STRC Steel Universal Kit for Axial Wraith Installation and Review

strc axial shaft

The guys at ST Racing Concepts have clearly kept a close eye on the Axial brand when it comes to affordable upgrades and they now have some new steel universal axle shafts for Axial’s AR60 axles. I consider universal axle shafts a must-have upgrade, so I was eager to grab some some of the first sets STRC had available and put them to the test. The AR60 axles are used for the Wraith and AX10 series for the front axle, but you can use them for rear too if your truck is equipped with 4WS. The new Yeti uses an AR60 for its rear axle, so you could set that up with rear steer.

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FEATURES
The STRC universal axles are made of heat-treated carbon steel. The axle ends, or outers, are are also heat-treated and have a clever design. As I will show you, this style does not use a set screw, so no yucky thread locking. Instead, the cross pin is held in by the outer shaft  aluminum collar, which does come in different colors.

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As you can see, the upgraded STRC universal shaft is bigger in shaft diameter and it doesn’t hurt that they look pretty good and well finished. The advantage to upgrading the shafts is beneficial when your looking into the need for some sharper turning abilities than stock, and perhaps a higher torque output motor system later on. Either way, we liked how these went together and how easy is was to install into the axles.

INSTALLATION
If you’re like most Wraith axle owners, you’ve notice that the stock axles are okay, but don’t exactly deliver an extreme turning radius. When you do crank the wheel, some drivers have heard “clicking” of the axles as they maxing. This is common with most dog-bone setups. Installing front universals will omit this condition, so let’s get started:

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First, remove the outer steering knuckle. Make sure you don’t lose the captured spacer collars in between each upper and lower mount. 

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Now remove each outer axle end. Take note of the splines and potion of each axle end. These can often get reinstalled incorrectly. It is possible to install upside down and backwards. While obvious to some, it can throw you off if you’re not paying attention. Marking the ends where they are before disassembly with a black sharpie is good idea for the time apart.

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Remove the old axle shaft. It might take a bit of pulling. Use care when pulling out the axle, so you don’t damage the internal locker and bearings. If a bearing came out with the shaft, it’s okay. Carefully maneuver the bearings off the shaft by grabbing it with a towel. If it’s being stubborn, you can you needle nose pliers. Just make sure the ends of the needle nose are pushing on the inner race. Another option, if your budget allows, is to take this as a sign to get some new bearings on there.

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The STRC axles assemble with no set screws. The internal cross pin is captured by the outside collar, as mentioned earlier. This means no thread locking compound is needed. I would only suggest some light coats of white grease for ease of assembly.

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Now reinstall the outer axle ends. Insert the complete shaft until the shaft is engaged and fully seated in  the internal diff locker. You’ll know the shaft is fully in place when the outer bearing at the axle ends is flush with the inner cv axle flange, or when the cross hex pin is visible when the steering knuckle is installed.

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PERFORMANCE & FINAL ASSESSMENT
During testing, everything was going smoothly without any problems . . . until the end of my last run on the rocks. Well, everything doesn’t always go as planned during testing. After running through three packs and taking in the smooth steering and loving the increased steering throw and resulting tighter turning radius, it all came to a sudden end when I broke one of the new axle shafts. I was completely surprised.

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Sometimes stuff breaks because of poor quality materials or faulty design, but when I inspected the parts and pieces and specifically focused on where the break was, I had to admit, to myself and now you, I suspected neglect on my part–neglect to make sure that the radio’s steering end points were adjusted properly so that the axles weren’t being maxed out on every turn. I’ll admit, it seemed like a rookie mistake, but as most would assume because of the increased throw of the universal design and the stronger material, that they could be run without any worry about too much steering throw.

When I contaced the guys at ST Racing Concepts I found out that I’m not alone. They were upfront and honest about the issue. STRC advised me that, according to the tech team there, they have found other cases similar to mine, and determined that, in fact, it wasn’t all human error on my part. STRC has found that when they designed the shaft ends, they tried to build too much material at the edge of the axle ends, so at full lock it actually ground down into the neck of the axle where you see it snapped.  My endpoint adjustment theory was still a good one as it may have prevent the problem, but clearly there is a design issue at hand. STRC working on a redesign of the part as I write this. They had about a dozen customers thus far contact them regarding this issue. They suspect the additional cause maybe the use of the diff locker, and that it transfers too much torque at one time to the axle shaft (this is the same thing that happens with full-size trucks equipped with lockers). I feel that is certainly plausible, but few people are running a bevel-gear diff in a Wraith, so it is somewhat irrelevant. That said, I think proper steering adjustment is an important factor. If you experience a problem, contact STRC and tell them the situation. STRC seems to stand by their product. I myself will be getting replacement shafts from the STRC website, and then also making sure I adjust the end points a little better. I’ll also be waiting and watching to see what STRC has in store for the newly designed shafts and will keep you up to date on this as revisions become available. I imagine it will be a running change and the issue I described above will impact few people.

Links
ST Racing Concepts

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6 Comments

  1. another issue with these Chris, is that IF your going to use them in a set of AR60s that have an open diff for Monster trucks you will need to trim 4mm off on of the shafts to make them fit, did this on my JYD project, have been beating on the truck in testing, no issues as of yet. also when working on the axles, make sure that the Capture sleave stays put and doesnt slide off, this can cause a few minute of swearing while looking for the pin.

    1. The red anodized collars have a tapper on one side and slide on from the threaded end of the axle end. When installed properly, they have no where to side off too. The cross pin wasn’t my issue, as you can see 🙂

  2. then consider yourself lucky Chris, mine had just a few thousands of play, just enough to slip off, once i got used to them doing that i was ok. this was during the upgrade on my front end. after a few runs and dust got it them, the red cap stays put.

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