rock, or hard surfaces, only really suffering in damp and mossy areas

One thing very different from John’s home course was mud, grass and water. I was hoping the Bully Comp Tyres would do ok on the added elements. They were definitely soft and had a great tread for dry rocks, but I was a bit concerned about the wet. I sat off onto the marked trail. 10 gates set out for 1.9 and 2.2 scalers. In theory it should be relatively easy for the Bully. The first gate was easy enough. The second was a tight left turn around some rocks. I selected the dig and easily went right around it. The next gate was up a double rock that was a bit steep. I drove the front tyres onto it and noticed it kept trying to wheelie, which would have obviously flipped the rig on its back. Then I decided to use dig again. I locked the back tyres and drug them up the steep face of the rock with just the power of the front wheels. That was really cool looking by the way. I could get used to this crawling thing!

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The Bully II handles anything you throw at it, and mastering its true abilities is a joy

Gate 4 would really test the tyres as it was a side hill. The Bully creeped across the rock face without any slippage and no problems! Gate five was a drop down that you had to climb up to. The climb was a deep V shaped area between two rocks. The Bully had no problem making up the surface and then I used dig to pull myself round to the drop won. Doing the drop down, the drag brake held flawlessly. We even left it there for a few minutes as Twinset got some great pics of it.

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The tyres hook up on most surfaces, but perform much better in the dry

Gate 6 was a quick up and over. It was a log that proved to be difficult for some scale rigs, but was just a speed bump to the Bully. Gates 7 and 8 were just two off camber inclines that were no match for the MOA rig. Gate 9 had some tall grass on the sides that I found wrapped around my axles, but I made it through the gates.

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This log was breezed up and over….no ‘Clod Stall’ or issues

Gate 10 would be the only gate I couldn’t finish. It was a steep, slick incline that nearly everyone that made it through had to use a winch. I obviously didn’t have a winch, but I could have definitely benefited from some axle weights here!

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THis is about as extreme as it gets…With a little more front weight bias, it would make it

Overall I am very, very impressed with this rig! I had a blast with it and learned a lot about driving as well. The included dig was a huge bonus that really opened up some options on the course! So now for the pros and Cons

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Off camber sections and side hilling is also easy to tackle, the very low GOG helping immensly

Pros

  • Front & Rear Dig function, Drag Brakes and Twin ESC
  • Tough Steel Internal Heavy Duty Gears
  • Lightweight Carbon Fibre and Delrin Wheels
  • Bully 2.2″ Competition Tires (Advanced X2SS Compound)
  • High Clearance Titanium Links
  • 10 Model Memory 2.4 GHz 3-Channel Tx
  • Carbon Fibre TVP Chassis
  • It’s A RTR (Just needs main pack)
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Letting the rig ‘Relax’ into the surface is the best option, slow and steady the mantra

Cons

  • Servo was a bit weak considering loads placed on it in use. It worked, and I got through the course, but I think it would definitely benefit from a more powerful servo and 10 or 20A BEC
  • The wire routing to motors was a bit of a concern. But this was easily remedied. My concern is someone new to crawling or RC in general may overlook it. This could result in a broken or shorted wire…
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Drop offs are also easy as long as you remember when to gun the throttle and when to let the drag brakes do their thing

Final MOA Thoughts

Great product! The servo was a bit of a let-down as a seasoned RC guy, but in the end, it is RTR so if you knew no better, in most situations it actually wouldn’t bother you that much! At extremes of lock or axle articulation it can get stuck in one position without the physical power to move itself back to where you want it to go.

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The most fun i’ve had driving a rig slowly since I started in RC

The wires and their routing to the motors were just a quick fix so that’s not too bad. But the Pros outweigh the Cons tenfold! I could have talked for days about the pros, but I left it to the few above that are the key points. Having both front a rear dig is a great tool when out on a comp course, or just crawling for fun! It is the first rig I have ever had that has this feature, and after using it, it definitely won’t be the last! All in all you need one of these! I would love to see Comp Crawling make a comeback. It became a competition of who had more money last time and that’s what killed it! Companies got to money hungry and started rigs were quickly entering the multiple thousand-pound range as they were being modified. But I believe RC4WD got it right and offer a great comp crawler ready to go for well under £1000!

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Even letting a wheel hang between rocks is possible…then using the front axle only to generate grip and grad the rear up and over the gap

Get yourself a Bully II and let’s make Comp Crawling Great Again!

Available Globally: HERE Current Price: $589.99 or in UK: HERE

Raising The RR Bar…

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RRCZ Explores: Official Axial & 3rd Party RR10 Bomber Hop-Ups

Words & Images: Steve “Speedy” Allen

Donor Vehicle Manufacturer: Axial Racing

Donor Vehicle RTR RRP: $399.99

Specs

  • Length: 570mm
  • Width: 280mm
  • Height: 230mm
  • Wheelbase: 375mm
  • Ground Clearance: 72mm
  • Weight: 2.83kg

So..

You’ve got yourself an Axial Bomber, do you want to take it to the next level? With some selective Hop-Ups you can make it into an awesome Rig – to do just about anything – be it rock racer or full on crawler.

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The stock RTR is good…but ‘Speedy Steve Modded’ it’s so much better!

I wanted the best of both worlds, a scale rig that can go fast but also crawls as well as can be. The RR10 which is part Wraith, part Yeti has the bonus of being good at both. With the optional two speed gear box you can get some good speed out of a brushed motor in the second gear and still be able to crawl in the first low range gear.

I have to admit here I haven’t driven a box stock RR10 Bomber because as soon as mine turned up it was stripped and prepped for hop ups! So I took the chance to go out with fellow contributor Scott ‘AceofAxe’ Curlin and got to see how well a box stocker handled and crawled.

High Scores

The RR10 uses the AR60 axles the same as the Wraith and on the rear of the Yeti, these are great axles and stand up to a fair bit of abuse. The front has a new double shear knuckles which look very scale and should prove to be tough and durable.

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If the RR10 is AceofAce Proof, its tough, but we wanted to make it tougher

Both the link and dampers have extra mounts for secondary dampers on the front and a Yeti sway bar on the rear. Unfortunately they don’t use nuts to retain them like on the wraith and yeti but rather just screw into the plastic. I’m not sure how long these will last to abuse but I’m sure Axial will be releasing some alloy options soon enough.

There is a bit of play between the ball stud for the link and damper so it’s wise to nip these up and remove the play. The grub screws that hold the links to the chassis can’t be tightened as the screw has no head. I think with a little modification a normal machine screw will be possibly used.

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Regularly check the grub screws that anchor the links to the chassis

Overall I’m really impressed with what Axial have brought out. It looks really good and performs so much better than any stock Axial before it. Moving the battery under the bonnet was such a smart move, getting the weight up front is such a must and makes a huge difference. The easy access bonnet is also great. The battery compartment will handle 3s 4000mAh LiPos with the only issue being tucking the wire out of the way.

Where’s The Cheat Codes?

A total of eight screws hold the body to the chassis and four grub screws hold the dampers to the body. With no electrics mounted to the body it makes life easy to get in and work on the rig.

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Bye Bye spare tyre…it just gets hung up in use

The first thing to be stripped of was the spare wheel mount. I think it looks great with the tyre on but for all out performance the weight is in the wrong place and it hangs out of the back and easily gets caught.

Tip: Replace the grub screws on the shocks with the normal domed head screws from the spare wheel to make life a little easier out on the trail if you need to fix it.

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Stock electrics go out…

Next job was stripping the electrics out. The servo is held onto a new style mount with some nice large-head screws – usually only included with a few servos and not kits – there was even a spare one in the
bag of parts included.

Also in the bag of spares is the coolest part, Axial have made a through -drive for the AR60 axle so you can make a 6WD rig with an AR60 axle with ease. You’ll also find so many other cool bits in this bag that you hadn’t thought of, though I do miss all the scale guns you used to get!

I replaced the kit servo with a Savox SA1283SG. I chose this servo for its reasonable price and also its 30kg power at 6V. The reason I went for 6V is I’m thinking of adding a winch and the stock servo would be perfect to make a winch servo so it was safer to go for the lower voltage.

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Upgraded electrics go in…

Servo power was to be supplied by a Castle Creations BEC which would be fitted in the radio box which looks the bottom of an engine, very cool feature! Also in the radio box goes a 6 channel Futaba receiver to work with my Futaba 4PL radio.

Next step on the electric upgrades were the motor and ESC. Up until now I have always been a brushed motor guy for crawlers and scale builders alike. But I knew the Bomber needed more power, greater speed and still be able to crawl. There was only one type of motor to go for: a four pole brushless motor. I’m not the best off – all hop ups were bought by me and not gifted, but I’m also currently restoring a 1970 Audi – so my budget had to be tight but it also had to be smart. With a little hunting online I found Toro had come out with an S-Pro4 four pole range of motors and I chose to go for a 3000kV model. This should give me plenty of wheel speed but still be good a low-end for crawling control.

To feed power to this I had a Castle Creations Mamba Max Pro in my old Wraith review car from years ago. The Wraith is getting all the Bombers electrics and become my wife’s new rig. The Mamba Max Pro needed the settings adjusted on the PC to make it more suitable for the Bomber and brushless power.

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A new black alloy motor mount was fitted offering a far more security

With the motor being swapped out I knew I wanted an alloy motor mount and after looking online I found that GPM made a nice black anodised item which comes with both the mounts to the transmission and to the motor.

Extra Life Given

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The driveline components and links used…offering better steering deflection and better geometry

The transmission is very similar to the Yeti’s one with the only difference being the transmission case. I’m not 100% on if the gears in the transfer case are the same as the angle it mounts to is different to the Yeti. It comes away from the skid plate with six screws and is soon apart with another six screws.

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Wheres the lubrication? Grease them puppies up good and proper

I gave the gears a good coating of Heavy duty bearing grease as there was very little to no grease on the gears. No upgrades were done on the internals gears or even to the spur gear. I did order an Axial alloy spur but when it turned up I went to fit it and the slipper pads appeared to be stuck to the plastic spur, so rather than risk damaging them with no spares on hand and not be able to run the rig. I did fit Some Axial alloy slipper plates, though I’m not sure if these are really needed.

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Now thats more like it…Marine Grease FTW

I felt that the rear axle didn’t need too much improvement, so the only upgrades were Axial’s HD stock ratio gear and Hot Racing’s locker. I left the axle shafts standard and even the axle lock outs were kept.

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Axial’s HD stock ratio gear and Hot Racing’s locker were employed at the rear

The next upgrade were the rear links, I went for some Blue Monkey Yeti rear arms which use Traxxas rod ends which are a lot stronger. For the upper links I made some carbon rods and again used the Revo rod ends to keep it all nice and tough. This all bolted up nice and easy and the only play was the lower links to the skid plates, a shim could be easily fitted to take out this play.

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Blue Monkey Yeti rear arms & Traxxas rod ends

I’ve been really impressed with the Axial WB8 drive shafts and so these were reused on both ends – all I did was put a nice bit of thread lock on the grub screws as there didn’t seem to be any on then and you don’t want them coming out!

Moving to the front axle a little more work was carried out – again Axial HD gears were used but this time I went for overdrive gears and Hot Racing lockers. Looking online most people who have upgraded their’s have gone for under drive on both or just rear but me and going slow just doesn’t happen.

The dog-bone driveshaft’s were not going to cut it, so in went some Axial Wraith universal driveshaft’s which increase steering and are just better overall.

Next are the knuckles and hubs, I’m not normally a bling brand name guy but after seeing Vanquish products knuckles and clamping hubs I just had to have some, though I didn’t want them to stand out too much so I went for black.

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It had to be done…Vanquish Products Knuckles & Camping Hubs

Steering links I went for some titanium items again from Vanquish, although I did order the wrong one but with a little extra bending and some longer Traxxas rod ends it was soon fitted and in a stealthy way under the servo.

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Titanium Steering Links needed a slight mod (again from Vanquish)

With the steering all sorted it was just the front links to sort. But I dropped the ball here, I only ordered lower links in titanium, so for now I will have to stick with the plastic uppers until I can find some I like at a later date along with a few other choice upgrades to get it fully ready for the UK’s first ever Recon G6 event, so this bad boy better be ready.

New Shoes N Rubber Soles

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The stock wheels n tyres are OK for bashing and starting out, but I wanted more…

The final items on the upgrade list where the wheels and tyres. Tyres there was only one choice for me the Voodoo U4 2.2 – I have these tyres on my yeti and I not only love the look but the performance is amazing.

Matching these with some Crawler Innovation foams which I did some secret modifications to give me a little edge over the rest. For the wheels I was torn and after some hunting online I found some great cheap scale looking bead-lock wheels from China, so without me being able to pick a favourite I ordered two sets and they still came in cheaper than some other brands for one set. These all went together great and had no real issues fitting the wheels to the tyres after my modifications to the foams. This was also made easier by the fact I didn’t run any extra weights in the wheels.

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Voodoo U4 2.2s…more grip than thin Cyno on freshly cleaned kitchen table (we’ve all been there!)

For initial testing and with the wonderful weather we were having I wasn’t going to fit my lights yet and I also want to mount a winch but for now that’s all I’m going to do to the little Bomber. Apart from give it a dame good spanking out testing it!

Snow Doesn’t Stop Play

The day after I finished the build was a Sunday, and what happened while I was sitting working on the Bomber? Yep, it snowed!

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Snow…what snow?

Now even though I’ve gone brushless I wasn’t going to let this hinder the testing and even thought it would make for some good video. So with the help of my ever-loving wife we ventured out to Bradgate Park with a huge flask of coffee, a few tools and a couple of cameras.

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Grip was an issue on certain obstacles…as was the ambient temperature!

What we came back with was huge smiles on our faces and cold fingers. We only went through two battery packs but they were 4000mAh and they did last over an hour each, in fact the second pack didn’t quite go flat, but my transmitter did and the constant beeping was enough to make me stop.

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3s, in the snow, me having fun? Never!

I have to say with the betting that we gave (yes my wife drove me to it ) I was amazed at how well it could handle the snow. OK it wasn’t loads of snow but it was enough for us brits to get a sledge out and slide down a rocky hill.

At the very start of driving the rig there was a little stuttering in the higher rev range of the motor but after a little while this stopped. I had just put liquid insulation over the sensor wires and motor terminals, so maybe this hadn’t fully dried.

SPS
Thankfully I killed nothing during my testing…waterproofing is key to scale success

I’m really impressed with how well this Bomber drives and crawls. The long wheel base really helps in crawling up steep ledges – which I had tried a few weeks before when I came with Scott and his bomber in the dry but both failed – but now with the new tyres and extra wheel speed just gave me that edge.

I will admit there where some places that I couldn’t get up for toffee but snow covered slick rock can be a challenge to even walk on but that didn’t stop me trying.

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THe RR10 was great for just ragging about as well as more technical crawling

Wheel-speed flat out was perfect, I was a little worried it might be too fast and I would lose some low end control but the motor was amazing. If you’ve got the money by all means go for the bigger names in motor manufacturing but the Toro has really impressed me. Of course the Mamba Max Pro isn’t a cheap esc but I have had that for probably 3 years now and run it in everything from 1/8th buggies, to a Wraith with 2.8 sand paddles and 6000kv motor, so it’s done me very well.

The Savox servo was also amazing and the huge power didn’t show any sign of faltering even in the cold and wet and being bound up in some tight spots. Both myself and my wife Sam had a great time, got plenty of video and photos and the truck stood up to everything I could throw at it (yep even the plastic WB8 shafts.)

Not Game Over

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My Tx was the only annoying thing about this test session (Note to self, charge it before leaving next time!)

What am I going to do to the Bomber? As I have already said, the upper links on the front will be upgraded to either aluminium or titanium depending on what I can find. Though, stay away from the one piece alloy ones and instead go for ones with rod ends.

Some lights will be needed for the night stage of the Recon G6 so plenty of LED’s will be used, with maybe a secondary battery in the fuel cell in the back to power these.

I think it doesn’t really need a winch, but for looks and that just in case moment a winch will be picked out of my spares box and stealthily fitted somehow.

And then I think a colour change is in order. I do really like the scheme but I need to make this individual and with the name I’ve given the truck I have the perfect scheme in mind.

Long live the “F” Bomb!

Positives

  • Good variety of after-market upgrades
  • Proven Wraith and Yeti DNA
  • A great all round rig, made even better

Negatives

  • Random grub screws where machine screws should have been
  • Lack of Transmission grease
  • Slipper pads stuck to plastic spur gear

For more on Axial Racing CLICK HERE

For more on the RR10 RTR & Kit CLICK HERE

For more on Vanquish Hop Ups CLICK HERE