Monster Truck Madness #9 – Are Solid Axle Monsters For You?
Given that I’m a loudmouth constantly spouting off about the greatness of solid axle monster trucks, you may see the question posed in the title of this article and immediately assume my answer is “YES”. That’s not the case though.
As much as I enjoy working on and driving them, they can be fickle beasts and therefore aren’t necessarily for everyone. I’m an active participant in many of the on-line discussion groups for these things and there are a few commonalities I see between those that routinely gripe about their trucks and/or sell out due to frustration.
The biggest surprise in store for many a new owner is when they find out how maintenance intensive these rigs are compared to more traditional basher-fare. You can take something like an ARRMA Granite or Traxxas X-Maxx and thrash with it, not needing to be overly concerned about going over the truck with a fine toothed comb after a normal bash session.
Solid axle trucks are not quite as “grab and go” as their independent suspension relatives. You don’t need to tear them down and back-up again completely each time you run, but you better give it a once over to check your axle screws, wheel nuts and shock mounts or you’ll come to regret it later.
Scale r/c monster trucks suffer from the same problem that their 1:1 brethren do- the oversize tires put tremendous stress on certain components, specifically at the axle. When hardware starts to get loose it allows for slop. Slop allows for easy catastrophic failure.
Example – the knuckle screws on an Axial axle’d rig start to get loose. Once their is wiggle room, the force of a regular ho-hum jump can easily snap your shaft and/or housing. This can lead to immense frustration and the potential to head to your favorite online forum to proclaim what a piece of junk your truck is! Taking 5 minutes pre and post run to make sure things are cinched down can save a lot of headache. Also, blue thread locker is your friend!
Other common issues I see are when someone picks up a scale monster for the first time only to find that it either handles like garbage compared to what they are used to or that it doesn’t stay together. You have to remember that these types of vehicles are completely different than a T-Maxx style of truck. They behave and handle much like the real thing, which is a good part of the appeal. If you want something that handles like a truggy, well, go grab one of those instead.
In regards to the durability, I don’t want to use the word fragile necessarily, as with the right setup and some $ you can make these vehicles very strong, but on the whole if these things are driven as standard bashers they won’t hold up long. They are better for short bursts of fun versus a day of going hog wild. At least that’s what I’ve found.
It’s sort of the same thing that rock racing vehicles experience. An Axial Wraith is a tough vehicle. Put a big power system in it and start jumping/smashing things at speed, and all of a sudden it doesn’t seem as tough, right? That’s the solid axle conundrum. It’s a heck of a lot of fun having a vehicle that looks and behaves like the real thing, but there is a price to pay for that.
I’ve sorta been all over the place in this column, I know. I just want people to get into the right frame of mind before purchasing or deciding to build one of these vehicles. If you truly don’t like working on your r/c’s – hey, there is NOTHING wrong with that – then you may want to think twice before plunking down the cash. On the flipside, maybe you’ll wind up having so much with it that you’ll love to turn wrenches?
Previous to owning my first Clod I enjoyed driving much more than wrenching. Any time spent in the pits was time I should’ve been on the track. I only became a fan of the workbench after getting involved with these nutty contraptions.
I love solid axle monster trucks. They are so much fun to build and drive that, for me, nothing in the hobby comes to close to the satisfaction I get from mine. I don’t mean to dissuade someone from trying to get into them…just know that there is a learning curve! As long as you are prepared for that, you can have a blast.