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Old 08-03-2019, 03:45 PM   #1
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Default It's Element-ary, my dear Watson

Okay...so according to the interwebs, that was never an actual quote in any of the original books by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle. I couldnít be sure seeing as how I haven't read them all, or any of them, really. But Sherlock did use the word ďelementaryĒ on multiple occasions, so in honor of the great detective, letís allow his actual quotes to guide this exploration of the new Element Enduro from Associated.

"Never trust to general impressions, my boy, but concentrate yourself upon details."

I would give you my general impression (interesting truck for the price, some things I like, some things I don't), but you now know not to trust those. I can handle details, though. Let's start with some basics. The Enduro is available in both kit and RTR forms, the former having been released just a few weeks after the latter. I chose the kit version of the Element because, well, kit, and also because it has some upgraded parts. Specifically, the kit version includes machined steel tranny gears (sintered metal in the RTR), all the gears needed to support 2 different OD ratios or no overdrive, rear link options to support 3 different wheelbases (11.8", 12.0" and 12.3"), and an optional top shaft for the transmission that allows you to flip it around so the spur cover faces forward.

"There is nothing new under the sun. It has all been done before.Ē

The Enduro includes interesting remixes of a few concepts that others have used. Letís start with the box:
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Seems simple enough, right? Not exactly. Because there's a nice little surprise inside:
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That's right...the inside of the box is a combination of scale garage scene (at least the outside of one) and scale signs. The RTR box has the inside of the scale garage...maybe I need one of those next. Curmudgeonly Sherlock might say that this is nothing new, seeing as how VanOrd Customs (perhaps others as well) have been selling a scale garage backdrop for some time now. But credit to Associated/Element for being the first to put a scale garage inside the box of a tiny truck. Not only that, it looks pretty awesome, I must say:
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"You know my method. It is founded upon the observation of trifles."

Trifle #1: Associated has included a 1:1 layout of all of the different hardware pieces on a fold-out flap inside the front cover of the manual:
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At first, I thought this was a great idea. But as I got further into the build, I came to find that flap bulky (it takes up 1/2 again as much space as the manual opened to just 2 pages). I prefer the approach taken by Axial/Traxxas/Vanquish of simply showing 1:1 images of the hardware needed on each page for the steps on that page.

Trifle #2: The technical writing team came up with the clever idea of referring to steps as Gates instead of steps. It's a neat idea, but re-starting the gate numbering with each new component just makes the whole numbering thing kind of confusing:
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Suggestion for next time: keep the clever "Gate" terminology but start at 1 and keep going until finished.

Trifle #3: The part numbers shown in the instructions do not match any numbers found on the parts trees:
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That basically means you have to pick parts based on shape/size instead of numbers. It's not a deal-breaker (the only place it got a bit tricky was with shock towers, and those have small letters molded into the inside to indicate F vs R and L vs R). But it also wouldn't have been too difficult to get the numbers to match.

Trifle #4: The first 7 pages of the instructions lack lines and arrows showing where screws are to be inserted. There is at least one place (attaching the skid to the chassis rails) where those would have been helpful:
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The screws in that picture should go into the outer 2 of the 3 holes on either end of the skid, leaving the middle 2 holes for the upper link mounts. Fortunately, it's not too hard to figure things out, and the manual drafters remembered to add the lines beginning at page 8.

"It has long been an axiom of mine that the little things are infinitely the most important."

Quibbles with the instructions aside, the chassis goes together quite nicely. Here's a look at the assembled chassis:
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See what I mean about that garage background? It looks killer. If any of my full size vehicles came with a garage, I would have saved myself an awful lot of 1:1 money:
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But I digress. Back to the chassis - notice that you get your choice of 2 battery trays. I opted for the wider one so I had the option of using larger packs for longer outings.

The biggest chassis issue I saw on initial assembly is the panhard mount:
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That's an awfully long and flexy piece of plastic for a part that can end up under a fair bit of stress. I'll be looking to swap that out sooner rather than later.

There are also a few nits to pick here. For example the hole spacing on the skid is close to Axial hole spacing, but not close enough to be interchangeable without modification/massaging:
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The same is true of the sliders. They use a similar mounting style to Axial's 10.2 sliders:
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But the spacing of the slots for the sliders is off by over 1 mm vs. Axial's, making parts interchangeability a challenge. Had they simply made the spacing the same as Axial's, that same feature would have been a big plus.

"What one man can invent another can discover."

The biggest headliner in the Enduro platform is the transmission because of the ability to overdrive the front axle from the transmission. Associated/Element isn't the first to think of this (GCM has sold a transmission with 10% OD to the front axle for several years now), but Associated/Element have added the ability to choose one of 2 different OD ratios (5.7%, 11.83%) or no OD at all. It is a very nice feature in a budget-priced truck.

Here are the transmission components laid out:
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The transmission basically includes a parallel pair of gears (idler and bottom gear) to power the output on each side of the transmission, and the instructions show you which combinations of gears to use depending on your preferred OD ratio and whether you orient the transmission with the spur facing backward or forward:
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Here's a look at it partially assembled:
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The whole setup is quite clever, and the gears feel like they will last to the end of times. The biggest downside I see is bulk, which I'll address later.

That's it for now. More updates coming...
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Old 08-03-2019, 07:56 PM   #2
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Default Re: It's Element-ary, my dear Watson

Great writing, thanks for sharing this!
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Old 08-04-2019, 10:23 AM   #3
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Default Re: It's Element-ary, my dear Watson

I really like the detailed build descriptions with great pictures.

I'm interested in seeing how you address the heavy machined gears. I'm staying tuned in...
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Old 08-04-2019, 12:04 PM   #4
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Default Re: It's Element-ary, my dear Watson

I canít enduro any more of these puns...


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Old 08-04-2019, 01:14 PM   #5
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Default Re: It's Element-ary, my dear Watson

What about Roo?


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Old 08-04-2019, 02:03 PM   #6
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Default Re: It's Element-ary, my dear Watson

Nice build thread!

SSD Trail King, VS4-10 Pro and now the Enduro! Looks like you have been having way to much fun!

Subcribed and looking forward to the rest of the build!
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Old 08-04-2019, 09:58 PM   #7
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Default Re: It's Element-ary, my dear Watson

*quickly gets in line for a bowhouse element skid*

This is looking good...
Glad to see you join the fun! These things are great!
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Old 08-04-2019, 10:32 PM   #8
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Default Re: It's Element-ary, my dear Watson

How did you find building the transmission? Any problems or difficulties?
I have started to build mine and could not used the spacer. It would not fit properly. People are telling me to use a vice or hammer to force the bearings in deeper. I think that is a bad idea. If you have to use that much force to install the bearings, it will most likely take even more force to remove them if one or more of them need to be replaced. Possibly damaging the bearing surface of the gear or mount.
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Old 08-05-2019, 04:42 AM   #9
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Default Re: It's Element-ary, my dear Watson

Quote:
Originally Posted by Terra Rover View Post
How did you find building the transmission? Any problems or difficulties?

I have started to build mine and could not used the spacer. It would not fit properly. People are telling me to use a vice or hammer to force the bearings in deeper. I think that is a bad idea. If you have to use that much force to install the bearings, it will most likely take even more force to remove them if one or more of them need to be replaced. Possibly damaging the bearing surface of the gear or mount.


Itís a tight fit, will tap in easily.
Havenít heard of any failures.


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Old 08-05-2019, 12:03 PM   #10
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Default Re: It's Element-ary, my dear Watson

Another great build thread!! You're one lucky man, three kits to play with!!!! I'll be lookin for a big comparison video between the 3!! Always hopefull!!
brian
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Old 08-06-2019, 07:19 PM   #11
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Default Re: It's Element-ary, my dear Watson

Have to say that if I had seen this thread and a few others before I had purchased my Enduro Kit, I probably would NOT have acquired such. Love the tranny design and the shocks; but, that's it. My TRX4 and SCX10 II Kits were better thought out designs.
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Old 08-06-2019, 07:41 PM   #12
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Default Re: It's Element-ary, my dear Watson

Quote:
Originally Posted by Still Bill View Post
Have to say that if I had seen this thread and a few others before I had purchased my Enduro Kit, I probably would NOT have acquired such. Love the tranny design and the shocks; but, that's it. My TRX4 and SCX10 II Kits were better thought out designs.


What is better thought out?
Totally serious as I thought the Enduro kit made the axial kit sad. Wonít even build the stock plastic shocks.
Iíve also built the top kit VS4, this falls a notch below the VP kit as itís a half price stock kit .

Associated for the value win !




Hang up and Drive
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Old 08-07-2019, 05:14 AM   #13
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Default Re: It's Element-ary, my dear Watson

Quote:
Originally Posted by Still Bill View Post
Have to say that if I had seen this thread and a few others before I had purchased my Enduro Kit, I probably would NOT have acquired such. Love the tranny design and the shocks; but, that's it. My TRX4 and SCX10 II Kits were better thought out designs.
Are you serious? After driving my Enduro, I don't even see a place in the market for the SCX10ii at it's current price point.
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Old 08-07-2019, 08:36 AM   #14
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Default Re: It's Element-ary, my dear Watson

Quote:
Originally Posted by mikemcE View Post
What is better thought out?
Totally serious as I thought the Enduro kit made the axial kit sad. Wonít even build the stock plastic shocks.
Iíve also built the top kit VS4, this falls a notch below the VP kit as itís a half price stock kit .

Associated for the value win !




Hang up and Drive
TBH there are a couple of things about the 10.2 that I wish the Enduro also had. Mainly high pinion axles and better driveshaft angles.
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Old 08-08-2019, 06:22 AM   #15
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Default Re: It's Element-ary, my dear Watson

Quote:
Originally Posted by utieh View Post
Great writing, thanks for sharing this!
Quote:
Originally Posted by Geeman640 View Post
I really like the detailed build descriptions with great pictures.

I'm interested in seeing how you address the heavy machined gears. I'm staying tuned in...
Quote:
Originally Posted by Shinchu View Post
*quickly gets in line for a bowhouse element skid*

This is looking good...
Glad to see you join the fun! These things are great!
Thanks, guys. Bowhouse RC Element skid. Hmmm...now there's an idea...

Quote:
Originally Posted by Discohair View Post
I canít enduro any more of these puns...
I would understand if you no longer wanted to be associated with this thread

Quote:
Originally Posted by Fookison View Post
What about Roo?
Lol...check out my VS4-10 thread for some Roo cameos. He's currently designing a battery tray for a slightly crazy vintage buggy build that he's working on.

Quote:
Originally Posted by B-MOW71 View Post
Nice build thread!

SSD Trail King, VS4-10 Pro and now the Enduro! Looks like you have been having way to much fun!

Subcribed and looking forward to the rest of the build!
Quote:
Originally Posted by bikepilot View Post
Another great build thread!! You're one lucky man, three kits to play with!!!! I'll be lookin for a big comparison video between the 3!! Always hopefull!!
brian
Thanks! Yes...it's been a bit busy these past few weeks. The newly expanded garage with 34k lumens of lighting certainly helps with late night wrenching sessions. Comparison video is already in the works...

Quote:
Originally Posted by Terra Rover View Post
How did you find building the transmission? Any problems or difficulties?
I have started to build mine and could not used the spacer. It would not fit properly. People are telling me to use a vice or hammer to force the bearings in deeper. I think that is a bad idea. If you have to use that much force to install the bearings, it will most likely take even more force to remove them if one or more of them need to be replaced. Possibly damaging the bearing surface of the gear or mount.
I had to tap that one bearing in, but it wasn't too difficult. I wouldn't worry too much about it. Given its size and location, it should last a long time. If it needs to be removed because it failed, damaging the bearing when removing it isn't a problem. And the bearing seat in the hardened steel gear seems very unlikely to get damaged by removal of the bearing. Bottom line...I have some other durability concerns with this kit (esp. pinion angles and rod ends), but this isn't one of them.


Quote:
Originally Posted by Still Bill View Post
Have to say that if I had seen this thread and a few others before I had purchased my Enduro Kit, I probably would NOT have acquired such. Love the tranny design and the shocks; but, that's it. My TRX4 and SCX10 II Kits were better thought out designs.
Quote:
Originally Posted by mikemcE View Post
What is better thought out?
Totally serious as I thought the Enduro kit made the axial kit sad. Wonít even build the stock plastic shocks.
Iíve also built the top kit VS4, this falls a notch below the VP kit as itís a half price stock kit.
Quote:
Originally Posted by Topher Builds View Post
TBH there are a couple of things about the 10.2 that I wish the Enduro also had. Mainly high pinion axles and better driveshaft angles.
As far as kit layout (esp. packaging and instructions), the TRX-4 kits are by far the best thanks to color instructions that are very clear and great parts bagging by component. As far as the platforms themselves, if price is no object, I would take the VS4-10 and SSD Trail King over the TRX-4, Axial and Element kits due to better weight distribution than the others and much higher quality components (gears, shocks, links, rod ends, etc.) than the Axial and Associated kits.

I would place the TRX-4 platform next in the hierarchy because of higher quality components (esp. shocks and rod ends) than the Axial and Element kits. As between the Element kit and an SCX10-II kit, I'd probably still lean toward the 10.2 right now. Both have issues, but the 10.2s are now well known and easily addressed with aftermarket parts.

Having said all that, each one has its virtues and no kit is perfect. You can build fun, capable trucks out of any of them.

Okay...some inspiration from Sherlock to get us back to the build:

ďThe world is full of obvious things which nobody by any chance ever observes.Ē

I forgot to mention one other interesting aspect of the transmission in my last post. Associated/Element has dispensed with a slipper clutch on the spur gear:
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For a long time, the operative assumption seemed to be that a slipper was necessary on scale trucks. But to keep a slipper from slipping indiscriminately under the normal loads of rock crawling, one had to tighten the slipper down almost to the point of locking it. This led to an aftermarket for stronger slipper clutches than the ones that came on most trucks, and for slipper elimination kits (which many viewed with the same skepticism as an invitation to a game of Russian roulette).

With the advent of scale transmissions like the RC4WD R4, GCM LRT2 and SSD Scale Transmission, which don't have any room for slippers, we've now seen that slippers aren't really necessary in scale trail rigs and crawlers. In retrospect, I don't recall a single instance where a slipper saved one of my trucks from further damage (even trucks running serious brushless power on 3S with reckless drivers at the helm), and I've had a few occasions where a worn slipper took much of the joy out of a trail ride (or, worse yet, a comp). Bottom line...this was a good call by the product team.

Enough talk. Back to pictures...like the transmission installed on the chassis:
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"It is of the highest importance in the art of detection to be able to recognize, out of a number of facts, which are incidental and which vital. Otherwise your energy and attention must be dissipated instead of being concentrated."

The axles present another interesting mix of features lifted from the AR44 architecture and some new to the Element Enduro axles. Here are the front axle components:
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As with the AR44 kit axles, these come with universals:
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However, the universals do not have a much usable range of motion as the AR44s, so don't expect to see mega steering upgrades over the stock setup without replacing the universals with better ones.

Associated/Element also borrowed the splined, clamping c-hub design from the original AR44 axles and added markings molded into the housing and c-hub to help with proper clocking alignment:
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Unfortunately, the clamping c-hubs were one of the weak points of the original AR44 design. The splines were not pronounced enough to prevent the c-hubs from spinning around the axle tube under heavy stress or when the occasional root or weed found its way around the axle. I suspect these axles will have similar issues. To help reduce the chance of this, it's best to tighten the c-hub clamps as much as possible as recommended in the instructions:
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You can also drill a hole through the side of the c-hub into the axle tube and insert a screw to help keep the c-hub from rotating.

Here is the front axle assembled:
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Although the Enduro axles use similar spiral cut gears and the same gear ratio as the AR44s (30T ring, 8T pinion, 3.75:1 ratio), the Enduro design has the pinion centered in the pumpkin rather than mounted up high like Axial's:
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This allows for reversing the locker/ring gear, but at the expense of the extra ground clearance provided by the high pinion angle of the AR44s.

The aluminum arms and BTA steering setup are nice touches, but clearance may be an issue with some wheels (esp. those with thicker inner beadlock rings).

Another area of potential concern is the diff covers. Most of the surface is flat, which would make them more susceptible to catching rocks and roots. Here's a look from the side after installation:
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The rear axle also borrows from the AR44. Here are the components:
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Like the original AR44s and the Enduro front axle, the rear uses separate lower link/shock mounts. And like the one-piece AR44 housings that replaced the original design, Associated/Element opted to ditch the bearing caps in favor of retaining screws to keep the outer bearings in place:
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Note how little overlap there is between the screw head and the edge of the bearing. I suspect this may become an issue for some. Fortunately, there is plenty of room to add an M3 washer and still clear the wheel hex, which should prevent any problems.

Here's a look at the assembled rear axle:
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Next up were the links. Here's what you get in the box:
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The 5mm steel links have nice heft to them. The rod ends are molded in gray:
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Unfortunately, Associated/Element opted for plastic pivot balls like Axial has, and we know how that turned out for Axial (not well). Associated/Element already have released metal pivot balls, so I would recommend going with those straight away. We'll have to see how the rod ends themselves hold up even with the metal pivot balls.

When assembling the links, note that many of the links are very close in size:
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The images of assembled links that appear in the instructions are NOT 1:1 size, so you'll want to measure to make sure you grab the correct links at each step.

More updates coming soon...

Last edited by new2rocks; 08-08-2019 at 06:25 AM.
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Old 08-12-2019, 06:32 PM   #16
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Default Re: It's Element-ary, my dear Watson

ďI never guess. It is a shocking habit ó destructive to the logical faculty.Ē

Sorry, Sherlock. It's time to be shocked. But not by guessing, lol. The Element includes aluminum bodied shocks, though the kit version steps that up with aluminum caps and spring cups instead of the plastic ones found on the RTR:
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Note that you get o-rings in 2 sizes that are pretty close to each other:
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The smaller ones go under the shock caps, and the larger ones go in the spring tensioners. Here's how they look assembled and installed:
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The combination of larger diameter and flashy colors make them look a bit blingy for my tastes, but that's up to personal preference.

I went with the included 30w shock oil. If I were planning to keep the shocks, I'd definitely go thicker (maybe 1k diff fluid). But I'll probably swap them out down the road, so they'll stay as is for now.

"The ideal reasoner would, when he had once been shown a single fact in all its bearings, deduce from it not only all the chain of events which led up to it but also all the results which would follow from it."

Let's test this theory with a single fact (though one which doesn't directly include bearings):
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Apparently, Sherlock thinks the ideal reasoner would have been able to deduce the following:
  • I chose the shortest of the 3 supported wheelbases (11.8") for Vaterra's 1968 Ford F100 truggy body.
  • There was no combination of included male aluminum inserts and female plastic driveshaft ends that would work for the rear driveshaft without modification when running the transmission with the spur gear facing forward.
  • To achieve the desired driveshaft length, I had to trim both the longer metal male insert (from 60mm down to approx. 52mm) and one of the female ends.

I must be about as far from an ideal reasoner as possible, because I never would have been able to figure all of that out from one picture. Fortunately, I lived it, so I'm happy to spare you from having to deduce those details all on your own.

One other relevant fact to share has to do with driveshaft angles. Particularly at the shorter wheelbase, they are not ideal, to say the least:
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These angles result from the combination of longer outputs than the AX10 tranny (necessitated by the parallel gears used for the overdrive feature) and center pinion position (vs. the high pinion of the AR44s). We've started working on a solution, but there's not a lot of room to play with.

In keeping with the budget theme of this build, I used most of the electronics (radio/receiver, AE-5 ESC, 35T motor) that I took off of my 1.9 Wraith RTR plus an inexpensive servo to get things underway. Here's the basic setup with body off and a set of Traxxas take-off wheels/tires for mockup purposes:
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Initially, I had only a 15T pinion sitting around (not the 18t recommended in the manual). On 3S, this setup was dreadfully slow. I picked up an 18T pinion, which is slightly better (barely a brisk walking pace). I tend to prefer more wheel speed than that, so further changes may be in order.

"Always approach a case with an absolutely blank mind. It is always an advantage. Form no theories, just simply observe and draw inferences from your observations."

With the chassis assembled and electronics installed, it was time to sort out the body. I started with a blank mind and a blank body, and this is what I saw:
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From this, I drew the following inferences:
  • The body sat too high with the truggy cage's lower cross member sitting on top of the rear chassis rails (as evidenced by the sizable gap between the rocker panel and sliders.
  • Even at the elevated height, there wasn't going to be enough room to run 4.6" tires without significant trimming of the front fenders.
  • The front bumper from the 10.2 XJ protruded more than I'd like given the body's delightfully short front overhang.


After testing out a few combinations, I settled on this:
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1.9 Braven Berserkers (4.35" OD) mounted to an extra set of GCM Stealth beadlocks that I had lying around, truggy cage's lower cross member captured underneath the chassis rails and a bit of trimming (mostly to the front fenders and underneath the grill), and leftover plastic bumper from TF2 kit trimmed slightly (remembering the budget).

Here are a few pictures of the rear mount that I created:
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And yes, the mount hinges allowing the entire body to be flipped open for easy access underneath:
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With that out of the way, it was time for painting. Against my nature, I forced myself to finish the paint job in a single weekend (one in which we took the kids for their first off-road trail bike ride, I installed a receiver hitch and 4-bike rack on the minivan, I installed more wall organization stuff in the new garage, shot some video with the new TRX-4 G 500 4x4 Squared, plus the usual family weekend activities). Which is to say I wouldn't have much time.

Unfortunately, I got off to a bad start with a perfectly cruddy job of painting inside the Lexan:
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Followed by an equally cruddy job outside the Lexan:
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Since that didn't go too well, I tried covering it all up with some traditional Ford colors:
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But I messed that up also:
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From this, I've deduced that I'm no good at painting. In case you couldn't deduce the entire chain of events leading to this poor result, here are the most pertinent details:
  • 2 different Tamiya rattle can polycarbonate copper-like colors sprayed/splurted unevenly on the inside of the body, followed by a full coat of Tamiya polycarbonate silver while the coppery colors were still wet.
  • Full coat of Tamiya light blue paint (the TS variety, not the PS variety) inside the cab after the silver dried.
  • Full coat of VHT clear gloss wheel paint (from auto parts store) after the blue dried for protection.
  • Full coat of Tamiya silver polycarbonate paint on the outside of the cab.
  • Same 2 copper-like colors sprayed/splurted unevenly after the silver dried.
  • Tamiya white polycarbonate paint over lower portion of body (with upper portion masked off).
  • 1 coat of VHT matte clear wheel paint (from auto parts store) to seal and protect the white while painting the blue.
  • Tamiya light blue paint (TS variety again) over top portion of body with lower portion masked off.
  • Wet sand with varying grits to reveal rust/silvery metal at different layers.
  • 1 coat of VHT matte clear to seal everything.
  • Dry brush selected areas with lighter blue Citadel acrylic paint to provide layered faded look.
  • 1 full coat of VHT matte clear to seal again.
  • Splotchy application of VHT gloss clear to provide uneven sheen.
  • 2mm chrome marker to create windshield and rear mirror surrounds, and body trim.
  • Black permanent marker for door window gaskets.

I also had time to get it out to run a bit in the yard. My initial impressions were favorable. The low slung stance helps with stability, and the Berserkers have excellent grip. But after driving it some more, I'm not as impressed. I'm finding a surprising amount of torque twist, and the large flat spots on the diff covers can get hung up on rocks and roots. It's still quite capable and represents good value for its price, but in stock form, I wouldn't put it on the same level as the better platforms in this segment. I'll work on putting together some video footage in the next couple of weeks. That's it for now.
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Old 08-12-2019, 06:56 PM   #17
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Location: Austin
Posts: 3,730
Default Re: It's Element-ary, my dear Watson

The Ford and Chevy Ascenders look much better with a smaller tire OD, so those are a better choice...

Paint doesn't look half bad!

Lovin' that hinge mount...

SSD needs to release ramped diff covers, ASAP!
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Old 08-12-2019, 08:06 PM   #18
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Join Date: Sep 2014
Location: Ft. Lauderdale, Florida
Posts: 268
Default Re: It's Element-ary, my dear Watson

I honestly like the paint job. Although you think that you might have messed up the copper and silver underneath, once you sanded the blue on top to reveal the"rust", it gives it that old weathered look which is exactly what you want with that body. I guess you could call it a happy accident.

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