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.


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

2011 Axial/MSD Scale Nationals: Top Truck Challenge

The Top Truck Challenge was the last event of the 2011 Scale Nats weekend. To get into this competition you had to be voted in by members of Anyone can submit an entry, but only the top 10 make the cut. This event is held on Sunday every year, and is the most entertaining to witness by far. It’s just fun watching custom built R/C’s go through this grueling torture test. The was no shortage of breakage, or fried electronics this year either. Almost every competitor had to make repairs at some point during the event. Driver’s meeting started at 10am on Sunday, so we all got to sleep in a little. Once the meeting was done everyone headed down to the first obstacle, “The Frame Twister”. Here’s a quick rundown of the day.

Driver’s ask questions about the format before the event gets underway.

Frame Twister
Team Axial driver Zach Chatelain’s custom Jeep tuber.


Utah’s Lance Parker and his custom Jeep Brute build.


More random shots from the first obstacle.








Colorado’s Patrick Hardesty working his way through.



Mud Pit



Ryan Gerrish won the award for “Biggest Splash” in this event.


Ty Giebel got a little too close to the pit during Ryan’s pass.

More random shots





Obstacle Course
Tim Samuel navigates his custom tuber through the course.

The finish line had a decent jump before it, most guys hit the skinny pedal as they came through.






A little carnage.

More random goodness.



More at the finish line.


Dean Hsiao on course.



Sled Pull






Mini Rubicon








It didn’t take the kids long to inherit the pull sled for their Honchos.

Hill Climb
Ryan Gerrish works his way up the hill climb obstacle.

John Riplinger’s custom Jeep tuber attacking the hill.

Few more shots from the hill.



Tank Trap







And the winners are………
1st John Riplinger
2nd Lance Parker
3rd Ryan Overbye
4th Zach Chatelain
5th Dean Hsiao

That’s pretty much it for the 2011 Scale Nationals. It was a great weekend, with some awesome competition. We are already looking forward to next year.

Brandon’s Formula Offroad Build: Part 2

Now the fun begins, testing and tuning before the final installment of my build!  If you missed Part 1 of my build be sure to check it out HERE.
Part 3 HERE.

With the rig running and ready to hit the sand, Bender and I headed out to our local spot where the road construction has created some interesting and difficult obstacles.

I now have about 12 packs through it and I know what needs to be changed/updated.  Electronics are still undecided, the weight of this rig is causing heat issues when I make adjustments for more wheel speed.  I will include my full build spec sheet and the electronics I decide on in Part 3.

For now enjoy the action shots, and be sure to click the images for the larger version or view the full gallery below!

Upgrades for the SCX10, XR10 and RTC

We receive numerous questions from people asking what option parts they should upgrade to first. Half the fun of this hobby, to me, is wrenching and upgrading components. But, it can be tough to sort through information to see what upgrades are necessary. Some R/C upgrades in general are purely for looks, some are for better performance and a lot are for improved durability. Performance and durability are the two biggest reasons I upgrade my personal R/C’s, and I know there are a lot of people out there that have the same approach I do. So, I decided to come up with an upgrade list for each of our vehicles in order from most important to least important from my vantage point.

SCX10 Upgrades:
Aluminum Link Upgrade Kit (AX30549 for the Dingo, AX30550 for the Honcho)
Aluminum Knuckles and C-hubs (AX30495 C-hubs, AX30496 Knuckles)
Aluminum Shock Set (AX30090 x 2)
Steel Transmission Outputs (AX30544)
HD Ring and Pinion Set (AX30401 Front and/or AX30402 Rear)
CVD’s (AX30464)
Steel Pinion Gears (13t – AX30571, 14T – AX30569, 15T – AX30573)
1.9 Internal Weight Ring (AX30547)
1.9 Internal Weights (AX30548 x 2)

RTC Upgrades:
Aluminum Link Upgrade Kit and Hardware (AXA1407 Kit, AXA1411 Hardware)
Aluminum Knuckles and C-hubs (AX30495 C-hubs, AX30496 Knuckles)
Behind the Axle Steer Kit (BTA) (AX30533)
2.2 Internal Weight Ring (AX30545)
2.2 Internal Weights (AX30546 x 3)
Steel Transmission Outputs (AX30544)
CVD’s (AX30464)
Carbon Fiber Rear Axle Brace (AX30509)
Aluminum Shock Bodies (AX30120 x 2)
HD Ring and Pinion Set (AX30401 Front and/or AX30402 Rear)
SWX Chassis Kit (AX30506)
Steel Pinion Gears (13t – AX30571, 14T – AX30569, 15T – AX30573)

XR10 Upgrades:
Steel Pinion Gears (13t – AX30571, 14T – AX30569, 15T – AX30573)
Aluminum Link Kit (AX30434)
HD Machined Gear Set (AX30767 – AX30771)
Stage 1 Aluminum Kit (AX30432)
Wheel Weights (AX30546 x 3)
Super Soft Springs (AX30223, AX30224, AX30225 x 2)
Carbon Fiber Chassis Kit (AX30433)
Titanium Gear Shafts (AX30765 and AX30766)
Carbon Fiber Electronics Plate (AX30772)
Carbon Fiber Battery Plate (AX30774)

2010 Axial West Coast Championship Finals

After months of waiting, and running numerous qualifiers, it was finally time to pack the Axial RV and head off to the Axial West Coast Championship Finals in Cisco Grove, Ca. The build-up for this years comp began back in January when the first 2010 AWCC Qualifier was held in Escondido, Ca. For this year’s championships no one got a free ticket into the main event Saturday afternoon. You either had to attend one of the 5 qualifier events, and earn an invite by a top 10 finish or sign up for the “Last Chance Qualifier” on Friday before the finals and make the top 20 on that day. So, this event anyone you were competing against earned their way into the main event. Axial hoped this would make for a really tight/competitive comp as far as the top scores go, and that is pretty much how it all played out. Hit one bad gate on any one of the 5 courses and you dropped 10 places in the overall standings instantly. There was no room for error at this year’s event……………….period.

The drive through California via the 395 highway.





The RV was getting a little thirsty, so we stopped off for a drink.


Back on the road.






Settling into our campsite.



Axial staff hard at work.


Game on!!


Brandon spotting for me on course #1.



Team Axial driver Becky Barger working course #2.


Scott Hughes and his freshly built XR10 working course #1.






Jason Gainey works course #1.



A few more random shots from the 3 courses down by the river.



dsc_0134 was on hand broadcasting video of the weekend’s events.



John Hubbard from RCCrawler working the live feed. He looks so content in this picture for some strange reason.



No clue what is going on here.





More pictures from courses 4 and 5.


Brandon on course #4.




Scott H working course #4.



Me on course #4.


After everyone was done running courses it was time to gather around the Axial tent for the trophy presentation.


And the winners are……….
Last Chance Qualifier-Pro
1st Chris Mcmullin
2nd Doug Toney
3rd Kevin Gunderson

Last Chance Qualifier-Sport
1st Eric Hill
2nd Justin McCoy
3rd Dustin Howe

Sport Class-Finals
1st Michael Boling
2nd James Roque
3rd Tom Havel


Rock Candy-Finals-Sport
1st Shannon Davis
2nd Natalia Morales
3rd Kacie Vess

Rock Candy-Finals-Pro
1st Becky Barger
2nd Candance Flaming
3rd Jess Downing



Pro Shafty-Finals
1st Jay Robbinette
2nd Jake Wright
3rd Tom Brown


Pro Overall-Finals
1st John Ripplinger
2nd John Hall
3rd Jason Veal


Congrats to all the winners, you guys really earned it!! Axial would like to thank everyone that helped us with this event, and the overall series. A huge thanks goes out to Brian Parker and Stuart Gartner for all their hard work throughout this whole series, we couldn’t have done it without you guys! Thanks to all the sponsors that helped support the finals too, Vanquish Products, Futaba, Novak, Pro-Line,, and Xtreme R/C. We couldn’t have done it without your support either.

The dust has barely settled on this year’s AWCC Series, and I am already excited for next year’s series to start. If you couldn’t make it to any of these events this year, try and make it to one next year, you won’t be disappointed. And like Warren Miller always says, “If you don’t do it this year, you will be one year older when you do.” See you next year!!

Axial West Coast Championship Qualifier, Round 5

The last stop on Axial’s West Coast Qualifier Series was held this past Saturday, April 10th. The location for this final event was in beautiful Northern California at Lake Amador Resort. Lake Amador is best known for it’s fishing and camping. The resort constantly stocks the lake with a rare breed of trout known to put up a healthy fight when caught. They also boast about their huge catfish, as well as unbeatable bass fishing. Combine that with the fact that they have an RV park on site, Lake Amador is a fisherman’s dream come true. On the other hand, off to the west side of the lake, down in a ravine, is an R/C rock crawlers dream come true. The ravine has a good sized rock formation that has sharp ledges sticking up everywhere. The rock/ledge located at this particular spot is very unique, and has unbelievable traction. We have had an amazing amount of various terrain throughout this series, but this location was very different from what I am used to. It was the perfect location to close down what has been and awesome qualifier series. Let’s hit the road.

My fuel for the weekend………………………….Mocha Frappee’s from Mickey D’s.

The ride through the Cali countryside.


Brandon and Scott were busy watching Sesame Street all the way there.

Parker’s latest course design, moving courses. Ever try rock crawling on a rock pile that’s going down the highway at 70mph? Hold your line driver!!

On the way to the comp site Friday we stopped by Modesto Hobby and Craft for a quick visit. Very cool hobby shop, with courteous employees and numerous R/C related items. I wish I had more pictures to post from inside, but I’m an idiot and only brought our zoom lens on this trip.

Pulling into the resort.

Overlooking the lake.


Partial view of the comp site.

The Michael Angelo of rock crawling courses, Parker sets gates first thing Saturday morning.

Each course had a sign letting everyone know which course was which.

The parking lot was almost like a car show. Here’s Axial team driver Dean Hsiao’s Impala wagon, soooo clean!



Of course there were a few sweet off-road vehicles in the parking lot too.








Group shot of the drivers.

Group shot of the rigs.

Driver’s meeting


Time to do some work!!






Axial’s own Brandon Coonce working course #1


Me flailing around on course #1




Mr. Scott Hughes working it


Brent Brammer working his Axial SWX through course #2




Brandon on course #2




Dean Hsiao on course #2

Climbing into the alternate line.



Scott on Course #2




Captain Axial at it yet again harassing competitors, passing out free t-shirts and stealing motorcycles.


According to the locals the fire department conducts fire training in this area frequently. There were helicopters flying overhead all day long.

Parker’s newest hobby…………………..Ventriloquism.

And the winners are……..
Sport Class
1st place Shannon Davis
2nd place James Roque
3rd place Jerry Sanders

Pro Shafty
1st place Brian Lorenz
2nd place Brandon Coonce
3rd place Dean Hsiao

Pro Overall
1st place Daniel Flemming
2nd place John Hall
3rd place Lenny Tyler

The Rock Candy Girls

CanDance, Pro Rock candy winner (left), Shannon Davis, sport rock candy winner (center), Mindy Howe (right). Watch your back guys, they are gunning for us.

Well, that does it for this first qualifier series. I would personally like to thank Axial and Vanquish Products for their support during this series. I would also like to thank Brian Parker, Stuart Gartner and all the volunteers/judges that helped us with these events. We definitely couldn’t have done it without the help of everyone in this great R/C community. If you didn’t get a chance to attend any of these 5 qualifiers, come on out to the finals on June 24th-26th. You can run the last chance qualifier and still get into the main event. I guarantee the finals will be a memorable weekend whether you come out to compete, or just watch. See you then.

Axial West Coast Championship Qualifier, Round 4

The latest stop in Axial’s West Coast Championship Series was Long Beach, Washington. Long Beach is a small tourist town located in the southwest corner of Washington. There are many things to do in this small town from cart racing, moped rentals, horse back riding, clam digging, biking, etc. There are also a number of good restaurants in town as well, making Long Beach a nice location for a family vacation/getaway. The competition was held right on the beach by the ocean. The terrain was a mix of sandstone and jagged water eroded ledge that was covered in moss. The traction there, to my surprise, was extremely high almost like sand paper. We went into this comp expecting rain all day since that had been the forecast all week. But, to everyone’s surprise the sun was out and shining all day long giving us perfect weather.

For this comp Scott Hughes and I flew into Portland, Oregon. Once there we met up with Steve Brown from Vanquish Products who was riding along with us to check out the comp. After loading up the rental car we hit the road destined for Tammies Hobbies in Beaverton, Oregon. Tammies is known to have tons of crawler products in stock from scale accessories to full on competition parts.

A few pictures from Tammies Hobbies.

Steve Brown and Ryan Gerrish showing off some sweet Vanquish wheels

Ryan’s custom rock racer, 50% rock crawler, 50% 4×4 Slash……………….100% sick!!

Got scale crawler parts?

Need motors?

Comp wheels?

Maybe trains are your thing?


Me getting an education in rock crawling


Back on the road again, this was my view for the 2 hour ride from Beaverton to Long Beach along the Lewis and Clark trail. Yawn…..

That’s a little better view


Scott and Steve, or Lewis and Clark…………………….it’s tough to tell the difference.

Almost there

Once we checked into the hotel, and scoped out the comp site a little we all met at the Light Ship bar and grill above our hotel for early tech. The view from the dining area was sweet.

Stuart checks drivers in while Brian ponders the meaning of life.

For dinner I choose pasta

Stuart dives into his freshly prepared steak

Brad Bailey helped Brian and Stuart with rig tech

Insert you own caption here

Drivers file in for tech inspection

The comp site on game day.



Group shot before comp

Driver’s meeting

Comp time


Scott Hughes on his first course





Me on course #2


Cory Hannah working course #1

Parker doing work



A group of vehicles pulled into a cove beyond the comp site early in the morning. Once the tide came up they were trapped on an out cropping of rock for hours until the tide went back out. Coast Guard made a few passes through to make sure no one was in immediate danger.

Stuart Gartner on course #1



Random shots







Rock Candy winner Mindy Howe

Captain Axial, or a really bad Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle costume? What is that on the side of your………………..never mind I don’t want to know.



More random shots





Ryan Gerrish





And the winners are…….

Rock Candy:
Mindy Howe

Sport Class:
1st Cole Bailey
2nd Tazz Judkins
3rd Rod Comstock

Pro Shafty:
1st Dave Copher
2nd Cody Cannell
3rd Marc Linn

1st Dustin Siegfried
2nd Josh Smith (not pictured)
3rd Ryan Gerrish

That wraps event #4 up. What a weekend!! Great weather, good people and an awesome location, what more could we ask for? A huge thanks to the Oregon and Washington clubs for all their help, we couldn’t have done it without you. Also Axial would like to thanks all the judges, volunteers and anyone else that helped this event along, we really appreciate all the help. See you in 2 weeks at Lake Amador, Ca.