Building the full size SCX10XJ: Part 1

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Words: Scott G

When setting out to build a trail worthy rig, so many things go through your mind. What do you expect from the rig? What do you plan to do with it? What budget do you have to work with? These are all extremely important things to consider when selecting the donor vehicle. However, just know that no matter what you plan for, there will be extras needed, to include the expectations, plans, and budget. Building a 4×4 vehicle to go deep into the elements is not an easy task, and like most things in life, you get what you pay for. This means you have to outfit your choice with the best components available within your budget that will allow you to attain your goals.

This is not at all unlike developing the new SCX10, as all of the same parameters are considered, to include performance expectations and budget restraints. Not budget restraints for development, but budget restraints of our fans and customers. We often read the forums and see what people would like to see in the Axial vehicles. We are forced to make some difficult decisions when finalizing the package, as we want to include the world with these rigs, but also don’t want to ask for $699 for an RTR to get in the game. It is like that with all Axial products, so we do our best to aim for the sweet spot, enough features to perform at the top level, with a reasonable price tag. This is not an easy task. We are faced with the same decisions when building a full size rig. Do we want a supercharged V8, 1000 minimum on the RTI ramp, seating for 4, bulletproof axles? Of course we do, but the budget doesn’t allow for all of them, so we settle for what we can and have a blast doing it.

One of the most common things we read is…. “Oh no, not another Jeep vehicle”, well, I am here to tell you that most of us are Jeep people, so get over it. The Jeep brand is synonymous with the art of back country exploration with extreme reliability, exactly what we strive for with our little brand. It is a perfect marriage and we are happy.

When looking into new options for the new SCX10, we did what all outdoor enthusiasts do, we went into the woods to think about it, to do a little research. We were checking out all the rigs out on the trail and noticed that the XJ was a very popular rig for the most hardcore wheeler and for family back road exploration. We saw XJ’s that were exo-caged on 40′s all the way to bone stock 4×4′s loaded with the whole family and dog. This platform was exactly what we were looking for. It is one of the most popular 4×4 vehicles ever built, with millions of them on the road. Some say that Jeep actually invented the SUV with this release. It was not adapted right away for off-road use, as the old guard (Read: Wrangler, CJ5 and CJ7 owners) looked down upon these Jeeps, calling them cars with big tires, and promptly showing their owners the direction toward the nearest shopping mall or soccer field.

Some XJ inspiration we found on YouTube…

I personally had this experience with my 1993 Jeep grand Cherokee, I was given directions to the soccer field, immediately preceding my climbing an extremely nasty Granite rock face on Los Coyotes Indian reservation back in 1996. The CJ owners immediately began to bicker and argue that the other should climb it. Neither one did, nor did they express themselves again to me on the trail. They learned that day that a Unitized chassis wasn’t the end of the world, and that coil springs are like magic. The Cherokee (XJ) shared the same front suspension with the ZJ, though the XJ had leaf springs in the back, something the Jeep guys were used to back then. Any of the XJ’s and ZJ’s on the trail were hand built, as there were very few aftermarket components available with the exception of suspension which was primarily available to fit larger tires. We told some of our JK friends about our XJ desires and they immediately started flowing some memes our way, most of which we cant publish, but here are a few gems that made us laugh…

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Thanks for the support guys…sheesh.

Fast forward 20 years, and these old grocery getters, mall crawlers or soccer field shuttlers are now extremely common to find on the trail. The off-road community has more than accepted them and many aftermarket companies now make a decent living supporting them. The hard part, finding a clean one-owner version with no rust and low miles, kind of like finding a Unicorn. One of Axial’s more predominant partners, Currie Enterprises, was at the forefront of developing suspension for these rigs so that they could be raced in a desert series called Jeep Speed back in the day. We consulted the Currie family and were introduced to Matt Chapman, the owner of the Cherokee that we based our SCX10XJ off of. As we have done in the past, we like to build the full size version of our scale rigs (see here…) to go out and experience what they can do, and stay on the forefront with regards to what the community is doing. At this time, Matt’s Cherokee was bone stock, as it had just been purchased and not modified yet. We elected to team with Matt and the Currie’s in effort to help develop the Full size XJ into an awesome trail machine all the while developing and testing our SCX10 II in tandem.

Here is a shot of Matt’s XJ when he got it, no rust with 150K miles…

After a good amount of research, we started to compile a list of necessities. We knew the rig had to be able to go with 4 door JK’s on 37′s, as most of Matt’s friends were rolling newer JK’s. We needed at least 35″ tires. Fitting 35′s under the Cherokee would require some proper fender flares and keeps the cops in Moab at bay. Notch Customs said “35″ tires with a 4″ lift, some welding required”. Currie makes a great suspension system for the XJ as well as their bulletproof Rock Jock 44 axles, and you know we love the performance of Icon Shocks. So, what we really needed was some armor. We looked long and hard at so many companies making XJ parts, and there is some awesome stuff out there. Russ at Notch Customs introduced us to JCR Off-Road, who ended up having one of the most complete armor systems available. Then we needed some lighting, the natural choice was Rigid powered by sPOD. Almost forgot wheels and tires. In effort to make the full size version look more like the RC, we elected to run a 35X12.50X17 BFG KO2 All Terrain wrapped around Method Mesh wheels. The 17″ wheel looks closer to a 1.9 than a 15″ wheel. Of course we needed some nice tone out of the 4.0 straight 6, so the XJ would need a Magnaflow exhaust. We had some details to sort but the main wish list was assembled!

First things first, the rig had to be made as reliable as possible by going through everything mechanical. We changed all the fluids, belts, hoses, pretty much everything we could to ensure reliability.

So, building a full size rig is just like building a scaler, get the base kit, then select all the options you wish to install. Here is our list!

2000 Jeep Cherokee XJ Parts list:
Currie Rock Jock 44 front high pinion axle with 4:56 gears
Currie Rock Jock 44 rear axle with 4:56 gears
Currie Rock Jock 4.5″ suspension system
Currie Antirock Sway bar system
EATON E-Locker rear, Detroit Locker front
JCR Vanguard Front winch bumper – No stinger
JCR Rear Bumper – tire carrier ready
JCR XJ Classic sliders
JCR Transfer case skid plate
JCR Gas tank skid plate
JCR Adventure roof rack
Notch Customs fender flares
Rigid 50″ E-Series LED bar
Rigid Dually x2 (front and rear bumper)
PSC Ram assist kit – steering
ICON Vehicle Dynamics 2.0 Aluminum shocks
Magnaflow exhaust
sPOD – Source with Bluetooth control
17X9 Method Wheels – Mesh (5)
35X12.50X17 BFGoodrick KO2 All Terrain tires (5)

Before we started the build process, Jamie Seymour, Axial’s R&D Industrial Designer and resident rendering expert whipped up this drawing for us to envision the build…

Stay tuned as we add more of this story in the coming weeks……

The playground just got a lot smaller – YETI XL™

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You DIDN’T ask for it, you didn’t expect this size from us. You said all we do is re-badge our existing AX10, SCX10 and Wraith platforms… but good grief Charlie Brown, we are only nine years young!

While you’ve been hugging your SCX10 branded pillow case, we’ve been quietly working away for the past two years on some newness; first came the Yeti and now the Yeti XL!

Yes, it’s real, yes it’s big. Yes, we did it our way and that just takes a little longer than most!

The playground just got a lot smaller – YETI XL™

Yeti Pre-run Checklist – Read Before You Run

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Now that the Axial Yeti is hitting hobby store shelves, we are hearing of more “Yeti sightings” being recorded! That being said we wanted to take a few minutes to help you get familiar with this new platform! First and foremost, let’s go over what to look for when you first pull it out of the box. As with any new RTR R/C vehicle, you should check everything over carefully before installing a battery and heading off to your local bash spot. RTR means “ready to run”, but even then there are certain things you should check before actually running your new “RTR” R/C. For this blog post we will cover unboxing your new Yeti, and what to look for before driving it for the first time.

Checklist:

1. Check and make sure the wheel nuts are properly torqued down on all four corners of the vehicle after you pull it out of the box. No need to get crazy and over tighten them, just make sure they are good and snug.

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2. Adjust the height of the battery tray to fit the battery packs you have, or that you plan on running.You want to make sure the battery is held firmly in place so it can’t move around while you are driving. If the battery can move around in the chassis while you are driving the Yeti, it can cause erratic or inconsistent handling.

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3. Next we added a little foam to the battery tray to stop the battery from sliding back and forth after you have adjusted the height in the previous step. We cut up an old tire foam and used a little at both ends of the battery. Shoe Goo can be used to hold the foam in place so it stays put during battery changes.

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4. Check all drive shaft set screws prior to your first run to ensure they are tight. You will also want to check these after your first battery pack as well, just to make sure they are still properly seated.

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For the front output, turn the front tires to the passenger side. Then, you can access the set screw from the driver’s side with a long 2mm driver as shown.

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This covers the initial inspection before you run your Yeti for the first time. Taking a few minutes to go over this list, as well as giving the entire vehicle a quick visual check, will definitely give you a better experience. We will have more maintenance tips and tricks coming soon as well! Stay tuned!!

Axial – ICON Vehicle Dynamics 61-90mm Aluminum Shocks – Step by Step Build

AX30103 – Icon 61-90mm Aluminum Shock Set – 7mm piston (2pcs)

Now that we have released Axial’s newest scale shocks, which are officially licensed by Icon Vehicle Dynamics, I wanted to take some time to do a step by step build here on the blog to help people get the most out of their new shocks. These shocks are an improvement over our old SCX10 shocks, because of the new fully machined shock piston. The new piston provides a tighter fit inside the shock body which helps eliminate binds as the shock cycles through its travel. The new Icon shock bodies and reservoirs are clear anodized for durability and classic looks, which is a nice touch. Time to dig in and get our hands dirty!

A shot of the packaging. Each package contains all parts and hardware required to build two complete shocks.

I cut all the plastic parts I will need to get started off their respective parts trees.

Open the hardware bags and dump the contents out in a secure location so you don’t loose any vital parts.

Start by locating your aluminum shock bodies and the red o-rings. Apply a little grease to each o-ring before installing them into the shock bodies.

Once you have the o-ring lubed up drop it into place in the bottom of the shock body.

Now locate the plastic spacer that goes in between the o-rings, and install that on top of the first o-ring.

Grease the 2nd o-ring and install it into place on top of the plastic spacer in the shock body.

Next install the lower plastic cartridge and threaded preload adjuster onto the shock body.

Locate your shock shafts and e-clips next.

Install the first e-clip in the bottom slot on the shock shaft.

Slide the shock piston onto the shock shaft next.

Then, install the second e-clip to hold the piston in place.

Both shafts prepped and ready for the next step.

Now we can slide the shock shafts into the shock body from the top. Install the rubber bump stops and thread the rod ends into place as needed.

Apply the Icon decals to the shock reservoirs.

Using the supplied hardware, secure the shock reservoirs to the shock caps.

Insert the black o-rings into the shock cap, and make sure they are properly seated.

Now we will fill the shock body about 3/4 of the way with shock oil and cycle the shock piston to dissipate any and all air bubbles. Make sure the piston stays submersed in the oil while you cycle the shock to get rid of the air bubbles. Once the bubbles are gone fill the shock body until the oil is about 1/16th of an inch from the top of the shock body, so just shy of being full. Once the shock shaft is fully compressed, you should see the oil crown just above the top of the shock body. Screw the cap down tight while holding the shock shaft fully compressed. Once the cap is tight, wipe any excess oil away. Cycle the shock shaft a few times and listen for air bubbles. If you can hear air bubbles gurgling around inside the shock, start over and use a little more oil. Make sure all air bubbles are gone before re-assembling. If the shock shaft won’t compress all the way after this step, you have a little too much oil in the shock body. Remove the shock cap, and re-bleed the shock with a little less oil.

After you are finished bleeding the shock we can install the dual rate springs and spacers as needed.

Slide the springs over the shock body with the plastic spring retainer between the two springs.

Install the lower spring retainer next, and you are done!

That wraps up building Axial’s new fully licensed Icon shocks. Following these tips will help people get the most out of their new SCX10 shocks.

New Axial Ripsaw Tires Now Shipping

That’s right! Axial’s new 2.2 scale tire is now available through Axial distributors. The Ripsaw tires (#AX12015) feature a super sticky R35 compound, molded ribbing between the lugs to help keep mud and snow from packing into the tire tread, recessed lugs for additional traction and measure 5.5″ tall. Finish off your next 2.2 scale build with a tire that’s as aggressive as the terrain you drive on.

http://www.axialracing.com/products/ax12015

Video:

Axial’s Muddy Wraith

So, I guess the word is out that we are releasing a new vehicle.While everyone is wanting it, “LIKE RIGHT NOW!!!,” we are still doing our initial playing, I mean testing. Did I say that out loud? And we have had our fair share of rain in Southern California that would make Dennis Anderson proud to host his Muddy Motorsports Park in our backyard!

So, for all you East Coast’ers – this one is for you! It was hard work trying to get all scalistic and paint all this mud on, so we just did it the authentic way and bashed it through the biggest mud holes we could find!

So how is that for a gallon of sweet tea?

XR10′s Getting Close!

The XR10′s are at their final stage and preparing for their departure.  Won’t be long until Axial gets to enjoy seeing the kits in our loyal customers hands.  We can’t wait to see what everyone thinks and how you will customize your XR10.  Check out these pictures from our visit to the supplier. Hope you’re ready for this!

Check out this sweet bonus, Axial has added the new internal wheel weights to the XR10 kit at no additional charge. The kit will come with 2 AX30545 Main rings and 1 set of AX30546 inserts!

For more information on the Internal wheel weights click here.