Tuesday May 19, 2009

This is why you do after run maintenance

Do you wonder why one racer's truck is always faster and handles better than yours ?

It is often the little things, like regular maintenance. Off road trucks take a tremendous amount of punishment, especially if you are prone to running into curbs or cartwheeling off a ramp. At the end of every session you should give your truck a thorough examination and replace parts like this bent hinge pin.

Why you do after run maintenance 03 - Bent hinge pin

04 - Straight hinge pin
Click image to enlargeClick image to enlarge 

It may not seem like much but this hinge pin will cause the steering block to bind in the caster block which will will impact the handling of the truck. This will be more pronounced coming out of a turn but it may even prevent your truck from keeping a straight line. If this is a four wheel drive truck you may experience a lack of power when turning. You will also be creating additional work for your steering servo which can lead to shorter run times and premature failure of the servo itself. And this is completely unnecessary. A replacement hinge pin is a $2 part and takes just a few seconds to replace it.

Before you invest in an expensive brushless power plant and high capacity energy source, do the little things.

Get your truck ready for the stresses of a more powerful motor.
  • Reduce rolling friction everywhere (large bearings on the axle carries and steering blocks)
  • Stronger lower suspension arms
  • Aluminum caster blocks to prevent bending your hinge pins in the future
  • Steel transmission and differential gears
  • Heavy duty output drives
  • Large front and rear bumpers to protect suspension parts and your new motor
  • Heavy steel steering links, and if available adjustable steel camber turnbuckles
  • Heavy duty aluminum shock towers (as the stock ones fail)
  • Get a range of pinion and spur gears (and start at the low end of the recommended gearing range and move up if the motor, esc and battery stay cool)
Once you have done these upgrades, then get yourself a Mamba Max or Novak Havoc system. Once you have run a brushless system with lipo batteries you will never go back to brushed motors. I'm even converting my 1/18 scale trucks to brushless, as time and repairs permit.

And at the end of every race or afternoon of bashing
  • Thoroughly inspect your truck for damage and replace all broken parts
  • Clean dirt away from electronics (radio, speed control, servos)
  • Make sure your suspension moves freely
  • Replace any bent screws or hinge pins
  • Tighten screws that have become loose - be careful with plastic parts as they can easily strip
  • Oil your motor bearings, and if brushed clean with motor spray and check your brushes and commutator
This will keep your truck in top running form and fun for years to come.

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Tuesday Apr 07, 2009

Becca's Mini-T gets a new pair of shoes

While repairing the trucks from the weekend bashing, I replaced the tires on my daughter's Mini-T. We put on a set of 4 Pro-Line Dirt Hawgs (old style) and it now looks as tough as the RC18MT - except for the pink and purple paint scheme. And with the new dual slipper clutch and big block engine, it can keep up with the Associated mini-monster truck on just about any terrain. The heavier tires slow it down just a bit, but the increased traction makes driving it much more fun. Until you forget to back off on the steering servo rate and flip it in a turn.

This was my first painted Lexan body and I think it turned out pretty good. My daughter chose the color scheme. The flames on the side were hand done by masking. I have some new bodies to paint as soon as the rains go away and the humidity drops a bit. The black Hummer body for the T-Maxx to match the real one that I drive should be awesome.
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What do you want for Easter ?

The other day my daughter asked me what I wanted for Easter. Other than being ecstatic that she started the conversation in the role of the giver, I had to admit that I had not even thought about it. Being the helping teenager, she suggested an iTunes gift card. This of course is her way of saying that she wanted an iTunes gift card, which I have mentally filed away for the time when my path crosses said item.

Putting together a mythical budget of $200US (no, that's not the Easter gift budget - just a conversation starter), what would be the best addition to the garage ?

Here is my short list, feel free to add anything I might be missing.

  • Brushless motor and ESC for the Rustler. This is an upgrade for 2 trucks as the Rustler VXL-5/Titan 12T combo will be reused in the Stampede to replace the stock setup.
  • Traxxas Slash 1/10 short course race truck (waterproof).
  • Associated RC18 Factory Team aluminum billet set (serious bling for my daughter's truck) plus a 17T mod motor. Oooof - too much power ?
  • Equivalent aluminum parts for her Mini-T
  • New LiPo capable charger
  • Nothing now, put it in the bank towards a Traxxas Summit. Father's Day is coming soon !

    The new Kyosho DRT short course nitro truck is just a bit out of the budget, but looks like quite a bargain. I haven't read a review of the engine performance, but I have yet to see a bad product come out of Kyosho. The oversized fuel tank would be a big benefit for weekend bashing.

    Which of these would be your choice ? Or do you have a better idea ?
  • Sunday Apr 05, 2009

    A Good Weekend of Bashing

    With the temperatures climbing into the mid 80s and plenty of sunshine, it was a great weekend to get out some of the RC trucks and see what they could do. The final tally for the weekend was

  • A broken rear shock on the Rustler - and oil everywhere!
  • A broken front shock spring retaining clip on the RC18MT
  • A broken servo brace on the Mini-T
  • Finished all but the cosmetics for the Hornet (see left)
  • And not a (new) scratch on the Stampede. It just keeps going, and going.....

    A couple of dollars in parts and maybe an hour of wrenching on the trucks and they will all be as good as new. Except for the Rustler who might be getting a brushless motor upgrade. I'm trying to decide between a Mamba Max ESC with either the 4600kV (conservative) or 5700kV (wild) or the Traxxas VXL-3 Velineon (simple). Of course this will set in motion other things like a wheelie bar, new diff, LiPo batteries and charger, maybe some aluminum hub carriers.

    And of course when all of this is done, the Stampede gets upgraded with the old parts from the Rustler. We'll see how it holds up with a new ESC and the 12T motor. I'm seeing a lot of transmission work here too. But it will all be fun.
  • Click image to enlarge 

    Wednesday Mar 04, 2009

    Killer deal on the Associated RC18MT at Stormer Hobbies

    The fine folks at Stormer Hobbies are having another blow out sale. This time it is the Associated RC18MT. If you have never experienced 1/18 scale electric monster trucks, here is your chance. I have one (and might pick up a second if they still have some left this weekend) and it is a total blast. Great way to get your kids into RC trucks without breaking the bank. When that time comes, the new Traxxas Summit looks to be the new king of back yard bashing.

    Tuesday Sep 20, 2005

    Mini trucks are monster fun

    When Losi unleashed the Mini-T, it expected that the 1/18 scale class would take off in a big way. And what's not to like ? Low cost of entry for reasonable Ready-to-Run products, the trucks are manageable by a newcomer to R/C, run times with a good battery pack (1100mah) are long, and you can somehow justify having several (for bashing reasons of course).

    So when the Mini-T came out, I did the noble thing: I bought one for my daughter. And she had a blast with it. But street racing wasn't all that fair against my Stampede (and don't even think about going up against a T-Maxx or comparable buggy/truggy). What to do ?

    Well, another 1/18 scale truck, of course. And now there are lots of choices: ready-to-run, pro-team kits with lots of aluminum and titanium bling, 4 wheel drive, super articulated (the Tamiya rock crawlers).

    I'm a huge XRAY fan, but didn't have the patience to wait for their M18T (based on the successful 1/18 scale touring car). Since this will eventually be a racer, the Team Associated RC18T was the best choice. Now that the M18T is available I suspect that I will be adding another stall in the garage.

    While building the RC18T pro team kit, I gave in to temptation and added the RC18MT monster truck variant. All I have to say is that this little truck is a whole lot of fun. And we're talking T-Maxx kind of fun.

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    Bob Netherton is a Principal Sales Consultant for the North American Commercial Hardware group, specializing in Solaris, Virtualization and Engineered Systems. Bob is also a contributing author of Solaris 10 Virtualization Essentials.

    This blog will contain information about all three, but primarily focused on topics for Solaris system administrators.

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