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  1. #1
    RC Qualifier FlyingTigerDad's Avatar
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    Racing Rustler on a Budget (Warning Long Read!)

    O.K., so I got my stock Rustler XL5 back in October of last year so I can have something to run with my son's Slash that he got for his birthday last September. I chose a Rustler because I'm an old Losi truck racer (raced JrxT's, LXT's & XXT's back in the day) and I just prefer a stadium truck platform. I was impressed with the trucks capabilites, ease of modifications, availability of parts/hop-ups and support that's out there for the Traxxas products. After getting familiar with the truck, it wasn't long before I found myself looking to make improvements & modifications. Searches online quickly brought me to this community, where I've spent the last 8 months researching and learing about both trucks strengths and weaknesses, as well as some of the best directions to go with our trucks for what we wanted to do with them.
    With that said, my son wanted to mainly bash with his friends, while I just couldn't resist the lure of getting back to an off-road track. Fortunately, we have 2 really nice tracks within minutes of where we live in southern California. One being Hot Rod Hobbies, a large outdoor track that is home to the Reedy Off Road Challenge series & as well as several other national events, and the other being SCVRC (Santa Clarita Valley Radio Control), an indoor clay track that is a little less known, but a great place to run, nonetheless.
    As I read through the many helpful posts here, I made my upgrades carefully and a little at a time as my budget would allow. And speaking of budget, I just want to clarify what my goal was with this build. That being, to build a truly track worthy Rustler with as minimal changes to the original basic design as possible, and of course, as minimal money spent. It's not just about the investment or trying to spend as little as possible either. It really amazes me that I read over and over again on the internet how the Rustler is an "outdated" design, with "poor" suspension geometry, or that getting it to be competitive will cost a fortune, and that just about everything will need to be replaced and/or upgraded. Having run this truck on professional tracks that national races are held on, at first bone stock, then with each change made, I can say that I firmly disagree with those statements.
    I have replaced/upgraded parts very carefully with the mindset of strength, reliability, speed, and handling. All, of course, while trying to maintain as much of the original design as possible - at least in configuration, if not actual parts. In doing so I have replaced quite a bit (for minimal cost), but looking at the truck it appears relatively unchanged.
    Being an "old school" racer, I've never been real hip on the idea of aluminum (sorry aluminum guys!), so I only have a few aluminum parts on the truck - the front bulkhead (STRC), only because I've had several plastic one's (the stock one & a proline one) strip a screw, Traxxas aluminum shock caps & Proline's Pro-2 steering rack, otherwise everything else is still plastic. This is mainly in the interrest of weight. And while I'm speaking of weight, I also hear alot about how heavy the truck is compared to more race bred platforms. This may be so, but in looking at the specs of the Rustler compared to my old Losi trucks and the newer (22t's, etc.) ones, it's surprising how close they realy are. Not just in terms of weight, but wheelbase, length, and front & rear track. I'm more concerned with weight distribution from front to rear than with the total number, as the Rustler is very rear end heavy.
    So, enough of the background stuff... on to the truck itself. Here is the list of changes/upgrades that have been done so far;

    Motor - Velineon Brushless 4 pole
    Esc - VXL3 (with fan!)
    Front Suspension/Steering;
    Ultra shocks with aluminum caps, 40wt Losi oil
    Losi Red 2.5" springs
    Traxxas steel turnbuckles for steering & camber links
    RPM long arms
    RPM castor blocks
    RPM hubs/bearing carriers (with bearings replacing stock bushings)
    RPM Front Shock Tower
    Traxxas (#1972) Lite Wheels
    Proline PRO-2 Steering Rack
    STRC Gunmetal Gray Aluminum Front Bulkhead
    Traxxas 2075 Servo with Savox Metal Gear conversion
    Lunsford Racing titanium hinge pins & king pins

    Rear Suspension;
    Ultra shocks with aluminum caps, 40wt (or 50wt depending on track setup) Losi oil
    Losi Orange 2.5" springs (or Losi Green 2.5" springs, depnding on track setup)
    Traxxas steel turnbuckles for camber links
    RPM rear arms
    RPM rear hubs/bearing carries (with bearings replacing stock bushings)
    RPM rear shock tower
    Traxxas (#1972) Lite Wheels
    Lunsford Racing titanium hinge pins

    Transmission/Driveline
    RPM Transmission case with matching gear cover
    Hot Racing sealed diff with 30K wt diff fluid
    Traxxas HD steel output shafts
    Traxxas rear bumper/wheelie bar mount (to protect the relatively exposed motor)
    Traxxas 83T (or 86T, depending on track setup) Spur gear
    Robinson Racing Pinions 16T - 21T (depending on track setup)

    Tires
    Proline 2.2" Edge M2
    Proline 2.2" Holeshots M3
    Proline 2.2" Suburbs X2
    Proline 2.2" Scrubs MX
    Proline 2.2" Electrons MC
    Jconcepts 2.2" Dirtwebs Gold

    Miscellaneous
    Body - Jconcepts Silverado (old body)
    Traxxas Rustler (current body - again)

    Battery - Traxxas 5000Mah NiMh 7 cell (8.4v)
    Venom Racing 5000Mah 6 cel (7.2v)

    As you can see the one area that I've spent the most has been on tires. These being the most important to a great handling truck (along with suspension settings), so I don't mind that too much. Also, I started out with RPM black 2.2" wheels, but when I did the long arm conversion I switched to the Traxxas Lite wheels so now I can rotate tires. And besides, to look like a real race truck you gotta have dish wheels!
    Next on the agenda is to move the speed control to the left side to try and help weight distribution a bit. Then it's on to 2S LiPo's... (a first for this old time racer!)
    Here's a few pictures of the current truck as it sits today. Sorry I don't have any pictures with the body off yet, but I'll try to get some up soon.



    http://pic20.picturetrail.com/VOL158.../412587061.jpg
    Last edited by FlyingTigerDad; 06-11-2016 at 01:49 PM.

  2. #2
    RC Qualifier FlyingTigerDad's Avatar
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    What ever happened to the other Rustler racers - Oaks, MooseSlash & NitroViper? Are these guys still around anymore? I hardly see anybody talk about racing their Rustlers lately.

  3. #3
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    Alright so I've spot checked your essay lol and wasn't sure if you were asking any questions and I didn't see any but Nice truck. I don't know who those usernames are but normally people don't use traxxas vehicles for racing. Just the occasional basher and speed runner.

  4. #4
    RC Qualifier FlyingTigerDad's Avatar
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    Thank for the compliment,Dadelvi. And yea, it is a little long winded, lol.(Can't say I didn't warn ya!) You are correct that I didn't really ask any questions. I just wanted to share my setup in detail with others here who might want some info on a track capable truck. I was actually hoping to be able to answer some questions. Of the posters I mentioned, the first two had some great older threads on their racing setups that help me quite a bit with mine as I was getting familiar with the truck, and the last had a more recent thread on a really nice race prepped truck as well. I suppose I just wanted them to see what they've inspired!

  5. #5
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    oh ok well it looks good and the best of luck on the racing part. Mine is a little speed runner nothing big but just trying to squeeze out all the power I can out of my motor.

  6. #6
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    Very nice truck and interesting read!

    I've done many of these mods to my Stampede basher, and it improved handling a lot.

    Here are some advices that could help you making your Rustler even better:

    -Sensored motor - I used Speed Passion 9.5R on Velineon ESC and it was great, similar speed/power but better reaction and more control over the brakes

    -Castor blocks - aluminium ones are better for rigidity and getting rid of the sloppines

    -Rear hub carriers - I got aluminium ones (I believe STRC), but the major advantage was 1,5 degree toe in that standard Rustler and Stampede lack (not sure if you got the toe with Proline transmission)

    -Rear driveshafts - you cold save a few grams going back to Stampede 4x4 plastic ones

    -Try putting a few weights up front on the bumper - it helped me a lot getting a bit better weight distribution. Steering responsiveness and front grip improved a lot.

    -Lipo battery will help you with both weight and performance


    Hope this helps. Good luck! :-)

  7. #7
    RC Qualifier FlyingTigerDad's Avatar
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    Thanks RobertCRO, glad you enjoyed the (long) read. I appreciate the suggestions - didn't know about the Stampede 4x4 shafts, I'll definitely check those out! Gotta love the Stampede guys - you guys are true innovators & have some amazing builds. My trans case does have 3 degrees of toe in already, which was the best single thing I've done for handling so far. And I was thinking about a different (sensored) motor once I get a few LiPo's to play with - I'll check out the Speed Passion as well. Once I get the speed control moved to the left side and get the LiPo's I'll see where I'm at weight wise, I was thinking about playing with added weight up front to even things out some more. Thanks again!
    Last edited by FlyingTigerDad; 06-14-2016 at 09:16 AM.

  8. #8
    RC Champion Mr Wolf's Avatar
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    Having championed the cause myself, I always love a good racing Rustler thread. Here's link to one I started a few year's back that you might find interesting.

    https://traxxas.com/forums/showthrea...racing-set-ups

    Reading through your post, IMO I think you'd benefit most from fitting a faster steering servo and a stiffer front shock tower. I used to use an RPM front tower (before I fitted an SRT fibreglass one) and, while it's appreciable better than stock, it still has way too flexibility in it for a race truck. The RPM rear tower's OK though.
    Pretty please, with sugar on top, clean the RC car

  9. #9
    RC Qualifier FlyingTigerDad's Avatar
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    Thanks Mr. Wolf. Good to see you're still here. That post was actually one of my favorites that I dug up in my online searches becuase of the story with your son. Even though my son doesn't want to race his Slash, we still enjoy time on the track together.
    I've actually had an eye on the 2518 front shock tower for awhile (even found some 2518X's still for sale on the Bay that I would love to have!), but I got the RPM some time ago (before I knew about SRT interchangeability of some parts) when I stripped the old shoulder screws out. I've long since fixed that problem, but still am going to get one of those in the not too distant future (hopefully graphite!). I agree the front RPM mount is way too flexible, but the rear seems pretty solid. The 2075 servo with the metal gear conversion will have to do for now, given the expense of a quality race-worthy servo. Any part over $20 gets hard to get past the wife lol.

  10. #10
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    I see you FlyingTigerDad

    Dude, thank you for making my week. I keep an eye on the traxxas forums from time to time hoping to see threads like yours. The paint job looks sick and you've got all of the best tires on the market. Please update this thread from time to time and if I could offer you any form of support, I'll start by saying that if I started a project like this again, it'd end up a lot like how yours sits today. Once you get some more track time under your belt, I'll be here to help answer any questions you may have.

  11. #11
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    Great post!

    As an old guy myself, who started in this hobby back in 1987, I share the same exact views as you do. The Rustler is a fun truck, old school feel, and has such a massive array of parts and hop ups, it's very difficult to not have fun with it.

    It is always nice to see people appreciate the timeless design. I am always amazed looking at new pictures, new builds and the awesome things that Rustler owners come up with.

  12. #12
    RC Qualifier FlyingTigerDad's Avatar
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    Thanks WhiteBuffalo. Keep your eyes peeled, as I will have updates to this project as I move along...

  13. #13
    RC Qualifier FlyingTigerDad's Avatar
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    Oaks!!! I'm so glad to see you're still around on the forum! I can't begin to tell you how much I've enjoyed reading your posts and following your racing adventures. Your truck(s) were awesome and I was sad to see you call it quits after such an amazing run, but I know how it goes sometimes. All your efforts and hard work have not been in vain, though, as portions of your builds live on in those like me that you have inspired!

    I appreciate the compliments, coming from someone with your Rustler experience it means alot. I will definitely be in touch here seeking your expertise as I continue to refine my build.

    Here are some new pictures of the chassis. Since my original post I got my hands on some silver rear Losi springs (Orange were too soft for the big jumps, and greens were to stiff), and I replaced the Upper chassis with a factory black one - only $4, and really don't care too much for they grey (it just doesn't look racey enough for me, I guess). I do plan to replace the lower chassis with black as well a little later.





    Last edited by FlyingTigerDad; 06-15-2016 at 10:09 AM.

  14. #14
    RC Turnbuckle Jr. Jimdog's Avatar
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    Looks good! It's great to see someone who still realized the potential in the rustler.

    I raced mine last year and I will add that the titanium coated shock shafts are great investments. You won't bend any more shafts during races. Also adding some weight up front helps with the steering. I believe I had an ounce up there.
    The stampede 4x4 driveshafts hold up really well and they are light weight.
    This will TOTALLY work, saw a guy on YouTube do it

  15. #15
    RC Qualifier FlyingTigerDad's Avatar
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    Thanks Jimdog. It seems this thread is brining out all the Rustler racers - I love it! I really like the idea of the titanium shafts - I know Traxxas makes a nice set. I checked out the Stampede 4x4 driveshafts from post #6 (RobertCRO) and that looks like a must have for me too - these things are right up my alley, bolt-on, lightweight, strong and not too pricey, can't beat that!

    Keep an eye out for more as I continue with the build I'll post more pics. And maybe if can recruit decent camera person, I'll get a video up from the track too.

  16. #16
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    Looking good!

    But I see on these pictures that you already have plastic driveshafts and not HD steel traxxas ones?

    The ones on the pictures will do just fine.

    Oh yes, please remember that you will need to readjust your springs and preload settings after switching to 2S Lipo, since the difference in weight is noticeable compared to 7 cell Nimh.

    P.S. Regarding the Stampede, I wasn't at peace until it was like I imagined. Few more mods but it handles just fine: :-)

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oGrI...ature=youtu.be

  17. #17
    RC Qualifier FlyingTigerDad's Avatar
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    Yea, I think I used the wrong description in the list of upgrades in the beginning of the post - should have read - steel differential yokes. I just didn't know if the Stampede 4x4 shafts were different when you mentioned them. Alot of guys say to use the Slash 4x4 plastic sliders because they are beefier than the stock Rustler ones, I thought that's what yours had.

    Definitely will need to make preload/spring adjustments when the Lipo's arrive - I weight the 7 cell NiMh and it's almost double the weight of a standard 2s LiPo!

    Cool video too - man that thing is fast and stable!

  18. #18
    RC Qualifier FlyingTigerDad's Avatar
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    I hope everyone has a great Father's Day. I'll be heading to the track this weekend with the familiy myself. I even talked the wife into coming (hey, somebody's gotta turn marshall! lol) - she's such a trooper. Below is a picture of the track, or at least a portion of it, with the tiny Rustler in the middle in it's original XL5 form. It's from it's first time at the track right after I got it.


    As you can see it's quite large, and a great place to run. I'll post an update after the weekend (hopefully with more pictures) and let you know how the truck did.

  19. #19
    RC Qualifier FlyingTigerDad's Avatar
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    Well, I tried to make it to the track yesterday, but the current heatwave here in SoCal kinda killed it. When I left my house early in the morning it was already 95 degrees, with the noon time temp supposed to be 107. When I went to the track a little later it was 112 degrees! So, with very little shade to hide in and blistering temps, I didn't want to fry my electonics - I called it a day. I did stop by the hobby shop and picked up a Kimborough #124 servo saver to tighten up the steering a bit. But , for now, no track performance update. I did also get the speed control moved to the left side, weight distibution seems alot better, but of course I haven't been able to test it out yet.
    Last edited by FlyingTigerDad; 06-20-2016 at 11:41 AM.

  20. #20
    RC Qualifier FlyingTigerDad's Avatar
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    Well, I hope everyone had an enjoyable & safe 4th of July. The heatwave here finally relented and I was able to get to the track for a practice session and test some of the changes/improvements. Moving the speed control to the side (and forward as far as possible) helped the trucks weight distribution alot. It moved the center of gravity forward about an inch to an inch and a half. Now the truck jumps flat and can be easily adjusted in flight with minor throttle/brake input if needed. Switching to the silver Losi springs in the rear (with 50wt. oil) seems to be the perfect balance for the large jumps at this track. The Kimborough #124 servo saver has made steering tight and consistent. As a matter of fact, it almost has too much steering . I was able to either out turn, or at least turn with anything that was on the track that day.

    The only issue I ran into all day was traction. The track was very dry, hard and dusty and no tire combination was working for anyone. The two 1/10th scale buggies that were running (B5M's) were just doing donuts around the track, and the two 1/8th scale electric 4WD buggies were struggling as well, so I know it wasn't anything with just my truck. I just set the clutch real loose and stayed out of the throttle as much as possible, and I was able to put down some decent laps.

    I did have one more thing to test - my new SPC 2S 50C LiPo! Yes, I finally broke down and joined the LiPo battery crowd. I chose SPC because of the many excellent comments about them here from racers & bashers alike. I couldn't be happier about that choice. At $38.95 delivered to my door, it's hard to beat for the quality you get. The weight savings (half to two thirds a pound!) is HUGE. Now I'm within a few ounces of a fully laden T5 or 22T. And, of course, the battery's performance was outstanding. It was difficult to really measure their true performance capabilities, given the dry slippery condition of the track, but I could certainly tell the difference none the less.

    One of latest updates to come is a 2518X Traxxas graphite front shock tower. I managed to score one (new in the package) online for $8, and should receive it today! I'm definitely excited about that - and anxious to see how that firms up the front suspension. I'll have more pics up when I get it installed...
    Last edited by FlyingTigerDad; 07-05-2016 at 11:49 AM.

  21. #21
    RC Qualifier FlyingTigerDad's Avatar
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    It's been a little while since my last update, so I wanted to give a quick post and bring everyone up speed on where the Rustler's at these days. I've had a little break in the build, as I took the family on our annual summer vacation last month. Then upon our return home we came back to everything being on fire! The Southern California Sand fire was only blocks away from my house! Thank God our home was spared, and my prayers go out to those who were less fortunate. Also, props to all the brave firefighters that worked tirelessly to save as many homes as they did. Many of which fought for 36-48 hours straight in 110-115 degree outside air temperature (plus the extreme heat of the fire) in full gear. Thank you and bless you all.
    As far as the truck goes, since my last post, I did get my 2518X graphite front shock tower installed - and it's awesome. The front suspension is nice and solid now. Actually thinking about eventually getting the Anza setup for the rear too. While I've been on a little break with the truck, I've been doing a lot of research & thinking about suspension and setup. Recently I was tinkering with rear shock mounting positions and I noticed that, once again, my rear shock shafts were bent. This only confirms in my mind that the current setup is all (or at least mostly) wrong. It's far too stiff & heavily dampened to work properly. In my attempts to handle the larger jumps at the track, I went too far and overcompensated with my shock/spring/dampening changes.
    I spent a bit of time checking out the setup sheets of factory drivers from Associated & Losi for various tracks that their national events were run on that are similar to my track, as well as educating myself further on the finer points of RC suspension from this site - http://profile.php?do=editpasswords.telenet.be/elvo/ that other have posted here before.
    What I've taken away from all of this new found knowledge will now be applied to my truck in the form of a much softer & better balanced setup. These changes will include the following; 32.5wt Losi shock oil in the front with (a return to) pink Losi springs, 35wt Losi shock oil in the rear with Losi red springs - shock down travel limiters of 2mm in front, 1mm in the rear, with a small amount of rear up travel limit as well (planning on using some rubber pieces similar to what the Slash uses on the rear XXL Ultra shocks). I'll be playing with rear lower shock mounting position - probably moving out one hole.
    And lastly (with the new front shock tower), once all of this is sorted out, I can try out some roll center changes to see what position works best.
    First things first, though - I placed an order for some parts yesterday that include the aforementioned shock oil, but I also ordered the Traxxas titanium nitride shock shafts to (once and for all) take care of the bent shafts currently on the truck. These should arrive and get on the truck this week, so hopefully I'll get in a test session by next weekend. Once everything is installed I'll post some updated pictures & let everyone know how the changes work out.
    Last edited by FlyingTigerDad; 08-06-2016 at 01:12 PM.

  22. #22
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    Racing Rustler on a Budget (Warning Long Read!)

    Yah good thread. I'm in the process of, well gonna be tuning my rustler more from basher to track set up, & this helps. Keep the updates coming

    Please watch the *s in your posts.
    ksb51rl
    Last edited by ksb51rl; 08-06-2016 at 09:39 PM.
    Traxxas E-Revo,Traxxas Rustler VXL,Traxxas T-Maxx

  23. #23
    RC Qualifier FlyingTigerDad's Avatar
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    Thanks, SandSlinger. I'm really glad that my post is able to help people here - that's one of the main reasons I wanted to document my build on this forum. When I first got my Rustler, I came here to learn about the truck and brand that I wasn't familiar with, and found so many helpful/informative people that I wanted to be able share all of the things I have learned and experiences I have had going through this build. Keep checking back here, as I will continue with updates and information as the truck progresses....

  24. #24
    RC Qualifier FlyingTigerDad's Avatar
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    O.k., time for an overdue update. I've been able to get quite a bit done on the truck, and have been to the the track twice to test everything out, so I have much to tell! First up, the Traxxas 2518X graphite front shock tower - this increasingly rare but awesome part makes the front end rock solid. When bolted to the aluminum front bulkhead that I installed some time ago, it removes any flex whatsoever, allowing the suspension to do its job. [IMG][/IMG]

    Next, while on the front end - I purchased a set of STRC aluminum caster blocks in gunmetal gray. While I'm still not real big on aluminum parts for racing, the stock design for the caster block is just so weak that if it's to be retained (without going to a Nitro Rustler setup, or something) then it's the only viable option to still run the same wheels front & rear. I will say that i was very surprised by how light these were, but more on weight in a bit.

    I also installed a set of Traxxas titanium coated shock shafts at all four corners to eliminate continually bending the stock ones. While I was on the shocks, I did lighten the weight of oil being used to 32.5wt Losi oil in front and 35wt Losi oil in the rear, as I mentioned in an earlier post. Once the shock rebuild was completed, I played with a handful of different springs to finish things off. My original plan was was to just use some softer Losi springs that I was running before, but they just didn't seem to feel right, so I looked in my spare parts and found some springs that I really liked the feel of with the new softer dampening setup. That being (surprise, surprise) the original stock Rustler linear front springs, and a set of Traxxas E-Maxx red 2.5lb rate 2.75 inch long linear springs for the rear. The final mod on the shocks was 2mm of down travel limiters front & rear, and some custom made up travel limiters/bump stops for the rear. The next thing for the rear suspension was the installation of 0.5mm spacers under the rear inner hinge pin mounts to adjust anti-squat to 2 degrees.

    Next up to complete the newly refined suspension setup, was something I just had to have and couldn't resist after getting my hands on the graphite front shock tower. That being, a matching rear graphite shock tower, of course. So, after seeing how well the front worked I knew I would have to do the rear as well. I used an Anza rear tower kit (part# 3638) which is absolutely amazing in fit, finish & functionality. Not only does it make the rear suspension as solid as the front now, it also adds the setup options for camber link locations and shock upper mounting positions.[IMG][/IMG]

    Since I was making all of these improvements, I had to get rid of the battery retaining bar/clip setup as well. I really disliked dealing with those annoying clips, so I replaced that whole thing with a nice velcro strap I had in my spare parts bin. Future mod will be to add one to the rear as well, getting rid of the no longer used ESC mount altogether.[IMG][/IMG]

    Here's a few more pics showing suspension droop for good measure....
    [IMG][/IMG]
    [IMG][/IMG]

    Now, about that weight.... I've done a lot of research on the weight of competitors race trucks. Paying close attention to T4.2's, T5M's & 22T's in particular. All the while watching how the changes I've made to the Rustler have been affecting it's weight. Here's what I've found - an Associated T4.2 weighs 1756 grams without a battery, both the T5M & 22T weigh 1885 - 1890 grams fully loaded (with battery) and ready to go. And the Rustlers current weight?.....
    [IMG][/IMG]

    Yes, that scale reads 1788 grams without a battery - only 32 grams more than a T4.2. Now, along with ditching the ESC mount (and screws), the future will also bring a 540 can sized race motor & a more competitive racing ESC. After careful checking, my calculations show that this will shed another 120 grams - bringing the Rustlers weight to 1668 grams without a battery! I'm using the T4.2 as a benchmark since the other two trucks are not only mid-motor setups, but are also designed to use "shorty" LiPo packs. So how do batteries affect these equations? Well, the average "shorty" LiPo's run anywhere from 200 to 250 grams, depending on Mah rating & manufacturer. Since ROAR rules currently require a stadium truck to have a minimum weight of 3.5lbs. (1588 grams) without a battery, 4lbs (1815 grams) with a battery, I would presume the "pro's" are running packs that weigh about 240-250 grams. This would put their trucks at about 1635-1640 grams. And that means once the Rustler gets to it's final form it will be 88 grams lighter than a T4.2, and only 28-33 grams more than the latest, greatest mid-motors race bred trucks!! Not too shabby for an "outdated, heavy" truck. Amazing how perception can be quite deceiving.

    So, wondering how all of this translated to track performance? One word - incredible! Driving the truck now is such a pleasure and so easy to go really fast around the track, lap after lap. Steering, both on and off power is great, side bite on the sweepers is amazing. The only real remaining fault is the weight of the Velineon systems' 550 motor & ESC, which will soon make its way to my son's XL5 Slash (something he's been chomping at the bit for). But that's a whole 'nother story...

    So here we are at the end of this update, and I'd like to acknowledge the "budget" portion of the recent changes made. Once again, while I've done a great deal, I've spent relatively little. The single most expensive upgrade made was the rear shock tower kit - an item I believe has had one of the largest impacts on the trucks newfound handling manners. Here's the breakdown of the money...

    Traxxas front shock tower - $8
    Traxxas titanium shock shafts - $16 (2 pairs)
    STRC aluminum caster blocks - $16
    Losi 32.5 & 35wt oil - $6 (for both)
    Traxxas Front & Rear springs - $0 (from spare parts on-hand)
    Velcro battery strap - $0 (from spare parts on-hand)
    Anza Rear shock tower kit - $38

    Please let me know if you have any questions/comments about the build & thanks for reading!
    Last edited by FlyingTigerDad; 09-06-2016 at 12:53 AM.

  25. #25
    RC Qualifier FlyingTigerDad's Avatar
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    Hello fellow Rustler fans. Quite a bit has taken place since my last post 6-7 weeks ago. So, birthday time has come and gone, and with it, through the generosity and support of this hobby from my family, has come some significant items from the "wish list". Most notably, a new racing ESC & motor combo, some new (and desperately needed) tires, 2 new LiPo batteries, a new slipper clutch system, and some various hardware.

    First up, the ESC & motor combo. As you all know, there are many choices for these items, and that choice tends to be a very personal one, based on preference, budget, track conditions & truck set up. As I sifted through the endless offerings by various manufacturers, I had a specific set of criteria that needed to be met. The ESC had to have all of the usual adjustable features - i.e., drag brake & brake strength, punch control & power frequency, timing adjustments, and the availability of having reverse. Also, I wanted something with a minimum constant output of 100A. For the motor it was a bit easier, I wanted a 7.5T with a 12.5mm rotor, adjustable timing, 540 sized, sensored & light weight. And, of course, it couldn't be too expensive. With all of that in mind I decided on the Reedy Blackbox 1000z ESC & Sonic Mach 3 7.5T combo. This set up met all of the specs I had laid out as well as being a matched combo - something I believe is a big benefit in optimizing integration & performance of components. Here's what it looks like in the truck...[IMG][/IMG]
    [IMG][/IMG]

    Next up, the batteries. At first I just got one SPC 5200 mAh 70C 2S Lipo (which is awesome, by the way), but then I found out they were getting out of the battery business, so I tried to order another the day I heard this, but by this time they were already out of stock on all 2S LiPo's that would work for me. Heartbroken by that news I immediately looked to SMC for something good, only to find that all of their decent batteries we on "pre-order" only. So after a bit of looking around I decided to try a Trinity Titanium series battery. I went with a 4500 mAh 50C 2S that looked promising. I haven't tested that one yet, but I like the fact that being a slightly lower mAh rating, it's very light weight. Once again, looking to what the "pro's" run, I noticed that they seem to prefer batteries rated between 4300-4700 mAh's - presumably for weight savings. As a comparison, the 4500 mAh Trinity weights 245g, the 5000 mAh SPC weights 264g and the 5200 mAh SPC weights 266g.
    [IMG][/IMG]

    Next, the tires. I've been running pretty much Pro-line & Jconcepts exclusively, but a number of guys at the track use and recommended trying some Panthers. So I got 2 different one's to try - some Micro Rib front tires in a medium-soft compound and a pair of Panther Switch 2.0's for the rear, also in a medium-soft compound. In addition to those, I did get one more pair of Pro-line Suburb's, this time in the MX blue-groove compound to round things off. You can see the Micro-Ribs fairly well in this picture - they kind of remind me of the old TRX SRT front tires.
    [IMG][/IMG]

    As you can see, I did also finally get the stock black lower chassis - so now the truck has (at least to me) that "all business" race truck look. And while I was replacing the chassis I did wind up replacing all of the hardware that was phillips head screws left over from the trucks XL5 beginnings with black hex head hardware.

    When I did the chassis I also got rid of the big (heavy) receiver box - no need for it on the track, since I don't run in any water. Besides, the racing electronics aren't waterproof, so why lug around that box? As you can see in these pics, the receiver is actually quite small & light - so is the ESC.
    [IMG][/IMG]
    [IMG][/IMG]
    [IMG][/IMG]

    The last big item to go on the truck was an Associated slipper clutch set up. I used the STRC layshaft with a new Traxxas gear (so I could preserve the original factory set up complete) and installed the latest V2 version of the clutch. This system has the vented pressure plates, the large "heavy duty" pads and the large spring & retaining washer. Sorry, no pics of this on the truck yet - I just got this part done this past weekend. I can say that this system is extremely smooth and quiet running though, compared to the factory clutch as well as a little bit lighter.

    So far the only problem I've encountered is being able to find the time to get to the track to test all of this good stuff. I've been super busy at work (annual physical inventory time), so I've only been able to make a few runs on the street. I can say this however - the truck was quick in its XL5 form, fast with the VXL system, but ballistic with the new set up. I'm starting at 84T/18T gearing to be conservative and will adjust that as needed once it hits the track and I can check performance & temps.

    I do want to go off on a tangent about weight, but that will have to wait for a follow-up post shortly. So for now here's where the truck is in its current form, weight wise.
    [IMG][/IMG]
    Without a battery

    [IMG][/IMG]
    With the SPC 5200 mAh 70C battery.

    And one parting "beauty" shot of my baby.
    [IMG][/IMG]
    Last edited by FlyingTigerDad; 10-25-2016 at 01:18 PM.

  26. #26
    RC Qualifier FlyingTigerDad's Avatar
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    It's hard to believe that I've had my Rustler for a year now. As I look back through the beginnings of this post and of my build, the transformation from the trucks humble XL5 start to where it is now is quite amazing. So, now it's time for my tangent on weight, but before I get started I need to make a correction to a bit of information I had in an earlier post with regards to ROAR rules on weight. Since one of my goals here is to provide good, accurate, usable information to help others with similar race truck builds, it's important that I make this correction. Earlier I stated that ROAR rules for minimum weight was 3.5lbs. for a truck without a battery & 4lbs. with a battery - this is not the case. I recently checked the 2016 rule book and it states for 1/10th scale stadium trucks (any class) a minimum race weight of 60oz. in ready to race form. That translates to 1701 grams, or 3.75lbs. Now that this is corrected, I can continue to put things into perspective with my findings on the weight of my truck and of our competitors trucks.

    The last picture on the scale of my truck empty, shows a weight of 1615 grams. This was before I installed the Associated V2 slipper mod. After doing that, I weighed the truck again and it is now at 1606 grams without a battery. So, with the lightest battery I have installed, it weighs 1851 grams, and with the heaviest 1872 grams. There are still a few things I have yet to do on the truck that will lower those numbers a bit more. For instance, when I replaced the chassis with the factory black one, I was going to get rid of the old ESC mount and use a second velcro strap to retain the battery in the back, but my (cheap imitation) dremel took a dump and I don't want hack up the new chassis to modify it as needed until I can do a clean job. That mod will more than likely drop a few more grams, taking the truck to what I estimate to be around 1585-1595 grams empty. That's about as far as I'll be going with any any modifications that will have any significant impact on weight from this point forward.

    Way back in the beginning of my build and in one of my first posts I said that I wasn't extremely concerned with overall weight, but more with weight distribution - particularly front to rear, as the Rustler (and most rear motored trucks) are very rear heavy. I know it sounds like I'm obsessed with total weight, given the concentration I've put on the numbers, but I'm really not. I'm just trying to make a very clear point and get rid of the really huge misconception that the Rustler is too heavy to be competitively raced without taking drastic measures to lighten it. If I really wanted to get extreme with weight savings, there are many things I could still do, like replace all of the hardened steel screws with aluminum, replace all of the heavy steel turnbuckles with aluminum or titanium ones, replace all of the steel lock nuts with nylon, etc. But I don't really want to go through the expense (still have a budget, after all), or sacrifice any strength to accomplish this - I just don't see the need for it given how light the truck is now.

    O.K., so now to give all of this information some real world perspective concerning the competition. Remember that a stock T4.2 weighs 1756 grams empty (no battery) and that the "average" T5M & 22T weighs in at 1885-1890 grams with a battery. Comparing this to where my Rustler is at today, this means that an empty T4.2 is 150 grams heavier, and even with my heaviest battery installed, the T5M & 22T are 13-18 grams heavier! Keep in mind also that this is with the stock, unmodified (not hacked up) chassis and no drastic weight saving measures taken.

    Now it seems that most everyone (in terms of manufacturers) is real reluctant to reveal any kind of numbers regarding weight of their trucks. I believe there are two primary reasons for this - first, the competitors trucks being "kits" are very dependent on the type of electronics installed (servo, ESC, motor, etc.) & battery's used, that have a great impact on total weight. Second, I think all of the major manufacturers want their trucks to be perceived as "light & nimble". But reality is a little different. When I was doing some searching to find accurate weight numbers on the competitors trucks, I spent some time "lurking" on their forums looking for information. What I found almost made me die laughing. It would seem that racers of the competitors trucks have the exact same issues, concerns and challenges with weight that we do. It appears that most of their trucks run anywhere from 1850-2100 grams in full race weight! And most struggle with various mods and/or parts to reduce those numbers. I also found what I think is the most valuable piece of information regarding the weight of their trucks, and what will put this topic to bed once and for all - that being the "actual" racing weight of the National Champion drivers trucks, as they were raced. Brent Thielke racing modified truck - 1977 grams, Ryan Cavalieri racing modified truck - 1922 grams, and Spencer Rivkin racing stock truck - 1789 grams. Some of you may not recognize these names & some may, but these are, and have been for many years, the top team drivers in the country.

    So, there's my little rant & tutorial on Rustler weight 101. Future posts will now continue with further mods and progress on the build, and on racing results. Unless anything I do significantly changes the weight of my truck, I won't be covering this anymore (whew!). I do plan on putting up a post soon with a new, full list of everything that I've done to the truck with part numbers and prices, as well as current set up info. I'm also trying to get a set up sheet finalized for the Rustler, since no one makes one currently.

    I hope some find this information helpful, if not at the very least interesting. Thanks for checking this out, and remember, the next time you're at the track, should any "brand name" snobs give you lip about running a Traxxas - just ask them what their truck weighs and watch them fume

  27. #27
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    Man, ive followed this thread from the beginning and i cant even explain how much it has helped me. I am currently building a rustler of my own and I hope it is okay with you but my truck will basically be a sister truck to yours. Because everything you have described in this thread is how I envisioned my truck being the only difference is I will be running in the 10.5 class. Thank you so much for posting all of this and I look forward to more updates!

  28. #28
    RC Qualifier FlyingTigerDad's Avatar
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    Thanks "J" - it's good to hear from you. I'm certainly honored that you would want to build a sister truck to mine. I'm not sure what gives me the warm fuzzies more - knowing there is a duplicate to my truck out there somewhere, or that my thread is really helping people with their setups.

    How is the truck coming along? I'd love to see some pictures of your truck as you go through your build.

    I did finally manage to get to the track since my last round of upgrades/changes, so I will be posting another update fairly soon with a track report. I'm only waiting until I get my upgrade list & setup sheet finished.

  29. #29
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    I look forward to seeing it. So far my truck is in pieces so not much to show yet but i am hoping to pick up the rpm case soon but i dont know what gears i want to do. I will be running 2s so i may go metal just for added peace of mind. So far i have the rpm arms with the wide front and will be using blue traxxas camber links. I have my srt front tower but i need to figure out a good rear tower. And i need to pick up an updated slipper assembly. Lots to do still but i hope to be turning laps by spring!

  30. #30
    RC Qualifier IanRose's Avatar
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    I love how much weight savings you've achieved. I try an do the same thing. every extra piece of plastic and screw that goes with it, they add up. Great job. Minimalistic.

  31. #31
    RC Qualifier FlyingTigerDad's Avatar
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    Definitely look forward to seeing that! As far as a rear tower goes, you can't do better than the Anza, if it's within budget. If not, the RPM is actually decently rigid for the rear (the front is just way too floppy, though), you just give up the nice adjustment options for the cost savings. Metal gears in the trans are the way to go if you're like me and don't want to continually tear down the trans for repairs - plastic just won't last with a good amount of brushless power. And if you want to go with a nice Associated slipper, check Ebay first - great deals on complete setups. I've seen them from $12-$15, then all you'll need is the STRC layshaft for about another $11.

    Good luck on the build process, and let me know if I can help with anything specific that may not be in the thread.

  32. #32
    RC Qualifier FlyingTigerDad's Avatar
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    Thanks, Ian. And you're absolutely right, all the little things add up quickly. Paying attention to detail pays off in the end, and less is definitely more!

  33. #33
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    I couldnt tell from the pics. What are you using for the actual body mount on the front tower?

  34. #34
    RC Qualifier FlyingTigerDad's Avatar
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    The entire front body mount setup is all stock Rustler that came with the truck. It bolts to the SRT tower perfectly and lines up with the stock body holes.

  35. #35
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    Okay awesome! And on the subject of the shock Tower is it threadable? Or do I need to go to a nut and bolt style of mounting for the shocks?

  36. #36
    RC Qualifier FlyingTigerDad's Avatar
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    The SRT tower only has holes that go straight through - it's not thick enough (only about 3mm) to thread, so you will want long screws with nuts on them. Just make sure to use a lock nut, so things don't loosen up while running.

    Just re-read your question, I think I may have mis-understood you & thought you were talking about the front tower for some reason, not the rear. At any rate, on the rear, if you go with the Anza & get the "kit" it is similar to the SRT front in that it is thin with just holes that go through & will require screws with nuts that come in the kit - the kit includes all the hardware for shock mounting. The RPM is much thicker & can be threaded, but you'll still want long screws that go all the way through with lock nuts on them.
    Last edited by FlyingTigerDad; 11-30-2016 at 04:21 PM.

  37. #37
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    Perfect. And i definitely want the anza it looks great! Do you happen to have a link to it?

  38. #38
    RC Qualifier FlyingTigerDad's Avatar
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  39. #39
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    Hey tiger! Did some work and have the truck down to all the parts im keeping. Im not sure how to post pics though lol

  40. #40
    RC Qualifier FlyingTigerDad's Avatar
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    That's great news, J. I'm excited to see the details of the build & excited for you - it'll be awesome once it's all together. Spring is right around the corner!
    Posting pictures is a little bit of process - here's the Traxxas Forum tutorial link, if you haven't already seen it - https://traxxas.com/forums/showthrea...sting-Tutorial. Most forums won't let you post pictures directly, you need a "host" like Photobucket or Picture Trail. Personally I like Picture Trail, pretty user friendly and you get a nice free trial period.

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