After reviewing the Carisma GT24R, a miniature Pikes Peak replica and thoroughly enjoying racing it around the House, Garden, outside on Tarmac (hell, anywhere I could find an imaginary Rally Course to test it on!). I next wanted to stay with small form factor RC, but with a vehicle that had more Off Road capabilities (Putting it bluntly: I wanted to get some jumps in!). A few phone calls later and along came a small box, it contained both of the GT24R’s freshly born siblings …
Both of these share the same chassis as the GT24R with its fantastic micro brushless power system and well designed and manufactured suspension and steering, however there are a few differences.Apart from the obvious body shell change, the wheels are different too. Larger wheels with deeper and wider tyres, allowing for more grip on the loose stuff, body posts are present but not used and the rear bumper from the GT24R is not installed or needed
Unlike many other small scale RC manufacturers who like to offer smaller form factor Transmitters with their products, Carisma have coupled the GT24 series of cars with the very much full sixed CTX8000 transmitter.
It’s both ergonomic (fits the hand nicely), and full featured. It also offers trims for steering and throttle, servo reversing along with an adjustable steering rate thumb wheel conveniently placed on the handle by your thumb (you will see later why this is a good idea).
Good for Kids N Newbies Too
The CTX98000 also comes with a rubber throttle limiter that you can slide over the trigger, so it stops the driver using full throttle. Something that would be useful when you hand the remote to a new to RC driver or young child for example.
The chassis is a vented enclosed monocoque design and is super sleek, hiding inside under more than adequate protection all of the electrics like the fast steering servo, and the 8000kv brushless motor. Keeping little fingers (or big ones) away from any hot or moving parts. (no scorching fingers on hot motors here) alongside keeping all the muck outside where it belongs.
Sliding open a small hatch on the bottom reveals a very neat battery compartment, which the 1s brushless battery fits in with ease. This is where I made my first upgrade, as I had already tried the GT24R (insert link) on a 1s battery and loved it, but the animal in me wanted more. I thought why not give in and go with a 2s I had ready to slot in, cue big demonic grin!
The official Carisma upgrade 2s battery is a tighter fit than the stock 1S offering, but once I engaged my Tetris brain, I found an easy way to fit it. keep the red JST connector against the inside of the chassis, then feed the battery in, the balance lead will fit perfectly at the end of the battery…someone designed this to fit well.
No Slop & Well Designed
Suspension again is remarkably sturdy for its size and I’m still shocked at how little play there is in the joints, especially when you consider how much slop is in some 1:10 scale or larger cars. The advantage to this is that the handling won’t be compromised by lots of play, as even a small movement in this scale could change camber/caster or toe by a large percentage. In short:-
No Slack = Predictable Driving = More Fun
The wheels are kept on the ground with twin wishbone suspension , which does not have adjustable geometry, but does allow 2 different shock mount points both top and bottom, alongside 2 steering arm positions on the hub, neither of which have any bump steer when I tested them.
For those that don’t know, bump steer is when the steering arms are not designed with the same pivot point geometry as the suspension, so as the wheel is moved up and down it causes the wheel to turn in or out. this makes the handling not so good and is best avoided. Thankfully Carisma have got this right and you don’t need to worry…
Shocks are friction shocks with fixes spring rates, although I believe that oil filled dampers are available as an upgrade if its something you wanted to do, along with carbon shock towers and all other manner of goodies.
I did my old skool drop / bounce test and if you are racing this competitively, then I would look at the shock upgrade, if you are having fun with it, ragging it about with friends, I would not worry the stock shocks work well.
All of the models are 4WD and pack a differential front and rear, meaning no scrubbing when turning and more grip. There is a built in slipper clutch too, there is a chance I might need it with 2s power!
Body wise unlike the GT24R, no body mount or pins are needed, instead you have a foam extension on the side of the chassis and Velcro to mount the body. You don’t need to remove the body to change the battery, or to turn the car on and off, all of that is done on the bottom of that lovely enclosed chassis.
As mentioned earlier, there are two body styles, the Truck (GT24T) and the Truggy (GT24TR), it comes to personal choice which you prefer, both offer great visibility and do not affect the handling, means when racing your mates its easier to see which is yours
Ensure Body Sits Correctly
On the GT24T, the first time I drove it I had to move the body slightly backwards to stop the front wheels catching the body on full lock, but that took me a few seconds and was zero hassle to do, this was probably my fault from when I took the shell off for the photographs. It’s likely i did not put it back in the correct location based on the wheel wells, and I had just lined the Velcro up.
Performance on 2s is blistering and you would have to be a driving god (well better than me) to drive in a standard house sized room at full throttle, I recon it could do a 24th wall of death quite easily !
Outside or in a larger space where you can give the Carisma GT24 its legs, OMG how can something that small manage such acceleration, the top speed is impressive and I would love to know what it works out on scale speed, I’ve now nicknamed the GT24TR “Bluebird”!
Watch Out For Grip Roll
Thankfully the CTX8000 controller comes with a handy steering travel/rate adjust so when you are bombing along at warp factor 5, you can dial down the steering so it’s not too aggressive and induces a high speed roll…. ok, I admit, I found this out the hard way. After belting along at full speed with a massive grin on my face, I turning sharply and let’s just say I stopped counting at 8 flips and started the walk of shame while it was still going.
Testament to Carisma, no damage, apart from a few scratches to the shell, which has to be expected when playing on concrete.
The suspension does a good job of soaking up the terrain, I did find the odd bounce now and again when going over some rougher parts at high speed, but that added to the fun.
We gave it a whole 1 minute before starting doing jumps, yes our resolve was that strong! (now you understand why we take the pictures before driving). These two are a hoot, and the more you have, the better it gets, having 2 or 3 racing round is fantastic fun for not a big outlay.
Verdict: Highly Recommended…can’t wait to see what they do next, a baby Short Course or Rock Racer would be cool. Or even a baby Crawler/Scaler…watch this space!
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
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.
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.
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.
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.
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…
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!
We tested the car in the last 2 months extensively at a variety of locations:
Indoor at Lego Course
On ice on the pond in front of the house
And finally when the weather allowed, to drive it in Spillern
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.
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!
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.
The first true small “Scaler” offering the ability to be able to drive it like its a much bigger rig.
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.
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.
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!
So, where should I start this journey; when I got the kit, or a lot further back? I’ve been told in the past to start at the beginning , however I’m going to break that rule and start at the end, as I cannot wait to share the finished product with you.
This is the end result of what has been a long journey for me. It has been an emotional journey and one with a variety of feelings along the way, but well worth the travelling .
Back to the beginning
OK, before I show you too much, let’s go back to the beginning, the very beginning, <cue the ‘Wayne’s World’ time travel special effects>
My journey into RC cars started with Tamiya. Without a shadow of a doubt, Tamiya were THE manufacturer of kits in the 80’s. I remember being in awe as my younger self opened the box, seeing all the components and then learning to build the kits. It’s fair to say that more than half of the fun of a Tamiya was the journey before you drove the car.
We live today in a Ready To Run world, and this has its advantages to get people driving quickly. However, there is something lost for me in RTR cars. In building the car up yourself, you not only got a massive sense of achievement and pride in what you have achieved, but you also built your knowledge. Knowing how a car is put together is a big thing so overlooked by the RTR world of today. If you built the car, you understand the car, and I think that allows you to repair, upgrade and tune as you want with confidence.
For those, like me, who have some silver or white in what hair they have left, this should ring some bells. For those younger, I know there were some re-releases of the classics in early 2000’s. The Tamiya cars at the time, for me, were the Hornet, Grasshopper and the Frog, swiftly followed by other character cars like the Wild Willy Jeep.
I still have a soft spot for the F150 Ford Ranger with its aluminium suspension setup and scale looks, as that was one of the last cars of my childhood and was also the car that re-united me with my father after family divorce – RC has a way of mending many bridges by providing a common ground.
My memories of the Tamiya kits were good overall; I don’t ever recall a badly moulded part on any of my kits sprues. Sure, I remember upgrading the friction shocks to oil filled dampers and changing the plastic bush rings for metal ball races in some of my earlier budget based builds.
The thing with this, is that you have to remember where Tamiya placed those kits. They offered (and still do) a range of kits, from their top of the range pro racing kits with all the upgrades in the box as standard, to an accessible entry level kit to get as many people into RC Cars as possible whilst maintaining a decent quality level as, after all, the experience of a bad model could taint your RC experience and put someone off the hobby.
So you can hopefully understand why this meant a lot to me when I was asked to relive my journey and how would the current models match up to the expectations in my head from remembering my Tamiya roots.
OK, back to the near present <more Wayne’s World time travel wavy screen effects and sounds>
Presented with a boxed Tamiya TT02 sporting the legendary 1992 world rally championship winning Lancia Delta Integrale, let’s just say I was quite excited as the memories started flooding back.
On first glance the kit contained not only the car itself, but a motor and speed controller so, in addition to the kit, I added a 9009 Low Profile servo from RC-Core to use alongside my existing Spektrum radio gear and a can of white PS-1 Tamiya paint.
So, I’m itching to get started and having built a few kits in the past and although I stand a good chance of piecing together the car by sight without having too many parts left over, I think it’s best to use the instruction manual with its exploded diagrams, to aid the process. But just before I get into the build zone and delve in with the clippers and a knife blade to clean all the joints up, let’s have a look at the some of the sprues and what you get.
As you can see, the injection moulded black plastic sprues are very well moulded, so they are accurate and have a great finish. These contain all the parts you need, each one numbered so you can identify it easily using the manual and have a relatively simple build process.
A tip for removing the parts is never ever twist them off the sprues, as often that removes a small amount of the part as it comes off. My preference is to use wire cutters and clip the part off close to the part and then use a craft knife or Stanley type knife to or scrape off any mould marks to ensure the very best fitment and look.
Chrome and body-coloured parts to add lots more detail and realism to the Lancia
The moulded “bath tub” chassis provides a very sturdy base for the Tamiya TT02 to be built on, and should keep everything inside protected from any stones etc. from the off-road escapades that I know it’s going to have.
Wheels and tyres, again have had time lavished on them in the design phase to add more realism with the cross cut block tyres and white rally wheels, ensuring they are both functional for driving and look great if your car is a shelf queen.
Onto the build
Following the instructions, after installing the centre driveshaft, one of the first parts to build is the differential. For those that don’t know what this is or how important it is, it allows the wheel on each side to turn at a different speed, whilst still being driven forwards by the motor.
This is needed to make it easier to turn the car, as the wheel on the outside of the bend has to travel further than the wheel on the inside. On a 4wd car like the Tamiya TT02 Lancia Delta, it will have a differential at the front and at the rear. without them it would be very hard to drive.
The differential is made up of a 4 planet gears and 2 crown gears that fit inside the main housing and allow the wheels to to turn at different speeds as previously explained.
Tamiya, thankfully for those that have not built a differential or a car before, break everything down into sections and detail the build step by step. Everything you need is included in the kit, and they even put in the required tubes of grease.
After a few steps (7 if you included building the driveshaft), you end up with the following, a completed differential installed ready for the cover plate.
You can see in the image above that Tamiya have provided plastic bushings rather than ball bearings with the kit. Ball bearings are available as an upgrade, and its one I would recommend if you want to extend the life of the TT02.
I’m not going to recreate the manual in this review, but hopefully show you enough steps and images that you can be part of the build with me
Before long the motor is installed and the pinion gear mesh with the main drive gear is set by the chassis and motor mount. There is no fiddling to do to get it right. You can see the smear of thick grease that is used to stop dust ingress into the motor and gear mesh, simple and effective.
The suspension and drive shafts are built up. To allow the correct movement, Tamiya have moulded ball joints that you assemble – it takes a hard press to get the balls into the moulded cups, but they go in with a click, then you can bolt through into the steering hub. It goes to show again the accuracy of Tamiya’s moulds and process they use to create the plastic parts.
The drive shafts are “Dog Bones”, very simple, very effective, the metal pin that goes through the drive shaft fits into a slot on the axle hub and differential hub. This allows the suspension to move up and down and the steering to turn whilst still transmitting the power from one to the other, and, in turn, driving the wheel.
Well the Tamiya TT02 is starting to look like a chassis now. Steering linkages need to be made up and fitted, but it won’t be long before its able to move under its own steam!
Using two bell-cranks and some linkages to the wheel hubs and to the servo (via a servo saver) the steering is done.
So, What’s A Servo Saver?
Whilst some servos are now metal geared, traditionally, servos have plastic gears inside them that drive the output shaft which you connect to the servo horn and, in turn, the steering.
It was quite easy to damage these servo gears by hitting a curb, for example. The force of that impact was transmitted directly back to the servo, so some clever soul invented a servo saver. It uses a separate inner and outer ring and a spring so, if there is a big impact, some of that impact force is taken up by the spring part and the servo gears are saved…
(Lots of modern servos use or have options for metal gears now, however a servo saver can still be a good idea)
Onto The Shocks
One thing to note at this point is the shock absorbers are friction and not oil damped. Whilst that makes for an easy build, it is the one thing I would certainly upgrade. Once you have driven a car with oil dampers and softer springs you appreciate the smoother, less bouncy drive.
Pin Location & Faux Disk Hexes
In order to stop the axle spinning inside the wheel, Tamiya follow the trusted method of using a pin through the axle which goes into a slot on the back of a plastic hex. As you tighten the wheel onto the axle with the lock nut, it presses the hex (with its built in faux disc) over that pin to ensure nothing can slip when you give it full throttle.
Installing the Electrics
Now the mechanical side is finished, it’s time to sort out the electronics. For some this can be a daunting task, but I can help put aside any fears by saying it’s all plug and play, even colour coded.
The Electronic Speed Controller provided is far superior to the old three speed wiper speed controllers of my youth and very welcomed. No ceramic resistors to scorch your arm on and a much smoother power delivery too.
This ESC is also capable of running both the brushed drive motor that came in the kit, or an upgraded brushless motor, so they have given some future proofing as standard and an easy way to add more power. Tamiya, another thank you from me.
I’ve not cut and soldered any of the wires in this kit. and although it might look complex or a lot of wires, all I have done is plugged them in, bunched them up and used a couple of cable ties so they are tidy and don’t catch
The wiring is not that hard when you look at it logically…
ESC has pre wired switch, battery connector, motor connectors and signal control lead
ESC and servo connect to the radio receiver via their signal control lead
ESC connects to battery with the attached power lead
ESC connects to motor (2 wires for brushed, 3 wires for brushless, all covered in the manual)
With a little planning and some cable ties its simple to bundle the wires up to keep things neat. My personal preference would have been to cut and solder the wires so everything is super neat, but I wanted to build this as I would have built it in my youth.
The Completed Chassis
The underside of the bathtub chassis will protect the components and keep everything nice and safe.
Looking good topside, foam bumper installed to help absorb any impact from when we rally this about.
That is the chassis and electronics build done. I have tested it driving about inside the garage and once i had reversed the steering channel on my transmitter, all was good. Those tyres give massive grip on carpet tiles, so should make light work of propelling the Lancia forward on tarmac or loose surfaces.
Group B Body
Painting a body is an experience, and one I think everyone should do at some point; not only to get something personalised to themselves, but it’s another skillset and well worth the time invested in learning.
Before you start, you need to cut out shell. As it comes in the kit, there is some excess material on the wheel arches and around the sills/bumpers. I would recommend investing in some curved scissors for Lexan. They make the job a lot easier. Take your time, follow the lines on the shell and all will be good.
Tamiya provide you with a set of window masking templates for the Lancia and you have to cut these from the sheet yourself, following the guide lines and then stick them inside the windows.
Please remember at this point you are going to paint the shell from the inside. The reason for this is that you are much less likely to scratch any paint off as you’re throwing it down gravel tracks and off road. The outer shell of Lexan will, thankfully, protect your paintwork.
After following the instructions of cleaning the inside of the shell and fitting the window stickers, you can then beak out the spray can.
Keep the layers thin, there is no rush and if you put on a big heavy layer, it’s much more likely to run.
A good tip, besides ensuring you’re spraying in a ventilated area with adequate protection, is to warm the paint can in some hot water. This allows the paint to flow better and gives you a more even coat and a better finish.
Once you have enough layers on and good even coverage, you can let it dry (I recommend overnight in a warm place) and then remove the window masks. Almost done (well nearly)
Stickers, Decals, Detail…
I find building quite therapeutic and spraying is too, for me. Stickers … well it’s a love and hate from me. I want them to be perfect and whilst I enjoy putting them on, there is a lot to put on to this shell. This can be a bit daunting and with one thing and another that was going on in my life, I let this delay the build for far too long.
Taking the bull by the horns and using the old trick of some washing up liquid and water in a spray bottle to allow you to slide the stickers into position, I set to it.
I chose a sticker to start with which was one of the rear quarters, and cut out the stickers a few at a time from the multiple sticker sheets
If you spray the outside of the shell (don’t forget to remove the overspray guard film first) with a mist of water with a little washing up liquid mixed in, it will allow you to slide the sticker into place and then squeegee the water out from under the sticker when you have it where you want it.
I found for some of the stickers, as they have to go over quite large areas of complex curves, that a little heat from a hairdryer make it easy to stretch the sticker into any inside curves or allow the sticker to shrink a fraction so you did not end up with any crow feet lines.
As there is so many stickers on this shell, don’t try and do it all in once, work through them in the order that Tamiya have put on the instructions and before long you’ll have a highly detailed model.
There is a small amount of painting to do on the grill shell and mirrors; I used black acrylic paint and brushed it by hand rather than masking and, as for the rest of the stickers, it’s just a case of following the instructions and building they layers up.
Some of the stickers, like the red line on the grill, are very thin and you need to be mindful when cutting them out. Overall, I stopped counting at 120 separate stickers on this shell. But I love the end result, it’s a fantastic scale look, and Tamiya have surpassed themselves here.
Reliving Past Rally Glory…in 1/10th Scale!
Having spent a lot of time driving tuned cars with brushless motor and oil damped suspension, I need to make clear that the Tamiya TT-02 is sold as a starter car with a highly detailed replica body.
Performance of the brushed motor surprised me, it was as good as I remember them to be, quite happily spinning all 4 wheels on loose surfaces with the cross cut tyres biting into the dirt, throwing it rearwards as they propel the Lancia forwards. The speed controller was another improvement, allowing much more control than the old three speed wiper system.
I’ve mentioned a few times about the suspension, and I will say for approximately £20 you can get a full set of oil filled dampers, and it’s the one upgrade i would do. The standard shocks do what they are designed to do however, with the strong springs, it does make the car bounce about after a jump or on very rough terrain. On a smooth or relatively smooth surface, its a hoot to drive, and on gravel the Tamiya TT02 is quite capable of sliding and drifting about, more like the full size Lancia Delta.
It’s a fun car to drive and the overall package is so much more than just the drive; it’s the journey from opening the box, building, painting, stickering, finalising with the driving or displaying; whichever takes your fancy.
Building a Tamiya kit is a journey, no, a rite of passage that everyone should take, at least once…Who knows where it will lead you?
Well, 2017 is winding up now; The next G6 is in May, the Nationals later in the year too, and I’ve just finished my latest Scale build!
Upon opening the box, one’s greeted with a selection of bags containing rear fenders, running boards etc., all stowed in the pickup bed of the truck. The cab section’s inside another box along with the windscreen parts.
Once the cab and bed are alongside each other, it becomes apparent this is another big build Job. Thankfully, the manual’s in English this time and although it’s obviously translated, it’s been done quite well. The diagrams are plenty clear enough though. Most of the parts are sorted into lettered bags but the manual steps don’t refer to the lettering during assembly so a fair bit of time is spent flicking back to the front few pages of the manual in order to find what else is in the bag you’re looking for when trying to identify small parts in some steps.
What I’d do next time is copy the first few pages and pin them to the wall in the garage for reference.
The first step is to assemble the gearbox – The PG4L has a 2 speed gearbox; gears are selected by a servo so the truck needs a 3 or 4 channel radio set for best operation – the 4th channel’s required to switch the headlights on or off.
The gearbox assembly is very straightforward; all the gears are retained by E rings though, so a decent set of needle-nose pliers or even a proper E-Clip tool will help. The backplate of the gearbox is also the motor mount – the motor position’s adjustable, Cross include an 18t pinion with the kit though.
TOP TIP: Cross suggest hooking the motor straight into a battery, but I’ve been advised not to do this, so just hooked the motor up to an ESC and receiver.
If the 2 speeds aren’t required it’d be easy enough to lock the box in one of the two ratios by running a zip-tie or similar, looped through the selector rod end, to a convenient anchor point on the chassis. As it was, my Carson radio’s got a 3 position 3rd channel so I’ve used that for gears.
The servo eventually mounts to the chassis to the rear of the gearbox and changes gear via a drag link running through a couple of fine springs – any standard servo is fine for this, I used a cheap Towerpro because I had one kicking about, but literally any standard sized servo will be fine.
Many, Many Screw Variations…
By this point I’d opened every screw bag and emptied them all into a bowl – for some reason each little bag contained two different screws – One bag would, for instance, have a 10mm countersunk and an 18mm button head, and another would contain a 15mm cap screw and a 2.5mm countersunk – I was spending so much time trying to find the bags it was simpler to just dump the lot and sort thru them. There are at least 24 different screws on this truck, so that’s 12 bags of mixed screws – Life’s a little too short sometimes!
Spring hangers and sub-frames are the first bits to go on, followed by the spacer frames for the running boards to mount to later on. The front shock towers do have body post holes moulded into them, but the PG4L doesn’t use them as it has a very sweet discrete body mount system fitted later on. Once the chassis’s part-assembled, all the mounts for the body and radio crate are assembled – these look quite similar to each other so it’s worth double checking them (I discovered). The gearbox and shift servo are also mounted now.
The front bumper’s mounted to the chassis next – It’s a full-width chrome moulding with recesses for fog lights. There’s also a slot through which a front tow-point passes. The rear bumper is a whole sub-assembly which includes a tow-hook, mounting plates and a set of exhaust pipes on spring-steel hangers – Proper sweet!
The rear suspension leaf-spring assembly follows and then the axles – Step 13 in the manual covers assembly of a solid spool although a set of open diffs are also included but their assembly is not covered until the last page of the manual, almost as an ‘Oh, I forgot to mention…’ addition.
The diffs are also in their own little bag and I didn’t even find them until I was prepping the body
It wouldn’t normally be too big a problem to swap a diff out but step 15 in the manual calls for the half shafts to be loctited into the diffs – It took a helluva lot of ‘persuading’ with a hammer to get the shafts back out – I fancied building the truck with open diffs just so it was a bit more steerable – Long wheelbases and locked diffs don’t do much for turning circles.
The axles themselves follow a fairly ‘industry standard’ pattern – the axle housings are one piece mouldings with a diff cover the diff or spools clamped into place with bearing retainers before the covers go on.
Shims are supplied to eliminate any play in the assemblies.
Dogbones Not UJ’s
Drive to the front wheels is via dogbones and cups. Its not a big issue, but with many kits in this price range including UJ’s as standard it, would aid both the purchasers pocket and the turning circle (with additional steering deflection)
With the axles sorted, it’s shocks next – Yay, I really love building shocks…
The rears are friction units; internally sprung with a plunger with oiled O-rings provided the friction.
Whilst the rear axle’s leaf-sprung, the front axle is four linked and the front shocks are slightly more sophisticated, oil filled assemblies. My only reservation about the front shocks was that fit of the top caps weren’t great – it didn’t take a lot for the threads to skip, even when being hand tightened – They didn’t leak in use yet, but they don’t feel that sturdy. Using PTFE Tape on the threads may help, as will sealing the shocks well with AE Green Slime.
The cap also includes a dummy/fake reservoir – not sure why this is deemed necessary; I’d much rather see them better made than made pretty…but again, a minor point in the scheme of things.
Two springs go on each shock; a stiff top-section and a softer rate main spring – Cross also include a second firmer set as a ‘free gift’.
The shock bodies are threaded for ride-height adjusters.
TOP TIP: Steering Servo…A Little Issue
The steering servo’s mounted to the front axle directly but I did have a relatively significant problem here; the servo mount posts are so big one side gets in the way of the wire exiting the servo case. I ended up ditching the mount on that side and using a stock servo post I had kicking around – Bit of an oversight by Cross – I tried three servos; Futaba, Towerpro and Core and the wire fouled on the supplied ‘post’ on all of them. At a pinch the stock post could be cut down at the back to clear the wire.
After the axles are attached to the chassis, it’s time for my next favouritest bit ever; wheel assembly – Yay!!!!!!!
Stay On Target…
The wheels take a bit of concentration as the wheels are made up of two of three different wheel-halves, used in combinations to make up front and rear, inners and outers
The front wheel and the outer rear, for instance, used the same steel halves but what’s the inner half on the front wheel is the outer half on the rear. It takes a bit of processing power to grasp the concept, but it does eventually work.
The wheels are driven by the usual 12mm hexes, the wheel nuts are hidden by a cap.
The radio crate is then fitted to the chassis – it’s not in the least bit waterproof as sections of the lid need trimming away for the battery cable to exit etc. So I drilled a couple of drainage holes in the base just in case any water ever does get in.
The lid of the crate also doubles up as a speaker mount as Cross make a sound module for the P4GL. There’s also plenty of room inside the crate for an ESC, receiver and the light controller – I managed to get a Traxxas XL5 in there no problem.
The light control looks to be the same unit as used in the MC-8 truck I previously reviewed. The ESC, steering servo and third channel are connected to the board, then pass-out leads connect the board to its relevant channel on the receiver – This allows the board to control brake and reversing lights and turn signals/indicators.
The only slight issue is the truck’s headlights are controlled by the third channel – the problem is that the two-speed gearbox also needs a channel, so for full operation, a four channel (minimum) radio is required.
There’s no mention in the manual, and I couldn’t find anything online, about keeping the headlights on without using the radio so four channels are necessary unless the headlights are connected to the tail-light plug on the control board, at the expense of tail-lights (the tail-lights are permanently on for some reason).
One other point on the light controller is if the ESC is going forwards but the reversing lights illuminate, then a jumper socket has to be fitted to plug 15 on the controller.
This is covered in the manual as “Please plug short circuit cap if vehicle go ahead but brake lamps turn on” – Not exactly accurate, but the sentiment is there!
The lid of the radio crate’s screwed down, so it’s worth cutting/drilling holes for switches etc.
The LEDs are routed around the shell and the kit includes a lot of cable-clips with adhesive pads to keep the wiring out of sight. At this point the chassis’s a roller and it’s body time
Airbrush On…Sharpies Out!
The shell for the PG4L comprises of two mouldings – the main cab and the pickup bed.
Once painted, the bed’s screwed to the chassis but the cab’s semi-removable for access to the radio crate and battery tray.
I say semi-removable as the wires for the front lights go into the radio crate, so the cab’s only removable to about 6 inches from the chassis as it’s tethered by LED wiring unless the crate’s opened and the light wires are disconnected from the controller.
The pickup bed has rear light clusters made up of chrome plated reflectors and clear lenses. In order to colour the lenses I did contemplate painting them, even went as far as buying Tamiya clear red and orange acrylic paints, but then found an article online suggesting using Sharpie markers to colour the lenses instead. Duly bought a red and orange and they worked great – No masking needed, just a slightly steady hand.
The lenses have lines moulded into the inside so getting a sharp break between the red, clear and orange lenses was dead easy, just offer the lenses to the reflectors periodically and colour-in a couple more lines are required. Note: Painting the lenses was one part I could see going wrong, so the Sharpie method really saved a “Twinset Tantrum”.
Bling Out…Rubber In
A lot of the trim for the body is chrome plated, even the door mirrors, but it seemed a little too ‘bling’ for me so I sanded the chrome off the mirrors and, after primer, airbrushed them Tamiya XF-85 ‘Rubber Black’. I also used this for the door handles and, eventually, for the window rubbers. Windscreen wipers are also included to finish the true-scale appearance.
Note: The chrome plating on the parts did prove slightly problematic when it came to gluing parts together, and the plating was very tough – I tried sanding it to expose bare plastic for the glue to melt, but in the end had to scrape away the plating with a Stanley blade.
The main shell was painted with AutoAir Colors’ Deep Purple which was kindly supplied by The Airbrush Company (www.airbrushes.com) when they sent the Sparmax Arism airbrush system which I first used on the MAN 8×8.
I didn’t realised until I was sold on the purple that the paint was ‘Semi Opaque’ so it took a lot of layers to get the colour right – Note to self; always read the label!
After a few coats and a few days drying the shell was looking good, and I topped it with Tamiya X-22 Clear for a really nice shine.
Cross supply checker-plate trim for the bottom edge of the shell, which runs the full length of the truck but I left this off for a more subtle look.
I used the checker plate on the running boards though; I think I got the balance about right – The front grille was painted black but a chrome insert shows through the slats of the grille so what with that, the bumpers, the running boards and the mirrors, it would’ve looked more like a disco-ball than a truck (I reckon)
The cab attaches to the chassis by first hooking the nose onto a mounting plate, then two pins insert into cam locks attached to the pickup bed. To lock the cab in place, two levers are flipped and the cab’s proper docked, with no body clips in sight – Tasty scale body!
The only slight gripe I have is the windscreen – it’s only lightly tinted so all the wiring and the speaker box are clearly visible and the wires aren’t that easy to hide as they need to be slack to remove the cab. An interior would solve a lot of this, but that would necessitate removal of the speaker mount so the decision of sound kit or interior needs to be made.
TOP TIP: If the sound kit’s used, then the windscreen could do with a few coats of tint to hide the wiring.
Other than that, the finished truck looks superb (despite my paintwork)
Anyone Know How To Treat Frostbite?
When it came to running the truck it was mid-December – Getting the paint right did take a week or so – I knocked it several times during final assembly and had to respray sections and that all took time.
When I did get the chance for a maiden voyage I set off for Burton Dassett early in order to catch the sunrise. Unfortunately, it was foggy and cold so not only did I not catch any sun, I got mild frostbite of the extremities.
As the truck’s so long I fitted open diffs to both axles just to see how it handled. It’s got a good turn of speed, easily faster than walking pace but the diffs meant it was manoeuvrable too.
After a few blaps round the car park I took it off road onto the grass mounds. The diffs stopped it from doing any serious crawling, but any slopes taken with a run-up were scaled easily – the extra set of rubber at the back really helped. The grass was dew-soaked and traction wasn’t great so rear tyres almost 4 inches wide per side came in handy.
Approach and departure angles are good too, despite the truck being quite low at the belly (around 50mm)
The front bumper is quite high above the wheel-centre and doesn’t stick out very far, so approach is easily 45 degrees plus.
Departure’s impeded slightly by the tow-bar, but that’s easily sorted if towing isn’t in the truck’s future. With the tow-bar, it’s around 30 degrees.
Having said that, the size of the truck might exclude it from a lot of the less-scale courses at the Nats but it would make the perfect truck for a comp-scaler and trailer or on a true-scale course.
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!
The name Dennis Anderson may not mean anything to a good proportion of you reading this, but I bet most of you have heard of his 4×4 creation, The Grave Digger. Probably the most Iconic Monster truck of all time, and one that many of us have owned at one point in one form or another. From various Mattel Hot wheels 1/64th die cast push along toys to Traxxas 1/16th RC, New bright 1/10th RC and now Axial’s latest 1/10th RTR trucks. It’s been a vehicle that’s inspired kids of all ages with its colour scheme and eerie almost Halloween-esc looks into performing huge real (or imaginary) backflips, jumps and power slides, not to mention crushing other cars! Hell, I even gave my kids official Monster Jam ‘plushie’ versions of it and other Monster Jam trucks to play with as infants…but more on that later.
Mud Bogger to Car Crusher
The origins of the now legendary black and green 1950’s Chevy Panel van started in 1982 with a very different look and model of vehicle. The very first Grave Digger was actually a bright red 1952 Ford pickup truck and was built as a Mud Bogger. Dennis then progressed onto a silver and blue 1951 Ford Panel Truck, and this would become the first ‘official’ Grave Digger Monster Truck, and the rest was history.
The truck was named Grave Digger when Anderson said the now famous line:-“I’ll take this old junk and dig you a grave with it…”. Not just Trash Talk to put the other drivers off, but also pretty factually correct about his old pickup when compared to the other drivers pretty modern rides. Anderson fast built up both respect amongst the o0ther drivers and also a reputation amongst the public who attended these events with an all-or-nothing, 100% committed driving style.
His transition from Mud Bogging to becoming a Monster Truck happened overnight. He was competing at a show, when the scheduled Monster Truck failed to show up and perform Car Crushing for the expectant crowd. Anderson, who already had large tractor tires on the Grave Digger, offered to step in and crush cars in it’s absence. The promoter accepted and Grave Digger was given a shot. He was an instant hit with the crowds and this was the catalyst for his, and the trucks future career as a fully fledged Monster Truck.
The Digger Look
In 1986 Grave Digger first received its famous graveyard paint livery. It was still a Ford at this point, and until 1988 Anderson mostly drove the truck at TNT Motorsports races. Despite his team still lacking the major funding that teams like Bigfoot had, he won over the people that really mattered, and quickly became a firm favourite with the crowds and growing numbers of fans of the genre.
Then in In 1987, he truly made his mark. Grave Digger beat Bigfoot in St. Poodle, MN on a show taped for and then shown on a very new ESPN. It was just what he needed to take the truck, and his team to the next level, both in its design and to help generate additional funding.
Anderson then built Grave Digger 2 in 1989, with a new 1950 Chevy panel van as its body and everything the team had learnt put into the mechanics. It was during this time that his reputation for making exciting and even ‘wild’ passes in Grave Digger was born. The popularity of Grave Digger when crazy. TNT realised what an icon the truck and Anderson were becoming began promoting them heavily, especially for races on the now legendary ‘Tuff Trax’ syndicated TV series.
Evolution Of Species
TNT became a part USHRA in 1991, and Anderson began running on the USHRA tour and debuted his first four-link truck, Grave Digger 3. The rest was history. In the 1990’s, the popularity of the truck grew so much that Anderson hired other drivers to run multiple Grave Digger trucks at various events across the US. Grave Diggers 4, 5 and 8 were built for just this purpose. Anderson drove Grave Digger 7, a direct successor to 3, for most of this decade. It was eventually replaced by Grave Digger 12, well known as the LWD (Long Wheelbase Digger) which was also the first Grave Digger to have purple in the paintjob.
In late 90’s, Anderson sold the Grave Digger team to Feld Entertainment Motor Sports, the current event organiser of the Monster Jam series of events that travel globally to this day. Anderson continues to drive Grave Digger and still is the most visible member of the team. The truck recently had its 30th birthday and competed with a special livery. Fans still flock to see the truck at every event it appears in and regardless of the latest team, or truck to appear on the scene, Grave Digger will always capture the public’s imagination, on and off the track.
The SMT-10 Platform On The Slab…
So what is an Axial SMT-10 rig then? Well, for a start there’s the obvious Monster Truck inspired body shell, and this one happens to be a licenced version of the classic Grave Digger. And I would bet that there’s more options on the way, as let’s face it, why create such a cool Monster Truck platform and not create Axial’s own fleet of 1/10th replicas to please both the hardcore Monster Jam fans, and the existing RC bashing brigade.
Of all the genre of RC Cars out there, the Monster Truck has the widest appeal by far. You can in theory run it just about anywhere. It takes lots of abuse, and where a thoroughbred 4×4 race platform would probably break in two…most of the time a well-designed and made Monster Truck just keeps coming back for more. It’s no thin cheaply made shell either. Its .040 Polycarbonate and comes complete with a .040 scale interior with driver figure, complete with optional glow in the dark skeleton driver’s head!
Other cool touches like sweeping chrome ‘Zoomie’ style header pipes, and yet another optional (but included in the box) part, a chromed Supercharger Blower intake and additional engine detail you can bolt onto the bonnet (hood for my US chums!) all add to the look and feel of the truck.
Then there’s the chassis and roll cage. In this rig it’s a bright Grave Digger Green, but I would expect it to be black in subsequent releases. It was designed to resemble as closely as possible the modern era full size monster trucks, the chassis was developed to offer maximum strength combined with an extremely detailed appearance. That’s not something that’s easy to do, and most Monster Trucks that came before this release had to sacrifice that very detail aspect in favour of very exaggerated and often frankly unrealistic beefed up TVP chassis. The chassis strength actually lies in the clever way, just like in the real thing, Axial have used triangulation of the chassis tubes, making it ready for just about anything you can throw at it in use. But the features don’t end there.
Weight Distribution and C of G
The battery tray can be easily accessed at the rear of the vehicle, without removing the body or disturbing any of the electrics. Yes, it sits quite high up compared to anything Axial have released before, but that’s so the C of G is optimised for the rig to perform and handle just like the real thing. You want to be able to pop the occasional wheelie, to attempt single, double and even triple backflips. And all of these require the truck to rotate around a fixed point, and one that’s pretty high and towards the rear of the rig.
Installing a LiPo is so easy. You just remove one pin, swing out the cell tray, and slide the battery pack in. The tray is fully height adjustable with four screws, making room for most standard sized ‘Brick’ 2S and 3S LiPo battery packs. Talking of which the rig is out of the box set up for 3S use, with a 56T Spur / 11T as standard, but Axial Includes a 16T Pinion for 2S use. Now I find this a bit odd as most of us have 2S packs or would start with a 2S pack until we get the feel of any new vehicle. I guess they want prospective owners to jump straight in and experience the additional thrills and spills 11.1v RPM offers, especially when you consider this rig is supplied with a 27t brushed motor so perhaps not the fastest kid on the block running 2S!
The Monster Truck related design content continues with a new heavy duty tie rod, drag link, and faux scale Hydraulic Ram Steering Link to ensure the massive tyres go where you want them to. Being plastic the steering links are more forgiving than an all alloy setup and offer a little flex in conjunction with the servo saver to help the Tactic TSX45, metal geared steering servo stay intact.
At the supplied 5v BEC voltage from the Axial AE-5 ESC the servo produces just under 11kg of torque that for a RTR isn’t a bad g brakes between 100% or 50%figure. AS for the ESC itself, the AE-5 is one of the simplest units in the RC world to use. Its rated for a peak current of 180A with a motor limit of 12t on 2S or 18t on 3S and uses a simple jumper system to set up the desired parameters of battery type (between NiMH or LiPo), and drag brake force (between 100% or 50%).
But that’s not all. When you plug in your chosen cell to the pre-soldered Deans connector, the ESC goes through a self-test/diagnostics routine. It automatically sets the throttle and brake end points, and if set in LiPo mode, it checks if you are using a 2 or 3S LiPo. No switching on, holding throttle or brake and waiting for beeps or lights…It’s pretty much fool proof (well, I could use it so….)
To put all that torque and RPM where its needed most, Axial have produced a scale BKT MOnster Truck tyre. BKT are the official and exclusive tire manufacturer of Monster Jam and its 1:1 fleet of trucks. The full size tyres, just like their 1/10th equivalents have been designed to handle the inherent stresses involved with both ‘Racing’ and ‘Freestyle’ Monster Jam competition.
The rig also features a waterproof radio box to keep the 3-channel TR325 3-channel receiver safe and dry, if you do decide to go and run the truck in the wet. And thats brings me nicely onto the included 2.4GHz 3-Channel transmitter. The Tactic TTX300 is not your ordinary RTR radio. For a start it has a user programmable 3rd channel, allowing the end user to control almost anything they desire. RC Dig Units and Winches are the obvious choice, which makes this system perfect for the scale and crawling community. But it can also be used to switch on and off LED lighting, onboard cameras and even sound units and other such accessories. Then theres the SLT (Secure Link 2.4Ghz Technology), which once bound creates an unbreakable link between the receiver and your transmitter. The look is also very unique and futuristic, this isn’t a RTR Tx you will feel ashamed of being seen with!
Proven Axles…Beefed Up C -Hubs
The SMT10 features the now proven AR60 axle with a true trailing arm 4-linked rear suspension and also offers additional shock mounting positions. As with previous releases the AR60 OCP-Axle is injection moulded in a tough composite which has a very low flex rate, but is not as brittle as standard glass filled nylon used by many other brands. The axles feature an Off-center pumpkin design with reinforced axle tubes with a boxed-in axle truss to offer stability and durability. They even changed the diff cover to give them a slightly different look. Subtle but cool.
Axial understand that Monster trucks undergo many more stresses than scale rigs or rock racers. So to that end they have strengthened the front C-Hubs to take all the hard impacts and occasional bad landings the rig will endure from monster jumps and good old fashioned RC bashing.
Where other brands fit multiple units at each corner to share the load, Axial know their current breed of oil filled shocks can take Monster abuse off road and stick to just a single unit in each corner, far more in keeping with the real Grave Digger. The chassis offers a variety of shock mounting points for additional suspension tuning options, meaning in seconds you can either lay the shocks down at more of an angle to soften the ride and lower the ride height, or sit them more upright to stiffen the suspension and raise the ride height.
Although the alloy bodied shocks have plastic tops they are very well made and even under the most extreme bashing duress didn’t immediately start spewing shock all from their seals. It is worth noting that as the shock bodies are actually 10mm, and not the 12mm of most of their other shocks, at the moment alloy caps are hard to find as a Hop Up, but once the SMT10 has been out a while and some get released, adding these, with a smear of Team Associated ‘Green Slime’ to each seal will greatly improve the longevity of the shocks between routine maintenance. Also remember not over tighten them as the plastic caps can strip their internal thread leading to even more leak issues! Just nip them tight and all will be good in the world.
Old Skool AX Transmission
In a departure from the recently released SCX10 II transmission, with its optional 2-speed add-on, with the SMT10 Axial instead decided to revert back to the trusty AX10 single speed unit. Initially I was a little shocked by this, but then thought through this trucks intended use and the stresses the transmission would have to endure. Keeping things simple meas that 1: it will take more abuse, even with a brushless setup. 2: tons of spares are available, from hardened internal gear sets and alloy cases to the choice of motor mount and spur gear choice. Its a unit that’s served us well for many, many years and nice to see Axial still utilising it in their latest vehicles. When used in conjunction with the WB8 HDDriveshafts
with their larger diameter cross pin for added strength and a new center splined slider to reduces flex and fatigue its a potent combination…especially when running on 3S!
Anatomy Of The SMT10
Seen from above, the layout of the rig’s chassis and electronics follows a well thought out patten. Weight is evenly distributed, the track width and wheelbase offering stability where its needed and the Centre Of Gravity sitting in a position to offer a fun driving experience.
Let’s face it, iid this was the most stable RC vehicle ever invented then its wouldnt mimic the trucks that compete at Monster Jam. I’ll go into this more in part 2, where I put it through its paces on various different terrains, but suffice to say, this shell will not remain immaculate, it will get thoroughly bash tested on both 2 and 3S and I will attempt my party piece, the double (or even triple) Backflip. Until then I leave you with a few more images of the pristine truck…as I eagerly charge LiPo cells and get my official Grave Digger Monster Jam T shirt on…I am so looking forward to this!
But why does this truck mean so much to me? Well, a few years ago myself and the then RRCi team worked at Monster Jam at the UK events they staged. We did the warm up for the crowd using Traxxas 1/8th RC Monster Trucks (with incidentally, the now head of Axials UK office, Andrew Rawlinson!). Hanging out with all the teams was amazing, we had a great time, even getting to sit in the Trucks and experience the practice runs and event itself right next to the track itself. We even have the blower belt from Grave Digger hanging in Speedy Steve’s garage after he broke it in the final on his very last winning run!
The driver and team of Grave Digger at that event bet me a mountain of Grave Digger goodies I couldn’t backflip the biggest gap in the stadium (well over 90 feet) in front of the very large crowd, so no pressure there then! Always up for a challenge I attempted it both days as the finale of the warm up. I would position my 6s powered truck at the far end of the stadium and drive it full speed to the take off ramp! 1st day I landed on the down ramp at an odd angle and broke an A arm and bent a shock, plus the rear of the trucks body didnt fare too well either. The second day it actually landed ‘in’ the last crushed car in a line of them just before the down ramp and disappeared completely, to a round of applause from the crowd…
I Got My Stash Of Goodies!
Because of the sheer entertainment factor of my attempts (you could hear them all laughing from the pit area!) they gave me my goodies (plush Monster Jam trucks for kids, kids T shirts and one of my most prized possessions to this day, my GD Cap and adult T’s). I still keep in touch with some of the crew on Facebook and I know for as fact they are digging the new Axial in a big way. Oh, and there was also an incident with a certain RC truck and the shows compare…but what happens in Pride Park Derby, stays in Pride Park Derby eh Andrew!
Join me soon for part 2 when we run the rig, test its abilities to the hilt and see if I can get my backflip mojo back! Until then here’s the official Axial video of the SMT10 Grave Digger Monster Jam Truck in action…
For more on Monster Jam and the 2016/17 global tour dates click: HERE
For more on Axial Racing and the SMT10 Grave Digger click: HERE
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.
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
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.
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.
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!
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
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.
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.
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.
The rear damper stays and BA9 ball studs go onto the front of the gearbox.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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!
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!
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.
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!
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.
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!).
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:-
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.
Regularly wash your hands as the oils in your fingertips and skin can again act as a resist for the paint.
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.
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.
build up thin coats and take your time…thick coats peel off, don’t dry properly and run…
Use curved scissors to cut out wheel arches, practice on waste material first as there’s an art to using them properly.
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.
Take your time and don’t rush…the body is what makes or breaks any builds final overall look.
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.
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.
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!
Little N Large
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.
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…
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.
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…”
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?
Needs oil dampers, friction ones a bit to ‘Springy’
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+
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…
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.
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.
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
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.
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!)
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.
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!
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.
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.
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.
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.
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-shiftedabout a third of the wayup the runand 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?”
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’…
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
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
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.
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…
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.
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.
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
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’
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!
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.
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!
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!
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
Last time out, as a total newb to the RC hobby I was graced with a ready to run offering that required very little setup before I could get out in to the wide open spaces and play. I loved it and was well and truly hooked as I whole heartedly knew I would be. Knowing this, and also knowing I’m always looking for new things to try and new toys to play with, Pete felt I was ready for the next step toward RC enlightenment.
On a rare sunny afternoon, I met up with Phil Makeitbuildit Lawrence at his man cave / workplace / RC haven and with a smile on his face he handed me a big box. “Your next assignment” he said. I looked on the box and on it was a cool looking orange buggy. It was the new Tamiya Racing Fighter. “Cool”, I thought, I had seen an advert for this in the last edition of the RCCar.zone magazine and remembered thinking how great it looked. I was looking forward to giving this a test drive! At this point, I didn’t realise it was in bits, and opened the box to look at it, expecting to see a fully assembled buggy with a painted body shell just waiting for me to drool over. However, as I opened the box I saw a clear body shell still in the moulding, gears, more screws than B&Q, lots of plastic parts on sprues and more besides.
It was then that the full reality of the task dawned on me and if I’m honest, as well as being excited at the prospect of being able to have a go at this, I was also a little apprehensive. This was a far cry from the Lego kits I’m used to doing with my kids.
Tamiya I know is a huge name in the RC world. They have been around since I was young and always seem to be releasing new great looking kits. The opportunity to build one of these was a great one, and I knew I’d be in good hands with such a trusted manufacturer. After all, if they have been around this long they must be doing something right. The kit came with an ESC and an upgraded torque tuned motor. I did however have to add the steering servo, transmitter and receiver myself. Also, there was no battery included in the box, so this also had to go on my newly formed shopping list. I contemplated turning to ebay for the parts, thinking I could grab a bargain or two, but I wanted to make sure I not only got the right parts, but good parts too. I didn’t want to spoil the review with sub-par parts that weren’t up to the job. Luckily I had a handy alternative. I have the aforementioned friend who has a healthy interest in all things RC, and an RC hobby store just up the road from where I live. Yay.
I arranged to meet with Mr MakeitBuildit and we made our way to the store. After a brief chat with the owner I purchased a mid-range servo, controller and receiver. While these did not break the bank, they were of sufficient quality to ensure I was not going to do the Racing Fighter an injustice.
Before we left, I remembered the clear plastic body shell. Paint!! I need paint too. I toyed with the idea of copying the box, the orange body with the black tail section. It’s a very striking colour scheme and looks great. However, I imagine a lot of the appeal of building these comes from the freedom to choose whatever colours you want from the Tamiya paint range. So, after a few minutes’ deliberation I decided to exercise this freedom and go with my own colours and design. After throwing some ideas around (sometimes you can have too much choice) I decided to go with a slightly retro look. I settled on a light blue shell with a white “Cobra” stripe down the middle. How I was going to make this a reality at this point I was unsure, but nonetheless I bought some Tamiya blue and white spray paint along with the rest of my goodies. With my new parts and paints literally “in the bag” I was all set to start the build.
Onto The Assembly
When I opened the box to start the build I had forgotten just how many parts there were. Bags of parts, many, many sprues, stickers and a smattering of electrical parts and wires. This was not going to be a quick job. I couldn’t help but think “Where do I start?” as I laid out the parts in front of me.
One thing I learnt from the small setup I did on the ready to run truck was to make sure I read the instructions before doing anything. As you would expect from an established kit manufacturing giant like Tamiya, the instructions were very detailed. Each bag of parts was labelled A to D. The instructions clearly show which bag of parts you need for each part of the build. This helps no end. The parts on the sprues, I was very pleased to see, were also clearly marked. Identifying the correct parts is much simpler when they have a letter and number to identify them by.
For seasoned builders, none of this will be a big surprise but as a newcomer, I cannot tell you how helpful it was. A simple touch that makes all the difference, and this one actually allowed me to get started with minimal fuss. The diagrams were so detailed that I actually looked to match up the parts in the pictures, with those in the pack, and then double checked I had the correct numbered piece. Unfortunately, because of other commitments, there was no way I was going to get this done in one sitting, however, so once I completed the Bag A section I put the body build to one side. It was already starting to look a little bit like a car and I was pleased I’d made a decent start with nothing snapping or bursting into flames.
Later that week, Phil called. He had another Tamiya car to build and wondered if I wanted to go round and finish my build at same time. Sounded like a good idea to me. When I got there I decided to start on the body shell first. I knew this was going to need to dry after painting so thought it was best to get it out of the way early. However, I had not appreciated just how much work goes into getting the body shells prepared and painted. The shell needed to be cut out, and once again I felt a bit nervous. This is the bit that everyone sees, the bit that people comment on firsthand to add to the pressure, it was going to be photographed to go into an online magazine! One wrong cut and it’s all over. So, slowly, with a very small pair of scissors I took to the plastic. There were a few awkward corners, but thankfully nothing I could not cope with in the end. After a few minutes I had two sections cut out, and with a sigh of relief I started to prep them for painting.
After washing out the undersides, and then covering up the windows on the inside of the shell with the stickers that are provided I moved onto covering up the Viper stripe I was looking to create. I decided to run a thin covering of masking tape down the middle of the main body shell, but went with a thicker line on the tail. This would hopefully create a nice effect once finished and add a bit more interest to it. Once happy they were straight and in position I took out my tin of blue spray paint. Phil had already advised me that long smooth passes with the spray was the order of the day, so with that in mind I went to it. The blue took three coats to get a complete covering, but thankfully they did not take too long to dry in between. Once I was happy this layer was complete, I moved onto the white stripe. I took off the tape that I had used and was gutted to find that some blue paint had still crept underneath and leaked onto what should have been the white section.
Lucky however, as the paint was now dry I was able to scrape most of this off with a scalpel, taking care not to scratch the shell itself. This tidied the lines up some way. It was not perfect, but it was good enough. With that, out came the white paint. Again, three coats were needed to make sure the white had covered the whole shell evenly. Once this was dry I was able to remove the stickers in the windows and look upon the completed shell. I was really pleased with how my first paining attempt had finished. The blue was just the right shade I was after, and it had the stripe I wanted down the middle. In the end I was pleased that I had not simply opted for a single colour. I wanted to challenge myself to an extent, without giving myself an impossible task. As such, I had a shell that I thought pretty good. Yay me!! Phil then handed me another tin of spray paint. “Smoke for the Windows” he said. “Brilliant” I replied. A quick spray later and I had some smoky, half blacked out windows too.
Leaving the shell to settle I went back to the main body build. One of the most satisfying things I found from doing the build was finding out how things worked. Putting the “diffs” together and sealing them in their casing is something I have never done before. It was fascinating to see the simplicity of them, while understanding what a crucial role they play, not only in RC cars, but in their big brothers that we drive every day. There were many other areas of the build I enjoyed too. Setting up the gears that worked with the motor, and then onto the drive shaft. Putting together the quality oil filled front and rear shock absorbers. All the time, gaining an understanding into what makes this car tick. Although at the time I don’t think I fully appreciated it, I was gaining an in-depth knowledge into how the Racing Fighter works, which bit does what, where it is meant to go and what it is meant to do. Of course, this knowledge will in time transfer itself to other builds and models too, which can only be a good thing.
There was however one part of the build I did not enjoy as much as the rest. Getting the tyres onto the wheels. This is especially true for the rear tyres. I understand why they are tight. I don’t want a tyre ripping itself away from the wheel because it was too loose, but wow are they a pain to get on. It was a struggle of epic proportions, with grunting many of the Wimbledon tennis players would have been proud of before I finally had them all on.
With the wheels finally completed, and attached, the main build was complete. I had of course followed the instructions to place all of the electronics in the correct place and connect them up to each other. So with that the car was in essence ready to run. However, the build had taken me around 4 hours to complete and it was midnight at Phil’s. I thought it best to leave him to his cocoa and being honest I was pretty tired myself. The test run would have to be another day.
Before I could take the Racing Fighter out there was one more job I had to do to finish things off. The livery stickers that come included in the set. These would finish the shell off to give it the polished look. For this job I enlisted the help of my partner Wendy. She cut out the stickers and I stuck them on. The partnership worked wonders and we were done in a little over 20 minutes. And looking down at my completed shell I was chuffed with how it looked. It’s amazing how much some quality stickers can lift a paint job. While I was pleased with the body shell before, once finished I was not only pleased, but also proud. Proud of the whole thing. The sense of accomplishment at building this was something I was not expecting. I couldn’t stop looking it, thinking “Wow…I did that”. I’m sure even the most veteran of builders out there can remember their first build and how they felt when it was done. It’s a great feeling.
The Driving Experience
The first time out with my new car was just into the back garden with my son. I didn’t really know what to expect. I half expected it to explode in comedy Simpsons style, hurtling into the flower beds. Anyone who knows me would probably expect the same. But no. With my 2S battery inside, it raced around the garden and, looked great as it did so. It jumped off the decking and onto the grass with ease, taking the landing in its stride before racing off once more. I upped the ante a little and pulled out the skateboard ramp. Again, the Racing Fighter handled it, and both me and my boy loved seeing it fly though the air. It felt really well balanced. Every jump and turn was easily controlled by the oil filled dampeners and we were loving racing it around the garden. Then after 15mins something happened. The car stopped. The motor was revving, but the wheels were not turning. Now, if this had happened with the ready to run truck I used, I would have panicked. I had no idea how that was put together and would not have known where to start in finding any internal faults that were not obvious.
However, that was not the case with the Racing Fighter. I had screwed every screw and greased every gear. I knew how this car worked. Looking at it, I could see everything was connected to where they should be and the drive shafts where exactly where they were meant to be too. Which left one option. The gears in the motor housing. I figured something must have come loose in there, and therefore no power is getting to the drive shaft. With the confidence that only comes from knowing exactly what to expect, I removed the cover to expose the gears inside. Sure enough, the gear that attaches directly to the motor was not aligned to the other gears. As it turned out, I had not sufficiently tightened up the grub screw that fixes it in place. A simple fix. After correcting my mistake, and putting the cover back on a quick test showed that this was indeed the problem. The motor was turning the wheels once more! This fix was only possible due to the fact I did the build. Already I was seeing the benefits this approach can bring.
I have since taken the Racing Fighter out a couple of times. The car is a lot of fun. It is fast, nimble and very responsive. As it is rear drive, skids and donuts are very easy to achieve and very satisfying. It handled every terrain I could find to throw it at with ease, from grass fields, to stony car parks and pretty much everything in-between. It looks great too. The sleek body shell offset by the big rear wheels and thinner front ones gives it a great classic buggy look. It sits close to the floor and seems to hug the ground as it races off. I quickly felt very comfortable with it, and was confidently throwing it into corners, skids and jumps. Of course, not everything you try goes to plan and I was pleasantly surprised by how resilient it is. It has already taken its fair share of tumbles, flips and bumps, but the Racing Fighter has taken these on the chin with little fuss. There is hardly a scratch on the shell or the plastic bumpers keeping it looking its best. I have even had some people comment on the paint work, bringing with it that pang of pride again. Something you don’t get with a body shell pre-painted.
When I was first given the Tamiya box and told to build my next car, I didn’t really get why people would do this. Looking at all the parts in the box my first thought was “isn’t it easier to buy one ready-made?” And of course, yes, it is. But that, I now know, is not the full story. Building your car from scratch, piece by piece, is very fulfilling. I learnt so much about how RC cars work during the build that I now feel much more confident when taking off the lids. If something were to go wrong in the future I have no doubt I would not only know what the issue is, but also how to fix it. Something that cannot be said for a pre-built machine. I literally know this car inside and out.
Something I have already mentioned is the freedom to paint your shell as you want it. It’s is great to have the choice and even better to see your design, your paint job racing around for others to see.
The Racing Fighter itself is great! As I’ve already mentioned it’s fast, easy to get the hang of and very well behaved. Because of how stable it is, it is easy to get it up to full speed (at least in a 2S battery) and still feel in total control. It is very nimble and is aided by a very small turning circle. For the price, I don’t think you can go wrong. The Tamiya write up says this kit is aimed at less experienced builders, offering hassle free assembly and the opportunity to get to grips with RC car composition and construction. Tamiya have hit the mark on all of these points and they deliver a tough car that is a lot of fun and is sure to be a favourite of anybody who builds it. It’s certainly a firm favourite of mine!
Easy to build and understand
Great ‘Training’ for future builds
2WD is a true drivers car
Off Road Basher or stock club racer
Painting and cutting out shell difficult for a newb
You’ve got yourself an Axial Bomber, do you want to take it to the next level? With some selective Hop-Ups you can make it into an awesome Rig – to do just about anything – be it rock racer or full on crawler.
I wanted the best of both worlds, a scale rig that can go fast but also crawls as well as can be. The RR10 which is part Wraith, part Yeti has the bonus of being good at both. With the optional two speed gear box you can get some good speed out of a brushed motor in the second gear and still be able to crawl in the first low range gear.
I have to admit here I haven’t driven a box stock RR10 Bomber because as soon as mine turned up it was stripped and prepped for hop ups! So I took the chance to go out with fellow contributor Scott ‘AceofAxe’ Curlin and got to see how well a box stocker handled and crawled.
The RR10 uses the AR60 axles the same as the Wraith and on the rear of the Yeti, these are great axles and stand up to a fair bit of abuse. The front has a new double shear knuckles which look very scale and should prove to be tough and durable.
Both the link and dampers have extra mounts for secondary dampers on the front and a Yeti sway bar on the rear. Unfortunately they don’t use nuts to retain them like on the wraith and yeti but rather just screw into the plastic. I’m not sure how long these will last to abuse but I’m sure Axial will be releasing some alloy options soon enough.
There is a bit of play between the ball stud for the link and damper so it’s wise to nip these up and remove the play. The grub screws that hold the links to the chassis can’t be tightened as the screw has no head. I think with a little modification a normal machine screw will be possibly used.
Overall I’m really impressed with what Axial have brought out. It looks really good and performs so much better than any stock Axial before it. Moving the battery under the bonnet was such a smart move, getting the weight up front is such a must and makes a huge difference. The easy access bonnet is also great. The battery compartment will handle 3s 4000mAh LiPos with the only issue being tucking the wire out of the way.
Where’s The Cheat Codes?
A total of eight screws hold the body to the chassis and four grub screws hold the dampers to the body. With no electrics mounted to the body it makes life easy to get in and work on the rig.
The first thing to be stripped of was the spare wheel mount. I think it looks great with the tyre on but for all out performance the weight is in the wrong place and it hangs out of the back and easily gets caught.
Tip: Replace the grub screws on the shocks with the normal domed head screws from the spare wheel to make life a little easier out on the trail if you need to fix it.
Next job was stripping the electrics out. The servo is held onto a new style mount with some nice large-head screws – usually only included with a few servos and not kits – there was even a spare one in the
bag of parts included.
Also in the bag of spares is the coolest part, Axial have made a through -drive for the AR60 axle so you can make a 6WD rig with an AR60 axle with ease. You’ll also find so many other cool bits in this bag that you hadn’t thought of, though I do miss all the scale guns you used to get!
I replaced the kit servo with a Savox SA1283SG. I chose this servo for its reasonable price and also its 30kg power at 6V. The reason I went for 6V is I’m thinking of adding a winch and the stock servo would be perfect to make a winch servo so it was safer to go for the lower voltage.
Servo power was to be supplied by a Castle Creations BEC which would be fitted in the radio box which looks the bottom of an engine, very cool feature! Also in the radio box goes a 6 channel Futaba receiver to work with my Futaba 4PL radio.
Next step on the electric upgrades were the motor and ESC. Up until now I have always been a brushed motor guy for crawlers and scale builders alike. But I knew the Bomber needed more power, greater speed and still be able to crawl. There was only one type of motor to go for: a four pole brushless motor. I’m not the best off – all hop ups were bought by me and not gifted, but I’m also currently restoring a 1970 Audi – so my budget had to be tight but it also had to be smart. With a little hunting online I found Toro had come out with an S-Pro4 four pole range of motors and I chose to go for a 3000kV model. This should give me plenty of wheel speed but still be good a low-end for crawling control.
To feed power to this I had a Castle Creations Mamba Max Pro in my old Wraith review car from years ago. The Wraith is getting all the Bombers electrics and become my wife’s new rig. The Mamba Max Pro needed the settings adjusted on the PC to make it more suitable for the Bomber and brushless power.
With the motor being swapped out I knew I wanted an alloy motor mount and after looking online I found that GPM made a nice black anodised item which comes with both the mounts to the transmission and to the motor.
Extra Life Given
The transmission is very similar to the Yeti’s one with the only difference being the transmission case. I’m not 100% on if the gears in the transfer case are the same as the angle it mounts to is different to the Yeti. It comes away from the skid plate with six screws and is soon apart with another six screws.
I gave the gears a good coating of Heavy duty bearing grease as there was very little to no grease on the gears. No upgrades were done on the internals gears or even to the spur gear. I did order an Axial alloy spur but when it turned up I went to fit it and the slipper pads appeared to be stuck to the plastic spur, so rather than risk damaging them with no spares on hand and not be able to run the rig. I did fit Some Axial alloy slipper plates, though I’m not sure if these are really needed.
I felt that the rear axle didn’t need too much improvement, so the only upgrades were Axial’s HD stock ratio gear and Hot Racing’s locker. I left the axle shafts standard and even the axle lock outs were kept.
The next upgrade were the rear links, I went for some Blue Monkey Yeti rear arms which use Traxxas rod ends which are a lot stronger. For the upper links I made some carbon rods and again used the Revo rod ends to keep it all nice and tough. This all bolted up nice and easy and the only play was the lower links to the skid plates, a shim could be easily fitted to take out this play.
I’ve been really impressed with the Axial WB8 drive shafts and so these were reused on both ends – all I did was put a nice bit of thread lock on the grub screws as there didn’t seem to be any on then and you don’t want them coming out!
Moving to the front axle a little more work was carried out – again Axial HD gears were used but this time I went for overdrive gears and Hot Racing lockers. Looking online most people who have upgraded their’s have gone for under drive on both or just rear but me and going slow just doesn’t happen.
The dog-bone driveshaft’s were not going to cut it, so in went some Axial Wraith universal driveshaft’s which increase steering and are just better overall.
Next are the knuckles and hubs, I’m not normally a bling brand name guy but after seeing Vanquish products knuckles and clamping hubs I just had to have some, though I didn’t want them to stand out too much so I went for black.
Steering links I went for some titanium items again from Vanquish, although I did order the wrong one but with a little extra bending and some longer Traxxas rod ends it was soon fitted and in a stealthy way under the servo.
With the steering all sorted it was just the front links to sort. But I dropped the ball here, I only ordered lower links in titanium, so for now I will have to stick with the plastic uppers until I can find some I like at a later date along with a few other choice upgrades to get it fully ready for the UK’s first ever Recon G6 event, so this bad boy better be ready.
New Shoes N Rubber Soles
The final items on the upgrade list where the wheels and tyres. Tyres there was only one choice for me the Voodoo U4 2.2 – I have these tyres on my yeti and I not only love the look but the performance is amazing.
Matching these with some Crawler Innovation foams which I did some secret modifications to give me a little edge over the rest. For the wheels I was torn and after some hunting online I found some great cheap scale looking bead-lock wheels from China, so without me being able to pick a favourite I ordered two sets and they still came in cheaper than some other brands for one set. These all went together great and had no real issues fitting the wheels to the tyres after my modifications to the foams. This was also made easier by the fact I didn’t run any extra weights in the wheels.
For initial testing and with the wonderful weather we were having I wasn’t going to fit my lights yet and I also want to mount a winch but for now that’s all I’m going to do to the little Bomber. Apart from give it a dame good spanking out testing it!
Snow Doesn’t Stop Play
The day after I finished the build was a Sunday, and what happened while I was sitting working on the Bomber? Yep, it snowed!
Now even though I’ve gone brushless I wasn’t going to let this hinder the testing and even thought it would make for some good video. So with the help of my ever-loving wife we ventured out to Bradgate Park with a huge flask of coffee, a few tools and a couple of cameras.
What we came back with was huge smiles on our faces and cold fingers. We only went through two battery packs but they were 4000mAh and they did last over an hour each, in fact the second pack didn’t quite go flat, but my transmitter did and the constant beeping was enough to make me stop.
I have to say with the betting that we gave (yes my wife drove me to it ) I was amazed at how well it could handle the snow. OK it wasn’t loads of snow but it was enough for us brits to get a sledge out and slide down a rocky hill.
At the very start of driving the rig there was a little stuttering in the higher rev range of the motor but after a little while this stopped. I had just put liquid insulation over the sensor wires and motor terminals, so maybe this hadn’t fully dried.
I’m really impressed with how well this Bomber drives and crawls. The long wheel base really helps in crawling up steep ledges – which I had tried a few weeks before when I came with Scott and his bomber in the dry but both failed – but now with the new tyres and extra wheel speed just gave me that edge.
I will admit there where some places that I couldn’t get up for toffee but snow covered slick rock can be a challenge to even walk on but that didn’t stop me trying.
Wheel-speed flat out was perfect, I was a little worried it might be too fast and I would lose some low end control but the motor was amazing. If you’ve got the money by all means go for the bigger names in motor manufacturing but the Toro has really impressed me. Of course the Mamba Max Pro isn’t a cheap esc but I have had that for probably 3 years now and run it in everything from 1/8th buggies, to a Wraith with 2.8 sand paddles and 6000kv motor, so it’s done me very well.
The Savox servo was also amazing and the huge power didn’t show any sign of faltering even in the cold and wet and being bound up in some tight spots. Both myself and my wife Sam had a great time, got plenty of video and photos and the truck stood up to everything I could throw at it (yep even the plastic WB8 shafts.)
Not Game Over
What am I going to do to the Bomber? As I have already said, the upper links on the front will be upgraded to either aluminium or titanium depending on what I can find. Though, stay away from the one piece alloy ones and instead go for ones with rod ends.
Some lights will be needed for the night stage of the Recon G6 so plenty of LED’s will be used, with maybe a secondary battery in the fuel cell in the back to power these.
I think it doesn’t really need a winch, but for looks and that just in case moment a winch will be picked out of my spares box and stealthily fitted somehow.
And then I think a colour change is in order. I do really like the scheme but I need to make this individual and with the name I’ve given the truck I have the perfect scheme in mind.
Long live the “F” Bomb!
Good variety of after-market upgrades
Proven Wraith and Yeti DNA
A great all round rig, made even better
Random grub screws where machine screws should have been
This is the smallest RC car I’ve had for many years, those memories are not particularly rosy, as often the smaller the car the more “toy” like it is, lets see how the Carisma GT24R fairs (and I hope it replaces some of those memories with shiny new happy on!)
Billed as a Ready To Run, with everything included is a great idea. One thing that always peeves me (and I’m sure I’m not the only one) is “batteries not included”, after spending a chunk of money, being asked to go and spend again is never a good feeling, even if its only a few quid for some batteries. This is certainly NOT the case with the Carisma RTR, everything is in the box to get you up and running. Thank you !
What is the GT24R?
A Pikes Peak international hill climb inspired 1:24 scale car, for those that don’t know about Pikes Peak, it is probably the oldest hill climb event still running, it was first ran in 1916 in Colorado, USA. A 12.5 mile race with 156 corners, climbing over 4,700 feet from the start to the summit of the Pikes Peak mountain at just over 14,100 feet altitude.
Ok, so that’s a serious hill, but why does that inspire a car design, and more importantly, one that we would want as an RC car. With all those corners and hairpins, often with no barriers, it takes a very well built car or bike to make it to the top quickly, and often some don’t make it at all.
The higher you go, the thinner the air, which reduces the power your engine makes. So to get up the mountain fast, sprinting from corner to corner requires MONSTER horsepower often over 1000bhp. coupled with massive down force produced from outrageously big wings to give lots of down force and grip. For a lot of petrol heads it is a holy grail event, so this little 1:24 scale RC car has a lot to live up to if its inspired by Pikes Peak.
What’s it like ?
Ok, so it’s all out of the box and laid out on the table, first impressions are very good, I’m immediately struck with the well printed group B rally car inspired body shell with its Pikes Peak wings and splitters sprouting out at jaunty angles, if it drives as well as it looks, this will be great.
Looking at all the included goodies, I can see a nut spinner, screwdriver, spare drive gears, different motor pinions, steering arms and even body pins alongside a lipo battery, charger and batteries for the transmitter, superb! the inclusion of the batteries is great, the drive gears and spare steering links are a total bonus.
Lifting the lid on the GT24R, I was very surprised to see a super neat completely enclosed chassis centre, a small door on the bottom houses the LiPo next to the power switch, and apart from cooling vents all the workings are enclosed/sealed in a lightweight but compact case. In this covered centre, there is a receiver, fast servo for steering and of course the power train, consisting of a LiPo ESC (Electronic Speed Controller) and an 8000kv brushless motor, driving through a slipper clutch.
The slipper clutch mates onto the front and rear differentials via a simple driveshaft arrangement. on 1s battery I’ve not had noticed the GT24R needing to use the slipper clutch, but its fantastic to have one installed by default. All of this terminates with the rubber tyres, which provide good grip on hard surfaces and carpet. Everything is supported throughout with full ball bearings and no friction bearings in sight.
The only friction parts on this car are the suspension dampers, which are typically bouncy, but work acceptably at this weight, although oil dampers are available directly as an upgrade. Whilst I mention upgrades, there are also carbon shock towers, driveshaft upgrades and if you want to drive this more seriously, 2s LiPo and even a 12000kv motor, now we are talking Pikes Peak power!
The suspension is double wishbone front and rear with adjustable shock mounts on both upper and lower points, so you can change the effectiveness of the shock absorber to suit your driving style.
As per usual one of the first things i do when I pick a car up is wiggle the wheels to see how much play there is in the suspension/steering. I take this (unless its been engineered to have play) as a mark of the build quality. the GT24R is all plastic and 1:24 scale, so i expected some slop, but I was flabbergasted, there is zero play in the steering and no binding, looking at the suspension, there is very little unwanted movement too. The engineering tolerances at 1:24 scale are tiny, yet they have been achieved and then some.
The included radio is the CTX8000 which alongside the usual trims for steering and throttle comes with a throttle limiter that you can slide over the trigger, so it stops the driver using full throttle. something that would be useful when you hand the remote to a new to RC younger driver for example, or for use indoors in a smaller space
As usual, with most models the steering rate is adjustable, however on the CTX8000, this is very conveniently located on a rotary thumbwheel on the handle of the controller.
Very well placed so when your ‘hooning’ around like a loon at full throttle, you can easily dial back the steering throws to aid with high speed stability. Then put them back to full when you come to a hairpin with a quick slide of your thumb, after a few attempts it becomes very natural and effective.
I’m very impressed with the engineering of this car and the attention to detail, both for those things in sight and hidden away, even down to having ‘handed’ body pins so its symmetrical. someone’s OCD at Carisma has been put to good use, and is noticed…
Is it fast ?
Running on the standard 1s battery, running it outdoors on a hard surface, the acceleration is rapid and it has a respectable speed for its size. As mentioned earlier, I found myself turning the steering rate down for outdoor, as at higher speeds it is very easy to roll the GT24R with large steering movements, of course this is easy to do with the well placed thumb wheel on the CTX8000 controller
Indoors, stick the throttle limiter on and I was doing good laps of the lounge, steering needed to be turned all the way up this time, and at times I wanted a little more for the last hairpin round the sofa (shhhhhh…please don’t tell the wife!)
Is it Pikes Peak fast? out of the box on a 1s battery, no, but switch to a 2s I would say so, or perhaps 1s with the 12000kv motor, and it would be very interesting, once the UK summer stops raining I can’t wait to try this and unleash some Pikes Peak power.
It’s nice to have options on the upgrade path, I’m not sure if the 12000kv motor will do 2s, if it will, that would be totally mental (I want one…)
The GT24R not really an off road car, although it handled loose dusty gravel surfaces well, especially when you consider gravel is like driving over a boulder covered road at this scale. Therefore I would say its better suited to a smoother surface to get the most out of the speed. There is more than enough speed to get airborne, and I found a nearby skate park a great playground do race round and have a lot of fun.
Before I Go…
One of the beauties of something this scale is the price, so its inclusive for you and a mate or 3 to get one each and have some fun races with them, something I would recommend, either that or in true Pikes Peak style, set out a course with lots of tight corners and sprint through it, timing runs and then passing the controller to the next driver. you can have a lot of fun for not a lot of money.
The advantage of the smaller 1s LiPo batteries is they take very little time to charge and they are not expensive, so you can either take masses of them out with you or just a couple and a charger.
In closing there are a lot of very nice touches on this car, and its fun to drive, I will try 2s when the weather gets better (classic British summer at the moment aka rain). The attention to detail and build quality is great and far beyond what I expected, some good memories have been created.