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  1. #1
    RC Qualifier Panther6834's Avatar
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    A Black Cat goes 'Out of This World'...with "Project Predator"

    Before I get into this build thread, I'd first like to thank all of those who've done a backSlash...NOT that my project is a backSlash (considering this is in the Rustler 4x4 section, it's, obviously, not a Slash), but it's all the backSlash projects that inspired my to attempt this. Additionally, extra thanks goes to Squeegie, as it was his 'Slyphon Burning Chrome' project that not only provided the greatest inspiration, but also led me to the body I'd eventually use for this project.

    To everyone who's built a backSlash, or who knows what a backSlash is, you've probably already for a pretty good idea as to what I've done...and, for those of you imagine with what a backSlash is, don't start searching to find out...it'll just spoil your fun - instead, enjoy this thread, then you can start reading up on the various "backSlash" projects.

    Anyway, here's what I'm starting with:
    There's nothing special about it...just your standard Traxxas Rustler 4x4 complete chassis (known as a 'pre-roller'), without any electronics. If you're interested in one of these, or the same if a different Traxxas chassis (Slash, Stampede, Rally, etc), you can find plenty of them on eBay. Some of them will sometimes include "upgrades" - RPM parts, pre-installed Ti screws, dying the chassis pan (as the seller I bought my Slash 4x4 pre-roller from did), or even replacing the stock differential grease work proper diff oil. If you plan on using the stock wheels & tires, you can get a "roller", which is the same thing, except that the wheels & tires, and sometimes steering servo, are included. If you plan on doing a custom build, and have no need of the Traxxas electronics, or body, this is not just an excellent way to go...it's also the most cost-efficient way to go...you're not wasting money on things you wouldn't be using anyway.

    Now that you've seen what I'm starting with, here's a peek of some of the things going 'inside':
    As you can see, there's an array of goodies, from a variety of companies (and only one Traxxas part...at least for now, as I have a feeling I'll be needing a few other Traxxas parts). While I do have the electronics, I'm not revealing then at this time, so you'll just have to wait...they say, "Patience is a virtue." (tho, I've never seen any proof of this...lol) I should mention, at this point in time, that this build will NOT be done in anything close to a standard, or typical, order...both are sooooooo boring. This is an "unusual" build, so it deserves to be done in an "unusual" order. And, so, without further adu.......... let's get building.

    PROJECT PREDATOR - Day 2
    I know...your're already thinking, "What an idiot. This guy doesn't know how to count." The truth is, I've decided that "Day 1" was the day I decided to do this project, and compiled a (very basic) list of the types of parts I'd need to complete it. Then, I spent the next several months narrowing down part choices, testing some theories, & purchasing parts...as well as building a few other kits, including my first crawler (if you want to see, or read, more about my "Imperial" Capra...think Stormtroopers...you'll have to head over to the RCCrawlers forum, to the Axial Capra section).

    Getting back to this build, on the second...ok, first day, I got very little done...but, at the same time, I got a lot done. Confused? That's ok...I've been confused most of my life. You get used to it...eventually. I started where everyone...or, is that 'no one'...should start - the shocks. However, these aren't just any shocks...these are the same shocks you would find on JQRacing's "THE Car" 1/8 Nitro Competition PRO 'White Edition' buggy.
    They went together fairly easily, and are built in the same manner as almost all other shocks...with one noticable difference - instead of using C-clips to hold the pistons to the shafts, they use 3mm Nylock nuts. Also, these are bladder-style shocks, but you don't seat the bladder onto the top of the shock body, and then screw the cap on...you press the bladder all the way into the shock cap, and then screw it onto the body (personally, I prefer bleeder-style caps, but I haven't been able to find any that fit the JQRacing shock bodies...but, more on this in a sec).

    As I mentioned, I prefer bleeder-style caps, so I ordered Associated 16mm bleeder caps from Amain. However, when I attempted to screw them into the shock bodies, I discovered a serious problem - the diameter of the threads on the caps were larger (by approx 1mm) than the diameter of the threads on the shock bodies. Unless I'm able to find bleeder caps that fit the JQRacing shock bodies, I'll have no choice but to use the JQR caps & bladders (yes, you're allowed to laugh at "caps & bladders"). So...if anyone happens to be familiar with the JQRacing shocks, and knows of any (preferably aluminum) bleeder-style caps that will fit, I'd GREATLY appreciate hearing from you.

    Upon completion of this shock-ing experience (tho, I have yet to fill them with oil, as I'm currently undecided on oil weight), here's what they look like:
    These are 16mm (ie. the internal diameter of the shock body) shocks...but, as you might have realized, they are a bit longer than your typical 1/8 buggy shocks. In contacting JQRacing, they have me two reasons behind this...although they don't include any parts to "back up" the first reason.

    For reason #1, there's two parts. First, they suggest/recommend adding limiters to the inside, which, in turn, shortens the extended length of the shock...but, they neither include any limiters, not do they provide any suggestions as to how much to limit the shocks. As they put it, "We leave the amount of limiting the shock to the individual, as each person may want to limit their shocks to a greater, or lesser amount." This does explain why they don't include any suggestions as or even a 'starting point'...but it doesn't explain why they don't include any limiters in the packaging. Second, it moves the piston upward from the bottom of the shock body, so that, when there's wick compression, there's no 'suction' trying to hold the piston down, as there's already a small amount if oil below the piston. Now that I'm adding crawlers to my collection, I can say that the first reason does make sense...based on others on the crawling side of this hobby, I've done this to the first two crawlers I've built (did I forget to mention I've already built a second? It's an SSD Trail King Pro).

    As for reason #2, this is a bit more "interesting". Evidently, they also rate their springs slightly differently...they still use 'soft', 'medium', and 'hard', like everyone else, but all are softer than others' with the same "strength name". Additionally, when installed on the vehicle (including their own vehicles), the shocks are expected to be compressed slightly more than other shocks, which, in effect, "increases" the stiffness of the shocks...but, at the same time, allows full-extension much easier, and more smoothly, than "traditional" shock design. I guess, a better way of putting it is that their 'soft' is like 'extra soft', their 'medium' is like 'soft', and their 'hard' is like 'medium' (competitive buggies, evidently, have no need for TRUE 'hard' springs springs)...thus, once compressed, the 'soft' is actually soft, the 'medium' is actually medium, and the 'hard' is actually hard. Does this make sense to everyone reading this? If so, great...and, if not, go back to the beginning of the paragraph, and read it again. Just so you can see the difference in extended lengths, I've placed the stock Rustler shocks next to the new JQRacing shocks:

    Will add this photo shortly.
    [insert photo of old & new shocks]

    So I that was the first part of the "building day", which I worked on outside (the weather was outstanding...the best "winter day", so far), while waiting for my clients. The second half I couldn't work on until I got home. Once home, I removed the front & rear bulkheads, the 'battery tray' parts, the slipper & center driveshaft, and everything else that could be removed from the chassis pan. By the time I finished removing everything I could, the only items still "attached" to the chassis pan were the stickers Traxxas applies at the factory. Next, I pulled out the 12qt pot, which is great for making a huge amount of pasta, or chili...or for dying large plastic pieces of RC vehicles. For those considering this, just remember that you need to do REALLY good dishwashing job once you're finished...oh, yeah, and make sure you replace the "used" sponge/scrubber with a new one, or your wife might chew you out, taking you, I can't wait dishes with that thing." (yup, that means I forgot...which is why I'm telling all of you, so that you (hopefully) don't forget)

    After heating up 5,000 gallons of water, and pouring in the RIT dye, I was finally able to cook...oops, I mean "color" my chassis black. After 15 minutes on each side, it was ready for a quick rinse under some cool (but NOT cold...don't want to make the chairs 'brittle'). With the Rusty-Frankie chassis, I submerged the entire chassis for 10-15 minutes...but, with the Project Predator chassis, I wanted to make sure it was black-as-black-can-be. In other words, I wanted it "well-done". The blackened chassis:

    And, thus, Day 73...oops, Day 1 (or is it Day 2)...came to a close. Stay tuned for further adventures The Terminator's best frienemy. Now that the build has finally been, I'll be completely honest - I can't say whether this will take 4-6 weeks, or 4-6 months. With my job, I don't have a huge amount of "free time", nor do I have specified days off...and with the post-holiday time in-have, I don't have a lot of "spare" finances.

    ~ More peace, love, laughter & kindness would make the world a MUCH better place
    Last edited by Panther6834; 01-03-2020 at 05:18 PM.
    ~ Love, laughter & kindness makes the world better

  2. #2
    RC Qualifier Panther6834's Avatar
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    The Traxxas forum didn't allow me to update a part after 60 minutes, so I'm having to post this separately. This is the photo of the 'old' & 'new' shocks, side-by-side.

    ~ More peace, love, laughter & kindness would make the world a MUCH better place
    ~ Love, laughter & kindness makes the world better

  3. #3
    RC Qualifier Panther6834's Avatar
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    PROJECT PREDATOR - Day 3

    Although I had really wanted to get more done, today ended with only two steps being completed. This isn't because I was lazy (tho, I could have used a few hours more sleep), but because I also worked on two other vehicles.

    Before I get into today's Project Predator update, for those who've been following my other two builds-in-progress, I prepped Rusty-Frankie for an axle swap, which is actually part of a larger parts swap in prepping for (C-hubs, steering blocks, and rear carriers). After that, I updated my Imperial Capra with a slipper spring (used a Traxxas part, no less), as the Capra comes with a plastic piece instead of a slipper spring, followed by installing some OD portal gears (if it wasn't climbing like a goat before, it certainly will now). Ok...enough of the other projects...time to get back to space (where no one can hear you scream).

    First, my apologies to Johnny-5, as I'm going to use a "bad" word here. Yes, that means I had to 'disassemble'. In this case, it would be the front & rear bulkheads, so as to get to the diffs. Knowing there was some crazy-thick sauce in the front diff, and the rear looked like the breeding grounds for The Thing, I felt both could use some "freshening up", as well as being put on a diet. The 'diet', in this case, would be 15K diff fluid up front, and some 10K in the rear. I also wanted to replace the sludge in each with some Maxima waterproof grease (if you're not familiar with this stuff, you should be...it's fantastic).

    Unfortunately, dum-dum (that would be me, at least for today) forgot to take photos of the diffs before putting them back together, and rebuilding the front & rear bulkheads. Oh well, such is life. While rebuilding the bulkheads, I did, thankfully, remember to take photos of the second step -replacing the Rusty's front & rear shock towers. Gone are those unsightly "clipless body mount system" shock towers, and in their place are a pair of brand-new machined aluminum towers. At 6mm think, these are a bit beefier then your usual aluminum shock towers...and, considering that they will be exposed, this is a good (a VERY good) thing.
    If you look closely, you'll notice that these towers provide 7...yes, I said 7...shock mounting positions for the front, and an even more amazing 9 positions for the rear (it needs to be noted that 2 of those rear positions are somewhat lower that the others, and would require shorter (ie. front) shocks to be used. I won't be using Threadlocker on the shock mounts until it's determined which holes will be filled (no, not THOSE holes...the holes in the shock towers...get your minds out of the gutter).

    As before, stay tuned for more.


    ~ More peace, love, laughter & kindness would make the world a MUCH better place
    Last edited by Panther6834; 01-05-2020 at 12:30 AM.
    ~ Love, laughter & kindness makes the world better

  4. #4
    RC Qualifier Panther6834's Avatar
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    PROJECT PREDATOR - Day 0b100

    I started today's RC "fiddling" my working on my other Rustler project (Rusty-Frankie). You can read about that project here:
    https://r.tapatalk.com/shareLink/top...ink_source=app

    After correcting some problems on that vehicle, as well as creating a few new ones, it was finally time to get some stuff done on 'Project Predator'.

    I started it off by working on attaching the rear wing mount. Some might just say, "Just put some screws in some holes, and your done." However, it wasn't that easy. The rear wing mount attaches to the rear shock tower at four points. For the upper two points, I'll be using two of the "inside" shock mounting positions. Previously, I mentioned that the rear tower has two additional shock mounting points (compared to the front) - 7 positions use the traditional rear shocks, whereas the other two positions (somewhat lower than the other 7) are designed to use front shocks. As for the two lower mounting points, that's where I ran into two slight problems.

    The first was that, with the wing mount attached to the lower holes, the upper holes on the wing mount weren't aligned properly with the top holes on the shock tower. Using the Dremel, and a metal drilling/routing but, I "elongated" the upper holes on the shock tower.The second problem was that the wing mount's two lower holes, on the shock tower, are just above the top two screw holes holding the rear shock tower to the rear differential housing. So, to resolve this, out came the Dremel (again)...and, 5 minutes later, the problem was resolved:
    Next up was to replace the (garbage) plastic axles with not only something stronger & more durable, but also something that fits better with the vehicle's theme. I could have gone with the Traxxas CVDs, or the Tekno M6s, or the MIPs (Race Duty, or X-Duty), as many others have done...but I wanted something different. Pro-Line's Pro-Spline HD axles seemed to be the best way of accomplishing this. Unfortunately, Pro-Line discontinued the Slash 4x4 version last yet...thankfully, the fronts are still available, in abundance, as are replacement parts. While the rear axles couldn't be fine anywhere, converting a front to rear is as simple as removing the front axle stub, and replacing it with a rear axle stub. Two pair of fronts, and two rear axle stubs later, and I now have a front pair, and rear pair.Here's a "visual comparison" of the "old" & "new", as seem from the front:Removing the "old" axles, and installing the "new", is as simple as removing 3 screws per side, pulling out the "old", putting in the "new", and reattaching the screws. Completed, here's her rear end:Finally, I reattached the front & rear bulkheads to the chassis. You'll notice that the rear wing mount isn't attached, and that's because I have something in store for one of the next two updates.

    Until the next update...same Bat time, same Bat channel.









    ~ More peace, love, laughter & kindness would make the world a MUCH better place
    Last edited by Panther6834; 01-06-2020 at 11:37 PM.
    ~ Love, laughter & kindness makes the world better

  5. #5
    RC Qualifier Panther6834's Avatar
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    PROJECT PREDATOR - Statdate 73491.9

    Before I get into today's installment, I should mention something I forgot from the previous installment...the Traxxas aluminum C-hubs & rear carriers.These are carry-overs from my Rusty-Frankie project. To get rid of the 15mm axle extenders I was using (because of the 2.2" wheels), in order to still use the same wheels, I replaced the C-hubs, steering blocks, & rear carriers, with 4Tec 2.0 parts. Thus, the aluminum C-hubs & rear carriers were free to jump ship...and they happened to land on a Predator. Just, don't tell Arnold.

    Anyway, back to today, which should have been a very productive day. I have the entire day off, plus I get to (slightly) sleep in tomorrow morning. However, such wasn't too be...not because I was lazy, but because one step being taken actually took multiple steps, plus was very time-consuming. When purchased, the shock towers were black...but, with this project, they cannot remain as such. An 'all black- vehicle would be a "boring" vehicle, even for a Predator...so, some color changes must take place.

    I started with the removal of the new shock towers (darn...feels like I just screwed them into place), followed by sanding them. Next, I took several Q-tips, cut them into pieces, and shoved a piece into each of the 18 holes (no, not all the holes...only the holes that might have screws in then, ie. front camber links). The painting was a 3-step process, and comes courtesy of our friend Rust-oleum. First came the primer, then came the paint (Universal Metallic Flat Soft Iron), and finally came the topcoat (Universal Clear Dead Flat). From start to finish, this took about 4 hours (longer, actually, as I plan on long them dry for at least 24 hurts before reinstalling them). I present to you the finished (but not-yet-dry-enough-to-install) Predator shock towers:In-between spraying the various layers of whatever was being sprayed, I made some changes to the drivetrain...specifically, I removed the Pro-Line ProSoline HD axles I had installed, installed them on Frankie, and put the Traxxas CVDs from Frankie (temporarily) onto Project Predator. No, they won't remain forever...I've got something else on the way, an I'll be seeing how they do. If they turn out great, they'll remain, and the other set of Pro-Line axles currently on their way will (eventually) end up on my (future) Slash 4x4 project. I won't bother including any photos, as most people know what Traxxas CVDs look like.

    Next up...something to protect the underside of the A-arms (after all, you know how rough those aliens can be on their vehicles), in the form of some A-arm skids from TBR (that's 'T-Bone Racing, for those who might be wondering, who also provided the chassis skid on Frankie).Technically, these are for the Slash 4x4...but, as with most Traxxas vehicles, almost anything designed for one vehicle can be used on certain other vehicles. I did have to make one minor modification. If you look at the two pieces for the rear, you'll notice I cut off the inner corners. This is so they don't hit the chassis just in front of the rear bulkhead.

    To install, you first insert a rectangular piece over the middle A-arm crossbars, and then attach each skid using two flathead screws (included in the package).Once installed, they look like this:And, that's it for today, as I can't proceed any further right now. I'm waiting on some parts (some to be delivered by Amain, others arriving at my LHS)...and, for parts I already have, I can't continue until the shock towers are reinstalled, or until I have the other parts in waiting on. It's ok, tho, as this cat could use a nap.

    Until next time...


    ~ More peace, love, laughter & kindness would make the world a MUCH better place
    Last edited by Panther6834; 01-10-2020 at 05:56 PM.
    ~ Love, laughter & kindness makes the world better

  6. #6
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    Cool build, what's the endgame use for it? I'm definitely curious about what you selected and why.

  7. #7
    RC Qualifier Panther6834's Avatar
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    I know it's been a few days without any updates, but, I'm still waiting on some parts from Amain & my LHS (tho, some parts from each have arrived)...plus, I'm now also waiting on something from eBay. I don't have any update today...but I do have a "sneak peek" of what arrived at the LHS.Since this part well take several sessions to finish, it won't be seen again for a little while...but, like The Terminator, it will be back. Hopefully, I'll have an actual progress update soon.

    Quote Originally Posted by Icehawk View Post
    Cool build, what's the endgame use for it? I'm definitely curious about what you selected and why.
    Thank you. Even though I didn't start the actual build until recently, the initial planning started back in April/May of last year, with the first parts acquired sometime in June (or was it July...heck, I don't even remember anymore).

    Anyway, the planned "endgame use" is dual-purpose. Provided it qualifies, the finished vehicle will, literally, have a "dual-personality". Unlike Superman, and his "mild-mannered" everyday 'Clark Kent' persona, Project Predator's dual-personalities will be flipped - it's the 'everyday' persona that'll be the "wild" side. As for the "mild-mannered", it won't be all that 'mild'...but, in order for that side to be seen, the vehicle, including battery, must come in under 3200g (7.054792 lbs). That might seem easy to accomplish to some, but it's not as easy as it sounds.

    I can't say anything more any the "endgame use", as it would give away the 'surprise' (and, for anyone reading this, if you understand what I hinted at in the previous paragraph, feel free to say "I get it"...but, please, don't explain it in your comment).

    ~ More peace, love, laughter & kindness would make the world a MUCH better place
    Last edited by Panther6834; 01-14-2020 at 01:28 AM.
    ~ Love, laughter & kindness makes the world better

  8. #8
    RC Qualifier Panther6834's Avatar
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    PROJECT PREDATOR - Day 0b101

    Welcome back to the alien vehicle factory, where we make all your dreams...or nightmares...come true. In today's installment, I did a little of 'this', a little of 'that', and a little of 'the other'. I know I got a lot done...yet I feel as if I didn't make much progress, as if I didn't get anything done. It's like one of those days where you go to work, you got everything done that you were supposed to do, yet you feel as if you didn't accomplish anything. Of course, then there are those days where you put in 10-15 minutes of work, and you feel like you accomplished everything you needed to for that day.

    Some are probably reading this, thinking, "You can't do everything, and feel like you've done nothing", or, "You can't do nothing, and feel like you've done everything." If this is starting to sound like an episode of 'Seinfeld', maybe that's because I probably watched a few too many. As Jerry would say, "Get over it." Life is life, we feel how we feel, and we keep moving forward. So, in moving forward..........

    First, and foremost...not that I'll be installing it today, but something that will be installed soon arrived today. Some consider it the "brain", while others think of it as "that which identifies & distributes. Heck...some probably think of it as the "one device to rule them all". As cool as that last night might be, is prefer to keep my "Seinfeld" & Big Bang Theory" conversations separate. Anyway, personally, I just prefer to call it "the receiver", or 'Rx' for short.
    All joking aside, today started off with something fairly simple...reattaching the shock towers. This should have taken all of 1-2 minutes, but ended up taking several times longer...because I'd forgotten where I put the screws. So, actual install time was closer to 10 minutes - 8 minutes to find the screws, less than 2 minutes to screw them in.
    Note to myself: In the future, remember where you put things.

    Now, where was I? Oh, yes, the shock towers. Seeing how they look, color ideas for the rest of the vehicle are starting to converge. Next up was to install the wing mount, which repaired removal the rear bulkhead from the chassis. While the top screws screw (say that 10x fast) in from the front, into locknuts placed inside the wing mount, the bottom screws must go through the wing mount, through the shock tower, and into a couple of locknuts. Unfortunately, when I first attempted to install the wing, I realized that the spur gear cover was preventing the nut driver from reaching the holes the screws were sticking through. Thus, I said, "Off with the (bulk)head."Of course, then I ran into my next 'problem' - the screws for installing the wing mount...or, to be more specific, the lengths of the screws. After some attempted measurements, and the few "false" lengths, I finally determined that I needed 14mm buttonhead screws for the top, and 12mn flat head screws for the bottom (plus the aforementioned locknuts). Looking at these two photos, you might have an idea of how difficult (or impossible) it would have been too install the wing mount without first removing the rear bulkhead from the chassis.Since we're doing a bit of a 'lineup', here's a side profile view:
    Since I had the rear bulkhead removed, I figured I might as well install the new Hot Racing motor plate & King Headz motor mount. Undo a screw here, a few screws there, inserts a bearing, in reverse the two previous steps, and the task was accomplished.

    ~ More peace, love, laughter & kindness would make the world a MUCH better place
    ~ Love, laughter & kindness makes the world better

  9. #9
    RC Qualifier Panther6834's Avatar
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    Finally, it was time to work on what I really intended to get done today - installing the Tekno M6 driveshafts, and 17mm hex adapters.Both ends are extremely easy to install, but, the front can be a bit time consuming. Doing things out-of-order, as I'm quite good at that, I decided to start with the rear, and work my way forward. From start to finish, I probably had the rear end complete in about 10 minutes.Moving to the front, things would have proceeded quicker, except that I had a last-minute change of plans - I decided to remove the aluminum C-hubs, and replace them with the original plastic parts. This meant pulling down my Slash roller, and swapping some parts. Had it not been for this change, I could have left the C-hubs attached to the A-Arms. With one other exception, the front could have gone together almost as quickly as the rear.

    Unlike the stock Traxxas steering blocks, the Tekno steering blocks have wider "arms" where the steering links attached. Tekno includes shims (3 for each side) to fill the gap, as well as longer screws. The instructions say to place all 3 shims on top of the steering link. Unfortunately, accomplishing this proved more difficult then I'd expected. In the end, I had 2 shims on top of the steering link, and 1 below. Honestly, I don't think this will cause any problems.
    That's all for today. It's come a long way, but still has a ways to go. Here's a 'sneak peek' at a few of the things to come : partially disassemble/reassemble the shocks (to install the shock shaft limiters), making a custom electronics mounting plate, installing the shocks, electronics, body mounts, rear wing, and a few other things. Yes, I've left a free things off the "still to come" list, but that should give enough of an idea.

    In the final build post (which is still a few updates away), I will include a complete (or, at least, as complete as I can remember) list of parts used in this build. Now, the bad news: It's highly likely that the next installment won't be coming for a little while, as I'm just starting to get sick. I might even have to take a few days off from work, getting as much rest as possible. The best I can say is, be patient, as the next update will come. Until then, this is one sick kitty signing off.

    ~ More peace, love, laughter & kindness would make the world a MUCH better place
    ~ Love, laughter & kindness makes the world better

  10. #10
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    I notice that in Post 2, you show your shocks with 'boots' over the shaft .. but in later posts, they're gone. Did you not like the boots?

  11. #11
    RC Qualifier Panther6834's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by TraxxasTigger View Post
    I notice that in Post 2, you show your shocks with 'boots' over the shaft .. but in later posts, they're gone. Did you not like the boots?
    They're not the same shocks. The shocks I built haven't been installed on the vehicle yet, as I was waiting for the shock shaft limiters to arrive at my LHS. The shocks still on the vehicle are the stock Traxxas 'Ultra' shocks. The "shock swap" will take place in an upcoming update. But, first, I need to work on the custom electronics mounting plate, which will be CF.

    ~ More peace, love, laughter & kindness would make the world a MUCH better place
    Last edited by Panther6834; 01-16-2020 at 11:15 AM.
    ~ Love, laughter & kindness makes the world better

  12. #12
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    Thanks for the update.


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