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This Thing Sucks! Why Am I Breaking Stuff?

Visit a few RC manufacturer’s Facebook Pages or spend some time on some RC forums and you’ll witness a small-but-vocal number of people emphatically complaining that their RC vehicle breaks every time they use it. According to them, they don’t crash, hit anything or abuse it in any way, yet suspension arms simply snap as they drive along, electronics let the magic smoke out or gears blow out without warning.

The reality is that RC vehicles are amazingly durable and are capable of stunts that far exceed what their full-size counterparts could survive. So, what’s going on? The deal is these users are somehow unintentionally misusing their vehicle. Here are some tips for to use yourself or pass along to one of those guys suffering from mystery failures.

> You are hitting stuff. Hitting immovable objects at high speeds equals broken parts whether you’re driving a RC truck or a full-size truck. Even if you’re not bouncing your truck off telephones and trees, smashing into curbs at speed will take its toll. That curb may seem like a nice ramp, but it’s a lot more like hitting a wall than a nice jump.

> It’s cold in the ‘hood. Plastic parts don’t like cold weather. While there are all sorts of blends of plastics used in RC, they all eventually get brittle as it gets cold. If you do run in cold weather, try parts from RPM. The proprietary blend of of Nylon used by RPM works extremely well even in cold weather.

> Set That Slipper. Contrary to popular belief, the slipper clutch is not really there to function as a traction control device–that is a side benefit. The slipper’s primary role is to protect the transmission. Even if you’ve never adjusted it, reset your truck’s slipper according the manual.

> Gear Mesh Matters. Not too tight, not too loose. That’s the best way to describe proper gear mesh, but it probably doesn’t help you if you’re already having a hard time with the concept. While a lot of people put a small piece of paper between the spur and pinion gears while setting mesh. This trick works, but most people set mesh by a mix of feel and sight. You want the gears tightly meshed with a slight tick of backlash (wiggle between the teeth.)

> Get a Temp Gun. Most people think nitro when they think of temp guns, but even if you run electric, this is a valuable tool. Check the temps of all of your electronics and make sure they are all staying below 160 degrees F.

> Keep it Clean. You don’t have to rebuild your truck every time you use it, but keep it clean and all of the different components will work much better and be less likely to fail.

> Go Wide Open. If you’re breaking parts frequently, odds are it’s not the truck’s fault. Odds are, instead, that it is the environment’s fault. Find a new place to run. Go run your truck in a unused, wide open parking lot or dirt lot.

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6 Comments

  1. Those are all very good key points, and couldn’t be more true. The fact is, driver error and inadequate maintance is normally to blame. I know this can be a touchy subject, and most of us wouldn’t admit any one or both of them. The methods and suggestions listed here are great for everyone of all skills. Todays rc rigs ARE built better, and withstand abuse a lot better than they used to. But everything has limitations, so common sence still needs apply here.

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