|RC10 gold pan, first release|
The first step in getting the car back into service was just to see if it even worked. This was easier said than done, due to the state of the car's electronics. The original radio was a wide-band aircraft radio (oops!), using frequencies that are no longer usable, so that had to be thrown out before it was even turned on. The speed controller was a rheostat, and was mostly broken, so it also needed replacement.
The obsolete NiCd battery was so destroyed my dad didn't even give it to me. Unfortunately the original crosswise battery box mounting didn't leave enough space for modern NiMh batteries. In retrospect, I think I could've found a LiPo battery that would have fit, but instead I decided to remount the battery box lengthwise.
After a few attempts to make an adapter to mount the battery holder without drilling the chassis, I gave up and made a critical decision in the evolution of this car: I was not going to attempt to preserve the original buggy, but instead I would just make it work well using modern parts where necessary.
I'm keeping all the old parts, so it could be returned to close to its original state, but truthfully most of the parts I'm replacing for a reason, not just on a whim. The RC10 was a wicked good car in its day (see what I did there?), but mine was the very first version of the kit. Changes were made to critical systems early in its life, and even when this car was original, people routinely replaced parts with better alternatives when possible.
So: To heck with it! I drilled and tapped 2 holes in the chassis to mount the battery holder. Done! One end of the battery now sticks in where the throttle servo used to be mounted, and the other end is held down by one of the two original battery holders. A 6-cell NiMH pack fits perfectly, and I could probably run 7 cells if I found a hump pack instead of a long pack. I haven't made the switch to LiPo, but I'm sure something would fit here.
For the other parts, I got a Spektrum receiver and a brushed ESC. I ripped out the throttle servo, speed controller, receiver, and receiver battery pack, and replaced them with the new parts. The old Futaba servo needed a new connector, so I rewired it. I also needed new bullet connectors on the motor, to replace the original Tamiya connector. I powered everything up, and... it worked! Of course it did, why wouldn't it work after replacing most of the electronics?
In the following weeks a few other problems cropped up. The steering servo was slow and weak, so I replaced it with the Hitec seen above. The motor ended up dying a slow death, probably because of worn brushes like my Losi motor (but after 28 years instead of 28 days). I replaced that with an Axial 27 turn motor to keep it at "stock" speed.
In the end, it's more important for me to get enjoyment out of this buggy than to maintain its original state. I get more enjoyment out of repairing and improving the buggy than from driving it when it's in crappy condition.