Electric buggy at his best !
Words and photos: Sylvain Lafrance
One year passed since I put my hands on my RC10B4 SE RTR for the first time. I bought this buggy to be my filler class for the 2006 season. I wanted an fun electric vehicle to complete my race day with my Monster GT and also to improve my 2wd skills and to return to the roots of RC racing, remember the gold chassis RC10 buggy ??
Because I have no electric stuff and because this was just a filler class, I bought the RTR version with few battery packs and I was ready to hit the track.
Since this day, Team Associated has released a new version of the B4, this is the RC10B4RS (Race Spec) which now included a metal gear steering servo, a 30000RPM motor and a new paint scheme).
Keep on reading to know what’s happened to my B4 race season !
As soon as I dropped the B4 on my working table, I noticed how low and wide this buggy is making me dreaming about his track performance. Just before I began to inspect everything, I connected my new Reedy 3300 pack to my charger, pressed few buttons to start charging. Inspecting the B4 was pretty easy. The buggy is well build, no loose, perfect gear mesh and suspension was smooth just like I wished. I put some decals on the body and installed the antenna tub.
Few minutes later, my battery pack was fully charged. I installed the pack in my B4 and add 8 AA’s to the radio. I turned on the radio followed by the buggy. The AI ESC came to live, I put the B4 on my race track. I slowly pressed the throttle and steered left/right just to make sure everything was perfect. Steering trim was on spot right out the box, no need to adjust any trim here.
First track test
Since I’m a nitro guy and I didn’t have race 1/10 scale electric for many years I was curious to compare acceleration and top speed with my nitro racers. On my short track, I did a slow first lap to familiarize with the B4. I went in the straight section and nail the throttle. The B4 immediately accelerated and the rear tires loosed traction while I was approaching the first corner. The B4 was much faster than I imagined and cornering was well over my expectations. In fact, I entered the first corner at almost full throttle, the B4 didn’t over or under steered, it just slided a little bit but I never lost control. Going though the corners were pretty easy but now I was heading the biggest jump of the track, nailing the throttle (and closing my eyes) I hit the jump at full speed and the B4 flew level like a champ. The B4 bottomed out on landing but this was my fault, the jump had no landing zone and I really pushed the B4 hard. The B4 handled the rest of my track test perfectly. It jumped well and landing was also perfect. In fact, you’ll need to push the B4 really hard to get it out of shape and no matter how hard I drove it, the B4 made me look like a pro on the track.
Setting up for the race season
For his first real race, I browsed the Team Associated’s web site for any setup sheets. I found good base information for the setup I wanted. I didn’t want to change all the settings because the B4 was handling like I want. The only change I did was the shock oil. I went with 30wt for the rear shocks and 35wt for the front shocks. Everything else (camber, slipper adjustment, toe, caster, shock position, preloads and springs) was stock out of the box.
From what I heard for the guys at the track, there was supposed to have a mod buggy class and a 19T buggy class. I installed a brand new Reedy Quad 19T motor and since my soldering iron was hot, I installed Deans plugs between the motor and the ESC and I replaced the stock battery Tamiya connector with a Deans plug too. I didn’t change the pinion gear, the stock 23/81 ratio seemed perfect for the new 19T motor. Just for my peace of mind, I removed the stock receiver and installed my Airtronics FM receiver.
To avoid back lashing and to add precision to the drive train, I replaced the stock dogbones with MIP CVDs. Not that the stock bones were not doing their job but just because I use MIP CVDs for so many years now… They are almost part of the family! And CVDs always look more “racer”.
In the tire department, I kept the front tires in place. The stock rear tires were replaced with Pro-Line Bowties. I used a body reamer to oversize the existing venting hole in all four wheels to 1/8″. I also added two more 1/8″ holes to increase tires adherence.
One last thing, I bought a clear body from Team Associated and painted it green. My talent as a painter are really limited and green was my “official” color for 2006!!!
The race season
My local race club organized a championship based of four special races during the summer. The 2wd buggy class is by far not the most popular at the club. On the first race we were only 5 on the starting grid. And guess what ??? There was no 19T class so I had to race against brushless and 11-12T brushed motors in the mod class. I put my B4 on the track and went to the driving stand. I did half a lap to reach other buggies at the starting line. What’s fun with electric is you don’t have to worry about engine temp or to fill up before the qualify or the main.
I finished third at all qualify and I finished third at the main. The two guys in front of me were better than me but there were also running hotter motors.
A month later, on the second race, for the first time I broke something on my B4. A front a-arm didn’t appreciate a contact with a pipe in a qualify. Because my B4 was my filler class, I had minimum spare parts in my pit box. However I had a complete from a-arm kit. Once fixed the front suspension was like new and I was ready for the next qualify. I don’t remember where I finished on the second qualify but it’s sure I didn’t finish in the top 2, let’s say…. 4th. My third qualify ended earlier than expected, a front shock’s end popped out and I lost the spring. Fortunately, another racer had a replacement spring. Nothing broke in the main and guest what…. I finished third!
Another month passed and I was ready for another race but before every race trip, I have a kind of “luck ritual”… I inspect and run my vehicle in front of my house before I pack them in the car. This time, this wasn’t really a luck ritual, I broke the steering servo. Stock servo in the SE version has plastic gears; the new RS version has a metal gear steering servo. I quickly replaced the steering servo with a servo that was lying in my pit box. Just had time to center the steering and verify if the servo was going left / right… I know this is not how we must prepare our vehicle but I was really short on time.
Right in the beginning of the first qualify, I noticed a weird problem with the throttle response. There was a kind of hesitation before accelerating. I nailed the throttle in the 130ft straight lane and the B4 was fully accelerating and then slowing down… few second later he was fully accelerating without I released the throttle. I managed to complete the qualify and went back to my table. Monster truck class was right after the buggy class so I didn’t have time to inspect my B4, I had to race my MGT. After the monster truck qualify and after marshalling, I inspected the B4’s electronics… Everything seemed perfect, even when holding the B4 in my hands and giving full throttle I wasn’t able to identify what was causing this problem. A good “race friend” turned my motor on his comm lathe and rebuilt it before the second qualify. The same problem happened in the second qualify; the motor was hesitating and accelerating. I inspected all connectors from the battery, the receiver, the ESC, the motor. I still unable to reproduce the same problem when I was holding the B4 in my hands, I was only able to reproduce the problem on the track. I concluded that under race condition, when I nailed the throttle, amps were getting to high in the ESC and this was causing my problem. I continued to race with this on/off effect for the rest of the day. In the final, I finished 4th.
After the race I put the B4 on the shelf for 2 weeks before I started to work to fix the problem. Even with a new motor I still had the problem. I brought the B4 with me in the living room so I can figure out what was the problem while having an eye on my children. My son came at me and began to play with the front wheel to make the B4 steer to the right and left. This is at this moment that I remembered that I changed the steering servo the day before the race. I installed a standard servo and went to my own track. I put the B4 on the track and I did few laps with no on/off problem. We (me and my 3 years old son) found the problem and fixed it. It seems there was an incompatibility between the servo and the receiver and/or the ESC….
Already the last race of the season, my B4 is ready and I’m confident that this last race will be my best race. I always arrived 1-2 hours before the beginning to talk with other racers. I approached the two guys who are leading the championship and began to talk with them. They told me that they will not race in the 2wd buggy class today…. They preferred to concentrate them self on the 1/8 buggy class… Do you know what it means??? It means that I had to only make 1 lap in the final and I’ll win the championship… Cool
I began to talk with a electric stadium racer and he told me that there was not enough entries in the electric classes, they will race 2wd buggy and electric stadium together. This was a good idea because I always wanted to compare my B4 with a stadium truck.
After three qualify, I was first in buggy and third overall (buggy and truck mixed). I knew this was my last race in this class. At the sound of the tone, I gave all I can and I tried to enjoy this last race with my B4. I don’t know why, but it seemed that I was driving like a champ and the buggy was going so well. I finished the race first and second overall. This was one of the best race of my life.
I really appreciated every second passed with my RC10B4. Even if it was a RTR model, I had so much fun to drive this buggy. The B4 makes me feel like I was a pro driver. My lap times were getting better at every race. I never had to fight against the B4, I only had to let it go. The B4 is so forgiving that it almost makes me feel like I was Jared Tebo !
You can easily upgrade the RTR version to a Factory Team because all B4 share the same suspension, drive train and parts.
I don’t think that there will be a 2wd buggy class next season. I should have discovered the B4 few years before. Another race club at 300 miles from me will race them next year…. The B4 is so exciting to drive that it’s worth the trip.