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Monster Trucker’s Guide to Metals

There are two ways to buy accessories or hop-ups for your RC monster truck: you can buy what looks cool or you can do some research and buy wisely. We highly suggest the latter, and doing said research one of the key features to look into is the material that the parts being considered are made from. You probably know there are all sorts of metals, but you may not all of the different pros and cons of each material and when each is the ideal choice.

Aluminum. Aluminum is a common material choice for parts for a variety of reasons. First, aluminum is extremely abundant so it isn’t expensive. Aluminum is also strong and lightweight. Aluminum also conducts or dissipates heat well. The downside of aluminum is that it bends. How easily it bends depends on the part design and the specific aluminum alloy used. When aluminum bends, it can be bent back, but it is highly likely the part will fail. 6061-T6 aluminum is a tempered (heat treated) allow that is of high quality and very strong. 7075 is a more expensive alloy that is more rigid than 6061-T6. Billet aluminum usually is used to refer to parts machined from a solid block of aluminum. Cast aluminum is liquid aluminum that has been poured into a mold.

Brass. Brass has been used by hobbyists for years and is easy to find at most hobby stores. RC fabricators often use thin-walled brass tubing to make tube style monster truck chassis. Brass can be joined by soldering, but the joint can be extremely weak. Brazing with a torch will provide a stronger joint, but still isn’t as strong as actual welded metal.

Hardened Steel. Hardened steel is a high carbon steel that has been heat treated to increase its hardness and durability. Hardened steel is strong and can return to its original shape without breaking better than aluminum that is more likely to stay bent or titanium which is more likely to snap. The downside of hardened steel is that is heavier by volume than other metals used in RC. RC parts made out of hardened steel often include axles and gears.

Pot Steel. Pot metals are inexpensive alloys that can a mix of a wide variety of metals but mostly zinc. Pot metal is a low cost option, but not at all known for being strong. Pot metal isn’t used for hop-up parts, but is found in some stock RC vehicles.

Stainless Steel. Stainless steel gets its name for its most prominent quality, it resists oxidizing or rusting. Stainless steel is often used to make screws used in RC. Stainless steel is simply not as strong as hardened steel. And, like the rest of the metals in this guide, not all stainless steel is of equal quality. High grade, true stainless is not magnetic, so if the stainless steel parts stick to a magnet such as your motor, they are not the highest quality. Stainless steel is a good choice for screws on vehicles such as scale trucks and rock crawlers but may not be durable enough for use on monster trucks and truggies.

Titanium. Titanium has an extremely high strength-to-weight ratio. Titanium is also very rigid–especially compared the soft and bendable aluminum. It is unfortunately expensive compared to other metals. Like aluminum, dozens of grades and alloys of titanium are available, so be aware that not all titanium parts are created equally. The most well known RC manufacturer of titanium parts in RC is Lunsford Racing. Lunsford makes turnbuckles (the most popular titanium hop-up), hinge pins, screws and other parts.

 

ABOUT ALLOYS
It’s important to note that there is a reoccurring theme in this guide–most of these metals are actually alloys or blends. This means there are many different degrees of quality of each metal. There is a certain amount of buyer beware. In most cases, you get what you pay for.

 

To learn about the different types of plastics used in RC, click here.

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