New Year, new choices

So, given my last post was at the beginning of Jan, and it’s now nearly the end of Feb, thought a quick update was in order.

Anyway, big news… The Schumacher Mi5’s have gone, and a new vehicle is sitting on the stand for 2015. In a bit of a return to my roots, I’ve picked up a Tamiya TRF419. But firstly, why the change?

Well, there’s been a few reasons. Firstly, I had been struggling a bit with the Evo recently, mysteriously losing pace, despite whatever I tried to get back on it. I will admit that I made a lot of progress in that department in the final few outtings, namely by softening off the rear roll bar and a few other changes, but there was still the nagging doubt of something missing.

Secondly, two of my good racing friends (and both far superior thumb jockeys) jumped across to Associated. And so the team I had been working discussing ideas and setups with was gone.

Lastly, the local Schumacher distributor in Brisbane, who I had also been working closely with, decided it was time to hang up the shop apron, and move onto new things. So a big reason for staying with the brand (the excellent local support) was gone.

All these things added up to wanting a new challenge, so onto the choice. Why the TRF419?

Well, first up, I wanted a car with more conventional setup options, long shocks (I’m not convinced on short shocks on bumpy outdoor tracks), and a traditional top deck/flex arrangement. I was also keen on having a single sided, centrally mounted motor mount. My original list comprised of quite a few cars, including;

Yokomo BD7 2015 – proven package, although needs a few parts to get it up to spec.. and also everyone seems to have one now!

VBC Wildfire D07 – The newest brand on the list, really nice quality kit, with plenty of flex options and a nice motor mount… but short shocks 🙁

Associated TC6.2 – Yes, seriously! Mainly as I would have been able to work with the my UK mates again.. but investigating whats needed to bring it up to spec, I wanted a simple life, no Bitsa’s… so told them I’d wait till the TC7 😉

HPI Pro5 – Good looking car (black), and conventional. Lacks the single sided motor mount, and it was still a few months away from release… plus there was still the nagging doubt over parts supply.

And that left the TRF419… The car itself seemed a good step forward from the 418, given the results of the worlds and other international events. It’s also certainly a conventional layout too, with the long shocks 🙂 Also has a similar central motor mount with flex options compared to the VBC (so a big tick there), and when looking what comes in the box, it literally needs next to nothing to bring it up to spec. DCJ’s, Ti Hinge pins, Alloy spring cups, etc all included. In fact the only options I added to the kit build were a few suspension blocks, the pimp shock mounting balls, and parts to run double O-ring shocks. Ok, I did pick up a roll bar kit too, as well as spare arms and wishbone plastics, and pimp (i.e. Expensive!) ti turnbuckles, but I wouldn’t call them necessary!

Throw in the kit price at a few choice HK stores, and it pretty much ended up being a no brainer… although I will admit the VBC was very close second!

The build itself was pretty straightforward, and I’ll be doing another post later with a build blog, so won’t go into it now.

The first run

With all that, the car ordered and built… life got in the way for a few weeks, as a new job opportunity presented itself, and I have had to rapidly arrange moving interstate, as well as sorting out employment contracts and other details. So the car sat on the shelf for a couple of weekends, but finally I got the opportunity to give it it’s first run out this weekend… and also take in the new Logan track layout at the same time.

Now the weather the past week hadn’t been great, with Cyclone Marcia hit Queensland hard further north, and the tail end hitting Brisbane on Friday and Saturday, with a large amount of rain. At least the track was clean, if not a great grip level.

I started out for the first run with an adaptation of Marc Rheinards ETS winning carpet setup. The main changes were;

  • HPI Silver springs
  • 3000 rear diff oil
  • C/B front blocks
  • X/F rear blocks
  • 2mm front wheelbase
  • 2.5mm rear wheelbase
  • 0mm Ackerman shims

Straight away, it was pretty obvious that the setup had a lot of rear end grip. There was a lot of initial steering, but the car was too stuck in the middle of the corner. I made a couple of small changes to free the rear up, leaning the shocks into hole 3, and removing the 1mm shim from the inner rear link. Initially I tested one then the other… but turns out both were needed to get the feel I wanted.

With the basic balance improved, I wanted to give the motor mount flex options a try, going from the 4 screw to 2 screw setup… whilst the car initially felt better, by the end of the run it was progressively getting more tight, and the laptimes weren’t there. I did flick between the two setups, and also try an in between of using a single screw in the front, and two in the back, but going to the kit setting was quickest, and seemed to provide the best balance… so tick that option off for now 😉

Next on the list was front wheelbase. I was running the car as per Marc’s settings, which is quite short compared to the kit setup. I moved the front arms forward 0.5mm (as well as adding a 0.5mm ackerman shim). This seemed to calm the front end a little, but not really in the way I was looking for, as the high level of initial steering was there, making the car quite darty, yet still washing out in the mid-corner. This will be something to investigate further, as I also want to try out altering the rear wheelbase as well. But back to the previous settings.

Last on the list for the day, was ackerman shims. I had compensated for the shorter wheelbase compared to the kit setting by removing the ackerman shims on the rack. For the test, I put the 1mm back in, but keeping the shorter front wheelbase. And straight away, found the feel I was looking for. Initial steering was less aggressive, and also gained mid-corner. Such a small change produced a big result, as I dropped 2/10ths on the fastest lap.

And then the rain came… ending the day. Still, it probably had been the best debut run of any car I’ve had. Nothing fell off, came unscrewed or broke. Every change I made I could feel on track, and the car pretty much performed flawlessly all day. Now I’m not going to say that it was perfect, as there is certainly still a fair bit more setup work to do (On the testing list for next time are wheel base shims as mentioned, heavier diff oil, and also try out using less rear toe), and the yes, the diff did leak a bit (although there was a lot of oil still in it when I came to rebuild after ten runs). But for a run out, and given developing a setup basically from scratch, I’m pretty happy!

Very happy with my choice, and looking forward to racing it this year… bring on Sydney!

EC – Logan – 22Feb2015