Project: Tamiya TAO3: Part 3: full option Kawada
TAKING IT to the limits. That’s what our Project Tamiya* TA03 series is all about. We showed you the G-Man’s wild Kose* TA03 Mid and Peter Vieira’s lightweight, ballistic Cross Racing* TA03F-Pro, and now it’s up to me to put a spin on this series with my Kawada* TA03F super car.
To help me totally revamp this car’s racing potential, Sunrise R/C* sent us all the Kawada hop-up options it imports. To make the final product even more astonishing on the track and in the pits, we also contacted other companies.
Moreover, instead of using a Pro chassis as a foundation, we started with a TA03F tub chassis in Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution IV racing trim. This will give TA03F tubchassis owners an idea of which parts they will need to convert their road car into a full-blown racer.
To control costs, the TAO3F tub chassis comes with gear diffs and bushings. For this reason, I decided to install some of Tamiya’s optional tuning parts.
*Sealed ball bearings-a complete set. This was my first mod. If you can afford ball bearings, install them when you build the car, and let your drive train run smoothly from the get-go.
*Super-smooth front and rear ball differentials-because I planned to do some hardcore racing.
*Lightweight aluminum countershafts. These replaced the 03’s hefty steel countershafts and reduce rotating mass.
*Chassis/bellcrank block (part no. 50703). This is included with the TAO3F-Pro, but I started with a TAO3F tub chassis. This part is needed to support the bellcranks and the front gearbox.
Having put the stock plastic tub chassis aside, I started to prep Kawada’s graphite chassis, which is cut from 100-percent woven graphite and looks incredibly trick.
The cool thing about this chassis is that it will take stick packs or saddle packs-your choice. If you choose stick packs, you’ll need a TAO3F-Pro battery holder or a Kawada Quick Battery Holder, which I chose. The Kawada mount allows you to use either stick or side-by-side racing packs, and it really frees battery installation of all hassle. There’s no need for straps, tape, or body clips; just lift the narrow end of the fiberglass battery retainer and slide in the battery pack. The chassis also allows two stickpack battery mounting locations: forward for more steering and rearward for more rear traction.
Next, I installed Kawada’s stout upper chassis plate. It’s made of the same woven graphite material as the chassis, and once installed, it stiffens the chassis so much that it would take superhuman strength to flex it.
I also decided to install a pair of Kawada nerf wings. They were designed to protect the rear suspension arms, wheels and shock tower, and they look cool.
If you plan to use the chassis battery slots for your saddle packs, you’ll have to cut or grind off the mounting holes on the front and rear battery slots on the chassis (these holes are for the stick-pack battery holder). You’ll also have to secure your saddle pack on the chassis with strapping tape or some other fastening system.
I wanted my car to be as adjustable as I could make it, so I replaced its stock, non-adjustable camber links with Kawada’s adjustable tie rod set. The set includes the tie rods, yellow nylon ball ends, aluminum ball joints and all the mounting hardware. I also replaced the stock threaded hinge pins with a Trinity* “metric to American” hinge-pin set. The kit includes all the necessary hinge pins and E-clips as well as a drill bit that’s used to ream the hinge-pin mounting slots to the proper size.
Tamiya’s stock plastic shocks are excellent, but I decided to go all out and install a complete set of Kawada’s Teflon-coated CP oil shocks because they’re as smooth as silk. They come with an assortment of shock pistons and all sorts of bright yellow nylon hardware that looks snazzy on the TA03 chassis.
I built the shocks according to the instructions. I selected the no. 5, two-hole pistons from the black parts tree and put the original Tamiya limiters on the shaft to limit the down-travel. As David Jun recommended in “How to Build a Nats-Winning TA03” (RIC Car Action, January ’98), 1 filled the shocks with 30WT Associated shock oil. I installed Kawada’s rod adjuster ball ends on the shock shaft; these extended ball ends allow the shocks to be mounted on the TA03’s Delta-box suspension arms without the shocks’ spring perches hitting the arms. I used Tamiya blue springs, which required a little manipulation to fit over the shock collars and spring perches. To help improve the car’s handling, I added Kawada’s color-coded swaybars-yellow (soft) in the front and red (medium) in the rear.
Unlike George’s and Pete’s machines, mine doesn’t have a bunch of aluminum suspension arms, uprights, or steering knuckles. Don’t get me wrong; there’s nothing wrong with aluminum suspension pieces, but the stock plastic units work extremely well and have proven to be durable. The stock dogbones, on the other hand, are … well, stock. I decided to install MIP’s* Shiny CVDs on all four corners. These axles reduce friction in the drive train and transfer power smoothly to the wheels despite the constantly changing pivot angles and the high loads imposed by a racing car.
I also installed a pair of lightweight, Beat X* superior hex hubs. Each comes with an O-ring to hold the drive pin when the wheel is removed. They also come with a variety of shims that are useful for removing play between the drive pin and the wheel bearing.
In addition to installing adjustable upper camber links, I also installed Kawada’s turnbuckle steering-arm set. The steering turnbuckles can be adjusted while still installed in the car-a major benefit when you need to make quick, trackside, front toe adjustments.
For serious power, I bolted a Kawada MX-5 13-turn motor behind the Tamiya aluminum heat sink. This hand-wound modified motor should really light up the tires. And speaking of tires: I decided on a set of Kawada belted tires and unique-looking VR-Dish wheels. The tires come with foam inserts and are composed of a soft rubber compound. Try this: cut the edges off the foam inserts before you glue the tires to the rims.
At last, it was time to choose a body. After scrutinizing Kawada’s huge selection of unique offerings, I selected the Toyota Chaser (TU-65). This is one prime piece of Lexan! After painting it, I custom-made Kawada decals with a Sky Aviation*/Roland Stika vinyl cutter-a handy little machine that makes excellent decals.
After spending many days and nights tricking out this stunning vehicle, I certainly wasn’t about to skimp on the electronics I’d use to control it. I chose Futaba’s* 3PJ radio, FP-R113F FM receiver and new S3401 servo. A Tekin* P12C speedo regulates the power that comes from the Orion* 2000mAh battery pack.
With a large empty parking lot at my disposal, I put the Kawada TA03 on the pavement for some serious ground-pounding action.
After watching Pete and the “GMan” lay down the power with their cars, I knew I was in for a real treat. The car accelerated quickly and smoothly and headed for the turn at high speed. I had never run a Kawada motor before, but now I think I might find myself running one more often. This motor gave some massive yank on the straight and snapped out of each corner.
The smooth shocks and swaybar kit allowed me to hug the turns with minimal chassis roll; there was no sign of this car getting out of shape. I was also impressed by the abundance of steering with the front-mounted motor.
Kawada is known for its excellent tire compounds, and after running with them, I can understand why! The soft, yet non-sticky, belted radial tread tires were the hot ticket for the asphalt I ran on. I was glad I had taken the extra time to prep the tires before gluing, as the sidewalls got a real workout, and a loose bead can spell spinout in a turn. I believe the agility of Project 3 on a racecourse would make this car an explosive competitor.
PROJECT TAo3 WRAP-UP
The Kawada TA03 featured on these pages may not look as exotic as George’s Kose (Part 1) and Peter’s Cross (Part 2) “Project” cars because the two have more aluminum hopup parts than you can count! Just remember that more isn’t necessarily better; my Kawada car performs just as well as the other cars despite its slightly lower glam factor.
We hope that you enjoyed our three-part “Project TA03” series. Building, tuning and racing these cars was tons of fun and very enlightening. The companies featured all offer an excellent selection of parts that allow you to hop up your TA03 as much or as little as you want. Keep reading; we have many other cool projects to reveal. Until next time ….
MIP’s Shiny CVDs are hidden once installed. Here, you can see the axles better.
Copyright Air Age Publishing Apr 1998
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