DuraTrax Nitro Quake
RTR by Kevin Hetmanski Anyone who knows me knows that I am a huge fan of RC monster
trucks. I love that they can go where other types of RC vehicles can’t. The RC nitro monster truck scene has grown tremendously of late and the newest monster in the lineup is DuraTax’s* Nitro Quake. It’s big and beefy, and comes out of the box ready to run! The truck impressed me at first glance, but there’s far more to a “Track Test” than a simple visual inspection; keep reading!
Vehicle type: 1/8-scale, ready-to-run, nitro-powered, 4WD monster truck
Best buyer. newcomers to nitro; monster-truck lovers; anyone who wants to get up and running quickly KIT RATINGS (poor, satisfactory, good, very good, excellent)
Parts Mulish: good
Overall performance: very good
LIKES * Big, burly design.
* Ready to run, right out of the box.
* .21-powered with pull-starter!
DISLIKES * Body mounts hit shocks (a minor problem, but it’s still there),
* Tires aren’t glued very well.
* Steering servo is a little on the weak side for this application.
Wheelbase 12.75 in. (323.9mm)
Width 16 in. (406mm)
Total, as tested 166 oz. (4,704g)
Type Double-deck Material 3mm 6061-T6 aluminum
Primary Clutch bell/ spur gear
Drive shafts (F/R)
Differentials Bevel gear
Bearings Shielded ball bearings throughout
Type (F/R) Lower A-arm with wishbone upper link/upper and lower wishbone
Damping Oil-filled aluminum shock
Type Chrome-ribbed molded plastic
Type Chevron tread
Steering servo Hitec 605BB
Throttle servo Hitec HS303
Engine DuraTrax Torq 21, rear exhaust, round port
Carburetor Slide valve
Manifold Aluminum, spring type
KIT FEATURES * Chassis. Remember the DuraTrax Axis that we tested last month? The Quake uses the same chassis, and with its sweet blue color, it really stands out. A long, upper aluminum plate reaches from gearbox to gearbox and makes it nearly impossible for the chassis to flex. Except for the engine-mounting screws, all of the screws on the chassis’ bottom have been countersunk to keep them from hanging up on any obstacles (the motor mount is attached with button-head screws). A slot is cut out of the bottom plate so that a starter box can be used to start the engine if a non– pull-start powerplant is installed later. The chassis’ layout is typical of most @9-scale buggies; the engine and fuel tank are mounted on the left, the electronics on the right. The radio box/servo plate is a one-piece unit that runs the length of (and lends additional stiffness to) the already overbuilt chassis.
* Suspension. Once again, the Quake shares its parts with the Axis buggy. The truck’s front end consists of the typical lower A-arm with upper-link suspension that’s found on most cars. The upper and lower suspension pieces are marked with arrows pointing to the front of the truck. If you ever have to remove the suspension arms, the arrows will remind you how to install the arms. Hub carriers are attached to the end of the suspension links. Plastic hubs house the bearings for the front wheels. The truck’s rear end is set up a little differently; upper and lower wishbones are used to support the rear hubs via pivot balls. Two adjustable rods attach the rear hubs to the gearbox and allow you to adjust rear toe. The rear suspension even has adjustable caster. The lower hinge pins have a button head at one end and are held in the arm with a C-clip at the other end. All upper links have various mounting positions to choose from. The upper links are attached with long shoulder bolts. Blue-anodized shocks are attached to all four corners of the truck and provide smooth damping, The rear shocks are mounted in such a way that they come into contact with the bottom of the body posts when the suspension is compressed, but this is easily fixed with a little trimming
* Steering. Twin bellcrank steering is used to guide the truck. The bellcranks pivot on strong steel pins that are fixed at the top and bottom, while the rod ends pivot on a ball stud that has been threaded into the ends of the bellcranks. A built-in servo-saver is included. Adjustable turnbuckles are not, but who cares? It’s a monster truck. If you really feel compelled to adjust front toe, the threaded tie rods will allow you to make the adjustment with only slight disassembly.
* Drive train. Power is transferred from the engine to the drive train through a 3-shoe clutch and 14-tooth clutch bell. The center differential consists of a SIT main gear with a planetary gear differential inside. The front and rear differentials mate with the center unit via dogbone drive shafts. These diffs also use a planetary gear setup inside. The rear wheels are driven by dogbones; the fronts use universals. Two composite disc brakes slow the truck and can be adjusted individually.
* Engine and accessories. The large, 125cc fuel tank has a huge opening for quick fueling; it also features an adjustable fuel nipple. A large basket under the lid prevents large debris from falling into the tank. A pull-start Torq 21 engine gets this monster rolling; the engine features a slide carburetor with high- and low-speed needles, ABC construction, heavy-duty air filter, heavy-duty connecting rod and rear exhaust. The crankshaft is supported by two, heavy-duty ball bearings. To help improve the truck engine’s performance, DuraTrax has also included a header/tuned-pipe combo. Noticeably absent is the trick pipe mount found on the Axis; a functional music-wire support does the job for the Quake.
* Body, wheels and tires. To help you along, DuraTrax includes a prepainted body in the kit; just add stickers and the chrome detail pieces, and you’ll be good to go. The tires have the familiar chevron tread design, but they are taller and narrower than most monster trucks’. Their large diameter will help the truck achieve a higher top speed, and the smaller contact patch created by the tires’ narrow design should give the truck better steering. Ribs that stretch from the hub to the tire flanges reinforce the Quake’s chromed plastic rims; they also give the rim a cool look and add strength. I did have to reglue the tires to the rims, however; DuraTrax did not strip the chrome from the bonding area of the rim, and this allowed the tires to pull loose. Huge, 19mm hex hubs mate the wheels to the drive axles.
* Other stuff. In the box is a video that explains how to break in your new engine and offers great tips on how to tune the engine, once it’s up and running. This video is tremendously helpful for first-time nitro buyers. DruraTrax also gives you a great little molded socket tool to loosen and tighten the nuts that hold the wheels on. You’ll no longer have to use six extensions attached to the socket to reach the nut.
After adjusting the brakes and giving the truck a quick look-see, I grabbed my gear and headed outside. I’ll spare you the engine break-in details; suffice it to say that I followed the kit instructions and the included video to the letter.
Since I live in a wooded area, my yard was the perfect place to test the Quake. I was very pleased with the truck’s acceleration. It isn’t exactly light, but the Torq 21 must really have torque because before I knew it, I was hitting the brakes to prevent the truck from going into the woods. While blasting up and down the yard, I noticed that the front differential was unloading slightly. You can tone this down by disassembling the diff and applying thick grease to the gears.
Although it had plenty of speed and power, the truck was lacking in the steering department. When those big tires get moving, they act as huge gyroscopes, and the servo has to work even harder to move them. A servo with more torque would be a welcome fix to this problem. (I give DuraTrax credit for spec’ing the strongerthan-standard Hitec HS-605BB servo, but the Quake still needs more power here.)
Let me preface the rest of the performance testing by explaining DuraTrax’s “Stress-Tech” guarantee. If you break any Stress-Tech plastic part (which covers just about every suspension component), it will be replaced free during the first six months you own the truck. I was feeling a little cocky with the knowledge of that safety net, so I decided to put the Street-Tech parts to the test. The landscaping around the ol’ homestead has some nicely shaped embankments that serve as perfect roller jumps, so of course, I sent the truck sailin’. After several jumps that put at least 5 feet of air under the truck, I was pleased to see that not a single part on the Quake had broken, and the chassis was in the same shape as it had been before the flying session. Did I mention that it was 30 degrees outside when I ran the truck? Cold temperatures usually take a toll on lastic parts, but the big Q held up just fine.
Despite the minor diff-unloading and servo-strength problems I had with the truck, I had a blast driving it. DuraTrax has assembled a great package. Whether you are new to the RC hobby or have been involved in it for a while, if you’re looking for a fast, fun, nitro monster, then check out the DuraTrax Quake.
*Addresses are listed alphabetically in the Index of Manufacturers on page 208.
Copyright Air Age Publishing Apr 2000
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