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.

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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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.

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.

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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.

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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.

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

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

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Snap the light guards into place.

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Install the light buckets into position on the front bumper.

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

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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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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.

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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.

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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

Step By Step Wraith Kit Build – Part V – Chassis

Next step in our Wraith kit build is the assembly of the chassis. Flip to page 26 in the Wraith kit manual, start with step 25.

Find bag E and the corresponding parts required from the various parts trees.

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We will start with the light buckets, grab everything you will need to complete this step.

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Grab the first light bucket and mounting bracket.

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Insert the light bucket, part number AX80045B-5, inside the mounting bracket, part number AX80045B-2.

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Install the LED holder, part number AX80045A-1, on the backside of the light bucket with the supplied 2x6mm screws.

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Tie the bucket and bracket together using another 2x6mm screw.

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Now snap the light bucket lens into place.

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Repeat the last few steps for the second light bucket.

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Grab the remaining parts needed to complete step 25.

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Install the light buckets to the bottom of the rear frame cross member, part number AX80077-001-2.

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Tie part number AX80082-1 to the rear frame cross member assembly.

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Now install the battery tray as directed with the supplied 2.6x8mm flat head screws.

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Jump to page 27 and step 26. Lay everything out needed for this step.

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Tie the lower part of the tube frame to the upper left side of the chassis.

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Install the left shock mount next.

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Last thing we need to do for step 26 is install the front bumper support and radio box base.

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Step 27 is next, lay everything out you’ll need to complete this step.

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Assemble the right side just like you did the left side. At this point I installed the battery tray on the right side chassis plate, even though the instructions say to mount it to the left side chassis assembly. Either method will work fine, it has no bearing on the assembly process.

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Next we will prep the radio box.

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Start by applying the thin strip of foam to the top half of the radio box.

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Then install the other foam strip on the top cap of the radio box.

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Attach the bottom half of the radio box to the frame support.

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Flipping to page 30 you will see it’s time to start on the body panels. All the panels laid out like a blank canvas. Make sure you wash the inside of the body panels with soap and water before painting. Regular dish detergent will work fine. This will help the paint stick to the panels properly. It’s a bummer to spend time painting a body all up only to have the paint flake off during your first rollover because you skipped this step. The instructions suggest cutting the panels out first, then washing them and paint last. I washed the panels first, then paint and trim last. Again, either method works great, it’s just personal preference.

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The theme for this build will be black on black!! Here you can see the painted roof and dash panels.

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Next I trimmed the dash per the instructions.

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Dressing up the dash with some decals. An X-acto works great for applying small decals.

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For the Wraith side panels and hood I am going to do something a little different. I am going to use the over spray film as a paint mask. I am going to paint parts of these few panels on the outside, and the inside, to get a gloss black on flat black effect. Keeping it simple I laid out the paint job as desired on the outside of the body panels with electrical tape.

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The hood.

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I am even going to carry the paint job into the interior a little, with one flat black strip on the transmission tunnel.

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Now use your X-acto to cut the desired areas to be painted on the outside of the body away.

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Peel your cut areas away very carefully. If your cuts aren’t nice and clean, when you remove these pieces it may pull up the rest of your over spray film at the same time. Patients is key here, take your time.

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Next I painted the inside of the body panels black.

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While the paint dried I moved on to assembling the Corbeau seats.

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Slide the back rest of the seats into place.

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Move the seat back into position, and secure using the supplied 3x12mm self tapping screws.

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Using my X-acto knife again to position the seat detail stickers.

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Both seats assembled and detailed.

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Back to the body panels. Now that the inside of the panels have been painted with a few light coats, it’s time to paint the outside. Take a minute to do one last visual scan to ensure the over spray film isn’t pulled up in an area it shouldn’t be. Then paint the outside of the panels. I use very light coats of paint to get the desired coverage needed, and to keep the paint a consistent color. Once this coat of paint on the outside is dry, you can remove the over spray film.

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Subtle but cool!!

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A couple shots with the flash directed at the body to show the contrast.

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Interior.

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Next I rough cut the panels out with Lexan scissors close to my final cut lines.

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Then I go back and cut the panels to size as needed. Cutting the body twice takes a little extra time, but your body lines will be a lot cleaner using this method compared to cutting it on the body lines the first time.

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It’s best to use a body reamer to cut the front grill area cleanly for the chassis tubes that will hold the front bumper. Use a reamer to punch the holes in position, then cut the remaining body out with scissors.

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Simple sticker scheme for the side panels.

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Time to add some detail to that interior. Using your body reamer, punch all the holes needed in the interior tray to finish detailing it.

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After applying the interior decals, we can add the cool scale bits into the driver’s compartment.

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Attach the shifters to the proper spots in the interior.

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Finish building the dashboard.

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Finish the interior by bolting in the seats and dash.

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Now we will attach the interior to the left side of the chassis assembly. Once I set the interior into place I noticed that it wasn’t sitting square to the chassis. Closer inspection exposed the culprit. There is a boss molded into the roll cage that allows you to bolt the body panels on. This tab was hitting the interior floor pan before I could get it into position. So, a little trimming with the body scissors was in need. I just had to elongate the scallops on the sides of the floor pan beside the seats and everything fit fine after that.

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Install the supplied 2.6x6mm self tapping screws into the floor pan and roll cage.

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That wraps up this installment of our Wraith kit build series. Next steps will be the last to make it a complete rolling chassis. We are getting close!!

Axial Wraith Kit Build Series

Step 1

Step 2

Step 3

Step 4

Step 6

Step 7

Step By Step Wraith Kit Build – Part IV – Transmission

For Part IV of our Wraith kit build I will cover assembly of the transmission. The transmission for the Wraith is still based off our proven AX10 and SCX10 transmissions. Assembly is still very similar as well, with just a few minor changes. So, let’s get started!

Go to page 22 in the kit manual, start at step 19. Find bag D and your plastic transmission housing parts tree.

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All the parts needed to complete this step.

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Grab your slipper drive gear shaft, 20t drive gear and 1.5x8mm cross pin. Slide the cross pin through the hole in the end of the shaft.

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Now slide the 20t drive gear into place over the pin.

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Install a 5x10mm bearing on each side of the 20t drive gear.

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Slide the shaft into the top hole in the transmission case.

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Install two more 5x10mm bearings into the small plastic idler gear, then slide the 5x18mm shaft through the bearings.

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Insert the gear into the transmission case beside the first gear/shaft assembly.

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Now it’s time to assemble the main spool gear. Everything needed for this step. Notice I left out the small plastic ring, labeled AX80051 in the instructions, that is suppose to be sandwiched between the transmission outputs. It’s not needed, that is a misprint in the manual.

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Install the main drive gear between the two transmission outputs.

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Add a dab of thread lock to the screws that will hold the main drive gear assembly together. It’s not noted in the manual, but it is a good idea. These screws see a lot of stress, especially with big motors and batteries.

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Go around the 3 screws holding the main gear assembly, and torque them down as evenly as you can. Then install the 8x16mm and 15x21mm bearings over the outputs.

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Now add a thin layer of grease the main drive gear.

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Drop the main gear into the transmission case. Give the whole assembly a spin to spread the grease evenly over the gears.

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Moving on to step 20. Everything required to complete this step.

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Slide the 2nd half of the transmission case into place.

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Install the small plastic spacer over the slipper clutch gear shaft, part number AX80051-8.

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Slide the spacer into the recess in the transmission housing.

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Install the backside of the spur gear cover into place over the slipper shaft.

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Set the motor plate into place over the spur gear cover.

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Install the 3x15mm self tapping screw into the transmission case to tie the two halves together.

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Add a dab of thread lock to the 3x25mm screws for the motor plate.

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Thread the 25mm screws into the motor plate, and torque them down evenly as needed.

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Moving on to step 21, grab everything you need to build the slipper clutch.

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Start with assembling the spur gear. Grab the outer slipper plate, spur gear, three 3x6mm cap head screws and three flat washers.

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Slide the flat washers over the screws, slide the screws through the spur gear and thread them into the outer slipper plate. Torque the screws down evenly.

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Now slide the second 1.5mm pin into place in the slipper shaft.

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Install the inner slipper plate over the drive pin.

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Slide the spur gear assembly into plate so the friction pad is sandwiched between the slipper plates.

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Install the biggest flat washer into place on the slipper shaft, part number AXA1091.

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Slide the slipper spring into place next.

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Install the smaller flat washer, part number AXA1071.

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Now start the M4 Nylock screw onto the slipper shaft. You will need a way to hold the transmission outputs still while you tighten down the slipper clutch. Easiest way I found was inserting something into the transmission output holes. Then tighten down the slipper clutch as needed. I usually tighten mine all the way down until the nut stops, then back it off 1-2 full turns for a good starting point.

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Slipper clutch complete.

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Next we will tackle the spur gear cover, and finish the transmission assembly. Everything needed to complete this step.

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Install the short M3 set screw into the 20t pinion gear.

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Install the single 5x11mm bearing into the backside of the transmission cover, part number AX80051-1.

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Pop the small round plastic cover into place on the backside of the transmission slipper shaft, part number AX80051-7.

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Now slide the back transmission cover into place over the rear output.

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Install the 3x12mm self tapping plastic screws into the backside of the transmission cover, on each side of the transmission output.

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Now install the 3x6mm screws into the top of the transmission housing.

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Grab the front side of your spur gear cover.

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Install the spur gear cover over the spur gear.

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Tie the spur gear cover to the transmission using the supplied 2.6x10mm flat head self tapping screws.

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Next tie the transmission to the kit’s skid plate. Everything required for this step.

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Use the four self tapping plastic screws to tie the transmission to the skid plate. Note that 2 screws are slightly shorter, make sure they go into the proper holes to avoid stripping out the transmission mounting holes.

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Install a male half shaft to the spur gear side of the transmission output.

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Now grab your front axle, the skid plate/transmission assembly and required screws to complete this step.

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Start by mating the driveshafts, then install the upper links into position on the skid plate using the supplied 3x15mm self tapping screws. Lastly, flip the whole assembly over and install the long 3x20mm set screws through the lower links.

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Grab your rear axle and repeat the last few steps.

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And you’re done! It’s really starting to take shape now.

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That takes care of this installment of our step by step Wraith kit build. Next up, we will start assembling the roll cage/chassis.

Axial Wraith Kit Build Series

Step 1

Step 2

Step 3

Step 5

Step 6

Step 7

Formula D – Long Beach

It was a beautiful Saturday morning and the Wife and I had plans to meet our Friends at Falken in Long Beach for Round 1 of Formula Drift.

Huge thanks to Falken for their hospitality!

We arrived just in time to watch the top 16 battle it out for the win.  Before they started I manged to walk around and check out all the new cars built for this season.

There has been quite a big swing to V8 power this year.

Matt Power’s Need for speed backed car sporting a pair of pink wheels on the drivers side (yellow on the passenger).  With the new LS engine under the hood he was tearing it up in round 1.

Rhys Millen’s Red Bull Hyundai Genesis.  Rumor is that he is pushing 700hp this year.

I was looking forward to watching Vaughn and his new Falken/Monster Energy Ford Mustang, sadly he had bad luck and didn’t Qualify.

Nice tool box!! (a little jealous… :))

Congrats to Team Falken on taking 1st and 3rd place!

Below Results were taken from Speedhunters.com

Formula DRIFT Professional Championship 2011 Point Standings after 1 Round
1. Pawlak, Justin – Falken Tire Ford Mustang 102 Points
2. Powers, Matt - Need for Speed Nissan S14 94 Points
3. Yoshihara, Daijiro - Discount Tire / Falken Tire Nissan S13  88 Points
4. Forsberg, Chris - NOS Energy Drink / Hankook Tire Nissan 370Z  70 Points
5. Mohan, Kyle - Nexen Tire / Mazdatrix Mazda RX-8  69 Points
6. Grunewald, Conrad - Hankook Tire Chevy Camaro  66 Points
7. Millen, Rhys - RMR / Red Bull Hyundai Genesis Coupe  65 Points
8. Tuerck, Ryan - Gardella Racing / Mobil 1 Pontiac Solstice  63 Points
9. Aasbo, Fredric - Need for Speed / Hankook Scion TC  61.50 Points
10. McNamara, Darren - Falken Tire Pontiac Saturn Sky 58 Points
11. McQuarrie, Tyler - Falken Tire Nissan 350Z 57 Points
11. Wilkerson, Walker - Intec Racing Nissan 240 57 Points
13. Field, Matt - Fatlace Nissan 240SX  56 Points
14. Petty, Ross - Garage Boso / Falken Tire Nissan Silvia S15 55 Points
14. Waldin, Matt - Helix Energy Drink Nissan 350Z  55 Points
16. Mertzanis, Dennis - Mertzanis Racing Nissan 240SX  54.50 Points

Cant wait for the Final Round of Formula D in October when they are back in CA at Irwindale.

Enjoy the images below, be sure to check out all 3 pages.  Thanks for looking!