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.

Jake Wright Takes the Win at ECC 2012

Team Axial driver Jake Wright made the long trek down to Alabama from southern California with his XR10 for the 2012 East Coast Championships, aka ECC. ECC usually brings in drivers from all over the US to compete for the east coast crown. After a long hard fought battle with talented drivers from around the country, Axial’s very own Jake Wright managed to take the win and the cash prize back to California with him. Congrats Jake!! We are proud to have you on the team!!

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Photos courtesy of Ryan Bean.

Rat Rod Formula Off Road Build

A little update on this Rat Rod FOFF build that was featured in the 100th issue of RC Driver. Now that the 100th issue has been out for a few weeks I figured it was a good time to show some detailed chassis shots. Like my last FOFF build it began life as an SCX10 Honcho. I started off by stripping the donor Honcho down to the bare frame rails. I had a certain look that I wanted to achieve with this build, which was kind of an “old school hot rod” feel. I knew that the Rat Rod body was going to be blacked out by painting it on the outside for a “flat black” look. I also knew I was going to paint the rock rings white to kind of give the wheels and tires that “white wall” look. I also knew I wanted the suspension and steering links to be colored to set them off from the rest of the build. After debating for about 3 seconds what color to go with on the links, I knew that the old school Axial green would fit the bill perfectly. Here’s a few highlights from the build process.

A few photos of the front shock towers. I moved them forward on the chassis, flipped them 180* and swapped the left and right sides to match the contour of the chassis rails. The stock frame cross member between the shock towers in these photos is for mock-up only. I ended up using the stock frame cross member that ties the radio box to the frame rails and the stock rear cross member to cap the front of the frame rails.

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I upgraded to aluminum SCX10 shock bodies, and used the stock plastic motor plate spacers for the transmission to limit the travel internally, 2 per shock shaft gave me the desired ride height and shock travel I needed. Overall length on the shocks is now 80mm. For springs I used 2 short soft springs (Part #AX30200) back to back on each shock.

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Here you can see the motor plate spacers on the shock shaft.

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A shot of the front link set-up. Lower links are 106mm (Part #AX30441) plus a 15mm standoff (Part #AXA1311) with long straight XR10 rod ends (Part #AX80057). The uppers are 70mm threaded standoffs (Part #AXA1322) with 3mm spacers (Part #AXA1303) and long straight XR10 rod ends. The front axle will also use our plastic upper 4 link mount (Part #AX80043). Notice I also moved the upper link mounts on the chassis from the stock location. The holes are already in the frame rails, but they need to be drilled out to an 1/8″ for M3 hardware.

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I copied my original FOFF’s behind the axle steering for this build as well. Here you can see I shaved the axle housing a little to clear the steering tie rod.

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A few shots of the chassis mounted servo plate. Take your time with placement of the plate on the rails, to be sure to get a proper fit. Bolt your servo up to the servo plate. Then, hold it up against the chassis and scribe the profile of the plate on the rails to make sure your holes are drilled in the proper location.

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A few shots with the servo mounted. I used a stock SCX10 RTR servo for mock-up. I ordered a Futaba S9156 servo to handle the steering duties.

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Here you can see the 6mm spacer (Part #AXA1306) I used on the servo horn to move the drag link away from the upper links. The size on this spacer may vary depending on the servo and servo horn used.

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For the drag link I used our 91mm (Part #30524) link. I put a slight bend in the link at the steering knuckle with one of our curved upper link rod ends in order to put less stress on the steering knuckle. My original FOFF build used a standoff at the knuckle with a straight drag link and that set-up put too much stress on the knuckle arm, which left me with a few broken knuckles in really hard crashes. This set-up relieves a lot of that stress.

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A few photos of the rear suspension set-up. Lower links are 98mm (Part #AX30443) with stock rod ends, the uppers are 91mm with stock rod ends.

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In order to keep the 48p gears in good working order, I installed Axial’s spur gear cover (Part #AX80078) to keep debris out of the pinion and spur gear.

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To mount the ESC, receiver and the battery I used two of our standard battery plates (Part #AX30483). For the electronics I cut about 1 1/4″ off one end of the aluminum battery plate to shorten it up, then drilled and tapped into the stock rear frame cross member. In order to mount the battery plate I drilled and countersunk two holes to line up with the stock front frame cross member where the radio box normally sits.

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An overall shot of the chassis.

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A few shots with the body mounted.

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For the cage work I used a stock Dingo roll cage (Part #AX80042) cut to fit the width of the body.

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The 2.2 wheels I used on this build are now discontinued, but our black 8 hole beadlock wheels (Part #AX8097) are still readily available. The tires are Panther paddle tires. I sanded the stock rock rings with some fine sand paper, and spray painted them white for that old school look.

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Here you can see the rear portion of the chassis protruded beyond the bed of the body. I eventually used a Dremel and cutoff wheel to trim the frame rails flush with the body, which gave it a lot cleaner look.

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The front of the Rat Rod (Part #AX4016) body is very narrow. I had to cut the sides of the hood to clear the shock towers and servo. It was a little tedious to get the fit right, but 100% worth the time it took.

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That covers a few of the custom build details on this Rat Rod FOFF. I will try to shoot some video soon. I will post up here on the blog when I am finished. Until then, I think it’s time to charge a few batteries and go scout some locations.

To see more Formula Offroad builds be sure to check out the forums on www.rccrawler.com

FOFF SCX10 in 100th Issue of RC Driver

RC Driver magazine has hit a milestone…………….their 100th issue is about to hit newstands. Axial would like to congratulate them on this historic feat, way to go guys!! One vehicle that is featured in this special 100th edition magazine is a custom formula offroad SCX10 that I built a few months back. I sent a sneak peek photo of this rig to Ty Giebel, the man behind this article, while it was in the build process. I instantly got a message back saying he wanted to do an article for RC Driver featuring this Rat Rod FOFF in a future edition of the magazine. It was tough to finish the build, knowing that the first squeeze of the trigger wasn’t going to be made by my hand. But, in end I couldn’t turn him down as I knew he would truly do this rig justice with a spectacular article and photos. Here’s a few teaser photos of the new 100th issue, and this Rat Rod FOFF build. There is more to come on this particular rig, but for now this will have to hold you over. If you want to see more, look for this issue at your local newstand.

Cover shot.

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Cover page for article.

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Last couple shots.

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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!!

Axial Wraith Sway Bar Sets

Axial Wraith Sway Bar Sets

Front – AX30781

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Rear – AX30782

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Is your Wraith set-up for high speed rock racing, or G6 style events? Then this is the option part you have been waiting for: the Axial Wraith Sway Bar Kits. Designed for high speed this system will let you soften up your suspension for jumps, while keeping torque twist and body lean to a minimum during acceleration. A sway bar’s main function is to control body roll, yet still allow your shocks to move vertically with the changing terrain. What does all this mean? It means more stability at high speed. A must have upgrade for any would be rock racer.

CNC machined for precision.

Black anodized aluminum sway bar arms.

Each kit includes three different steel sway bars for fine tuning body roll and suspension articulation (soft, medium and firm).

Laser etched Axial logos.

All required hardware is included.

Simple bolt on application.

Kits available for front and rear separately.

For more info visit Axial’s Press Release Page:

http://axialracing.com/ftp/press.html

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.

Magam Trophy 2010

Not sure how many of you, if any, have heard of this race/rally. I recently stumbled across some video on YouTube from the 2010 Magam Trophy event. I must admit I was impressed to say the least, these guys are pretty hardcore. I could see this event being shrunk down to meet our scale R/C fix pretty easily. A big powerful winch would be mandatory too after watching some of this footage.

Link to website:

http://translate.google.com/translate?hl=en&sl=pl&u=http://www.magamtrophy.pl/&ei=sWfzTuLBG4PnsQLa2rC8AQ&sa=X&oi=translate&ct=result&resnum=1&ved=0CEUQ7gEwAA&prev=/search%3Fq%3DMagam%2BTrophy%26hl%3Den%26client%3Dfirefox-a%26hs%3DM67%26rls%3Dorg.mozilla:en-US:official%26prmd%3Dimvns

A few videos:

Part 1:

Part 2:

Part 3:

Part 4:

Part 5:

Looks crazy fun to me!!