Monster Truck Madness – A Reader Asks, “How do I get started with a Clod Buster?”
I don’t think I’ve ever answered a reader e-mail since I started doing the Monster Truck Madness blog here on Big Squid, but I was sent a good one last week, so here goes –
Firstly mate, thanks for all the brilliant videos you and the trigger king crew share and thanks for doing the monster truck column on Big Squid. My boys (5 and 9 years) are big fans and starting to get into monster truck RC and youve been a great part of the inspiration, thanks bud.
I’ve had a bit of RC experience in the past but not with the trucks and have just bought a new super clod kit the boys and I’ll be building. That’ll be my truck and the boys are getting a couple of more basic RTRs to learn on for Christmas.
The reason I wanted to reach out was to ask if you might have a couple of minutes to provide some advice and recommendations on parts and upgrades for phase 1 of our project please? I’m yet to buy a controller and any parts and would really value your advice if you have the time.
Unfortunately, access to supplies down here is challenging as most rc suppliers are geared toward traxxas or axial and we certainly don’t have any cool independent guys that have dedicated clod based upgrades and shipping costs and availability to import stuff is problematic so I’m looking for ideas online to fabricate some of the parts myself such as servo mounts, links etc. Long term I want to have a crack at a tube chassis too.
Basically, at this point I want to be able to future proof the first part of the build for long term tinkering and give us a good base point to start from at this phase. Good controller for 4ws, motors, shocks and definitely 4 link. All without breaking the bank where possible.
We definitely don’t have anything like trigger king or groups for this down here, certainly nowhere near us, so all we’ll be doing is bashing in the back yard and trying to replicate some of your freestyle arena style jumps and props.
The boys and I watch your videos all the time and love the event stuff. I particularly really enjoy your videos on the individual truck overviews which a just brilliant and really informative thanks mate. With that there is a lot of options and paths for upgrading so I was wondering if you may have any advice on the specific areas and brands etc we should target for an initial phase upgrade to our new clod please mate?
Thanks again for all you’re doing. We really appreciate it and if you get a chance at the next meet, please let the team know how much you all insure us down here in Australia. We love it.
Hey, thanks a bunch Mic! Ah yes, there is nothing in the hobby like building your first Tamiya Clod. A great first project! So you’re asking me what upgrades I think you should start with?
This is actually pretty easy. First off, get a set of bearings for the build. The kit comes with metal and plastic bushings, and you don’t want those on a truck as big as a Clod. ESPECIALLY if you intend to eventually mod it. It will eat the bushings alive. Various aftermarket companies offer bearing kits, and hopefully you can find one that’s either local or that ships internationally on the cheap. I dig the Fast Eddie Super Clod Sealed Bearing Kit #58065. Hey, if you are gonna get bearings, you may as well get sealed ones, right?
You are also going to want some vertical servo mounts to get rid of the horrible stock “center servo for both axles” setup. It really is bad. I will recommend the Crawford Performance Engineering mounts. You can find the mounts right here. If you would like some nice steering links to go with them, you can find them right here. These are small items and CPE ships internationally, so cost should be reasonable. Remember, you need to get two sets as each axle will need them for four wheel steer (4WS)!
The Tamiya kit doesn’t include servos, so you’ll need a pair to drive this big lug around. You need something high torque. I’d go with something around or over 200 oz. Your LHS should be able to take care of that. We are big fans of HiTec Servos
The last piece of the puzzle for early upgrades is going to be a good radio. You want something 3-channel, so you can map the rear steer axle to an AUX channel. Now, you can go cheaper here and do a 2 channel with a Y-harness that connects both steer servos together, but this isn’t ideal because then you can’t fine tune each one. Trust me, you WILL want to be able to take out a good deal of travel on that rear servo. Your truck will be snaking all over the place every time you touch the wheel, otherwise.
I run Spektrum in all of my personal vehicles. My Clods with 4WS have used DX4C and DX5C radios, with various 3+ channel RX’s to boot. These radios allow for channel blending which is essential for having a monster truck that doesn’t handle like poo. I would run the front steer at max travel, but only use 15-20% in the rear, unless you are looking to rip donuts. A little rear steer goes a long way.
Build the kit with the upgrades we just talked about and even though it’ll still be in a relatively “stock” form, it’ll still be a blast to bash! You’d be shocked at how peppy those silver can motors feel with a good LiPo providing juice!
That’s really all you need to start having fun now, while also keeping an eye on the future. Each of those upgrades will be needed for the eventual move to mod Clod.
You will also have a very solid base from which to build on going forward. Not just the actual “platform” (i.e. the Clod itself)….but also your knowledge of how the truck works. Clods are unique beasts in the r/c world and they take a minute to wrap your head around. Once you get the mechanics of it down, it’ll be MUCH easier to figure out how to take it to the next step as a true mod vehicle.
I see a lot of folks that jump straight into a mod Clod without really knowing the truck first, and for many it’s an expensive mistake. I think you are going about it right, doing it in stages! I’ll soon do a write-up on what you need when starting on the true modified path, but for now best of luck to you and your boys as you get started!