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Building a Clod Killer on a Budget


I am a huge fan of Tamiya and its legendary Clod Buster, and maybe you are too. The iconic monster truck is without a doubt a significant part of RC history and immensely popular. But, after a 25+ year run, I can’t help but feel that it’s time to give this old dog a run for its money. I’m not alone in this quest as many have joined this new craze and built non-Clod based monster trucks. Well, here is my take on the modern monster–all done on a budget. What’s in a name? Not much more could be clearer about the intent of the project with a name like “Clod Killer.” I have to give credit of this name to my friend and founder of RC Truck Stop, Matt Higgins, and his build. Matt set out and built a wild rig a little while back. His build–lightheartedly dubbed a “Clod Killer”–is built specifically for racing. I admit his truck is more impressive than my build, but mine is built with a focus on being a budget-friendly build–built to kill some Clods, not your bank account.


For this budget build, I  choose the Axial Ridgecrest AX10. It’s an inexpensive RTR that provides a good bang for your buck. I also choose this platform because it allowed me to fully take advantage of its well designed overall structure. The plastic construction does make it light and inexpensive to replace parts. I like aluminum upgrades as much as the next guy, but in this case I’m okay with plastic. The chassis design, while it is plastic, doesn’t have as much frame twist as one would think.

Good old AR60 axles that are also used on the Wraith are also stock on the Ridgecrest, and the AR60s are wider than those found on most other rigs. The wider axles are great for this type of custom build due to the increased stability they offer. Maintenance is a breeze with these axles due to the easy-to-remove diff covers and diff assembles. I kept the rear axles straight because 4-wheel steer can get a little sketchy at higher speeds. You can do 4-wheel steer on your project if you want to, but it didn’t suit my needs. To keep the build simple and inexpensive, I kept the stock locked differentials.


The Ridgecrest platform uses triangulated 4-link design. I compared this to other designs and felt this setup was ideal. It also gave me the ability to cheat a little bit on design concept and not have to upgrade or redesign the setup. The upper axle mount on the 4-link setup is far more durable than I expected. The shocks are durable enough out of the box on the RTR and can easily be adjusted, thanks to threaded bodies, to different setups. The stock steering on the Ridgecrest was getting a little sloppy. Adding bigger tires amplified this problem, so I went and made custom aluminum links to reduce the play and flex in the steering linkage. I made the links with some spare Traxxas ball ends and threaded 3 mm rod and 3/16 aluminum hollow rod–literally from scraps.


Like Axial’s other vehicles, the Ridgecrest includes an adjustable slipper clutch. It’s partnered with a well built and solid center transmission. This was ideal when thinking about using bigger tires. I felt I could use this or destroy  parts when the truck got stuck or launched hard off the line. I only geared down a couple teeth on the pinion to allow a little more torque for the tires and still have decent top speed.

The stock Axial radio and speed control worked great with this setup. I couldn’t go wrong with the  2.4 GHz AX-3 radio transmitter and AR-3 receiver. The speed control has great power and has the features that the average person would need with the RTR type setup. Keeping things simple I choose to keep the stock 20T motor for that extra punch. With the better gearing it didn’t skip a beat. Powering everything, I used 3600 mAh NiMh pack for bashing around. Runtime was decent with the small gearing changes and bigger tires.

This project originally was equipped with my favorite Chevy Clod Buster body. It looks great, but i’s hard plastic and heavy! So, it had to go. Plus, I didn’t want to destroy the details of the hard body. I went with a popular monster truck shell from Parma. This project wouldn’t be what it is without the tires. Using stock Clod Buster rims and tires with the stock black plastic wheel adapters, I was able to keep this build on the inexpensive end of things. The stock Axial 12 mm hexes fit the the Clod adapters, which fit into the wheels. I used washers as needed. The big Clod Buster tires are essential for the monster truck look. If you don’t like the stockers, there are lots of wheels and tires to choose from in this wheel and tires category from a range of aftermarket suppliers.


From the beginning I was a little skeptical about this the build because of the bigger tires and the demand it can put on any drivetrain. But knowing that other guys took the plunge and started to build comparable rigs using Axial’s AR60 axles was exciting. When I choose the Ridgecrest for the build project, I knew the axle could take some rock crawling and bashing abuse, but I wanted to make sure the rest of the rig would hold up. As it runs out, the Ridgecrest is a great starter platform for this type of build on a budget. You could start from the ground up, many have, but unless you have 90% of the necessary hardware and electric gear  to run, you can expect to pay more for your final creation. You can’t beat the value of an RTR. For those who want a rig that’s stronger and bash a little harder than stock, rest assured that a lot of the upgrades for the Ridgecrest and Wraith would be applicable for this build. Overall, this little setup on the Ridgecrest platform handled very well. As mentioned above, runtime was great–even with a inexpensive NiMH pack. Jumping was fair. The actual jumping ability of the truck was good. I say fair because I cracked a wheel. I don’t fault the build too much since my wheels were old and original ’80’s wheels. I’m sure newer wheels would have held up better. Overall, I was surprised and delighted to have such a fun end result. I just wish, while Axial has branched out a little, that this popular company would take on a full-on monster truck. They have the fan support, that’s for sure.

For more of an elaborate build check out Matt’s  interpretation of the “Clod Killer”  here.

Axial Racing

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  1. another great build from rctruckstop.

    i like how the tires are tucked in a bit, over the knuckles. it looks to have good monster truck proportions; wheelbase, width, and axle exposed between the tires.

    but im wondering how much steering throw it is able to achieve. about what is shown is the first and last pics? even tho this is more of a budget basher build, any worries about turning radius?

    also, servo aside, will it float? any chance of posting some running video?

  2. Hey Jon thanks for that, and good qustions. This build has a good turning radius considering that the diffs are locked and the tires are larger than what the knuckles were originally designed for. Given that im overall happy with the turning capability. Adding rear steer to this wouldn’t be that difficult or expensive if you needed a tighter radius.
    A running video, well Jon because you asked so nice ill see what I do. 🙂

  3. so not to be mean but I built the first one when the ridgecrest first came out have fun breaking wheels driveshafts and gears mines brushless with all steel drive line

  4. So how about that video? I just picked up a Ridgecrest and Im waiting Kb my wheels and tires I got from Ebay. I’m doing a vintage USA-1, also liking the new CPE frame.

  5. Ill try and get some footage of it this weekend, to be fare it has snowed a lot here in Winnipeg. So it won’t be a clean summer shot 😉

    The Deadbolt is basically a Ridgecrest and still a great foundation for a budget Clod Killer build.

  6. Well Devon it depends on what you have to work with to start out with. This build consists of a stock Axial Ridgecrest , 1/10 scale body, stock clod wheels, tires & wheel adapters. I added custom alum steering links towards the end of the build. In reality the cost would hover around the local retail value of a axial ridgecrest or Deadbolt plus the parts mentioned above. Est. Cost= $450.00 It really depends on how much you add to it to make it custom for you.

  7. Wraith base or ground pounder base? Obvious advantages to both. But balanced out what is a better base to start with? Anyone?

    1. I like both. Here are cons I see: The Wraith’s AR60 axles are a little narrow and widening solutions come with some problems. The Ground Pounder requires beefing up to survive racing or bashing with anything more than the stock power. Replacement parts are also harder to come by and there is less aftermarket support.

  8. Yes the parts issue bothers me about the redcat. I guess my biggest concern with the wraith, is lack of experience. I haven’t done a lot of custom. I also will run brushless, so I have to make sure I am durable. I am really still thinking wraith with a barbarian chassis, and I will just have to learn as I go. Budget is not really a concern, so some of the ground pounder advantages really don’t help.

    Again, I appreciate your input. Without sites like these, I would have no advice. I do not know anyone personally, I can work with. I am really excited to get started. I will continue to use your site as a resource as I go. Take care. Happy new year to you and all readers.


    1. The Barbarian matched with the Axial AR60 axles is as good of a start as you’re going to get. Good luck and enjoy the build. I may try out the Barbarian myself.

      And, thanks for the kind words!

  9. Jacob, the wheelbase is unchanged and is the same of the factory settings with the Ridgecrest RTR. The newer Deadbolt AX10 would also be comparable. (Ridgecrest AX10 WB=307mm (12.1″) / Deadbolt AX10 WB= 310mm (12.2″)

    1. Hello Kevin,

      my sincere apologizes for not getting to your comment sooner.

      The body mounts are in fact Axial. They are the ones that came with the Ridgecrest. The optional body post part number should be AX80031 (the wider one). The narrow one came stock for the rear of the Ridgecrest but is also available AX80120.

      Hope this helps, however late 🙂

  10. Hi! I have been an avid rc enthusiast sense the golden arrow! I have sense gotten 4 friends and 2 of their kids into it! I am in the process of clearing the shelf ( my friends are buying part of my collection of 12 cars to help buy another axial!) We all have slashes for bashing hard, high flying insane jumps, but its the shear enjoyment of just kinda bobling around of the beaten path that we love! Especially on the snow! So one has a teluride, the other a stampede, and am looking to out crawl them both and pop the occasional wheelie, so would this be possible with stampede wheels? Just bolt and go because their already 12MM?

    1. Patrick: “So one has a teluride, the other a stampede, and am looking to out crawl them both and pop the occasional wheelie, so would this be possible with stampede wheels? Just bolt and go because their already 12MM?”

      If you want to go crawling, what vehicle do you want to use and what wheels/tires were you thinking of using?

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