2012-08-02

Miniature Cars: Losi XXX-SCB

To anybody who thought this was only a miniature wargaming blog: sorry! It's a blog about whatever interesting things I'm doing at the time, and that has meant miniatures for a long time, but it is not exclusively about gaming.
"And now, for something completely different." -- Monty Python's Flying Circus
A while back, my parents brought me my old RC10 gold pan remote control buggy, almost 30 years old.  I stuck it in the basement and forgot about it for a while.  But in June, I decided to go to a local hobby store to get some parts to put it back into action.

Losi XXX-SCB
After a bit of discussion with the local RC car expert, I decide it made more sense to get a new car instead of fixing the old one, at least until I had more clue.  I settled on a Losi XXX-SCB short course buggy, ready to run. My decision was based primarily on what it looked like: many of the modern RC offroad cars look pretty horrible, but this one reminds me of a 1930's open-wheel racer.

Out of the box, this is a really fast car compared to my antique RC10.   I really like it, and highly recommend it, with one caveat: don't expect the motor to last very long.  It has a cheap but fast brushed motor with a built in fan, that sucks dust into the brushes and wears them down very quickly.  The motor isn't serviceable, so it needs to be replaced quickly if you drive outdoors.

In my case, my replacement motor was defective and blew up the speed controller as well, so now I have a new Duratrax Element (by Castle) brushless motor system.  It is completely sealed against the environment, and it has already lasted a lot longer than the original motor did.

With such a nice offroad car, where do you drive it?  It quickly became apparent that in order to maintain interest, I needed to have goals.  Simply driving around aimlessly to see how fast it is didn't stay fun for long.  I started by convincing Frank he also needed one, so at least we could drive together.
Backyard RC track, first layout

But the real keep to keeping things interesting was driving it on a track, so I could try for incremental improvements in performance.

I got a bunch of flexible 4" irrigation pipe and 60d nails, cut the pipe in half the long way, and laid out a track in the back yard.  It's very small: the whole yard is as wide as a single lane of a ROAR compliant off-road track.  But it's a lot more fun to drive with the track than without it.

We've been changing up the layout, and encroaching onto the neighbor's yard as well.  More recently we added a jump to the long straight.

There is a nearby indoor carpet track, but I don't think they're doing any off-road racing in the summer.  That will be a good way to drive in the winter, though I may want to try it out when the population is lower.

After playing with these cars for a while, my interest has increased instead of decreasing, so expect more posts soon.

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