The lockdown has led to some boredom, and that, coupled with a new hobby of RC cars, inspired me to buy and build a kit. After a lot of research, I selected the Vanquish Products VS4-10 Ultra. It is a solid platform, with impeccable quality components, and the uplift for the Ultra over the Pro version of the kit is mainly the Curie Portal axles.
The kit arrived in plenty of time for me to build it before my birthday. Like most RC kits, the parts are packaged into bags, labeled in this case with the letters A thru I. Typically, you assemble them in order. I didn’t because I was waiting for some parts (the ESC and Motor were back ordered, and took a few weeks to arrive) so I built the kit a little out of order, assembling the front and rear axles (solid, locked differentials with portals, essentially wheel offsets that allow the axle and pumpkin (the differential) to ride higher, and thus more ground clearance.)
Then the chassis bulk assembly.
Kit part D was the transmission and related parts, so I skipped that until the end, after the motor and ESC arrived.
Well, you get the picture.
The fit and finish of the kit was top notch, everything lined up, and went together with ease. I did have to remove the powertrain to re-set the pinion/spur gear mesh, a minor inconvenience.
Of course I also swapped the front and rear drive gears (the kit has an overdrive on the front wheels) so a second trip into the transmission was required.
The Other Bits
As with most kits, it did not include the motor/ESC, servos, or radio. For these I went with high quality options:
- Futaba 4PM radio – a 4 channel, very flexible unit with a metric shit-tonne of options. Seriously, this radio is great, and can be used on up to 40 different cars, so I will be able to swap receivers in my other cars and get it up with them.
- Hobbywing AXE FOC brushless motor and ESC. It is so dainty compared to the monster in my Xmaxx (I have a HW Max6 in there). It is a sensored motor and controller, and it has a built in bluetooth connection, so it is stupid easy to change settings or update firmware.
- ProTek steering servo. This was recommended by the hobby shop I bought the kit from. It is strong, fast and precise. It was not cheap, but when you are putting together a premium kit, don’t cheap out.
I was worried that the Futaba radio would take a lot of programming and setup. Reading the manual made me feel stupid. So many options, and so many menus in the system to navigate through. It was mind boggling.
But in the end it was super easy. Just bind the receiver to the transmitter, find the servo end point setting and set them (to prevent over driving the servo and burning it up) and then calibrate the throttle.
One wrinkle, the motor would go faster in reverse than forward. I couldn’t fix that in the transmitter, but once I got the bluetooth working with the Hobbywing app on my phone, it was a simple process to swap the motors direction (a common setting to fix, as not all transmissions turn in the same direction) and a re-calibration of the throttle, and it just works.
This was also the first kit that I made, and that means the body was unpainted. The lexan body Vanquish supplies is a pretty accurate reproduction of theInternational Harvester Scout, a popular off road vehicle with a cult following. It also had a really cool interior.
I know that I am a spazz in painting, so I wanted to keep it simple. So I decided that a white roof and engine bump, with a main mustard yellow body with a single white stripe, and details in the bed being black. For the interior, the seats are white, and I used a champaign metallic for the interior parts. To finish it off, my wife bought me a Rick and Morty action figures that I glued in. For paint, I just used Tamiya rattle cans of their polystyrene paint, the recommended.
Then I realized I didn’t have a suitable battery. Shit. So, another emergency order for a 3s LiPo battery, and it is ready to go.
I do want to do better cable management. The kit has a “fuel cell” in the back that is ideal to hide the receiver, and other bits. Water resistant, and cool looking, but to use it, I will need to lengthen the wires from the esc and the servo (considerably lengthen the servo wires) to reach it. The ESC to Motor cables look pretty good, the ESC fits well in the center.
Then I need to address battery mounting. The kit has a platform that sits behind the powertrain, but that puts the weight of the battery up high, and closer to the rear, which will affect the handling. Preference is to put it near the front, preferably over the front axle. Ample room for that, but it will require some fabrication to make this happen.
Now, I just need the shelter in place rules to slacken so I can get this beast out where it really belongs.
Some minor upgrades are planned. Better wheels and tires are in store. The stock plastic wheels look OK, but I want something beefier looking.
I do think I will want to play with different bodies. Something mid 60’s Chevy pickup truck painted to look weathered.