In an attempt to get my lad into something other than the curse that is his Xbox console, I decided to take a gamble and spend some cash in the world of remote controlled cars, buggies, truggies and Baja’s… Baja I hear you say? Yeah me too, it’s actually pronounced ‘baha’ just to add to the ‘what the hell are you talking about?’ thing. My thinking was not only would the driving be fun but the maintenance and aftercare would teach him something about engineering at least. I’ll fully admit though that this is something I’ve wanted to try for a long while too, so yeah, it’s a toy for me also.
I have to say I researched this endlessly, reason being is you could spend small fortunes and not really understand what the hell you’ve just purchased! As expected there’s shed loads of info on the ‘tinternet’ and remember; Google is your friend.
I found one forum particularly helpful over at MS-UK Forums, for the most part the users within are more than helpful and if you use the search function you will find the answers you’re after. As with every online community however, this forum has its twats. Because of this, I’ve found that many online based groups now seem to be drifting to Facebook closed groups with the idea of avoiding the ranters and generally unhelpful trolls that hang around forums. I belong to a number of FB closed groups now myself and I do find them far more friendlier, this in itself I find a pain because at the moment I’m finding FB a complete and utter load of nonsense. It seems to have become a breeding ground for braggers, wingers and people with nothing remotely interesting or relevant to say. Sticking with the FB groups only does help though as I’m socialising online with like minded people.
So, I started by purchasing our first buggy – a Hobao Hyper 7 Nitro powered RC car. It’s a very popular model amongst the beginners and ‘Bashers’ because its very tough, quite fast and parts are so cheap is silly! Reliability is pretty damn good too. Research on the forums also resoundingly proved this to be the one, the ‘ready to run’ price is also easily affordable meaning you get serious bang for your buck.
I choose Nitro because I seriously wanted to avoid electric powered cars. For me electric is soulless, end of. While I appreciate its benefits like non existent noise levels, easier to run, no tuning etc, it just seems an easy way out and they sound bloody awful when being driven. Some thing that needs air and fuel to move is far more in depth and promotes ‘tinkering’… All men like to tinker lets face it! The plus side of course is that junior gets to learn the basics of an internal combustion engine.
After we ‘bashed’ the Hyper for a while I took the next step an bought a Losi 8ight 2.0 Truggy. Truggy means it’s a cross between a monster truck and a buggy. I like these! Losi are one of the high end producers of RC cars and the quality is easy to see as is the performance. Once I went through the engine break in process and got to run the truggy fully I was amazed by the speed of this thing, one word – LETHAL! Shortly after I joined a FB group called Bobbits Bashers, the group consists of local guys that bash at a place called Bobbits Lane in Ipswich. A bash was arranged one weekend where I received an invite! Once I got there, my whole outlook on RC changed! The only way to go was 1/5th scale 2 stroke petrol!!!
I guess before I go on any further I need to explain some terminology. Bashers, Bashing, or to Bash means a group of guys that find some wasteland and drive their cars hard, usually until they break. Breaking or bashing your car then rebuilding it is all part of the hobby. These people have perhaps little interest in racing ‘officially’ at organised tracks and being made to adhere to rules and regulations etc. They spec their cars quite highly then drive with no rules at all. If you crash… Oh well, repair it, Bash, repeat. I have to say its addictive and I can safely say there’s no race track snobbery, every one helps one another be it advice, spare parts or helping to do repairs in the field. All real friendly!
So, why did my outlook on RC change once I went to the first Bobbits Bash? Well a majority of the guys there had 1/5th scale petrol 2 strokes. Not only is the size of these things impressive but the speed, ease of use and the fact they can run anywhere was so much more attractive than nitro. With nitro powered RC’s you need to learn how to tune an engine, the engine will need tweaking every time you run it and it’s fiddly. However once you master this the speeds are incredible, I raced the Losi against a 26cc modded Baja… The Baja lost! With nitro it’s all about the high revs, these little engines will approach somewhere in the region of 35,000 RPM at full tilt and the result is fast with very quick acceleration!
However! With 2 stroke petrol powered RC’s the tweaking is reduced, once you’ve run the engine in and tuned it should stay that way until you decide to change it. The sheer size of these 1/5th’s tearing along at around 40 – 50mph is also impressive as it is fun and because of the size working on them is a little easier. There are two popular types of vehicle that you see everywhere, they are the Losi 5iveT and the Baja’s. Some people go for the HPI versions where as the more cost conscious tend to opt for the King Motor clones, King Motor incidentally seem to be gathering popularity over their HPI counter parts mainly down to the fact that you can grab a very descent car for half the price! I have a heavily upgraded King Motor which so far has cost me less than half of what an alternative HPI would have, it’s also every bit as good as an original or modded HPI version.
Some pics of the cars…