If you own an Axial Wraith you would probably agree that it’s notably durable. Is it unbreakable? No, of course not. I give it high marks in this particular department because when I first got my hands on one, I loaned it to a busy hobby shop that, in turn, let any interested visitor give it a try. Needless to say, my Wraith was abused. When I picked it up, it looked like it had been to war. But, it still worked and other than a cracked bumper tube, the damage was limited to essentially superficial scars. I don’t like to dish out what can sound like gushing praise, but I was impressed. That said, every vehicle will eventually need some repairs, could use some improvements and need maintenance.
So, what’s my point? Well, it’s my long winded way of saying as durable as a stock Wraith is, it could benefit from special attention to the drivetrain. This is especially true if you’re going brushless.
The Wraith uses Axial’s new WB8 Wild Boar driveshaft. This design is a huge improvement over the typical plastic driveshaft and axle design that has plastic tabs or yokes that can frequently pop off the universal joint when subjected to a lot of stress. The WB8 design still requires some maintenance as they are subjected to a lot of abuse. Even if you run the stock RTR power system, you should frequently check the splines for twist.
If the splines are twisted, the driveshaft will still work, but will cause the suspension to bind as it compresses because the driveshaft won’t be able to smoothly slide in and out. Replace the shaft pieces if you notice any twist on the splines. If this is a frequent problem, make sure your slipper isn’t set too tight. Resist the temptation to run the slipper completely tightened down. It’s one thing to crank it down for a competition knowing you may abuse some parts, but it isn’t wise to run the slipper fully tightened down all of the time.
The stock WB8 driveshafts on the RTR Wraith use a plastic ring to retain the universal joint pin. Axial offers an aluminum replacements that better withstand stress applied to the driveshaft and prevent the ring from the unlikely occurrence of it spreading apart and losing the pin. Even better and a solution to a more likely problem, the metal will simply not get worn out as the driveshaft is dragged over rocks.
Many people are temped to lubricate the universal joint to reduce wear. The downside is that any traditional grease will attract dirt and the contaminated will actually do more harm than good and increase wear. Instead of grease, use what is called a dry lube. Powered graphite really work work, but there are liquid lubricants that evaporate and leave a protective slick lubricant behind. You can use TrakPower’s Krytech Dry Wax lubricant or try White Lightening Easy Lube which is a similar product made for bicycles.
Not only are the Wraith axles scale looking in their design, but they are also easy to work on. So, there’s no excuse to not install Axial’s optional heavy-duty hardened steel bevel gears. These gears are more durable than stock and they offer better mesh which means you’ll notice less slop in your drivetrain.
When replacing these gears, you’ll need to clean off the existing grease from the parts and add new grease. Unlike a pure crawler that only goes slow, the Wraith gears should not be covered with gobs and gobs of thick, sticky grease. Brad Dumont of Axial says he uses the stock Axial grease, but states that many people swear by Mobil 1 synthetic grease. Rodney Wills, also from Axial, uses Bel-Ray waterproof grease. TrakPower also makes a waterproof gear grease that is said not to fling off the gears. Always double check that the grease is safe for plastics.
Make sure you reuse the gasket between the ring gear and diff cup. If the gasket sticks to the stock ring gear, use a hobby knife to carefully remove it. Brad Dumont, who happens to be a national champion rock crawler, states he gets many uses out of the gaskets and there is no harm in reusing them. He only replaces the gasket if it is badly damaged. Using the gasket is essential as the gear mesh will be too tight without it.
The Wraith includes a sintered (think glued and pressed into shape under extreme pressure) locker that doesn’t need to be replaced.
I also installed by gears in the opposite manner as indicated in the manual in an effort to reduce torque twist. When ordering heavy duty gears make sure you get the updated gears that have a hole instead of a flat spot on the end of the pinion gear’s shaft. Take a close look at the photo below and you’ll see the hole passing through the pinion gear’s input shaft. Using these gears and the WB8 driveshafts is also the hot upgrade for SCX10 and AX10 owners.
If you’re into full-size off-roading, you know axles take a real beating. It’s no different with RC crawlers. Axial offers universal axle shafts that are not only considerably more durable than stock, but also provide far more articulation for improved steering.
Like the driveshafts, the universal joint axles should not be lubricated with traditional grease. Use a dry lube as described above for use on the driveshaft joints.
If you use the universal joint axles, you will need to properly set your steering endpoints so you don’t burn out your steering servo. Reduce your steering travel so that the servo doesn’t try to push the steering farther than it can go.
Buying heavy duty components certainly helps make your drivetrain last, but good ol’ routine maintenance goes a real long way towards ensuring your Wraith’s drivetrain doesn’t fail.
- Check the driveshaft splines frequently for twisting.
- If you have submerged your axles, consider rebuilding them to remove all of the water and grime.
- Clean loose dirt from exposed bearing surfaces frequently. Replace any bearings that do not spin smoothly.
- AR60 OCP Universal Joint Axle Set >> AX30780 >> $45
- Heavy Duty Bevel Gear Set 43T/13T >> AX30402 >> $30
- WB8 Driveshaft Retainer Ring >> AX30786 >> $5
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.