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Old 07-09-2008, 11:03 AM   #1
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Lightbulb Sedan Bodies, Rules, Weight, Lexan Thickness etc.

The subject of rc touring sedan racebodies and lexan thickness has been a bit of a grey area for a couple of years it seems. Judging from the number of questions I receive every week (from racers and race promoters) regarding this whole topic it would appear there’s a fair bit confusion still out there.

I'd like to try to explain my perspective on the topic for those of you who may still have questions. (Forgive me for going into such detail - it's the only way to keep it all in context impo).

Since starting in this business back in 1992 the normal gauge of lexan for rc “race” bodies was .030 lexan/polycarbonate. Lets call them REGULAR WEIGHT (RW) Yes - there were exceptions – on occasion where we pulled heavier bodies for oval racers and by the end of the decade we were pulling .020 thick bodies for 1/12th scale. ( a 1/12th on-road body is smaller, lower, and has a shape that gives rigidity and integrity to a body pulled in .020 – the lexan is not stretched severely either)

Approximately 5 or 6 years ago Mark Pavidis did some pretty thorough testing with .020 lexan sedan/touring style bodies – for Protoform. He found that the cars definitely reacted positively to the lowered center of gravity (especially on carpet) however there were numerous negative aspects to the .020 bodies to deal with. I refer to these as ULTRA LIGHT WEIGHT (ULW) bodies.
1 - The bodies would distort at hi-speed giving an inconsistent feel. Occasionally the fenders would tuck under – requiring extra time and effort to support the bodies inside and shoo-goo critical areas.
2 - They were more difficult to paint. A super fine touch was required or the exacto blade would cut of weaken the body. Future a-mains sprinkled with one-color paint jobs was inevitable if the ULW bodies became popular. Just not professional looking impo.
3 – The bodies were prone to damage even off the racetrack. Just stacking them up after production would end up putting wrickles is the bodies at the bottom of the stack. We only could assume that shipping damage was inevitable as well.
4 – Although the .020 bodies were intended for the “serious” racer, we pretty much knew that they would end up in the hands of many a novice racer who was looking for the “hot set-up” and had just spent his last 20 bucks. These same guys would tear them up in the first night of racing and would be disappointed or angry (at Protoform) We were just not interested in giving ourselves a “black eye”, so to speak.
5 – We assumed the general quality of the racing would probably suffer as well due to new “body issues” like body tuck and turn marshals possibly doing further damage if they were not being carefull.
6 – Added expen$e for the average non-sponsored racer. With the shortened service life of the .020 body, he’s simply need to buy more.
With the “pros and cons” all tallied up – the cons were ahead 6 to 1 so we unanimously decided the .020 ULW sedan body was not something we wanted to produce or sell - ever. It was simply bad for sedan racing in our opinion and we just never wanted this "negative stuff" associated with Protoform Race Bodies. We resisted all requests from sponsored racers to have “special” bodies pulled for them on the sly as well.


Approximately three years ago it became apparent that some of the race bodies produced in Japan were lighter than the ones we produced – anywhere from 20 to 30 grams lighter. Some of our sponsored racers asked if there was a way that we could produce something of a similar weight. In an effort to remain competitive in the racing world we found a source to supply us with .025 lexan. Our first test bodies resulted in an approx 30 gram savings and non of the negative side effects of the .020 bodies. When we felt confident that we could produce these in volume and still feel confident about the quality. We gave a few select sedan body styles a new part number and designated then as “LIGHT WEIGHT” (LW) racebodies. We've had good success with them and to this date have not received even one complaint about “body tuck” or the other negative aspects associated with the .020 bodies. (even though I'm pretty sure there are probably a few that have had a issue with them at some time)

As most of you know a couple of years ago Parma decided to produce their Alfa and Mohawk sedan bodies on the ULW .020 format. Since then these bodies have totally dominated carpet racing and became a “must have” component in order to being competitive in pro level carpet/foam sedan racing. However, those same six negative aspects (mentioned above) that we predicted 5 years ago also became a part of the foam/sedan racing scene.
Please understand – this is not an attack on the fine folks at Parma. I have the utmost respect for Paul and Mike @ Parma – something I can’t honestly say about most other rc racebody manufacturers. They simply had a different perspective on the issue and did what they thought was expedient. They had every right in the world to do what they wanted to do. My main issue was this: Why do something that is hurting carpet/foam sedan racing at a time when it’s in decline? The class needed a transfusion of good ideas at this juncture of time.

Because the rc sanctioning bodies have stated that they don’t want to be involved in setting rules or standards concerning body weight or lexan thickness, it seemed like it was an issue that needed to be worked out by manufacturers and race promoters..

The good news is that this has been happening.

Parma has decided that they would pull they new generation of Global Body Spec bodies (for carpet/foam) in only “RW” .030 lexan. We at Protoform have followed suit and only offer the carpet/foam specific R9-F body in a “RW” .030 thickness version.

The promoters of the IIC Race in Vegas and the US Indoor Champs in Cleveland have already stated that there will be no more UTRA LIGHT WEIGHT (ULW) bodies allowed in competition. (Although Scotty may have inadvertently called them LIGHT WEIGHT bodies in his rules package. Honest mistake)

We will continue to produce the majority of our sedan bodies in RW and will continue to produce select rubber-tire-specific styles in both RW as well as .025 LW (with a separate part number).

If you should have any questions in regard to this specific topic please feel free to post them here. Any body manufacturer is free to respond – whether it be Parma, Ride etc. Personally – I will not be able to respond for at least the next 4 days.( I’ll be at the GoodGuys Street Machine Nationals in Columbus – woo hoo!)

I hope this is helpfull.

Best regards - Dale Epp – Protoform Race Bodies
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Old 07-09-2008, 11:13 AM   #2
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Thanks Dale! Great info.
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Old 07-09-2008, 11:15 AM   #3
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I think your a great engineer and I know the Speed 12's were well thought out. I just really wish the Speed 12's (both) came in heavier weights like the Parma Speed 8's. Me, Being and avid racer and avid painter I don't have time to paint for myself really and I put alot of use on my bodies. I wish I could have a body like the Speed 12's just thicker. The Speed 8's are thicker but for me really don't work well on my car 90% of the time.
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Old 07-09-2008, 11:39 AM   #4
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Dale - Good Guys - Columbus - you have a PM..............

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Old 07-09-2008, 11:49 AM   #5
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dale,

that was, actually, a good write. things are turning around. now, if attitudes follow suit, in time, we'll be able to pat ourselves on the back. there are a few other things in this vein that should probably also happen, however, this is not the thread for such matters.

the gbs stuff seems good, so far. but it's not producing any more realistic looking bodies just yet.
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Old 07-09-2008, 11:55 AM   #6
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Good deal. Seems Protoform and Parma are putting the hobby before themselves. In the short term it would seem ULW bodies make them more money since people go through them faster. Hopefully this will reward them in the long-run with more people joining and remaining in the hobby.
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Old 07-09-2008, 02:24 PM   #7
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Very well written piece, thanks for the insights!
I think it's a great thing that these companies help keep the cost under control. You can always make cars faster if you throw a lot of money at it, just not everyone can afford it and will turn his/her back on racing.
I'm all for rules that keep these kind of unnecessary price explosions under control. It doesn't hurt the racing one bit and keeps more people coming back.
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Old 07-09-2008, 02:35 PM   #8
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Wow! Is there any wonder why Protoform makes some of the best race bodies available (including oval)?
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Old 07-09-2008, 02:49 PM   #9
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Great information there! I know I have been testing out a Mazda speed 6 LW at the local track, and I like it better than the RW. It has actually proved to be more durable, given the added flex. In two weekends, I have still not cracked the front fenders, something that would always happen to the RW bodies. I had one body tuck, but that was when I got tapped from behind at the wrong angle. I would actually recommend the LW body over the RW for durability.
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Old 07-09-2008, 03:01 PM   #10
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now if Dale would just stop trying to attach a shovell to the front of sedans he'd be all set!!!!
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Old 07-09-2008, 03:07 PM   #11
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yeah, in some cases the LW and ULW bodies weren't that much worse on durability. the added flexibility of the lexan would keep fenders from cracking as easily (provided you didn't tear them off completely. ). but for the racing it made being a marshall a skilled position (though some would argue that anyway), and made starting the mains the most horrifying thing you'd ever have to do in indoor r/c racing.

as far as performance goes, the ULW had its place. mostly, to offset the weight of the heavier sticks (nimh) and brushless systems that are hitting the scene. as with many products, they weren't required to go fast, but only the guys going fast seem to ever know this. schreffler and fairtrace ran HW parma shells and TQ'ed big races with them. further, i would guarantee that nobody was looking to "up the body count" so to speak, from a manufacturer end of things.

note: i watched .020" testing before the alfa was even conceived by parma (circa 2003). it was a scrapped plan because the body used for the testing at the time had a ton of overhang and just got way too out of shape. it needed a 5th body post etc, and wasn't practical.

enter 2007: 4200mah capacity sticks, and b/l esc's that look like old units from 1984. (basically, you weren't hitting 50oz w/o a body!)

another interesting note: let's not forget that this whole 0.020" crap didn't actually hit market place until a good 3 years after the parma alfa was released. that had nothing to do with the fact that the 0.030" (RW) alfa owned the carpet scene for the first 3 years after it was introduced. sometimes implications are a bit errant.
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Old 07-12-2008, 07:30 AM   #12
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Dale, thats a great write-up.. thanks

I read with interest your comments about the durability of these bodies as this is something that I am currently experiencing.

Until recently I have been using a Protoform Dodge Stratus 3.0 AP and after 12mths of racing it has finally been retired. Admittedly, it has a fair amount of shoe goo and body tape around the front wheel arches but the point being it was still a competitive body even with the deformation caused by cracks and flaring of the lexan.

I am now using a Blitz Mazda 6 (please dont hate me Dale! ) which I am fairly certain would be classed LW and I am seeing an increase in durability over the RW lexan PF Stratus.

I switched to this body as the PF Stratus I was running took a severe beating on a new track with less than favourable track edging (un-rendered limestone walls, 2ft drop offs on the edge of the main straight into a chain link fence and garden etc). If it werent for the fact that I started racing on this track I am sure I would still be running the same PF Stratus.

What I am seeing however is the LW lexan bodies deform more under impact and resist cracking which the RW lexan bodies seem to do so easily. This new body has lasted for about a month with only some minor damage that has been repaired by only the smallest dab of shoe goo (after some CA was used to hold it all in place).

The only downside to the LW bodies I have seen so far is they seem to tear easily, meaning that cracks if untreated will continue to grow. I've also noticed a couple "chips" taken off the corners around the wheel arches that I've never seen before on the RW bodies.

Weight savings however have been ridiculously good. My new body after painting and some pre-damage goo/tape prep weighs in around 81gms. My old PF Stratus RW, with all its repairs was weighing 140gms when retired but from memory this came in around 10-15grms heavier than the LW one I am now using.

I am putting in my vote for LW bodies and will consider only running LW bodies in future

Now that all the HK online retailers have restocked their PF bodies I'm looking to add a few more PF LW bodies to my collection.

I cant wait for the R9-R to hit the shelves!!

-Mark

Last edited by mok; 07-12-2008 at 09:30 AM.
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Old 07-12-2008, 08:24 AM   #13
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Pardon me for adding my 2-cents worth, and while I'm not poo-pooing the idea of doing away with thinner bodies - this was brought on by the body manufacturers themselves and started well back in the 1980s.

A couple of the bigname factory drivers showed up at the Nats with tissue-paper-thin bodies that all but lasted one run (probably .010). We all saw it, asked about it, and nobody was talking. But it didn't take long for the manufacturers to figure out that .020 was about as thin as they dared go, and as there have never been more than a couple body styles that "worked" aerodynamically the manufacturers just started making two versions using the same mold - LW and RW. I even remember what a ruckus that was caused at a race when one of the H-main-ers had his body fly off in the middle of a qualifier after hitting about his 4th pipe in as many corners, and getting all ticked off and screaming on the driver's stand because "so-and-so must have made a defective body," and those of us in the know busting up laughing while we were trying to do marshall duty.

But even back then the lightweight specials weren't really ever used by the average weekend racer so it wasn't an issue, as they were primarily used by the upper-echelon guys that put on a fresh lid, painted with the least amount of color, for the A-main of a larger event to get the most weight savings possible (trying to hit the minimum weight rule set aside by all legislating organizations in all racing classes). ROAR at one point even had to go so far as putting something in their rules noting something about paint jobs needing to be "opaque in appearance" because all the top-guns were essentially just fogging bodies for one run. Literally every A-main at every larger event was full of one-color specials with no decals or special markings to differentiate one white car from the next or one black car from the other. I was even doing concourse paint jobs (that you were legislated to have to compete with), and would literally be the only multi-color car in the A-main.

IMO the only thing that changed the single-color mentality was the advent of airbrushing as routine, instead of rattle cans, and the growing number of painters that have taken up the hobby in recent years wanting to sell their own wares to the consumer via doing custom work for the top-level big-name racers. But then again as long as airbrushing remains an option racers are going to be looking for any edge or weightsavings they can acheive, and honestly I think it's going to be hard to legislate any body weight rules as the paint thickness itself (and it's overall weight) is going to be hard to prove one way or another.

And thus, to me at least, it still comes back to the manufacturers themselves - they started the "issue" and they're the only ones that can put a stop it by ceasing the production of LW bodies entirely.
Until you stop the "game" you started, and continue to feed, will go on.



I'm not bashing Protorform/Parma or anyone else for that matter, so please don't pile on me guys, I'm just giving my opinion and stating the facts as I see them from eyes that have been racing since the first thin LW body hit the market back in the 80s.
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Old 07-12-2008, 09:26 AM   #14
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I wouldnt want a body weight rule, but I'd settle on part of the GBS referring to a minimum thickness of lexan equalling the LW 0.025" lexan. Its hard enough trying to get a 5 cell modified car down to the 1430gm weight limit, let alone be forced to carry a higher % of the total weight in the body.

IMHO this could stop the use of paper thin lexan bodies that are potentially only available to factory/sponsored drivers. I know as an RC driver I like to know that what I can buy from a hobby shop is being used by the top level drivers around the world.

I also congratulate companies like Parma and Protoform for aligning their standards. Its good to know that at least some manufacturers are thinking about the RC industry and their products more than just making a quick $$

-Mark
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Old 07-12-2008, 12:32 PM   #15
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As you guys seem to know so much about body shells. I was wondering if you know anything the thickness and quality of the hot bodies light weight shells? I've got 2 which i haven't painted and they feel and bit like tissue paper.

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