If you’re into RC–even if you’re somewhat anti-bling like me–you probably appreciate some aluminum. You may not want gobs of polished silver all over your truck (or maybe you do), but there’s no denying that, when used correctly, aluminum make can a truck a whole lot stronger and, yes, look pretty cool too.
When I break a part, I always look for an aluminum or specialized plastic upgrade. My philosophy: if stock failed once, odds are stock will fail again.
STRC is one of the more popular aluminum part manufacturers–and for good reason. Many people turn to particular company because STRC has a respectable variety of parts for a good range of vehicles, their prices are reasonable and the quality is high in terms of materials used and fit and finish.
Looking increase durability and help my truck stick out from the crowd, I recently started giving my Axial Wraith the STRC treatment. Instead of just throwing on every part they offer at once, I decided to do my upgrades in stages so that I could better see how the individual parts impacted performance. Up first is what I’d classify as the drivetrain hop-ups. This turned out to be a great place to start since I was also swapping out the stock 20-turn closed endbell stock motor for a Novak 13.5-turn Ballistic brushless motor.
To install the motor plate and rear transmission plate, I dropped the large center skid plate by removing four screws on each side of the plastic plate. Even though the STRC motor plate is thicker than stock and offers longer motor screw holes for more gearing options, it is a direct fit and still allows you to use the plastic gear cover. Since my Wraith sees action on rocks as well as in dirt, sand and mud, it was important that the gear cover stay. The machined-in heat sink fins on the STRC plate will help keep motor temperatures a little lower. The rear transmission cover also easily slid in place of the stock plastic piece it replaces.
Notice that I angled, better described as rotated, the Novak motor so that the tabs are angled close to the transmission. This allows the motor to clear the molded Lexan floorpan without pushing up on it. I also resoldered the wires facing the rear of the Wraith because I moved the speed control to the rear of the truck. After the transmission was buttoned up and the skid plate was reinstalled, I took the stock plastic diff covers off.
While the axles were open, I installed STRC’s aluminum diff holders or bearing caps. Nobody will know you have these installed, but the machined aluminum is more precise than molded plastic and certainly more durable.
STRC’s aluminum diff covers are clearly far more durable than stock. They don’t have a scale look, but do look tough and are unmistakably not stock. It’s simply a subjective, personal-preference call whether you like how they look.
Performance & Final Call
Installation of all of the parts went as expected–smoothly. No parts had to be forced and no hand fitting was required. With most aluminum replacement parts, you won’t necessarily notice an immediate improvement in performance. The exception here is the motor plate. I would consider the STRC motor mount a must-have if you are upgrading from the stock 20-turn brushed motor. It should add some increased cooling and, even better, since it’s 3mm thick, it doesn’t flex. While it’s hard to know if the stock pieces would fail, the diff retainers or bearing caps also make sense if you’re adding power. And, when I saw how abused the stock plastic diff covers were when I removed them, I knew the STRC aluminum diff covers were a wise addition, but I wish I could get them in red. I added the transmission back plate even though I’m not going to be using a dig unit, so for me it’s just there to look pretty. I could see it being a plus if your attaching a dig back there.
- CNC Machined Alum. HD Diff Cover >> Part no. STA80070DGM >> $15.99
- CNC Machined Alum. Internal Diff Holders >> STA80070GM >> $15.99
- CNC Machined Alum. Motor Plate >> STA30491GM >> $12.99
- CNC Machined Alum. Transmission Back Plate >> STA80051GM >> $18.99
To see part 2 of the STRC hop-ups article, click here.
About the Author: Matt has over 25 years of experience in RC and has worked professionally in media for over a decade. Matt enjoys everything from racing to rock crawling to bashing, and he believes RC should be all about having fun. Matt is as at home covering a world championship in an exotic country as he is showing a new hobbyist how to set gear mesh. His desire to share the hobby with as many people as possible inspired him to create RC Truck Stop and RCTruckStop.com.