I was one of the lucky ones to receive the new Trailfinder 2 in advance, and here is my account of building this kit, with pointers for those who are considering purchasing one for them selves.
First up, the packaging. Rather than the plain box that previous RC4WD kits and ARTR's arrive in, the TF2 box is nicely printed and contains information about the model like we see from larger manufacturers.
Speaking of large, it's not a small package.
Which is good, because as you can see all the major metal components are neatly isolated by shaped foam liners for safe transport.
The Mojave body kit is contained in it's own inner box, and various other bits are in poly bags.
Also included is a nicely printed pictorial instruction booklet that is clear and notes the fastener sizes for each step.
Components of interest:
Various subassemblies come factory completed, so I thought I'd give you a closer look at these, and some observations that I made during assembly.
The R3 2 speed transmission.
This is an all new item from RC4WD, and to me, is one of the high points of the kit. It's the first rc gearbox that I can think of that has been made to actually look like a gearbox. Some could argue that of the old Tamiya 3 speed, but that might have the rough outline of one, but this is something else.
I have no photos of the internals, but it is fully metal geared (with the exception of the external slipper mounted spur).
Mmmmm..... clockable motor plate, hello!
The Hammer transfer case:
Another new item, and is also a gem. Nice alloy case with steel gears and bearings... in fact the output shaft is supported by no less than 4 bearings.
Oh, it has a 1.47:1 ratio.
Cast Yota axles:
Nice... no diffs here, solid drive. The axle housings are a 3 piece affair (ignoring steering knuckles for the front, which are high clearance jobbies). Top and bottom and a separate "banjo" that holds the pinion and bearings.
Again, all metal. The steer axles are a dog bone joint.
I can not stress enough, thread lock the king pin screws before you even install the front axle or you will loose them!
Final drive ratio 2.67:1
Internal Spring shocks:
Pretty... Not much dampening here, but their action is smooth and are of a not too thick body diameter.
Also, I advise to thread lock the lower eye onto the shaft, they turn easily on the thread of the shaft and things possibly could work around over time.
1.55" White steel beadlocks;
I was happy to see these in the kit. One of my favourite beadlocking rc wheels of all time.
You only need basic tools for the chassis. A set of hex drivers, 1.5, 2 and 2.5mm, one of those little box wrench thingies and some thread locking compound. I chose Tamiya Liquid Thread Lock because of it's thicker consistency.
Also, I recommend some form of grease, preferably molybdenum. The pre assembled components are already greased, but a little extra can't hurt. I did this while I was doing those tear down photos earlier.
A place to start....
1st step, lunch.
Next, we start on the chassis. The frame assembly is probably the most time consuming step of the mechanical construction. The instructions are clear, and all the cross members fit neatly into their machined notches. Make sure you note the orientation of the crossmembers when working through this step.
Note these two round crossmembers. The receiver box will eventually sit on these. Don't threadlock or even tighten the screws until you have the box mounted in a later step, because that will align the cross drilled holes to top for you. Once the box is on, you can then take the side screws out one at a time to thread lock them.
The completed frame in all it's glory....
Having been milled out of billet aluminium, it has oodles more torsional strength than a very popular pressed steel C channel frame with plastic members that we all are familiar with.
Next we place wee little machined mounts to that gearbox
Then we mount up the axles to the springs and mount up the suspension. Much quicker to complete than 16 rod ends of a 4 link system.
Drive line in place:
I will be keeping an eye on the plastic Punisher shafts. I normally boot plastic shafts to the kerb before I drive a truck, but I will test these out good and proper to see how they hold up.
That was not so bad.
When you come to the shift linkage, be careful not to over tweak the 3x8 screw in this little collar. Just snug with some thread lock. The e clips hold it on to the shaft and the shaft its self pivots in the gearbox, so no need to pile on a ton of 70's vintage Arnie
I went with a LRP 21.5 sensored crawler set up. The motor is a 1600kv and the ESC has a unique function, it allows either hold brake, or normal push brakes for both forward and reverse. I used an overkill-for-Class 1 12kg/cm servo for steering, but with a 5A BEC onboard the LRP, why not. I used a standard servo for shifting and controlling it all with a Spektrum DX3e.
Oh, if you are planning on using the fuel cell receiver box, you will need a short servo extension cable for the steering servo. Or, do what I did and just extend the servo lead if you are handy with a soldering iron.
Wheels and tyres:
The kit includes 1.55" Mud Thrasher tyres that are under the hight limit for Class 1 and look nice and scale. They mount up easily on the white steelies and are a relaxing, no brainer of a way to finish off the chassis build. Not that the build was hard at all, just the one touch set up for programming the LRP was a pain though.
So, as chassis kits go, I'd rate this the easiest 4x4 kit I have ever built. Everything fitted where it should, no fuss. Also, the high content of metal meant that half the build time was not taken up by clipping parts off sprues and cleaning the nibs off...
Initial product thoughts: Durable. Things a nice and beefy where they need to be (drive shafts, I'm watching you) and parts fit did not even enter my mind, because they did.
I have driven the chassis around my house (raining and dark outside) and it is reasonably quiet for an all metal build and there is a marked difference between the two gears. Factory 1st works out to be 63:1 and 2nd 22:1 off the top of my head, so you don't have to do any weird magics with motors to get tractability and wheel speed in one package - just shift gears.
Because paint cures slower than I work, I will get back to you on this.
I decided to go with an "easy" body build, so you can see how the Mojave comes out at the hands of a layman.
So far I have removed the molding sprues and flashing from the main body pieces, glued in the rear window frame (I will be using the bed, and keeping the full cab wall for another day) and sprayed the body a nice shade of yellow... Yes, I know it comes molded in yellow, but paint always has a more solid appearance than bare plastic. And, if (WHEN) I get rock rashed, it won't notice so bad!
Stay tuned, more to follow....