How to convert your RC8 nitro buggy to electric
Brushless and LiPo powered 1/8 vehicles are currently the “buzz” in the RC industry. Many races organizers have added a special class just for them. The runtime is generally around 15-18 minutes but it greatly depends of your driving style, battery, motor and gearing. In the last summer, my buggy has mainly been run more in my backyard than on a race track. So, my good old Team Associated RC8 FT was the perfect candidate for this electric conversion project.
The first step is to remove all unnecessary components from the vehicle. As you may expect, I’ve removed the engine mount, engine, tuned pipe, fuel tank, center diff and the complete radio tray. The next step was to completely clean the chassis. Once everything was clean, it was time to start the conversion.
The choice for the conversion kit was easy, Team Associated offers an electric conversion kit specially designed for their RC8, RC8T and SC8 vehicles. So I knew before the start of the project that the kit will fit perfectly. All the parts needed are included in the e-conversion kit and the instructions are clear. Two spur gears (46T & 50T) and two pinion gears (15T, 16T) are included in the kit. They must been used depending of which vehicle you are converting. The instructions clearly indicate which gears to use for your vehicle. The e-conversion kit moves the receiver box forward on the chassis and eliminates the huge receiver box traditionally located in the rear of the chassis. This helps weight distribution and also gives plenty of room to the brushless motor. Foam pads and three Velcro straps secure the battery pack in place. The battery box is now located where the engine was and it is large enough to accept a wide variety of LiPo pack configuration.
Installing the kit is easy and it only took me few hours to complete the whole conversion. No modification was required to the chassis, this is a direct fit conversion. The only thing I had to do was to cut the fuel line clip from the left mud guard. Since you’ll have to install a new spur gear, take the time to flush, clean and refill the center differential with fresh diff fluid. I’ve filled mine with 7000k diff fluid. This is exactly what I’ve been using since I own the buggy. Don’t forget to inspect the bearings for any sign of wear.
The motor mount is light and looks really nice. It has two larger holes for installing the motor with the mounting screws already installed. Simply insert the motor’s screws through the motor mount, slide the motor until you have a perfect gear mesh and tight the screws. A L-shaped hex driver is included.
To top my buggy, I used a Team Associated RC8e/RC8Be body. I really appreciate that the body came pre-cut with windows masks and overspray protection film. Even the small front section of the body is pre-cut!
Special note if you use a motor from Castle Creation. You’ll need to add extra shims to raise the center differential/motor mount. This is due because Castle’s motors now have a slightly larger can. In my case, four washers did the job to raise the center differential one millimeter higher.
Before the conversion, my nitro buggy weights 3680g with a humppack installed and an empty fuel tank. If I add 125g for the fuel, the original weight is 3805g. Once converted, the buggy weights 3813g with the battery pack installed. It is only 8g heavier than the original nitro version. Keep in mind that I now use heavier tires for my electric buggy. Without these different tires, the electric buggy is few grams lighter than the nitro version.
e-Conversion battery box size:
- without foam pad: 143mm
- with foam pad: 138mm
- without foam pad: 52.5mm
- with foam pad: 42mm
- without foam pad: 20mm
- with foam pad: 17mm
The battery pack:
To power my electric buggy, I’ve decided to go with one of the best names in LiPo battery packs on the market. I’ve choose a MaxAmps 5250mah 4S 14.8 volts LiPo pack with a true 60C rate. The pack is covered by a 3-year or 300-cycle warranty. All MaxAmps packs are made of fresh cells to ensure the best quality and performance. The pack comes with high quality 12awg Deans Ultra wire. During the ordering process, you can specify the connectors and balancing tap you need.
I was surprised when I opened the box. The pack is extremely well packaged to prevent any damage during shipping. The overall quality of the MaxAmps’ battery packs is definitively better than any others battery packs on the market. This is night and day difference compared to “China” made battery packs that you can find on the web.
I don’t like to spend more money for a product when I can find equivalent for cheaper. In the case of the MaxAmps’ LiPo packs, I believe the extra money really worth the peace of mind of a well built battery pack. With all the videos on the web where we can see LiPo packs in fire, I’m still a little afraid of LiPo packs. This is why I prefer the battery packs from MaxAmps. After all, it is a matter of security.
On the initial charge, my charger showed that all the four cells where equally balanced and charged at about 75% of their capacity. This is an ideal charge for shipping a new pack. Few minutes later, my charger beeped and the pack was at room temperature and ready to be installed in my electric converted Team Associated RC8 buggy. The pack fits just right into my buggy.
I’m amazed by all the power my MaxAmps 5250mah 4S LiPo pack produces. The pack is rated at 60C and it really does it. I was sceptic concerning the pack rating. To compare, I have tried my buggy with a pack with a lower C rate. The power difference is noticeable, the MaxAmps pack produces really more punch. The runtime was also very acceptable. I got 20 minutes of hard bashing and the pack was a little hot at the end of the run. Not extremely hot, maybe 10F degrees higher than ambient temperature. You may experience longer or shorter runtime depending of your gearing, your vehicle and your driving style.
Run after runs, the pack has always produced great power and all the cells were always equally balanced at the end of each run. This is exactly what I want from my LiPo packs. It seems that this pack can be run flawlessly all day long!
The motor and ESC:
I picked a Mamba Monster 2200kv combo from Castle Creations. This combo includes a Neu-Castle 2200kv brushless motor and a fan cooled Mamba Monster ESC. The ESC can handle up to 6S (25.2 volts) LiPo packs for incredible top speed. Brushless motors and ESC’s from Castle are well known by bashers and racers for their performances and their durability. The ESC can be programmed for specific track conditions. Many features such as LiPo cut-off, brake, or power curve can be configured through the Castle USB connector. Take note that the USB cable is sold separately. The ESC uses 6.5mm gold plated connectors for minimal power loss. A cooling fan tops the ESC just in case of overheating. The fan had never started during my tests for two reasons, first my buggy has a correct gearing and the second reason is because outside temperature was 10C.
Installation is very simple, the motor and the ESC comes pre-wired. The most time consuming step was when I’ve soldered the battery connector to the ESC. The motor is base on Steve Neu’s popular 15 series motor. The motor is massive with cooling fins all around the can to ensure best cooling. Oversized ABEC-1 bearings are used in front and rear to support the rotor. Castle included a pinion gear with the combo. However I didn’t use it since there was already one included in the e-conversion kit.
Just to be safe, the first time you will power on the ESC, install your vehicle on a block so all four wheels don’t touch the ground. You’ll also have to program your radio for the ESC. Pay close attention to the instructions during this step. They were not extremely clear.
The performances are amazing. Nail the throttle and the buggy immediately accelerates to reach its top speed in only few seconds. I had to familiarize with the control of the buggy in the air. The first times I jumped the buggy with the nose up, I was used to apply brake to correct the buggy in the air. Now, with the electric conversion, I only have to slightly release the throttle and the buggy becomes level. The first times, I’ve applied brakes and the buggy has simply front flipped and crashed on its lid…And on my new wing. The power curve is also very smooth and controllable. No matter at what speed you are running, there is always a good amount of torque and speed left to clear jumps.
Mamba Monster ESC Specifications:
- Cells: 6s LiPo
- Continuous: 120A
- Resistance: 0.0003 ohms per phase
- Brake: Proportional with adjustable curve
- Reversible: Yes – with lockout
- Low Voltage Cutoff: Programmable
- Size: 2.2×1.9×1.4″
- Weight w/wires: 121g (4.26 oz)
- Connector: 6.5mm bullet
Castle 2200kv Motor Specifications:
- Max Input Volts: 25.2V
- Amp Rating*: 120
- Weight: 424g (15 oz)
- Motor Diameter: 39.98mm – 41.78mm with fins
- Motor Length: 75.18mm
- Shaft: 5mm
- Bearings: Oversize ABEC-1 front and rear
- Connector: 6.5mm
- Note: Motor wires OK to shorten
To test my electric buggy, I choose the www.prolineracing.com Badlands tires. I have been tempted by these tires for a while now and I never bought them before because they are not designed for the race track. This project was the perfect excuse to buy them. I have mounted my Badlands tires on Pro-Line Velocity dish wheels. The tires have an aggressive motocross style tread and add a cool look to my buggy.
During my bashing sessions with the buggy, the Pro-Line Badlands were extremely aggressive and have destroyed all surfaces I have run them on. The tires are perfect for all-terrain action and this is exactly what I was looking for this project.
- Castle Creation: Mamba Monster 1/8th Scale Brushless Car Package (2200kV) (PN:CSEMONBCM2200)
- MaxAmps LiPo 5250 4-cell 14.8v Battery Pack
- Pro-Line Racing: Badlands XTR tires (PN: 9021-00)
- Pro-Line Racing: Velocity white wheels (PN: 2702-04)
- Team Associated e-Conversion kit (PN: 80930)
- Team Associated RC8e/RC8Be body (PN: ASC89523)
This electric conversion gave to my Team Associated RC8 buggy a second life. I’ve always liked the feeling of driving electric off-road vehicles and my electric converted RC8 is no exception. I like its new driving attitude and the power delivered by my LiPo/Brushless motor combo. The Mamba has a lot of controllable power at any RPM. Simply squeeze the throttle and the buggy instantly wakes up and flies over jumps. It is like having the perfect nitro engine without all the mess we know of nitro engines.
I’m more than pleased by this project. From the start, I knew my electric 1/8 buggy will be fun to drive but I never expected it to be so powerful and easy to control at the same time.
If you have an old 1/8 buggy or truggy collecting dust, go and convert it to LiPo/Brushless, you’ll love it!
For more information about products used for this project, please visit: