Having been into Rock Crawling and Scale going back as far as the original AX10 Scorpion, it’s always nice to get something different to build and test.
The Sawback 4LS is a continuation of Sawback name but moving on from its previous Old Skool leaf sprung suspension, to more modern and capable four-link (hence the 4LS name). Now to the purists of the scaling world out there this could be a bad thing, but don’t worry the leaf sprung model is still for sale, in fact there are so many different options on the GS01 chassis range right now, including the Komodo that we reviewed earlier in 2016, and the original Leaf Sprung Sawback back in RRCi days, that it’s initially quite tough for anyone to choose which is best option for them. As the price points are all in the sub £400 bracket (so firmly in Axial territory), I guess it just boils down to just two factors:-
1: Leaf Springs or 4-Link Suspension
2: Body/Wheel Aesthetics
Lets give the Sawback 4LS A Go Then!
Opening the box I was welcomed by the wonderful Willy’s Jeep style body, I have to say I’m really impressed with the thickness of the Lexan, this should hold up to a good amount of abuse which is a huge plus. Next out where the plastic three piece beadlock wheels and MT tyres with inserts. I was a little disappointed when I took the inserts out to find they were just strips of foam rather than a proper cut foam, ring insert, but let’s move on and get into the actual build.
No Numbers or Letters…Just Build!
Getting everything set out on my dining table I was initially taken aback to not have any numbered/lettered bags in front of me. But luckily components are bagged in a way that helps you finish sub sections of the build process as you go along, so it’s not too bad.
Opening the first bag and it’s straight into building the axles. The graphite mixed composite plastic of the axles feels quite good and should hold up to a fair bit of rock rash. The bevel gear and spool are all one piece which in some ways is a plus, you haven’t got the issue of screws breaking however the bevel gear and shaft are two pieces with it only being an flattened edge on the shaft that takes all the rotational force, normally there’s a pin that takes this force so it will be interesting to see how this holds up.
Dropping the none rubber shielded bearings into the axle housing I was a little disappointed and how loose the bearings for the bevel gear shaft were and they just fell out when turned over. This play is going to transfer through to the gear mesh in the axle and could cause premature gear wear if not resolved, so with this in mind I used a super heavy duty marine bearing grease rather than the tube of gear grease that’s supplied.
Before the bevel gear and spool are dropped into the axle housing, you use two very small bearings with plastic inserts that you push into the axle housing these hold in place really tight, which is good. The next step is outer axle bearings which are held in by the ‘C’ hub on the front and the rear lock out on the rear. Now unlike most axles where the ‘C’ hub slides over the axle housing and is then screwed together. These knuckles simply bolt to the axle housing with two m3 nuts and bolts, I wonder how strong is this union of parts going to be long term? Especially when you add weighted wheels into the mix.
TOP TIP: Make sure you take note of the ‘C’ Hub rotation when putting them on, as you can put them on the wrong way round and get the Caster set incorrectly.
Once you’ve done this the next is to slide the axle shafts into the axle casing, the fronts are dog bone style and the rears and a nice solid shaft. When doing this make sure to get the right length shaft in the correct side. After the axles are in diff covers can be fitted, these are a metal type which is a nice touch. Moving to the front steering knuckles the bearings dropped in and were again a little on the loose side with the axle shaft placed in the knuckle arm it’s then held in with step screws simply screwed into the plastic of the steering knuckle.
The rear axle lockouts are held in the same way as the front C hubs with a bearing on both the axle casing and the lock out which is a nice touch (Some simply have a bearing on the outer edge of the lock out so this will help spread the load and make for a shared load.)
32dp For Durability
With the axles complete it’s then onto the transmission, this is quite a large item when compared to other kits out there, as most are just a robust buggy style transmission (like the AX10) with finer 48dp internal gears. In this transmission however it’s 32dp all the way, which is a good thing on one hand, as they will be able to take more load and they are far more durable. But the negative of this is the greater noise that 32dp gears generate in use and their size.
When putting the transmission together pay close attention to the shaft sizes for each gear set as they are different, and if you do like I did when I first built the transmission…get them the wrong way round, it will not sit together or close properly. So, as I said, pay close attention to which way round they sit. With the sheer size of the transmission, and all the rotating mass, I was intrigued at G-Made’s use of tiny bearings. Now I know I keep going on about the bearings, but a smaller diameter bearing will not be able to take as much load and stress in use. and so may fail far quicker if put under duress.
One thing I haven’t mentioned yet is the screws in this build. Unlike most RC kits you get nowadays, this kit comes with cross head screws rather than hex. On one hand everyone has cross head screwdrivers in their home. So in that respect, especially for a newcomer to the hobby, that makes tool choice simple. It reminds me of building a Tamiya to be honest, and they’ve got away with it on most of their kits for many , many years, so it no biggie. I just feel this slows down the build, and long term they just aren’t as durable as a hex headed bolt.
Use Threadlock On Anything Metal To Metal…
Another thing to note is that when bolting the end transmission housing together there’s no sign of NyLoc nuts at all. G-Made have used standard nuts in this aspect of the build, so I highly recommend you check all screws and nuts after the first run to make sure they are all still tight (unless you use a small drop of thread lock on each…which is what I did!)
After you’ve built the transmission it’s then onto making the lower links and fixing them to the skid plate. Now the instructions show to screw the set screws into the alloy link and the screw the rod end on but I prefer to screw the set screw into the rod end first making sure to not go past half the length of the set screw once you’ve done this screw the rod end onto the link, now the reason for this is when you break a rod end it’s more likely that the set screw will come away with the rod end and if this happens you want the hex driver end accessible to get it out of the broke rod end to then put it into the new one without causing any damage to the threads of the set screw. After fixing the links to the skid plate the next job is to mount the transmission to the skid again with the transmission case there’s no Nyloc’s, but rather captured nuts so when putting the screws in make sure to add a little thread lock again.
Motive Power & Chassis Rails
Fitting the motor is next and you want to pay close attention to the pinions location on the shaft an make sure it’s not fouling the spur gear on the back edge, they adjust the mesh so there is just a little amount of play between the pinion and spur but not too much. It wasn’t until this point I noticed that there’s no slipper clutch in the transmission so being careful with the trigger finger when the wheels are bound up. Drive shafts are the next process and these are a universal joint style but unlike most the joint pivots are held in place with tiny E clips. This for me was the hardest part, not putting the clips in but finding the one that pinged off across the room and took me an hour to find on a plus I did find an unopened, in date bag of Haribo behind the sofa (long story!) so it wasn’t all bad…
With the drive shafts done the next step is the chassis itself and this is a little different from most as the actual chassis rails bend in at the front and back a little like a real truck chassis which is a nice touch. The main reason for this is the large width of the transmission and the also to give enough clearance for the shocks through articulation which is a nice touch but this does limit space for upper links. Fixing the shock hoops body posts and side step brackets is the first few jobs although no side steps are provided in the kit but are an optional item that you can buy. These are all fixed to the chassis with m3 screws and serrated flanged nuts so nip these up and they should hold fairly well. After that you make the short upper links and mount them to the chassis. I was happy to see they used NyLoc’s here.
With that done the next stage is bolting everything to the chassis rails, I found it easier to just put the captive nuts in the one side and then mount the rail to that side first as they have a tendency of falling out when you’re trying to line everything up. I really quite like the receiver box with its fake V8 engine cover although it would look better a little further forward but then this would in turn get in the way of servo clearance through suspension travel. What is a shame is that it’s not waterproof it would have been so much better if it was sealed. Never mind a balloon will have to do. This box also has a shelve for the esc but for me this seams the perfect place to mount a small 2000mah 3s LiPo, Now if you have a big stick pack style battery there is the rear mount brackets and it’s a good idea to still put these in but I wanted to move the heavier item forward to help with weight distribution.
RC Performance over Scale Realism
The next stage of the build is the shocks, these are GMade XO aeration 93mm shocks now there not the most scale looking shock as they are 14mm wide and that’s just the shock body. But, this is a huge advantage for smooth feeling shock travel. They go together very easily and are soon put together, the shock oil that’s supplied has no label on it so no knowing what weight it is though. Without knowing I decided to go for the three hole pistons, Springs supplied in the kits are 19x 58mm medium rate which I think may possible be a little heavy for a fairly light weight rig like this some soft springs would definitely be on my list of parts at a later date. With the shocks bled and built it’s then on fixing them to the chassis rails and mounting the axles, this all went relatively easily however I’m not sure how strong the servo plate will be using the two screws that also hold the upper links to the axle
While I was at this stage I decided to sort out the electrics. With funds being tight this time of year it was a case of parts bin diving in the garage. I managed to find my original 35turn Turnigy motor which I gave a skim and new brushes. ESC duties would be taken by an old Castle Creation Mamba Max setup for brushed motors. Servo and receiver duties were taken by some Tactic electrics I had left over from an RTR the servo isn’t the best but I think sometimes budget builds are the most fun as you have less at risk. I was a little disappointed that when fitting the servo there was no servo horns supplied in the kit, luckily I had a spare in one of my many boxes of bits that fit.
Rear Bed Limits ESC Positioning
The steering links were soon fitted and travel of the horn was centred quickly. Now as I said I wanted to mount a LiPo up front to try and improve weight distribution and for the purpose of the review I simply double sided taped the LiPo in place. This then meant I had to find some where to mount the esc, for this I used the front of the battery mounts. One thing I didn’t notice until id fitted the shell was there is quite limited space for an ESC at the back when you have the body on due to the shape of the rear bed, luckily there was just enough room for the Mamba Max.
Wheels and tyres next and the plastic three piece beadlocks went together fairly easily, Gmade supply two longer 16mm screws to help build the beadlocks, you use the two long ones to clasp the parts together then fit the other four screws in place then swap the long two out for normal size ones, and do the same for each of the following wheels…
In my manual there was an amended page simply stapled over the original page simply saying to use M2.6 x 10mm screws instead of the originally stated M2.6 x 6mm. This is good to see that they have seen an issue and amended it before it got out to the masses. The tyres do not feel the softest out there but for a kit compound they’re not to bad, the inserts are soft which should be ok if you keep this as a fairly light weight rig but add to much weight and I’d possibly look at some firmer inserts at the least.
Rolling Chassis Build…Body Next
The last job to do is the body shell now as I’ve said I really like how thick the lexan is on this I threw a quick gold and black paint scheme on it with the black on the outside of the Lexan to give it a more satin look. With the paint left for a day to fully dry I could then get to fitting the interior and cage which is a very nice scale touch. The manual clearly shows you what size holes to drill in each spot and once that’s done you can simply screw on the seats and steering wheel all the other items are simply held in with an o ring and a body clip for easy removal if needed. With the body done there’s only one thing left to do, Go test it.
It’s a G Thang…
Taking the rig out to my local trail area to see just what I think of the 4LS Sawback I was happily surprised with the stock gearing on a 35 turn motor and 3s Lipo I was expecting it to be a bit too quick but flat out it but it’s just a little quicker than a quick walking pace which should be perfect for taking on country walks and generally just messing about with. As I’d suspected, the springs are a little firm and the rig bounced around a bit if I was just driving along the muddy foot path but in some ways I think this is the charm of a rig like this. If you look up old videos of Willys Jeeps they are all bouncy.
Taking it over some large mud piles I was quite impressed with how well the rig did everything I pointed it at it would make its way up. Traction wasn’t amazing but with some wheel speed everything was possible. The firmer suspension made for some impressive side hilling but of course reduced articulation which you just had to learn its driving style. I was out on the walk for a good half hour and really started to enjoy its characteristics.
I would have been out longer but the last Formula 1 race was on and I wasn’t going to miss that. Now the big question is would I go out and buy one? Well if it hadn’t been for the cross head screws it would have been a definite yes however, for me personally, that was a major negative but for most people that will be a nothing.
All in all it’s not a bad lower budget rig it looks cool I really like the shell with the fold down windscreen and cage it’s crying out for a driver figure and some scale accessories . When I got the rig back and gave it a post trail inspection, quite a few screws that I hadn’t thread locked had come loose which may be my fault but it’s definitely something to keep an eye on, there’s no thread lock in the kit so it’s wise to pick up a little bottle.
If you’re looking for something to just take on walks then this is spot on, with some tweaks I’m sure it could be quite a capable rig and would look so cool with a military scheme.
Now, I’m no stranger to the RC4WD Trail Finder bloodline. And at last count I’ve built 3 rigs based on two generations of the kit and run a very capable RTR. With our recent SWB TF2 review by Daniel S getting all down and dirty at the RECON G6 UK Edition, I felt it wise to do something a little different with the latest review kit of the longer wheelbase we were sent by RC4WD.
For a start I decided to use the new Chevy Blazer body kit they had recently released. And while I was at it, the Billet V8 engine that replaces the stock motor mount and becomes part of a far more realistic looking driveline. I wanted a rig that while still performing Off Road, would also look cool as a fictitious daily driver, and be something that if I had the 1:1 vehicle as a donor, the time and the funds…would build myself for real!
V8 Engine and Ladder Chassis
The start of any TF” kit build is always the chassis. You first bolt on the mounting points for the leaf springs and gradually build up what is essentially the backbone of the whole rig.
Remember to use Loctite Blue Threadlock or similar on anything that goes metal to metal, but metal bolting onto plastic should be just fine. The chassis braces, front chassis mounted servo mount and shock hoops go on next, and then the plastic rock sliders and side on body mounting points.
Next you fit the upper deck that provides a decent surface area for the ESC, main pack and receiver (or if you want to use it, you can also fit the kits rear splash proof receiver box that mimics a fuel cell). Personally I keep all my electronics on that plate to:- 1: keep all wiring runs as short and neat as possible and 2: So that if needed I can waterproof components myself. Most ESC’s are at least splash proof these days and for a scale rig that’s usually enough. As for receivers, its a simple enough task to use either an old school balloon, or more modern method of Plastidip liquid electrical insulation to waterproof the receiver and if running one, the BECs boards.
My chosen Carisma brushed ESC with crawling mode was already deemed waterproof, as was the Spektrum receiver I decided to use.
V8 Power Plant…(Ok, 35t!)
Next I deviated from the traditional build schedule and took the Billet V8 Engine to bits to fit the 35t brushed motor I had chosen to use. Its a fiddly job but a little patience and lots of tiny bolts later and I was there. I made sure to check the internal gears in the bolt on transmission housing for grease. The R4 Ultimate Scale Single Speed Transmission has a gear ratio of 10.1:1 and perfectly compliments the V8 engine.
One thing to note is that the pinion and gears while being metal are 48DP so run very smoothly but aren’t as tough as the 32dp gears used on other rigs. You must make sure you mesh the pinion and primary gear inside the transmission perfectly, and that you threadlock the pinions grub screw…not doing so and the pinion moving is a big job top rectify…you were warned!
The alloy engine is the perfect way to disguise a 540 sized brushed or brushless motor
The R4 Ultimate Scale Transmission offers a gear ratio of: 10.1:1 and thus improving traction and torque at the axles
We chose a 35 turn brushed motor for this build, the perfect balance between RPM and torque (even more so on 3s!). This ones re-buildable too
Once mated together the separate components work so well together and offer lots of scope to further accessorise and detail the engine inside the Blazers engine bay.
In situ the V8, Holly Rocker Covers and its pancake filter look right at home. Forward weight bias is greatly improved.
The engine was completed with an alloy pancake air filter and some Holly rocker covers. the whole assembly once bolted in place and linked directly to the 1.47/1 ratio Hammer Transfer Case added a real weight forward bias to the rig, perfect for climbing inclines and counteracting (with the use of weighted wheels) the heavier Blazer hard body and thus much higher centre of gravity.
Next my attention turned to the included kit axles. The cast Yota Axles have a ratio of: 2.67:1 and are 176.5mm wide (measured at the hex’s). They, as ever come pre-built, but will benefit from setting aside a good hour to strip, grease and then re assemble using threadlock. You can just fit them but long term you will suffer the loss of bolts and premature gear wear, forcing the need to shim them. You simply bolt on the leaf springs and then they are affixed to the correct points on the chassis, anchoring them in place.
Axles in place, the Ultimate Scale Shocks are fixed on next, and their sleek look (having internal springs) works perfectly in conjunction with the leaf springs and axles. As Daniel Siegl said in his recent TF2 SWB Jeep review, leaf sprung rigs drive so very differently to 4 linked, more traditionally suspension equipped ones. But they look so much more ‘Scale’ and ‘Realistic’!
Remember though that the shocks are not oil filled and have internal springs. A small amount of oil seems to improve their action slightly, and unless over-filled they stay pretty leak free in use, but as ever experimentation is the key word. The leafs themselves have a period of time where they ‘Break In’ and become more supple in use. So we would suggest you let this process happen naturally and then fine tune the oil weight and possibly even the internal springs.
Fuelling Up The Look
Now with the driveline, chassis and mostly stock running gear in place I decided that to give the Blazer body the look of a hybrid street/trail rig on steroids I would need to run bigger wheels and tyres. to this end I fitted a set of RC4WD Fuel Anza 1.7 Beadlock wheels and shod them in soft compound RC4WD Inteco Super Swamper “Siped” tyres, then during the build process adding 1.5 strips of stick on lead weight to each wheel and tyre combo.
Anza 1.7 Wheel Specs
CNC Machined Billet Alloy
Nut Cover with FUEL Logo
Scale Hex Bolts
Neg Offset: 7.5mm
X2 SS Compound (Super Soft & Super Sticky)
Inner Ribbing offers Sidewall Support
Outer Diameter: 114.2mm
Once fitted they gave the chassis a slightly higher stance and ground clearance from the stock 1.55 Stamped Steel wheels and Mud Thrasher tyres included with the kit (Again these will be put to good used in a future project). Lastly I added the chassis mounted RC4WD Digital Steering Servo and once built the appropriate steering linkage.
From the front of the rig it offers a nice clean look and a more scale appearance. Yes it does suffer a little from bump steer, but no it didn’t really bother me as its an unavoidable foible you learn to live with when running this type of rig.
The wiring to the receiver may look like a rats nest but that’s the Spektrum receiver I used, It is waterproof and sealed with female ports protruding from it to accommodate male Futaba style plugs. Its a 3 channel RX so allows me to add a winch at a later date, plus there’s the power/batt in. I also opted to put in a 20A BEC kindly supplied by Phil at www.makeitbuildit.co.uk after first snipping and then isolating and insulating the red power wire from the Carisma RC branded Crawler ESC, thus bypassing its built in 5A 6v BEC.
The main reason for this is the possible current draw in Amps from the RC4WD Twister High Performance Waterproof Servo, and the fact that in use it may draw enough current to temporarily cause a Brown Out, even with (as I added) a glitch buster Capacitor!
RCCZ Jargon Buster: A ‘Brown Out’ is defined as when the receivers supply voltage falls below the minimum voltage specified for normal use. What that means in practice is that you will get at the very least unpredictable results, or at worst the link failing between the Tx and Rx and a possible run away unless the failsafe for the ESC is set to zero throttle…you were warned!
With everything in place and the rolling chassis even drivable without it’s shell (yes, I couldn’t resist the good old sofa test!) it was time to move on to perhaps the most daunting part of the build for many…the body shell. Now, I knew that this Blazer body was far more detailed than any I had previously built from RC4WD, and to that end I decide top pay our resident hard body and airbrush maestro Jonathan Potts a visit. He’s more used to 1:1 Custom Cars, Speedboats and other such cool stuff, but his eyes lit up when I handed him the body shell and its box of bits.
My brief was simple:- ”Think classic Street Custom Car crossed with classic Off Road 4×4”…he smiled, and then disappeared into his workshop, past the VW Beetle chassis ready to become a Rat Rod, and the big 1:1 4×4 destined to be a comp vehicle of some sort one day…I drove away and then got on with other projects.
Jonny Did The Buisness
Many, many, parts are supplied in the box with the RC4WD Blazer Body . It has not only a metal hinged opening bonnet (Or ‘Hood’ if you are Scott AceofAxe Curlin), but also a hinged opening rear window built into the removable rear hard roof section over the flatbed, and even an opening tailgate. There also the brightwork, A chrome grille, wing mirrors, door handles and huge front and rear bumpers.
Included with the body kit is also an interior, but for this build I opted to tint the windows and not fit it. I know, I know, I can hear all the boo’s and hisses, but I simply didn’t have the time to get an interior done too, and I also wanted to keep the centre of gravity as low as possible, so any weight I could shed from above the centreline of the axles would be a bonus.
Clean Up In Isle Five…
After a two week wait, I got the call and went to collect the body. “Oh my god” was my reaction. (I hasten to add I did use those three words, but I may have added another…very much an expletive!). John had done what I had asked and, then added his usual flair and personal touches.
After prepping the components he was going to paint he first laid down a deep burgundy, almost dark Autumn cheery red on the main shell, tailgate and bonnet. Then he painted in the side panels with black as an accent colour, but added an old-skool flame into the design and hand outlined the lot in silver. The result, while not being as perfect as using say a vinyl wrap, does look very real and authentic…decals can look too crisp at times.
Next he used a dark metallic brown to paint the rear roof section and a technique that’s akin to rag rolling. This builds up layers of paint and each is then flattened down to create, once top coated an almost leather look to the finished roof. It was stunning. I spent another day painting in window rubbers, adding in the other details like the metal K5 Blazer and Chevrolet badges RC4WD make, the grille detail and a few scale decals (including the RECON G6 ones RC4WD made for our event) and even a RCCarZone logo on the tailgate. Last I fitted the light buckets, painted the stop and turn indicators inside with Tamiya lens colour.
Scale isn’t just about decals, or accessories, or paint, or wheels or chrome. Its about the combination of all the above elements working in harmony together to fool the eye into thinking:- “Real or RC?”. I think we achieved that with this build, and standing back a looking at it in various locations and natural backdrops, it looks stunning.
The final detail was adding the spare wheel and tyre to the tailgate. It just elevates the overall look to one of utter realism. I also ordered some scale number plates from a contact in the UK Scale Nationals Facebook group. They arrived just before we took the truck for its first trail run and outdoor shoot. It was run alongside the new Axial SCX10.2 and the rigs looked so good together.
Out Blazing In The Great Outdoors
I took the rig to our usual test venue in Warwickshire the same day we tested and shot the Axial SCX10.2. It’s a rig that you have to think about when driving, especially until you have fully broken in the leaf springs. You must always be aware that it is far more top heavy than a Lexan rig, but that’s where the fun lies. It’s realistic in both the way it drives and the way it looks, and you can’t say that of most 4-link Lexan rigs. They always seem to perform outside the parameters of their 1:1 equivalents. With the TF2 platform and this quite large and heavy body, you plan each line you take carefully, you see the way the rig reacts to the surface its running on, the angle of the incline or decent you drive it up or down.
With a hard bodies rig factors like Approach Angle, Break Over Angle and Departure Angle become far more critical as they are far less forgiving.
RCCZ Jargon Buster: Approach Anglerefers to the physical angle that If drive up to a object, incline or ramp, you can safely drive onto it without catching the bumper. If the incline is too steep, the rigs front bumper will hit the ramp first, before the tires are able to. The maximum angle (from the ground) that a hill or obstacle can have and that the front of your car can still clear is therefore called the Approach Angle. As for the Departure Angle, exactly the same principle applies, to the rear bumper and wheels of the rig. For any scale rig, but especially a leaf sprung one like the TF2, when coming down off, say, a rock, or a small natural ledge, you have to know how much clearance you have under your car’s midsection, driveline and transfer box. The angle between your tires and the middle of your car’s underside is the Break Over Angle. If you get it wrong, you will end up balancing on a rock like a see-saw with most of your wheels not in contact with the ground.
One of the most important factors when running a rig for fun or in competition is traction, or the grip your tires have on whatever surface you’re driving on. Traction is produced by a combination of factors, by the type of tires you’re using, their size, and the type of inserts you use. Its also about how much weight from the rig itself is pressing down on them to create a contact patch of tread on your chosen running surface and how the suspension aids keeping the tyres in contact with the ground in relation to0 the rest of the rig.
large angles of articulation are out on a leaf sprung rig like this, and a phenomenon I personally call ‘Wheel Float’ becomes a regular occurrence. This is when the solid axles have surface contact and therefore grip with only three (or sometimes only 2!) tyres, and the other wheel or wheels cannot physically articulate enough via the suspensions range of movement to make contact with the ground. Don’t worry though, as You can very quickly get used to this and often use it to your advantage to use the rig to bridge itself between two objects, where a more traditionally spring rig may have fallen in.
Running a single speed transmission means that with a 35T motor fitted, the rig is a bout walking pace on 2S , and a brisk jogging pace on 3S. Run time however is very good and running a 2S 5000 mAh pack granted a good hour of trail running. On 3S you tend to be a little more trigger happy (or is that just me?) and thus run time is affected. 3s does however allow for additional wheel speed when needed, and with a rig of this overall weight you can build up a good momentum to get up a steep incline or even hop up onto a rock or object.
All of these factors are important when running a scale rig and must be accounted for in both its construction, and the way you drive it out on the trail or a comp course.
After 2 packs and just over 2 full hours I called it a day. I loved every minute of running the Blazer and it’s a totally different driving experience to any of my other current rigs. ‘Yes’, you feel a little more ‘concerned. that you will trash the paint on any more technical rock sections, and ‘No’ it didn’t stop me. I left Burton Dassett with a few chips to the paint, but nothing I couldn’t touch up. One thing I did find however is that the rear bumper did rub the body built stock, and therefore I used a cordless Dremal to grind the inner edge by about 1.5mm to offer a little more clearance between the two, then painted the scuffed area matt black to hide the damage.
“Additional Scale Points Go To The Blazer…”
In conclusion, the TF2 kit itself is simple and fun to build. Be as detailed or as simple as you feel you want to go, and take your time to threadlock and metal to metal union and grease all internal gears in both the transmission, transfer case and the axles. Choose electrics suitable for the job in hand, and make sure if possible the ESC, Servo and Receiver are at least ‘Splash Proof. Weight the wheels to lower the rigs Centre of Gravity.
When you enter into a build like this you have to realise what’s involved. It will take many hours to complete but it’s very, very rewarding. Hard bodies will always have the edge over Lexan in the realism stakes as they are solidly constructed and have actual depth to them and their panels. Lexan, while being dimensionally correct will never have this and always seem less three-dimensional. The Blazer is a rig I’m proud to take out to run, or let a buddy do so. It epitomises the scale scene at the moment and is a true snapshot of what RC4WD do best…help RC fans build their dream rigs!
A huge shout out to Tom and the RC4WD crew for the review sample and parts and to RCBitz in the UK for additional help with sourcing wheel weights etc.
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’
final Drive Ratio: 40.44 Stock (33.69 – 54.15 Optional Range)
Now that’s a big boast for any RC companies latest product. Especially when it’s the successor of one that’s been responsible for many RC fans entry into the Scale, Trail and Crawling scene globally. It’s replacing a design that’s been around in various guises since late 2008, and where most brands selling race chassis or out and out performance products would release an update at least every twelve or eighteen months, Axial have instead been concentrating on developing other bloodlines to add to its ever expanding range…and simply released both kit and RTR variations on its now legendary twin ladder chassis design.
But Is That A Good Thing?
Well, in an industry that’s been plagued with, to be blunt, plagiarism, and the more affordable RTR aspect of the market getting a bigger and bigger slice of the pie of late, it’s probably a very prudent move. We live in a world where where we have seen some of the most recognisable names in RC simply disappear, with smaller companies getting taken over by other bigger ones, and even the most forward thinking and daring of brands tending to play safe and consolidate their ranges to survive. Think about the impact this one chassis has had on the scene.
I’ve owned, built, modified and comped with at least 5 different versions of the SCX-10 in both long and short wheelbase variants. I even won the 2012 UK Scale Nationals running a Dingo Builders Kit I famously finished building at 3am the night before the comp started. I know it inside out, It’s AX10 based transmission the mainstay of every comp rig and crawler I’ve ever built, with more hop ups and upgrades than any other rig of its genre, and a few inherent foibles to contend with. It was never perfect. We all had to do certain modifications and tweaks to make the rig ‘perform’, but it certainly made its mark, it stood its ground, but time moves on, as do the expectations of its new and more established clients.
Change is inevitable, It’s part of the ever evolving fabric of life. And in this instance, as I sit here on an unusually dry, hot and sunny 2016 UK day, with a newly built and tested SCX-10 2 rig in front of me, it’s the most welcome thing I’ve experienced in a very, long, long time…
Let me start by taking my hat off to the guys at Axial. All products however good or bad get a tough time on social media and forums. It seems that even before the inks dry on the box art someone somewhere has posted a hastily put together review, done to be the first online to dissecting it to pieces, highlighting all the bad aspects and glossing over the good. I don’t really have time for that kind of journalism.
Well we roll a little differently here at RCCZ. I was always taught to test products thoroughly before writing about them. And by thoroughly I mean over at least a week of running. ‘Real World Testing’ was a phrase Dez Chand always used to describe the way we tested any vehicles in RCCZ’s previous incarnation as RRCi, and it’s a process that I’ve always continued to follow on to this day.
I’ve now put about fifteen packs through the rig, and as all my latest 2s LiPo’s are 7000mAh…that’s some serious wheel time. So far, nothing’s broken. Yes, I’ve found a few minor niggles, but nothing that would put me off either A: buying one myself. Or B: recommending anyone else does so.
No, It’s Not an Ascender Clone…
One thing I’ve seen levelled at the SCX-10 2 is that it’s simply a Vaterra Ascender clone. Now I have both rigs in my collection and can tell you categorically, they are very, very different animals. The only things that are similar are the ladder chassis, the chassis mounted steering servo and the near 45 degree steering deflection thanks to the UJ axles. Let’s face it that’s the recipe for almost any descent scale rig of late, so saying the SCX-10 and Ascender are the same is like saying a Ferrari and an Lamborghini are, yes both are Supercars, yes both can achieve insane top speeds, but they handle and drive very differently.
Now while I rate the Ascender, especially if pitted against a stock original SCX-10, the SCX-10 2 definitely has the edge on overall performance, future tuning scope and factors like weight bias and component layout.
Let’s Start With The New AR44 Axles…
Compared to the latest axles from Vaterra and RC4WD, the original AX10 axles fitted to the SCX-10 V1 look huge, and could never be described as ‘Scale’. The new AR44 High Pinion axles are far more refined and scale externally, and have subtle changes internally too that will aid both their performance and longevity. The high pinion aspect allows for more surface contact between the pinion and crown gears. The gears themselves are cut at an angle and the ratio has been changed to 3.75 from the original axles 2.92. This reduces torque twist and means the rig feels more predictable to drive, regardless of taking left or right hand lines.
One thing that’s also not been overlooked when minimising the look of the axle is its durability. The one piece casings are re-enforced where required and Axial have also used larger bearings to help spread the load and the knuckle carriers and straight axle adaptors locate so much better than the old AX axles.
The former has the ability to be rotated in 10 degree increments, and when combined with a stock 8 degree kingpin angle gives the steering less tyre scrub and therefore reduces load on the steering servo when at the full extent of deflection. For my build I opted to use a digital 26kg Alturn steering servo provided by Logic RC. This may seem like overkill, but I’ve found as long as you use a decent BEC to power your receiver then the steering will cope with just about anything you throw at it.
The smaller pumpkins on the new axles really add to the look and aid with the rigs ground clearance. Inside that pumpkin resides a tough one piece locker and the new internal gears. The only thing that kinda niggled me was that red used for the diff covers. I guess chrome would be a little too much like G-Made or Vaterra Ascender…and black a little bland. I guess you could always paint them whatever colour you like…I intend to go either white or gunmetal gray as soon as possible, but for now, red they will stay.
As for steering deflection, you don’t get much better than 45 degrees! To get this with the original SCX-10, you had to fit UJ’s yourself and also swap over the button head bolts that retained the steering knuckles to the axles for flat heads.
None of that required here…just bags of steering lock and a nice tight turning circle. The last thing to mention on the axles is the bolt on link mounts. These not only add contrast being the same red as the diff covers, they also allow for some future fine tuning, as Axial or a third party hop up manufacturer could produce multi position versions to allow the geometry to be changed to suit a rigs intended use.
New Rig – New Transmission
The transmission has also been re-designed to include the look of a real bell housing, oil pan and transfer case. While most of this isn’t visible to the eye in normal use, it does have one huge advantage of lowering and centralising the driveshafts, making the whole driveline more efficient and under less strain and load. The old V1 trick of flipping the transmission around isn’t needed here as when everything’s assembled the weight bias and left/right distribution is pretty much spot on. Internally the gears are all hardened with the whole transmission running on bearings.
Now another slight niggle…the spur and slipper assembly fit onto a lay shaft. The whole thing as you would expect spins on bearings. But built stock and 100% by the numbers there’s some visible and tangible slop in this assembly. You can grab the spur and see it all move. Now in use, the 56t spur and 15t pinion work just fine together, and so far I’ve had no issues.
I was tempted to shim the slop out, but felt to test the rig fully I had to run it as supplied…and I’ve run it pretty hard up and some very demanding inclines and rock formations. I guess there’s either a tolerance issue with one or more of the components, or Axial have revised that part of the build since I got this early bird review sample. I expect there will be an update or addition of a shim set in future releases…watch this space!
Slop aside, the transmission also allows for a wide range of ratios to be employed and its stock ratio sits at 40.44, but there’s scope for between 33.69 – 54.15. If I remember correctly the original SCX-10 ran at something like 35, so Axial have changed the stock ratio to offer a good balance between torque and wheel speed, especially if like me you opt for a motor in the 30-35t range.
To further aid this Axial will also be releasing a optional 2-speed transmission add on that allows the selection of high or low range via a shift servo. Now this is great, and is a ploy that many RC brands use to get add on sales at a later date with a must have hop up, but why not include it in the Builders Kit in the first place? To me, if Axial want to issue a statement of intent that they have the best out of the box, Lexan bodied rig on the planet they should offer it as a ‘complete kit’ with the 2-speed included. It’s a bit like buying the newest console title and not getting the last level, big boss fight to finish it after a week of playing…I get why they do it, I just feel it would have elevated this already very well designed and specified kit to an even loftier height (rant over!)
The RR10 Bomber 2-Speed is still pretty rare here in the UK, and looking at this transmission im convinced its the same part. Many owners wanting the option have had to source one from the US. I really hope the official SCX-10 2-speed part lands soon and in numbers to meet the demand.
Having the steering servo chassis mounted with a 3-link Panhard Link/Track Bar offers a much cleaner look to the front end, far more ‘scale’. To out and out performance junkies, this setup isn’t as efficient as a 4-link and axle mounted servo with drag link and can reduce axle articulation and induce some bump steer. But that said, Axial have obviously done lots of testing on this aspect and also studied many 1:1 vehicles that use a similar setup.
In use it works really well, and I would rather trade a small percentage of articulation for the look it gives the rig. Having driven the rig for many hours, over very different types of terrain I have simply become accustomed to it, any foibles it may introduce are driven through and accepted as part of the challenge of running a new rig. With some time spent to tune the pre-load on the shocks, performance can be made pretty even on the articulation when compressing and rebounding both left and right.
As for the included alloy bodied ‘ICON Vehicle Dynamics’ replica faux piggyback units, they are the same shocks that Axial have employed in past builders kit SCX10 releases, and if built, bled and sealed correctly not only look good, they perform well too.
I always use Team Associated ‘Green Slime’ on all ‘O’ rings and seals, and it makes a huge difference to the longevity of the shocks between re-fills and builds. Under duress they do leak slightly, but then again so do 99.9% of units on the market today.
Used in conjunction with the multiple position shock hoops on the chassis, their action can be quickly tuned from stiff ‘Street’ to softer ‘Trail’ in seconds. Add in the threaded bodies and pre-load collars and you have very versatile units.
The benchmark to this day of crawler shocks is still the Losi Comp Crawler units. They have become the holy grail of shocks in this genre, but don’t look ‘Scale’. At full lock the inherent issue of tyres rubbing on the shocks springs and their retaining cups is still present, and if left un-checked can lead to loss of the latter in use. There’s 2 things I do to stop this. Firstly I make sure I set my steering end points to allow a good lock both left and right, but stop the wheels and tyres from physically rubbing, and secondly for years now I’ve been applying a tiny smear of Cyno to literally stick the bottom edge of the spring onto the cup. I know it’s a little OTT, but it works, and saves time searching for missing retaining cups out in the wild…been there, done that!
Servo Winch or Bumper Winch…You Decide!
I simply couldn’t live without a winch on my rigs. And in past generations of Axial products have had to either immediately ditch the stock bumper in favour for a purpose made metal RC4WD unit, ready to accommodate my chosen winch. Or, as I’ve done on 2 past builds, make an elaborate Alloy or Delrin brace, to ensure the stock bumper, made from a hard wearing but ultimately flexible plastic could take the strain. I’ve never understood why Axial didn’t just make a far more substantial unit in the first place, one that’s ready to accept the vast majority of winches on the market…
Well they have, the new bumpers are JCR Vanguard replica units and they do! They still have a small acceptable percentage of ‘flex’, but will happily take the strain of a powerful winch and a fully laden rig…even up the side of a door (my favourite old Skool test of both winch and cable!).
I did however have to Dremel away a tiny section of the bumpers top surface to fit my chosen RC4WD Warn replica winch and accommodate the pod housing and its high torque motor and gearing. I removed the winches alloy bottom plate and fairlead and used the former as a template to drill the mounting holes into the bumper, then bolted it directly from underneath onto the surface for a nice clean look. That said though, it is a big wide unit and placing a 3-Racing and other RC4WD units on the bumper, they will actually fit without any modding at all.
But that’s not all folks…If you want to go down the winch servo route Axial also have you covered. There’s a space behind the steering servo to place the winch servo. There’s a clear route for the cable, tough plastic guides that can be bolted on the the chassis to aid the cables progress and keep it away from vital steering components, and the bumper itself has a built in plastic fairlead and cable opening. The latter can be strengthened as I did with an inexpensive alloy fairlead, bolted directly on top of it. For the few £ it cost, it not only looks great, it will stop my fishing trace winch cable cutting into and abrasions the bumper itself in use. I’m not a winch servo fan myself, but I get those that prefer them, keeping the front looking neat and allowing for more lights to be fitted. I prefer to see the winch sitting on the bumper looking mean!
I Want A Jeep Cherokee Now…
When I first saw the SCX-10 2s leaked images I had initially mixed opinions. I thought “Cherokee…mmm, school runs, soccer moms, trips to the supermarket to get groceries…” But then I saw what it was based on, and researched some of the builds people have done to them in the 1:1 world, and I got it. The body may be 16 years old and very retro (after all it’s a 2000 model), it’s less rounded than what came after, but its quirky, a real brute of a 4×4 and a blank canvas for anyone into building rigs to paint any picture they desire with it.
Since the launch of the SCX-10 2, I’ve not seen two builds that look the same. Everyone has personalised them to the hilt, and my build would be no exception. Even built completely to manual, just a subtle change of colour makes this rig look totally different. I had a plan…and we had a new body painter on the team. This would be his first RCCZ project and I was really looking forward to seeing the end result.
But this isn’t just a Lexan shell with a few stickers trying to fool the eye into believing it’s real. No, this body not only looks proportionally correct, it also comes with a slew of bolt on details like a cool roof rack, door handles, wing mirrors, a combined grill/headlight unit and rear door trim. It’s these little touches that when combined with a crisp pain job and Axia’s quality decal sheets that elevate it to near hard body status in terms of its scale realism. But more on those details a little later, first I needed to design a colour scheme and brief the painter. I have a history with my builds on using colour schemes and liveries more akin to a race vehicle. From my Yeti XL build, through to my Wraith Spawn, I like to be very different. This would be no exception and the colour of the wheels I used would be the key. Although I like the look of the supplied black plastic replica Method Mesh wheels, they weren’t beadlocks, so would need gluing after first weighting and possibly venting them correctly…
This I’m afraid is another minor niggle. I’ve not met anyone yet who gets hooked to this aspect of the hobby that doesn’t experiment with wheels/tyres/weight and insert combinations. It’s not a dark art, but it is one that if learnt, can transform a rigs abilities from impressive…to awesome. Beadlock wheels make this whole process easier and I’m quite surprised that Axial have chosen to go down the glued on wheel route yet again. Even simple, plastic, 2 piece bead locks would elevate this kit in the eyes of the scale building world and show that they understood our pain and weight bias based obsession! I’m guessing it’s a due to a production cost implication but I would far rather they didn’t licence a wheel design that many will simply not use and swap out (like I did), and instead put the same money into a neat, generic looking scale plastic two (or three part) plastic bead lock.
I instead chose to order from Asiatees a set of very detailed, alloy, Boom Racing manufactured ‘Sandstorm Krait’ beadlocks. At £62 for a set of 4, they do look epic and are pretty good value for money. The centre hub is threaded and screws on to hide the end of each axle and its M4 Nyloc nut perfectly. They are a bit of a fiddle to assemble, especially when adding 1.5 strips of stick on weight around each front, but well worth it for optimum weight bias. I also deviated at this point from the stock BF Goodrich kit tyres.
I’ve saved them for future use as I’ve heard great things about them, especially on dry rocks. But where I run is mostly in the local woods, it’s moss covered rocks, moist leaf mulch, stone covered stream beds and deep water and good old fashioned UK mud (all year round).
To this end I fitted a set of RC4WD ‘Mickey Thompson Baja Claws‘. Tyres I’ve found perfect for this environment. As for the colour…well I describe it as Gun Metal crossed with Pewter. I took a picture, sent it to the painter and said “This, Black & Silver…” As for the design, I simply wrote “Go as crazy as you want dude…” And he did, in a very cool way!
That Essential Original 2%
The C section Steel ladder chassis may be the only carry over item from its predecessor but it’s the essential backbone that all the other components literally bolt onto. Cross members offer mounting points for the front and rear bumpers, the new longitudinal battery mount, waterproof radio box and wide plastic protective mount for the RC4WD ESC and any other components like a BEC, LED lighting controller (or as I have, another MTroniks ESC for the winch itself). There’s neat routing points for the steering Servo, optional LED lighting for the bumpers built in light buckets and winch wiring.
As for the new battery pack mount it’s just what the doctor ordered. No more modifying or adding third party battery mounts to forward mount the main pack. My chosen 7000 mAh 2S Optipower LiPo fitted perfectly, with still room to spare if you decided to go 3s in the future. There are bolt on stand offs that can be set to accommodate different sized packs and using a single Velcro retaining strap adds a little more security to the whole process.
As for the packs orientation, having the pack seated on its side is actually a pretty genius approach. It offers far more room either side and even running with wheels with no weights offers a forward weight bias that allows the rig to climb up and over most terrain with ease. Running weighted front wheels it’s even better, and in tests our review rig managed inclines in excess of 50 degrees…
I think the record for a fully loaded MOA comp crawler rig still stands at a staggering 63 degrees, we even ran a competition one year at the Nationals to set that particular benchmark. (I may have to dig out that test apparatus and run it again in October with just scale builds!).
Another minor niggle here is that the plastic moulding for the mount actually covers the female ports on most packs I tested in the rig.
So it’s either been designed for packs with leads built in and protruding from the top, or Axial expect you to do as I did, and use a body reamer, drill or Dremel to make two holes in the correct place to plug in the male connectors of the ESC’s connecting lead.
It’s not a huge omission, but one I would have designed slightly differently myself to accommodate the now almost standard issue ‘Brick Pack’ LiPo’s with female ports on them. That aside, compared to the last gen SCX-10 it’s a night and day improvement.
Racking Up Those Scale Points
The beauty of a kit like this is that every single one will end up slightly different and become an extension of the individual that builds it. I had collated a pile of scale accessories by RC4WD, CarismaRC, Fastraxx and Boom Racing. As soon as the body arrived back from the painter..(and I must stop at this point and just say “Wow”…this dude can paint!) I got on with finishing this aspect of the build. Now in days gone by a one or two colour paint job, a few decals and possibly just a smattering of scale accessories would have sufficed. But in 2016 the industry and scale scene has upped its game, ‘Scale Realism’ are the keywords, and making a rig that at first glance fools the eye and brain into thinking “is that real” is the ultimate goal for manufacturers.
Until now many Axial builds were good, but never had the depth of detail to make you double take. The SCX-10 2 resolves that in one go…and then adds a cherry on the top! From the roof rack, through to the grille and headlamp detail, wing mirrors and door handles, this additional layer of depth from simple mouldings is what we’ve all been waiting for. There are a few tricky bits, like cutting out and Dremeling the opening for the plastic grille moulding. I don’t get why Axial would design that part of the shell to have a very thin line of plastic (about 2.5mm) running under the grille? I simply got rid of that bottom edge and just cut and smoothed 3 sides instead of 4. It retains the look of the front end without all the hardship of cutting that thin strip perfectly.
The roof rack was also a little tricky as you have to used a beveled mount placed inside the shell and screw the top half into it to compensate for the angle of the roofs sides. This isn’t as simple as it sounds as screwing into the angled internal mount is fiddly to say the least. Again all for making life easier I simply made the mounting holes slightly bigger, used M2.5 nuts and bolts with rubber grommets placed on the inside to space the Nyloc nuts away from the body inside and avoid damaging the amazing paint job internally. It’s not me being rebellious, it’s me making the build process as easy as possible!
I next added the wing mirrors, the moulding that sits on the trucks tailgate and after painting the smaller lenses that affix inside the grill and headlamp moulding with a Tamiya Acrylic designed for LED lenses, I sat back and took a look. In this ‘stock’ built form it’s an impressive looking rig, but I wasn’t finished, not by a long shot! I added four fog lamps. Two to the front bumper, either side of my RC4WD Warn winch, and one more on the top of each windscreen pillar either side of the front of the roof rack.
I next added an RC4WD LED light bar to fit into the gap between the roof spots and complete that area. I put a tiny rubber grommet into a hole under the bar and fed the wiring through to hide it from view. Internally I hot glue gunned the wires neatly into the shell and then covered them in black electrical tape to hide them from view.
I had amasses a range of scale accessories but didn’t want them bouncing around loose on the roof rack or strapped down with individual bungee cords. I came up with an idea. I used a thin sheet of black expanded rubber packing measured to the internal dimensions of the roof rack, and then used Cyno to glue the accessories into place. They looked like they had been packed properly, wouldn’t move about or damage each other, and when covered with a cargo net made from the inside of an old camera bag, edged with black electrical tape looked perfect!
I didn’t use the plastic tow hook/hitch that came with the kit. Instead I fitted a metal RC4WD rear carrier, that fits perfectly into the bumper. in normal trail use it doesn’t impede the rear clearance angle, but in comp use of over more challenging terrain it can be in-hooked and fixed flat against the rear door/tailgate. In the 1:1 works these carriers I’m informed are used for anything from carrying luggage, snowboards or mountain bikes to deer carcasses! I opted to use it for storing two sand ladders AceoAxe had 3D printed for me, and then use two RCBitz scale bungee cords to affix them in place! My last piece of detailing was to add a RC4WD snorkel. It’s actually an item not designed for the Cherokee, it’s designed for a D90 or D110, but a little re-shaping with a craft knife and some fine grit wet and dry, and it looked like it was!
After another hour of applying subtle decals to the body, and with a fine water and detergent spray and squeegee the windows in place, I was nearly ready to fit the body to the chassis. I named this part of the build ‘Operation Stealth Mount…’ I had a set of magnetic mounts I had planned to fit to one of Yokomo my drift cars. I decided that I would use them at the front to keep the bonnet/hood area as clean looking as possible, and simple us the normal rear roof mounts as stock, but hide under the cargo netting and accessories. This plan worked a treat as the rear mounts were totally unseen, and added an extra level of security in case the body got cause up and came loose at the front in use. Another hour later and the rig was finished….well I say finished, but I just couldn’t resist adding more LEDs into the light buckets in the headlamps and side lights, again hot glue was used to mount them, then the glue painted Matt black to hide it internally and help it blend in.
A last touch was to keep the front window surround in, and use a scalpel to cut out the window decal. It’s an old drifting build trick and makes the front window look far more crisp than a decal itself ever would. In a future part of the build I will attempt an interior. But as the rig doesn’t come with one from the box, I thought for now that was enough. I was itching to get the rig up and running…
I photographed the rig from all angles and was very pleased with the end result. I packed the rig into the boot of my jeep and the following morning set out to Burton Dasset. It’s the place I first ran an Axial, the place I first met Speedy Steve, and since 2007 has been a regular haunt for crawling and scale fun. It’s also somewhere I know every part of intimately, it’s lines and inclines may be getting more worn with time, but It’s by far the perfect place to test this new Axial rigs abilities and have some 1:1 fun too as it also has a 4×4 trail!
Re Discovering Scale Adventure
The sun was out, the sky slightly cloudy but bright blue, my 1 hour drive, roof off, at 6.30am, coffee in hand made me feel glad to be alive. I arrived, grabbed a ticket to use the park all day and hit the first location, a section of rocks surrounding a muddy and wet gravel area with a series of steep inclines on the other. Now surrounding this location are a series of 1:1 trails leading first down a steep incline, across my location and then up another incline the other side to disappear over the hill the other side. At 7.30am it was deserted and I must admit I did spend a while driving up and down both sides in 4WD low range before parking on the top of the hill! Who needs car parks!
I got the rig out and did the usual glamour shots, recreating some of the poses my very first SCX-10 build was put in all those years ago. I then plugged in the 7000mAh pack, made sure the winch was working properly and hit the trails. The first test was a very steep incline over some tree roots and then onto and even steeper mud track leading to the upper level of the area I was in. It breezed it, like effortlessly, my 2s LiPo, RC4WD brushed ESC and Igified 35t brushed motor offering just the right combination of torque (and when needed) bursts of wheel speed.
I spent the next 4 hours just driving the rig up lines I knew well from my Comp Crawling ands early MK1 SCX-10 days, some it destroyed, others because of its size, it struggled and got its rock sliders hung up on, but that was more about me trying to squeeze it through narrow gaps it wasn’t designed for, than the rigs out and out ability.
I drove it through ankle deep water in the woodland area with its stream at the lower part of the park, and it survived that, and then up and down the steep inclined that are scattered across this multi acre site.
Side hilling at even steep angles it coped with perfectly, you just had to remember where its tipping point was and the sheer amount of accessories I had put in that roof rack. Yes it ended up on its side on a few occasions, but that’s how you get to understand a rigs capabilities, by truly pushing and testing its limits. The time just flew I was that engrossed. I’ve not been into driving a rig so much since my original ARX10 way back when.
Its a great all round rig and other than tuning the pre-load to stop it trying to torque twist (yes it does it a little bit, (all shaft driven rigs will, regardless of the manufacturers claims to the contrary) it ran flawlessly.
The transmission while using a coarser 32dp gear than previous rigs wasn’t noticeably more noisy in use, and the driveline took everything I threw at it. My earlier concerns about the slop in the lay shaft and Spur assembly seemed trivial as I had no issues. It simply found its natural mesh point and stayed there. I will shim it at some point or as others have done add an additional bearing, but for now, its being run stock.
Would I buy one? Hell yes. Its the natural progression of everything that I love about this hobby. This is my go to everyday rig, for both fun and competition. My other is a leaf spring hard bodies build that’s chalk and cheese different. Neither can be compared or contrasted. I run each for very different reasons, and treat each with the respect they deserve. The SCX-10 2 it must be said is the more capable rig in most situations, but then again it would be…its been designed and built to perform way beyond a scale version of its 1:1 self, and that’s a point to remember.
I’ve just recently fitted FPV to it and I’ll follow up with a smaller article on that very soon. I have a future plan for this rig, and its so cunning you could (insert Black Adder Joke of your own preference!). But more of that in the future. Until then. Batch one that hit the US and Europe sold out very, very quickly. There’s lots of interest in the new SCX-10 2 and quite rightly so. Pre-orders are being taken on batch 2 that lands at the end of September from what I’ve been told.
If you are teetering on the edge, go on take the plunge. For die hard Axial fans like me its a total no-brainer. And for those wanting a fun build, and a well manufactured and designed kit, you cant really go wrong…unless you hate building, painting and detailing. but there is a solution, Axial recently released a RTR version in a rather fetching Gray. Its a blank canvas for a future project, but without all the initial build time.
Either way, and minor niggles aside, the SCX-10 2 is a worthy successor for the global scale communities Lexan Crown…Long live the King!
Here’s Axials ‘Official’ video of the SCX-10 2 in action:-
A 98% ‘New’ design (just original chassis rail design remains)
Front mounted main pack & optimised weight bias
Build it to your own Specification & chosen use
Bumper Mounted or Servo Winch Options
Clear future 2-speed upgrade path
Near 45 degree steering deflection
Included ICON Alloy shocks ‘Work’!
Additional Scale Details look epic
Roof rack fiddly to fit from inside & out, can damage paint in process
Glued Tyres…Non-beadlock wheels…(Axial why?)
Transmission slop in Layshaft/Spur assembly
2-Speed NOT included in box…(again, why not?)
For more on Axial Racing & all its products: CLICK HERE
For more on RC4WD & its range of suitable SCX Hop Ups: CLICK HERE
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
All New R3 Single Speed Transmission (Ratio: 1.78:1)
Pinion/spur 14/64 = 4.57:1
Cast Yota 2 Axles (Ratio: 15/40 = 2.67:1)
Trailfinder 2 SWB Chassis
Adjustable shock hoops
Punisher Metal Driveshafts
1.9 5 lug Steel Wagon Wheels
Built & Driven H.A.R.D
Words & Images: Daniel Siegl/Andy Moore (with special thanks to Günther Waldburger for additional detailing and painting)
If I was asked to review a leaf sprung 4×4 rig a while ago I might have had a very different reaction to now. Lets just say I wouldn’t have been very excited at the prospect. But in the last year or so my experiences with my Tamiya MF01-X showed me how much fun small tyre cars with close to zero articulation can be out on the trail. Then at a recent event my friend, Gerald Murhammer showed us with his TF2SWB what is truly possible with these amazingly realistically handling vehicles.
So when RCCZ asked me to review the RC4WD SWB Kit, I was pretty stoked! The plan was to build a very nice looking scale rig, and then travel over to ‘Real World Test It’ at the recent RECON G6 UK Edition.
Big Decisions on Body Choice…
So the kit is designed for a Tamiya “square headlight” Wrangler body they say. But thinking about it, I didn’t want to go down that route, especially as many of my trail buddies run this exact body style on a variety of chassis – No, I would do something very different, and it would would needed to be special.
Because I will never run a car on leaf that has linked suspension in the real world I could rule out the New Bright or Nikko TJ toy hardbodies.
Looking at the Tamiya range I found that the Lexan Bronco would work – but how could I judge the performance of the chassis package with such a light shell? A Tamiya Blackfoot Could be another option for an TF2SWB – but somehow this also didn’t ring my bell.
So after some discussions with my Italian friend Giuseppe Musumeci (of: RC-Crawler.it the solution was obvious. Let’s make this an Old-Skool Jeep CJ, but Moab Old-Skool, with big tires and a big bumper!
First I received a pre-prepared Tamiya Jeep Wrangler body with the amazing CJ conversion from Italy. Giuseppe handcrafts those parts in Sicily – if you want some of his art locate him on Facebook and start a conversation!
Then A RC4WD Box Showed Up
If you open that box – you are really surprised how well and tidy everything is packaged. All the content of the kit is very tidily organized in 3 layers, the screw bags are organized by screw sizes and not build steps – I like that approach. The axles and gearbox components are preassembled and ready to use.
The second layer contains all the frame and bumper components.
In the bottom of the box you find the hardware and the tires and wheels, again nicely organized and easy to get when required.
Read Twice…Build Once
The RC4WD building instructions are a little different than others, but for me they work perfectly! I prefer the screws sorted by size rather than having build step bags. With the way the process is described and organized it is very easy and efficient to build the kit.
The chassis rails, cross members and motor mounts all bolt together with ease. The forward mounted R3 single speed transmission and transfer box add to the realistic weight bias/distribution and make the rig drive far more like a 1:1 Leaf sprung 4×4 would.
Transmission to Transfer Case to Axles
That central skid is the mounting point for the 1.47/1 ratio Hammer transfer case. Note how far forward that R3 single speed transmission, slipper and motor mount is.
The Hammer Transfer Case in all its glory. It’s worthwhile stripping and packing with grease for longer service intervals. As Yoda would say:- “A tough little unit this is…”
Cross members brace the chassis and form the ladder aspect of the design. Everything’s got a hard anodised black coating helping it blend into the final build, just like a good chassis should! Its detailed enough to look realistic without sacrificing strength.
That vital solid link takes the drive straight from the transmission and feeds it into the transfer case, then onto each of the longitudinal prop shaft’s and then each axle.
Note the Shock Hoops. CNC machined just like the chassis and offering a stable and robust upper mounting point for the shocks, and scale look to that aspect of the chassis. The R3 Single Speed Transmission comes with a cast aluminium case and new wider gears to allow for more abuse along with a Delrin spur with slipper clutch assembly.
The Cast Yota 2 Axles run a ratio of 15/40 = 2.67:1
and have a total width at the hex of 176.5mm. They add weight low down aiding the centre of gravity of the whole rig and look very scale. Again stripping them, packing them with grease and threadlocking anything you feel needs it will ensure many trouble free hours of use. The most scale accurate axles on the market, the RC4WD Cast Yota II axles feature innovative round knuckles, new lower mounting points and compact offset pumpkins.
The Ultimate Internally Sprung Shocks
The included dampers aren’t oil filled from the factory, but can be by the end user. The ‘Ultimate Scale Shocks’ have been designed for ultimate scale looks and ultimate performance. The shocks are machined from billet aluminium and are internally sprung. Experimenting with different oils and springs, or as we suggested internally limiting them with fuel tubing works wonders.
The servo is chassis mounted and sits up in the gods away from harm and keeps the scale look. Rigs like this can suffer from bump steer, but ensuring the servo you use is strong enough, and centring the steering and linkages for equal throw helps to alleviate this.
We chose to use a RC4WD Z-E0035 in our build, its Digital, Metal Geared and produces 153oz or 11kg of torque at 6v input, and is more than up for the job in hand.
The rear Yota II axle looks streamline and Scale, with again a compact offset pumpkin and solid cast construction. Strip, grease and threadlock…you know it makes sense!
Brushed motor produce the most torque near ‘stall’. so from a standstill this baby will pull like a steam train! Using a 35t offers the best balance between torque and RPM. So wheel speed, especially on 11.1v 3S isn’t going to be an issue!
The Metal Driveshafts for the TF2 are an all new design featuring bulletproof steel universals and a new high quality plastic shaft for great driveline angles and durability on the trail. Again…threadlock is your friend as losing a grub/set screw mid trail halts the fun fast.
During the first UK Recon G6 the only problems that occurred where of cosmetic fashion – e.g some might say I drove to hard for a pristine body fresh from the body shop.
By the end of the day I had to strap down my hood with tape in order not to loose it. After the event I found out that the turnbuckle screws needed to be tightened – so it might be helpful to apply some Loctite to those screws despite the axles arrive fully built.
During further working hard with the truck I managed to break a dog bone in the front axle. Luckily there as excellent parts support from RcBlitz on site so I could upgrade to CVD in a short tea break.
Other than that I only had to tighten my slipper a little bit after 2 days – and roughly 6-7 hours on the the excellent UK trials.
A word on Articulation…
Most of the RC scale rigs that you see on the trail have lot’s of articulation. But contrary to popular opinion, In many situations a car with less articulation is much more predictable to drive. Our scale rigs have typically both axles fully locked so you can still have plenty of traction if you end up 3 wheeling on an obstacle. Leaf sprung cars are just that – very predictable and if the leafs are set up and broken in you get a very sensitive suspension. Try it out!
Tip: On cars with 4 or 3-Link you can use a fuel tube inside the shock or a limiting strap to reduce the suspension travel.
This car is very rewarding to drive – and amazingly capable after my past experiences with leaf sprung cars I have to clearly say for me this is the best handling leaf sprung car I have personally driven so far.
Good Quality Kit
Very nice packaging
Endless customization support
Great driving and handling
Plug & Play body mount for Stock Tamiya Jeep body
Steering deflection limited by kits dog bones & drive cups
I don’t like that the stock wheels don’t use hexes
CVD’s could/should be standard at this price point
I would also recommend the following:-
After you run stock for a while, if you feel like comping then fit CVD’s and 1.9 Rims. I also used Baja MTZ’s tyres (but with stiffer foams like the ‘Crazycrawler’ foams I ran). Fit a Rock Hard front bumper and to mount the battery plate rotated so the battery can be mounted more to the front of the car helping increase further front weight bias.
Parts Used In Addition To RC4WD Kit
Tamiya Jeep Wrangler Body with Jeep CJ Conversion
Axial Racing Wraith Corbeau Seats
Custom Lexan front windscreen
RC4WD Raceline 1.9 Wheels
High lift shock towers
RC4WD Baja MTZ 1.9
RC4WD 35T Motor
Castle 10 BEC
Here’s a cool video of the rig in action at the recent Globetrotter Rodeo RECON G6…