Axial “SCX10JK” – Wilwood Brakes – Massive Stopping Power

The Full size Axial SCX10JK has been quite an amazing project for us to be a part of. When doing the extensive research for the scale version we were working on, we learned a lot about Jeep, the history and heritage. This particular vehicle is probably one of the most popular off-roaders on the planet. With that said there are endless options to personalize and modify your Jeep to your liking just like your scaled down SCX10. The similarities in regards to the way you go about modifying your SCX10 is just about the same as the full size version. For instance when you install larger tires, you must consider installing a stronger servo to turn and stronger drive-line components to handle the extra traction. The same goes for the full size Jeep.

We did extensive research into the Jeep Wrangler Unlimited Rubicon and the best ways to make a fun and reliable Jeep to take out on some fairly advanced trails. As the modification process goes, one must take into consideration the effect of the modifications made and chase the inevitable “next weakest link”. After adding the Rock Jock 60 Axles from Currie Enterprises, and the body armor from Poison Spyder, the Jeep gained a little extra weight. These mods are essential for making sure the Jeep can be pushed to the limit in terms of traversing hardcore trails without damage, but adding this weight effects the Jeeps ability to accelerate and stop. We decided to focus on the stopping end of the equation first and turned to our friends and technical partners at Wilwood to address the stopping power.

Wilwood has been around for many years providing stopping power for all types of motorsport vehicles and street vehicles alike. After a quick conversation with Mike Hamrick of Wilwood and John Currie, we were able to develop a game plan to make a brake system for the JK. John Currie got to work making a caliper bracket to fit the Rock Jock Axles and to work with the technologically advanced radial mount Wilwood calipers. Dylan Evans from Icon Vehicle Dynamics was kind enough to open his facility up to do the brake install. Icon has machines in house that will allow us the ability to do some machining if need be. This was a first time install with prototype parts, so we wanted to be prepared for anything!

We started by picking up the brackets from Currie, These are billet aluminum and very nicely machined!

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Next we opened the goodies from Wilwood. These parts were modified from off the shelf parts. The bolt center was modified to the 5 on 5.5 pattern as well as the center bore opened on these rotor hats.

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These rotor hats were then bolted up to these massive slotted Spec37 Rotors

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Wilwood offers a proper bolt set to attach these two components:

The assembly process only takes minutes!

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Once assembled, you can see that these rotors are significantly bigger than the rotors we removed. We had previously replaced the rotors before with the slotted and drilled units, but it wasn’t quite enough for comfort.

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The old rotor inside the wheel:

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The new rotor inside the wheel:

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Test fitting the rotor on the front hubs:

With the rotors ready to go it was time to mount the bracket on the knuckles.

On to the Calipers, these 4 piston “Superlite” calipers should offer significantly more gripping power than the standard original equipment.

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These calipers are “radial mount” which means that they are bolted in place from the center of the hub outward and cuts down significantly on flex especially once up to temperature. A quick test fit of the calipers reveals a perfect fit!

Next on the list is the brake pads, we are running the Wilwood high performance pads, designed to work with their Superlite caliper.

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These new calipers are awesome for changing pads. There is 1 bolt across the back of the calipers that needs to be removed. Simply slide the old pads out, and the new pads in, there is no need to remove the caliper for this process!

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The last item on the list was the brake lines. Wilwood also offers a very high quality brake line kit to finish off the system.

With the brake lines installed and bled, the only thing left to do was test them out!



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The performance of these brakes are a tremendous improvement over the stock system and over the upgraded rotors and pads alone. The new calipers and rotors from Wilwood offer much more confidence inspiring stopping power. The major difference came with the panic stopping test. If you are traveling approx. 45 mph, we were able to stop in a much shorter distance than before. This is very comforting, as this heavy Jeep needed a little more stopping force. We can’t wait to get out on the trail and test these out. Stay tuned!

For more information about Wilwood, please visit their site here and “Like” them on FaceBook here.

To get the history on the Axial “SCX10JK”, please check out the following links! Be sure to check back often, as we will continue to build up the SCX10JK and fine tune it for maximum performance!

Axial “SCX10JK” tested – Moab, Utah for Easter Jeep Safari 2012

The Full Size Connection

Axial 2012 Jeep Wrangler Rubicon Unlimited

Axial Visits Rebel Off Road

Axial “SCX10JK” – Icon Suspension

Axial “SCX10JK” Armor – Poison Spyder Crusher Flares and Crusher Corners

Axial “SCX10JK” Armor – Poison Spyder Rocker Armor and Rocker Knockers

Axial “SCX10JK” Armor – Skid Plates from Rebel Off Road

Axial “SCX10JK” Walker Evans Wheels – Maxxis Tires – Rebel Roof Rack

Axial “SCX10JK” Armor – Poison Spyder Front and Rear Bumpers – TJM Winch

Bender’s AX10 Ridgecrest – Stage 3

Here is the final installment of my Ridgecrest crawler build, Stage 3. For this stage of the build I will be adding AR60 universals, aluminum shocks, under drive ring and pinion for rear axle, aluminum c-hubs, aluminum knuckles, aluminum lockouts, HD motor plate and a 55t motor. I will also be adding a few hop-ups from Vanquish Products as well. If you have never heard of Vanquish Products, check them out!! Their machine work and quality control is second to none. I will be adding a set of their DH wheels and titanium steering links to this build. So, let’s get started!!

The first hop-up I started with is the under drive ring and pinion for the rear axle. Adding the slower gear set to the rear axle will keep the front axle spinning faster in all situations. This will help with tight turns, and getting the front tires to pull up steep ledges. It can also help alleviate torque twist/chassis roll while on the throttle, which all shaft driven crawlers suffer from. The difference in the gearing between the front and rear after this modification is very slight, but it makes a pretty big difference. The old ring and pinion had a 13t pinion, with a 38t ring gear. This HD under drive combo has a 13t pinion and a 43t ring gear. It may sound like a big difference, but it really isn’t. Original ratio was 2.92:1. The new ratio for the rear axle is 3.30:1.

Since I will be tearing into both axles, I started by removing all 4 tires with my 7mm driver.

After removing the tires use a 1.5mm driver to remove the drive hexes and cross pins.

Now we can remove the two screws that hold the rear axle lockouts in place. Slide the lockouts off the housing, and just let them hang there for now.

Then loosen the driveshaft set screw at the rear axle housing, and set the male half of the driveshaft aside for now.

Next we can pull the differential cover off to access the ring and pinion.

Now remove the plastic bearing retainers using a 2mm driver.

Make sure the axle shafts are pulled out of the differential assembly. Then you can remove the differential. I used a paper towel to wipe most of the grease away, makes working on the assembly a lot easier.

Remove the 4 screws holding the ring gear to the plastic diff housing. Pull the bearing off the ring gear as well.

Now pull the ring gear off the diff housing. Be careful not to rip the gasket that goes in between the gear and housing. You will want to re-use those with the new ring gear.

Set the gasket into place on the new ring gear so the hole pattern lines up.

Now you can re-assemble the differential, and slide the bearing into place on the new ring gear.

Slide the old pinion gear out of the axle housing.

Now slide the new HD pinion into the axle housing. Double check that both bearings are still in place at this time too.

Set the differential assembly into place, after applying a light coat of grease to the ring gear.

Re-install the plastic bearing retainers.

Slide the axle shafts back into the differential assembly. Notice I also installed some aluminum lockouts at this time too.

Next I will install a 55t motor for more torque and better low speed throttle resolution. I will be running this with a small 3S lipo, I have some older 1550mah packs that should work perfect.

Start by unplugging the stock motor from the ESC.

Then remove both set screws that hold the driveshafts to the transmission outputs.

Remove the four screws that hold the battery tray in place. Remember that I moved the battery tray from the back to the front during Stage 1.

Lay the chassis on it’s side and remove the four screws that hold the transmission into place.

With the transmission out of the chassis, you can remove the spur gear cover to access the motor mount screws.

Using a 2.5mm driver remove the motor mount screws.

Remove the motor from the transmission.

Now we can pull the pinion off the motor’s output shaft.

While I have the transmission out on the bench I am going to swap the stock motor plate for our new HD motor plate. The newer plate has integrated heatsinks machined into it to help dissipate heat.

In order to install the new motor plate we will have to remove the slipper clutch/spur gear assembly. Using a 7mm nut driver remove the slipper nut, spring and washers.

Slide the spur gear off the shaft, and remove the drive pin.

Using a 2.5mm driver remove the motor plate from the transmission.

Set the new motor plate in place and attach with the existing 3mm screws.

Next we can bolt the spur gear assembly back into place, don’t forget to install the cross pin first.

Now we can install the new 55t motor. I already installed the pinion gear onto the motor shaft. We just need to set the proper gear mesh and tighten everything down. The easiest way to set gear mesh is by inserting a small piece of paper between the spur gear and the pinion gear. Hold the two gears together with the paper in between and tighten your motor mount screws. Remove the paper and you should have a little bit of play between the two gears, which means you are good to go.

Re-install the spur gear cover next. Now you can bolt the transmission back into the chassis, and re-attach the driveshafts.

Next I will be swapping out the stock plastic shocks for our aluminum competition shocks. The aluminum shocks have a lot more consistent feel to them, and are smooth as silk when properly built.

Here is a link that will give you some tips for proper build up of our competition shocks.
http://www.axialracing.com/blog_posts/1132

A shot of the freshly assembled shocks.

One change I made here was to use the rubber bushings that come with the new aluminum shocks in the shock cap, instead of the plastic ball studs. In order to keep the bushings in good working order, and free to move back and forth a little, I swapped the self tapping plastic screws for machined M3 flathead screws. The finer threads on the M3 screw shouldn’t tear the upper shock bushing like the stock self tapper would over time. I also went with a flathead screw over a buttonhead to let the upper shock cap pivot better as the suspension cycles.

All installed and ready to go!

Next we will address the front axle. I am going to install AR60 universals, aluminum c-hubs, aluminum knuckles and Vanquish Products titanium steering links.

Universals.

C-hubs.

Knuckles.

Vanquish steering links.

Start by removing the drive hexes and cross pins.

Then remove the servo horn and steering linkage.

Remove the four screws that hold the c-hub and knuckle assembly on the axle housing.

Next we need to remove the inner axles. But, to get them out of the housing you will need to remove one screw from each lower shock/link mount. Removing those will allow the flange on the inner axles to slide out with out hanging up on the link mount screws.

Slide the new aluminum c-hubs into place. I clocked them back just a little to help with tight turns. Make sure the c-hubs are oriented correctly, the longer ear on the hubs should be on the bottom of the axle.

Here you can see they are slightly clocked, but not to the most extreme point.

Install the c-hub screws top and bottom for both sides.

Grab the universals next.

Slide the universals into the housing and seat them into the diff assembly.

Now you can re-install the two screws we removed from the lower link mounts to get the stock inner axles out of the housing.

You will need the bearings, king pin sleeves and kingpin screws from the old knuckle/c-hub assembly. So, pull them apart and grab what you need to build the new knuckles up and bolt them into place on the c-hubs.

If you are struggling with installing the new bearings, use the old outer axle to line them up properly and press them into place.

Install the kingpin sleeves into the new knuckles and slide them over the c-hubs. Make sure the kingpins sleeves stay in place.

You will need to replace the old self tapping knuckle screws with 10mm long machined M3 screws. The stock knuckles were held in place by plastic self tapping screws, but you can’t use those screws in the new c-hubs as the hubs have a machined M3 thread in them. So, you will need some M3X10MM machined screws to complete this step. Part number for those is AXA115. There are 10 screws per package, so one pack is enough to do the job.

Next we need to bolt the tie rod arms onto the knuckles. But, you will need to swap the stock plastic self tappers for machined screws again. Luckily they are the same length as the kingpin screws from the previous step, and you will have some leftover to use here as well.

Now we will assemble the Vanquish tie rod and drag link. Pretty straight forward, thread the rod ends onto the linkage and pop the ball studs into place. You will have to fine tune the lengths of both the tie rod and the drag link once they are bolted up, in order to ensure the tires are straight and the servo horn has even throw to both sides.

Next I installed my Vanquish DH comp wheels. They are machined aluminum, and the weight of them alone should be sufficient in most situations. If I find the front is too light I will add some weighted slugs to the front wheels.

A few finished shots of this rig as it sits now.

Mandatory flex shots.

That wraps up Stage 3 of this Ridgecrest crawler build. I am going to try and shoot some video of this stage too, just to see/show the difference in performance over Stage 2. Stay tuned!!

Link – Stage One Ridgecrest Build
Link – Stage Two Ridgecrest Build

Parts list for the three stages of this build.

Stage one
AX30223 Black competition springs (x2)

Stage two
AXA1331 Steel ball studs (x5)
AX30836 Aluminum 25 spline servo horn
AX30829 Aluminum differential cover (x2)
AX30797 Aluminum link kit
AX12015 R35 Ripsaw tires (x2)
AX08061 XR10 beadlock wheels
Vanquish wheel weights

Stage three
AX30402 HD 43/13 ring and pinion gears (rear axle only)
AX30789 Aluminum rear axle lockouts
AX24007 55t motor
AX30860 HD motor plate
AX30092 Aluminum comp shocks (x2)
AX30780 AR60 CVD’s
AX30762 Aluminum c-hubs
AX30760 Aluminum knuckles
VPS03122 Vanquish titanium drag link
VPS03110 Vanquish titanium tie rod
Vanquish 2.2 Aluminum wheels
Vanquish wheel weights (x2)

Brandon’s Axial EXO RTR Terra Buggy goes Baja Bug!

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.

Browsing Pro-Line’s website I found quite a few Baja Bug bodies.  After talking with them it looked like the Volkswagen Baja Bug Body 3283-62 was the best fit.

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

Installed:

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:

2.2 3.0 Raceline Renegade Wheels – 34mm (Chrome/Black) Part Number: AX08106
2.2 3.0 Hankook Dynapro Mud Terrain Tires 34mm Part Number: AX120107

Getting close!!

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.

Hmm, something is missing back here.

Ahhh, my Turnkey V8!  Axial Part Number: AX04031

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.

Bender’s AX10 Ridgecrest Stage 2

It’s time for Part 2 of our Ridgecrest crawler build. For those that missed Stage 1, here is a link to that article in order to bring you up to speed.
Stage 1 Ridgecrest crawler build

Out of the box the Ridgecrest is meant to be more of a basher, rather then a full on crawler. So, for Stage 2 of this build we will cover more tips, and option parts, to improve upon its crawling capabilities.

First thing we will work on for this installment is the steering. Out of the box the Ridgecrest comes equipped with a plastic servo horn, which works fine with the stock steering links. But, I want piece of mind when out crawling and don’t like making repairs in the field. So, I am going to install an aluminum servo horn, and upgrade the plastic ball studs to steel for a little smoother steering action. Some may think that upgrading the plastic steering links at this time is a more worthy modification. But, I actually like a little flex in my steering set-up on my crawlers. Some of you may recall I ran Delrin steering links on my competition crawler for years with good success. It’s really personal preference at this point.

Start by removing both front tires.

Use a 2mm driver and remove the button head screw from the servo output.

After removing the screw, slide the servo horn off the splines.

Now remove the plastic servo horn from the steering drag link.

Using a pair of wire cutters remove the plastic ball stud from the steering drag link.

Now we will replace the plastic ball stud with a steel stud.

Use a pair of pliers to pop the new steel stud into place.

The new replacement servo horn. There are a few different spline counts for the various servos that are available on the market. For RTR Axial vehicles you will need a 25 spline servo horn, which is compatible with Futaba and Savox servos as well.

Install the servo horn onto the drag link.

Now slide the servo horn into place on the servo output. Make sure your servo is centered before tightening everything up. Reinstall the button head screw to hold the new servo horn in place.

These new servo horns have small screws on each side of the head. When these screws are tightened down the servo horn actually clamps onto the servo’s output splines like a piranha. A must have for harsh conditions. Use a 1.5mm driver and gently tighten up both screws evenly.

Next we will pop a new steel stud into place at the opposite end of the drag link. Remove the self tapping screw that ties the drag link to the tie rod.

Pop the old stud out and replace with a steel ball stud.

Now remove the tie rod from the steering knuckles and replace the plastic ball studs there too.

After replacing the ball studs I left one end of the tie rod off the knuckle to access the differential cover. This is for my next modification.

Next we will install Axial’s HD diff covers to add some style, and even more beef, to those AR60 axles.

Use a 1.5mm driver and remove the 4 screws on each side of the stock plastic diff cover.

Remove the cover.

Insert the new diff cover and re-install the diff cover screws. Re-attach the steering tie rod to the knuckle when finished.

Now swap the rear cover out.

Styling!

Next I am going to swap the stock plastic suspension links out for aluminum using our Wraith Stage 1 links kit.

Contents of the links pack laid out.

Start by assembling the 4 lower links.

Using a 1.5mm driver screw the threaded studs into the rod ends.

Make sure to trim any excess flashing away with an X-acto knife. This has no performance gain, it just makes for a cleaner install.

Once you have the threaded studs installed, assemble the lower links. Make sure the rod ends as facing opposite ways as shown in this photo. Pops the ball studs into place last.

Now move on to the upper links.

Repeat the same steps for the upper links. All 4 upper links assembled. Again make sure the rod ends are facing opposite each other.

Remove the lower links and swap them out for the new aluminum lowers.

Now swap the upper links out as well. Pay attention to the orientation of the upper links during assembly so all four are installed the same way.

Here you can see the front after completing the conversion to aluminum links. The aluminum will eliminate any link flex in hard binds, which makes for a more predictable vehicle.

Another mod I want to make for this Stage 2 build is the jump from Tamiya battery connectors to Dean’s Ultra Plugs. I plan on running small lipo packs in this build from here on out, and all my small packs have Dean’s plugs. So, the Tamiya plug had to go.

Snip, Snip!!

First thing I do after cutting the old plug off is to slide the heat shrink tubing for the Ultra Plug into place. Nothing is worse then installing new battery connectors and putting your soldering iron away, only to realize you forgot the slide the heat shrink on first. Doh!!

Strip a little of the wire’s insulation off the ends to be soldered, and twist the ends of the wire to prevent fraying.

Using your soldering iron, tin the ends of the wires a little with solder. Do the same to the tabs on the Dean’s plug as well.

Solder the new connector into place, make sure to double check the polarity is correct before plugging a battery in. Now slide the heat shrink tubing down over the terminals and heat them up with a lighter to seat/shrink them.

Here you can see I have a few older small 2S lipo packs that I will be using for this stage of this build.

Next modification I made was the jump to XR10 beadlock wheels and our sticky R35 compound Ripsaw tires. The difference in traction between these tires and the stock tires is unreal. I couldn’t scrape up a new set for this build so I borrowed my old set off the Project Backyard Basher Ridgecrest build. I also added some weight to the front wheels. This helps keep the front tires planted on steep climbs.

The Vanquish wheel weights slide right into the stock XR10 wheels.

Last modification for this round was a fresh new Ridgecrest body. I kept the paint job simple to show off the body lines a little better. A few shots of this build in it’s current state.

That takes care of Stage 2. I will try to shoot some video of this build as it sits now, before I move on to Stage 3. Stay tuned!!

Link – Stage One Ridgecrest Build
Link – Stage Three Ridgecrest Build

The video is up!!

Bender’s AX10 Ridgecrest Stage 1

As some of you may have seen I recently built up a new Axial Ridgecrest dubbed “Project Backyard Basher”. It was built for all around bashing, trail running and a little light duty crawling without adhering to any rules or specifications. I have been having a lot of fun with it in it’s current state. But, I also wanted to build another one up for entry level competitions. These competitions require your rig to fit certain criteria, like having a maximum wheelbase of 12 1/2″ for the 2.2 comp class. I wanted to do this build in a few different stages starting with some very basic mods and eventually evolve that into a hardcore crawler, with durability in mind. While the Ridgecrest is pretty stout right out of the box, I want to take it even further with vital option parts in key areas. Those modifications will come later though. For now, I want to see how capable I make this rig just spending a little time at the workbench. So, let’s get started!

The new Ridgecrest that was recently liberated from it’s box.

First thing I wanted to do was get as much weight over the front axle as possible. To do that I swapped the battery tray and electronics tray around so the battery will be in front. Start be removing the four screws that hold the battery tray in place.

Once all four screws have been removed, pull the battery tray out of the chassis.

A shot of the chassis after removing the battery tray.

Next we will have to remove the electronics tray. Start by unscrewing the top cap on the radio box.

Now remove the last two screws that hold the top half of the radio box in place.

Flip the top half of the radio box up and unplug the ESC and servo. It is important to pay attention when you unplug everything so you know how it goes back together.

Remove the wire routing tab from the motor wires.

Unplug the motor wires.

Then remove the wire routing tab for the on/off switch.

Remove the power switch.

Then remove the 4 screws holding the electronics tray in place, and remove the electronics tray.

An overall shot of the chassis with both trays removed.

Time to re-assemble. Start with the battery tray and bolt it into place out front where the electronics tray was located.

Re-install the electronics tray next. You will notice the servo wire lead is probably too short to plug back into the receiver now. No big deal, you will just need to spend a few bucks for a servo extension wire. This is basically an extension cord for your servo wire. Plug the servo lead into the female end of the extension, plug the other end into your receiver and you are ready to go. Notice I have already plugged everything back into it’s required place. Route the antenna wire out the top half of the radio box, and run the servo and ESC wires in from the top.

Here’s a shot of the servo extension I used.

I also moved the power switch to the opposite side of the chassis from the stock location, just to keep wires neatly routed along the chassis plates. Use the wire routing tab for the on/off switch and the steering servo wire.

The servo extension plugged into the steering servo.

Now install the first two screws that hold the top half of the radio box. Make sure your wires are neatly tucked in and clear of being pinched between the two halves of the box.

Grab the top cap for the radio box and route the antenna wire through the cap from the bottom.

Secure the top cap with the last two screws.

Plug the motor wires back together and secure them to the chassis plate with the wire routing tab.

Another overall shot of the chassis now that the battery tray is out front.

Next thing I wanted to improve upon is the ride height. I wanted to lower the overall stance of this Ridgecrest to help with off camber obstacles. This was also a simple no cost modification because you can flip the lower link mount/lower shock mounts on the axles to lower your ride height a little. First, remove your wheel and tire from the corner of the truck you are working on. Now you can clearly see the lower link/shock mount.

Remove the screws holding the lower link and shock to the axle bracket.

Using a 2.5mm driver, remove the screws that hold the bracket into place on the axle.

Flip the bracket 180 degrees and re-install on the axle.

Re-attach your lower link and shock to the bracket.

In an effort to lower the ride height even more, I moved the upper shock mounts to the inner most hole on the side plates.

Another inexpensive modification I made was going to softer shock springs. I installed our “Black” comp springs which are the softest we make. This will help the suspension conform to the terrain better.

Last thing I am going to do for this installment is cut the stock tires for better forward bite. The stock RTR Ripsaw tires are quite a bit harder than our soft R35 compound Ripsaw tires. So, cutting the stock tires is an inexpensive way to get a little better performance. I went around all 4 tires and cut the smallest row of lugs out using a pair of wire cutters. A shot of the stock Ripsaw tread pattern.

Use the wire cutters to cut the small center row of lugs away from the tire.

Now do the same for the small outer lugs.

A shot of the tire tread after removing the tread blocks.

You can also cut the existing sipes/grooves in the center lugs deeper with a Dremel and cutoff wheel for better off camber performance.

A shot of the finished tire. Another mod you can make to soften the stock tires is to open up the breather holes in the wheels. I used a 1/4″ drill bit and open up the existing holes to help the tires breath better and conform to the rocks.

Here’s how the stance on this rig sits now.

That does it for Stage 1 of this build. These few mods will help the overall crawling capability of a Ridgecrest right out of the box. Stay tuned for Stage 2 which will be coming soon!!

Link – Stage Two Ridgecrest Build
Link – Stage Three Ridgecrest Build

Axialfest 2012 Recap

The first annual Axialfest was held this past weekend, June 22 – 24th, in Cisco Grove, CA. This event was known in the past as the “Axial West Coast Championships”, aka AWCC. This year’s event was geared towards “scale adventure” more so than a full on “competition”. While there are many classes to run, and trophies to win, this year’s event had a little different format to it, by offering numerous scale classes to compete in. Brian Parker’s new competition format known as “G6″ is slowly taking  the country by storm. Parker and his group of Recon Crawlers set out to make this event all about driving your scale R/C truck on lengthy adventures. When I say lengthy adventures, I mean it. For example the first stage of the G6 challenge on Friday consisted of navigating 500 gates that were sporadically laid out in the woods surrounding Cisco Grove Campground, the base camp of our adventures for the weekend. These 500 gates are numbered and must be run in consecutive order. Sounds simple enough right? Well, it can be, if you can locate all the gates. Brain and his crew can be pretty creative when it comes to setting courses, and camouflaging gates. And keep in mind there are 3 stages to this G6 challenge, so 500 gates is only part of the 3 day adventure. In the end I believe some adventurists in attendance ran in excess of 1200 gates throughout the weekend. Here’s a run down from the event.

Axial base camp.

The mud pit, which would be used throughout the weekend.

 

Registration on Friday morning.

 

The Terra Cross track.

 

Competitors line up according to class for the start.

 

Brian Parker holds the driver’s meeting before releasing competitors out onto the course.

 

On to the action. A cool Crawlmaro replica made with a Wraith.

 

Brett Carlson from Bulu Productions made the trip down from Oregon to shoot a little video, as well as compete with his Wraith.

 

Driving out of a rollover will save time and penalty points if you don’t have a winch.

 

One of the challenges that had to be performed on this stage was a sled pull.

 

Here you can see the mud depth is keep scale for realism.

 

Teamwork is another key factor to making through all 500 gates. Competitors are allowed to help each other over obstacles if need be.

 

The start of day two’s Ultra Race. This was a class that required you to run the set course as fast as you can. If you are looking for a good fun cardio workout, this is the class for you.

 

The first turn was a bottle neck for the more densely populated classes.

 

Axial’s own Brandon Coonce took the holshot in his custom blue paneled Wraith.

 

Next class hits the ground running. This was the adventurist class if I remember right. This class wasn’t about speed, it was more about adventure. But, a quick start to get ahead of the competition is still a good idea until the group gets spread out on course.

 

Turn one mayhem.

 

Next class to depart for the starting area.

 

Turn one was a great vantage point again.

 

Ty Campbell from Tekin’s custom Wraith build hits the mud pit flying.

 

More turn one action.

 

Not very often you see a Gremlin sporting 54″ tires.

 

After all the classes got underway, I set out on foot with my camera to see what challenges lay ahead for our competitors. First driver I came across was my co-worker Brandon. He had a weird monstrosity strapped to the hood of his Wraith. I asked him as he went by what it was, and all I heard was something about a boat? Confused, I followed him up the trail for a bit until he hit a challenge section of the trail run. This challenge required those carrying kayaks or boats on their vehicles to launch their boats at the designated boat ramp, let the vessel float its way downstream to the designated pick-up zone, then recover your boat and load it back onto your rig before you continue on. Actually turned out to be very entertaining to watch, some boats sank in the “rapids” requiring the owner to tip toe their way out into the stream for a recovery. Here is where Brandon’s previously mentioned monstrosity/camp fabbed raft came into play. Constructed of a 2.2 Ripsaw tire, stock tire foam, Proline roof rack, Proline cooler and a little duct tape, this raft floated down the scale river like a champ!! Everyone was laughing as it floated by us.

 

A few other watercraft making their way downstream.

 

After completing a few hundred gates the trail leads the competitors back to base camp for a run through the mud pit.

 

Cupid’s set-up is looking pretty high-tech these days, he is now apparently sporting a compound bow!!

 

Meanwhile back at our campsite our XR10′s are still covered in shaving cream from the previous night’s “Rock Riot” event. It’s a long story………. click the link below the photo.

A little video of Brandon and I hitting the shaving cream pit first. Brandon had the honors of breaking trail, I am second. Listen to Parker laughing as we go through.

http://www.facebook.com/photo.php?v=474854405861643

 

Our guard dog watched over the Axial RV while we were away.

 

One of my favorite scale vehicles from the weekend.

 

A few random campsites that were set-up properly for the disco themed weekend.

 

Time for some Terra Cross action. The TC races had a little something for everyone. There were classes for the SCX10, Wraith and EXO. Each class had its own variation of the track to run. This was one of the highlights of the weekend for me. It was the definition of backyard racing!!

First up for the heat races were the SCX10s.

 

Next up, the Wraith class.

 

And the EXO heat races were last.

 

Winner of the SCX10 Terra Cross Race was Matt Soileau

 

Start of the Wraith finals.

 

Taking the first Wraith Terra Cross victory was Axial team driver Ryan Gerrish.

 

Start of the EXO finals

 

Steve Brown of Vanquish Products tries to get his RTR EXO out of Ty Campbell’s way. Ty was by far the fastest guy on the track.

 

After all the dust settled, Ty Campbell took the win in the EXO Terra Cross.

 

Congrats to all the winners, you guys earned it! Here are a few highlights from the awards ceremony.

 

The future of our sport.

 

The Hawaii club sent this autographed banner to the event with signatures from the Hawaii G6 thanking Axial for their support. Thanks guys!!

That wraps up the 2012 Axialfestivies. If you can find a way to attend one of these G6 events you won’t be disappointed, especially if you own a scale R/C truck. Don’t forget to pack spare batteries either, because you are going to need them.

Axial “SCX10JK” – Currie RockJock 60 Axles

As you all know we have been working very closely with our firends at Rebel Off Road to build the ultimate Jeep JK trail rig. As we were going down the list of the must have accessories and modifications, Bond mentioned the drive train. We secured the Jeep Wrangler Rubicon for it’s trail ready reputation. For all intended purposes the standard Jeep JK drive train would suit our needs just fine. The standard Jeep JK Dana 44 axles are well prepared to accept abuse on the trail and deliver the desired relaibility. Bond quickly reminded us that we consulted him and the talented Rebel staff to help to make the “Ultimate Jeep JK Trail Rig”. In order to get the increased reliablilty and ability to one day move up to the sticky compound Maxxis tires he suggested we consider upgrading the axles to the Currie RockJock 60 models.

After a tremendous amount of research and many conversations with the world renowned Currie family, we decided to pull the trigger and secure some of the most beefy axles available for the Jeep JK on the planet. These axles would offer several advantages over the standard axles, which is quite amazing because the standard Dana equipment is far from something to complain about. Taking a moment to dip into some specs on these axles really helped us to see where the major differences are. First and foremost these axles are huge! Huge in the sense that the axle housings themselves are 5″ wider than standard in the front, and 4″ wider than standard in the rear. This alone should help a lot with stability on the trail. Let’s take a look at these housings on the day we picked them up from Currie

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One of the most striking differences between these and the standard axles is the angle of the diff covers. They are kicked back and the covers almost sit on top of the housings. This allows extreme rock crawlers to mash their way through rocks without having to worry about puncturing the diff cover, spilling out all the oil and halting all forward movement.

Here they are, loaded in the back of my truck and ready to be delivered to Rebel. I have to admit, I really wanted to get lost and find myself at my house trying to generate a “good” reason why the housings fell out of my truck and landed under my own Jeep :)

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You can really notice another significant difference with these housings in the above picture. The center sections are cast in a manner that adds a significant amount of extra ground clearance to your trail rig. They are called high pinion housings, that have a special set of gears that allow the pinion gear to come in at a much higher location on the ring gear. That extra gounnd clearance is sure to come in handy on the trail.

The next major difference you will notice is the spindles, these are basically off of a 1 ton truck. They carry some massive u-joints and axle shafts, making the entire drivetrain virtually bullet proof!

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The guys at Currie really keep their ear to the ground and their finger on the proverbial pulse of the Jeep world. They know that Jeep has sold over 600,000 Jeep JKs and decide to make a RockJock system that bolts right into the Jeep Wrangler. This means that all the factory brake components work with the exception of the front rotors (which are included with the axles) and the rear rotors which need to be drilled to the new 5.5 wheel pattern. They simply developed a bracket to adapt the standard calipers, making installation a breeze.

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After dropping off all of the components at Rebel Off Road, I had to hit the road to a trade show in Arizona. As luck would have it, the Rebel guys were on a mission to get the axles installed in the SCX10JK. This is not abnormal for these guys, they dont like having things sitting around the shop for more than a few days. This also means I missed the step by step install of the housings. In this case an axle housing install as direct fit as this one requires little explanation.

I did get lucky enough to secure some images of the Jeep out on the trail testing out the new hard parts. As suspected the Axles worked flawlessly, and really increased the Jeeps stability especially on side hill obsticles. The reliability was as expected, complete perfection!

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After the session out in the mountains the SCX10JK was brought back into the Rebel shop for inspection. It is always best to bring your rig in for a complete inspection and maintenance after really putting it through its paces. This was also a great oppertunity to check out how the RockJock housings were holding up to their extreme duties.
As expected, there were a few scratches and scrapes, but no damage requiring repair.

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There is one key feature of the RockJock housings I haven’t mentioned yet, and that is the integrated skid plate system on the center section of the housing. This part is one of the coolest features on the axles. The skid plate allows the housing to easily slide over obsticles it comes into contact with. The skid plate will see some wear and tear over time, but then it can be replaced keeping the meat of the housing in perfect condition throughout its life of service.

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All in all, Axial is extremely pleased to be running the Currie RockJock axles. We are also looking forward to learning more about the Curries and their long heritage in motorsport. From what we have seen and experienced thus far, this is a family and a company who truly embody the spirit of the four wheel drive enthusiast. For a little more insight on Currie Enterprises and their business, check out this video from their youtube page, very cool guys!

To get the history on the Axial “SCX10JK”, please check out the following links! Be sure to check back often, as we will continue to build up the SCX10JK and fine tune it for maximum performance!

Axial “SCX10JK” tested – Moab, Utah for Easter Jeep Safari 2012

The Full Size Connection

Axial 2012 Jeep Wrangler Rubicon Unlimited

Axial Visits Rebel Off Road

Axial “SCX10JK” – Icon Suspension

Axial “SCX10JK” Armor – Poison Spyder Crusher Flares and Crusher Corners

Axial “SCX10JK” Armor – Poison Spyder Rocker Armor and Rocker Knockers

Axial “SCX10JK” Armor – Skid Plates from Rebel Off Road

Axial “SCX10JK” Walker Evans Wheels – Maxxis Tires – Rebel Roof Rack

Axial “SCX10JK” Armor – Poison Spyder Front and Rear Bumpers – TJM Winch

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.