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

Really Tiny Trucks…Simply Rock!

Pro-Line Ambush 1/25th 4WD RTR Electric Mini Scale/Trail/Crawler

Words & Images Daniel Siegl & ProLine

Available Globally: HERE  Available in the UK: HERE

Length: 198mm

Width: 95mm

Wheelbase: 115mm

Weight: 308g

I always fancied a smaller true Scale/Trail/Crawler rig. But until very recently there was only really one option; the Losi Trekker. Trouble is, that rig was never quite my thing, and it was very much a case of form over function. It looked great but out where it mattered it just didn’t cut the mustard. Also, its basic spec left a little to be desired. The NIMH batteries for example, the weak steering servo and relatively high C of G all combined to make the actual driving experience itself a little unimpressive.

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About the same size as a Losi…but that’s where the similarity ends!

This aside, more recently ProLine hit the RC scene with its Ambush and RC4WD its 1/18th D90…The latter will be covered in a future article from Peter Gray, the former, I just had to get my hands on and review.

Just Wow…

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Leaf Springs For The Win…Literally!

Was my first reaction, finally someone had thought a rig of this small scale through properly. But are they the same axles as the Losi or different? Giving it a closer inspection I can confirm, it is a completely different car – the similarities really only relate only to the size and the fact that they both have an integrated Speed Controller and 2.4GHz Receiver unit – that’s it.

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Compact and well thought out electrics placement and weight bias

You’ve probably already read all about the technical details of the rig – So, I won’t bore you with too much of that. This review will be a charge it and run it, hands on affair. After all isn’t that what’s important with a RTR product? Yes many of us eventually modify a RTR vehicle in some way to improve its performance, and also aesthetically to personalize it’s look.

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The tiny motor had lots of well needed Torque!

Actually, I will be totally honest here, we had our review sample car back in November, but our friend Brian Parker found so very entertaining and decided to give it a shakedown of his own! That’s why we ended up getting it just after Christmas, used and without any packaging!

2 Hardcore (But Tiny) Testers…

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Perfect for little (and big) kids anywhere in the World!

I wanted to just look at the rig for a while, its that cute, then go run it myself. But, my 2 girls, one 3.5 and the other 5.5 discovered it for themselves and started the hands on testing for me. The Ambush actually did a great job in this very tough role. After a full pack of running there was nothing broken. I was amazed, as its is finally an RC vehicle that my 2 were self-motivated to play with without prompting. And they keep asking to have more time with it!

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The rig really does perform well above its obvious size limitations

We tested the car in the last 2 months extensively at a variety of locations:

  • Indoor at Lego Course

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Forget Ed Shearan’s Lego House…we built a Lego Test Trail
  • On ice on the pond in front of the house

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Slippy meets Grippy…all together now:- “Ice, Ice Baby!”
  • And finally when the weather allowed, to drive it in Spillern

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Anything a 1/10th can do…you can attempt with the Ambush!

I have to say, of all the rigs that are in this size, so far the Ambush is clearly the most fun! So much fun in fact that that I tended to push it very hard and attempt things I probably shouldn’t with such a tiny rig, and yes as a consequence a lot of the time it ended up falling over. But when it made almost impossible looking lines it gave you such a feeling of achievement.

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The added RECON G6 decals help explain whos had our sample and what its been up to!

The leaf springs suspension work very neat, and like all the other Micro rigs out there, the tiny motors performance of course is rather limited. But that has a huge advantage when a child or newbie is driving it, since it is less can be broken!

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Considering its size the attention to detail is stunning…

At first glance the electrics seem very unexciting. But having run the rig lots now, my opinion is very positive. I think that even my 3.5 year old could handle the modern and simple USB charger. But fast its not…You need some patience when re-peaking the pack.

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Not fast, but safe…USB charging!

Verdict:

The first true small “Scaler” offering the ability to be able to drive it like its a much bigger rig.

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Against the included standard sized Tx it looks tiny…because it is!

It’s suitable for both children as well as experienced RC drivers. The included driver model looks right just needs a bit more paint and detail adding to give it more depth.

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1/10th next to 1/24th….Little n Large

It punches well above its weight and size and offers hope that this size of vehicle, packing much of the performance of its 1/10th counterparts could grow and grow.

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So much scope and so well made…huge thumbs up from me and RCCZ for the ProLine Ambush

With RC4WD and ProLine leading the way, lets hope more manufacturers follow suit., and a dedicated Micro class grows from it…check out our running video below!

Huge shout out to ProLine and the global RECON G6 family

See you out on the trails, or at a G6

Daniel

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…

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.

1.5
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.

3.6
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.

4.6
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.

5.5
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.

6.6
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!)

7.5
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…

14.5
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.

16.5
The Beadlock wheels look the part and offer wheel tuning options that glued on wheel/tyre combos can’t
15.5
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.

17.5[7]
A true rolling chassis…now to add the electrics
18.5
The servo, being axle mounted isn’t the most scale looking aspect…but again it works a treat, and doesn’t suffer bump steer
19.5
That ledge behind the radio box is intended for the ESC…
20.5
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.

25
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.

24
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.

26
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.

29
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.

30
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.

13
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.

14
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.

21
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.

10
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

8
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

9
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

11
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.

16
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.

17
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’!

19
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

25
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
26
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.

30
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.

55
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.

28

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.

31

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.

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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!

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For more on all things RC4WD Click: HERE

For RC4WD in the UK Click: HERE

The RC ‘Kei’ Class

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Words & Images: Peter Gray/John Wasley/Justine Wasley

Tamiya Suzuki Jimny MF-01X Chassis Kit

Tamiya Website: CLICK HERE

UK Distributor: CLICK HERE

UK RRP: £119.00 (Kit Only)

Specs

  • Length: 347mm
  • Width: 170mm
  • Height: 215mm
  • Wheelbase: 225mm
  • Electric Shaft-Driven 4WD
  • Double Wishbone Suspension
  • Gear Ratio = 9.5:1

Suzuki 4×4 101

Suzuki’s links with 4×4 vehicles dates right back to the year of my birth, 1968…(yeah I’m really that old!). Back then Suzuki bought a former Japanese automaker, the Hope Motor Company. That company had previously produced a series of small off-road vehicles called the ‘HopeStar ON360’. The first fully Suzuki-branded 4×4 was was introduced in 1970 and named the ’Light Jeep 10’or ‘LJ10’ for short. It was driven by a very modest 359cc air-cooled, 2-cylinder, two-stroke engine, and was originally targeted at the Australian market. More exports globally soon followed as the plucky little 4×4 was so popular.

The models kept evolving over time, with the LJ50, the Jimny8/LJ80. The engine grew to 800cc and an in-line, four cylinder, four-stroke, followed by the Jimny 1000/SJ410 and Jimny 1300/SJ413. An updated version of the SJ413 became known as the ‘Samurai’ and was the first 4×4 Suzuki officially marketed in the USA.

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The ‘Suzuki Posse’ grows ever bigger within RCCZ circles!

John Wasley one of the RCCZ crew, and the builder of this review Tamiya owns one (check out our RECON G6 report for a picture!). it’s over 20 years old, has appeared on the front cover of a 4X4 magazine after been heavily modified and is still going strong (when its not on it’s side, or breaking a half-shaft…but more from John and his wife Justine later!)

The True Jimny Emerges

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Original publicity shots of the generation of JImny we all know so well

In 1998 a new model and was released. It was called the Jimny in all markets globally and used the G13BB EFI engine, replaced by the M13AA EFI engine in 2001 and the M13AA VVT engine in 2005, in conjunction with an interior redesign. This generation of Jimny is one that the RCCZ crew and many of our Scale Nationals competitors know very well, and between us we now own half a dozen in various states of Lift, modification, and Off Road capabilities.

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Our daily driver…and tons of fun out on shoots and at events!

We even have our own completely stock soft top one as the mag’s daily driver, complete with RCCar.Zone and RECON G6 logos! It’s driven 1000s of miles since we got it and never missed a beat.

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It had to be done really…a little branding goes a long way!

It intrigues all that see or has a drive in it, and we are about to start our own list of modifications this winter. ‘Godzuki’ (as we call it) will get a little more capable off road by the new year!

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Anyone who knows who this is will understand the nickname of our plucky little Suzuki

You could say this vehicle has a very special place in our hearts…It may be small, but it’s a plucky and very capable Off Roader. It boasts a true ladder chassis, with 2WD for everyday road use and selectable high and low ratio 4WD for off road use, 190mm ground clearance, approach and departure angles of 34 and 46 degrees respectively, which for a car of this size (length 3.7 metres and a wheelbase of 2.2m) is amazing.

And this leads me onto the main purpose of this article…Tamiya recently released a kit of the newer model on a MF-01X chassis, and we just had to source and then let John Wasley build one to mimic theirs!

Out Of The Box & Onto The Build

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The Tamiya version may be a little more up to date looking than our fleet, but the ‘Cute Factor’ is still there!

As with most Tamiya builds, you start with the rear 3 planetary gear diff. Remember to smear all the rotating components with the supplied grease and check that the diffs action feels smooth without any tight spots or (and yes this is a made up word):- ‘graunchyness’. Getting the tension of all three of the self tapping screws that hold the diffs cover on is the key, just nip them up and don’t force them.

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Spot our US buddy Charlie Suangka’s favorite bag…

Next the gearbox/transmission is assembled and the internal gears fitted. The whole assembly thankfully spins on bearings, but again smear grease on all the mating surfaces to ensure the gears are well lubricated.

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An unmistakable Tamiya 3 planetary diff

The lay shaft and spindle that the gears rotate on also requires lubrication, again a light smear, and not a huge blob of grease will suffice.

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The inner gears of each gearbox…that off-white plastic gets everywhere!

The rear damper stays and BA9 ball studs go onto the front of the gearbox.

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The rear sub assembly ready to fit the Torque Tuned motor

You are then prompted to add the supplied servo saver/servo horn assembly to your chosen steering servo, taking note the natural point  has the servo horn sitting perfectly 90 degrees to the servo body and with the servos spline sitting to the left as you look at it from above. A 3kg to 6kg servo is perfectly adequate for this little 4×4.

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The servo saver helps protect the steering servo from damage…this 4kg Core RC unit is fine for this small and light a vehicle

Next comes the steering linkages, or rods as Tamiya likes to describe them. They clip onto ball studs again, and next the servo and steering linkages are affixed into a mount. Now here’s where you must ensure that you use the supplied spacers to get the servo’s height set just right. This will ensure that when bolted into the front gearbox casing that also double as part of chassis, in use the linkages have a free range of movement and don’t bind in any way, even at the most extreme of this pretty rudimentary kit suspension.

Moving Forward

The front diff is built next, and is a carbon copy of the rear. Again once complete you than add this and the front gearboxes internal gears, lube up the lot and bolt the two halves together.

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The rear sub-assembly almost complete…a middle bridging section is added to link to the front

The front and rear sub assemblies are then joined together using a middle chassis bridge consisting of two halves. This is where things get interesting. You can build this (and the central prop/driveshaft) to accommodate 3 different wheelbase settings. 210mm (Short), 225mm (medium), or 239mm (Long). There is also a low or high ground clearance setting for the suspension.

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A light smear of grease of advisable…especially on this central prop shafts bevel gears

The Jimny, surprisingly (as its so tiny) runs with a medium wheelbase option of 225mm, and unsurprisingly (as its Off Road) runs the high ground clearance suspension option. The rear arms go on next, with their now trademark Tamiya threaded upper arms/links.

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Simple and basic, no oil to fill or bleed, just friction based damping

The shocks are built next and being friction units there’s no filling or bleeding required. These take a matter of minutes to construct, and then its time to add the rear god bone drive shafts, hub carriers and axles with drive cups. 10 minutes tops, was all it took to get the rear end assembled and that included fitting the body posts!

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The shocks take seconds to build…and do their job remarkably well

The front is just as simple with the only real difference the use of C hubs and steering knuckles, and of course the linkages leading from the steering servo, out the sides of the chassis to each hub assembly with it’s dog bone drive shaft, drive cups and axle. The last thing that goes on to this part of the build are the front friction shocks, body posts and bumper. We almost have a rolling chassis by now…almost!

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Hub carriers at the rear house the bushes that the rear axles and drive cups spin on

As the pinion is held inside the rear transmission and gearbox its impossible to visually set the correct mash or depth the pinion needs to be for the best surface contact.

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The motor retaining plate. It not only anchors the motor in place, it also sets the perfect gear mesh with ease

Here Tamiya have come up with a simple yet genius idea. You use a supplied plastic cup form that slots over the pinion, with a slit in the side allowing you to loosen or tighten the grub screw…You simply move the pinion as far out as it will go until its resting against the inside edge of the plastic cup, noting that the cup itself is firmly pressed onto the motors bell housing and tighten up the grub screw! ‘Boom’..a perfectly set gear mesh!

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Setting the position of the pinion on the Torque Tuned motor’s shaft is done in a very novel way…

With the motor firmly bolted onto place, the ESC and receiver are next added. The included TBLE-025 Brushless ESC is LiPo compatible (rated for 2S), and can be switched to either 2 wire brushed or 3 wire sensored brushless operation. Its a little fiddly initially, and all programmed via LED’s, but after a coffee and a little practice its soon done.

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Brush or Sensored Brushless…the TBLE-02 ESC caters for both

To help simplify the process here’s a video showing how you can set it up:-https://youtu.be/yIZeOaCQZrk

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Rally Block tyres and cool, replica faux alloys really look the part

With the electrics all in, the steering servo linked to the receiver and everything cantered and tested, we next build up the Faux Alloy wheels and Rally Block tyres.

A thin Cyno is best used to bond the two together and pulling back the bead and letting a slight trickle flow between them the best way.Ensure you clean up the beads of each with lighter fluid to remove mould release, and a slightly scuffing the mating surface on the wheels with sandpaper or wet n dry. A careful 30 minutes later and we had four wheels and tyres done, and no fingers stuck to the table, each other, or any of the wheels and tyres (been there, done that!).

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Bosy posts on: Check, Wheels and tyres fitted: Check, Body…Body?

Finally, the body. Without boring you with every detail it took a day to paint, cut out and sticker up properly.

10 Points When Painting The Body:-

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Take your time, follow out 10 golden rules and all will be good with the shell
  1. Wash the inside with hot water and mild detergent then rinse and dry. This removed the Silicon mould release spray from the inside of the shell used in the vac forming process, that could act as a resist to your chosen paint.
  2. Regularly wash your hands as the oils in your fingertips and skin can again act as a resist for the paint.
  3. Remember to add the window masks on the INSIDE before you paint, bub the edges of these with clean fingers to make sure they are sealed to the shell to avoid ‘bleeding in’ of the paint.
  4. Make sure you use a certified Lexan paint and not exterior paint designed for hard bodies. This will ensure that the first coat etches into the plastic and then that all layers after that build up a good deep colour.
  5. build up thin coats and take your time…thick coats peel off, don’t dry properly and run…
  6. Use curved scissors to cut out wheel arches, practice on waste material first as there’s an art to using them properly.
  7. Use a mild detergent and water mix in a spray bottle or vaporiser to put a fine mist on the outside. then apply decals one at a time, using a soft cloth and squeegee to remove excess moisture and air. This allows some re-positioning time and once dry the stickers will look crisp and flat with no tiny air bubbles or pockets.
  8. Take your time and don’t rush…the body is what makes or breaks any builds final overall look.
  9. Once everything’s dry and settled, again go over all stickers with a soft cloth to ensure they are 100% down and sealed to the body. They tend to relax and can lift in first 24 hours.
  10. For extra ‘Ping’ polish the outside with a spray on liquid wax, normally used for 1:1 cars…use a totally new, clean soft cloth to avoid any scratches on pristine plastic.
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Still naked and waiting on nearly a days worth of body prep

That’s it…the little Suzuki is now done…It was time to go and give it a run and also take the 1:1 version out for some fun too!

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Looks tiny on the bonnet of the real thing…(needs a snorkel too)

Little N Large

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In 4×4 circles it’s all a matter of perspective!

The Jimny’s (Plural) were taken to a local 4×4 spot and put through their paces. The Tamiya, while not being as capable as the 1:1 was tons of fun. Its the ideal 1st build, or as a fun collectable. We have seen them take part in RECON G6 events once modified, and we know that our Austrian contributor Daniel Siegl has won classes and had great success with one.

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The tyres work well on most surfaces…dry rock especially!

At under £120 for the kit its never going to be a full-on comp rig in stock form, but it is, as are all Tamiya models…lots of fun. The Torque Tuned Motor offers the right balance of wheel speed, and as it’s name implies, ‘Torque…

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The box’s sticker says it all…A Torque Tuned motor & ESC included

In use a 5000 mAh LipPo pack lasts around 20 minutes of run time, longer I would bet if you fitted say a 35t or higher motor. The rally block tyres generate good grip on most surfaces but benefit from being scrubbed up first on concrete to break that outer surface. The motor while not ever going to win a drag race does however offer a turn of speed when required and low down low RPM finesse for more technical driving conditions.

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The shell looks crisp and true to the bloodline…its a no brainer collectable for Suzuki 4×4 fans

A Suzuki Mad Family Footnote…

John and Justine Wasley are not only part of our RC and 1:1 4×4 global family, John is also an occasional contributor to my past and current magazines, and also a key member of the team that twice a year stages the UK Scale Nationals (and from this year onwards….the UK RECON G6).

They not only own a very cool Samurai that’s adorned the cover of an international 4×4 magazine, both compete in 4×4 events regularly and are also own the red Soft top Jimny in the background of some of our review shots, and the one the little Tamiya is actually sitting on in one…

I recently asked Justine why Suzuki 4×4’s have such a special place in their lives and hearts. Here’s the transcript:-

“Our love for Suzuki’s started with my very first car, even after passing my driving test over 26 years ago, I have still haven’t owned a ‘car’. My first ‘car’ was a 4×4 Suzuki LJ80 that we found about a year after passing my test. I loved my little Suzuki so much that after I started to compete in off road events I realised that I was damaging ‘Frank’ too much, so he was retired to my mother in laws car port (Sadly, for the next 20+ years).

I replaced Frank with ‘Jemima’, another Suzuki LJ80, and then ‘Purdy’ the Suzuki SJ410. Family and job changes meant that the Suzuki’s were replaced as daily drivers with ‘other cough’ 4×4’s, 7-seaters which were much more practical. We have always had a Suzuki in the family though as John built and modified a Suzuki samurai 413 (now with a 1.6 Sidekick engine fitted, a 416) and we have both competed in it for a number of years. After rescuing ‘Frank’ a couple of years ago from the car port and trying to persuade our oldest daughter that it would be the coolest car ever for her first vehicle (and failing miserably), we sadly listed Frank on good old EBay, and much to my regret we sold him…

But on a happier note we now had the funds to get me my own Suzuki. We found a red Suzuki Jimny with a blown engine, but has luck would have it I am married to a mechanic so we went ahead and decided to buy it. John replaced the engine and with his knowledge and experience with Suzuki off roaders he knew which modifications he wanted to do to my little truck. (I wanted to change the colour from red to purple, but that was simply one mod too far!).

The modifications that John carried out are a 3 inch suspension lift, with heavy duty castor correction suspension arms, a snorkel, so I can go in deep water, heavy duty sill bars and front and rear bumpers. The best modification though is a rock lobster transfer box that lowers the 4×4 gears by 80% making it much more controllable (and fun) off-road. The tyres are Insa-turbo special tracks and are about 3 inches taller than standard to give it the ‘Mini Monster Truck’ look.

One of the modifications that I love the most is the exhaust which is a straight through power flow back box that was originally on a Triumph Herald making my little truck very noisy. The next thing I need John to put in is a Lock right rear diff locker which he has sitting on his workbench in the garage. Oddly, he is very reluctant to put it in because I think he thinks that it will make my truck better than his, and I’ll beat him off road (which would probably happen!). I’d also like a winch on the front bumper, not that I would ever use it but it would look good!

These little Suzuki 4x4s are very underrated and looked down on by a lot of the larger green oval badge owners. We recently joined the Buxton Land Rover club at one of their trials. A number of Suzuki’s took part and we showed them that a Suzuki Jimny is a force to be reckoned with. For me personally I love the fact that the Jimny is small enough to use as an everyday vehicle (John even helped source RCCCZ’s daily driver ‘Godzuki’).

They are also an excellent off roader, surprising a lot of people with what they can do. They punch way above their weight and size, and that’s very cool…”

Positives

  • Cheap to buy & easy to build for any age group of RC fan
  • A no brainer collectible for any Suzuki Jimny fan/owner
  • Fun with a capital ‘T’ (& ‘A’ & ‘M’ & ‘I’ & ‘Y’ & ‘A’)
  • Simple to work on and repair if needed
  • Tons of future ‘Scope’ to hop up!
  • It’s TAMIYA what’s not to like?

Negatives

  • Needs oil dampers, friction ones a bit to ‘Springy’
  • ESC can be fiddly to setup initially
  • More people need to comp them!
  • Bushed not Bearings?

For more on Tamiya : CLICK HERE

For more on UK Distributor: CLICK HERE

"No Mr Bradbury…I Expect You To Drive!"

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Behind The Scenes @ The Gadget Show

Words & Images: Peter Gray

Earlier this year I was involved with another RC related challenge on the Channel 5 TV Program; The Gadget Show. We had been bouncing RC Car ideas back and forth for a while, but then in a single phone conversation and a follow up e-mail, the shows researcher explained what the challenge they had decided upon would entail…In short: RC Cars v A Bond Stunt Driver, my smile grew exponentially!

Jason Bradbury, a man who’s no stranger to RC in any form, or pushing the technology right to it’s very limits (something he’s done on more occasions than I can list here!). His credentials as both a very ‘hands-on’ Tech Reviewer and well known TV Tech Presenter are written in the annuals of Tech history. He even chose a Tamiya RC car as one of his favourite bits of tech in a recent top 100 gadgets TV countdown…so his love of the genre goes way back to those late 70s and 80s releases. We also must not forget that Jason has also achieved two Guinness World Records using RC tech. One for distance jumped by an RC car (using a HPI Vorza 1/8th E-Buggy), and another (I actually helped facilitate) a huge RC Loop-the-loop using a brushless 1/5th scale motorbike! So he can drive, knows the kinda crazy stuff we like to provide the program, and he has no fear…no fear at all!

Jason would be driving three different RC cars, each with a very unique attribute or speciality. His challenge would be to go up against professional Stunt & Rally Driver Mark Higgins, doing what he does best, driving a V12 Vantage S Aston Martin very hard, fast and very sideways. Marks CV is impressive. He’s worked on Bond films like Spectre, has (and currently ‘is’) driving cars in the Fast & The Furious franchise, and is about to attempt to set a new Isle Of Man TT course record for a car in a specially ProDrive prepared, Subaru WRX Sti. He’s also three-time British Rally champion and as such set the current record for a lap of the 37.75-mile course in 2014, with a time of 19 minutes and 15 seconds, and with a staggering average speed of 117.510 mph…so he can drive too, oh my can he drive!

The 3 tests chosen for each vehicle would be:-

· A Drag Race Challenge, side by side, point to point between the chosen RC Car & the Aston Martin. The main start line to the end of the main straight being the two points

· A Drift Challenge where the RC Car must mimic the 1:1 on a 1/10th version of track, using throttle finesse and maintaining a long, sweeping and controlled drift

· A Timed Auto Test Challenge where the RC Car will compete on the same circuit to test its agility, road holding and stunt driving capabilities against the clock.

To this end we enlisted the help of 3 very different brands, and 3 very different vehicles. Each was specifically chosen to offer an attribute that would aid it to compete in each challenge and thought through well in advance of this days filming.

Point To Point @100 mph+

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Mr Wilcox Esq looking rather happy with the X-01

For the Drag Challenge I called in one of the latest generation of Traxxas X-01 (kindly supplied by Logic RC). This 1/7th scale RC Supercar is something I know well, as I reviewed one a couple of years back and had tons of fun with it. I also know a few people with them (Like RRCZ’s very own Mark Jordan). It’s a bit of a one trick pony, but what a trick! It’s capable of 0-100 in under 5 seconds and has a top speed of around 103mph. On those two performance figures alone, I knew we were in a with a shot at winning this. The latest incarnation has the TQi transmitter and Traxxas link app as standard, offering real time adjustment of basic setup parameters like trims and steering rate, right through to more complex drive effects and feedback from its telemetry sensors of Speed, RPM, Temperature, and Voltage. It also has something called a ‘Cush Drive’ built into the driveline that helps it absorb some of the immense forces encountered when you take a RC vehicle of its size and weight and take it from a standstill to over 100mph in just a few seconds. Developed specifically for the XO-1, the Cush Drive absorbs drivetrain shocks with a custom-shaped elastomer damper housed between the spur gear and the drive hub. Under extreme load (such as hard, high-traction acceleration), the elastomer flexes to dissipate shock without interrupting power flow. The result is instant acceleration with no wasted power. Its actually a very clever variation on a slipper clutch and (Hopefully) will ensure that the spur gears don’t get damaged at the point the vehicle is launched at speed. As well as the vehicle, Logic RC also supplied us Stuart Wilcox, technician extraordinaire, RC Racer and Traxxas brand ambassador here in the UK. Stuart would school Jason in the fine art of getting the X-01 between two points and fast and straight as possible (and avoiding any high speed mishaps along the way!)

Getting Sideways & J-Turn City…

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The Yokomo of Matt Tunks

The second vehicle I called in for this challenge was a 1/10th Yokomo Drift Car (and the help of our resident Drift Guru; Matthew Tunks). Matthew is sponsored by the company and regularly competes and judges National and even International RC Drift comps. He brought over a selection of his latest 2 and 4WD drifters, but decided that the shaft driven DPR would be the most suitable for this challenge. It’s not the newest model in the range and has now been replaced by the YD-4. But would hopefully (with some tuition from Matthew), be an easier option for Jason to quickly ‘get’ and attempt to master in the short time they would have to get acquainted with each other.

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The WR8 Ken Block replica…fast as (funk!)

Lastly for the times Auto Test Challenge I enlisted the help of a real Hoonigan. HPI’s Brushless WR8 Hoonigan to be exact with a replica Ken Block Ford Fiesta HFHV shell. Now this is another vehicle that we know back to front here at RRCZ. As a team we’ve reviewed both the Brushless and Nitro incarnations. Its based on the Bullet bloodline of vehicles, but has undergone a tweak here and there to lower arms and suspension. Instead of being a 1/10th Monster or Stadium Truck, its actually a 1/8th Global Rallycross car. Now if you haven’t heard of Ken Block, or seen any of his Gymkhana videos you must have been living as a hermit on a remote island somewhere…Here’s the latest (but its well worth watching them all historically right back from Gymkhana One!) :

Number 46 aside…the HPI car pretty much mimics the real thing, just without the excess tyre smoke. Its 4000kv motor on 3s LiPo power pushes out a very healthy 44,400 rpm and on stock gearing that’s around 60mph. But its not out and out acceleration we are after, the handling must be spot on, with an almost 50/50 weight balance and fast, responsive steering. Luckily HPI have all that in hand and have even added sway (anti-roll) bars front and rear and 11-spoke bright blue Speedline wheels shod with tyres that allow for grip and acceleration (especially on tarmac), but still allow the driver to feed in the power to break traction for performing do-nuts, power slides and even J-Turns.

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You gotta love the Block livery…it makes you want to drive it like you stole it (or were given it to rag around without consequence!)

The car tends to offer the classic lift of oversteer characteristics of most 4WD’s, but still allows you to hit a tight turn fast and tap the brakes, unsettle the handling and then feed in the power again to ‘Hoonigan’ it round. This is definitely the right vehicle to attempt a Time Attack against a real car…add to this the fact that the person bringing the car from HPI was none other than long time RRCi and RCCZ collaborator Frank McKinney, it made our trio of vehicles and technical help truly complete.

Rocking Up @ Rockingham Motor Speedway

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About to go and drift in the Aston together…and believe you me that’s a real experience

 

So on a very cold but sunny day in Spring we all met up at Rockingham Motor Speedway in Northamptonshire. The track was dry and the huge dedicated motor sports venue has everything from fast a banked oval circuit running around its perimeter to International Super Sportscar Circuit, National Circuit and even an infield Handling Circuit. On the banked circuit, the oval comprises four very distinct corners. The oval lap record is held by Tony Kanaan in a Champ Car, lapping in 24.719s, with a staggering average speed of 215.397mph! Obviously we wouldn’t be getting up yo anywhere near that, but the start line and first straight leading into turn one would be perfect for the drag race between the Aston martin and the X-01.

Away from the Oval, a section of the handling circuit on the infield was to be used for the 1:1 drift challenge. For the Yokomo RC Drift car, a perfect 1/10th version of the same challenge was also laid out by the Gadget production team and Matt. It was to be run on a totally smooth piece of outdoor concrete adjacent to the infield paddock and workshop areas. So smooth and shiny it was, that it looked almost tailor made for this challenge.

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The perfect surface to learn to drift an RC car on…or so we thought!

Then the ‘Talent’ arrived on set. Jason Bradbury was his usual bouncy self, and raring to get stuck in with the cars selected, after 1st he was fuelled by fresh caffeine, and 2nd he had been instructed by each company about their particular vehicles idiosyncrasies and had a good play with each. Having worked with Jason for many years now, we just get on, both with each other and with the shoot in hand. Same age, same mentality and same outlook on life…we are serious when we need to be and have fun when we don’t (guess what aspect always wins!)

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The production team of Chris and Ben mic up and Go Pro the car itself!

Mark Higgins appeared just as the first of two Vantage Aston Martin’s were delivered onto the set. He immediately fired it up and got himself acquainted with it on the main straight, and then on the infield. Considering it was a V12, but automatic (the manual V8 car would be delivered later in the day) he got it performing some very cool stunts. Huge tyre smoking power drifts around the apexes of the infield corners, a couple of very fast J-turns on the main straight and a serious of mock time trial manoeuvres around random stationary objects, other cars and traffic cones.

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Mark Higgins shows us why he’s driven cars like this V12 Vantage in films like Spectre…Its the tyres I felt sorry for (NOT!)

A Drag Race…For Pink Slips (Not!)

So we set up for challenge number one, the Drag Race. Stuart Wilcox had the X-01 charged and ready to go, its two 3S, 5000 mAh LiPo cells offering the vehicle 22.2v of power and the Castle Creations 1650kv motor 36,630 rpm. When used in conjunction with the High Speed Gearing and high downforce splitter, its a potent combination!

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Chris getting a smooth Dolly Shot of the X-01 for the cars on screen tech intro

For the first few runs the X-01 was left in its locked mode. This means that its top speed is initially limited to just 55mph via the Traxxas Link App. This would allow Jason to get a feel for the cars handling and how it accelerates from a standing start. After a few blasts up and down the main straight, Stuart used the app and his IPhone to Unlock the car and enable the Castle Creations Mamba Extreme ESC to give full power on demand, and that amazing 103mph top speed.

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Jason’s first go with the X-01…Stuart offering advice about feeding in the power

As it was so cold, getting heat into the tyres was vital as the compound is quite hard at low ambient temps. A few mock burn outs later and they felt sticky and warm, but keeping them that way was proving difficult. Stuart did a few runs to check the car was trimmed correctly and even he had to back off the power at times when the car suddenly started to drift to the left or right, losing traction even at 70mph+. Then the transmitter was passed up to Jason who was perched on the gantry high above the start and finish line, offering him a full view of the track, but sideways on. Possibly not the easiest of positions for a drag race (I always prefer to stand behind the car, so I can see it it veers off in any way and correct it). He had a few test runs and initially had the same issues as Stuart. The tyres just wouldn’t stay warm enough in the close to freezing temperatures. Jason would punch the throttle, the car would speed off, accelerating to 60mph in about 3 seconds and then 100mph in under 6. If it veered off course, he immediately would back off halting that run. When it went wrong we had a few tense moments, but he kept it off the barriers and in one piece.

When it went right it was a sight to behold. The X-01 may be over three years old now as a design, but it’s a vehicle that simply hasn’t been toppled by any other in the RC industry. Traxxas set out to design and build the worlds fastest commercially available RC car and they did just that. Seeing it, in its latest white livery streaking down the track was amazing. Having reviewed one myself I know that ‘Buzz’ and hit of adrenalin you get when you first get a 100+ run, and it would be no different for Jason.

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Stuart Wilcox in the pit lane making sure the car was trimmed and ready to go…Note the tyre marks from Mr Higgins!

Drivers Ready? Cars Ready? Go…

We had an official on hand from Rockingham to start the Drag Race standing between the two cars with a chequered flag, and as they lined up side by side for the first of 3 runs, the sheer size difference made it seem a very David and Goliath battle. Run one and two would be to practice, and then run three the actual challenge recorded for the TV show.

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The gantry overlooking the start line and side on to the track offered Jason a full view of the entire straight

Run One: The flag dropped and Mark floored the accelerator of the Aston, even being a Automatic, he had the option of putting it into a sports mode, and as Q says in Spectre “It’ll do 0-62 in 3.2 seconds…”. He had also switched off traction control and launch aids, wanting to be in as much control over the delivery of power from the V12 to the tyres as possible. That was pretty evident by both the speed of the launch and the amount of tyre smoke he produced too! From the RC side Jason gave the X-01 a good squeeze of the throttle and both cars sped away from the start line like rockets. It was neck and neck until about half way up the straight and then Jason saw the Traxxas starting to drift towards the Aston and backed off. Having done previous RC challenges where the RC vehicle ended up being run over by the full sized one, he learnt from that and wanted it to survive the challenge.

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Side-by-side…both drivers nervously awaiting their chance to pin the throttle

Run Two: This time it was Mark who actually backed off, correction, the Aston did! It seemed that on its full throttle launch from the start line, the Aston sounded like it miss-shifted about a third of the way up the run and went from a tyre spinning rocket ship, to a Sunday afternoon plodder…Jason and the X-01 sped away and passed the finish markers (Cones) at what looked like nearly maximum speed. I could see the grin from Jason right from my vantage point on the other side of the track!

“Best Of Three?”

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It was time to see who had the fastest car…and nerves of steel

This was what Jason jokingly shouted to mark as the cars lined up again for the final run. This was it, the real deal. The flag dropped, the cars both launch perfectly and sped away into the distance. For the first 3rd of the run it was completely neck and neck. If you were a betting man (or Woman) it would be a hard thing to put odds on. But then spurred on by the fact the tyres were starting to consistently give grip, Jason pinned the throttle and the X-01 gradually moved ahead of the Aston, passing the finish line a good 1:1 car length ahead. We all shouted and screamed, RC had won its first victory over the real thing. Jason was jumping up and down on the gantry and Mark showed his feelings by spinning the Aston round and power sliding it back up the straight and performing a handbrake turn top finish back perfectly on the start line again. We then moved onto the Drift challenge…

But First Mark Took Me 2 laps Of The Circuit – ‘Sideways’…

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What gets me is that he’s so calm while driving like this…lighting up the rubber at every opportunity

The infield circuit location wasn’t too far away but carrying a heavy camera case and lenses I had my hands full. Then Mark shouted over for me to jump in the Aston with him. I needed no encouragement. He then took me for two laps of the handling circuit, clutching my camera case between my feet and most of it completely sideways, smoke billowing out from the rear tyres. Now remember this is an Automatic and occasionally the electronics tried to cut back in and offer traction control and bring the Vantage S back onto the straight a narrow. It actually did it mid drift once, and you went from being pushed into the corner of the seat and pulling a few G, to it snapping back to normality and cleanly taking the apex pointed perfectly in the right direction. I know which I preferred and I would show you the video I shot on my phone but I may have uttered a few expletives in my excitement! Mark truly is a master of his art and to him driving like this, in full control is simply another day in the office.

Aston Challenge Two: Mark Takes Jason Drifting

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Mark made the Drift Challenge look easy…as long as the traction control didn’t cut in mid-corner!

Cones were laid out between two parts of the track, and two apex’s were earmarked for Mark to drift the Aston around. With Jason in the passenger seat he did just that, executed three runs, all perfectly sideways, transitioning between both drifts and offering just enough throttle to control the drift, while still smoking those poor tyres…It was effortless, and with only one minor hiccup (again when the traction control cut in mid-corner). Marks runs were a master-class in car control and his abilities as a driver. The benchmark was set, and the benchmark was very high.

RC Car Challenge Two: Jason Takes The Yokomo Drifting

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Its was harder that Jason anticipated, and really shows the skill required to ‘properly’ drift a RC car

With some expert guidance from Matt Tunks, Jason got started on the Drift Challenge. Just like the Aston, first initiating and then maintaining a drift is all about breaking traction, throttle control or Finesse, Counter Steering and knowing that point at which to balance all these factors. With Matt demonstrating it looked effortless and if this was a challenge between Mark and Matt it would be one that would be hard to separate the two. But it wasn’t. This was between mark and Jason, and what Jason soon found out was that real RC drifting is much harder than top drivers like Matt make it seem.

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Jason tried time after time to get the right finesse on the throttle and lines…but to no avail

The initial learning curve can feel quite steep, and I have to admit, even after years of practice, it always takes me a few laps to get that ‘feel’ again and to be able to seamlessly thread a car through a series of apex’s in one fluid movement. Jason is a self confessed RC nut. He gives everything 110% and this was no exception, but try as he might he just couldn’t match Marks drift prowess. At the end of this Drift Challenge it was firmly: RC 1 – Aston 1.

With everything still to play for, it was a nice way to go into the final Challenge after a break for lunch: The RC v Aston Auto Test.

Come In Number 43, Your Time is Up…

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No that’s not a Russian leader with Jason, that’s a very cold American…the one and only Frank M

After a healthy lunch in the track-side restaurant, and a coffee re-charge it was time for Mark to drive the manual Aston Martin Vantage V8 and Jason the HPI WR8 Ken Block replica. A large car park adjacent to the pit workshops had been allocated as the venue and a variety of challenges awaited both drivers. Cones were used to mark out a start line, multiple islands to drift around, sections to weave in and out of, then drive into and then reverse back out of, J-turn 180 degrees and then sprint for the finish line.

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Note the Go-Pro’s attached to Marks Aston…I’m sure one fell off during filming and gave its life for the cause

What you must remember here is that the WR8 is (on the correct gearing) capable of a top speed of over 65mph with the 3S pack Frank McKinney had fitted. But this wasn’t about top speed. It was about acceleration, manoeuvrability and handling. Without waxing too lyrical its was also about man and vehicle in harmony, using each cars abilities to negotiate the course in as fast a time as possible. This was a very hard one to call as the course was designed to accommodate the Aston and yet the WR8 would have to cover exactly the same distance, and negotiate all the same 1:1 obstacles. Both drivers were allowed a couple of practice runs, they both watched each other safely from a vantage point on the roof of the buildings adjacent to the challenge.

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OK, so admittedly its an older version of the Block livery, but it’s still Uber cool

It took both drivers a couple of attempts to get around the course cleanly, one J Turn that mark attempted didn’t swing the full 180 degrees and meant a time sapping correction before the sprint to the line. Jason took out one of the cones at speed and popped of a steering linkage and sheared off a body mount, but that was quickly repaired. Time wise you couldn’t call it between the two, and it would all come down to how composed they were during the challenge itself.

An Aston Attacks The Course

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“Eyes right…” oh and wheels counter steering into the drift!

Mark went first and after being counted down by Jason, accelerated away from the line and made short work of the entire course. The Aston drifted perfectly, pirouetting around each Cone Island, it weaved perfectly around each chicane section, combining out and out tyre smoking power, with deft use of the handbrake and cars own weight and momentum. He then drove the car expertly into the cone parking bay that had been setup at the far end of the course, stopped fore just a Millisecond and then reversed the car at speed, wheels spinning and then performed a picture perfect J turn before sprinted to, and then over the line, stopping the Aston perfectly between both white lines and asking for his time from Jason. 36.30 seconds. That was fast, very fast…

‘Mr Bradbury’ Is Possessed By ‘Mr Block’

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“Concentrate Jason, just not too hard…” words of encouragement from Mark or an attempt to unsettle Mr B?

Jason was very fired up for this and after warming up the tyres with a few impromptu donuts he then put the WR8 on the start line and waited for the signal to go. Mark was perched this time on the roof next to him, Jason’s view was again side-on to the whole area in question and with a “Three, Two, One!” from Mark, he was off!

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The faces say it all…close was an understatement. The cars perfectly matched

The WR8 sped away as if possessed by Ken Block himself. It rocketed around both the cone islands (this thing corners like its on rails) and the tighter more technical parts of the course. Seeing a vehicle so small being driven at well over 50mph most of the time, even 60mph+ on the longer sections brought a smile just as big as Jason was showing to most of those faces (including mine) looking on. The last third of the course involved driving into that Cone Parking Bay and then after stopping, going full speed in reverse and J Turning the RC car before sprinting at over 60mph over the line.

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Little n large…it’s all about perspective!

The pre-J-Turn would be Jason’s downfall. Even after performing two flawlessly in practice, as he pulled into the parking area, he got the angle wrong and hesitated. The WR8 needed to be corrected for its angle and then the J-Turn could happen. He then simply punched it and aimed for the line. Even with the pause and correction, Jason still managed a very fast transition, but that single aspect lost him valuable seconds and wasn’t the smooth, flowing all-in-one movement the Aston Martin had managed…The WR8 shot over the line and Jason stopped perfectly between the white lines. All eyes turned to Mark as he first showed Jason the time…then the cameraman. ”Nooooooo” came the shout from Jason, and Mark’s smile said it all…The Bond Stunt Driver had won!

Just 2 Seconds Slower!

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It just wasn’t to be…2 seconds slower on the run and just half a second on a re-run…but man was it fun!

It was a very close fought thing. The RC car had passed the line in 38.43 seconds, and we were all convinced that without the pre-J-Turn mistake it would have been neck and neck. To prove this point, Mark let Jason try the course again. 36.50 seconds later he crossed the line. Close, but not close enough. Jason’s a good sport and said his first time must stand, and that’s the run that the program aired on TV. The day ended there. We all said our goodbyes, the crew packed up everything, Mark sped away in a very cool looking BMW M3, Jason disappeared in a Taxi to get his train back to London and Stuart Wilcox, Matt Tunks and Frank McKinney lines all the vehicles up for a final parting show for the mag before themselves packing away and departing Rockingham Raceway…it’s a wrap!

0SPS For Header
The amazing tunnel that goes under the track…yes we may have ragged the WR8 down it!

A huge thanks for as ever to The Gadget Show having faith in both myself and the RC industry to help them make some very interesting and hopefully inspiring television. RC Tech, and presenter challenges have been a part of the program for many, many years and they always get a very positive response from the shows millions of viewers. I hope you enjoyed this little behind the scenes insight into the making of an episode and roll on the next one!

For more about The Gadget Show & View Whole Episode click: HERE

For more about the Traxxas X-01 click: HERE

For more about Yokomo Drift cars click: HERE

For more about the HPI WR8 Ken Block click: HERE

You Spoke – They Listened – It Evolved

RCZ_Scale 1

Axial SCX10 2 Jeep Cherokee Builders Kit

Words & Images: Peter Gray

UK RRP: £335.99 Globally: $399.99

Main Website: CLICK HERE

EU Distributor: CLICK HERE

specs

  • Type: 1/10th Electric 4WD Trail Rig/Scale Crawler
  • Wheelbase: Adjustable 312mm
  • final Drive Ratio: 40.44 Stock (33.69 – 54.15 Optional Range)
  • length: 561mm
  • Width: 226mm

98% New…

Now that’s a big boast for any RC companies latest product. Especially when it’s the successor of one that’s been responsible for many RC fans entry into the Scale, Trail and Crawling scene globally. It’s replacing a design that’s been around in various guises since late 2008, and where most brands selling race chassis or out and out performance products would release an update at least every twelve or eighteen months, Axial have instead been concentrating on developing other bloodlines to add to its ever expanding range…and simply released both kit and RTR variations on its now legendary twin ladder chassis design.

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My take on the new SCX-10 2…The sticker on the rear window says it all!

But Is That A Good Thing?

Well, in an industry that’s been plagued with, to be blunt, plagiarism, and the more affordable RTR aspect of the market getting a bigger and bigger slice of the pie of late, it’s probably a very prudent move. We live in a world where where we have seen some of the most recognisable names in RC simply disappear, with smaller companies getting taken over by other bigger ones, and even the most forward thinking and daring of brands tending to play safe and consolidate their ranges to survive. Think about the impact this one chassis has had on the scene.

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The most ‘Scale’ Axial product to date by a long way…

I’ve owned, built, modified and comped with at least 5 different versions of the SCX-10 in both long and short wheelbase variants. I even won the 2012 UK Scale Nationals running a Dingo Builders Kit I famously finished building at 3am the night before the comp started. I know it inside out, It’s AX10 based transmission the mainstay of every comp rig and crawler I’ve ever built, with more hop ups and upgrades than any other rig of its genre, and a few inherent foibles to contend with. It was never perfect. We all had to do certain modifications and tweaks to make the rig ‘perform’, but it certainly made its mark, it stood its ground, but time moves on, as do the expectations of its new and more established clients.

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Even for a die hard Axial fan like me it was a revelation to build

Change is inevitable, It’s part of the ever evolving fabric of life. And in this instance, as I sit here on an unusually dry, hot and sunny 2016 UK day, with a newly built and tested SCX-10 2 rig in front of me, it’s the most welcome thing I’ve experienced in a very, long, long time…

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Build it as simple or detailed as you feel, that’s the beauty of a kit

Let me start by taking my hat off to the guys at Axial. All products however good or bad get a tough time on social media and forums. It seems that even before the inks dry on the box art someone somewhere has posted a hastily put together review, done to be the first online to dissecting it to pieces, highlighting all the bad aspects and glossing over the good. I don’t really have time for that kind of journalism.

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Note the position of the main pack…Forward weight bias optimized

Well we roll a little differently here at RCCZ. I was always taught to test products thoroughly before writing about them. And by thoroughly I mean over at least a week of running. ‘Real World Testing’ was a phrase Dez Chand always used to describe the way we tested any vehicles in RCCZ’s previous incarnation as RRCi, and it’s a process that I’ve always continued to follow on to this day.

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It’s a pity you can see the rear body posts but I may tint the windows later on…

I’ve now put about fifteen packs through the rig, and as all my latest 2s LiPo’s are 7000mAh…that’s some serious wheel time. So far, nothing’s broken. Yes, I’ve found a few minor niggles, but nothing that would put me off either A: buying one myself. Or B: recommending anyone else does so.

No, It’s Not an Ascender Clone…

One thing I’ve seen levelled at the SCX-10 2 is that it’s simply a Vaterra Ascender clone. Now I have both rigs in my collection and can tell you categorically, they are very, very different animals. The only things that are similar are the ladder chassis, the chassis mounted steering servo and the near 45 degree steering deflection thanks to the UJ axles. Let’s face it that’s the recipe for almost any descent scale rig of late, so saying the SCX-10 and Ascender are the same is like saying a Ferrari and an Lamborghini are, yes both are Supercars, yes both can achieve insane top speeds, but they handle and drive very differently.

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It can ascend pretty well but it’s no clone of one

Now while I rate the Ascender, especially if pitted against a stock original SCX-10, the SCX-10 2 definitely has the edge on overall performance, future tuning scope and factors like weight bias and component layout.

Let’s Start With The New AR44 Axles…

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New spiral cut gears offer more surface contact in use

Compared to the latest axles from Vaterra and RC4WD, the original AX10 axles fitted to the SCX-10 V1 look huge, and could never be described as ‘Scale’. The new AR44 High Pinion axles are far more refined and scale externally, and have subtle changes internally too that will aid both their performance and longevity. The high pinion aspect allows for more surface contact between the pinion and crown gears. The gears themselves are cut at an angle and the ratio has been changed to 3.75 from the original axles 2.92. This reduces torque twist and means the rig feels more predictable to drive, regardless of taking left or right hand lines.

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A much neater and ‘Scale’ looking axle, the AR44 in all its glory!

One thing that’s also not been overlooked when minimising the look of the axle is its durability. The one piece casings are re-enforced where required and Axial have also used larger bearings to help spread the load and the knuckle carriers and straight axle adaptors locate so much better than the old AX axles.

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Would rather have had chrome or even white diff covers, but I suppose red stands out

The former has the ability to be rotated in 10 degree increments, and when combined with a stock 8 degree kingpin angle gives the steering less tyre scrub and therefore reduces load on the steering servo when at the full extent of deflection. For my build I opted to use a digital 26kg Alturn steering servo provided by Logic RC. This may seem like overkill, but I’ve found as long as you use a decent BEC to power your receiver then the steering will cope with just about anything you throw at it.

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My choice of Alturn Steering Servo kicks out a healthy 26kg on 6v

The smaller pumpkins on the new axles really add to the look and aid with the rigs ground clearance. Inside that pumpkin resides a tough one piece locker and the new internal gears. The only thing that kinda niggled me was that red used for the diff covers. I guess chrome would be a little too much like G-Made or Vaterra Ascender…and black a little bland. I guess you could always paint them whatever colour you like…I intend to go either white or gunmetal gray as soon as possible, but for now, red they will stay.

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UJ’s CVD’s whatever you wanna call em they offer near 45 degree steering deflection

As for steering deflection, you don’t get much better than 45 degrees! To get this with the original SCX-10, you had to fit UJ’s yourself and also swap over the button head bolts that retained the steering knuckles to the axles for flat heads.

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THe steering knuckles are build tough…with oversized bearing to spread the load

None of that required here…just bags of steering lock and a nice tight turning circle. The last thing to mention on the axles is the bolt on link mounts. These not only add contrast being the same red as the diff covers, they also allow for some future fine tuning, as Axial or a third party hop up manufacturer could produce multi position versions to allow the geometry to be changed to suit a rigs intended use.

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The front and rear AR44 near completion…

New Rig – New Transmission

The transmission has also been re-designed to include the look of a real bell housing, oil pan and transfer case. While most of this isn’t visible to the eye in normal use, it does have one huge advantage of lowering and centralising the driveshafts, making the whole driveline more efficient and under less strain and load. The old V1 trick of flipping the transmission around isn’t needed here as when everything’s assembled the weight bias and left/right distribution is pretty much spot on. Internally the gears are all hardened with the whole transmission running on bearings.

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Tough 32dp metal internal gears are truly brushless and trail/comp ready

Now another slight niggle…the spur and slipper assembly fit onto a lay shaft. The whole thing as you would expect spins on bearings. But built stock and 100% by the numbers there’s some visible and tangible slop in this assembly. You can grab the spur and see it all move. Now in use, the 56t spur and 15t pinion work just fine together, and so far I’ve had no issues.

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I had a bit of slop on my layshaft and spur assembly…but in use it didn’t cause any issues

I was tempted to shim the slop out, but felt to test the rig fully I had to run it as supplied…and I’ve run it pretty hard up and some very demanding inclines and rock formations. I guess there’s either a tolerance issue with one or more of the components, or Axial have revised that part of the build since I got this early bird review sample. I expect there will be an update or addition of a shim set in future releases…watch this space!

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Whatever angle you view the new transmission, it looks looks 1:1 automotive in origin

Slop aside, the transmission also allows for a wide range of ratios to be employed and its stock ratio sits at 40.44, but there’s scope for between 33.69 – 54.15. If I remember correctly the original SCX-10 ran at something like 35, so Axial have changed the stock ratio to offer a good balance between torque and wheel speed, especially if like me you opt for a motor in the 30-35t range.

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THe motor mount & slipper cover does a great job of keeping out dirt & debris in use

To further aid this Axial will also be releasing a optional 2-speed transmission add on that allows the selection of high or low range via a shift servo. Now this is great, and is a ploy that many RC brands use to get add on sales at a later date with a must have hop up, but why not include it in the Builders Kit in the first place? To me, if Axial want to issue a statement of intent that they have the best out of the box, Lexan bodied rig on the planet they should offer it as a ‘complete kit’ with the 2-speed included. It’s a bit like buying the newest console title and not getting the last level, big boss fight to finish it after a week of playing…I get why they do it, I just feel it would have elevated this already very well designed and specified kit to an even loftier height (rant over!)

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The new sideways and forward mounted battery tray

The RR10 Bomber 2-Speed is still pretty rare here in the UK, and looking at this transmission im convinced its the same part.  Many owners wanting the option have had to source one from the US. I really hope the official SCX-10 2-speed part lands soon and in numbers to meet the demand.

CMS FTW

Having the steering servo chassis mounted with a 3-link Panhard Link/Track Bar offers a much cleaner look to the front end, far more ‘scale’. To out and out performance junkies, this setup isn’t as efficient as a 4-link and axle mounted servo with drag link and can reduce axle articulation and induce some bump steer. But that said, Axial have obviously done lots of testing on this aspect and also studied many 1:1 vehicles that use a similar setup.

SONY DSC
Chassis mounting the servo and using a Panhard Link is far more ‘Scale’

In use it works really well, and I would rather trade a small percentage of articulation for the look it gives the rig. Having driven the rig for many hours, over very different types of terrain I have simply become accustomed to it, any foibles it may introduce are driven through and accepted as part of the challenge of running a new rig. With some time spent to tune the pre-load on the shocks, performance can be made pretty even on the articulation when compressing and rebounding both left and right.

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Whatever the terrain the SCX-10 2 took it in its stride

As for the included alloy bodied ‘ICON Vehicle Dynamics’ replica faux piggyback units, they are the same shocks that Axial have employed in past builders kit SCX10 releases, and if built, bled and sealed correctly not only look good, they perform well too.

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The sum of its parts…An ICON in the making (literally!)

I always use Team Associated ‘Green Slime’ on all ‘O’ rings and seals, and it makes a huge difference to the longevity of the shocks between re-fills and builds. Under duress they do leak slightly, but then again so do 99.9% of units on the market today.

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The threaded, alloy ICON shocks are a builders kit staple…they just work.

Used in conjunction with the multiple position shock hoops on the chassis, their action can be quickly tuned from stiff ‘Street’ to softer ‘Trail’ in seconds. Add in the threaded bodies and pre-load collars and you have very versatile units.

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Shock hoops offer multiple mounting positions

The benchmark to this day of crawler shocks is still the Losi Comp Crawler units. They have become the holy grail of shocks in this genre, but don’t look ‘Scale’. At full lock the inherent issue of tyres rubbing on the shocks springs and their retaining cups is still present, and if left un-checked can lead to loss of the latter in use. There’s 2 things I do to stop this. Firstly I make sure I set my steering end points to allow a good lock both left and right, but stop the wheels and tyres from physically rubbing, and secondly for years now I’ve been applying a tiny smear of Cyno to literally stick the bottom edge of the spring onto the cup. I know it’s a little OTT, but it works, and saves time searching for missing retaining cups out in the wild…been there, done that!

Servo Winch or Bumper Winch…You Decide!

I simply couldn’t live without a winch on my rigs. And in past generations of Axial products have had to either immediately ditch the stock bumper in favour for a purpose made metal RC4WD unit, ready to accommodate my chosen winch. Or, as I’ve done on 2 past builds, make an elaborate Alloy or Delrin brace, to ensure the stock bumper, made from a hard wearing but ultimately flexible plastic could take the strain. I’ve never understood why Axial didn’t just make a far more substantial unit in the first place, one that’s ready to accept the vast majority of winches on the market…

DSC05668hgdy
Chassis mounted Servo Winch or Traditional bumper mounted one?…You decide!

Well they have, the new bumpers are JCR Vanguard replica units and they do! They still have a small acceptable percentage of ‘flex’, but will happily take the strain of a powerful winch and a fully laden rig…even up the side of a door (my favourite old Skool test of both winch and cable!).

I did however have to Dremel away a tiny section of the bumpers top surface to fit my chosen RC4WD Warn replica winch and accommodate the pod housing and its high torque motor and gearing. I removed the winches alloy bottom plate and fairlead and used the former as a template to drill the mounting holes into the bumper, then bolted it directly from underneath onto the surface for a nice clean look. That said though, it is a big wide unit and placing a 3-Racing and other RC4WD units on the bumper, they will actually fit without any modding at all.

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Bumper mounter RC4WD Warn Winch, fairlead and 100lb breaking strain trace wire as cable

But that’s not all folks…If you want to go down the winch servo route Axial also have you covered. There’s a space behind the steering servo to place the winch servo. There’s a clear route for the cable, tough plastic guides that can be bolted on the the chassis to aid the cables progress and keep it away from vital steering components, and the bumper itself has a built in plastic fairlead and cable opening. The latter can be strengthened as I did with an inexpensive alloy fairlead, bolted directly on top of it. For the few £ it cost, it not only looks great, it will stop my fishing trace winch cable cutting into and abrasions the bumper itself in use. I’m not a winch servo fan myself, but I get those that prefer them, keeping the front looking neat and allowing for more lights to be fitted. I prefer to see the winch sitting on the bumper looking mean!

I Want A Jeep Cherokee Now…

When I first saw the SCX-10 2s leaked images I had initially mixed opinions. I thought “Cherokee…mmm, school runs, soccer moms, trips to the supermarket to get groceries…” But then I saw what it was based on, and researched some of the builds people have done to them in the 1:1 world, and I got it. The body may be 16 years old and very retro (after all it’s a 2000 model), it’s less rounded than what came after, but its quirky, a real brute of a 4×4 and a blank canvas for anyone into building rigs to paint any picture they desire with it.

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Since the launch of the SCX-10 2, I’ve not seen two builds that look the same. Everyone has personalised them to the hilt, and my build would be no exception. Even built completely to manual, just a subtle change of colour makes this rig look totally different. I had a plan…and we had a new body painter on the team. This would be his first RCCZ project and I was really looking forward to seeing the end result.

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Axials ‘Box Art’ rig…mine would be very, very different

But this isn’t just a Lexan shell with a few stickers trying to fool the eye into believing it’s real. No, this body not only looks proportionally correct, it also comes with a slew of bolt on details like a cool roof rack, door handles, wing mirrors, a combined grill/headlight unit and rear door trim. It’s these little touches that when combined with a crisp pain job and Axia’s quality decal sheets that elevate it to near hard body status in terms of its scale realism. But more on those details a little later, first I needed to design a colour scheme and brief the painter. I have a history with my builds on using colour schemes and liveries more akin to a race vehicle. From my Yeti XL build, through to my Wraith Spawn, I like to be very different. This would be no exception and the colour of the wheels I used would be the key. Although I like the look of the supplied black plastic replica Method Mesh wheels, they weren’t beadlocks, so would need gluing after first weighting and possibly venting them correctly…

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I’m afraid glued wheels just didn’t cut the mustard for me…

This I’m afraid is another minor niggle. I’ve not met anyone yet who gets hooked to this aspect of the hobby that doesn’t experiment with wheels/tyres/weight and insert combinations. It’s not a dark art, but it is one that if learnt, can transform a rigs abilities from impressive…to awesome. Beadlock wheels make this whole process easier and I’m quite surprised that Axial have chosen to go down the glued on wheel route yet again. Even simple, plastic, 2 piece bead locks would elevate this kit in the eyes of the scale building world and show that they understood our pain and weight bias based obsession! I’m guessing it’s a due to a production cost implication but I would far rather they didn’t licence a wheel design that many will simply not use and swap out (like I did), and instead put the same money into a neat, generic looking scale plastic two (or three part) plastic bead lock.

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Boom Racing Krait Beadlocks did the job…they look so much more ‘Scale’ and can be tuned with weights

I instead chose to order from Asiatees a set of very detailed, alloy, Boom Racing manufactured ‘Sandstorm Krait’ beadlocks. At £62 for a set of 4, they do look epic and are pretty good value for money. The centre hub is threaded and screws on to hide the end of each axle and its M4 Nyloc nut perfectly. They are a bit of a fiddle to assemble, especially when adding 1.5 strips of stick on weight around each front, but well worth it for optimum weight bias. I also deviated at this point from the stock BF Goodrich kit tyres.

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The BF Goodrich tyres will be used for another project…I took a different path

I’ve saved them for future use as I’ve heard great things about them, especially on dry rocks. But where I run is mostly in the local woods, it’s moss covered rocks, moist leaf mulch, stone covered stream beds and deep water and good old fashioned UK mud (all year round).

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RC4WD Mickey Thompson Baja Claws offered a deep tread, and a soft compound

To this end I fitted a set of RC4WD ‘Mickey Thompson Baja Claws‘. Tyres I’ve found perfect for this environment. As for the colour…well I describe it as Gun Metal crossed with Pewter. I took a picture, sent it to the painter and said “This, Black & Silver…” As for the design, I simply wrote “Go as crazy as you want dude…” And he did, in a very cool way!

That Essential Original 2%

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The chassis rails and Shock are the only carry over items from SCX-10 MK1

The C section Steel ladder chassis may be the only carry over item from its predecessor but it’s the essential backbone that all the other components literally bolt onto. Cross members offer mounting points for the front and rear bumpers, the new longitudinal battery mount, waterproof radio box and wide plastic protective mount for the RC4WD ESC and any other components like a BEC, LED lighting controller (or as I have, another MTroniks ESC for the winch itself). There’s neat routing points for the steering Servo, optional LED lighting for the bumpers built in light buckets and winch wiring.

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I fitted a separate Mtroniks ESC for the winch…Proportional in and out at my fingertips
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7000 mAh 2S Optipower main Pack, and all electrics in…a rolling chassis I finally had!

As for the new battery pack mount it’s just what the doctor ordered. No more modifying or adding third party battery mounts to forward mount the main pack. My chosen 7000 mAh 2S Optipower LiPo fitted perfectly, with still room to spare if you decided to go 3s in the future. There are bolt on stand offs that can be set to accommodate different sized packs and using a single Velcro retaining strap adds a little more security to the whole process.

As for the packs orientation, having the pack seated on its side is actually a pretty genius approach. It offers far more room either side and even running with wheels with no weights offers a forward weight bias that allows the rig to climb up and over most terrain with ease. Running weighted front wheels it’s even better, and in tests our review rig managed inclines in excess of 50 degrees…

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I built this rig to run, and oh have I run it!

I think the record for a fully loaded MOA comp crawler rig still stands at a staggering 63 degrees, we even ran a competition one year at the Nationals to set that particular benchmark. (I may have to dig out that test apparatus and run it again in October with just scale builds!).

Another minor niggle here is that the plastic moulding for the mount actually covers the female ports on most packs I tested in the rig.

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THe main packs cradle/holder…not ‘Brick Pack’ friendly unless you make holes to accommodate

So it’s either been designed for packs with leads built in and protruding from the top, or Axial expect you to do as I did, and use a body reamer, drill or Dremel to make two holes in the correct place to plug in the male connectors of the ESC’s connecting lead.

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Note how my male 4mm Corally plugs go into the pack at the side. The lower female port was obscured

It’s not a huge omission, but one I would have designed slightly differently myself to accommodate the now almost standard issue ‘Brick Pack’ LiPo’s with female ports on them. That aside, compared to the last gen SCX-10 it’s a night and day improvement.

Racking Up Those Scale Points

The beauty of a kit like this is that every single one will end up slightly different and become an extension of the individual that builds it. I had collated a pile of scale accessories by RC4WD, CarismaRC, Fastraxx and Boom Racing. As soon as the body arrived back from the painter..(and I must stop at this point and just say “Wow”…this dude can paint!) I got on with finishing this aspect of the build. Now in days gone by a one or two colour paint job, a few decals and possibly just a smattering of scale accessories would have sufficed. But in 2016 the industry and scale scene has upped its game, ‘Scale Realism’ are the keywords, and making a rig that at first glance fools the eye and brain into thinking “is that real” is the ultimate goal for manufacturers.

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I ran my MK 1 here back in the day…

Until now many Axial builds were good, but never had the depth of detail to make you double take. The SCX-10 2 resolves that in one go…and then adds a cherry on the top! From the roof rack, through to the grille and headlamp detail, wing mirrors and door handles, this additional layer of depth from simple mouldings is what we’ve all been waiting for. There are a few tricky bits, like cutting out and Dremeling the opening for the plastic grille moulding. I don’t get why Axial would design that part of the shell to have a very thin line of plastic (about 2.5mm) running under the grille? I simply got rid of that bottom edge and just cut and smoothed 3 sides instead of 4. It retains the look of the front end without all the hardship of cutting that thin strip perfectly.

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Mean looking isn’t it! That grille looks cool but how you have to fit it isn’t logical

The roof rack was also a little tricky as you have to used a beveled mount placed inside the shell and screw the top half into it to compensate for the angle of the roofs sides. This isn’t as simple as it sounds as screwing into the angled internal mount is fiddly to say the least. Again all for making life easier I simply made the mounting holes slightly bigger, used M2.5 nuts and bolts with rubber grommets placed on the inside to space the Nyloc nuts away from the body inside and avoid damaging the amazing paint job internally. It’s not me being rebellious, it’s me making the build process as easy as possible!

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The roof rack fully loaded…Yes it adds additional weight high up, but think of the scale points!

I next added the wing mirrors, the moulding that sits on the trucks tailgate and after painting the smaller lenses that affix inside the grill and headlamp moulding with a Tamiya Acrylic designed for LED lenses, I sat back and took a look. In this ‘stock’ built form it’s an impressive looking rig, but I wasn’t finished, not by a long shot! I added four fog lamps. Two to the front bumper, either side of my RC4WD Warn winch, and one more on the top of each windscreen pillar either side of the front of the roof rack.

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The shell looks epic…out new painter rocks!

I next added an RC4WD LED light bar to fit into the gap between the roof spots and complete that area. I put a tiny rubber grommet into a hole under the bar and fed the wiring through to hide it from view. Internally I hot glue gunned the wires neatly into the shell and then covered them in black electrical tape to hide them from view.

I had amasses a range of scale accessories but didn’t want them bouncing around loose on the roof rack or strapped down with individual bungee cords. I came up with an idea. I used a thin sheet of black expanded rubber packing measured to the internal dimensions of the roof rack, and then used Cyno to glue the accessories into place. They looked like they had been packed properly, wouldn’t move about or damage each other, and when covered with a cargo net made from the inside of an old camera bag, edged with black electrical tape looked perfect!

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Huge shout out to AceofAxe for the 3D printed sand ladders!

I didn’t use the plastic tow hook/hitch that came with the kit. Instead I fitted a metal RC4WD rear carrier, that fits perfectly into the bumper. in normal trail use it doesn’t impede the rear clearance angle, but in comp use of over more challenging terrain it can be in-hooked and fixed flat against the rear door/tailgate. In the 1:1 works these carriers I’m informed are used for anything from carrying luggage, snowboards or mountain bikes to deer carcasses! I opted to use it for storing two sand ladders AceoAxe had 3D printed for me, and then use two RCBitz scale bungee cords to affix them in place! My last piece of detailing was to add a RC4WD snorkel. It’s actually an item not designed for the Cherokee, it’s designed for a D90 or D110, but a little re-shaping with a craft knife and some fine grit wet and dry, and it looked like it was!

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As a certain Mr Schultz always says…this rig’s got TUCK’

After another hour of applying subtle decals to the body, and with a fine water and detergent spray and squeegee the windows in place, I was nearly ready to fit the body to the chassis. I named this part of the build ‘Operation Stealth Mount…’ I had a set of magnetic mounts I had planned to fit to one of Yokomo my drift cars. I decided that I would use them at the front to keep the bonnet/hood area as clean looking as possible, and simple us the normal rear roof mounts as stock, but hide under the cargo netting and accessories. This plan worked a treat as the rear mounts were totally unseen, and added an extra level of security in case the body got cause up and came loose at the front in use. Another hour later and the rig was finished….well I say finished, but I just couldn’t resist adding more LEDs into the light buckets in the headlamps and side lights, again hot glue was used to mount them, then the glue painted Matt black to hide it internally and help it blend in.

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Magnetic ‘Stealth Mounts’ …clean lines and happy trails

A last touch was to keep the front window surround in, and use a scalpel to cut out the window decal. It’s an old drifting build trick and makes the front window look far more crisp than a decal itself ever would. In a future part of the build I will attempt an interior. But as the rig doesn’t come with one from the box, I thought for now that was enough. I was itching to get the rig up and running…

I photographed the rig from all angles and was very pleased with the end result. I packed the rig into the boot of my jeep and the following morning set out to Burton Dasset. It’s the place I first ran an Axial, the place I first met Speedy Steve, and since 2007 has been a regular haunt for crawling and scale fun. It’s also somewhere I know every part of intimately, it’s lines and inclines may be getting more worn with time, but It’s by far the perfect place to test this new Axial rigs abilities and have some 1:1 fun too as it also has a 4×4 trail!

Re Discovering Scale Adventure

The sun was out, the sky slightly cloudy but bright blue, my 1 hour drive, roof off, at 6.30am, coffee in hand made me feel glad to be alive. I arrived, grabbed a ticket to use the park all day and hit the first location, a section of rocks surrounding a muddy and wet gravel area with a series of steep inclines on the other. Now surrounding this location are a series of 1:1 trails leading first down a steep incline, across my location and then up another incline the other side to disappear over the hill the other side. At 7.30am it was deserted and I must admit I did spend a while driving up and down both sides in 4WD low range before parking on the top of the hill! Who needs car parks!

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At Burton Dassett…over 4 hours of intense testing!

 

I got the rig out and did the usual glamour shots, recreating some of the poses my very first SCX-10 build was put in all those years ago. I then plugged in the 7000mAh pack, made sure the winch was working properly and hit the trails. The first test was a very steep incline over some tree roots and then onto and even steeper mud track leading to the upper level of the area I was in. It breezed it, like effortlessly, my 2s LiPo, RC4WD brushed ESC and Igified 35t brushed motor offering just the right combination of torque (and when needed) bursts of wheel speed.

Great Memories…Re-lived

I spent the next 4 hours just driving the rig up lines I knew well from my Comp Crawling ands early MK1 SCX-10 days, some it destroyed, others because of its size, it struggled and got its rock sliders hung up on, but that was more about me trying to squeeze it through narrow gaps it wasn’t designed for, than the rigs out and out ability.

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I tried every line I knew at the venue…and a few I didn’t!

I drove it through ankle deep water in the woodland area with its stream at the lower part of the park, and it survived that, and then up and down the steep inclined that are scattered across this multi acre site.

Side hilling at even steep angles it coped with perfectly, you just had to remember where its tipping point was and the sheer amount of accessories I had put in that roof rack. Yes it ended up on its side on a few occasions, but that’s how you get to understand a rigs capabilities, by truly pushing and testing its limits. The time just flew I was that engrossed. I’ve not been into driving a rig so much since my original ARX10 way back when.

Conclusions

Its a great all round rig and other than tuning the pre-load to stop it trying to torque twist (yes it does it a little bit, (all shaft driven rigs will, regardless of the manufacturers claims to the contrary) it ran flawlessly.

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The new King of the Lexan bodied Scale Scene? I think so…

The transmission while using a coarser 32dp gear than previous rigs wasn’t noticeably more noisy in use, and the driveline took everything I threw at it. My earlier concerns about the slop in the lay shaft and Spur assembly seemed trivial as I had no issues. It simply found its natural mesh point and stayed there. I will shim it at some point or as others have done add an additional bearing, but for now, its being run stock.

Would I buy one? Hell yes. Its the natural progression of everything that I love about this hobby. This is my go to everyday rig, for both fun and competition. My other is a leaf spring hard bodies build that’s chalk and cheese different. Neither can be compared or contrasted. I run each for very different reasons, and treat each with the respect they deserve. The SCX-10 2 it must be said is the more capable rig in most situations, but then again it would be…its been designed and built to perform way beyond a scale version of its 1:1 self, and that’s a point to remember.

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Chalk ‘n’ Cheese…HardBodied Build v Lexan Build…I love both, but for very different reasons

I’ve just recently fitted FPV to it and I’ll follow up with a smaller article on that very soon.  I have a future plan for this rig, and its so cunning you could (insert Black Adder Joke of your own preference!). But more of that in the future. Until then. Batch one that hit the US and Europe sold out very, very quickly. There’s lots of interest in the new SCX-10 2 and quite rightly so. Pre-orders are being taken on batch 2 that lands at the end of September from what I’ve been told.

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It took everything I threw at it and just kept on going…Great rig to build & drive!

If you are teetering on the edge, go on take the plunge. For die hard Axial fans like me its a total no-brainer. And for those wanting a fun build, and a well manufactured and designed kit, you cant really go wrong…unless you hate building, painting and detailing. but there is a solution, Axial recently released a RTR version in a rather fetching Gray. Its a blank canvas for a future project, but without all the initial build time.

Either way, and minor niggles aside, the SCX-10 2 is a worthy successor for the global scale communities Lexan Crown…Long live the King!

Here’s Axials ‘Official’ video of the SCX-10 2 in action:-

Positives

  • A 98% ‘New’ design (just original chassis rail design remains)
  • Front mounted main pack & optimised weight bias
  • Build it to your own Specification & chosen use
  • Bumper Mounted or Servo Winch Options
  • Clear future 2-speed upgrade path
  • Near 45 degree steering deflection
  • Included ICON Alloy shocks ‘Work’!
  • Additional Scale Details look epic

Negatives

  • Roof rack fiddly to fit from inside & out, can damage paint in process
  • Glued Tyres…Non-beadlock wheels…(Axial why?)
  • Transmission slop in Layshaft/Spur assembly
  • 2-Speed NOT included in box…(again, why not?)

For more on Axial Racing & all its products: CLICK HERE

For more on RC4WD & its range of suitable SCX Hop Ups: 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