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RC Cars and Trucks Basics

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by Roy LeGrand for rcmodelairplane.blogspot.com

Driving RC cars is a great hobby to get into and much easier than flying remote control airplanes. Airplanes are extremely fun of course since you are flying, but sometimes there just isn’t any room to fly, or it’s just plain to windy. In any case, a remote-controlled car is a suitable replacement to get your R/C itch scratched.

RC cars and trucks can either be electrically powered by a battery, or they can be fuel powered by nitromethane. The two different power sources drastically change the performance of your car. Nitro powered cars can move much faster than electric-powered cars, but electric cars are cheaper to use and easier to maintain. So really when you are choosing an RC car you need to balance those factors and do what best fit your needs.

My advice is that beginners should go for an electric remote control truck or car. However, if you plan to take the hobby very seriously right from the start well a nitro car is going to be just what you need. Nitromethane powered cars also have other benefits like the realistic sounds and smell that it makes. Fuel-powered cars also require the care and attention that a real car needs, so if you enjoy doing that then you really want a nitro car or truck.

Nitro RC Cars

Nitro powered cars run on a fuel called Nitromethane, hence the name. Many hobby enthusiasts’ love nitro cars because the experience is so similar to owning a real car or truck. Nitro RC cars are the most popular and fastest-growing type of RC cars in the hobby, and in your local town, it is most likely that RC car enthusiast owns a nitro car.

Choosing the right Nitro car

So you want a nitro R/C car or truck, but you are not sure what to start with? You’re probably wondering how many choices can there be! Well, your nitro car could come in the form of a kit, or pre-built. It can also be an on-road or off-road vehicle and your choice of a car or truck. For the most part, trucks are off-road vehicles and cars are on-road, but I am sure cars can be made for off-road if you customize and tweak it properly.

If you are going to go for a nitro RC vehicle, then I suggest an off-road RC truck. A great R/C truck that is both fun and rugged, is the Stampede from Traxxas. It is called the pit bull of RC trucks. The nitro-powered Stampede is the meanest, toughest, most ferocious remote control monster truck ever created. It comes ready to run, so you just feel it and start it. The Stampede will feed your hunger for a brutal, rock spitting, dirt chewing experience.

Tuning Nitro RC Cars

Keeping your nitro engine properly maintained will ensure it has a long life and always runs properly. If you purchased a nitro RC car or just the engine separately, then the instruction manual for the engine should be read by you. In the manual, it should tell you how to properly tune that specific engine. Generally, tuning means to adjust the carburetor for the right fuel and air mixture. In case the RC car you purchased is brand-new, it usually needs a slow break-in period with the carburetor needle; this will allow more fuel in, allowing the engine to run cooler.

If you have to break the engine in, then there are several different methods you could do. The most common method would be to run the engine while the car is not touching the ground, at a rich setting, for about 2 tanks of gas. After that, run it on the ground for about 3 tanks of gas at a very low speed, gradually increasing the speed, and leaning the carburetor needle 1/8th of a turn at a time until it gives the best performance. The best performance would be if the engine stays within a reasonable temperature range and if there is a good amount of blue smoke coming out of the exhaust. If there is not any blue smoke exhaust, or very little, then the setting is to lean.

Maintaining Nitro RC Cars

Maintaining your RC car regularly, whether it be electric or nitro, is very important to ensure long life and use. Below are some tips and ideas that you should do before and after every drive.

  1. Shake car or truck to remove loose dirt, and use a brush or towel. (air compressor works great too!).
  2. Clean cars air filter, if it is nitro, after or before every run. Especially if racing in the dirt.
  3. Remove engine and radio equipment regularly to clean them.
  4. Inspect parts for wear and tear. Parts that have this problem usually include moving parts like drive shafts, hinge pins, suspension components, ball bearings and so on.
  5. Another maintenance tip is to replace all of your main parts after every 2 gallons of nitro fuel used.

Electric RC Cars

An electric RC car is a great idea for beginners and expert’s alike. The simplicity of an electric R/C car is what drives people to drive them (no pun intended 🙂 and makes them a favorite amongst children. RC cars that are electrically powered run off of a battery that you can charge at home or in the convenience of your car.
Another big benefit of electric RC cars is the fact that you don’t have to tune them (if you don’t want to) and maintenance is very easy on them. This saves you time and money since you never have to pay for fuel, except electricity, and no expensive oils and field equipment.

An electric RC car is perfect for beginners and requires less work and more play. If you want an electric-powered car, then this Audi A4 race car is perfect and features the same high-quality detailing and performance that Carisma is known for. This car also features Carisma’s independent front T-Bar rear suspension chassis and bevel gear differential. This high-performance car offers as much performance as it does detail. It comes Ready to Run with everything you need to get started right away.

Good RC Car Hobby Book

The R/C Car Bible is one of the best available on the internet and lets me tell you why. The author of this book has been picking the brain of top pro racers, taking notes and recording the interviews, to get all the answers to the RC car hobby racing and wrenching questions. He answers questions that nearly everyone wants to know, like what do the pro’s know that we do not? This book is not just for RC car racers either, this will help anyone who owns an R/C vehicle save money on repairs, drive faster, handle better, and prolong its life.

RC Car Hobby Stores

RC cars are sold everywhere, from your local hobby shop all the way down to supermarkets. The quality of your RC car or truck depends on where you buy it from and how much you pay for it. If you are serious about getting into RC cars then I recommend that you buy online, especially at first. Online you have a much bigger selection then any hobby store can give you and better deals.

Buy, sell or trade used RC cars

Buying, selling or trading a used RC car is something that I highly recommend, especially for experienced racers and people in the hobby for the long run. Imagine being able to own an RC car that was previously owned, and maintained, for 5 years or more! That may sound bad at first, but really an R/C car that has been properly maintained and used for a long time will perform better on the track and in the long run. Also, if you get bored with your RC car, just trade it with another fellow enthusiast and you will not spend a dime more, but you will get a whole new driving experience.

Racing them!

This is the fun part! Whether you want to race, or just drive your car around, the best place to do it are in parking lots, other wide-open cement spaces and local RC car hobby clubs and tracks.

But before you get down to all fun and games, there are some important reminders that you should know before each race or leisure drive. Read them below.

RC Car Tips and Reminders

Check your frequency – Make sure no other drivers around you are using the same frequency as you are. Check the frequency board, or simply ask the other drivers, to see what frequencies you can and cannot use.

Don’t bend your antenna – Your antenna send signals to control your R/C car, so if your antenna breaks then you will lose the distance that allows you to be farther away from your car. Some race tracks are very big, so if you have a broken or bent antenna, your car might suddenly stop and that isn’t good.

Know your receiver channels – The receiver controls the servos that control the motor and wheels. When you look at the receiver, you will see three plugs labeled 1, 2 and B. The 1 is where the steering servo plugs into, the 2 is for the throttle, and B is for the battery connection that powers the whole thing.

Keep your servos trimmed – If you look at your transmitter, you will see some writing that says “ST Trim” and “Thr Trim”. “ST” is for steering trim and “Thr” of course means throttle trim. This allows you to fix your car if it tends to veer right or left or move when no pressure is being applied to the throttle. Here is a great tip, mark the correct trim settings on your transmitter so you can easily do it again in the future.

Keep the lid on your fuel – This may be obvious but is very serious, since nitromethane will collect moisture if it is not covered. This, in turn, will go through your engine and damage it.

Know how to lean and/or richen fuel – Tuning your nitro engine is absolutely necessary, but you need to know how to do it correctly. Basically, all you do is rotate the carburetor needle to either richen the fuel or make it leaner. Rotating it counter-clockwise will richen the mixture (more fuel) and rotating it clockwise to make the mixture leaner (more oxygen).

Keep it clean – My final tip is just common sense, keep your car clean and taken care of. Obviously, if you don’t, the shorter your cars life will be. It will also not run at it’s best performance when it does work.

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