Re-living Group B Memories

Tamiya’s Classic TT02 Lancia Delta Integrale 4WD 1/10th Rally Car Kit

Words & Images: Phil “MakeItBuildIt” Lawrence

Available in the UK: HERE & HERE

Manufacturer: Tamiya

UK Distributor: The Hobby Company

UK RRP: £139.00

Spec:

  • Width: 186mm
  • Length: 407mm
  • Height: 159mm
  • Wheelbase: 257mm
  • Gear Ratio = 9.58:1

Required Items

  • 2-Channel R/C Unit
  • ESC may be required, UK versions include ESC
  • Battery Pack & Charger
  • Paint, Tools & Patience

It’s Been Emotional

So, where should I start this journey; when I got the kit, or a lot further back? I’ve been told in the past to start at the beginning , however I’m going to break that rule and start at the end, as I cannot wait to share the finished product with you.

This is the end result of what has been a long journey for me. It has been an emotional journey and one with a variety of feelings along the way, but well worth the travelling .

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A Rally Car of my childhood dreams…Group B was short lived, but Epic!

Back to the beginning

OK, before I show you too much, let’s go back to the beginning, the very beginning, <cue the ‘Wayne’s World’ time travel special effects>

My journey into RC cars started with Tamiya. Without a shadow of a doubt, Tamiya were THE manufacturer of kits in the 80’s. I remember being in awe as my younger self opened the box, seeing all the components and then learning to build the kits. It’s fair to say that more than half of the fun of a Tamiya was the journey before you drove the car.

We live today in a Ready To Run world, and this has its advantages to get people driving quickly. However, there is something lost for me in RTR cars. In building the car up yourself, you not only got a massive sense of achievement and pride in what you have achieved, but you also built your knowledge. Knowing how a car is put together is a big thing so overlooked by the RTR world of today. If you built the car, you understand the car, and I think that allows you to repair, upgrade and tune as you want with confidence.

For those, like me, who have some silver or white in what hair they have left, this should ring some bells. For those younger, I know there were some re-releases of the classics in early 2000’s. The Tamiya cars at the time, for me, were the Hornet, Grasshopper and the Frog, swiftly followed by other character cars like the Wild Willy Jeep.

I still have a soft spot for the F150 Ford Ranger with its aluminium suspension setup and scale looks, as that was one of the last cars of my childhood and was also the car that re-united me with my father after family divorce – RC has a way of mending many bridges by providing a common ground.

My memories of the Tamiya kits were good overall; I don’t ever recall a badly moulded part on any of my kits sprues. Sure, I remember upgrading the friction shocks to oil filled dampers and changing the plastic bush rings for metal ball races in some of my earlier budget based builds.

The thing with this, is that you have to remember where Tamiya placed those kits. They offered (and still do) a range of kits, from their top of the range pro racing kits with all the upgrades in the box as standard, to an accessible entry level kit to get as many people into RC Cars as possible  whilst maintaining a decent quality level as, after all, the experience of a bad model could taint your RC experience and put someone off the hobby.

So you can hopefully understand why this meant a lot to me when I was asked to relive my journey and how would the current models match up to the expectations in my head from remembering my Tamiya roots.

First Glance

OK, back to the near present <more Wayne’s World time travel wavy screen effects and sounds>

Presented with a boxed Tamiya TT02 sporting the legendary 1992 world rally championship winning Lancia Delta Integrale, let’s just say I was quite excited as the memories started flooding back.

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Gone are the days of cool Tamiya box art I’m afraid…unless its an 80s re-release!

On first glance the kit contained not only the car itself, but a motor and speed controller so, in addition to the kit, I added a 9009 Low Profile servo from RC-Core to use alongside my existing Spektrum radio gear and a can of white PS-1 Tamiya paint.

So, I’m itching to get started and having built a few kits in the past and although I stand a good chance of piecing together the car by sight without having too many parts left over, I think it’s best to use the instruction manual with its exploded diagrams, to aid the process. But just before I get into the build zone and delve in with the clippers and a knife blade to clean all the joints up, let’s have a look at the some of the sprues and what you get.

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Parts N Sprues…Parts N Sprues…

As you can see, the injection moulded black plastic sprues are very well moulded, so they are accurate and have a great finish. These contain all the parts you need, each one numbered so you can identify it easily using the manual and have a relatively simple build process.

A tip for removing the parts is never ever twist them off the sprues, as often that removes a small amount of the part as it comes off. My preference is to use wire cutters and clip the part off close to the part and then use a craft knife or Stanley type knife to or scrape off any mould marks to ensure the very best fitment and look.

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Chrome parts look cool and add an extra dimension to the fine detailing

Chrome and body-coloured parts to add lots more detail and realism to the Lancia

The moulded “bath tub” chassis provides a very sturdy base for the Tamiya TT02 to be built on, and should keep everything inside protected from any stones etc. from the off-road escapades that I know it’s going to have.

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A plastic tub chassis is the backbone to many a Tamiya build…and rightly so!

Wheels and tyres, again have had time lavished on them in the design phase to add more realism with the cross cut block tyres and white rally wheels, ensuring they are both functional for driving and look great if your car is a shelf queen.

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Rally Block tyres are both realistic and functional…
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Plastic replicas of the original Rally Wheels used by Lancia

Onto the build

Following the instructions, after installing the centre driveshaft, one of the first parts to build is the differential. For those that don’t know what this is or how important it is, it allows the wheel on each side to turn at a different speed, whilst still being driven forwards by the motor.

This is needed to make it easier to turn the car, as the wheel on the outside of the bend has to travel further than the wheel on the inside. On a 4wd car like the Tamiya TT02 Lancia Delta, it will have a differential at the front and at the rear. without them it would be very hard to drive.

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Meshed and lubricated correctly these plastic gears and diff components work perfectly well, and will last

The differential is made up of a 4 planet gears and 2 crown gears that fit inside the main housing and allow the wheels to to turn at different speeds as previously explained.

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The provided grease is your friend…use it wisely

Tamiya, thankfully for those that have not built a differential or a car before, break everything down into sections and detail the build step by step. Everything you need is included in the kit, and they even put in the required tubes of grease.

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Note the safety remark…”Not Eatable”. That made me smile!

After a few steps (7 if you included building the driveshaft), you end up with the following, a completed differential installed ready for the cover plate.

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Note: the central propshaft/driveshaft spins on white plastic bushes and not ball bearings

You can see in the image above that Tamiya have provided plastic bushings rather than ball bearings with the kit. Ball bearings are available as an upgrade, and its one I would recommend if you want to extend the life of the TT02.

I’m not going to recreate the manual in this review, but hopefully show you enough steps and images that you can be part of the build with me

Before long the motor is installed and the pinion gear mesh with the main drive gear is set by the chassis and motor mount. There is no fiddling to do to get it right. You can see the smear of thick grease that is used to stop dust ingress into the motor and gear mesh, simple and effective.

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The bevel and ring gear mesh perfectly…again a smear of grease will ensure smooth and long life

The suspension and drive shafts are built up. To allow the correct movement, Tamiya have moulded ball joints that you assemble – it takes a hard press to get the balls into the moulded cups, but they go in with a click, then you can bolt through into the steering hub. It goes to show again the accuracy of Tamiya’s moulds and process they use to create the plastic parts.

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Dog Bones may limit steering deflection but they are a classic way to transfer power from outdrive to wheel..

The drive shafts are “Dog Bones”, very simple, very effective, the metal pin that goes through the drive shaft fits into a slot on the axle hub and differential hub. This allows the suspension to move up and down and the steering to turn whilst still transmitting the power from one to the other, and, in turn, driving the wheel.

Progressing Well

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A bird’s eye view of the chassis…it’s getting there but still lots to do

Well the Tamiya TT02 is starting to look like a chassis now. Steering linkages need to be made up and fitted, but it won’t be long before its able to move under its own steam!

Using two bell-cranks and some linkages to the wheel hubs and to the servo (via a servo saver) the steering is done.

So, What’s A Servo Saver?

Whilst some servos are now metal geared, traditionally, servos have plastic gears inside them that drive the output shaft which you connect to the servo horn and, in turn, the steering.

It was quite easy to damage these servo gears by hitting a curb, for example. The force of that impact was transmitted directly back to the servo, so some clever soul invented a servo saver. It uses a separate inner and outer ring and a spring so, if there is a big impact, some of that impact force is taken up by the spring part and the servo gears are saved…

(Lots of modern servos use or have options for metal gears now, however a servo saver can still be a good idea)

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The steering setup works equally on both front wheels and its servo is protected by a servo saver built into the servo horn

Onto The Shocks

One thing to note at this point is the shock absorbers are friction and not oil damped. Whilst that makes for an easy build, it is the one thing I would certainly upgrade. Once you have driven a car with oil dampers and softer springs you appreciate the smoother, less bouncy drive.

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OK, so the shocks are just friction units…but easy to build and maintain for a younger RC fan or newbie into the hobby

Pin Location & Faux Disk Hexes

In order to stop the axle spinning inside the wheel, Tamiya follow the trusted method of using a pin through the axle which goes into a slot on the back of a plastic hex. As you tighten the wheel onto the axle with the lock nut, it presses the hex (with its built in faux disc) over that pin to ensure nothing can slip when you give it full throttle.

Note: Faux disk brakes are moulded into the wheel hexes

Installing the Electrics

Now the mechanical side is finished, it’s time to sort out the electronics. For some this can be a daunting task, but I can help put aside any fears by saying it’s all plug and play, even colour coded.

Neatness is the key to efficient electrics installs

The Electronic Speed Controller provided is far superior to the old three speed wiper speed controllers of my youth and very welcomed. No ceramic resistors to scorch your arm on and a much smoother power delivery too.

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Brushed or in the future Brushless use…the included ESC is a welcome change to brushed only offerings in this level of kit

This ESC is also capable of running both the brushed drive motor that came in the kit, or an upgraded brushless motor, so they have given some future proofing as standard and an easy way to add more power. Tamiya, another thank you from me.

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Yes, I could have cut all the cables shorter and got things even neater but I may need these components for future builds, so why bother?

I’ve not cut and soldered any of the wires in this kit. and although it might look complex or a lot of wires, all I have done is plugged them in, bunched them up and used a couple of cable ties so they are tidy and don’t catch

The wiring is not that hard when you look at it logically…

  • ESC has pre wired switch, battery connector, motor connectors and signal control lead
  • ESC and servo connect to the radio receiver via their signal control lead
  • ESC connects to battery with the attached power lead
  • ESC connects to motor (2 wires for brushed, 3 wires for brushless, all covered in the manual)

With a little planning and some cable ties its simple to bundle the wires up to keep things neat. My personal preference would have been to cut and solder the wires so everything is super neat, but I wanted to build this as I would have built it in my youth.

The Completed Chassis

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A worm’s eye view of the underside of the chassis….protective and smooth

The underside of the bathtub chassis will protect the components and keep everything nice and safe.

Looking good topside, foam bumper installed to help absorb any impact from when we rally this about.

Now to start the most daunting bit for many builders…the bodyshell!

That is the chassis and electronics build done. I have tested it driving about inside the garage and once i had reversed the steering channel on my transmitter, all was good. Those tyres give massive grip on carpet tiles, so should make light work of propelling the Lancia forward on tarmac or loose surfaces.

Group B Body

Painting a body is an experience, and one I think everyone should do at some point; not only to get something personalised to themselves, but it’s another skillset and well worth the time invested in learning.

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The Window Masks and Bodyshell ready for prep work to begin

Before you start, you need to cut out shell. As it comes in the kit, there is some excess material on the wheel arches and around the sills/bumpers. I would recommend investing in some curved scissors for Lexan. They make the job a lot easier. Take your time, follow the lines on the shell and all will be good.

Tamiya provide you with a set of window masking templates for the Lancia and you have to cut these from the sheet yourself, following the guide lines and then stick them inside the windows.

Please remember at this point you are going to paint the shell from the inside. The reason for this is that you are much less likely to scratch any paint off as you’re throwing it down gravel tracks and off road. The outer shell of Lexan will, thankfully, protect your paintwork.

After following the instructions of cleaning the inside of the shell and fitting the window stickers, you can then beak out the spray can.

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Wash and dry the inside, then apply Window Masks, making sure they are rubbed down perfectly at the edges to stop paint bleed

Keep the layers thin, there is no rush and if you put on a big heavy layer, it’s much more likely to run.

A good tip, besides ensuring you’re spraying in a ventilated area with adequate protection, is to warm the paint can in some hot water. This allows the paint to flow better and gives you a more even coat and a better finish.

White is the new…well, white actually!

Once you have enough layers on and good even coverage, you can let it dry (I recommend overnight in a warm place) and then remove the window masks. Almost done (well nearly)

Stickers, Decals, Detail…

I find building quite therapeutic and  spraying is too, for me. Stickers … well it’s a love and hate from me. I want them to be perfect and whilst I enjoy putting them on, there is a lot to put on to this shell. This can be a bit daunting and with one thing and another that was going on in my life, I let this delay the build for far too long.

Taking the bull by the horns and using the old trick of some washing up liquid and water in a spray bottle to allow you to slide the stickers into position, I set to it.

Use a well diluted mixture of washing up liquid and water to help the decals slide into the correct place…then use a cloth or sponge to set in place

I chose a sticker to start with which was one of the rear quarters, and cut out the stickers a few at a time from the multiple sticker sheets

If you spray the outside of the shell (don’t forget to remove the overspray guard film first) with a mist of water with a little washing up liquid mixed in, it will allow you to slide the sticker into place and then squeegee the water out from under the sticker when you have it where you want it.

I found for some of the stickers, as they have to go over quite large areas of complex curves, that a little heat from a hairdryer make it easy to stretch the sticker into any inside curves or allow the sticker to shrink a fraction so you did not end up with any crow feet lines.

Take your time and things will end up just fine…think of it as a form of Sticker Therapy!

As there is so many stickers on this shell, don’t try and do it all in once, work through them in the order that Tamiya have put on the instructions and before long you’ll have a highly detailed model.

There is a small amount of painting to do on the grill shell and mirrors; I used black acrylic paint and brushed it by hand rather than masking and,  as for the rest of the stickers, it’s just a case of following the instructions and building they layers up.

As you can see, multiple decals are used to build up the correct look

Some of the stickers, like the red line on the grill, are very thin and you need to be mindful when cutting them out. Overall, I stopped counting at 120 separate stickers on this shell. But I love the end result, it’s a fantastic scale look, and Tamiya have surpassed themselves here.

I needed a Martini after this lot! Shaken and not stirred of course!

 

Reliving Past Rally Glory…in 1/10th Scale!

Having spent a lot of time driving tuned cars with brushless motor and oil damped suspension, I need to make clear that the Tamiya TT-02 is sold  as a starter car with a highly detailed replica body.

Performance of the brushed motor surprised me, it was as good as I remember them to be, quite happily spinning all 4 wheels on loose surfaces with the cross cut tyres biting into the dirt, throwing it rearwards as they propel the Lancia forwards. The speed controller was another improvement, allowing much more control than the old three speed wiper system.

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Love this colour scheme…pity its part of the past liveries of motorsport

I’ve mentioned a few times about the suspension, and I will say for approximately £20 you can get a full set of oil filled dampers, and it’s the one upgrade i would do. The standard shocks do what they are designed to do however, with the strong springs, it does make the car bounce about after a jump or on very rough terrain. On a smooth or relatively smooth surface, its a hoot to drive, and on gravel the Tamiya TT02 is quite capable of sliding and drifting about, more like the full size Lancia Delta.

It’s a fun car to drive and the overall package is so much more than just the drive; it’s the journey from opening the box, building, painting, stickering, finalising with the driving or displaying; whichever takes your fancy.

Building a Tamiya kit is a journey, no, a rite of passage that everyone should take, at least once…Who knows where it will lead you?

Available in the UK: HERE & HERE

Manufacturer: Tamiya

UK Distributor: The Hobby Company

G-Made A 4-Link

GMade Sawback 4LS 1/10th Scale Jeep kit

 

Available In UK: Here Globally Here

UK RRP: £299

Specs

  • Width: 234mm

  • Height: 255mm

  • Length: 463mm

  • Wheelbase: 287mm

  • Ground Clearance: 68mm

  • Weight: 1.7kg (without electrics)

My First G-Made

Having been into Rock Crawling and Scale going back as far as the original AX10 Scorpion, it’s always nice to get something different to build and test.

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The Sawback evolved…4-linked and ready for action

The Sawback 4LS is a continuation of Sawback name but moving on from its previous Old Skool leaf sprung suspension, to more modern and capable four-link (hence the 4LS name). Now to the purists of the scaling world out there this could be a bad thing, but don’t worry the leaf sprung model is still for sale, in fact there are so many different options on the GS01 chassis range right now, including the Komodo that we reviewed earlier in 2016, and the original Leaf Sprung Sawback back in RRCi days, that it’s initially quite tough for anyone to choose which is best option for them. As the price points are all in the sub £400 bracket (so firmly in Axial territory), I guess it just boils down to just two factors:-

1: Leaf Springs or 4-Link Suspension

2: Body/Wheel Aesthetics

Lets give the Sawback 4LS A Go Then!

Opening the box I was welcomed by the wonderful Willy’s Jeep style body, I have to say I’m really impressed with the thickness of the Lexan, this should hold up to a good amount of abuse which is a huge plus. Next out where the plastic three piece beadlock wheels and MT tyres with inserts. I was a little disappointed when I took the inserts out to find they were just strips of foam rather than a proper cut foam, ring insert, but let’s move on and get into the actual build.

No Numbers or Letters…Just Build!

Getting everything set out on my dining table I was initially taken aback to not have any numbered/lettered bags in front of me. But luckily components are bagged in a way that helps you finish sub sections of the build process as you go along, so it’s not too bad.

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Axles are built tough and trail ready

Opening the first bag and it’s straight into building the axles. The graphite mixed composite plastic of the axles feels quite good and should hold up to a fair bit of rock rash. The bevel gear and spool are all one piece which in some ways is a plus, you haven’t got the issue of screws breaking however the bevel gear and shaft are two pieces with it only being an flattened edge on the shaft that takes all the rotational force, normally there’s a pin that takes this force so it will be interesting to see how this holds up.

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Internal gears mesh perfectly and are designed to take abuse

Dropping the none rubber shielded bearings into the axle housing I was a little disappointed and how loose the bearings for the bevel gear shaft were and they just fell out when turned over. This play is going to transfer through to the gear mesh in the axle and could cause premature gear wear if not resolved, so with this in mind I used a super heavy duty marine bearing grease rather than the tube of gear grease that’s supplied.

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Greasing the Ring and Pinion gears is a must…Longevity is the keyword

Before the bevel gear and spool are dropped into the axle housing, you use two very small bearings with plastic inserts that you push into the axle housing these hold in place really tight, which is good. The next step is outer axle bearings which are held in by the ‘C’ hub on the front and the rear lock out on the rear. Now unlike most axles where the ‘C’ hub slides over the axle housing and is then screwed together. These knuckles simply bolt to the axle housing with two m3 nuts and bolts, I wonder how strong is this union of parts going to be long term? Especially when you add weighted wheels into the mix.

TOP TIP: Make sure you take note of the ‘C’ Hub rotation when putting them on, as you can put them on the wrong way round and get the Caster set incorrectly.

Once you’ve done this the next is to slide the axle shafts into the axle casing, the fronts are dog bone style and the rears and a nice solid shaft. When doing this make sure to get the right length shaft in the correct side. After the axles are in diff covers can be fitted, these are a metal type which is a nice touch. Moving to the front steering knuckles the bearings dropped in and were again a little on the loose side with the axle shaft placed in the knuckle arm it’s then held in with step screws simply screwed into the plastic of the steering knuckle.

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The chrome diff cover added a nice bit of bling in an otherwise dark world…

The rear axle lockouts are held in the same way as the front C hubs with a bearing on both the axle casing and the lock out which is a nice touch (Some simply have a bearing on the outer edge of the lock out so this will help spread the load and make for a shared load.)

32dp For Durability

With the axles complete it’s then onto the transmission, this is quite a large item when compared to other kits out there, as most are just a robust buggy style transmission (like the AX10) with finer 48dp internal gears. In this transmission however it’s 32dp all the way, which is a good thing on one hand, as they will be able to take more load and they are far more durable.  But the negative of this is the greater noise that 32dp gears generate in use and their size.

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32dp may generate more noise than 48, but it’s far stronger and lasts longer

When putting the transmission together pay close attention to the shaft sizes for each gear set as they are different, and if you do like I did when I first built the transmission…get them the wrong way round, it will not sit together or close properly. So, as I said, pay close attention to which way round they sit. With the sheer size of the transmission, and all the rotating mass, I was intrigued at G-Made’s use of tiny bearings. Now I know I keep going on about the bearings, but a smaller diameter bearing will not be able to take as much load and stress in use. and so may fail far quicker if put under duress.

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The heavy duty alloy motor plate acts as a passive heatsink too…not that high torque motors produce excessive amounts of heat in use!

One thing I haven’t mentioned yet is the screws in this build. Unlike most RC kits you get nowadays, this kit comes with cross head screws rather than hex. On one hand everyone has cross head screwdrivers in their home. So in that respect, especially for a newcomer to the hobby, that makes tool choice simple. It reminds me of building a Tamiya to be honest, and they’ve got away with it on most of their kits for many , many years, so it no biggie. I just feel this slows down the build, and long term they just aren’t as durable as a hex headed bolt.

Use Threadlock On Anything Metal To Metal…

Another thing to note is that when bolting the end transmission housing together there’s no sign of NyLoc nuts at all. G-Made have used  standard nuts in this aspect of the build, so I highly recommend you check all screws and nuts after the first run to make sure they are all still tight (unless you use a small drop of thread lock on each…which is what I did!)

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Links are also robust and well made

After you’ve built the transmission it’s then onto making the lower links and fixing them to the skid plate. Now the instructions show to screw the set screws into the alloy link and the screw the rod end on but I prefer to screw the set screw into the rod end first making sure to not go past half the length of the set screw once you’ve done this screw the rod end onto the link, now the reason for this is when you break a rod end it’s more likely that the set screw will come away with the rod end and if this happens you want the hex driver end accessible to get it out of the broke rod end to then put it into the new one without causing any damage to the threads of the set screw. After fixing the links to the skid plate the next job is to mount the transmission to the skid again with the transmission case there’s no Nyloc’s, but rather captured nuts so when putting the screws in make sure to add a little thread lock again.

8.5
The Skid, Transmission and Links in all their glory

Motive Power & Chassis Rails

Fitting the motor is next and you want to pay close attention to the pinions location on the shaft an make sure it’s not fouling the spur gear on the back edge, they adjust the mesh so there is just a little amount of play between the pinion and spur but not too much. It wasn’t until this point I noticed that there’s no slipper clutch in the transmission so being careful with the trigger finger when the wheels are bound up. Drive shafts are the next process and these are a universal joint style but unlike most the joint pivots are held in place with tiny E clips. This for me was the hardest part, not putting the clips in but finding the one that pinged off across the room and took me an hour to find on a plus I did find an unopened, in date bag of Haribo behind the sofa (long story!) so it wasn’t all bad…

9.5
A little more bling with the C Section Steel ladder chassis…

With the drive shafts done the next step is the chassis itself and this is a little different from most as the actual chassis rails bend in at the front and back a little like a real truck chassis which is a nice touch. The main reason for this is the large width of the transmission and the also to give enough clearance for the shocks through articulation which is a nice touch but this does limit space for upper links. Fixing the shock hoops body posts and side step brackets is the first few jobs although no side steps are provided in the kit but are an optional item that you can buy. These are all fixed to the chassis with m3 screws and serrated flanged nuts so nip these up and they should hold fairly well. After that you make the short upper links and mount them to the chassis. I was happy to see they used NyLoc’s here.

10.5
The whole chassis can be built in just a matter of minutes

With that done the next stage is bolting everything to the chassis rails, I found it easier to just put the captive nuts in the one side and then mount the rail to that side first as they have a tendency of falling out when you’re trying to line everything up. I really quite like the receiver box with its fake V8 engine cover although it would look better a little further forward but then this would in turn get in the way of servo clearance through suspension travel. What is a shame is that it’s not waterproof it would have been so much better if it was sealed. Never mind a balloon will have to do. This box also has a shelve for the esc but for me this seams the perfect place to mount a small 2000mah 3s LiPo, Now if you have a big stick pack style battery there is the rear mount brackets and it’s a good idea to still put these in but I wanted to move the heavier item forward to help with weight distribution.

RC Performance over Scale Realism

11.5
They may not look 100% “Scale”…but hey work a treat!

The next stage of the build is the shocks, these are GMade XO aeration 93mm shocks now there not the most scale looking shock as they are 14mm wide and that’s just the shock body. But, this is a huge advantage for smooth feeling shock travel. They go together very easily and are soon put together, the shock oil that’s supplied has no label on it so no knowing what weight it is though. Without knowing I decided to go for the three hole pistons, Springs supplied in the kits are 19x 58mm medium rate which I think may possible be a little heavy for a fairly light weight rig like this some soft springs would definitely be on my list of parts at a later date. With the shocks bled and built it’s then on fixing them to the chassis rails and mounting the axles, this all went relatively easily however I’m not sure how strong the servo plate will be using the two screws that also hold the upper links to the axle

12.5
Almost a rolling chassis….almost!

While I was at this stage I decided to sort out the electrics. With funds being tight this time of year it was a case of parts bin diving in the garage. I managed to find my original 35turn Turnigy motor which I gave a skim and new brushes. ESC duties would be taken by an old Castle Creation Mamba Max setup for brushed motors. Servo and receiver duties were taken by some Tactic electrics I had left over from an RTR the servo isn’t the best but I think sometimes budget builds are the most fun as you have less at risk. I was a little disappointed that when fitting the servo there was no servo horns supplied in the kit, luckily I had a spare in one of my many boxes of bits that fit.

Rear Bed Limits ESC Positioning

The steering links were soon fitted and travel of the horn was centred quickly. Now as I said I wanted to mount a LiPo up front to try and improve weight distribution and for the purpose of the review I simply double sided taped the LiPo in place. This then meant I had to find some where to mount the esc, for this I used the front of the battery mounts. One thing I didn’t notice until id fitted the shell was there is quite limited space for an ESC at the back when you have the body on due to the shape of the rear bed, luckily there was just enough room for the Mamba Max.

13.5
Front weight bias and centreline balance had been designed in

Wheels and tyres next and the plastic three piece beadlocks went together fairly easily, Gmade supply two longer 16mm screws to help build the beadlocks, you use the two long ones to clasp the parts together then fit the other four screws in place then swap the long two out for normal size ones, and do the same for each of the following wheels…

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Once they have been used a little to break the outer surface…the tyres hook up surprisingly well

In my manual there was an amended page simply stapled over the original page simply saying to use M2.6 x 10mm screws instead of the originally stated M2.6 x 6mm. This is good to see that they have seen an issue and amended it before it got out to the masses. The tyres do not feel the softest out there but for a kit compound they’re not to bad, the inserts are soft which should be ok if you keep this as a fairly light weight rig but add to much weight and I’d possibly look at some firmer inserts at the least.

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The Beadlock wheels look the part and offer wheel tuning options that glued on wheel/tyre combos can’t
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The wheels just look the part…not too bling…not too bland

 

Rolling Chassis Build…Body Next

The last job to do is the body shell now as I’ve said I really like how thick the lexan is on this I threw a quick gold and black paint scheme on it with the black on the outside of the Lexan to give it a more satin look. With the paint left for a day to fully dry I could then get to fitting the interior and cage which is a very nice scale touch. The manual clearly shows you what size holes to drill in each spot and once that’s done you can simply screw on the seats and steering wheel all the other items are simply held in with an o ring and a body clip for easy removal if needed. With the body done there’s only one thing left to do, Go test it.

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A true rolling chassis…now to add the electrics
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The servo, being axle mounted isn’t the most scale looking aspect…but again it works a treat, and doesn’t suffer bump steer
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That ledge behind the radio box is intended for the ESC…
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Time to get the body painted and fitted

It’s a G Thang…

 

Taking the rig out to my local trail area to see just what I think of the 4LS Sawback I was happily surprised with the stock gearing on a 35 turn motor and 3s Lipo I was expecting it to be a bit too quick but flat out it but it’s just a little quicker than a quick walking pace which should be perfect for taking on country walks and generally just messing about with. As I’d suspected, the springs are a little firm and the rig bounced around a bit if I was just driving along the muddy foot path but in some ways I think this is the charm of a rig like this. If you look up old videos of Willys Jeeps they are all bouncy.

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The rig handled everything I threw at it…and a few more things it found all by itself!

Taking it over some large mud piles I was quite impressed with how well the rig did everything I pointed it at it would make its way up. Traction wasn’t amazing but with some wheel speed everything was possible. The firmer suspension made for some impressive side hilling but of course reduced articulation which you just had to learn its driving style. I was out on the walk for a good half hour and really started to enjoy its characteristics.

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THe C Of G is low and side hilling a breeze

I would have been out longer but the last Formula 1 race was on and I wasn’t going to miss that. Now the big question is would I go out and buy one? Well if it hadn’t been for the cross head screws it would have been a definite yes however, for me personally, that was a major negative but for most people that will be a nothing.

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Cocking its rear leg….something you get used to on certain inclines/obstacles…and simply drive through

All in all it’s not a bad lower budget rig it looks cool I really like the shell with the fold down windscreen and cage it’s crying out for a driver figure and some scale accessories . When I got the rig back and gave it a post trail inspection, quite a few screws that I hadn’t thread locked had come loose which may be my fault but it’s definitely something to keep an eye on, there’s no thread lock in the kit so it’s wise to pick up a little bottle.

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Just enough detail to fool the eye…and yes, I need a driver figure!

If you’re looking for something to just take on walks then this is spot on, with some tweaks I’m sure it could be quite a capable rig and would look so cool with a military scheme.

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Inclines and steps were taken in its stride…

For more on the GMade Sawback 4-Link click here

And don’t forget the UK Recon G6 hosted by RCCZ on May 27th, 28th & 29th 2017 at Bracken Rocks Derbyshire DE4 5AS…I hope to see you there!

Blazing A New Trail

RCZ_Scale 1

RC4WD Trail Finder 2 Truck Kit (Z-K0049)

  • Wheelbase: 287mm
  • Width: 215mm
  • Height: 210mm
  • Ground clearance: 57mm
  • Final Drive Ratio: 31.93:1

with Chevy Blazer Hard Body Set (Z-B0092)

  • Wheelbase: 287mm
  • Width of Body: 223mm
  • Width with Mirrors: 299mm
  • Total Length: 502mm
  • Total Weight: 1200g

& V8 Scale Billet Alloy Engine (Z-S1043)

  • CNC Machined
  • Billet Aluminium
  • Body Width: 50.6mm
  • Body Length: 78mm
  • Body Height: 60mm
  • Output Shaft Length: 8.5mm
  • Output Shaft OD: 5mm
  • Gear Ratio: 10.1:1
  • Weight: 166g

Words & Images Peter Gray & Stuart Ultimate RC Workshop Markham

Now, I’m no stranger to the RC4WD Trail Finder bloodline. And at last count I’ve built 3 rigs based on two generations of the kit and run a very capable RTR. With our recent SWB TF2 review by Daniel S getting all down and dirty at the RECON G6 UK Edition, I felt it wise to do something a little different with the latest review kit of the longer wheelbase we were sent by RC4WD.

For a start I decided to use the new Chevy Blazer body kit they had recently released. And while I was at it, the Billet V8 engine that replaces the stock motor mount and becomes part of a far more realistic looking driveline. I wanted a rig that while still performing Off Road, would also look cool as a fictitious daily driver, and be something that if I had the 1:1 vehicle as a donor, the time and the funds…would build myself for real!

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A Classic US 4×4 gets the RC4WD and RCCZ treatment!

V8 Engine and Ladder Chassis

The start of any TF” kit build is always the chassis. You first bolt on the mounting points for the leaf springs and gradually build up what is essentially the backbone of the whole rig.

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The basic chassis was built in just minutes and forms a solid backbone for the rest of the build

Remember to use Loctite Blue Threadlock or similar on anything that goes metal to metal, but metal bolting onto plastic should be just fine. The chassis braces, front chassis mounted servo mount  and shock hoops go on next, and then the plastic rock sliders and side on body mounting points.

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The upper deck offers lots of space to evenly distribute your electronics

Next you fit the upper deck that provides a decent surface area for the ESC, main pack and receiver (or if you want to use it, you can also fit the kits rear splash proof receiver box that mimics a fuel cell). Personally I keep all my electronics on that plate to:- 1: keep all wiring runs as short and neat as possible and 2: So that if needed I can waterproof components myself. Most ESC’s are at least splash proof these days and for a scale rig that’s usually enough. As for receivers, its a simple enough task to use either an old school balloon, or more modern method of Plastidip liquid electrical insulation to waterproof the receiver and if running one, the BECs boards.

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The Carisma ESC I used has programmable Drag Brake profiles and is LiPo compatible

My chosen Carisma brushed ESC with crawling mode was already deemed waterproof, as was the Spektrum receiver I decided to use.

V8 Power Plant…(Ok, 35t!)

Next I deviated from the traditional build schedule and took the Billet V8 Engine to bits to fit the 35t brushed motor I had chosen to use. Its a fiddly job but a little patience and lots of tiny bolts later and I was there. I made sure to check the internal gears in the bolt on transmission housing for grease. The R4 Ultimate Scale Single Speed Transmission has a gear ratio of 10.1:1 and perfectly compliments the V8 engine.

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RC4WD have made Scale RC into a true artform

One thing to note is that the pinion and gears while being metal are 48DP so run very smoothly but aren’t as tough as the 32dp gears used on other rigs. You must make sure you mesh the pinion and primary gear inside the transmission perfectly, and that you threadlock the pinions grub screw…not doing so and the pinion moving is a big job top rectify…you were warned!

The alloy engine is the perfect way to disguise a 540 sized brushed or brushless motor

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You can’t get much more scale than this…I stripped and re-greased its internals though

The R4 Ultimate Scale Transmission offers a gear ratio of: 10.1:1 and thus improving traction and torque at the axles

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The 35t motor offers a great balance between Torque and RPM

We chose a 35 turn brushed motor for this build, the perfect balance between RPM and torque (even more so on 3s!). This ones re-buildable too

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You could just put this in a display case a stare at it all day its that cool

V8 Scale Engine B_6

Once mated together the separate components work so well together and offer lots of scope to further accessorise and detail the engine inside the Blazers engine bay.

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Sitting pretty and waiting to be detailed further

In situ the V8, Holly Rocker Covers and its pancake filter look right at home. Forward weight bias is greatly improved.

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How can you not love this engine, transmission and transfer case…its so realistic

The engine was completed with an alloy pancake air filter and some Holly rocker covers. the whole assembly once bolted in place and linked directly to the 1.47/1 ratio Hammer Transfer Case added a real weight forward bias to the rig, perfect for climbing inclines and counteracting (with the use of weighted wheels) the heavier Blazer hard body and thus much higher centre of gravity.

Yota Time…

Next my attention turned to the included kit axles. The cast Yota Axles have a ratio of: 2.67:1 and are 176.5mm wide (measured at the hex’s). They, as ever come pre-built, but will benefit from setting aside a good hour to strip, grease and then re assemble using threadlock. You can just fit them but long term you will suffer the loss of bolts and premature gear wear, forcing the need to shim them. You simply bolt on the leaf springs and then they are affixed to the correct points on the chassis, anchoring them in place.

SONY DSC
THe Ultimate Scale Shocks, Leaf Springs & Cast Yota Axles

Axles in place, the Ultimate Scale Shocks are fixed on next, and their sleek look (having internal springs) works perfectly in conjunction with the leaf springs and axles. As Daniel Siegl said in his recent TF2 SWB Jeep review, leaf sprung rigs drive so very differently to 4 linked, more traditionally suspension equipped ones. But they look so much more ‘Scale’ and ‘Realistic’!

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The front steering servo mount on the chassis and Yota Cast Axle

Remember though that the  shocks are not oil filled and have internal springs. A small amount of oil seems to improve their action slightly, and unless over-filled they stay pretty leak free in use, but as ever experimentation is the key word. The leafs themselves have a period of time where they ‘Break In’ and become more supple in use. So we would suggest you let this process happen naturally and then fine tune the oil weight and possibly even the internal springs.

Fuelling Up The Look

FUEL

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Bigger diameter wheels and tyres from stock raise up the rigs ground clearance

Now with the driveline, chassis and mostly stock running gear in place I decided that to give the Blazer body the look of a hybrid street/trail rig on steroids I would need to run bigger wheels and tyres. to this end I fitted a set of RC4WD Fuel Anza 1.7 Beadlock wheels and shod them in soft compound RC4WD Inteco Super Swamper “Siped” tyres, then during the build process adding 1.5 strips of stick on lead weight to each wheel and tyre combo.

Anza 1.7 Wheel Specs

  • CNC Machined Billet Alloy
  • Nut Cover with FUEL Logo
  • Scale Hex Bolts
  • OD: 43.8mm
  • Width: 24mm
  • Neg Offset: 7.5mm

Tyre Specs

  • X2 SS Compound (Super Soft & Super Sticky)
  • Inner Ribbing offers Sidewall Support
  • Outer Diameter: 114.2mm
  • Width: 40.7mm
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Note the transfer case protective cover…

Once fitted they gave the chassis a slightly higher stance and ground clearance from the stock 1.55 Stamped Steel wheels and Mud Thrasher tyres included with the kit (Again these will be put to good used in a future project). Lastly I added the chassis mounted RC4WD Digital Steering Servo and once built the appropriate steering linkage.

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Ignore that excess wiring coming out of the Spektrum Rx…It’s waterproof and designed like that!

From the front of the rig it offers a nice clean look and a more scale appearance. Yes it does suffer a little from bump steer, but no it didn’t really bother me as its an unavoidable foible you learn to live with when running this type of rig.

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All that forward weight bias really aids climbing inclines and over objects

The wiring to the receiver may look like a rats nest but that’s the Spektrum receiver I used, It is waterproof and sealed with female ports protruding from it to accommodate male Futaba style plugs. Its a 3 channel RX so allows me to add a winch at a later date, plus there’s the power/batt in. I also opted to put in a 20A BEC kindly supplied by Phil at www.makeitbuildit.co.uk after first snipping and then isolating and insulating the red power wire from the Carisma RC branded Crawler ESC, thus bypassing its built in 5A 6v BEC.

The main reason for this is the possible current draw in Amps from the RC4WD Twister High Performance Waterproof Servo, and the fact that in use it may draw enough current to temporarily cause a Brown Out, even with (as I added) a glitch buster Capacitor!

RCCZ Jargon Buster: A ‘Brown Out’ is defined as when the receivers supply voltage falls below the minimum voltage specified for normal use. What that means in practice is that you will get at the very least unpredictable results, or at worst the link failing between the Tx and Rx and a possible run away unless the failsafe for the ESC is set to zero throttle…you were warned!

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That V8 billet engine at the front elevates this build from cool to epic!

With everything in place and the rolling chassis even drivable without it’s shell (yes, I couldn’t resist the good old sofa test!) it was time to move on to perhaps the most daunting part of the build for many…the body shell. Now, I knew that this Blazer body was far more detailed than any I had previously built from RC4WD, and to that end I decide top pay our resident hard body and airbrush maestro Jonathan Potts a visit. He’s more used to 1:1 Custom Cars, Speedboats and other such cool stuff, but his eyes lit up when I handed him the body shell and its box of bits.

My brief was simple:- ”Think classic Street Custom Car crossed with classic Off Road 4×4”…he smiled, and then disappeared into his workshop, past the VW Beetle chassis ready to become a Rat Rod, and the big 1:1 4×4 destined to be a comp vehicle of some sort one day…I drove away and then got on with other projects.

Jonny Did The Buisness

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You can’t say RC4WD scrimp on components they offer with the body. ..

Many, many, parts are supplied in the box with the RC4WD Blazer Body . It has not only a metal hinged opening bonnet (Or ‘Hood’ if you are Scott AceofAxe Curlin), but also a hinged opening rear window built into the removable rear hard roof section over the flatbed, and even an opening tailgate. There also the brightwork, A chrome grille, wing mirrors, door handles and huge front and rear bumpers.

Included with the body kit is also an interior, but for this build I opted to tint the windows and not fit it. I know, I know, I can hear all the boo’s and hisses, but I simply didn’t have the time to get an interior done too, and I also wanted to keep the centre of gravity as low as possible, so any weight I could shed from above the centreline of the axles would be a bonus.

Clean Up In Isle Five…

After a two week wait, I got the call and went to collect the body. “Oh my god” was my reaction. (I hasten to add I did use those three words, but I may have added another…very much an expletive!). John had done what I had asked and, then added his usual flair and personal touches.

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John did an amazing job on the paint…he get’s it, he truly get’s it

After prepping the components he was going to paint he first laid down a deep burgundy, almost dark Autumn cheery red on the main shell, tailgate and bonnet. Then he painted in the side panels with black as an accent colour, but added an old-skool flame into the design and hand outlined the lot in silver. The result, while not being as perfect as using say a vinyl wrap, does look very real and authentic…decals can look too crisp at times.

Next he used a dark metallic brown to paint the rear roof section and a technique that’s akin to rag rolling. This builds up layers of paint and each is then flattened down to create, once top coated an almost leather look to the finished roof. It was stunning. I spent another day painting in window rubbers, adding in the other details like the metal K5 Blazer and Chevrolet badges RC4WD make, the grille detail and a few scale decals (including the RECON G6 ones RC4WD made for our event) and even a RCCarZone logo on the tailgate. Last I fitted the light buckets, painted the stop and turn indicators inside with Tamiya lens colour.

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The spare and the decals and badging on the rear add top the depth of detail

Scale isn’t just about decals, or accessories, or paint, or wheels or chrome. Its about the combination of all the above elements working in harmony together to fool the eye into thinking:- “Real or RC?”. I think we achieved that with this build, and standing back a looking at it in various locations and natural backdrops, it looks stunning.

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Look so realistic and has a stance that screams “Drive me!”

The final detail was adding the spare wheel and tyre to the tailgate. It just elevates the overall look to one of utter realism. I also ordered some scale number plates from a contact in the UK Scale Nationals Facebook group. They arrived just before we took the truck for its first trail run and outdoor shoot. It was run alongside the new Axial SCX10.2 and the rigs looked so good together.

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One of my favourite views of the rig…(who am I kidding, I love it from all angles!)

Out Blazing In The Great Outdoors

I took the rig to our usual test venue in Warwickshire the same day we tested and shot the Axial SCX10.2. It’s a rig that you have to think about when driving, especially until you have fully broken in the leaf springs. You must always be aware that it is far more top heavy than a Lexan rig, but that’s where the fun lies. It’s realistic in both the way it drives and the way it looks, and you can’t say that of most 4-link Lexan rigs. They always seem to perform outside the parameters of their 1:1 equivalents. With the TF2 platform and this quite large and heavy body, you plan each line you take carefully, you see the way the rig reacts to the surface its running on, the angle of the incline or decent you drive it up or down.

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With a hard bodies rig factors like Approach Angle, Break Over Angle and Departure Angle become far more critical as they are far less forgiving.

RCCZ Jargon Buster: Approach Anglerefers to the physical angle that If drive up to a object, incline or ramp, you can safely drive onto it without catching the bumper. If the incline is too steep, the rigs front bumper will hit the ramp first, before the tires are able to. The maximum angle (from the ground) that a hill or obstacle can have and that the front of your car can still clear is therefore called the Approach Angle. As for the Departure Angle, exactly the same principle applies, to the rear bumper and wheels of the rig.  For any scale rig, but especially a leaf sprung one like the TF2, when coming down off, say, a rock, or a small natural ledge, you have to know how much clearance you have under your car’s midsection, driveline and transfer box. The angle between your tires and the middle of your car’s underside is the Break Over Angle. If you get it wrong, you will end up balancing on a rock like a see-saw with most of your wheels not in contact with the ground.

21 (3)

One of the most important factors when running a rig for fun or in competition is traction, or the grip your tires have on whatever surface you’re driving on. Traction is produced by a combination of factors, by the type of tires you’re using, their size, and the type of inserts you use. Its also about how much weight from the rig itself is pressing down on them to create a contact patch of tread on your chosen running surface and how the suspension aids keeping the tyres in contact with the ground in relation to0 the rest of the rig.

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large angles of articulation are out on a leaf sprung rig like this, and a phenomenon I personally call ‘Wheel Float’ becomes a regular occurrence. This is when the solid axles have surface contact and therefore grip with only three (or sometimes only 2!) tyres, and the other wheel or wheels cannot physically articulate enough via the suspensions range of movement to make contact with the ground. Don’t worry though, as You can very quickly get used to this and often use it to your advantage to use the rig to bridge itself between two objects, where a more traditionally spring rig may have fallen in.

23 (3)

Running a single speed transmission means that with a 35T motor fitted, the rig is a bout walking pace on 2S , and a brisk jogging pace on 3S. Run time however is very good and running a 2S 5000 mAh pack granted a good hour of trail running. On 3S you tend to be a little more trigger happy (or is that just me?) and thus run time is affected. 3s does however allow for additional wheel speed when needed, and with a rig of this overall weight you can build up a good momentum to get up a steep incline or even hop up onto a rock or object.

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All of these factors are important when running a scale rig and must be accounted for in both its construction, and the way you drive it out on the trail or a comp course.

After 2 packs and just over 2 full hours I called it a day. I loved every minute of running the Blazer and it’s a totally different driving experience to any of my other current rigs. ‘Yes’, you feel a little more ‘concerned. that you will trash the paint on any more technical rock sections, and ‘No’ it didn’t stop me. I left Burton Dassett with a few chips to the paint, but nothing I couldn’t touch up. One thing I did find however is that the rear bumper did rub the body built stock, and therefore I used a cordless Dremal to grind the inner edge by about 1.5mm to offer a little more clearance between the two, then painted the scuffed area matt black to hide the damage.

“Additional Scale Points Go To The Blazer…”

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In conclusion, the TF2 kit itself is simple and fun to build. Be as detailed or as simple as you feel you want to go, and take your time to threadlock and metal to metal union and grease all internal gears in both the transmission, transfer case and the axles. Choose electrics suitable for the job in hand, and make sure if possible the ESC, Servo and Receiver are at least ‘Splash Proof. Weight the wheels to lower the rigs Centre of Gravity.

When you enter into a build like this you have to realise what’s involved. It will take many hours to complete but it’s very, very rewarding. Hard bodies will always have the edge over Lexan in the realism stakes as they are solidly constructed and have actual depth to them and their panels. Lexan, while being dimensionally correct will never have this and always seem less three-dimensional. The Blazer is a rig I’m proud to take out to run, or let a buddy do so. It epitomises the scale scene at the moment and is a true snapshot of what RC4WD do best…help RC fans build their dream rigs!

A huge shout out to Tom and the RC4WD crew for the review sample and parts and to RCBitz in the UK for additional help with sourcing wheel weights etc.

Pros

  • RC4WD Build Quality & Engineering
  • Pre-built transmission & Axles
  • A truly iconic scale K5 Blazer body
  • Be as plain or as detailed as you feel
  • A great slow burn ‘Winter’ project
  • Drives just like a 1:1 leaf sprung rig
  • Not a plastic fantastic rig
  • Look & feel of a 1:1 vehicle

Cons

  • Can take many hours to complete
  • Needs Threadlock and re-greasing
  • Without V8, engine bay is useless!

RC4WD-Logo-Variations_Red-100.jpg

For more on all things RC4WD Click: HERE

For RC4WD in the UK Click: HERE

Hard Body…Short Wheelbase

RCZ_Scale 1

RC4WD TF2 SWB Kit for Jeep CJ Body

Current RRP: $379.99 (+Shipping)    Available Globally : HERE

In the UK HERE UK RRP: £417.99

  • Wheelbase: 242mm
  • Width: 211mm
  • Height: 141mm
  • Ground Clearance: 58.5mm
  • Overall Length: 389mm
  • Weight: 1.76kg (Without electrics)

Features

  • Hammer Transfer Case (Ratio – 1.47:1)
  • Gears – Wide 32P steel gears
  • All New R3 Single Speed Transmission (Ratio: 1.78:1)
  • Pinion/spur 14/64 = 4.57:1
  • Cast Yota 2 Axles (Ratio: 15/40 = 2.67:1)
  • Trailfinder 2 SWB Chassis
  • Adjustable shock hoops
  • Punisher Metal Driveshafts
  • 1.9 5 lug Steel Wagon Wheels

Built & Driven H.A.R.D

Words & Images: Daniel Siegl/Andy Moore (with special thanks to Günther Waldburger for additional detailing and painting)

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If I was asked to review a leaf sprung 4×4 rig a while ago I might have had a very different reaction to now. Lets just say I wouldn’t have been very excited at the prospect. But in the last year or so my experiences with my Tamiya MF01-X showed me how much fun small tyre cars with close to zero articulation can be out on the trail. Then at a recent event my friend, Gerald Murhammer showed us with his TF2SWB what is truly possible with these amazingly realistically handling vehicles.

So when RCCZ asked me to review the RC4WD SWB Kit, I was pretty stoked! The plan was to build a very nice looking scale rig, and then travel over to ‘Real World Test It’ at the recent RECON G6 UK Edition.

RC4WD Logo Variations_Red 100

 

Big Decisions on Body Choice…

So the kit is designed for a Tamiya “square headlight” Wrangler body they say. But thinking about it, I didn’t want to go down that route, especially as many of my trail buddies run this exact body style on a variety of chassis – No, I would do something very different, and it would would needed to be special.

Because I will never run a car on leaf that has linked suspension in the real world I could rule out the New Bright or Nikko TJ toy hardbodies.

Looking at the Tamiya range I found that the Lexan Bronco would work – but how could I judge the performance of the chassis package with such a light shell? A Tamiya Blackfoot Could be another option for an TF2SWB – but somehow this also didn’t ring my bell.

So after some discussions with my Italian friend Giuseppe Musumeci (of: RC-Crawler.it the solution was obvious. Let’s make this an Old-Skool Jeep CJ, but Moab Old-Skool, with big tires and a big bumper!

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I just didn’t have time personally to build and detail the body…luckily there is an Italian who does!

First I received a pre-prepared Tamiya Jeep Wrangler body with the amazing CJ conversion from Italy. Giuseppe handcrafts those parts in Sicily – if you want some of his art locate him on Facebook and start a conversation!

 

Then A RC4WD Box Showed Up

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The instructions are easy to follow with all hardware in bags by type and dimension, not part of build

If you open that box – you are really surprised how well and tidy everything is packaged. All the content of the kit is very tidily organized in 3 layers, the screw bags are organized by screw sizes and not build steps – I like that approach. The axles and gearbox components are preassembled and ready to use.

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The Box Of Scale Delights…it got more interesting layer by layer!

The second layer contains all the frame and bumper components.

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In the bottom of the box you find the hardware and the tires and wheels, again nicely organized and easy to get when required.

 

Read Twice…Build Once

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Billet Alloy and black anodised…the chassis rails are the backbone of this rig

The RC4WD building instructions are a little different than others, but for me they work perfectly! I prefer the screws sorted by size rather than having build step bags. With the way the process is described and organized it is very easy and efficient to build the kit.

The chassis rails, cross members and motor mounts all bolt together with ease. The forward mounted R3 single speed transmission and transfer box add to the realistic weight bias/distribution and make the rig drive far more like a 1:1 Leaf sprung 4×4 would.

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On a scale rig a front weight bias is a must, and RC4WD deliver!

 

Transmission to Transfer Case to Axles

That central skid is the mounting point for the 1.47/1 ratio Hammer transfer case. Note how far forward that R3 single speed transmission, slipper and motor mount is.

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It’s ‘Hammer Time!’ (Sorry couldn’t resist)

The Hammer Transfer Case in all its glory. It’s worthwhile stripping and packing with grease for longer service intervals. As Yoda would say:- “A tough little unit this is…”

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Half of the SWB equation…

Cross members brace the chassis and form the ladder aspect of the design. Everything’s got a hard anodised black coating helping it blend into the final build, just like a good chassis should! Its detailed enough to look realistic without sacrificing strength.

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That solid link is necessary to take motive power into the Hammer Transfer Box

That vital solid link takes the drive straight from the transmission and feeds it into the transfer case, then onto each of the longitudinal prop shaft’s and then each axle.

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Shock hoops are also CNC Billet Alloy
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Yota II Axles are cast, Scale looking and compliment the chassis perfectly

Note the Shock Hoops. CNC machined just like the chassis and offering a stable and robust upper mounting point for the shocks, and scale look to that aspect of the chassis. The R3 Single Speed Transmission comes with a cast aluminium case and new wider gears to allow for more abuse along with a Delrin spur with slipper clutch assembly.

The Cast Yota 2 Axles run a ratio of  15/40 = 2.67:1
and have a total width at the hex of 176.5mm. They add weight low down aiding the centre of gravity of the whole rig and look very scale. Again stripping them, packing them with grease and threadlocking anything you feel needs it will ensure many trouble free hours of use. The most scale accurate axles on the market, the RC4WD Cast Yota II axles feature innovative round knuckles, new lower mounting points and compact offset pumpkins.

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The Ultimate Scale Shocks are internally sprung for a clean scale look

 

The Ultimate Internally Sprung Shocks

The included dampers aren’t oil filled from the factory, but can be by the end user. The ‘Ultimate Scale Shocks’ have been designed for ultimate scale looks and ultimate performance. The shocks are machined from billet aluminium and are internally sprung. Experimenting with different oils and springs, or as we suggested internally limiting them with fuel tubing works wonders.

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Chassis mounting the steering servo is the only option for a true scale build

The servo is chassis mounted and sits up in the gods away from harm and keeps the scale look. Rigs like this can suffer from bump steer, but ensuring the servo you use is strong enough, and centring the steering and linkages for equal throw helps to alleviate this.

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The RC4WD servo we cose offers 11kg of torque when supplied with 6v of electricity

We chose to use a RC4WD Z-E0035 in our build, its Digital, Metal Geared and produces 153oz or 11kg of torque at 6v input, and is more than up for the job in hand.

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Cast, clean looking & ready for action…the rear Yota II axle

The rear Yota II axle looks streamline and Scale, with again a compact offset pumpkin and solid cast construction. Strip, grease and threadlock…you know it makes sense!

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Our 35t brushed motor. The perfect trade off between torque and wheel speed

Brushed motor produce the most torque near ‘stall’. so from a standstill this baby will pull like a steam train! Using a 35t offers the best balance between torque and RPM. So wheel speed, especially on 11.1v 3S isn’t going to be an issue!

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Remember, Threadlock is your friend

The Metal Driveshafts for the TF2 are an all new design featuring bulletproof steel universals and a new high quality plastic shaft for great driveline angles and durability on the trail. Again…threadlock is your friend as losing a grub/set screw mid trail halts the fun fast.

 

Carnage Report

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THe UK RECON G6 was a combination of Rocks, Mud, Moss and even more Mud…it was #Epic

During the first UK Recon G6 the only problems that occurred where of cosmetic fashion – e.g some might say I drove to hard for a pristine body fresh from the body shop.

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As Brian Parker said: “We got a dust free stage!” (and then some!)

By the end of the day I had to strap down my hood with tape in order not to loose it. After the event I found out that the turnbuckle screws needed to be tightened – so it might be helpful to apply some Loctite to those screws despite the axles arrive fully built.

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Perfectly at home on rocks as on the trail…the SWB Leaf Sprung Jeep was great fun to build & drive

During further working hard with the truck I managed to break a dog bone in the front axle. Luckily there as excellent parts support from RcBlitz on site so I could upgrade to CVD in a short tea break.

Other than that I only had to tighten my slipper a little bit after 2 days – and roughly 6-7 hours on the the excellent UK trials.

 

A word on Articulation…

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You learn to live with the lean…Leaf Springs offer a whole new way of driving

Most of the RC scale rigs that you see on the trail have lot’s of articulation. But contrary to popular opinion, In many situations a car with less articulation is much more predictable to drive. Our scale rigs have typically both axles fully locked so you can still have plenty of traction if you end up 3 wheeling on an obstacle. Leaf sprung cars are just that – very predictable and if the leafs are set up and broken in you get a very sensitive suspension. Try it out!

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I’m totally won over by this rig…I take back everything I ever thought about Leaf suspension

Tip: On cars with 4 or 3-Link you can use a fuel tube inside the shock or a limiting strap to reduce the suspension travel.

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The cleanest it was all weekend at the UK RECON G6…But I never built it to sit on a shelf!

 

Verdict

This car is very rewarding to drive – and amazingly capable after my past experiences with leaf sprung cars I have to clearly say for me this is the best handling leaf sprung car I have personally driven so far.

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Back home in Austria…basking in the sunshine

 

Positives

  • Good Quality Kit
  • Very nice packaging
  • Endless customization support
  • Spare Hardware
  • Great driving and handling
  • Plug & Play body mount for Stock Tamiya Jeep body

Negatives

  • Steering deflection limited by kits dog bones & drive cups
  • I don’t like that the stock wheels don’t use hexes
  • CVD’s could/should be standard at this price point

I would also recommend the following:-

After you run stock for a while, if you feel like comping then fit CVD’s and 1.9 Rims. I also used Baja MTZ’s tyres (but with stiffer foams like the ‘Crazycrawler’ foams I ran). Fit a Rock Hard front bumper and to mount the battery plate rotated so the battery can be mounted more to the front of the car helping increase further front weight bias.

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Parts Used In Addition To RC4WD Kit

  • Tamiya Jeep Wrangler Body with Jeep CJ Conversion
  • Axial Racing Wraith Corbeau Seats
  • Custom Lexan front windscreen
  • RC4WD Raceline 1.9 Wheels
  • High lift shock towers
  • RC4WD Baja MTZ 1.9
  • RC4WD 35T Motor
  • Rampage Bumper
  • RC4WD Servo
  • Castle 10 BEC
  • Tekin FXR

Here’s a cool video of the rig in action at the recent Globetrotter Rodeo RECON G6…

For more on the whole RC4WD range CLICK HERE

For more on the RECON G6 globally CLICK HERE