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Bulletproof the Axial Wraith Drivetrain

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.

Due to their design that doesn't feature plastic yokes, the WB8 driveshafts won't pop off.
Check the splines to make sure they are not twisted.

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 metal rings will better withstand abuse compared to the stock plastic rings.

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.

Brad Dumont of Axial.

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.

TrakPower's Gear Grease is waterproof.

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 stock sintered locker is plenty strong.

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.

Axial's heavy duty gears are made out of hardened steel and has a spiral cut design.

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.

Axial's universal joint axles are hardened steel and come assembled.
The universal joint axles are much more durable than stock and provide much more axle throw.

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.


Routine Maintenance
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.


Parts List

  • AR60 OCP Universal Joint Axle Set >> AX30780 >> $45
  • Heavy Duty Bevel Gear Set 43T/13T >> AX30402 >> $30
  • WB8 Driveshaft Retainer Ring >> AX30786 >> $5





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  1. This help a lot. Thank you. I don’t won a wraith yet but will buy one now. my current crawler pops the driveshafts off everytime i use it. i’m going to adjust the slipper as you say and upgrade to the wraith shaft to

    1. They come built, so the install is very easy. Remove the screws holding the knuckles on–there’s one on top and one on the bottom. Next, remove a screw from each front lower link/shock mount. Remove one from each side. This will allow you to easily slide the old axle shafts out. Slide the axles out and remove the hexes from the stub axles. Leave the bearings in place. Slide the new axles in and reinstall the knuckles and hexes.

    1. There are many gears out there. The easiest way to slow it down is with a smaller pinion gear.

      You could also swap in different axle gears, but the difference will be harder to notice and take longer to swap in and out. The stock pinion is 20-tooth, so dropping to a 13-tooth pinion (AX30571) will significantly slow your Wraith down.

      You could also install Axial’s 27-turn motor (AX24004) for a slower setup or even a 55-turn motor (AX24007) for a much slower setup.

      1. Please that would be great!! Or can someone point me to one that already exists? I have slop in the rear gear mesh and don’t know why.

  2. I am going to start rebuilding my wraith rtr. great truck but ive beat on it. thanks for the tips

      1. Thanks Matt. Is there a direct axial site I can purchase them from?.. Most online shops won’t give me the details.. and I don’t want to play the guessing game on 2 sets… that is a lot for my budget.

      2. I may have found the difference in the sku # I think AXIC3401 might be the updated ones.. and AXI30401 are the old one. I’m am not positive though.

        1. So I got the Wraith kit. Problem is that I can’t get the rear axle to mesh right. It spins freely but is loud. Any suggestions?

          1. Take it all apart–every piece of the rear axle and reassemble. It’s the pinion and ring gear mesh, but there could be a variety of causes: bearings not seated properly, gasket missing on the diff cup, etc

  3. The problem was the axle design. The short axle does not seat all the way into the ring gear. So when you slide the lockout over the axle it doesn’t go all the way on, and that causes the mesh to be very tight. I looked online and found a huge thread with the same problem. I called Axial and they are sending me the modified axle. Great customer service. Although they should give a heads up to all customers who purchase this kit. I was getting very irritated after taking it apart completely three times.

  4. My ridgecrest wont hold on steep inclines….how do you adjust the slipper clutch and will this solve my problem

    1. The slipper clutch is tightened with the included 4-way wrench. The large 7mm end (same one for the wheel nuts) adjusts the slipper. There is a small cover that gets removed from the large gear cover. The little round cover rotates a little bit and pop offs. Behind the cover is a 7mm nut. Try tightening the nut down all the way down and backing it off 1/2 of a turn. Off the top of my head, I believe this is tighter than suggested, but it will allow to make sure it’s the slipper that’s the problem. Is the slipper making noise as you apply throttle on steep inclines?

  5. Hi Matt,

    Great write-up. I just recently purchased a Wraith RTR along with a ton of upgrades (VP housings, Stage I Kit, etc.). I am making the ever-dreaded decision on which diff grease to use.

    I know each person has their own opinion based off experience, but do you know if there are any actual requirements as far as grease goes? I’ll be using all metal housings, the hardened gears from Axial and metal bearing caps so the grease being plastic safe should not be an issue. Just curious if there is something specific I should look for, or just pick the one that seems the best to me from my own research.

    Thanks again for this write-up!

    1. Great question, Chris. I like the TrakPower grease and really recommend it. It isn’t so thick or tacky that it will cause drag and it’s waterproof and doesn’t fling like some more “oily” grease.

  6. hey,, Im very new to this kind of RC,, just got a wraith rtr,, ran about 2 min,, then it quit moving,,, motor runs in forward and reverse,, but not turning drivetrain,, oh and truck rolls freely now,, any idea what broke,, and how to fix,,

    1. Have you removed the pinion to verify that the drivetrain is ok? After that, make sure the pinion is back on and tight. At the same time, make sure the gear mesh is good. Check that and let us know what you find. We’ll fix this.

        1. There is a hard plastic gear cover that when removed exposes the spur (and slipper) and pinion gear. The pinion gear is attached to the motor’s output shaft. You’ll need a 2mm hex driver and 1.5mm hex driver. The motor is retained by screws that will require a 2.5mm hex wrench. Hope this helps. Let us know if you have any problems. Ask any questions as much as you like.

  7. I just got a Axial Wraith. I have already had some mechanical problems, the screw came out of the pinion gear so the vehice made some sounds and stop moving. i replaced the screw, then i decided to adjust the slipper clutch. after that i gave it a test run and for a few minutes, it ran ok, then it made some kinda grinding noises, so i was wondering, did i make the slipper clutch too loose? the only reason i made the adjustment was the spring looked compressed all the way.

    1. That could be the problem. Usually a loose slipper, however. makes more of a squeal as opposed a grinding noise. Check the condition of the plastic spur gear. It may have gotten chewed up when the pinion came loose.

      1. I readjusted the slipper n repositioned the pinion gear, everything runs swell. I want to replace the plastic spur gear with a metal one, for more durability, is that possible? the spur gear looked ok.

    1. Hi, Shane. The plastic parts may just be shot. Try swapping out the self-tapping screws for machine cut thread screws. This should hold tight until you can upgrade to aluminum C’s and steering blocks. Let me know if the machine screw truck works for you. Good luck!

  8. I just purchase the rtr wraith and need to know what type of battery is best. I tried using my son 7 cell 3000 mah cell and it only last about 4 minutes in the rigs until it loses all forward and reverse motion. Light still work but des not run properly.

  9. Hi there, thanks for the tips.

    just one question, referring to HD gears…

    you wrote: “I also installed by gears in the opposite manner as indicated in the manual in an effort to reduce torque twist. ”

    as I am just going to upgrade my gears with Axial HD gears and need to swap the diff gears (since I am going to mount aftermarket diff covers that do require swapping the diff – due to the cover’s design (ARB by RC4WD) and invert the direction of rotation of the whole transmission – I am wondering whether there is any issue by installing the gears in the opposite manner….
    I read somewhere that “The hand of the spiral should be selected so as to cause the gears to separate from each other and not to force them together, which might cause jamming.”
    I figure out that if mounted in the standard manner the gears are working in a way that the gears separate from each other, but if flipped over they will be forced together by the thrust force…

    what is your opinion?

    Many thanks in advance!

    1. I have had the Axial heavy duty gears mounted in just about every combination I could think of and have noticed no excessive wear. In fact, I opened up the rear axle of one of my older Axial crawlers the other day and was amazed how the heavy duty looked brand new.

      I suggest using Axial’s under drive (43T/13T) gear set in the rear axle and the stock ratio (38T/13T) in the front axle. This is a common trick used to control torque twist. This helps keep the nose down (it’s not a complete, end-all torque twist cure) and it also seems to help steering tight corners a bit.

      To answer your question, I’m no engineer (but I’ll Ask Axial’s), but in my experience, you’ll be fine installing the gears either way.

      Hope this helps.

      1. Thanks a lot for the reply,

        indeed I am going for underdrive in the rear (43T/13T) and stock in the front (38T/13T) right for the reasons you explained! Glad I am on the right way..;)

        My wraith is not a go fast RC (I do mainly trailing and crawiling but I need wheel speed for uphill and to overcome difficult obstacles) therefore I guess whatever way I install the gears it should not effect that much the wearing..

        Look forward to Axial’s input though if you get to ask them!

        thanks again!


        1. Hallo There!

          an update, I try to make it clear but I am not English native speaker…

          I just assembled the Axial’s under drive AX30402(43T/13T) Heavy Duty Bevel Gear Set in the rear axle and the stock ratio Heavy Duty Bevel Gear Set AX30395 (38T/13T) in the front.

          First I spotted the rear HD rear ring (43T) has a slightly different outer shape (opposite side of the tooth, where the shaft is inserted…

          However, once mounted according to standard lay-out (as for the original Wraith’s Manual at page 15), as soon as I tried to tighten the screws of the Straight Axle Adapter Rear (AX80071) I noticed the movement of the gear sets was “blocked”. After several trials I found out the Straight Axle Shaft AX30776 (the short one 6×104.2mm) is pushing the ring in the towards the pinion, thus creating a slight interference and therefore resulting in a very tight meshing and even hard to rotate….

          The axles are brand new (stock)
          I tried to swap / invert the diff and the result is the gears are moving smoothly as they used to with stock gears
          I AM REFFERING TO the REAR ONLY where I used the 43/18
          In the FRONT no issue at all, it seems the tolerances are wider in the front and the shafts does not apply any axial force to the gear ring

          So, apparently by swapping the direction of the diff all works smoothly.

          However this way the gears are mounted in the opposite way compared to the Manual and I must mount the diff covers (non Axial brand) upside down, resulting with the text being also upside down, plus the possible inconvenience of running the gears in a direction that is not the most suitable one for the geometry of the tooth themselves

          Have you got any experince such as this? or any idea?
          I would like to possibly avoid having to mill out the brand new ring gear just to adapt the dimension according to the length of the short shaft….

          Thanks a lot for your kind input!



  10. Good day. I have some coconut oil that is a solid at room temperature would this be ok to use in my Trans gears and in my differentials?

    1. I would not use it. As the gears heat up, the oil would most likely liquefy. Coconut oil turn solid at its 77 degree F freezing point. It may get too hard at lower temps. So, most likely too thin at high temps and too hard at low temps. Basically, it’s not temp stable enough for this use–in my opinion/guess. Also, just because something is technically an oil doesn’t mean it has good anti-friction properties. More traditional grease can be found pretty inexpensively.

  11. i was wondering if you post a link on how to install install the hd gears from axail for my wraith i know full size car diffs you have to make sure the mesh is just right or you trash the gears. this is my first ring and pinion reniild with rc. most have just been replaceing stocks parts with stock parts.
    thanks alot Bill Helms

    1. You’re absolutely right about full-size ring and pinions. Those installs require special tools and special training. The good news is that installing the same gears on an RC is much easier. When istalling the heavy duty gears on your Wraith, make sure the bearings are full seated for the pinion gear. That is a very common mistake and when of the biggest causes of bad mesh. Also, make sure the paper ring gear gasket/spacer between the ring gear and diff cup is in perfect condition. This will also impact gear mesh. If you install a new gasket, make sure the old one is completely removed. Also, make sure the bolts holding the ring gear to the cup are fully and evenly seated. I tighten opposite sides and do it slowly and carefully. Last, pay attention to the side the ring gear was on when it is removed, so that it can be installed the same way or the axle will drive in the opposite direction it originally did. People have screwed up one end and the truck tries to pull itself apart. The diff caps also have to be fully and evenly seated as well for good mesh. That’s all there is to it. Okay, I guess that’s a lot–maybe we do need an article and video on the process. I better get busy. Good luck, Bill, and thanks for visiting RC Truck Stop. If you have any question, please ask; we’re here to help!

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