Keep your car running right

Gonzalez, George M

10 steps for best performance

One of the most important factors in becoming a successful driver is knowing how to maintain your RC vehicle to keep it in top condition. You can’t become a good driver if your car or truck doesn’t operate properly, or if it falls apart in the middle of a race. It really isn’t a big hassle to clean your vehicle regularly and make any necessary repairs. Here is a short “to-do” list that will help you properly maintain your RC vehicle. This surefire, 10-step maintenance schedule will help you avoid those dreaded DNFs.

Step 1. Clean it up

Blow the dust and road grime off your vehicle’s chassis with an air compressor, or brush the dust off with a paintbrush. Use an old toothbrush to clean all the little nooks and crannies. Eyeball the entire chassis to check for damaged parts or other potential problems.

Step 2. Drive-train roll test

If your car is electric, remove its pinion gear and roll the car on a flat surface; it should roll smoothly without any resistance. If binding is evident in your 2WD vehicle, check for damage to the drive axles, the bearings and all internal and external gears. In a 4WD vehicle, look for damaged gears, belts and pulleys. Pebbles and other debris can sometimes become lodged between the teeth of the spur gear, drive belts, or pulleys and will bind the drive train. Use a hobby knife to remove debris from pulleys and gears.

To check for drive-train binding in your nitro-powered vehicle, simply roll the car or truck on a flat surface (but first make sure that the brake isn’t engaged). Nitro vehicles should roll smoothly with only marginal resistance. If the vehicle doesn’t roll smoothly, check the clutch-bell/spurgear mesh, because a good run-in with the boards can alter your vehicle’s gear mesh. Experienced racers also remove the clutch bell so they can inspect the clutch shoes and needle bearing before each heat.

Step 3. Ball-diff maintenance

Make sure your cart differential(s) operate smoothly and don’t slip In any way. If the diff feels rough or gritty, a rebuild is definitely in order. You can sometimes get away with simply cleaning the diff components with motor spray and then rebuilding the parts with fresh lube, but the best solution is always to Install new diff balls, rings and thrust-bearing assemblies.

Step 4. Suspension check-out

Remove the shocks and tires to more easily detect binding in the suspension and make any necessary repairs. If your vehicle is equipped with swaybars, either disengage one of the control links or remove the bar completely to allow the suspension arms to pivot freely. Ideally, the suspension arms should pivot smoothly and drop under their own weight. If they don’t, your car may have a bent hinge pin or shock shaft, or a bound– up ball cup or ball end. Isolate the problem, and make the necessary repairs before you continue racing.

Step 5. Inspect the shocks

Before you reinstall the shocks, give them a thorough looking over. Wipe them clean with a rag, and pay attention to the shock seals; this area always seems to collect a lot of dust and dirt. Compress the shock shafts; if the shocks sound squeaky, you’ll need to open the shock caps, add more shock fluid and rebleed as necessary.

Step 6. Tighten screws and other fasteners

Make sure all of your vehicle’s fasteners are tight. Motor and engine-mounting screws, pinion-gear setscrews, wheel locknuts and the fasteners used to secure the steering and camber rods and shocks have all been known to loosen and cause problems. E-dips that secure suspension pins and other components are also notorious for failing off, so inspect and replace all damaged and missing E-dips before your next race. In general, you should check every single fastener before each race to ensure that nothing comes loose in the heat of battle. Of course, applying liquid thread-lock to the fasteners will help keep your car or truck in one piece.

Step 7. Engine and motor prep

Hardcore electric racers who own comm lathes routinely rebuild their motors between heats and start each race with a freshly cut commutator. Although this may be the best way to ensure top performance, maintenance like this really isn’t necessary for club racing. Simply remove the motor from your vehicle and give It a thorough cleaning with a comm stick and motor spray. Afterward, apply a drop of oil to each motor bushing or bearing.

Nitro racers, inspect your vehicle’s engine and carburetor, exhaust system, fuel line, air filter and linkages. Make sure the carburetor is mounted securely; the mounting screws and the clamp nut can loosen, causing an improper seal. Clean the air filter between heats to ensure that the carb gets maximum airflow. Check the cooling head and backplate screws to make sure they’re tight. Check the tuned pipe to make sure it’s fastened securely, and Inspect the fuel line for damage. It’s also a good idea to fire up the engine a few minutes before the race to warm it up and make sure it’s property tuned. Once you’ve cleared your frequency, perform a radio check to make sure that your radio trims are set correctly and that the throttle/brake linkage is operating properly.

Step 8. Rotate the tires

Some of today’s ultra– sticky tire compounds can wear out after just a few runs, so It’s a good Idea to rotate them between heats to extend their useful life. For 2WD vehicles and 4WD buggies, simply swap the left tires with the rights. For 4WD touring cars, swap the right-front and left– rear tires, and do the same with the left-front and right-rear tires.

Step 9. Chassis tweak

Serious touring-car racers know that one good whack into the boards is all it takes to tweak a touring-car chassis, so they keep some sort of chassis-tweak tool in their tuning arsenal. Whether you use scales, a tweak board, or simply balance your car on a knife tip, it’s a good idea to adjust chassis tweak between heats to ensure that your car tracks straight and steers equally in both directions.

Step 10. Body repairs

Check the body for cracks and other damage. Cracks can be repaired temporarily with duct tape (sounds hack, but It works). Check to make sure that the tires aren’t rubbing on the body and that the body isn’t dragging on the track surface. Adjust the body mounts as needed to mount the body correctly. Check the rear wing to make sure that it’s well secured, and you’ll be ready for more action.

Copyright Air Age Publishing Nov 2001

Provided by ProQuest Information and Learning Company. All rights Reserved

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