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Thread: The road to USTE 2020 - A Jeep revival

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Old 01-28-2020, 08:03 AM   #1
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Default The road to USTE 2020 - A Jeep revival

I have made many threads here over the year (and will continue to do so as long as they keep the lights on). Usually these threads run the gamut of sarcastically informative to amusingly pointless but a short break from the ordinary is needed for this occasion.

As you may or may not have been aware, we recently lost Nick Chwalek of Helios and Bowhouse fame to the RC world. It is sad enough when our little corner of the hobby loses someone because there really aren't that many of us playing with tiny trucks. The ability to talk with someone about things as ultimately trivial as batteries or axle housings allows people from all over to connect quickly. Nick was one of those good dudes you would have connected with if you have ever been to a GCM Adventure Series, ECSC, Beat the Creek, Shred the Ledge, USTE, or any number of local events in the past. Some of us are lucky enough to be friends with Nick beyond a fleeting RC based encounter and we gathered to remember him this past weekend. Many of those same friends will be at USTE so will be a chance to remember the good times again and that is not something I would miss.

With those heavy words being said, a bit about the Ultimate Scale Truck Expo (USTE) for those not up on these things: it is a big ass RC weekend in Florida where a bunch of tiny truck nerds gather to mostly play with realistic scale trucks in realistic scale terrain (a place where you can safely enjoy driving your shelf queen for hours without fear of destroying it) but also vintage buggies, rally cars, monster trucks, and other RC-related shenanigans. So it is basically everything that is right up my alley (except the Florida part, I could do without that state).

Since I am committed to attendance, I guess a truck of some kind will be needed but what?

Scale is the name of the game at USTE so a hard body is practically required but also something that is reliable enough to take on hours and hours of driving. Oh, did I mention USTE is about 3 weeks away? No time to build something new so let's see what we can spruce up.

The hard body options are my TF2, Gelande 2, and GCM Skeleton.

#1 - The TF2 is in really rough shape after being not so nice to it while running a C2 course at a local event a while back. It probably needs a new body to look presentable so that one is out.

#2 - Gelande 2 = wife's truck = nope

#3 - My GCM Skeleton has been insanely reliable with multiple 300+ gate events on it, drives incredibly well, and looks good. We have a winner.

When we last saw my Skeleton in action, it was slogging through the mud at the GCM Scale Adventure in 2018.



It ran like a champ that day but it always does. The China 2 door JK body also does a fantastic job of being scale with minimal effort.

Cool, so let's grab it off the shelf.






Eww.

Ok, so I haven't cleaned my truck for like a year and a half. In my defense, I didn't really want to so I didn't. Dirt isn't the boss of me!

And we arrive at our current situation:



Not bad and USTE isn't until the 3rd week in February.

(Checks calendar, sees date)

Well, this should be interesting.
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Old 01-28-2020, 08:14 AM   #2
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Default Re: The road to USTE 2020 - A Jeep revival

Have fun at USTE. I won't be able to make it this year (I live about 4 hours south of where it is held), but a bunch of guys from my local crawling Club are going. South Florida Scale Crawlers SFSC

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Old 01-28-2020, 08:33 AM   #3
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Default Re: The road to USTE 2020 - A Jeep revival

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Originally Posted by MaX-D View Post
Have fun at USTE. I won't be able to make it this year (I live about 4 hours south of where it is held), but a bunch of guys from my local crawling Club are going. South Florida Scale Crawlers SFSC
Thanks, I'm looking forward to it.

I have been told this is one of the few events worth the many hours of travel.
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Old 01-28-2020, 10:02 AM   #4
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Default Re: The road to USTE 2020 - A Jeep revival

I didn't know Nick personally, but I did get a chance to see and talk to him for a bit at Beat The Creek last year. He was great to talk to and seemed like a very cool dude. Sorry to hear about his passing.

Great choice on the rig rebuild! Looking forward to following along and watching the rebirth!

I love my GCM J2 Skeleton! These kits make building a scale rig very easy.

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Old 01-28-2020, 01:21 PM   #5
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Default Re: The road to USTE 2020 - A Jeep revival

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Originally Posted by B-MOW71 View Post
I didn't know Nick personally, but I did get a chance to see and talk to him for a bit at Beat The Creek last year. He was great to talk to and seemed like a very cool dude. Sorry to hear about his passing.

Great choice on the rig rebuild! Looking forward to following along and watching the rebirth!

I love my GCM J2 Skeleton! These kits make building a scale rig very easy.
The whole situation is still kinda hard to comprehend but some tiny truck therapy seems like a good way to deal.

I keep coming back to the Skeleton because it is legitimately good, and not in the "pretty good for a hard body scale truck but actually crap compared to an average lexan truck" sort of way. There has been little problems with it running lines that mildly modified SCX10s, Ascenders, and TRX4s were doing.

Maybe one day I'll get around to replacing it with a Delta chassis after the Skeleton has rode off into the discontinued sunset but I'm not in a hurry.
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Old 02-11-2020, 08:15 AM   #6
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Default Re: The road to USTE 2020 - A Jeep revival

As I sit here, we are 9 days out from leaving for USTE and I had a filthy pile of parts sitting around as of the last post. Not great.

Let's check on the progress:



Holy hell! It is almost a truck!

There have been lots of changes to the chassis since the original mud caked version rolled in the shop. I would have loved to take you through them piece by piece as this came together but some of the process was a struggle. When I have taken something apart and reassembled it 5 times to check fit, pictures usually fall by the wayside. Sorry for that but I'll walk you through the finer points of the assembled chassis.

The biggest change from the old truck involves everything between the motor and wheels.



We start with the scale transmission than has made it's way into the Skeleton. GCM had (possibly still has but no longer on there site) a chassis called the Skeleton 2 which was a Skeleton chassis with a LRT2 scale transmission. Well I had a Skeleton, a unused scale transmission, and a new goal for a beloved truck.

For those of you not up on your scale transmission, the GCM LRT2 is a full set of steel gears stuffed into an aluminum housing that resembles a full size transmission to which a GCM transfer case bolts allowing the use of left or right hand offset axles and 11% overdrive.



All very cool stuff but those up on these sorts of things will notice this isn't a full LRT2 setup. This is a RC4WD R4 mated to GCM transfer case for the R4 which I don't believe has been made for quite a while now. The difference between the R4 and LRT2 main transmissions is the gearing (The LRT2 is 14.3:1 while the R4 is 11.1:1) but a 10T Robinson Racing pinion drops the R4 to about the same ratio.

Since I said the transfer case handles left or right offset axles you should know what this build is going to run.



Hell yeah we are running Vanquish Curries in the proper Jeep offset! I stole these off my yet to be completed 2nd VS4-10 and put them to a better use.

For something extremely satisfying, we go to the underneath shot:



The GCM drivetrain lines up so perfectly with the Vanquish axles. The main bit needed to make the transmission fit is the Skeleton 2 skidplate from Shapeways. I still can't get enough of this.

Unfortunately, all was not rosy making this happen. The links are incredibly tight and some of the clearances are kinda mind boggling how they worked out.



The front lower links were a fight because they could no longer be triangulated like on the old Skeleton skid. Mounting the links to the chassis rails caused major interference between the links and rails.



Ultimately, I ended up making these bent lowers out of 3/16" steel rod to get the clearance needed. The combination of thinner material and the bend took much trial and error to get functioning suspension movement.

Clearance on the other side was even sketchier with the driveshaft being right there.



I believe the words of a great philosopher are most appropriate at this moment:



Is there any occasion that can't be improved by a meme?

I briefly touched on suspension travel so let me mention the new shocks.



The ebay King knockoffs were replace by Proline 70 mm scale shocks. When it comes to 70 mm shocks, your choices are expensive Prolines, even more expensive Pit Bulls, or RC4WD/copies of RC4WD. I wasn't happy with the ebay specials, I figure actual RC4WD wouldn't be any better and the Pit Bulls are insanely priced. Proline was the winner.

The rear shocks were already 70 mm but the front was on 90 mm shocks. With this new iteration, I went 70 mm all around.



Why?

Because 90 mm shocks create way more suspension travel than any remotely streetable JK would run. Ultimate SCALE truck expo, remember?

While you are staring, peep my new inner fenders. Way better than the flat piece of styrene that was passing as a inner fender.

The rear axle setup remains relatively unchanged.



New lower links were made out of 3/16" steel to match the fronts. I may not be a complete OCD weirdo but not having matching lower links crossed a line that I did not know existed.

The sliders are a file that GCM very nicely provides for home printing. I modified the design slightly to include a lip that goes over the lower edge of the rocker panel. I think is is a little more realistic plus it helps hide any uneven body cuts.



The screws holding on the sliders had to be reversed since there wasn't clearance for locknuts between the chassis and lower links. Small sacrifices to make all this work.

A slight body modification had to be made to fit the new transmission.



Yes, I'm calling cutting a big ass hole in the floor a "slight modification".

This is because the whole thing will be covered up once the center console is reinstalled.



At this point, I know the following:

-The axles are attached to the chassis.
-The suspension works
-The drivetrain gets power to the wheels
-The body fits

Things that still need to be done:

-Repaint the bumpers
-Make electronics mounts
-Make battery mount
-Install electronics

It feels the list of things to accomplish is much longer than it actually is but 9 days goes fast. At this point, I am reasonably confident I will have a truck to drive around USTE. My goal now is not to be the weirdo walking around holding a radio while making truck noises but screwing this all up is still possible.
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Old 02-17-2020, 07:18 AM   #7
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Default Re: The road to USTE 2020 - A Jeep revival

As we exit the last weekend before USTE, I can confidently report that there will be a functioning scale truck ready for the event. Let's check how we got there:

We left off with a bare chassis, a motor, and a servo.



The other electronics needed a home so some aluminum was cut up.



Things will make sense in a moment.



With the original Skeleton motor plate and SCX transmission gone, there is a ton more space for electronics if you think in terms of beyond horizontal surfaces. A Mamba Micro X and Futaba receiver were servo taped to the plates which then bolt to the Skeleton shock towers. Now the components can be removed with a few screws. The wiring is a bit messy but there is the ESC and servo signal wires, the power wires for the Holmes SHV500 servo, a HeyOK winch controller, and some wiring for the remote switch for the lights.

Now were does the battery go?

Good question. GCM makes a cool battery retainer for the Skeleton that allows for the battery to be changed without removing the body. Of course I didn't use that.

See that nice, flat crossmember?



Guess what happens to fit there perfectly.



A Helios 1500 mah 3S pack of course. I designed the crossmember to have a recess for holding a velcro strap but honestly is isn't really needed, the battery isn't going anywhere. This only works because the Holmes PP stubby is shorter than a regular motor, a standard sized motor and there is no chance the battery fits there.

If you are concerned about heat issues with everything being packed in so tight; don't be. All the electronics are the same ones that were in the previous version of this truck which has been run for multiple 3+ hour events with only getting barely warm.

The bumpers were given a refresh as well.



The front Scalerfab bumper was missing large chunks of that bedliner stuff that is the default coating option. It was stripped down and given a coat of Rustoleum professional satin black which holds up much better.

Some more work was done on the rear bumper.



This is a RC4WD Tough Armor tire carrier bumper that has been available forever. One thing that bothered me about this bumper on the Skeleton was it was wider than the body and didn't match the curves of the rear corners. So I put the Dremel to it and cut the ends down by 8 mm per side. The spare wheel is a jazzed up Axial plastic rim from the parts bin. While technically functional, it is never actually going to be used as anything more than a dollhouse accessory.

Speaking of wheels, the Vanquish KMC Bullies return but this time wrapped in Proline 4.19 KM3s.



A full set of Locked Up hardware and a set of their .185 hubs keeps everything looking good and tucked.

Now we are finally off the jack stands.



Moment of truth time: the body is reunited with the chassis.



The stance on this is spot on, I approve.

Before I dump a bunch of pics on you, here is the RC4WD Warn mini winch installed on the front bumper. It doesn't get a ton of use but it looks right at home.



And here is the cut down rear bumper with the body on.



Much better looking without sticking out past the body. Also, that Currie F9 under there just pushes the mall rating over the top.

Now for random pictures:








(Note: This pic was not the result of meticulous weathering the likes of which will be on display in copious amounts at USTE but rather shoddy cleaning.)

Well, that was fun build. All that is left is to get some quality wheel time which will occur in approximately 4 days.

See you in Florida.
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Old 02-17-2020, 09:21 AM   #8
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Default Re: The road to USTE 2020 - A Jeep revival

Very nice build!

Them Curries sure do look good on there! Great use of space with the alum electronics plates.

Question: Did you have any problems downloading the GCM slider files from Shapeways?

I downloaded the files, unzipped them and opened them in Cura. When I add them to the build plate, they are tiny versions of themselves the size of a scale flea! I've tried to re-download with the same results.

Anyways, have fun at USTE! Looking forward to seeing the pics of the event!
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Old 02-17-2020, 09:36 AM   #9
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Default Re: The road to USTE 2020 - A Jeep revival

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Originally Posted by B-MOW71 View Post
Very nice build!

Them Curries sure do look good on there! Great use of space with the alum electronics plates.

Question: Did you have any problems downloading the GCM slider files from Shapeways?

I downloaded the files, unzipped them and opened them in Cura. When I add them to the build plate, they are tiny versions of themselves the size of a scale flea! I've tried to re-download with the same results.

Anyways, have fun at USTE! Looking forward to seeing the pics of the event!
Thanks, I'm excited. These 3 days at work this week are going to be rough.

The GCM slider files are drawn in inches while most slicers read in MMs (the slicer thinks 1 unit of measurement in the STL is 1 mm but really it is supposed to be 1 inch which is why it end up so tiny). The easiest way I know to get them to print in the correct size is to scale them by 2540% (1 inch = 25.4 mm).
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Old 02-17-2020, 09:48 AM   #10
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Default Re: The road to USTE 2020 - A Jeep revival

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Thanks, I'm excited. These 3 days at work this week are going to be rough.

The GCM slider files are drawn in inches while most slicers read in MMs (the slicer thinks 1 unit of measurement in the STL is 1 mm but really it is supposed to be 1 inch which is why it end up so tiny). The easiest way I know to get them to print in the correct size is to scale them by 2540% (1 inch = 25.4 mm).
Ah, that makes sense. I didn't think about that. I'll give that a try and see if it makes them normal size. I was excited to see that GCM offered them for free and then was bummed after I downloaded them.

Thanks for the help and responding so quick!

I hear ya on the next 3 days! I wish you luck!
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Old 02-19-2020, 03:13 PM   #11
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Default Re: The road to USTE 2020 - A Jeep revival

This turned out amazing! Great work! Are the sliders what attach the body to the chassis? I've been thinking about picking up one of these bodies.

Last edited by FordSpeed; 02-19-2020 at 03:22 PM.
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Old 02-19-2020, 06:31 PM   #12
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Default Re: The road to USTE 2020 - A Jeep revival

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This turned out amazing! Great work! Are the sliders what attach the body to the chassis? I've been thinking about picking up one of these bodies.
Thanks.

The body mounts to the sliders. There are bosses for screws under the seats and a couple screws run through the sliders into the body.

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Old 02-19-2020, 06:55 PM   #13
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Default Re: The road to USTE 2020 - A Jeep revival

Thanks for the picture. That makes for a clean installation!
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Old 02-19-2020, 11:28 PM   #14
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Default Re: The road to USTE 2020 - A Jeep revival

Man you did great on the rehabilitation of this jeep. Looks killer man.
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Old 02-20-2020, 07:30 AM   #15
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Default Re: The road to USTE 2020 - A Jeep revival

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Originally Posted by FordSpeed View Post
Thanks for the picture. That makes for a clean installation!
It really does. Normally I avoid body mounts that require screws but this one works out so well.

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Man you did great on the rehabilitation of this jeep. Looks killer man.
Thanks, Iím pleased with this one. Hopefully this version drives even better than the original version.
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Old 03-09-2020, 11:25 PM   #16
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Default Re: The road to USTE 2020 - A Jeep revival

Very clean work! Love the refresh!

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Old 03-10-2020, 07:27 AM   #17
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Default Re: The road to USTE 2020 - A Jeep revival

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Originally Posted by nwnewbie View Post
Very clean work! Love the refresh!
Thanks, this was a good one.

As a reward for your thoughtful interaction, please enjoy these pics from USTE that I forgot to post until now:













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Old 03-10-2020, 12:31 PM   #18
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Default Re: The road to USTE 2020 - A Jeep revival

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Originally Posted by nwnewbie View Post
Very clean work! Love the refresh!

X2, love it! KM3s in 4.19 look great too, might have to try those!


Quote:
Originally Posted by svt923 View Post
Thanks, this was a good one.

As a reward for your thoughtful interaction, please enjoy these pics from USTE that I forgot to post until now:

Very nice, thanks love the 3rd picture down with the almost black clouds in the background!
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Old 03-11-2020, 07:42 AM   #19
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Default Re: The road to USTE 2020 - A Jeep revival

svt the Jeep came back together very nicely. I liked the statement in the first post about being able to drive the truck for 3 hours or more and not destroy it, I have been to a few scale events that were more like a full on Comp. course. Nice photos, looks like a fun event.
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Old 03-27-2020, 12:40 PM   #20
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Default Re: The road to USTE 2020 - A Jeep revival

Looking amazing my friend. After months away a little SVT and topher therapy was needed. It didnít disappoint
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