Tire Cutting 101

When it comes to scale trail runs, mud bogging, competition crawling and racing, tires are one of the most important aspects of your vehicle. Without proper traction it can be tough to hold your intended line in the rocks or around the track. Having multiple sets of tires in your arsenal is always a good idea in order to be prepared for any and all conditions. But, for the budget crawler, basher and racer having numerous sets of tires and wheels isn’t always a feasible option. There are ways to improve your existing tires and wheels though, and all it requires is a little time at the work bench. For this tire cutting article we will show you a few ways to get more traction out of your stock or existing tires, with little to no money out of your pocket. There are numerous ways to cut tires for better performance. Siping, read cutting, tires is a technology used in the 1:1 off-road world for everything from rock crawling to baja, mud bogging and even full size monster trucks. Tire cutting can be used to get better forward bite, better lateral bite, and even help to avoid mud from packing into certain tread patterns. You can also cut the side wall lugs to soften up the overall feel of the tires carcass as well. There are many aspects to this technology/art form.

A good example to start with for the scale crawlers is the stock R40 compound Axial Ripsaw tires that are original equipment on the RTR Wraith and new RTR Ridgecrest. These tires have a great tread pattern with aggressive lugs for hardcore off road terrain. But, the compound on these is quite a bit harder than the softer R35 Axial Ripsaw tires. Here are a few different methods you can use to get the most out of your stock RTR Ripsaw tires. Only tools needed are a good pair of small wire cutters, a Dremel with a cutoff wheel and a little bit of your time.

Wire cutters used.

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Dremel and cutoff wheel used.

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A stock uncut tire before we get started.

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First thing I wanted to improve upon was forward bite, and the ability to clean sticky mud out of the tire lugs. The tires I am using for this article will be bolted up to a 2.2 scaler/rock racer which will see a wide variety of terrain. I started by cutting the smaller rows of lugs completely out of the tires for a super aggressive tread pattern that will have the ability to shed mud and wet dirt, using a small pair of wire cutters. This cut will also soften the carcass up and allow for more forward bite in technical rock sections, similar to airing a 1:1 tire down for more grip and better ride. If your wire cutters are too small to span the entire lug you are trying to remove, you can cut half of the lug and slide the cutters along the base of the lug for a second cut as needed. I had to use this method on the biggest lugs.

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Next cut the smaller center lugs out on the same row.

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Here is how that same tire looks when the first round of cutting is complete.

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A profile shot after the first round with the wire cutters.

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A photo of all the lugs removed from the 4 tires.

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Next I want to improve the tires performance on the rocks in off camber situations. To do this I will use my Dremel and cut the existing tire grooves in the center lugs down to the tire’s carcass. Here you can see it grooves before I modify them.

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Position the Dremel over the lug to be cut and follow the existing groove to make it deeper.

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Keep your RPMs on the Dremel high enough to cut the lug without bogging the motor down. Gently apply pressure until the cutoff wheel cuts the full depth of the lug. Be careful not to go too deep and cut all the way through the tire, take your time and be patient. You can also do this to the outer lugs if you find you need more bite, or sidewall flex. Another way to get more flex out of your tires is to open up the breather holes in the wheels. I drilled out the existing breather holes in these wheels to twice the stock diameter.

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Finished tire

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Here’s a few shots to show the overall look on my “Project Backyard Basher Ridgecrest.” These tires really give it a lot more aggressive look, similar to what you would see on the “Rock Bouncers” from down in the southeast.

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Following these tips will improve overall performance on the stock RTR Ripsaw tires as well as other tires on the market, especially if they are molded in a firm rubber compound.

Bender’s AX10 Ridgecrest Project Backyard Basher

Now that Axial’s new Ridgecrest is readily available I wanted to show one of the Ridgecrest projects I have been working on. For this project I just wanted to build a do it all trail runner/crawler/basher. The Ridgecrest is the perfect platform for this type of build in my opinion, because of the stout AR60 axles and the well tuned suspension geometry. The purpose of this build is to have a rig that can handle a lot of various situations from sandy hills, to rocks and roots, a little water, and possibly some urban bashing. This project will also probably be a loaner vehicle on occasion as well, so I want it to work decent in all situations. Here’s a rundown of what I changed, and why.

A couple shots with the body removed. I swapped the electronics and battery trays around so the battery now sits in front for better weight distribution.

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Swapping the two trays around was easy, the only thing required was a servo extension wire. The steering servo wire lead on this rig was a bit too short for me to reach the receiver after swapping the two trays around. Servo extensions can be found at most hobby shops and online retailers for less than $5, so it is a cheap and easy solution.

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Here you can see the junction where the servo wire and the servo extension meet. I used the stock wire guide to keep the wires out of harm’s way. Also notice I moved the on/off switch to the opposite side of the chassis, just to keep wires cleanly tucked away.

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I stretched the wheelbase on this Ridgecrest to help on big rock obstacles, and hill climbs. A longer wheelbase usually helps a rig’s capabilities in these situations. So, I installed our 106mm grey links, part number AX30516, to replace the old stock plastic lower links. Then, I used our grey machined high clearance links, part number AX30469, to replace the stock upper links. In order to stretch the wheelbase as much as possible I used our long curved XR10 rod ends on all the suspension links, part number AX80057. You will need 4 of the rod end parts trees total to complete the conversion, as well as M3 threaded studs to secure the rod ends to the links, part number AXA0187. You will need two packages of the threaded studs to complete the conversion. My wheelbase now sits at 13 1/2″.

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A shot of the link set-up.

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Here you can see I also installed our new AR60 machined link mounts, part number AX30830, on the axles as well. These link mounts are cool because they have multiple mounting points, which will help you fine tune wheelbase, ride height and shock angles as needed.

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Another modification that I made was the jump to XR10 beadlock wheels, part number AX08061, and R35 Ripsaw tires, part number AX12015. This mod is one of the best you can make, the difference in traction between the stock RTR Ripsaw tires and the better R35 compound tires is night and day.

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Last thing I changed was the springs on the shocks. The stock springs were a bit too stiff for my liking, so I swapped them out for our purple comp springs, part number AX30224.

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A few shots with the newly cut body.

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So far these few mods have really transformed this vehicle into a super capable basher/trail runner, that is extremely fun to drive. Keep an eye out for my next few Ridgecrest installments covering how to convert your Ridgecrest into a capable comp crawler.

OCRCRC – Comp One / 2012 Series

Orange County Radio Controlled Rock Crawlers (OCRCRC) held their first event of the 2012 calender year this past weekend. Winners of this series will get an invite to the SoCal Regionals later in the 2012 year. Winners of the SoCal Regionals event will get invites to the 2012 USRCCA Nationals. So, it is the beginning of a long road to the 2012 Nationals.

Being located in Orange County, Ca., we have access to limited terrain, and part of that terrain is man made. For the first stop of this series we hit up a local wash that is lined with concrete and rocks. There are some tough lines in this area, and there is traction for days, which allows the course designers to set some pretty crazy lines. While walking the courses before I ran I saw a few gates that made me go hmmmm. But, all gates were possible if you could find the right line through. The sun was shining and the weather forecast was calling for 80 degree temps, so the stage was set for a great day of competition.

Here are a few highlights from the event:

I set-up course one, which was a technical 20 gate marathon. The first few gates had some tough spots that you had to negotiate slowly in order to clear them without any penalties. Then, after gate 6 you had a series of technical off camber, as well as descending obstacles to clear. The last couple gates were easy if you found the proper approach.

Brandon volunteered to run my 20 gate course first, and who was I to deny him that pleasure. Of course him and his XR10 made it look easy as usual.

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OCRCRC club member/starter Tyler Schuldt broke his leg recently, so he competed on crutches all day. Not an east task in this terrain. On this particular course you had to stand inside a circle and let your spotter guide you through the course. This was the only course that played into his favor.

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Brandon spotting for Tyler.

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A few random shots.

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I spy some shafty axles, a man after my own heart!

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Jake Wright’s latest custom build with XR10 axles.

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Don Hughes attempts the 20 gate marathon course with his XR10.

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More random goodness…….

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This off camber gate forced you to blip the throttle on the way through in order to clear the lower gate.

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Another blip was needed here……..

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……..and here.

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More blip action.

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Here’s how the top 3 finished:

1st Rich B. -101

2nd Chris D. -88

3rd Jake W. -76

Congrats guys, see you at the next event!!

Jake Wright Wins 2012 Copper State Crawloff

The first big USRCCA nationals qualifier of 2012 was held this past weekend in Tucson, Arizona. Competitors from all over the southwest gathered for a shot at a national invite for the 2012 Nationals of R/C Rock Crawling. Team Axial driver Jake Wright made the trek down from southern California, with his XR10 and a handful of other SoCal locals, to test their grit against some of the best in the southwest. After the hard fought scores were tallied up, Jake and his XR10 were victorious by a slim 8 points. Axial would like to congratulate Jake on his win, and thank him for being part of our team. Way to go man!!

A few shots of Jake and his XR10 in action at a recent San Diego competition.

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Wraith Kit Build – Scale Details

Over the holidays I found some time to start adding scale details to the step by step Wraith kit build. I still have a little more work to do, but I wanted to update the blog with what I have done so far. Most of my time was spent detailing the rear “cargo” area of the Wraith. My intent with the scale details was to give this Wraith the look that it was out for a day long trail run. So, there are no tents, kayaks, firewood, etc., just what you would see loaded up for a day trip. I also added a driver figure to the cab. After some extensive searching for a normal looking guy, that actually fit the scale of the Wraith, I ended up going with the Sam Fisher action figure from the popular “Splinter Cell” line of video games. So, when the wife asked what I wanted for X-mas, I told her Sam Fisher!! She didn’t seem all that impressed, but like the wonderful wife she is, she searched it out and bought it for me. Thanks babe!

On to the details…….a few shots of the rear cargo area. I added a couple Pro-line scale accessories like the Hi-lift jack, axe, cooler and gas can.

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Next, I fabbed up some panels out of styrene and painted them black to box the rear lower portion of the cage in. I attached the panels to the extra holes in the rear shock tower, and added our scale battery from the EXO kit. It is sitting on a shelf for now, but I will be making a battery strap for the top, and I plan to add wires going to the terminals as well. Another thing you will see is I added aluminum panels to the rear of the cage. These are the inserts from the wings of the Honcho bumper, Part # AX30530. I held the aluminum inserts from the bumper in place on the cage, then scribed the hole location using the hole in the cage gusset as a guide. I used a punch to mark the center of the hole, then drill it out to .100 diameter. I tapped the holes for M3 screws, and attached them to the cage with M3 flathead screws. Last thing you will see is I added our Lexan gas tank from the Honcho, Part # AX80046. I cut just the gas tank portion out of the Lexan flatbed, and attached it to the shock tower/chassis brace.

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Moving on to the back of the cargo area. You can see I added the radiator from our EXO kit as well. If you remove the rear lights from the bottom of the cage, you will see the hole spacing is perfectly matched to the radiator. I used our long M3 set screws to attach the bottom of the radiator. I did drill the cage and radiator mounting holes for M3 screws though, so you may need to open them up slightly before the set screws will thread in. To cap the top of the radiator off I cut a section of Honcho cage, Part # AX80046. The piece I used butts up against the back of the Honcho cab, it is the bottom bar. You will notice the hole spacing is perfectly matched to the radiator as well. I used a couple M3 self tapping screws to tie the tube to the top of the radiator. Then bent the ends of the tube in to try and match the profile of the existing Wraith cage. One last detail on the radiator is the radiator hose. I used an 1/8″ drill bit to drill a shallow hole in the top right corner of the radiator. Then, bent a small piece of 1/8″ solder at 90 degrees and pressed it into the hole. Last thing needed was some black nitro fuel line, which slides over the solder perfectly. Next, I added some scale mesh to the rear tailgate area of the cage. That mesh started life as a business card holder, the scale is perfect for this application. I made a cardboard template to fit the rear first, then used that to cut the mesh to size. A little Shoe Goo is all that is needed to hold it in place. Of course, I added one of my old Colorado vanity plates to the mesh as a final touch.

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A few shots of Sam himself. In order to get him in the drivers seat without his head hitting the cage, I had to remove the lower portion of the Wraith seat. Sam is basically sitting on the Lexan floor pan of the Wraith. I drilled and tapped the back of the seat, used a little Shoe Goo, and attached it to the Lexan floor pan too. Some flat black shoe laces we used for his lap belt. Last thing needed was to lengthen the steering column. I just cut the steering column in half and found some rubber hose that fit over the OD of the steering column. I cut the hose to the length needed, and re-attached the steering wheel.

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Next thing I wanted to address was the hood on the Wraith. Those that have seen this build-up know I moved the battery to the front. But, it can be a pain to change batteries when using the stock screws to hold the hood on. I have seen a few guys use the cable tie downs as hood latches, then install a couple body posts, and use standard body clips to hold the hood down. I like that idea, but wanted a more scale look. After checking out few set-ups, I got a chance to see Scott Hughes dad’s set-up. He used magnets to attach the hood to the chassis. Bingo, perfect! Thanks for the idea Don. After a quick trip to Ace hardware I was on my way back home with some 3/4″ round magnets and 1/4″ cable tie downs. After debating for a few, I decided to hinge the hood backwards so the hood isn’t in my way when making battery changes. I had to trim the lower part of the grill so it would clear the tube chassis when it was opened. Once I installed the hinges, I looked around for the best place to mount the magnets. After some measuring I found a spot for them right beside the stock hood mounts. I had to use an X-acto to trim the plastic tubing away a little so the magnets would sit properly for this application. Once I could press them in between the tube work, I need something underneath the magnets to hold them from pushing down and eventually out of the tube work. I ended up using our 2/3A cell carbon fiber battery mounts for the AX10 axles. I drilled the existing hood mount holes all the way through the tube. Using a couple flathead self tapping screws I attach the battery mounts from the bottom of the cage. For added security I used Shoe Goo again to hold the magnets in place. Next, I dropped the 2nd set of magnets in place on top of the set that is now tied to the chassis. This set will also be held in place by Shoe Goo. Once I had the hood marked where the magnets need to be, I secured them to the hood with a couple more dabs of Goo. Make sure the polarity of the magnets is correct before securing them with Shoe Goo, otherwise it’ll be tough to close the hood.

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A few action shots……..

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I am even adding scale rock rash to my diff covers.

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That covers this round of detailing, stay tuned for more.

Add 4 Wheel Steering to Your Wraith

One modification that I wanted to make to the Wraith kit build I did here on the blog is 4 wheel steering. Driving a rig with four wheel steering is extremely fun, especially on a scaler that will see a lot of technical terrain. So, I recently gathered all the parts I would need to make this mod. In this article I will cover the parts used and give a few tips for making this conversion as simple as possible. Let’s get started……

Parts list for 4ws conversion:

AX80073 – AR60 OCP Steering Linkage

AX30777 – AR60 OCP Servo Plate

AX30078 – Zero Ackerman Steering Plates

AX30780 – Wraith CVD’s

AX30760 – XR10 Aluminum Knuckles

AX30762 – XR10 Aluminum C-hubs

AX30450 – Steel Flange Pipes

AX80072 – Servo Post Parts Tree

AX30524 – Grey 91mm links

AXA1221 – 5x11mm Bearings

AXA1230 – 5x15mm Bearings

AXA1417 – Grey 5mm spacer for steering

AXA1428 – Grey 55mm standoff

AXA1331 – Steel Flanged Balls

AXA465 – M3x10mm Self tapping Flathead screws

AXA434 – M3x8mm Self tapping Buttonhead screws

AXA119 – M3x20mm Buttonhead screws

AXA115 – M3x10mm Buttonhead Screws (x3)

A few photos of the major parts required:

Steering linkage

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Steering plates for knuckles

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Servo plate

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Aluminum knuckles

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CVD’s

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Aluminum C-hubs

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Steel flange pipes

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Steel flanged balls

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Before we get started there are a couple things I need to mention. One, I stretched the wheelbase of this Wraith already by replacing the stock rear lower links with our XR10 94mm lower links. This moved the rear axle back just over 6mm, or about a 1/4″. To extend the upper links to match the newly lengthened lowers, I used our long curved XR10 rod ends at the chassis instead of the short curved rod ends. You can see the new lowers and longer rod ends on the uppers in this photo.

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Another mod I made was to flip the plastic rear upper shock mount/chassis cross member upside down. This lowered the rear of my Wraith a little, which lowers the overall center of gravity. I also added a grey 55mm threaded standoff between the shock mounts for a little extra beef. I will explain why in a minute.

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One thing I notice right away when I tried to mock the rear servo up, is the lack of uptravel in the suspension due to the servo case hitting the bottom of the tube chassis. The servo case hits the chassis almost immediately when you try to cycle the suspension. To fix this I removed the rear plastic lower chassis brace and replaced it with one of our 91mm grey lower links from the SCX10′s. I bolted the 91mm link into place where the widest part of the lower chassis brace normally sits. You could also cut the stock plastic chassis brace, and just use the long section to tie the 2 halves of the tube frame together. The aluminum link will provide a lot more rigidity though, so I went that route. Here you can see the brace I removed.

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Look carefully and you can see the new 91mm link just below the upper links in this photo. Adding that 91mm link and the 55mm standoff between the shock mounts seems to replace any lost structural integrity from removing the stock rear lower chassis brace.

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After the lower rear chassis brace is removed/replaced you can mount the servo plate to the rear axle and attach the steering servo. I am using Futaba’s S9157 servos for steering duties on both axles. Here is a shot of my rear servo and servo plate before installation. I used the short self tapping M3x8mm buttonhead screws to attach the servo tabs to the servo plate. I will use the M3x10mm self tapping flathead screws to tie the servo plate to the axle. Then, I will use the M3x10mm buttonhead screws to attach the servo to the tabs.

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If you haven’t already, remove the rear wheels, drive hexes and cross pins. Next remove the rear plastic straight axle lockouts, and inner axle shafts. In order to remove the inner axle shafts, you will need to remove one of the screws holding the lower link/shock mounts in order to get the inner axles out of the housing. Replace the straight axles with the new CVD’s, attach the C-hubs to the axle, install the bearings into your steering knuckles, bolt the steering plates onto the knuckles using four of the M3x10mm buttonhead screws, insert the flange pipes into the knuckles and slide them into place over the C-hubs. Secure the knuckles to the C-hubs with four more M3x10mm screws. Then re-install the cross pins and drive hexes. Next we can install the rear steering link. One thing you will notice is the steering link has to be run upside down to clear the differential cover. Not a big deal, but you will need to drill the existing .100 diameter hole in the tie rod that the drag link secures too, all the way through the linkage. Then use one of the 5mm spacers between the drag link and tie rod with the long M3x20mm buttonhead screw to tie everything together. I will eventually trim the plastic boss hanging below the steering linkage, I left it there for now so people can visually see what I am talking about.

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A shot with everything buttoned up and ready to roll. Don’t forget to re-install the M3 screws you removed to get the rear axle shafts out too.

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Here you can see at full compression of the rear suspension, the servo sits perfectly in the rear cargo area without any interference from the chassis. Since I stretched the wheelbase a little, I did have to trim the cage a little where the plastic chassis brace attaches to the back of the tube frame. If you are still running the stock rear upper and lower links this shouldn’t be an issue.

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One last adjustment I made was to zero out the caster angle in the rear steer to make life on the rear servo a little easier. To do this I added a 3mm grey spacer (Part# AXA1415) to the lower links at the rear axle.

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It is hard to see in this photo, but the rear steering kingpins are now perpendicular to the bench my Wraith is sitting on. This means the caster is set to zero degrees. Adding positive or negative caster will put more stress on the rear servo, and it will struggle to center itself in hard binds.

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Overall stance now…..

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One thing to keep in mind when adding rear steer to any vehicle, you may need to add a Castle BEC to your system, depending on the torque rating on the servos you use they may overload whatever ESC you are running. I am sporting a Tekin RS Pro ESC, Tekin 10.5t motor, Thunder Power 5300mah 2S lipo and dual Futaba S9157 servos. To my surprise after driving for a few hours with this set-up, the ESC was only overloaded a few times while trying to throttle out of a bind and steering with both axles simultaneously. I am going to try and gear my Wraith down a little to help alleviate that issue. But, in order to have smooth performance at all times installing a BEC is the only way to go.

Another thing to keep in mind is you will need at least a 3 channel radio, with a 3 position 3rd channel switch, to have independent control of your front and rear steering set-ups. I am using my Futaba 4PK radio with my Wraith. The 4PK allows me to set the rear steer up for 5 positions, center, 50% right, 50% left, 100% right and 100% left. Some radios will only allow you to steer the rear from center to full throw left or right. Only a dual stick radio will give you full proportional control of both steering set-ups. Now, you can run a 4ws set-up on a 2 channel radio as well, if you use a Y-harness to plug the servos in to work together. But, that set-up will give you 4ws all the time, there is no way to control the servos separately. Just a few things to keep in mind before you dive into converting your Wraith to 4 wheel steer.

Step By Step Wraith Kit Build In Action

I finally got a chance to shoot a few action shots, and video of my Wraith kit build. I don’t have the video edited yet, because I have been too busy working on the Exo release, but it’s coming soon. For this first shakedown run I used a 5300mah 2S lipo, and it gave me a good combination of wheelspeed and torque, with barely any noticeable “cogging”. Next I plan on dropping a 3S pack in it to see which set-up I like better. Here’s a few of the better shots I got, it’s tough to drive and shoot pictures and video at the same time. Still fun though!!

On to the photos……

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There’s a few teaser photos for you guys, hopefully I can get the video edited soon.

2011 SEMA Show – Bender Edition

As most of you know, Axial attended the 2011 SEMA Show in Las Vegas, Nevada recently. We had been secretly working with some strategic technical partners to give a sneak peek at the show of our latest vehicle, the Exo. Since Axial is predominantly known for making R/C crawlers, the release of the Exo was a big surprise to the general public because it was so vastly different then our previous vehicles. So, a handful of us made the trip to SEMA to witness the reactions and get some first hand feedback. This was my first trip to SEMA, and it was amazing to say the least. There is so much to see, that it is tough to cover everything. We were only in town for a few days, and barely scratched the surface of what SEMA had to offer. Armed with my camera and a backpack, I ventured out into the sea of people and shiny metal components. Here are a few of the photos I snapped along the way.

Cool low-rider Dually……

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…..with some serious chariot-like wheel spikes.

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Got to love green and black.

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They had a drift track set-up in an empty parking lot. Spectators could take a ride along with them if they wanted.

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If you are into Jeeps, like me, there was no shortage of eye candy at the show.

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A few more shots outside on the first day.

SEMA 2011 Axial's Brad "Bender" Dumont

SEMA 2011 Axial's Brad "Bender" Dumont

SEMA 2011 Axial's Brad "Bender" Dumont

Sweet Overland Journal JK, with integrated roof rack tent.

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SEMA 2011 Axial's Brad "Bender" Dumont

Another sweet 4 door Jeep JK.

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More random goodness from inside.

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Got milk?

SEMA 2011 Axial's Brad "Bender" Dumont

SEMA 2011 Axial's Brad "Bender" Dumont

Our first stop was at the Griffin booth.

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SEMA 2011 Axial's Brad "Bender" Dumont

What do we have here?

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Raw metal and carbon fiber together just looks cool.

SEMA 2011 Axial's Brad "Bender" Dumont

SEMA 2011 Axial's Brad "Bender" Dumont

The Wilwood booth

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SEMA 2011 Axial's Brad "Bender" Dumont

The Wilwood Wraith

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Cool Jeep pick-up.

SEMA 2011 Axial's Brad "Bender" Dumont

SEMA 2011 Axial's Brad "Bender" Dumont

Shannon Campbell’s rock racer, IFS front and solid axle rear. I have seen this rig in action a few times at King of the Hammers, and it’s just sick!

SEMA 2011 Axial's Brad "Bender" Dumont

The Tron Audi built by West Coast Customs

SEMA 2011 Axial's Brad "Bender" Dumont

SEMA 2011 Axial's Brad "Bender" Dumont

The Raceline wheels booth.

SEMA 2011 Axial's Brad "Bender" Dumont

The Raceline Wraith was on display too.

SEMA 2011 Axial's Brad "Bender" Dumont

More randomness…..

SEMA 2011 Axial's Brad "Bender" Dumont

SEMA 2011 Axial's Brad "Bender" Dumont

SEMA 2011 Axial's Brad "Bender" Dumont

SEMA 2011 Axial's Brad "Bender" Dumont

SEMA 2011 Axial's Brad "Bender" Dumont

SEMA 2011 Axial's Brad "Bender" Dumont

Walker Evans wheels.

SEMA 2011 Axial's Brad "Bender" Dumont

SEMA 2011 Axial's Brad "Bender" Dumont

SEMA 2011 Axial's Brad "Bender" Dumont

Custom 4 door Jeep JK 6X6 pick-up………..say that 10 times in a row as fast as you can.

SEMA 2011 Axial's Brad "Bender" Dumont

Next stop was the Icon Vehicle Dynamics booth.

SEMA 2011 Axial's Brad "Bender" Dumont

SEMA 2011 Axial's Brad "Bender" Dumont

SEMA 2011 Axial's Brad "Bender" Dumont

Another custom JK build. Not really my style, but I can appreciate the time that went into it.

SEMA 2011 Axial's Brad "Bender" Dumont

SEMA 2011 Axial's Brad "Bender" Dumont

SEMA 2011 Axial's Brad "Bender" Dumont

SEMA 2011 Axial's Brad "Bender" Dumont

SEMA 2011 Axial's Brad "Bender" Dumont

The Dana Spicer booth. If you are looking for tough off-road axles, most people start here.

SEMA 2011 Axial's Brad "Bender" Dumont

SEMA 2011 Axial's Brad "Bender" Dumont

Got driveshafts?

SEMA 2011 Axial's Brad "Bender" Dumont

SEMA 2011 Axial's Brad "Bender" Dumont

There were tons of cool trucks to drool on at the show as well.

SEMA 2011 Axial's Brad "Bender" Dumont

SEMA 2011 Axial's Brad "Bender" Dumont

SEMA 2011 Axial's Brad "Bender" Dumont

SEMA 2011 Axial's Brad "Bender" Dumont

SEMA 2011 Axial's Brad "Bender" Dumont

Or maybe old Broncos are your thing?

SEMA 2011 Axial's Brad "Bender" Dumont

How about an old school Bronco built to play in the desert? One of my favorite vehicles from the show.

SEMA 2011 Axial's Brad "Bender" Dumont

SEMA 2011 Axial's Brad "Bender" Dumont

SEMA 2011 Axial's Brad "Bender" Dumont

SEMA 2011 Axial's Brad "Bender" Dumont

More desert vehicles.

SEMA 2011 Axial's Brad "Bender" Dumont

SEMA 2011 Axial's Brad "Bender" Dumont

SEMA 2011 Axial's Brad "Bender" Dumont

SEMA 2011 Axial's Brad "Bender" Dumont

SEMA 2011 Axial's Brad "Bender" Dumont

SEMA 2011 Axial's Brad "Bender" Dumont

SEMA 2011 Axial's Brad "Bender" Dumont

Cool Jeepspeed build.

SEMA 2011 Axial's Brad "Bender" Dumont

SEMA 2011 Axial's Brad "Bender" Dumont

SEMA 2011 Axial's Brad "Bender" Dumont

SEMA 2011 Axial's Brad "Bender" Dumont

There were a few sand-rails on display too.

SEMA 2011 Axial's Brad "Bender" Dumont

SEMA 2011 Axial's Brad "Bender" Dumont

More photos from around the show.

SEMA 2011 Axial's Brad "Bender" Dumont

SEMA 2011 Axial's Brad "Bender" Dumont

SEMA 2011 Axial's Brad "Bender" Dumont

SEMA 2011 Axial's Brad "Bender" Dumont

SEMA 2011 Axial's Brad "Bender" Dumont

SEMA 2011 Axial's Brad "Bender" Dumont

SEMA 2011 Axial's Brad "Bender" Dumont

SEMA 2011 Axial's Brad "Bender" Dumont

SEMA 2011 Axial's Brad "Bender" Dumont

SEMA 2011 Axial's Brad "Bender" Dumont

SEMA 2011 Axial's Brad "Bender" Dumont

SEMA 2011 Axial's Brad "Bender" Dumont

After lunch we ran into a couple of Rodney’s old friends, Dennis and Ryan Anderson.

SEMA 2011 Axial's Brad "Bender" Dumont

Chevy displayed several variations of their new Sonic. I have to admit for a small car, these things are pretty cool.

SEMA 2011 Axial's Brad "Bender" Dumont

SEMA 2011 Axial's Brad "Bender" Dumont

Got ear plugs?

SEMA 2011 Axial's Brad "Bender" Dumont

SEMA 2011 Axial's Brad "Bender" Dumont

SEMA 2011 Axial's Brad "Bender" Dumont

SEMA 2011 Axial's Brad "Bender" Dumont

Another one of Rodney’s old friends/co-workers Andy Williamson (right), he is one of the masterminds behind the Chevy Sonic display.

SEMA 2011 Axial's Brad "Bender" Dumont

I even managed to spy a few nice full suspension mountain bikes, another one of my hobbies.

SEMA 2011 Axial's Brad "Bender" Dumont

Giant’s Reign X1. I have a 2010 X2 at home.

SEMA 2011 Axial's Brad "Bender" Dumont

More random shots……

SEMA 2011 Axial's Brad "Bender" Dumont

SEMA 2011 Axial's Brad "Bender" Dumont

SEMA 2011 Axial's Brad "Bender" Dumont

I don’t remember the ice cream truck in our neighborhood looking anything like this when I was a young lad. Kids these days have it made!

SEMA 2011 Axial's Brad "Bender" Dumont

SEMA 2011 Axial's Brad "Bender" Dumont

SEMA 2011 Axial's Brad "Bender" Dumont

SEMA 2011 Axial's Brad "Bender" Dumont

SEMA 2011 Axial's Brad "Bender" Dumont

SEMA 2011 Axial's Brad "Bender" Dumont

More Jeep based vehicles.

SEMA 2011 Axial's Brad "Bender" Dumont

SEMA 2011 Axial's Brad "Bender" Dumont

SEMA 2011 Axial's Brad "Bender" Dumont

SEMA 2011 Axial's Brad "Bender" Dumont

SEMA 2011 Axial's Brad "Bender" Dumont

SEMA 2011 Axial's Brad "Bender" Dumont

SEMA 2011 Axial's Brad "Bender" Dumont

My favorite Jeep from the show, AEV’s 4 door JK pick-up.

SEMA 2011 Axial's Brad "Bender" Dumont

SEMA 2011 Axial's Brad "Bender" Dumont

Next we went by the Hankook booth.

SEMA 2011 Axial's Brad "Bender" Dumont

SEMA 2011 Axial's Brad "Bender" Dumont

Does this tread pattern look familiar?

SEMA 2011 Axial's Brad "Bender" Dumont

SEMA 2011 Axial's Brad "Bender" Dumont

A little F1 action, Kimi Raikkonen’s Mercedes.

SEMA 2011 Axial's Brad "Bender" Dumont

SEMA 2011 Axial's Brad "Bender" Dumont

More spy shots…… not very often you see a Ferrari that isn’t red.

SEMA 2011 Axial's Brad "Bender" Dumont

SEMA 2011 Axial's Brad "Bender" Dumont

SEMA 2011 Axial's Brad "Bender" Dumont

SEMA 2011 Axial's Brad "Bender" Dumont

SEMA 2011 Axial's Brad "Bender" Dumont

SEMA 2011 Axial's Brad "Bender" Dumont

SEMA 2011 Axial's Brad "Bender" Dumont

SEMA 2011 Axial's Brad "Bender" Dumont

SEMA 2011 Axial's Brad "Bender" Dumont

There was an immense number of wheels on display.

SEMA 2011 Axial's Brad "Bender" Dumont

I think they made these custom for either Liberace or Elton John.

SEMA 2011 Axial's Brad "Bender" Dumont

SEMA 2011 Axial's Brad "Bender" Dumont

SEMA 2011 Axial's Brad "Bender" Dumont

My last stop for the day was the Turn Key booth.

SEMA 2011 Axial's Brad "Bender" Dumont

SEMA 2011 Axial's Brad "Bender" Dumont

SEMA 2011 Axial's Brad "Bender" Dumont

Even Charlene, the Turn Key model, couldn’t keep her hands of the Exo.

SEMA 2011 Axial's Brad "Bender" Dumont

Woah, my feet and back were beat after a few days!! Those are my highlights from the 2011 SEMA show. If you have never been, it is well worth the trip for anyone that considers themselves a gearhead.

Here’s one last little sneak peek for you guys……………..enjoy!!

Step By Step Wraith Kit Build – Part VII – Electronics Install

Here is the final installment of our 7 part Wraith kit build series. For this post I will cover the electronics I am using, and placement in the chassis. Wiring this truck is a little tougher then normal, because of the tube chassis and interior tray. Proper planning is needed to pull off a clean install. My first objective with this wiring job was keeping it clean. I didn’t want to see a bunch of electronics or wires while the vehicle is running, it takes away from the overall scale look. The plan was to shoe-horn as much of the electronics as I could under the interior. Here is how it all played out.

For the motor and speed control I went with Tekin’s RS Pro ESC, and 10.5t brushless motor. This combo should give me a decent combo of wheel speed and torque with a 2S lipo. I am using my Futaba 4PK receiver and radio, as well as a Futaba S9452 servo for steering duties.

I used the ESC for mock-up to see where it would fit under the interior before I started wiring everything up. It took a few tries to get it properly positioned so it would fit without interference. I ended up using an AX10 servo mount for the ESC mount. I attached it to one of the holes in the top of the transmission. Then used double stick tape to attach the ESC. Once I finalized the ESC position, I soldered everything up as needed.

A few shots of the transmission and electronics before installing it back into my Wraith.

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The wiring……

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The ESC shelf……

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For the receiver mount I used the stock Wraith electronics box, but modified it a little to work with my set-up. I moved the battery up front, so it is now positioned behind the dashboard. I did this to put more weight bias out front, which will help in technical rock sections. In order to mount my battery up front I knew I would have to fab a battery tray of some sort. After staring at the front of my Wraith for a while it hit me…………just modify the stock battery tray instead. I basically ended up cutting the stock tray in half lengthwise, and bolting it into position where the stock ESC would normally sit in an RTR Wraith. Then added a few pieces of foam to fill any gaps between the tray and battery. I was even able to use the stock battery straps, which was a nice bonus.

A shot of the newly revised battery tray.

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You will have to cut away a lot of the interior out front for the battery and tray to clear without issue.

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The tray installed…..

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A few photos with the battery in place. You can also see the new hole I added to the lid of the receiver box, this just made the wiring job a tad easier, and it moved my servo wires away from the battery tray as well.

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Time to re-install the body panels, and it’s ready to go!

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I will have action shots and video soon, so stay tuned!!

Axial Wraith Kit Build Series

Step 1

Step 2

Step 3

Step 4

Step 5

Step 6

Step By Step Wraith Kit Build – Part VI – Final Assembly

For the final installment of our Wraith kit build series we will turn this beast into a roller. We will finish the chassis assembly, marry the chassis to the transmission and axles, install the body panels, mount the tires to the wheels and bolt them up to the axles. Start on page 34 of the manual, at step 34.

Find bag F in your remaining parts supply.

wraith-kit-build-974

All the parts required to complete step 34.

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Starting with the rear shock tower, bolt it up to the left chassis plate with the supplied hardware.

wraith-kit-build-990

Then move forward to the lower part of what will be the windshield area.

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Next cross member.

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Last one at the very front.

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Now we can move to step 35 and install the top of the cab.

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Step 36 will complete the main chassis structure. Everything needed to complete this step.

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I started at the rear shock tower again, install the supplied 3x12mm self tapping screw. At this point we need to just start assembling the cage at all the points required.

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Rear frame cross member.

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Upper cage area.

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Lower cross member in the rear, under the battery tray.

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Rear cross member again.

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Front A-pillar area.

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Top of the cab again.

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Front shock tower and cross member.

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Next I installed the second support for the front bumper.

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Tighten up that second bumper support, and the last frame cross member in the front.

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Complete chassis.

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Install the last few screws to secure the interior.

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On to step 37, and page 36 in the manual. Everything needed to complete this step.

wraith-kit-build-1037

Start by installing the plastic LED retainers on the backside of the big light buckets.

wraith-kit-build-1039

Flip the light buckets over and snap the clear lens into place.

wraith-kit-build-1040

Snap the light guards into place.

wraith-kit-build-1041

Install the light buckets into position on the front bumper.

wraith-kit-build-1043

Attach the plastic LED retainers on the backside of the small round light buckets.

wraith-kit-build-1044

Snap the clear lens into place.

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Install the light guards next.

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Bolt the small light buckets up to the front grill’s tube work.

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Step 38, and everything needed.

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Set the front grill tube work into place, and attach using the supplied 3x12mm screws.

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Set the front bumper into place next.

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Install the supplied 3x18mm screws.

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Step 39, attaching the chassis to the skid plate and axles.

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Set the chassis into place over the skid plate, and attach using the supplied hardware.

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wraith-kit-build-1067

Next we will bolt the shocks up to the shock towers. I deviated from the instructions a little here too. I moved the upper shock mounts in towards the center of the Wraith. I did this to lower the ride height a little, and to soften up the shocks.

wraith-kit-build-1071

Shocks all mounted up.

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Time to move on to the tires and wheels.

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First thing I did was open up the breather holes in the wheels. I chased the existing holes with an 1/8″ drill bit. This will help the tires conform to the terrain a little better. Stock on left, modified on right.

wraith-kit-build-1081

Next tuning tip I will throw out there is to trim the edges of the inner diameter on the foams. This will let the beads of the tire sit in their natural position. It also makes gluing the tires a little easier, as it stops the foam from working it’s way into the bead seats while you are trying to glue your tires.

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You can see here that you don’t need to cut much, keep your cut about a 1/4 – 3/8″ wide max.

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With the foam installed, you can see there is no interference between the foam and the tire’s bead seat.

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Next slide the wheel inside the tire, and seat the bead properly. I usually glue my tires little by little, with “stitches” of glue. Add a dab of CA to the bead seat, and seat the tire into place. Then spin the tire 180 degrees and add another stitch of glue, then let the tire sit for a few minutes. Then, repeat these steps until the tires are glued all the way around the inner and outer beads.

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All glued up. I love the looks of these wheels in black!

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Next we will move on to step 43. Find bag G in your dwindling parts stash.

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Everything needed to bolt the wheels up.

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Thread the small M3 set screws into the drive hexes part way.

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Slide the drive pins through the outer axles.

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Install the hex into place over the drive pin, and tighten down the M3 set screw.

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Bolt the wheels and tires up to the axles.

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It’s a roller!!

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Here’s a little sneak peek at a part not yet released from the Axial arsenal, aluminum diff covers. Sexy!

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Now we can ream the holes out in the body panels and mount them. Wallah!

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Close-up shots of the hood, side panels and interior.

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Mandatory articulation shots.

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There you have it, a complete step by step build of Axial’s Wraith Kit. I will be doing more articles with this particular build in the near future too, like electronics install, hop-up parts, tuning tips, etc. And of course there will be video too, so stay tuned!

Axial Wraith Kit Build Series

Step 1

Step 2

Step 3

Step 4

Step 5

Step 7