Tuesday, June 12, 2018

The Tamiya TA07, a first blush review.

Lets play a game, can you find the TA07?  It's in there... 

The TA07 is the latest generation of "anything but carbon" chassis that Tamiya has brought to market.  It's legal in their "tub" classes.  It's also something like 80% of the way to being a TRF419.

The TA series of cars has an interesting pedigree.  They have their start back with the DF-01

That car was given shorter swingarms, and became the TA01, the first of the 4wd touring cars made by Tamiya.  The TA01, and TA02, were shaft drive, which has little to do with what we're here to talk about.

The TA03, could be an article on it's own.  It's front motor, mid motor, plastic tub, carbon plate, and just about anything else you could think of.

Our story really starts to come together with the TA04.  The TA series starts to become what it is today.  That's a "lower cost high end car".  The TA04 is a lot like a TRF414.  You swap out the carbon or FRP plates for a plastic tub and superstucture.

The TA05 was another long life article worthy chassis like the TA03.   It's got it's ties to the TRF418.  Multiple motor positions, varied motor positions, and wildly varying shock layouts.  The TA05, shares a bunch of things with the FF03, which matters to me... but not much else.

And really, this is the "same" car as the previous..

The TA06 was more of the same.  The TA06 originally was released with the pushrod shocks, like was seen on the TA05.   

Brass tacks time.  This is the Tamiya TA07.  It's, in essence, the plastic chassis version of the TRF419.  The relation is close enough, that by swapping one diff, and the motor plate, you can give the a 419, the TA07's unique drivetrain.

And a very unique drivetrain it is.  Instead of using the usual two belt setup, as you'll find on almost every other modern belt drive touring car, the TA07 uses a single belt.  This allows the motor mount to be moved fore, and aft, to one of three positions, without needing different length belts.

This ability to move the motor around, is something that Tamiya seems to care about, as several of their cars have this feature.  We'll talk more about the car as we go through the build.  Before we build, lets talk about the bits and peices that my friend and I decided to buy off the bat.

First, we bought some M3 thread forming taps.  Get those. You will not regret it.

The car, is typical Tamiya, in that it comes with Module gears.  In this case, Mod .04.  Well... we don't do module gears if we can avoid it.  Also, USGT uses very different gearing from what Tamiya thinks is "normal".  64 pitch gears were bought.

You can also see the swaybar kit.  SwitchElectricians car was a "R" versus my "Pro".  His came with swaybars, mine.. did not.  I run on black carpet, so I definitely need those swaybars.

I considered a few more things vital to my build.  The front spool, metal motor mount blocks, the aluminum servo mount, and carbon shock towers.  While I didn't build the car up with them initially, I also got all of the hard plastic bits for my car.

The build is not a difficult one, just a long one.  Not Awesomatix long, but definitely plan on having two or three evenings to do this car.

So, lets get into this.  SwitchElectrician and I did most of the build on two nights.

The manual is typical Tamiya.  That's the highest compliment I can give.  And the build starts in the rear of the car.

Since Tamiya, like Xray, sells their parts in several different materials, SwitchElectrican and I have decided to color code the parts.  Red is soft, just like the Tamiya spring color code.  ... I hope we can remember that in the future.

The "R" comes with some nice parts.  In this case lots of little aluminum bits, like the suspension mounts.  I'll point out the differences as we go along.  SwitchElectrician also elected to go with hard parts throughout.  See the blue on his swingarms?

Once you do the back end, you move to the front.  Here the steering posts are installed, as well as the suspension mounts and the differential bulkheads at both ends.

The swingams, are normal TRF417-418-419 parts.  As are the suspension mounts.

Once the floppy bits are attached to the tub, we get to dive straight into building the drivetrain.  This, other than the big, cagey, plastic tub, are what make the TA07 unique. 

We start with the center pulley.

Then the front spool.  I'd give more detail, but... there's really nothing to it.

Then the rear diff, which I filled with 7000w oil.

Before the diffs (spools?) get installed, you need to drop the power pod in.

The driven parts of the drive-train are retained by the belt covers at either end.  Eventually these get bridged to the tub using corner reinforcements.  We'll get to those eventually. 

The plastic steering components, are plenty stiff, and have almost no slop.  I don't see any reason to swap those for aluminum unless they start breaking for you. 

Now comes the TA07's party trick.  The s-bend belt drive.

The "R" comes with some nicer parts.  Such as a metal counter pulley.  I don't see the advantage, but it does look good.  I think that's the least "needed" thing that comes with the R package.  I will say, I think that the R is a real deal for what you get.

Steering, and setup, are where things get a bit annoying in the car.  Thankfully, you are instructed to get the steering components done "now" instead of later when you'd need to pull off the upper brace bracketry.

Both the R and Pro come with those lovely blue turnbuckles.

The drive knuckles are identical to the FF03 I built previously, and really, aren't a whole lot different from most of the cars on the market.  The only things to watch out for, are getting the short, versus long, bushings on the right end, and the button head versus tapered head screws the right way up.

That was more or less the end of build day one for me.

The front corner braces got installed.. and now

What use are knuckles, and swingarms, if you've got nothing to hold them up with.  The shock build is very normal.  Nothing special, just the usual mess of e-clips, well machined pistons, and in this case, very short bodies and shafts.

I know that this is the size they're supposed to be.  But geeze they seem small.

The front and rear of the car build up much the same.  You slide the outer pivot pin through the swingarm, then push it through the upright, and install a pinch screw through the upright.  Then you throw some turnbuckles on up to to control camber.

It's a formula nearly as old as cars have had four wheel independent suspensions.

And there we go, all four corners are done.  Time to get to the electronics.

Due to my weight obsession, I typically go with shorty servos.  The TA07 isn't known for being light, so I think this was a good decision.

Though I am still "out" on the aluminum mount decision.  It's a floating servo mount, so only contacts the chassis right on the centerline.  I suspect that the servo case itself is stiff enough, and the aluminum isn't really doing a whole lot.

We'll need to test that later.

And then here's the car ready for a test drive.

You can see that color coding continued throughout the build.  The swaybar is colored.  all of the plastics got colored too, eventually.

SwitchElectricians build went a slightly different direction.  He went full stiff, everywhere.  And due to some brownouts he's gotten with his choice of servo, went with a massive BEC.

The build was fun.  It was also time consuming.  I highly recommend having a thread forming tap and a drill handy, as that cuts the time almost in half.

Once built, the car is reasonably easy to adjust.  The only really tricky bit, is to get to anything steering related you need to pull off the front chassis braces.  It's only a few screws, and really, better than a lot of off road buggies.  You shouldn't be in there much anyway.

Lets talk about the driving experience.  Straight out of the box, the car pushed a bit, but push is better than trying to chase your own tail.  It was reasonably fast with the gearing we chose.  Setting it up with 2mm of droop, and 1 deg of camber all around, 2 deg toe out, and soft swaybars seemed to work fine.

It's fast!  it has the belt drive car "zing".  It's a lovely noise, or lack thereof.  I normally drive gear drive 4wd cars, my TC4 and Euro Truck, and both of those sing the song of clashing teeth.

This car is definitely one I can recommend. I.. may be buying another.

There will be more to follow, as I will run it in USGT. 

June Puddle Duck Update

Welcome to June.  

Our first project of this month was to be better members of the space, so we got both boats hung up 

We've done a lot in the last few weeks.  Lets start with the masthead.  

The masthead for Dan's boat is made from four peices of aluminum bolted together, with a pulley in the back.  This is to replace the missing masthead that, somehow got eaten by time and perhaps a Grue.

Like many things on this boat, it was made mostly through eyeballs and luck.  The curved plug that sits inside the mast, was done by tracing, lots of "getting it close" in the bridgeport, then sanding to fit.  It... is just about perfect.

A prolific maker friend of mine, also asked to come help on the boat. 

She came by to help do some of the taping of my boats corners.  She also helped with dan's boat.  I'd forgotten how.. weird the boats look without paint.  We mostly work on the boats thursday evenings, and sometimes we throw in a weekend night.

That weekend, Dan and I came in to do a "big project" for the boats.  In about three hours, we made me a sail.

For lack of a lofting.. loft..  We did our layout in the alley behind the shop.

After layout, we moved into the sewing room at PS:1. 

Following polytarps instructions, on.. our own materials, we built the sail.  Here we're putting edge reinforcement into the sail.

Beware, the crazy man with scissors near your sail...

The sail ended up costing something like $30, all told.  With enough materials to build a second sail, easily. 

I'm sure the second sails worth of materials is going to get used, as we discovered later, some of this sails shape isn't quite right.

Progress gets real slow, when you get into the finishing stages.  This was the night we started fairing my hull.

To do the fairing, we'd first sand down the most proud bits of fiberglass, then we'd mix up a microballoon heavy batch of epoxy, and use that as a fairing compound.  When I say heavy, something like 50% balloon.

Dan insists on doing these jobs right, here he's sucking the excess fiberglass dust off before we lay on a layer of epoxy peanut butter.

A few days later, we flipped the hull, and did the same to the bottom.

Yes, this is Dans happy face.

After doing all the fairing, we then needed to sand it all down again.  All told, we put something like 2-3 pounds of fairing compound on each boat.  At least half of that came right off again in the next step before painting. 


And then cleaning the dust up.

The reward reaped by doing the fairing compound, and sanding, is a boat that looks like this, after a coat of paint.

All of the sudden, all that underlayment, wood glue, fiberglass, microballoons and epoxy turns into a coherent boat.

Remember how we made that sail a half a page ago?  (and like.. 4 weeks in real time..)  Well, we had to do something to get that dopamine rush.

We carried my boat around the corner.

And viola!  Sailboat!  My bag is ballast to stop the boat from sitting on it's nose.  :-)

Sadly, this is a 90% done, 90% to go type day.  But it really did feel good, and got us some energy to dig into all the parts we had yet to do.

For instance, my mast needed a collar to sit in, so it wasn't working against 1/4" underlayment.

And my upper deck needed it glued on, then sanded.

Now, I need to point out, Dans hull is getting most of the same treatments mine is.  When one hull is getting paint, the other is getting sanded, etc. 

My upper deck, painted, and a whole bunch of gravity clamps holding down my sole reinforcements. 

And a final shot, as we put that boat up in the rafters that night.

Paint makes the boat look.. so complete. 

We also took another shot at cutting out the keel and rudder.

Dan is getting better.  And closer to what we need for this.

But we're not quite there yet. 

More updates soon.  We're not far from going in the water.