We finally found some time to edit a highlight video from the 2012 Easter Jeep Safari in Moab, Utah. Highlights include trail runs with Rebel Offroad on Hell’s Revenge, Poison Spider Mesa and Metal Masher. Also shot some footage at Area BFE with the R/C’s. We even found a little sand to play in for the Formula Offroad vehicles and the EXO.
Cisco Grove, CA • June 22-24, 2012
Photos: Matthew “Skeeno” Soileau
Where has the time gone? It seems like just yesterday crawling was a cottage industry fad in the R/C world. I remember attending the first Axial West Coast Championship back in 2007. It was then I met Matt Kearney of Axial and spied the prototype Axial AX10 for the first time. After seeing that beauty, I knew I was in for the long haul.
Six years later, Axial is still here and the Axial West Coast Championship has morphed into AXIALFEST, a fan appreciation event aimed at thanking the customers who made Axial the #1 name in the R/C Crawling World. While what most see as a singular act under one name, the game of “crawling” has grown into different disciplines consisting of rock racing, overland adventure and of course the namesake – crawling.
But, gone is the drama due to massive “wait time” and tension of a competition with 15-minutes of total drive time over the course of a weekend. With Axialfest, it is a festival devoted to maximum fun with maximum drive time for the Axial fan!
Too simple to be true, right?
To resolve my temptation to doubt, Axial again teamed up with the madman, Brian Parker and his RECON Crawlers crew, so I knew beyond a shadow of a doubt this was going to be another epic event. I eagerly awaited the arrival of AXIALFEST on the weekend of June 22-24.
I was so excited, I packed up my gear and headed up a day early.
Once up to beautiful Cisco Grove, CA in the High Sierra’s, I quickly got busy readying my home for the next four days of fury.
After making sure everything was in order, I snuggled up in the loving embrace of my 45 year old tent trailer and waited for Friday morning to arrive. Yes, that is orange shag.
The next morning a belly of Java and cinnamon rolls started my day.
AXIALFEST featured four events; the Rock Riot, RECON G6 Challenge, EXO Terra Cross, and the Ultimate Team Adventure Challenge. No matter which Axial kit you brought, there was more than enough fun to be had.
The first event of the AXIALFEST was the Rock Riot. The Rock Riot is unlike the traditional competition in that there is no time limit and participants score themselves. It is based on the honor system. It was a perfect event at this fan event because it allowed drivers to make countless laps on the courses. The format allows beginners plenty of drive time to learn the art of crawling while giving seasoned crawlers constant challenges and chances to better their driving, all while doing away with waiting in long lines all day. All Axial vehicles could be run, so many ran their comp-built XR-10s first and then played with their SCX-10s and Wraiths on the courses as well. This gave drivers the most bang for their buck as far as drive time goes. At traditional competitions drivers might see 15-20 minutes of drive time total throughout the day. The Rock Riot format gives competitors about an hour of run time just for this particular course, and there were multiple courses to be run.
The Rock Riot took place in two stages, Stage 1 in the morning and after an afternoon break, Round 2 of the Rock Riot began at dusk. Drivers were challenged by the darkness. Glow sticks marked the gates. It featured more of a playful feel than Round 1. Novelties such as a shaving cream filled crevasse and glow in the dark Toxic Creek made driving interesting.
Every single one of the trucks you see in the pictures is being driven on course. There was no waiting in lines. Slower drivers merely allowed the faster drivers to play through like golfers on the links.
Brian Parker of RECON [center] explaining the Rock Riot in detail. Here Parker enjoys the action with Bender [left] and Sumquak [right].
Brandon Coonce and Brad “Bender” Dumont of Axial getting their first taste of the Rock Riot flavor.
No lights were allowed in the Toxic Creek for the drivers. I snuck in with a media pass just to show you what the drivers encountered.
The smell of Barbasol is strong in this one.
RECON G6 CHALLENGE
The G6 Challenge is the heart and soul of the AXIALFEST. The G6 is a semi-timed event where drivers have to navigate their rigs through trail markers. There were several classes; 1.9 Adventurist, 2.2 Adventurist, and Ultra. I say semi-timed because there are so many time bonuses that it is impossible to really tell who is going to win. The Ultra class is the only class where drivers are allowed to sprint the entire time. It is the cardio class. The Adventure class is about driving clean and having fun.
The G6 Challenge was ran in three stages, Friday afternoon, Saturday morning, and Saturday night. The daylight stages featured many challenges such as a sled pull, kite flying, darts, archery, boat float, winch skill, and probably a few more. Each daylight stage was 500 trail markers long. Some drivers were on the courses for over three hours at a time. The night stage had more of a party feel and was dubbed ‘Boogie Nights’. Drivers that decorated their bodies and rigs received time bonuses. The night stage was shorter than the day stages, so drivers could get back to G-Central for some disco action.
The line for G6 check in was a bit lengthy. Brad and Stuart of RECON moved them through as quickly as they could. This would be the only line of waiting…
This is the calm before the storm. Drivers lined up according to class; Ultra made up the front row as they will be sprinting, 2.2/Wraith’s for the second batch and 1.9′s for the third wave.
The Undertaker brought his quarter to pay the bridge toll.
The Wraiths lead the way.
There was a bit of ‘Follow the Leader’ action until the 1.9 class separated.
All the way from Hawaii, Disturbin’ Tha Peace flew up to gets his G6 on!
Mike Pham is G6in and he knows it.
The G6 is perfect for families with young ones. This guy has got his eye out for the next trail marker.
Team work is allowed and encouraged. These two use a tow cable and winch to help each other up a dugout obstacle.
Is that trail marker 392?! Only another hundred or so to go. I hope you packed some extra batteries, water and snacks.
It wouldn’t be a Parker course without some mud and water.
One of the Driver’s Challenges was to fly a kite tethered to your truck. How does Parker come up with there ideas? Ty from Tekin completed his run with ease.
Dan Wilson ready to complete the Pull Pal Winching Skill Section.
Dean Hsiao gets ready to float his canoe down the creek.
The dance floor waiting for some dancers.
Miss D in the G spirit!
EXO TERRA CROSS
In between the G6 stages, the EXO Terra Cross was held. This was like an off-road club race with SCX10s, Wraiths, and the new EXO. A track was set up and each class raced two qualifying heats and a main. Transponders recorded laps while the drivers raced. This event turned out to be a hoot to watch. There was lots of dust flying everywhere. Those EXO buggies can really lay down the roost.
Is that a gas pump on the Terra Cross course?
Double hood jump.
Thanks for crashing, so I could win.
Is that the fast line?
ULTIMATE TEAM ADVENTURE CHALLENGE
The Ultimate Team Adventure Challenge, or UTAC, was a new concept for RC. It combined the adventure of the G6 with the orienteering skills of geocaching. Teams are made up of three rigs with specific titles & duties; Team Director, Team Navigator, and Team Support vehicle. The support vehicle pulled a trailer that included a magnet and magnifying glass to be used on course. Teams were given a set of coordinates and were told to go locate the caches. Each cache contained instructions for teams to follow.
This may be the coolest SCX10 of all time. This VW Transporter was a support vehicle for a UTAC team.
Here Team RenoRadioControl.com pulled a cache out of a tube with their magnet and is ready to follow some instructions.
At the end of the UTAC, teams used their wilderness skills to light a fire. The goal was to have the fire burn the string.
AXIALFEST 2012 was a huge success. Drivers drove more in three days than most will ever drive in their lifetimes and many memories were made. Smiles were worn by all participants even when things did not go their way. Drivers supported each other and true RC camaraderie was seen throughout the event. The only thing the AXIALFEST is missing is even more days. Next year let’s make it a whole week.
We are very excited to see RC Truck Stop do a full review on the EXO Terra Buggy RTR. Thank you Matt Higgins for performing the review and supplying great shots. Please read the full review at RC Truck Stop.
The Axial EXO Terra Buggy stands out due is its unique looks and construction. The integrated cage and multi-piece body seperates it from the norm, eliminating the standard body posts and bouncy lexan body found on most RC’s. So what do you do when you feel the need to change the look of your EXO Terra Buggy?
First thing I did was find some inspiration. While surfing the classified’s section on race-dezert I came across this heavily built VW Bug with an LS1 out back. Perfect! The EXO Terra Buggy is also V8 powered thanks to Turnkey.
A few days later the fun began! A quick trim and mock-up showed that this project had some potential. I started the build on my EXO Kit, so excuse its rough looks.
Some more trimming, fitting, and head scratching resulted in the following:
I immediately knew this body needed something to top it off… How about Axial’s Universal Light Bar? Part number: AX30709
Decision on the paint scheme was easy. I know this is a VW and not a Toyota, but I couldn’t resist.
To finish off the lighting I installed a pair of the small round buckets included on the Axial Light Bucket Set. Part Number: AX80045
Now for the fun part. My AX90024 Axial EXO Terra Buggy RTR is still fresh and right out of the box. Let the modifications begin. With the body already trimmed to fit and the basic modifications required already laid out this was an easy build!
First things first, I removed those awesome green body panels. The rear wing was also removed for now. Still undecided on the look with/without the wing.
Because the hood of the VW body is longer I had to look at finding a way to move the front bumper out of the way. So for now I simply removed the bumper brace. Add that to the pile of removed parts…
I also wanted to give this build more of a long travel stance. Out of the box the EXO sets at about mid travel for ideal handling. I decided to use some longer rear springs in the front to achieve the look I am after. Some 14x70mm Firms did the trick. Part Number: AX30221.
New longer springs vs. the stock front springs. Both are Firm (Yellow) Springs.
End result, the new front stance.
To mount the VW baja body I decided to avoid using the existing hardware that was used to mount the EXO Terra Buggy body. Instead I fabricated some body mounts. Lots of ways to do this but here are the parts and placement I decided to go with.
I picked up some some threaded posts. They were included with Traxxas TRA3727A. The simply threaded into the existing hole that held down the old hood.
I also trimmed the hood mounts on the front to allow the body to sit as low as possible. The two mounts circled in red were cut flush.
For the rear body mounts I dug through the parts box. These started life as AX10 body mounts. Part number: AX80005
I simply cut them to the required length and drilled a new hole in them.
Once my cut was cleaned up and I confirmed the length I used the existing holes on the EXO cage (where the original body mounts). I used some M3x15mm Tapping Buttonheads that used to hold on the bumper compression brace. Perfect length for this, and a great way to re-use parts from the “removed” pile.
The end result looks factory. I even have some adjustment left to fine tune the fitment of the VW Baja Bug Body.
Next I decided to remove the rear light bezel. The roof of the VW Baja Bug body will cover this, and removing this allowed me to get the body to set at the desired height. Plus this gives me easy access to install the radiator. Note: It is possible to remove the light bezel without removing the cage, I used an Axial 2.0mm ball driver. Axial Part Number: AX20021
Guess what is included in the spare parts bag of the Axial EXO Terra Buggy RTR? How about an officially licensed Griffin Radiator. Score!
This parts tree is available separately as well. Its a great accessory for your SCX10 or Wraith. Part Number: AX80103
I decided to cut the radiator off and lay down some silver paint for scale realism.
Radiator assembly and installation.
Did you catch that additional parts tree with rod ends I showed in the picture of the radiator? They provided a perfect solution for adjusting the position of the front bumper to fit the VW body. I picked up some M3x25mm threaded turnbuckles, Part Number: AXA1633 to complete the assembly of the links. The following screws and nuts were used to mount the assembled links to the bumper and bulkhead:
M3x45mm Cap head. Part Number: AXA0094
M3x18mm Button head. Part Number: AXA118
M3 Thin Nylon Lock Nuts. Part Number: AXA1052
One thing I really liked about the 1:1 inspiration was the overall width and stance. I decided to mimic this look by simply installing some front wheels and tires on the back of the EXO. The EXO Terra Buggy comes with narrow front wheels/tires and standard rear wheels/tires. To match the narrow wheels/tires on all 4 corners I needed the following parts:
Here is my final pile of removed parts. Looks like my EXO Kit gets some fresh body panels and a new wing now!
Here is a shot of the cutouts on the hood to clear the shocks. Also note the cutouts for the front bumper, this wasn’t necessary but I didn’t want to take away too much clearance from the front by pushing the bumper any further forward.
This also includes the seats and dash, I’m saving that for a potential part 2 of this build.
Trimmed, painted, and stickers applied. Too easy! My EXO RTR should be much faster now…
Install time, simply remove the 2 button head tapping screws holding on the center brace from each side and it comes right out. (4 Screws total)
I grabbed 4 of the M2.6 button heads that held all the original green body panels to the cage. These will be used again to mount the motor.
Once mounted it simply slides into place. The detail of the motor and radiator should definitely make this VW Baja Build stand out.
Ready for it?!?
The completed build is definitely very unique. It was surprisingly simple to do as well! The EXO Terra Buggy platform has a ton of potential for scale builds and replica’s. Already brainstorming the next EXO based project, hope you enjoyed this one.
Congratulations to Hans Twardowski and family from Hemet, CA. They were able to get out and find Axial Geocache #3-2012
Hans and family found the Geocache on Nov. 24th on their way back from Tucson, AZ. They decided to make the stop and enlist the use of a friends boat to get them there. Here is what Hans had to say about their adventure.
“My wife, daughter and I were headed to Tucson for Thanksgiving with family. We heard about the geocache from Hot Rock Hobbies in Lake Havasu City and figured it was probably gone, so we went to Tucson first. While in Tucson, we kept an eye on the comment board expecting the cache to show as found. When we left Tucson Saturday morning, I checked one more time and still noticed the cache was showing not found. We decided to take a side trip and hunt for the cache before returning home to California. We met up with a friend who owns a boat and headed for the site. The boat ride was about 20 minutes south of the city and worth every minute of it even if it was a bust. Once we found the right location, we beached the boat and headed for some rock crawling. We scoured the entire area before attempting to climb the rock itself. As I was passing a small outcropping, I looked down and spotted the cache. I called my wife and daughter to come see the site. We began uncovering the end and weren’t aware of how large the box was until it kept getting bigger. Eventually, we uncovered the entire box and secured the crawler. We then had to climb down the rock to get back to the boat (almost as hard as getting to the rock, but definitely worth the effort). Once we got back to the boat, we headed to town and Hot Rock Hobbies to meet the owners and thank them for the heads up on the excellent challenge. Since we geocache and have RC cars, it was a great combination to both hobbies we enjoy. The staff at Hot Rock Hobbies (Kim Adams and Jim McKay) was very knowledgeable and friendly and offered to assist us in any way we need to make this a new addition to our outdoor recreation. I already have a trophy truck, but am extremely excited to try rock crawling. According to Kim and Jim, this is a great truck and Axial deserves great credit to bringing many hours of enjoyment to RC hobbiests everywhere.”
Hans scored a complete Axial SCX10 Dingo Kit… well almost. As usual we kept a bag of parts to encourage him to let us know he found the geocache. Hans also got some of the coolest Axial swag only available to the geocache finders.
— Original Post —
Here is the third Axial Geocache of 2012!!!!
Remember it’s about the adventure you make to get there and get the goods that really makes this program fun and we like to hear from you about your experience. You will not be disappointed of this location when you get there. Grab some water and your rigs and head out to do some RC Crawling. This is a cache and carry find, once you find it, it’s yours to take with you. Tread lightly and leave no trace.
Axial Geocache #3-2012
N34º 25.027 W114º 17.347 (paste into googlemaps and look for the green arrow)
What we want from you:
Name / Address / Email / Phone
Photos of you and your Axial Rig at or near the Geocache site.
Time / Date of when you found the Axial Geocache #3-2012
What you get from us:
More prizes on top of the prize that you will find.
You have probably noticed a lot more full size off-road company names featured on Axial vehicles as of late. These names are not just another marketing ploy, but instead relationships that Axial has developed to bring you the best products we can. We all know that R/C vehicles are scale representations of full size vehicles, so isn’t it natural that Axial would want to work with full size companies to make their products as accurate as possible? There are obviously components that can not be made to scale, due to the abuse that an R/C vehicle will see, which is way more intense than a full size rig would endure. Take an R/C car and let it tubmle off a 10′ rock, which would be scaled to a 100′ rock in full scale, where a full size vehicle would be literally totaled and made into scrap metal; your Axial rig keeps on ticking. So as you can imagine, not all components scale out just right. The theory however, when it comes to suspension geometry and suspension tuning crosses over extremely well. The Axial staff recently ventured out to Riverside, California to have a technical chat with Dylan Evans and company at ICON Vehicle Dynamics so I tagged along to bring you the scoop!
ICON Vehicle Dynamics is a very unique company staffed with some of the most talented suspension development experts in the nation. Headed up by SCORE off road racing champion Dylan Evans, who also knows rock crawling through his membership of the Poly Goats Four Wheel Drive Club of Cal Poly SLO; Evans and company know a thing or two about how to deal with rough terrain at all speeds. As the name implies, this company focuses on the unique characteristics of each vehicles dynamics (forces causing motion), and how to improve that vehicles ability to tackle rough terrain while significantly improving ride quality.
ICON Vehicle Dynamics is further unique due to their manufacturing process, which all takes place “in house” at their Riverside, Ca facility. The ICON Vehicle Dynamics philosophy demands the use of the highest quality raw materials available, construct the products in the USA and deliver to the consumer the best mix of top-shelf product and customer service. This philosophy has made ICON Vehicle Dynamics stand out in a sea of aftermarket companies and has them labelled as the place to go if you demand the best available.
Cool ICON Decal!
Here is a short video they have as an introductory to their company, check it out!
We started out our visit with ICON Vehicle Dynamics in their large meeting room, where we met with the marketing staff, the general manager, and the engineering staff. This gave both companies an opportunity to discuss the similarities between the two companies. It is amazing how we share the same customers and the same passion for the off road lifestyle
After the meeting, we were off to the warehouse and shop area to check out where the magic happens. I made a few pit stops on the way out of the offices to snap a few pictures of some cool stuff I saw laying around.
Very high tech Bypass shock for off-road racing
Our Axial EXO proudly on display!
The SCX10 Honcho articulated in the office
The line-up of Axial vehicles featuring ICON branding
I decided to peak out the windows from the upstairs office and sneak a few shots of the facility from a bird’s eye view.
Check out all those CnC machines!!
Our shop tour started in the warehouse where they house some of the stock, getting ready to be shipped out, It was amazing to see how many different products they stock, and to hear about how the shelves get refilled almost every day as product is shipped out.
The manufacturing side is what really had us drooling! These guys make some really impressive components.
Everything about ICON Vehicle Dynamics, from their design process, to the manufacturing all the way to packaging, is top notch! We were really looking forward to checking out the shock department, as these guys are known for mastering the ride quality as well as performance.
shock shafts for days!!
Bypass shock bodies freshly welded
Mounting sets ready for assembly
Resivoirs ready to be added
Here is Dylan discussing shock tuning with Axial’s Jeff Johns, Matt Kearney, Brandon Coonce and Jamie Seymour.
Not sure if you caught our blog on the SCX10JK where we installed the ICON suspension system (If not click here to read it), but we were running and testing some of their compression clicker shocks. We figured since we were here, we should go ahead and remove them to see how they were doing, as well as make a slight valving adjustment. We pulled the SCX10JK up in the shop, and Adrian (shock building master) got to work.
The first step was to remove all of the shocks
Once the shocks were off of the vehicle, Adrian set up the shock dyno, yes I said shock dyno! This is where these guys take technology to the next level to put their experience into scientific numbers.
The numbers from the shock are then placed on a graph in real time on a computer screen
The objective of the change was to make the shocks 25% lighter on the compression valving to make the clickers more effective through their range of adjustment. We found that the SCX10JK never went above 6-clicks even in the harshest of terrain. We had the pleasure of watching Dylan and Adrian work their magic on the Dyno and out in the shop as they dissassembled and re-assembled the shocks for the adjustments. We will let the pictures tell most of the story…
The shock pistons look quite a lot different than the average R/C shock piston. These pistons have valve shims that are designed to flex out of the way of piston holes to let fluid pass. The one unique feature of full size ICON shocks is their very drastic difference in tunability between compression and rebound settings. Were we would normally make changes in the R/C world with oil viscosity, these guys make changes with shims. They have been doing it long enough to know what shim stack will make the desired change, and only have to tear them down once and get it dialed in perfect!
The seal heads are similar to the R/C versions, here is a cut away version of the ICON seal head
Once the shocks are completely reassembled, it’s back to the dyno for a comparison check from the original numbers
Dylan fires up the dyno and then checks the graph on the lap top and confirms they are good to go!
While Adrian re-installs the shocks on the SCX10JK, Dylan, Brandon and Matt discuss some of the suspension tuning Dylan has been doing on his Axial EXO and Wraith. Dylan is also an R/C enthusiast and really gets into the deep technical theory conversation with Matt and Brandon.
It was extremely cool to be a fly on the wall while the head of R&D from both of these companies exchange theories and ideas. It will be very interesting to see where this corroboration leads in the future. One thing for sure, with Partners like ICON Vehicle Dynamics, there will not be an issue gathering insight into the full size world when developing the next Axial vehicles.
Thank you Dylan and Crew at Icon Vehicle Dynamics, we appreciate your hospitality, and look forward to future visits!
Please check out ICON Vehicle Dynamics on the web here.
I know it’s been awhile, but here’s the Stage 3 build of my AX10 Ridgecrest. Don’t get confused with Bender’s build. He’s working on a Ridgecrest too. If anyone needs a refresher on this build check out Stage 1 and Stage 2. In this final instalment of my build we’ll be completing the drivetrain upgrades.
Let’s start out by replacing the stock 20T motor with a 27T and reduced gearing for improved low end torque. You can get the motor and transmission assembly out by removing the battery tray or receiver tray. You don’t need to remove both.
Then remove the set screws from the drive shafts and remove the drive shafts from the transmission outputs.
Then remove the 4 screws that hold the transmission to the skid plate.
Then with a little finagling, the whole assembly can be worked out of the chassis.
I’ll be intsalling a 27T motor and new aluminum motor plate:
Then I re-installed the spur gear cover and dropped the assembly back into the chassis. Now on to the axle gearing.
I ordered heavy duty gear sets and I will be using an over-drive gear set in the front axle to help the vehicle pull itself up steep climbs. And while here I ‘m adding some machined aluminum differential covers. They look great, but being low profile and smooth have less chance of getting caught on the rocks.
Starting with the rear axle, remove the deferential cover and note the placement of the ring gear in the axle housing. You want to make sure the new ones go in the same direction!
Remove the screws that retain the axle ends and slide the axle ends off enough to pull the axles from the differential. Then remove the 4 screws that retain the differential in the housing.
Remove your stock ring gear and install the heavy duty gear.
Removing the drive shaft from the pinion input you can simply slide the pinion out and replace it with the heavy duty unit.
Grease up the gear and install the differential, making sure it’s the same direction as factory installed. If the ring gear was on the left side of the differential when it came out, make sure it goes back in on the left side.
Then I installed the new machined differential cover. Looks sweet!
The front is all the same procedure except you’ll have to get your steering link out of the way, plus I am using an over-drive gear set. This turns the front wheels just a bit faster than the rear and helps pull the vehicle up steep hills.
When finished, she looks about the same as Stage 2, but again crawls even better with the increased low end torque and has much more throttle control at low speeds. In this configuration I attended the OCRCRC Finals and I participated in a fun new event called King of the Park. Based on a King of the Hammers style race, SCX10s, Wraiths and my Ridgecrest battled for 4 long laps around a coarse of high speed dirt, sand, intense rock crawling and a small water crossings.
The AX10 Ridgecrest had enough speed to out run SCX10s, keep pace with Wraiths and crawled just as good as any vehicle out there. If not for the driver, and one horrible lap, I know the AX10 could have been in the top 5. I still had a blast! Over an hour of beating and abuse, you can see the scars to the window decal, nothing broke and impressed many. Check out Bender’s video just after 5 minute mark to see the madness.