Tuesday, March 13, 2018

Tamiya TRF201, well, maybe it's a review?

Hey, that's my car wall.  .... What's that strange buggy with pink wheels...

That. That's a TRF201.  But.. why a TRF201?  Well, partially because i'm cheap.  In some bit, because I wanted a better 2wd buggy.  In large measure, because my RC buddy said "i'm buying a TRF201, want in?"

He ordered the cars.  I ordered the motors, escs, and tires.  He also can't leave well enough alone.  Note that box is still sealed, and there's a whole pile of HOP-UP OPTIONS bags.  

The TRF201 has had quite the evolution over the years.  Tamiya "sorted out" the suspension a few years ago, back when the short wheelbase wide sidepod chassis were common.  Those chassis were outdated years ago.  This package comes with the XR long wheelbase chassis.  Not only that, but it also came with the large diameter, shocks. 

You'd expect a kit that came with the "upgrade" parts from the factory, to not come with the stock parts.  ... and this time, you'd be wrong.  There is a complete TRF201 kit, along with a complete XR chassis kit.  The normal shocks for the TRF201, and the large diameter shocks.  Finally, it came with bodies for both chassis.

Remember the "leaving well enough alone" bit?  That pile of parts in front of the box, has the heatsink motor plate, the hard suspension arms, hard accessory parts, the hard wide pod chassis tub, the aluminum bellcrank with servo saver eliminator, and a few other bits and pieces. 

Hobbywing power.  What's there to say?  It's a good brand, has blinky programming, and they have US distributors.  It's hard to argue with that decision.

Most of the build, was in the transmission and rear suspension.  Really, building a buggy, is building a buggy.  No big surprises.  We built our cars with the short wheelbase, hardened tubs.  The local indoor track is carpet, and wanting to be different, but not crazy... well that's what we went with.  Oh, I grew up on the wide side buggies, so that's what "looks right".  

It was a busy night, building the cars.  We spent a good 10 hours, I think.   Between the chassis, and painting the bodies.  We did make a few mistakes though.  Just so you don't make the same mistakes, the temperature you paint your bodies at, MATTERS.  Do it when it's warm. 

However, this is as far as we got in the first night.  Leaving a dark and very cold basement a little to close to lake michigan.....  

We rejoin the story at my dining room table.  So we can install the electronics.  That servo you see on the table. That servo is a mistake.  Lewan Soul 20kg servo.  I mean, it's not "useless" but it's not very fast.  I've seen it used on some cars that see a very hard life, so I think it's durable.  But i'm finding that slow servos make me crazy. 

... I wouldn't buy one for steering.

Some wheels, and .. I swear everything is under that hood.

I also built up the XR chassis.  There are some things to note.  The aluminum standoffs, have tops that match the key shapes on the upper chassis supports.  The chassis itself is remarkably stiff.  And that was true even before the side plates were installed.  It's designed to have tunable flexability, the collection of aluminum standoffs in back are supposed to be tuning parts.  As are the number of screws you put in the side pods.  

Those side pods are another thing worth noting.  You can see swirl marks on them.  They are milled, not molded.  That's probally $50 in milled plastic right there. 

And here we go, the buggy ready to go.  

So... it took me a long time before I really got to drive it.  I took it to an indoor dirt track, and I was not exactly pleased with how things went.  It could have been me.  It could have been the nasty environment.  I was at TimeWarp in Lake In The Hills, IL.  The off road room must have been 105% humidity.  It could have been traction issues too.  Either way, I felt "something" was wrong.

A couple weeks ago, I took the car to Windy City RC, in Arlington Heights IL.  There.. the car felt right.  It loves black carpet. 

I do, definitely, have the shocks setup wrong.  The back end is far to soft, and it could probably use a swaybar to keep all the tires on the ground while cornering. 

More to come, as I get serious about the off road stuff.  

Broken USGT Tamiya FF03 and some VTA cars.

"Racing makes Heroin addiction look like a vague wish for something salty." -- Peter Egan

Crunchy parts are crunchy.  So is driving over your head.

Here's how the day started out, taking notes, charging batteries, and letting tires soak in traction compound.

Look at how far forward that CG is.  Also, the pinions on the table.  To get the speed up on the new track, I needed to go with a 60 tooth pinion.  And even then, the motor doesn't get warm, and I'm still short a little speed on the track.  I have 63 and 66 coming in the mail.

Two races later, things were a little more concerning.  It turns out that trying find time in the sweeper, means you might tag the inside wall.  At full speed. 

Oh how broken you are, let me count the ways.  One, screw stripped out of the bottom of the knuckle.  Two, a shattered hub carrier.  Three, tears in the body.  

I got the parts in the mail to make some charge cables.  Nothing fancy, but $5 in parts, instead of $30 cables.  

I got that fancy body mounted on my TC4.  And we got my friends body on his TC7.1. 

Those are some good looking cars.  We need to find some driver figures.

And a sneak peak at something coming later, a TRF201

Keeping the cars going. Body work and general repair.

Well, this is a catchall post.  Lets start with my trusty DT-02.

Look at that rear wing.  How about those CVA shocks.  Lets fix that.

First off, the wing.  It's seen better days.  It's deeply cracked, and torn.  E6000 and fiberglass and... the thing is good enough for me.

Tamiya branded shocks, are really expensive.  Yeah Racing is a bit less so.  ... A lot less so. 

That's a whole lot of parts.  First lets remove and clean the old shocks.

Something doesn't look right there.  Both the dirt and.. that's a bent tie rod. 

I didn't get any pictures of building the shocks.  But if you look behind the car in this shot...

Hey, swaybars.  Installed.  And the Yeah Racing shocks, with the full soft tamiya springs. 

The Euro Truck needed some work too.  More E6000 and fiberglass.  That repair held up quite well.

So the FF03 wasn't happy with either the stock springs, or even the aftermarket springs.  The damping was waaaay off.  So my first swing at fixing that, was just tweaking the CVA shocks.

From 2 hole, to 3 hole.

Sadly, it wasn't enough.  

So the fix, is a set of Yeah Racing shocks.  Ever since putting the Tamiya metal body shocks on the TT02b, I've been sold on metal body shocks.  I wanted to be serious with my FF03, so going with metal body shocks seems to be the right thing.

I also painted a new body for my TC4.  A Plymouth Barracuda. 

The TT02b got new shoes.  Removing the old tires was... not easy.

If you'd like to copy my tire profiles, here's how I trimmed the inserts.

First, sharp scissors.

Then trimming for width. 

Cutting the corners to help the tire keep its shape.

Here's what the rear inserts look like.

And.. a new set of tires, ready to go.  Oh, hi phillip defranco.

The car was glitching rather badly, the last time I took the car out.  The vreg in the ESC was, for lack of another word, poo.  So I replaced that ESC with one of the "blue 120amp" 

And a heatsink for the motor.

I think it's a pretty slick looking install.  

Building a USGT car from a ff03

Oh Tamiya, why do you do this to me.

This is a FF03.  One destined to run in USGT.  Part of this is because I love my Mini's and nobody runs Mini's around here, and partially because there's a rule hole in USGT wide open for FWD cars.

Typical, beautiful Tamiya packaging.

Hey, it comes with a motor!  

So we do some sorting.

And some more sorting....  

So lets build this thing.

The manual dives right in with the ball diff.  I think I'd prefer the manual to start somewhere that's a little less fiddly, but.. what Tamiya says, Tamiya gets.  

Amusingly, this assembly, is also the same transmission from the TRF201.  And DN-01.  And it might be the XV-01?  I'll need to look that up.

The bumper support, and motor plate attached.  I have a fancy blue motor plate from my TRF201, if I ever end up rebuilding this things front end, it's getting transplated.

It's the fact that this is a buggy transmission, will come to bite us later.

That's a monster spur.  And 48pitch.  

The whole front end of the car, is built around this little bridge.  It holds the shock pivots, the shock mounts, the top of the steering posts, and this links the transmission with the top of the chassis tub.

A steering bridge.  

So many screws.  So much sorting.  

It's a bit tricky to get the steering posts installed tightly.  They should be locktited.  

The screws to hold the front bridge down, are both keyed on the bottom, and use tapered screws on the top.  This assembly is very tightly bound to the chassis.  I, like, that.

These parts are TRF418 compatible, or TB03.  It's good to know that.  Same for the knuckles and rear uprights.  

This looks spookily like the back of a 2wd buggy.  yet.. it's the front.  Those blocks on the chassis, let you alter wheelbase slightly, and if you do some shimming under them, you can also build in some anti-squat or anti-dive.  

There is a tricky bit of installing the transmission, where you need toflip up a part on the transmission to meet the suspension bridge.  But it's not hard the second time you do it.

They're not bloody yet.  But these are the knuckles.  

It still looks like a buggy back end.  

Now we build the back end.

This is the rear shock tower, rear upright, and rear upper suspension mounts.  

Which then gets bolted down to the rear suspension carrier plate.  You can adjust rear toe using new mounting blocks.


And it all builds up like that.  That whole assembley is attached to the car using six screws.  

In its home.

I think I spent a few hours just messing around with the car in this state.  I found the suspension arms quite satisfying to flop around.

It doens't weigh a lot, 550g all told.  

Another shot of the car's weight.  972g, ready to run, but without battery.  

The servo I installed, wasn't up to the task.  The DRFT-303 is "ok" for a lot of things, but once you start going fast, the 303 just doesn't center well enough, and is much slower than it's specs would indicate.

Sharp eyed viewers will notice the colored springs, the upgrades started in earnest.  These aluminum turnbuckles are .9g lighter than the steel ones.  

I couldn't find any FWD bodies that made me happy.  And being of the gran turismo generation, I love me some GT-R.  This is a $8 body and it comes painted.  It's nice and light, and is in the spirit of USGT.

We'll visit the car again sometime soon.