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Ghostbuster_Ecto1_Axial_scx10

It’s been a big week for Ghostbusters fans as LEGO just announced an Ecto-1 “30th Anniversary” kit that will be released in June (photo below). As a lifelong fan of the series (and car) you bet your unlicensed proton accelerator that I’ll be picking one of those sets up. As far as my favorite “movie cars” go, Ecto-1 shares a spot in my heart with only the 1989 Batmobile for coolest of all time. Sorry folks, the Bullitt Mustang is cool and all, but it never was used to save New York from the forces of Gozer the Destructor. It also never did kid birthday parties for a cheap buck. Anyways, so with Ray Parker’s classic theme now hopefully pumping through your brain, check out a sweet pair of anti-supernatural scalers that a couple readers decided to share.

First up is Micheal Matthews’s tribute to the famed Ecto-1 Cadillac Ambulance. His off-road version of Ecto-1 is based on an HPI Graverobber body sitting on top of a highly modified Axial SCX10 chassis. He made custom links to stretch the wheelbase to fit and used RC4WD 1.55 Steel Wheels (painted red) and Desert King tires. Many of the scale pieces of ghostbusting equipment you see on top were custom made and all the lights are fully functional. He wanted to give a shout-out to Josh Harris for doing all the wiring. Great looking rig Micheal. That would be a heck of a truck to have on a night run!

 

In keeping with our supernatural motif, the next truck up is Nicholas Klein’s Scooby Doo “Mystery Machine” inspired Axial SCX10 JK. Nicholas said he decided to do this theme because the actual Mystery Machine always seemed to do well off-road. You know, now that you think about it he’s right. That old van was constantly in the woods, on old dirt roads, and other tough spots while in hot pursuit of Old Man Caruthers. Guess ol’ Shaggy and Fred must’ve locked the diffs, eh? Thanks for sharing Nicholas.

Do you want to show off your scale truck like one of the above fine gentleman? Do you like free stickers? Great! Shoot an e-mail to doug at bigsquidrc.com and include a brief description along with some good lookin’ pics.

Axial-SCX10-JK

So you’re the proud owner of a brand new ready to run Axial SCX10. Congrats, the truck is a lot of fun right outta the box! If you are like most people I know though, the first thing you’ll do (after giving it a test drive, of course) is hop on the internet, go to your favorite r/c forum/facebook page, and start a “I have a brand new SCX10 what should I upgrade first PLEASE HELP ME!” thread. It’s ok, we’ve all been there. I remember my first foray into scale 4×4′s and how overwhelming it was. Fret not, dear reader, for I am here to start a recurring feature on the upgrade path you should take. While this is obviously just one Joe Schmoe’s opinion, I’ve owned 5 SCX10′s (2 currently) and have gone through the rigamarole plenty of times myself.

For “Stage 1″ I’m going to limit the upgrade budget to just $20 because you most likely just dropped 300-400 dollars on that shiny new SCX10 and may not have much dough left over. Click read more to check it out.

READ MORE

axial_custom_ford_superduty

Ugh, this winter sucks. Last year I was scaling nearly every weekend thanks to mild weather. This year has just been snow after snow with sub 0º temperatures to boot. Oh well, with spring (hopefully) right around the corner I can finally see the light at the end of the tunnel. I know my buddies and I are chomping at the bit to get outside.

The awesome King of the Hammers race took place last week in California and as usual was filled with all sorts of spectacular carnage. I strongly suggest you head to YouTube and checkout some clips, particularly those showing highlights of the “Back Door” section. It was also a big weekend for scale r/c as the 2014 RECON G6 series of events kicked off with their own version of an “Ultra 4″ race. Axial always has a big presence at this event and this year debuted a custom Falken Tires themed SCX10 Jeep (pictured below). You can view more pics on Axial’s site right here. It looks great and the most noteworthy thing about it is the tires. Those are actual Falken Wildpeak replicas and look hot. Axial claims that the truck is a one off, but I wouldn’t be surprised if this is the next RTR in their line of SCX10′s. At the very least I’d be shocked if the tires weren’t released. The tread pattern looks like it would hook up great and clean out very well. This is all baseless speculation however, as I have no inside knowledge.

axial_falken_scx10_jeep

Speaking of Axial and RECON G6, my club is hosting the G6 crew for a St. Louis, MO tour stop on April 12, 2014. The event is being dubbed the “Axial Iron Mountain Depot RECON G6” and will be taking place in O’Fallon, MO. It’s only 2 months away and, if the weather ever breaks, we will be out there preparing some gnarly stuff for everyone to tackle. It should be a great time! Big Squid will have a big presence and I’ll post the full event details right here when they are released.

Lastly, thanks for all the feedback I’ve received on my mega-truck project (Part 1 here, Part 2 here). As it turns out it’s a pretty good thing I picked this time of year to build one as the snow has served as an ok replacement for mud while putting the truck through rigorous testing. Part 3 of the build won’t post for a couple more weeks as I’m waiting on both the tires AND for warmer weather to properly go boggin’, but thus far I’ve been having a blast with the truck. While waiting on my narrowed Tamiya Clodbuster tires to arrive I’ve been using the stock Axial Trepador 2.2′s that came with the Deadbolt. I gave them a custom “mud cut” and they give the truck a great holeshot. Here’s a teaser of what it looks like right now -

tetanus_express_rc_mega_truck

Lastly, keep sending me pics (and descriptions) of your scale rides! Showmescalers at gmail dot com is my addy. Since I sounded the horn last week you guys have sent me some awesome stuff. I’m going to start showing them off next week so keep em’ coming. Remember, anything scale is cool no matter if it’s surface, air, or water oriented. The more outlandish the better! Have a great weekend and thanks for reading.

Axial RECON G6 SCX10

This week I’m taking a break from the standard “written” column to debut a new YouTube video series. I’ll be doing an episode about once a month and will try to give it a “Wide World of Sports®” vibe that covers all different areas of scale rc (trails, monster trucks, drag racing, sand rails, hill climbing, etc). This first video features both my modified RECON G6 edition Axial SCX10 and bone stock Gmade Sawback. Myself and good friend Mike Ewens took them to the banks of the Missouri River for some wooded trailing and had a blast on a very chilly day.

A couple pieces of housekeeping before we go. In case you missed it earlier this week I started a build series converting an Axial Deadbolt into a high flying mega truck. Part 2 should go live early next week. I’ve been testing the truck and it’s a beast! Also, do you have a cool build/ride that you want to showcase to the scale community? Shoot an e-mail to showmescalers at gmail dot com and if you have some pretty pictures of your rig doin’ work you could see it right here (and score a few Big Squid RC stickers to boot).

I’d also like to thank all the readers who have thus far been reading my scale ramblings every Friday. I have quite a bit planned as far as builds, event coverage, and how-to’s for 2014….if it would ever stop snowing! It’s getting to the point where if I ever plan on getting outside again I’m going to need to build a Kyosho Blizzard. Hmm, a Blizzard does sound pretty cool, right?

 

axial_deadbolt_castle_motor

Being a scale/crawler dude can be tough when you are surrounded by speed demons like the majority of Big Squid staffers. Let’s be honest with ourselves here – scalers aren’t exactly known for high speed thrills. I think Cubby wanted to kill me when I built the Axial RECON G6 SCX10 for review and put in a slow 18.5 crawler system! I’ve never built a scale truck where speed (and jumpability) was the end goal. That needed to change. Building a scale mega truck is just what the doctor ordered! (If you are unfamiliar with what a “mega truck” is checkout my column here.)

I knew I wanted to base the truck off of the Axial Deadbolt platform due to the stout AR60 axles, rugged transmission, rabid aftermarket support, and my familiarity with the model. I’m getting to the point where I think I could build a truck just with all the spare Axial parts I’ve accumulated over the years. I also knew that for this truck to do everything I wanted I’d have to get pretty wild with the modifications. It would need a powerful brushless system, had to be waterproofed for deep mud, needed big tractor tires to navigate said mud, and required a suspension that could handle speed and air. A very tall order.

The crux of this build is a Crawford Performance Engineering (CPE) Barbarian chassis (pic below). It turns an Axial Wraith, Deadbolt, or Ridgecrest into a scale monster/mega truck by utilizing the stock axles, shocks, transmission, and other miscellaneous pieces. The all aluminum 1:1 inspired frame features heavy duty links and sway bars and adds about an inch of wheelbase to the stock Deadbolt. This has become the hot setup in scale monster truck racing and I’m pretty excited to build a mud truck out of it.

cpe_barbarian

With my plans now in place I ordered a slew of parts. I already had the motor on hand so I decided to throw that in the stock truck and see how the drivetrain would handle it without any modification.  I pulled out the RTR ESC and 20t motor to install a Castle Mamba Max Pro 6900 kv system. Go big or go home! The result was impressive. The big motor yanked the front wheels up with hardly any throttle (see the top pic). The change in power was akin to going from a V6 to a super-charged big block. I’m also happy to report that the stock Axial drivetrain held up to this big power with no breakage whatsoever. It also jumped surprisingly well considering this vehicle was presumably designed without hang time being a big priority.

After a little over a week, all my parts had finally arrived. It was time to start building. Part 2 of this series is coming up very soon, but here’s a teaser (see below) showing off the Barbarian chassis with the Deadbolt rear end partly installed.

axial_ax10_cpe_barbarian

Before we go, I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention the tires I’m planning on using. Can you say cut & shut Clodbuster wheels/tires narrowed to about 2 inches? That should nail the tractor look I’m going for. Look for Part 2 of this build series coming soon!

6x6 clodbuster semi

Exceed announced their RTR Mad Torque 6×6 last week and it’s caused quite a stir in the scale/crawling community. Regardless of what you think of the actual truck (personally, I think it looks pretty cool) it shows that 6×6 trucks are growing in popularity. In many cases they are actually 6x6x6 (that means six wheel drive with six wheel steering). It’s becoming more and more common to see one of these monstrosities out at your local bash/crawling spot. To this point they are all custom built but I expect to see those Mad Torques start popping up at club meets soon.

Most of the 6×6′s I’ve seen locally are Tamiya Clodbuster based due to the simplicity of not needing to mess with extra driveshafts (Clods are motor on axle i.e. no driveshafts or central transmissions, the new Exceed is the same setup) but shaft driven stuff is gaining in popularity due to the availability of Axial axles and parts. The 2nd axle typically has two output shafts in which the backside connects to a standard third axle via driveshaft. It’s not very complicated and just requires a few additional axle pieces and an extra set of shocks to hook up to the back of the frame.

The colossal truck in the picture above deserves special recognition as it has become something of a local legend here in St. Louis, MO. It belongs to my good buddy Dan Ryan and is always the most popular vehicle with drivers/gawkers when he has it out. It uses a custom chassis with trick aluminum Clodbuster axle housings. Power is supplied by three Tekin ESCs, three 45 turn motors, and an 8 channel radio (!). The tires are gargantuan RC4WD 40 Series Roc Lox that tower almost 9 inches off the ground and all three axles steer. That kind of rubber needs big torque so 400 oz servos are equipped on each axle. It’s topped off by a Tamiya Bullhead cab and tips the scales at a whopping 20 lbs. Whenever we hook it to a pulling sled we have trouble finding enough weight to stop it! Even a Traxxas Summit looks like a puny vehicle in comparison to this big rig.

A conservative pricing estimate places this truck just north of $1,500, but that doesn’t include all the blood (and I literally do mean blood…when this thing falls off a hill it freaking hurts to catch it), sweat, & tears. If you are hoping to see video of this big boy in action then soon you will be in luck! I hope to launch a scaling video series very soon as a sort of companion piece to this column.

A six wheeler like Dan’s is a nice mix of engineering, redneck ingenuity, and sheer lunacy…basically everything scaling is all about! I’d also like to give a shout out to Dan for hooking me up with the Big Squid crew last spring. If not for him I wouldn’t be able to waste several minutes of your work day each week! I hope everyone has a great weekend and be sure to check back next Friday where I’m taking a look at my favorite niche of hardcore scale R/C…truck and tractor pulling!

Exceed 6x6 MadTorque CrawlerLooking for a big crawling machine? Is 4×4 just not enough for you? If so, the picture above of the Exceed MadTorque 6×6 should get your attention.

The MadTorque uses 3 solid axles to put the power to the ground from its three 540 brushed motors and two electronic speed controllers. An aluminum chassis, six oil filled shocks, and multi-link suspension help it climb over tough rock sections. Some of its other features & specifications include-

* RTR w/ 2.4GHz radio system
* Waterproof
* Comes with 6 cell 3300mAh Ni-MH battery
* Equipped with ball bearings
* Bead lock wheels
* High torque servo
* Length- 790mm
* Wheelbase- 630mm
* Width- 360mm

The part number for the MadTorque is #03C20 and it has a street price of $289. Hit up This Link for more information.

You Never Know what is behind a BigSquidRC TGIF Mystery Link.

Axial RECON G6 JK

The virtual ink hasn’t even dried yet on our review of the Axial RECON G6 SCX10 but it’s time to talk upgrades! When I mentioned I was building it a few weeks ago in this very column, I said I had big plans for it. Well, it’s time to discuss said plans.

The first thing I did was switch out the stock wheels and tires for a set of beastly Pro-Line Swamper XLs mounted on Axial beadlocks with 3 oz of weight in each front. The memory foam that comes with the Swampers works well, but I went ahead and splurged on a set of Crawler Innovations closed cell foams to better support the weight of the rig and avoid flat spotting. The addition of the tires was profound; the truck looks gnarly, has better ground clearance, and the big lugs make quick work of most terrain.

The next thing I’m going to be doing is swapping the stock ring & pinions for a pair of hardened Axial beveled gears. This will increase durability while eliminating slop. I’m going to use the overdrive (OD) gear set in the front and underdrive (UD) in the rear, which will cause the front tires to spin slightly faster than the rear. This eliminates torque twist, allows for a tighter turning radius and (most importantly) since the front “drags” the rear, it really helps its vertical climbing ability. (NOTE – If you don’t understand OD/UD, fret not, I’ll be doing a full explanation in a future column)

Oh, but I’m just getting started. The ultimate goal of this project is to compete and complete the St. Louis RECON G6 event coming up on Saturday April 12, 2014. This is a good start, but I still have much work to do before then! Part 2 of this build will include new recovery gear (hello scale Warn winch!), waterproofing the ESC, installing a functional light bar, and adding a driver!

Axial SCX10 Dually

My club held our annual pre-Thanksgiving trail run a few weeks ago and despite the temperature being in the low 20s we still had over 30 people show up. Doing three miles of frozen mountain terrain was tough on both driver and vehicle but it was a freakin’ blast! As you check out the pics of our latest adventure below, let me explain to the non-indoctrinated what exactly a scale trail run is and why scalers across the world enjoy them so much.

Trailing is the lifeblood of almost any 4×4 club. While in our case its 1:10 scale, it’s still the same old adage of man and his machine taking on the elements. The premise is simple; pick a location (mountain bike trails work great), meet up with your buddies and set off. Depending on how long you intend to wheel, you will want to bring a backpack with spare parts, batteries and food/water. A run can be anything from a jaunt in the backyard creek to an all-day affair encompassing many miles.

We normally run the designated path until someone finds a cool spot to hit. It can be anything; a mud hole, rocky cliff, steep hill, etc. It’s all about seeing what your rig can handle and one-upping your buddies. Someone will see something that looks very difficult or impossible and everyone has a go. Broken parts and nuked electronics are worn like badges of honor.

I would recommend any r/c’er to give scale trailing a go at least once, regardless of whether you are a hardcore racer or are picking up a transmitter for the first time. It can be a relaxing way to explore your local parks and make friends, or an intense experience as you tackle terrain so extreme that the penalty for failure is most likely the destruction of your vehicle. That’s the beauty of scaling; it’s whatever you want it to be.

Before we go, quick shout out to the RC Car Cast podcast. They had me on as a guest this past week (episode 6) discussing scale r/c, how I hooked up with Big Squid RC and the time I got behind the wheel of a monster truck. Look the show up on YouTube or iTunes.

 

gmade_sawback_3

Two weeks ago I got word from my hobby shop that, lo and behold, my Gmade Sawback had finally arrived. I wasted no time in picking it up and starting to wrench. After the build was finished, I tested it out over a variety of different terrain. While this isn’t a true review, with so many scale off-roaders wanting to find out if this truck is worth their time (especially with Christmas coming up) I wanted to post some detailed first impressions.

Being a completely new kit, I expected the gremlins you typically find in early production runs (misdrilled holes, missing parts, etc.) but was pleasantly surprised to have the whole thing go together very smoothly. The instructions were detailed and all parts were present. Having Phillips hardware instead of hex is pretty lame, but it wasn’t as bad as I initially thought because at least the screws weren’t the cheesy “will strip if you look at them” variety. For those wondering about electronics, I used a Savox SW-0230MG Waterproof Servo, Axial AE-2 ESC, 27t motor, and a Spektrum SR3001 receiver. I also painted the wheels white, put 3 oz of lead weights in each front wheel and topped it off with an action figure in the driver’s seat (a Demoman from Team Fortress 2).

Listen, I totally expected this thing to be more of a shelf queen than a rugged trail truck…but it appears I was way off in that line of thinking. I have bashed this truck on the beach, wooded trail, rocks, creek and construction yard, and it’s handled them all with ease. Despite having a very scale leaf-spring suspension, the Sawback still has plenty of travel and can hit lines you’d never think it would be able to. The included tires are soft and work well but are too small for my taste.  I wound up ditching them for some taller Axial Trepadors that I had lying on my bench and it really helped performance due to increased ground clearance. The drive shafts are thick plastic with screw-through design and seem to be holding together very nicely. I’m running 2S lipo and have had no problems and I have a friend with one that runs a 35t motor on 3S (a popular crawling setup) and the drive train has held up just fine.

 

The truck does have negatives. As I mentioned before, the Phillips’ hardware isn’t cool and the truck is too heavy and stiff to be a good all-around basher. If you plan to jump this rig I hope you are ready to purchase new leaf springs because it wasn’t made for that style of driving. It also doesn’t perform as well on the rocks as a 4-linked truck (i.e. Axial SCX10).

That being said, from a scaler’s point of view, this truck is great. I’ve been very impressed with the durability, looks and performance. I know of several other “early adopters” who share similar opinions. Many hobbyists aren’t familiar with Gmade, but, given the buzz the truck is creating amongst the scale community, I think the Sawback changes that.

So what’s next? I’m preparing the Sawback for a club Top Truck Challenge next month, where it will be put through the meat grinder of mud bogging, rock crawling and truck pulling. I’ll be chronicling the whole thing in this very column, so be on the lookout for that soon. Have a great weekend and remember to stay dirty my friends!

axial_recon_g6_scx10_and_gmade_sawback

A belated Happy Thanksgiving to everyone! I hope you all gorged yourself on fixin’s and football like I did. If you’re out and about on Black Friday, best of luck to you. And please, remember to keep your head up and eyes sharp so you aren’t trampled by some lunatic who will stop at nothing to get $10 dollars off a crock pot.

It’s been an extremely busy start to the holiday season for your scale columnist. I’m in the process of finishing up an Axial RECON G6 SCX10 JK. I’ll soon be handing it off to the Big Squid Bash Crew for a proper review, so expect that within the next couple weeks. The included two-door JK body is dovetailed and much leaner than the bigger 4-door version currently available, so I thought it needed a different type of paint scheme to reflect that. Big thanks to my buddy Todd Claire (of Bodyz by TC) for giving it a hot rod airbrush job. The truck will be left stock for review, but wait until you see the modifications I have planned for it. Trust me, it will be worthy of those flames on the hood!

The SCX10 isn’t the only new truck sitting on my bench, though. Matter of fact, it’s not even the only Jeep! I have a brand new Gmade Sawback that’s begging to be built. I’ve been excited to build this leaf-sprung Willy’s ever since it was announced months ago, so it will be interesting to finally see if it’s all show or has plenty of go. Most guys are doing them up in classic WW2 inspired Olive Drab, but I’m going for a civilian look – blue with white wheels.

Well, these kits aren’t going to build themselves so I guess I’d best get going. Be sure to stop by next Friday as I’ll be showing off both trucks and offering my initial impressions.

 

     rc4wd_bajaclaws

“What tire is the best for my truck?”

That is the first question most newbie scalers ask upon picking up their new ready-to-run (RTR) truck. Like all r/cs, tires are probably the most important performance choice you can make on a scale rig.  Most RTR trucks come with tires that are made of a hard compound that easily slip off obstacles, and I’ve never seen any that come weighted. When you compare this to a soft and sticky aftermarket tire that has weight in the front wheels to lower your center of gravity, the difference is night and day.

While I can’t give one definitive answer as to which is best, I can give you four very solid choices. It just so happens that these four types of tires are available in both 1.9 and 2.2 versions, so size of your rig shouldn’t limit availability. Go with an Axial Maxxis Trepador (R35 compound), Pro-Line TSL Super Swamper, Pit Bull Rock Beast, or RC4WD Baja Claw (X2-SS Compound) and you should be ready to rock (pun intended). I’ve used all four of these extensively over the last year and I’d recommend any of them without hesitation.

So my advice to you, new truck owner, is ditch the stockers, pick out a set of the aforementioned tires that you think look the coolest, add 2-3 ounces of lead weight to your front wheels and then go tear up the trail. Be warned though, as you can quickly develop a dangerous case of scale tire addiction, a disease with nasty side effects like a depleted bank account, bead-lock induced potty mouth and a work bench that resembles the Simpsons’ Springfield Tire Fire. I’m currently sporting a dually setup with 6 of the new XL Super Swampers (see pic below), but I routinely change my body/tire combo for what I feel like running on any given day.

Before we go, it’s shameless plug time; if you are around the St. Louis, MO area, consider this your formal invitation to attend our club’s 2nd Annual Turkey Trail Run, taking place this Sunday (Nov 24) at West Tyson Park in Eureka, MO. We are meeting around 10:30am and will be running around four miles of the treacherous Chubb Trail. If you’ve ever wanted to go scaling with 30-40 other like-minded lunatics, here is your chance!

 

RC4WD Trail Finder 2

Let’s get one thing out of the way– über-scale leaf-spring equipped r/c trucks aren’t for every hobbyist. They are generally more expensive, need a good bit of maintenance to stay in working order and in most cases, are slow and heavy. If you go into it with the right frame of mind though, the experience of building and driving one can be truly sublime.

For one thing, they are a blast to build. All of the mainstream leaf trucks are only available as builders kits, with the Tamiya High-Lift and RC4WD Trail Finder 2 (see Cubby’s review here) being two of the most popular examples. They all feature a bevy of metal parts and chassis with layouts resembling full-size pickups. Multiple speed transmissions are the norm. Many of the bodies even require assembly as they are ABS plastic (also known as “hard bodies”) with external scale pieces. The end result is something that looks and reacts remarkably like a real vehicle.

They can also be a real trip to trail with. You are forced into thinking like a real driver when approaching obstacles because the truck reacts very much like a 1:1. While this is still true of a four-linked performance scaler like the Axial SCX10, it’s of absolute necessity with a leafer. Nailing a precarious line of difficult terrain in a leaf truck (while the suspension creaks and groans) elicits just as much joy for some as nailing a big triple jump with a buggy does for others. And while it’s true that it probably isn’t the best idea to go jump a Tamiya Bruiser, I’ve seen plenty of leafers that can take abuse and come back for more. They also make fantastic trucks for mud bogging…but that’s a story for another day!

Next week we are taking a break from the trail to check out a rare late 80′s on-road kit that faithfully replicates a certain Caped Crusader’s iconic vehicle. Until then, have a great weekend and go get dirty!

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