Everybody’s Scalin’ – Heavy Metal
Aluminum parts can add durability and bling to your crawler but they can run up your parts bill fast. Nowadays you can build popular trucks like the Axial SCX10 entirely out of aluminum/steel should you so choose, so suffice it to say there are a lot of options out there. Today I’m going to discuss what I think you should be upgrading first as well as discussing if some things are worth upgrading at all.
The most critical parts to upgrade on your scaler are the hub carriers (aka c-hubs or chubs) and steering knuckles. I include them together because if you only do one most likely the other will then break and you’ll still be left with truck-in-hand. This is a major stress point and it’s absolutely worth splurging on quality aluminum. If you have correct forward weight bias on your vehicle, most likely including weighted wheels, then you can understand why this is necessary. A hard dismount from an obstacle can easily shear the stock plastic. Oh, and make sure to use blue thread lock when attaching the aluminum chubs/knuckles. If you don’t, I guarantee you they will come apart on a run.
Aluminum or titanium links are another “must have” for any serious scaler. Plastic links deform over time and allow for wonky driveshaft & suspension angles. They also allow for axle wrap under extreme duress which can easily pop a driveshaft. Metal links are definitely the way to go.
My perspective on upgrading your drivetrain is this – always leave a cheap, easy out. Some may not agree but I’ve always found it to work well for me. I’ll explain.
Your drivetrain consists of a slipper assembly, transmission, driveshafts, and axle internals. Your motor is also part of the equation, but let’s ignore that for a minute. Transmission and axle internals are a pain to change out so its best to always do those with steel hop-ups when you can.
Where it gets a bit tricky are driveshafts and the slipper/spur. I think you should upgrade just one of those, but not both. The reason being is that its normally very cheap and easy to swap out busted driveshafts or a spur. If everything is steel/aluminum and you bind the truck up hard then the path of least resistance could be blowing your motor, snapping an axle, or grenading the transmission. I’d rather replace a 3 dollar spur gear than a busted HD axle shaft or burnt up motor.
If you’re planning to do something with your scaler that calls for high speed, intense running (like rock racing or hardcore bashing) then by all means upgrade the whole drivetrain, but for typical trailing the above philosophy has always worked well for me.
The last thing to mention are the axle housings. Many people view metal axles as the ultimate upgrade. I mean, who hasn’t seen a set of Vanquish Curries and not gotten all hot and bothered at least once, amirite? The positives are that they look great, lower your COG, and can be bulletproof….but they are also super expensive and don’t slide on rocks as easy as plastic.
In summation, tricking out your rig with metal hop-ups can be a great thing. Just know that while their are a few essential things to do, most are strictly optional. You don’t need to spend a fortune to have a reliable trail truck…but in the words of Matthew Mcconaughey, “It’d be a lot cooler if you did.”
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