What do you get when you cross a Revell Snap-Tite model with a Pocher super-detailed automobile kit? If you also add some remote-control electronics, you get one of Team Associates radio-controlled car kits. I built my first RC car kit for my oldest son several years ago. Last Christmas, my younger son wanted an RC car as well. A trip to the hobby shop and we soon had a RC10 Sport running up and down the street as a wild-eyed 15-year-old started refining his hand-eye coordination. With the older brother long gone (as well as his RC car), my younger son wanted to race me into the ground. Back to the hobby shop!
After consulting with the RC car guru at the shop, I selected the RC10T3 Team truck as my racing mount for several reasons. First, the Team series cars/trucks have full ball bearings in the transmission and axles, whereas the Sport and Basic versions use simple bushings. Next, the truck has a wider stance than the car, which should translate into greater high-speed turn stability. After assembling and using the resistance speed control for my son's car (which does not allow reverse), I wanted an electronic speed control that does support reverse. Finally, knowing what motor had been installed in the kid's car, I selected a 'hotter' motor that was still compatible with my electronic speed controller. Youth and agility are no match for age and cunning…
The kit comes well packaged in a heavy-gauge cardboard box. Inside, all of the parts are sealed in plastic bags that are sorted and labeled according to instruction assembly steps. The majority of the car structure is made of plastic composites that are stronger and lighter than aluminum. These parts are all molded in black. The remaining parts are a mixture of metal hardware (screws, axles, bearings, etc.), rubber (tires) injection molded plastics (wheels), and Lexan (thermo-formed truck body). The first time you look into the box, you might have the "what did I get into?" reaction, but trust me, this project is as simple as a snap-tite!
The kit also provides you with most of the tools you will need for this project. What are not included are: needle-nose pliers, X-acto knife, cyano glue, plastic nippers, screwdrivers and soldering iron. Most of these items (if not all) are already on the benches of moderately-to-well equipped scale modelers.
On the downside, having built an RC10 at Christmas, I was a little surprised to see that some of the composite part trees are showing signs of mold age. There is more flash on the parts than before, and some of the holes in the kit will need to have the flash cleaned out before trying to install axles or shafts. Some of the machined parts were also getting bundled with metal shavings, etc., present. Not a serious problem, but one to be aware of while assembling the kit. It is no wonder that the molds are getting old - these have to be one of the more popular brands of car kits on the market today!
Assembly begins with the front-end steering blocks. The one thing you should do before starting each step is to gather the parts needed for each step in front of you and understand the orientation of the parts against the diagrams in the instructions. These diagrams are virtually fool-proof (I built several!) IF you heed the notes and hints. After I identified the left-side and right-side parts, verified the orientations, etc., I put the subassemblies together. There is no gluing involved with the vast majority of this project, just screw/bolt the parts together and press on. It took longer to study the diagrams than to complete the assembly! I imagine that this time will be cut drastically if you have more experience with these kits.
The next step is the front-end shock mounts and suspension arms. The truck version of the RC10 does indeed have a wider stance than the car. I am looking forward to racing the kid! This second step is more complex than the first, but by now you're getting the hang of reading and interpreting the instructions, so this is still a no-brainer. This is the first of several steps that use ball-joint linkages. The instructions provide precise measurements between the centers of each ball cup. If you pay attention to these measurements in your assembly, you'll find that the car will track straight and true without trimming or compensation in the radio.
Now we begin with the chassis. Here is where you install a Rube Goldberg-looking device they call a servo saver. This strange looking unit provides a shock/impact decoupling linkage between your steering servo and the front-end steering. I was still not convinced why I needed such a contraption in my car when I installed it, but after a few test drives (and impacts), I understand now!
Now it is time to integrate your earlier subassemblies. First, we install the front-end shock tower/suspension arm assembly to the chassis. This literally slips into thesubassembly containing the servo saver and bolts into place. Next, the front-end steering blocks are connected to the ball joints on the steering servo-saver. This is beginning to look like a car.
On to the rear end. We install the suspension arm mounts to the rear plate, then install the rear plate onto the chassis. We finally add the rear suspension arms to the mounts. Again, pay attention to the orientation of the car, as the parts are easily reversed if you are not careful. The instructions are some of the best I've seen in keeping the builder straight.
Now comes my favorite part of the car - the transmission. You are provided with 12 carbide ball bearings. You are supposed to put each of the 12 ball bearings into the 12 corresponding holes on the differential gear. The first time I looked at this at Christmas, I was a little hesitant. This step also turns out to be a no-brainer. Simply squirt a bit of clear differential grease (provided in the kit) into each hole, then insert the ball. The grease keeps the balls nicely in place.
This challenge is repeated in the right outdrive hub, this time with six ball bearings that are sandwiched between two washers around a differential bolt. This time, we use the black grease also provided in the kit, and put an even bead of grease on one of the washers. Don't use too much grease. Put each of the six bearings into the grease on the washer, cap this with the second washer, insert the differential bolt (keeping the bearings in formation between the washers) and insert the whole affair into the outdrive hub as instructed. It takes longer to read this than to actually do it.
The left and right outdrive hubs come together with the differential gear in-between. This subassembly is then installed into the transmission case with other gears and bearings, and presto! Instant transmission. The sealed bearings that are provided in the Team version of the RC10 make a significant difference in the smooth operation of the transmission over the bushings used in the Basic and Sport models. The transmission in my son's Sport was very functional with the bushings, but this one is SMOOTH with the bearings!
The transmission now gets a clutch installed, and the whole affair is mounted on the chassis. Next we install the drive axles from the transmission to the rear hubs. Once again, sealed bearings are provided for the hubs (versus bushings in the Sport and Basic versions), and the movement of the drive train is very smooth.
Now we install the rear shock tower and linkages to the rear wheel hubs. As I mentioned earlier, the lengths of these linkages are defined in the instructions, so measure the distance between the centers of the ball cups frequently as you screw the ball cups onto the turnbuckles.
The assembly of the shock absorbers is very nicely engineered. They provide you with a tool that you mount the shock seals onto, insert the tool into the shock body until the seals snap into place, and you're ready for the next step. Very nice. The only caution I would offer is to take the time to remove the molding tabs and any flash off the plastic parts before assembly, as any remnants may cause shock seal leakageand/or difficulties in installing the seals. Install the shock shaft assembly per the instructions, and then fill the shock with oil. After you purge the shock of any trapped air, you install the shock cap and you should have shock that works as advertised.
Three of the four shocks I assembled went together flawlessly. The fourth one would not respond during the tests as specified in the instructions. I wound up disassembling this shock, inspecting the parts (and finding nothing out of the ordinary), and reassembling. This time the shock behaved as the others.
Once you install the spring and the spacers onto the shock body, you're ready to install them onto the chassis. Assembly is very straightforward - two bolts per axle. This is really starting to look like a car now.
Now we install the electronics. For this car, I chose the Futaba Magnum radio with an Electronic Speed Control (ESC) unit. The radio is a two-channel unit, with the servo used for steering, and the ESC used in place of a servo to regulate power to the motor.
When I installed a similar radio system into my son's car, the Futaba servo was a force-fit into the space provided in the chassis. The same was true this time around as well. The problem is that the mounting points on the servo make the whole unit larger than the space available. To overcome this problem, I bolted on the chassis mounts to the servo, and then used my Dremel to trim off the excess width of the Futaba mounting points. The servo now fits perfectly.
As for the heart of the car, the motor, the instructions are notably silent. A trip to the hobby shop was not much help, there are as many motors that will work in the car as there are colors to paint the body. I wound up roaming the internet until I found a few websites that cover the fundamentals of radio control cars. From one of the sites, I learned that the reason there are so many different motor options for cars is performance. The variables are the magnet designs, the number of copper strands on the armature and the number of times the strands are wound around the armature. The variations of strands and windings dictate how 'hot' the motor will be, and whether the best performance will be in acceleration at slow speeds, faster top speeds, etc. Since I don't fully understand the dynamics of the sport yet, all I can do is recommend doing a little research yourself and understanding what your driving requirements are. Mine were simple - beat my kid!
For this project, I selected the Trinity Speed Gems 2 Platinum. This seemed to have the right balance of performance in speed and acceleration while I learn to drive this thing. The motor comes with three capacitors that must be installed. I soldered the capacitors and the power leads to the motor and installed the whole affair into the chassis.
The Futaba receiver and ESC are installed with servo tape provided in the kit. Servo tape is little more that a thin rubber pad with sticky surfaces on both sides. I cut the pads to shape and installed the units according to the instructions. I also used the leftover servo tape to install the power switch to the chassis frame as well.
Additional padding is provided for the Ni-Cad battery compartment that runs down the centerline of the chassis. This too is installed according to instructions.
Once all of the electronics are in-place, I ran the antenna lead through the chassis mount and into the provided antenna tube. The tube is friction mounted into place. Now it is time to clean up the wiring. I grabbed some cable ties that I had in a drawer (available at any Radio Shack) and bundled all of the loose wires together. You definitely do not want a wire to drop over the side of the chassis and get snagged by a rock or other obstacle.
Now for the interesting challenge. The kit comes with a vacuformed Lexan body. The box art shows a nice looking design, and we are modelers, so I set off to replicate their work.
I used my handy Fiskars scissors to rough cut the body. While I did use the scissors to cut along the straight lines of the body, I did not attempt to use them to round out the wheel wells. That job fell on my handy Dremel tool with a sanding drum in place. This made short work on the body and I had this phase done from initial cut to final trim in about 15 minutes.
That was when I realized I was in trouble.
I finally read the instructions for the spray paint that had been recommended for this project. The paint is nothing more than a lacquer, but the instructions say to paint the INSIDE of the Lexan body. I pondered the implications of this revelation. If all of the painting was to be done from the inside, that means that all of the detail painting needed to be done BEFORE the primary colors go on. This has to be painted backwards. My hair (what is left of it) was starting to hurt.
First things first. I wanted the windows clear, so I put Frisket paper into place and using and X-Acto knife, I carefully trimmed the paper to the shape of each window.
Next, I decided to follow the KISS (Keep It Simple Stupid) principle for this first attempt. I would use three colors for the project. Yellow for the roll bars, black for the aft body background, and white for the overall body. I hand-painted the yellow first, taking care to maintain hard edges. Next came the black, and again maintained hard edges on the boundaries between the black and what will be white areas. Finally, three good coats of white rounded out the job. The paint was dry to the touch within a few hours.
The first priority is to remove the Frisket masks. Even though they were in position a few hours, there was a hint of adhesive left on the Lexan, but this was easily removed with 409 on a Q-tip.
For the final step, it was time to install the markings. These resemble the stick-on decals found on snap-tites, but rest assured, these are far more durable. I cut out the designs and affixed them to the outside of the body, using the artwork on the kit box as a reference. Once I was through, I sprayed the outside of the body with Future to help 'seal' the markings in place.
This project was a blast! Construction took around 4 hours, painting was another couple of hours (including drying time), and the soldering/wiring took only a few minutes. I took the liberty of charging the two battery packs I purchased while the body was drying, so once everything was together, I took the car out for a spin.
After building my son's RC10 car and test-driving it, I know he won't stand a chance against my RC10T3 truck! I will no doubt buy the bearing upgrade set to bring his car up to the same standards as mine. The difference is very noticeable.
I will take some time learning to drive this thing. Even with the wider stance, which is more stable in high-speed turns, I still managed to flip the car onto its roof at moderate speed (ran over a rock in the road). Lexan is indestructible! The car/truck is designed with such strength, that I like to hold the thing out level and drop it (6 foot drop). The truck lands firmly, but does not bounce. The suspension is outstanding!
The instructions are virtually foolproof. By the time I bought the truck, radio, motor, two battery packs, fast charger, and the odds & ends like paint, I laid out around $400 USD. Not bad considering that the RC10T3 retails for $340, but the street price is more like $200. You can get started much cheaper with the Basic or Sport versions of the RC-10, and getting a simpler radio. My son's RC10 Sport, which included a motor and throttle resistor in place of the ESC, came to just under $300 complete.
I would highly recommend this project to anyone. With a little homework, some good comparison-shopping, and a little driver's training, you'll be out chasing stray cats in no time!