We test Tamiya’s world championship winner
DURING A CONVERSATION I HAD A FEW YEARS AGO with a prominent RC manufacturer, we discussed what the result would be if a company such as Tamiya ever decided to fully develop a race car. Sure, Tamiya had introduced “race” cars in the past, but what we speculated about was the kind of vehicle that could be produced if Tamiya focused its considerable resources on the full development of a competition car. Tamiya products have a reputation for exceptional quality. The company is a master of molding composites, and that’s a critical element of a modern competition touring car’s construction. We agreed that Tamiya would be very tough competition if it ever set its sights on the racing market. Well. guess what? Tamiya went racing!
The TRF414MII is the latest in a generation of competition touring cars that was begun four years ago. The genesis of the program was the TRF404X; it was followed by the limited-production TRF414X that mostly went to team drivers. Subsequent versions were the TRF414, the TRF414X and, most recently, the 414M. During four years of testing and R&D, Tamiya engineers have continued to refine the machine, and the latest version is the TRF414MII; this is the car that recently earned the title of IFMAR world champion!
VEHICLE TYPE Belt-drive 1/10-scale competition touring car
BEST BUYER Experienced racer
KIT RATINGS (poor, satisfactory, good, very good, excellent)
Parts fit and finish Excellent
Overall performance Excellent
DISTRIBUTED BY Tamiya USA
(Price varies with dealer)
Wheelbase 10.24 in. (260mm)
Width 7.44 in. (189mm)
Total, as tested 52.5 oz. (1,488g)
Type Double-deck plate
Material 2mm woven-graphite plate with alloy bulkheads
Type Dual belt
Primary 30T pinion/128T spur
Transmission ratio 15T/32T pulleys; 2.13:1
Final drive ratio, as tested 9.10:1
Drive shafts Constant Velocity
Differentials (F/R) Ball type with Delrin outdrives/center and front one-ways
Bearing type Metal-shielded
Type Molded-graphite lower H-arms with steel turnbuckle camber upper links
Shocks Threaded aluminum body with Teflon shaft guides and bladder seal
Type Tamiya medium-narrow blue, dish wheels with zero offset
Type Sorex 36R competition belted rubber
CHASSIS. The MII includes a woven-graphite, double-deck chassis, and both decks are 2mm thick. It forms a very solid backbone once all the components have been assembled. The lower plate supports two battery configurations: stick and saddle pack. In the U.S., it seems odd to accommodate stick packs for a high-end race car, but RC racing rules in Japan require a stick pack.
Signature blue-anodized aluminum bulkheads connect the chassis plates. The blue hardware is available only on the MII; it’s also a visible characteristic that distinguishes the M from the MII.
DRIVE TRAIN. The 414MII’s drive train is all business; it was designed for racing-nothing but racing. The spur gear is sandwiched between a blue– anodized hub and a graphite plate, and that helps keep the gear running straight. Three spur gears are included in the kit: 112-, 120- and 128-tooth.
The spur gear is attached to the upper shaft, which has a solidly mounted pulley that drives the rear belt and a one-way pulley for the front belt. A solid front drive pulley isn’t included, but a flat has been ground into the layshaft for an optional pulley that could be mounted in place of the front layshaft one-way.
A well-made ball differential with an assembled, high-quality thrust washer, indexed diff rings and lightweight Delrin outdrives with retainer rings is installed in the rear. The front of the car is equipped with one-way bearings, and that makes the MII a double one-way rig right out of the box.
Constant Velocity (CV) drive shafts connect the diffs to the axles. Each is fitted with an aluminum 12mm hex hub, and steel pins held in place with O-ring retainers index the nice-looking hubs to the CV drive shafts.
SUSPENSION AND STEERING. As with its predecessors, the Ml’s suspension comprises molded lower H-arms with adjustable upper links; however, the arms are molded from a very rigid graphite composite, and that is a dramatic departure from the more flexible materials typically used in Tamiya kits.
Each arm has adjustable down-travel, but the shocks are the only uptravel limiters. The suspension arms are affixed to the chassis with aluminum mounts that are separate from the bulkheads. This allows a very wide range of roll-center, anti-squat and anti-dive adjustments, all of which the world champ used to his advantage to win the most coveted title.
Two of the six included swaybars are installed-one at each end of the car. Steel turnbuckle upper links are found at each corner; I’m glad that turnbuckles are included, but I would prefer them to be titanium. Each graphite shock tower has six camber-link mounting positions, but Tamiya extended the inside of the upper links to the aluminum bulkheads instead.
Damping is handled by exceptional threaded aluminum shocks, The
damping action is very smooth and seamless, An unidentified shock oil is included, but I tossed it in favor of Trinity 60WT silicone fluid.
Yellow 1.5mm, 6-coil springs come with the kit; they are relatively firm and appropriate for the stock suspension setup, but I installed softer, blue 1.3mm, 5-coil springs to try and match the world champ’s setup (see “World champ’s setup” for more details).
The front suspension features the typical lower arm with upper link configuration that you’ll find on most cars, but the MIl also includes radius arms. These arms (or links) are attached to the hub carriers, and they are angled back toward the upper deck to form an upper A-arm of sorts that is incredibly solid. Adding the radius arms ensures that the front suspension will maintain its caster angle regardless of cornering forces.
BODY, WHEELS AND TIRES. The MII doesn’t include these; as with any other race car, you choose. I selected the same body style the champ used: a Protoform 190mm Dodge Stratus. Adam Epp took care of the painting chores.
The wheels and tires are Tamiya zero-offset 24mm hoops (with Sorex inserts) and 36R tires. They are not the spec tires used at the Worlds, but it’s a good combination for a prepared asphalt track. The kit includes white wheels, but I installed Tamiya’s blue versions, as used by the champ.
I’m a racing buff through and through. I like different disciplines, of course, but there’s nothing I like more than a refined, versatile racing machine. The latest version of Tamiya’s 414 is just such a machine.
In our area, clubs and hobby shops tend to use as much of the available real estate for the track as they can so there are few flowing corners or spaces between lanes. Sure, there’s an occasional sweeping corner and a keyhole turn here and there, but most corners are rather tight, and the lanes are typically separated only by the width of a 2×4.
I found that the MII handles as well as any car I’ve driven under these circumstances, but the front and center one-ways narrow the line leading into, and exiting, the corners. To maintain corner speed, you must come in wide and exit wide, especially in the 180-degree corners. The rear-wheel-only braking that results from the use of one-ways in the front can make hard braking a little more “exciting.” Consequently, for tracks like the ones I race on, the best setup is to install a solid front drive pulley on the center layshaft and a front ball diff. This lets you brake later and harder, and that is well suited to tracks with a lot of tight turns-especially ones with fast sections that lead into those turns.
Power isn’t an issue with my test setup. I used the same motor and batteries as the world champ did, so there’s no lack of power. I installed the same wind Reedy 8×2 Ti (titanium) motor and Reedy Extreme Sanyo RC3ooo-HV NiMH battery as the champ’s; I also used the same 30T pinion and 128T spur-gear setup as he did. The only thing I didn’t match in my power-train setup was the big capacitor on the speed control, but that’s coming soon, too.
I could talk all day about my experiences with the car; in short, I think it has all the ingredients needed to win on just about any track. As luck would have it, my words and experiences are almost irrelevant because this is the reigning IFMAR ISTC world champion car. It dominated in a race against the best competition in the world and in a racing format that all but eliminates the possibility of luck.
The TRF414MII is every bit a race car, a competition touring car of such high quality and design that it has quickly earned the title of world champion.
It drives well out of the box, but more important, it’s very adjustable. Its features make it versatile and adaptable to a variety of track conditions, and the range of tracks to which it’s suited becomes even greater if you add a solid front drive pulley and front diff. Even if you run it stock, I bet you can get around just about any track with the best of them when you drive Tamiya’s 414MII.
FUTABA distributed by Great Planes Model Distributors (800) 637-7660; futaba-rc.com. PROTOFORM distributed by Pro-Line (909) 849-9781; pro-lineracing.com.
REEDY MODIFIEDS a division of Team Associated (714) 850-9342; teamassociated.com.
ROBINSON RACING (209) 966-2465: robinsonracing.com.
TAMIYA AMERICA INC. (800) 826-4922; tamiya.com.
TEAM SOREX USA (916) 783-8864; teamsorexusa.com.
Copyright Air Age Publishing Sep 2002
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