Interview With Pro-Line’s Scale Guru Paul Willhite
With Pro-Line putting out more scale and rock crawling gear every day, we decided to reach out to Paul Willhite for an interview. Paul is the scale guru over at Pro-Line and we got with him to learn more about some of Pro-Line’s crawling tires, as well as their new Pro-Forge wheels and their upcoming “By The Fire” scale event. Enjoy the interview and we hope it gives you a feel for what Paul does on the job, as well as some insight on the future of the scale/crawling scene.
Big Squid – Hey Paul, very nice to get a chance to talk with you. Could you tell our readers a little bit about your job over at Pro-Line?
Paul – Well, what can I say. I started working here at Pro-Line a little over 3 years ago as a Graphic Designer/Social Media Guy. I took up a Passion for RC Rock Crawling in 2014. I began going to R/C Rock Crawling Club events and was fortunate enough to meet some very awesome, and truly inspirational individuals like Don Hughes, and John Roberts. Without these guys the trail I chose would have been even more rocky. Along with the awesome people I have met along the way, I have been surrounded by an amazing amount of incredibly supportive people here at Pro-Line (John, Jessica, Vance, Tim, Gerardo, Robert, Matt, Eric, Daniel, Scott, Aaron and Todd… Just to name a few). The job has evolved into more of a Graphic Design/Social Media/Rock Team/Event Planner/Product Development type role… Which sounds like a lot… well… because it is, but I love every second of it! I could not ask for a greater team to be a part of.
Big Squid – We were super stoked to see Pro-Line get into the aluminum wheel game with your new Pro-Forge 1.9″ wheels. Can you talk about some of the people behind the Pro-Forge project and perhaps some of the “behind the scenes” stories that happened while you were developing them?
Paul – The Pro-Forge Wheel is something that we have wanted to do for a while now, who doesn’t want real Aluminum wheels on their rig, right!? Vance Lund and Aaron Arndt are really responsible for the awesome design and wonderful engineering that has gone into these wheels. A lot of work went into getting the right pattern for the wheels. The initial designs are being offered in both a clear and bronze versions. We have coined the pattern found on the Original Pro-Forge as the “Impulse”. This design will be carried over to our new line of plastic Bead-Loc wheels for the X-MAXX and more.
Big Squid – What do you think are some of the advantages that the Pro-Forge wheels have over the other aluminum wheels on the market?
Paul – I’m not going to ignore the white elephant in the room. I know our wheels are not cheap. But what you get is an Original Pro-Line U.S.A. Designed Wheel, Quality CNC Machined Material produced right here in the U.S. supporting American jobs. Plus you get the amazing support and dependability that comes with all Pro-Line Products. We are very proud of the Pro-Forge Series Wheels.
Big Squid – A bunch of our guys around the office run various Pro-Line tires on our trail/scale/crawling rigs. In your personal opinion, which of your tires is the best choice for purely driving on rocks? The best just for mud? The best all-around tire for a variety of surfaces?
Paul – This is a really fun question, I have passion for a several of our tires and in my opinion there is an application for each of them. My personal favorite tire to run is the original 1.9” Super Swamper (#1163-14), I love the scale size and they still work amazingly well in most conditions. I think the most Scale tire we offer though is the BFGoodrich 1.9” KO2, Vance runs those and I am always amazed at the stuff he is able to go up with them. If Mud Bogging is your thing, I know I love it, as you might be able to tell in our TSL Bogger Video, then you will definitely want to check out the HUGE 1.9” Scale 54” TSL Boggers that Interco says is …”the Most Scale replica of any RC Tire they have seen”. Of course, if you want a tire that just goes no matter what, and performs on demand in every condition, then you choose the Hyrax, available in both 1.9” and 2.2”.
Big Squid – What is your favorite mod for crawling tires? Is there anything in particular that you do to your tires (or foams) to get extra performance out on the trail?
Paul – If we are talking about performance, then there are a few essentials you just have to have for your rig:
First off, although it may sound partial, Upgrade your tires, If you don’t have good rubber on the ground, it doesn’t matter what other mods you have, you aren’t going anywhere.
2. Steering (Best thing I ever did), the more steering angle with the least amount of Ackerman, the better, Tight turns = more fun.
3. Weight in the front, easiest way to get some steep angles is to add weight to the front end, this helps keep the front wheels planted while climbing steep. A cool way to accomplish this while keeping it scale is to add the new Brass rotor weights and 6 Lug Hub system to your Pro-Forge wheels, another way is to add weight inside your tire between the foam and wheels. Taking this as step further would be to swap your front diff gears for over-drive so essentially your rig is Pulling more than pushing.
4. A good foam setup will help a lot, the reason Dual stage foam, like our new dual stage Closed cell foam, helps so much is because it combines the best of both worlds. You need a solid platform to make those steep side-hills and you need that softer outer foam to dig down and gain greater traction on the uneven terrain. If you have a really heavy rig, or do a lot of water runs, the single stage closed cell foam may be the option for you.
I could go on and on about the performance end, most of this knowledge I have gained from experience and paying attention to what the seasoned pros are doing out in there. Most of my tips and tricks were learned from Don, he has been doing this a Long, LONG, time 😉 (Love you Don).
For Scale mods, there are too many options to list, you can start by checking out our Scale Accessories Page, but there is so much you can do here to make your rig unique and scale. I am amazed by how much creativity, originality and just plain talent there is out there in the RC Rock Crawling community. It is truly inspiring.
Big Squid – Pro-Line has their huge “By The Fire” event coming up on May 6th in Apple Valley, CA. Can you tell our readers a little more about it and what events will be held at this year’s “By The Fire”?
Paul – Yes, event building is underway and registration is now open. You can check out the event at our By The Fire Facebook Event Page. The idea behind the event is Camaraderie, Getting everyone together to share something we are all passionate about, R/C Rock Crawling!
There will be a full day of adventure, competition, and good family fun. Adventurers will get an Arm Badge upon entry and earn patches with each accomplishment they can add to it throughout the day. We have Interco Tire Corp. Sponsoring the Scale Mega Mud Truck Challenge, The Pro-Line Proving Grounds Obstacle Course, A Sumo-War tournament where drivers can go head to head and force each other out of the ring (this will be really fun to watch). 1.9” and 2.2” Scale Trial Run that will be run by local club ‘Border-Line Crawlers’, Three 1-hour Daytime crawl courses being built by local club Renegade Rock Runners, and of course our “Into the Night” run being put together by the West Coast RC Crawlers, this run will start out at Dusk and go as the title suggests, Into the night. There will be several scale scenes being created by the Bair Bros. Including one that may surprise people on the night run.
We will have a Charity Raffle, Great food available for purchase, a Geo Cache Treasure Hunt and Social Photo Scavenge. Of course after the day of adventure comes to an end we will all gather By The Fire.
After the success of last year’s event, I am even more excited to bring this event to everyone this year. It is going to be really great. Hope to see you all there!
Big Squid – Where do you see the whole scale/trail/crawling movement going in the next 5 years?
Paul – I think Rock Crawling is here to stay, there is so much interest, and it’s growing every single day. The idea of going on a nice hike in a beautiful area and also getting to drive your R/C Car along the trail in a cool and Scale way is just something that appeals to a lot of people. I also feel like we are going to see other niche segments of the RC Rock Crawling world such as a re-emergence of Comp Crawling (which is Super fun on a competitive level) and Mud Boggin’ which is a GO FAST alternative that utilizes your solid axle rig in a new way. We are also starting to see the European style Super-Scale Rock Crawling gain popularity which has a strong emphasis of Scale realism over performance. Lots of fun new things to come for the R/C Rock Crawling world.
Big Squid – Can you give our readers an exclusive teaser on any upcoming Pro-Line scale products?
Paul – Let’s See, I can’t say too much, you know we like surprises, but I can tell you that our relationship with BFGoodrich, and Interco is quite strong, there may be a new licensed tire partner added to the works fairly soon as well. We have a new Rock Crawling body in the works that I think may blow some people’s minds with how much we are pushing the envelope on what’s possible with a Polycarbonate body. Plus expect new accessories and performance parts this year. Keep up on all the latest by Following us on Facebook, Instagram, and make sure to subscribe for the latest videos on YouTube!
BigSquid – Thank you very much for the interview Paul, is there anyone out there that you would like to give a shout-out?
Paul – A Huge Shout-Out to my Wife and 3-Daughters for sticking with me while I play with Toy Cars!