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Rusty’s Off-Road RC4WD Axial Jeep Project

rustys jeep opener

If you’re an off-road enthusiast, you probably know the name Rusty’s. Largely dedicated to the rock crawling and off-road adventure crowd, Rusty’s Off-road is a popular retailer that has its own comprehensive proprietary line of products to accompany the extensive lineup of accessories it sells from other manufacturers. They sell all over the world and have an astonishing catalog of parts. Sounds a lot like an RC company we know. Yup, Rusty’s is pretty much the full-size version of RC4WD. We got such a kick out of the similarities of these two companies that we thought building an RC version of a Rusty’s Jeep was just a natural. Our goal was to build a scale Jeep that looked just like one of Rusty’s show Jeeps. We outfitted it with a solid smattering of RC4WD accessories, and as you have probably already deduced from the photos, we used an Axial SCX10 as our foundation for this build. To add more icing on the cake, since we’re using the super popular SCX10, we added our top tips and tricks to show how to optimize the performance of a trail rig.

rustys jeep 5

RC4WD makes its own vehicles (i.e., Trail Finder 2, Gelende 2, etc.), but I wanted to showcase what the company has to offer for other vehicle brands—just like Rusty’s does. The top Jeep in RC is Axial’s fully licensed 2012 Wrangler Unlimited Rubicon. It’s a great scale replica. Even better, I selected their kit version, which meant I could easily add the RC4WD as I built the kit. Another reason I selected the Axial SCX10 because I knew the guys at Rusty’s Off-road would be blown away by the steel ladder frame on this model and appreciate how much it looks like the real thing. If you’re unfamiliar with the SCX10, it has a C-channel steel frame, as mentioned previously, that looks just like a full-size Jeep frame and also features locked solid axles, a linked suspension and coil-over shocks. The SCX10 uses an adjustable single-speed transmission. Axial offers it in a variety of versions and in pre-built ready-to-run (RTR) versions and kit versions.

rustys jeep 11

The body is a clear Lexan shell modeled after a 2012 Wrangler Unlimited. The kit version includes the same body as its RTR stablemate, but has an optional hardtop. To create an RC version of one of Rusty’s show Jeeps, I went to Bill Zegers of Zegers RC Graffixx. Bill has been my go-to guy for many years and has never let me down. His rates are very reasonable and his turnaround time is great. I didn’t give him a whole lot to go on, but Bill worked his magic and the end result is spot on.

RC4WD has expanded its electronics offerings to include more than just motors and I took full advantage of this. The servo, speed control, motor and radio system are all from RC4WD.

rc4wd servo

The servo I used is RC4WD’s Twister High Performance Waterproof servo. If you plan on hitting any mud or even puddles, the first piece of electronics that has to weather the storm, so to speak, is the servo. Even if you move the steering servo off the axle, it’s still up front and likely to eventually get wet. Since this servo is waterproof, water becomes a nonissue. The servo is also metal geared, so the Rusty’s off-road guys aren’t going to break it, and with 249.4 oz.-in. of torque, it has way more power than is really needed–even for 2.2 tires.

rustys jeep 14

Mounted behind the receiver box is an RC4WD Outcry Crawler speed control with TurboBEC. This brushed system gives smooth throttle control, has drag brake and instant reverse–it’s a true crawler system. The BEC is no joke and ensures the powerful servo won’t overtax the system and cause brownouts. Best of all, this system is only 50 bucks! Oh, and it can handle up to a 4S LiPo. I did change the battery connectors to Deans Ultra Plugs.

45-TURN_1299 rustys jeep 7

I wanted to make sure this build had enough speed to keep it from getting boring, but enough torque to properly rock crawl. That led me to picking a 45-turn Boost motor from RC4WD. This is a high quality completely rebuildable motor. Unlike many other motors used in crawlers, the Boost is fully ball bearing supported. This means it will perform better and last longer. The timing is also adjustable.

rustys jeep 13

It’s quite possible that even experienced RCers don’t know that RC4WD offers transmitters, but they–as you’ve probably guessed by now–do indeed have the hook up. I went with their XR4 4-Channel 2.4 GHz system. The computerized radio includes a receiver, has a LCD screen and a 15 model memory. Normally a 4-channel pistol grip radio system would be out of many people’s budgets, but this system is only $90. This radio, since it’s a 4-channel model, makes it easy to add accessories such as a 2-speed transmission or a transmitter-operated winch. The XR4 has a metal toggle switch right above the hand grip for easy thumb access and a plastic sliding switch on the side on the steering wheel mount. Both are 3-position switches.

rustys jeep 6 rustys jeep 4

I’ve had great luck with RC4WD’s steel bumpers. I like their looks and really appreciate how durable they have proven to be. This SCX10 is outfitted with a pair of RC4WD Tough Armor bumpers. The front is is Competition Stinger Bumper. As the name implies, it includes a stinger help prevent forward roll overs. It also features a winch mount that is predrilled to accept a RC4WD winch. The rear Tough Armor  bumper features tabs for mounting two D-ring shackles. I added two RC4WD King Kong Mini Tow Shackles in gold. Both bumpers are hand welded and powder coated. The front is a direct bolt-on, but the rear requires you to enlarge a hole on each side of the very end of each frame rail. Also, both bumpers feature extended mounting tabs with long slotted holes that give a great deal of flexibility in mounting. This means they’ll work with just about any body you can throw on an SCX10.

rustys jeep 2 tire

RC4WD really grew in popularity due to its wide offering of scale tires, which have gotten better and better over time. I selected Mickey Thompson 2.2 Baja MTZ tires because they are spot-on scale replicas and their wide body provides a lot of grip and stability. RC4WD’s X2 SS compound is, as they describe, super soft and sticky. At 4.76″ tall, the RC4WD Mickey Thompson MTZs is a step up from the stock 1.9 tires that come with the Axial Jeep, but they aren’t overly large. The tires are mounted to aluminum RC4WD ColdBore 2.2 Internal Beadlock wheels. These wheels are a three-piece design and don’t have traditional beadlock rings. Instead, the three pieces (front face, back and inner ring) are held together with five bolts. Unfortunately, RC4WD has discontinued these particular wheels, but they may still be available at stores and RC4WD has an extensive selection of similar styles to choose from. I didn’t run the stock standard inner foams. Instead, I ran Axial 2.2 foams that are slightly taller. The stuffed in foam creates a slightly stiffer rear foam setup. Even with the bigger foams, the overall setup is still very soft and an even firmer foam may prove to be ideal for the rear tires.. In front, I ran Pro-Line memory foams. This adds some weight up front and helps the front tires grip rocks. The added weight is great, but like the front, I’m not sure this is the perfect setup just yet. Trimming the front foams might make them a perfect match for the tires.

rc4wd winch

A winch is a natural accessory for an off-road vehicle—full-size and RC scaler. RC4WD is well known for its winches, so I bolted on its Bulldog 9300XT Wireless Winch with handheld remote. Even though the RC4WD XR4 4-channel transmitter could easily handle winch control, the Bulldog’s remote is just like the key fob for a full-size car and makes working the winch very easy. It also means you could hand the control of the winch off to someone else if needed.

rustys jeep 9

I dressed up the suspension with RC4WD’s licensed King Off-Road Scale Dual Spring 90 mm Shocks. These aluminum shocks look sharp and since they are constructed out of aluminum, they are much stronger than plastic bodied shocks. The bodies are threaded for spring preload adjustments, and this means you can literally raise or lower the vehicle with the twist of a collar.


  • 45T Boost brushed Motor >> Z-E0041 >> $38.99
  • Bulldog 9300XT Wireless Winch >> Z-E0013 >> $59.99
  • ColdBore 2.2 Internal Beadlock Wheels >> Z-W0049 >> $109.99
  • King Kong Mini Tow Shackle (Gold) >> Z-S0178 >> $7.99 (each)
  • King Off-Road Scale Dual Spring Shocks >> Z-D0033 >> $39.99 (pair)
  • Mickey Thompson 2.2 Baja MTZ Tires >> Z-T0043 >> $29.99 (pair)
  • Outcry Crawler Speed Control with TurboBEC >> Z-E0007 >> $49.99
  • Tough Armor Competition Stinger Bumper >> Z-S0640 >> $34.99
  • Tough Armor Solid Rear Bumper >> Z-S0632 >> $34.99
  • Twister High Performance Waterproof Servo >> Z-E0032 >> $59.99
  • XR4 4-Channel 2.4 GHz Radio System >> Z-R0006 >> $89.99

With mostly bolt-on hop-ups, this build is largely for people somewhat new to the hobby, like the guys at Rusty’s. I also wanted to include some good information more experienced hobbyists. That’s where this tips and tricks section comes in. Think of these as some of the best of the best Tip of the Week selections for the Axial SCX10. If you haven’t seen some of these as a Tip of the Week, you will soon.

Glued Spring Cups
If you run RC4WD’s King Off-Road shocks you’ll love this one, but it also works for all shocks. To keep the spring cups from popping off and getting lost forever, dab a bit of silicone glue under the shock spring cup and slide it back onto the eyelet. This is removable, but secures the cup perfectly. Aluminum spring cups, such as the ones on the King shocks, are especially susceptible to popping off.

Glued Hex Pins
This tip is an oldie but a goodie, and yet I am amazed how many people don’t do this. When installing the hex drive pins in the axles, put a small bit of silicone glue on. This will keep them from sliding out getting lost when you take a hex off for maintenance.

Forward-Mounted Battery
The SCX10 comes with the battery mounted in the rear of the chassis. This makes for quick and easy battery changes and keeps the battery out of the way of other components. The big downside is that having what is often your RC crawler’s the single heaviest component way out back is not good weight distribution. Right over the front axle, however, is good weight placement. Axial makes moving the batter tray up front easy—all the parts are in the kit. Grab three long previously unused screws (one long, two really long) and the three plastic stand offs. There is a downside. Mounting the battery up front makes accessing the receiver box a little more difficult.

Secure 3-Link
Axial has been using its 3-link setup with upper Y-link every since it released its first kit. The setup is simple and offers plenty of articulation, but the mounting screw on the top of the axle easily pops out. To prevent this, install a washer on the screw that holds the Y-link to the front axle. Even if the link pops loose, it won’t come completely off thanks to the washer.

Clean Receiver Case
The receiver or radio box included with the SCX10 isn’t waterproof. It is, however, pretty weather resistant. To help it further keep the bad stuff out, wrap the wires exiting the case with some foam and hold it between the case and lid when tightening the lid down. If positioned properly, this will go a long ways toward sealing the opening in the case. It won’t be waterproof, but you should be able to take on any scale water hazards without worry.

Sealed Axles
A lot of people like to take their scalers in water and mud and think they are good to go as long as the electronics are waterproof. While the electronics may survive the dipping, the rest of the truck may not be prepped for water. A spot that needs attention on the SCX10 is the axle. There are four holes—two on each side—on the top of the axle that are open to the inside of the housing. Water, sand and mud can get in these holes, but usually can’t get out. When running Axial’s 4-link mount on the rear axle, these holes get covered, but small button head screws are all that’s needed to plug the front axle’s holes.

rustys jeep action 1

This project is the RC equivalent of going on a shopping spree at Rusty’s Off-Road for a late model Jeep, but instead of Rusty’s, I used RC4WD as my one-stop shop for accessories and modifications. Well, besides finding the sourcing of the parts convenient, how did this thing run? Well, I’m pretty fond of the SCX10’s performance in box stock trim, but like most RC vehicles, it gets even better with some smart modifications and when modified can take on even more challenging terrain. The smartest mod you can make to just about any RC truck is improve its tires. That said, the stock tires included with the kit version of the 2012 Jeep Wrangler Unlimited Rubicon are above average largely thanks to their soft compound. So, the RC4WD Mickey Thompson Baja MTZ tires have some proverbial big shoes to fill. Thankfully, they too are molded in a soft, sticky compound. On top of that, the MTZ tread pattern features a lot of edges and siping that really helps to grip rocks and dig dirt. There are also good sized voids between the lugs and bars between the lugs to facilitate the release mud. The aluminum wheels help get some weight low (always a good thing), and the fact that the 2.2 tires are bigger than stock helps increase the Jeep’s ground clearance and off-road capabilities. Overall, these tires are keepers for sure. This project was tested in Enfield, CT at RC Madness’ indoor scale and comp crawler courses. The tires didn’t do just okay, they actually did great. The Baja MTZ gripped rocks and the Jeep really climbed. Wheel speed wasn’t needed, they tires grabbed like hands on dusty rocks.

rustys jeep action 3

I paid close attention to the RC4WD electronics package I installed. Just how good is a $50 speed control? Turns out, it’s pretty darn good. Drag brakes worked—that’s a plus. When we start adding weight to our scalers, they can become downhill runaways if the drag brakes don’t work the way they should. No issues with the Outcry system there. Throttle feel felt comparable to other brushed systems and the TurboBEC seemed to do its job. The guys at Rusty’s will be putting this Jeep to a long-term test, so I’ll be curious to hear how it holds up to the test of time. For now, all I can say is that it’s so far so good. The 45-turn brushed motor is clearly a quality unit and performed exactly as I expect. It costs more than a closed endbell, sealed can motor, but you are getting more for your money here. To see if the motor had power and to test the speed control’s durability, I hooked the Jeep up to the RC Truck Stop deadweight sled. With stock gearing, it was able to pull twice as much weight as was used at the last competition without letting the magic smoke out, so the combo seems to be the real deal. Out on some trails, the RC4WD-adorned Jeep proved to be quite capable. For scale fun runs, I wouldn’t be in a rush to change much on this Jeep. For competitive use, this Jeep is a great start—especially since the RC4WD Outcry speed control can handle 4S.

Special Thanks
I would like to extend my sincere gratitude to RC4WD, Axial Racing and Zegers RC Graffixx for their help making this project possible. I would also like to thank Pin Shop Hobbies in Oakville, CT for being my frequent source for all the odds and ends needed to finish projects like this.

rustys jeep 1

Axial Racing
Pin Shop Hobbies
RC Madness
Rusty’s Off-Road Products
Zegers RC Graffixx


RC4WD wants to hook you and get you all jacked up on a set of four Chubby 6 Ton Scale Jack Stands. The Chubby Jack Stands are awesome for lifting your truck up to work on it and just showing it off. They are highly detailed and yet fully functional units. This contest is valued at $44 and the contest is free to enter.

rc4wd jack stands

To enter simply leave a comment below with a valid email address so we can contact you if you win. You can double your chances of winning by liking the post for this article on RC Truck Stop’s Facebook Page. The contest ends Sunday December 22, 2013 at 11:59 PM. A single winner will be selected at random. Good luck.

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    1. You should see it in person, Richard. Bill Zegers killed it on this body. It really steals the show. I had it at one of our local crawling locales last night and people loved the body.

    1. Thanks for checking out the article and glad you liked the build. It would be cool if somebody partnered up with some of the more popular full-size companies to offer some sticker kits. In the mean time, Bill Zegers will paint just about any scheme you want.

  1. Great build and like to see Rc rigs that resemble the real thing! Love my Axial JK and yep it too has a lot of RC4WD parts on it!

  2. Really nice, simple build up. Looks like a great combination of parts, nice to see that ESC seems to work well. I’ll be passing a link to this along to a friend of mine who was just asking me about starting in RC last night!

    1. Thanks, Tron, very much for sending a link to your friend. I like to think we have an awesome collection of content for beginners and for fully entrenched enthusiasts. Thanks again.

  3. I love the approach you guys take to your articles and the sound advice. I really like how this came out. I might have to borrow a few ideas.

    1. Thank you very much. Please borrow away–you’ve earned a few given how much you’ve done for the RC community. Thanks for checking out the article and for the kind words.

  4. I bought the 3 ton jack stands because they were more scale and they are wery cool, but they are so small so I would like the bigger ones

  5. Another great article Matt! This one came at just the right time too. Picked up a Rubicon for my sons Christmas present. Lots of great tips here to take it from box stock to a winning crawler!!

    1. Very cool, Scott. Can’t wait to see what you do with it. Get some aluminum knuckles with more steering clearance (plus the stock ones break easily) and some universal axles. STRC just gave a sneak peek at some new universals they have coming out. They should be priced right and we’ll have the full scoop soon. Anyway, make those small front axle changes and add some tires with memory foam and that rig could win any comp.

  6. Rusty’s has supplied me with many 1:1 Jeep Wagoneer parts , now I need RC4WD to supply a Jeep Wagoneer hardbody(or lexan, im not picky) and my life would be complete. Great Job

  7. Hey sick rig! , would love jack stands for my wraith. Its always a work in progress and i use a paint can as a stand now

  8. Excellent build! Want to get back into RC with my boy now that he’s old enough, can’t think of a better way to start. Love this.

  9. Awesome looking Jeep! I really like the way this Jeep looks on 2.2’s! Mine is on 1.9’s like most of them, but the 2.2’s make the Jeep look shorter and cooler. I’m also really digging the paint job!

    The forward-mount battery is one of the best tips. When I built my kit, I installed the battery mount in the rear per the manual. I looked online and saw that many people were installing it in the front. Axial should mention this option in the manual.

    The front suspension can be 4-linked, but I have mine as a 3-link. Are there any advantages of changing it to a 4-link?

    1. I like the 4-link as it’s more durable than Axial’s 3-link setup. The 4-link actually a little less articulation (with can be tuned for tons or very little), but less is more when it comes to dialing in a SCX10. So, go to a 4-link when you can, but I wouldn’t stress about it.

  10. That rig really looks like it just got off a stand at SEMA. Great color scheme. I’ve had varying success with RC4WD products, but better of late. Looks like you guys have a solid component mix.

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