Orange is the new Black..

Hmm… so it’s been quite some time since my last post, and well a lot has happened since then!

To keep it short… the TRF419 has gone, and been replaced with a T4.. and the LRP experiment is over as well, but more on that later.

First up, the car change. Well, quite simply, my frustrations got the better of me. Whilst the 419’s handling was good, with a decent balance and generally good grip, the maintenance side was a real kicker.

The biggest bug bare for me was the diff. Despite my best efforts, I couldn’t get the diff to either not leak, or be free enough. The Xray O-rings worked really well to help seal the diff, with the kit diff shims they are far too tight. Running less shims worked, but then another issue reared it’s head (at least when running a modified motor)and that would be the shims would cone, and take out the big gears. Having done 3sets of gears at one club meeting, I’d had enough.

I was a little unsure what to do next… and then an opportunity arose to pick up a little used Xray T4’15. Having never owned an Xray previously, and to see if it really was as good as everyone said, I grabbed it.

Given at the time it was a good few weeks out from the nationals at this point, I figured I still had plenty of time to sort the car out, and learn its traits before the big one for the year.

First run out, literally bolted on a best guess setup, and did a back to back compare vs the 419. First thing that really stood out, was the very positive steering the car had, especially in higher speed, on power sections. The Tamiya had a tendancy to generate a push in these regions, unless the line was absolutely perfect. The Xray, whilst would just hold it’s nose in, and respond well to adjustments on throttle. This was quite a surprise, as the general consensus is that Xrays tend to be a bit pushy in general compared to other brands. That first run out pretty much blew that myth out the water for me… and the 419 ended up on the shelf!

Since then, I’ve been running and testing the car… a lot… The nationals were ok, didn’t really end up with the result I was looking for as struggled to get the car working in the cooler temps in the finals. However in the heat in qualifying it was really good, having thrown a few of the key tricks (PSS, progressive springs) to get it not over working the tyres. But in all honesty can’t blame the car for the result, no responding quick enough to the track conditions cost me.

Since then, it’s been a pretty good ride. Generally have improved my lap times and consistency, without the need to rebuild the car after every meeting. It’s consistent meeting to meeting, and reliable to boot too (as expected). I’ve had a few big hits, one of which was big enough to wipe out the rear of a Yokomo (full chat down the main straight into a car that had just spun out…). Nothing bent, a broken arm, a DCJ, and it was back on the track for the next run, which is really not bad going.

I did actually upgrade the car to a ’16 in the run up to the nats as well… which given it was really just a chassis plate and a small alloy t-piece (not having ever tried ARS) was not as bad as expected… and the extra flex options have made a surprisingly big difference for sure.

Onto a things I like

  • The diff… T.H.E. best diff on the market. No arguments.
  • The broad setup window… the car never really develops evil vices. It’s biggest issue handling wise tends to be having a too locked in rear on slow tight corners, but nothing that makes it a devil to drive.¬†Having said the above, it’s also tuneable and responds really well to even only small subtle changes.
  • The support out there… yes it helps having a large local Xray collective (thanks in no small part to the excellent HEI support) to share ideas with, but also having team drivers happy to converse is particularly helpful too¬†(so thanks Olly, Alex, Jan)
  • The lower eccentric holders are so easy and simple (well to me) to use, and do give a really good variety in tuning options, with resorting to carrying a load of blocks and shims.
  • The range of tuning options. Having the availability (for those who want it.. which yes, means me) of 0.1 grades between springs, as well as progressives, along with all the flex, roll bar and shock options is a tweakers dream…
  • PSS. Yup, this does work. Actually more tuneable than expected too, and easier to tweak to suit conditions as well.

There are a couple of things that bug me though;

  • The shock bladders are, well, crap. Show them some oil and they swell.. which is annoying given the quality of the other seals on the diffs and shocks.
  • The (admittedly) perceived need to spend a fair bit more on top for all the graphite bits, different bars, extra alloy bits… although that is offset to some extent by having all the eccentric holders options in the box.
  • The driveshafts really could do with clips instead of grub screws… both rear hubs I’ve broken have been the result of CVD pins making a break for freedom rather than any crashes.
  • The ball bearing roll bar mounts.. whilst giving a really good action, can be a real sh1t to change bars… wouldn’t mind seeing a removable system instead (a la D08)
  • The colour… need I say more? Whats wrong with black?

But overall it’s been a really good experience driving the car… and I am really starting to enjoy racing again. So yes, pretty much does tick the majority of the boxes, and am happy with the choice made.

Onto the next thing… Yes, I’ve put the Hobbywing ESC and motors back in the car. I did, genuinely, like the LRP… but I ran into some issues with not being able to complete runs with it due to thermal cut-offs. Even trying the hardwired 30mm fan to the power posts didn’t seem to help…throw into that a RX error* that would cause random glitches.. I lost confidence in the run up to the nats. To make sure I was able to finish the runs, back in went the HW, and it hasn’t left the car since.. and working on the braking profiles and following some advice of local legend McPrez, I’ve managed to get the braking feel much improved (which was one of my big reasons to try something else).

(* NOTE – when using Sanwa RX-481 or 482 no-wire receivers, mount them with the ariel “hump” on the outside of the car, with the “hump” away from any ESC… turns out running it against the ESC was the cause of those errors… oops!)

So… there we have it. Not the longest update, and I know I’ve copped out and skipped over some things… but hey, it’s my blog, and I can write what I like :p

Till I find time to write something again (probably in two weeks after the IMCC cup!). In the meantime if anyone is interested, I have been updating setups over on the Xray setups forum, so feel free to take a look.