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May 2013

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RC Car Action - May 2013

F I R S T D R I V E DUNE

F I R S T D R I V E DUNE BUGGY This single-seat dune buggy immediately dug a soft spot in my heart – I grew up riding ATVs with my family in the Glamis Imperial Sand Dunes, the expansive desert of soft sand located about three hours east of San Diego, CA. Known as the “sand toy capitol of the world,” this recreational playground hosts thousands of visitors each year, many of whom pilot some of the craziest motorized creations on the planet. This is where you’ll find paddle tire-shod and nitrous-powered drag racing ATVs, long-travel sand rails with roaring V8 engines, and snarling dirt bikes meandering across square miles of gigantic sand mountains that are constantly changed and blown smooth by nightly winds. Each Friday and Saturday night, everyone convenes at the base of Competition Hill for impromptu heads-up blasts to the summit, with a starting line marked by crackling bonfires and lined with thousands of raucous spectators. Vaterra’s Glamis Uno is a 1/8-scale, 2WD buggy modeled after a single-seater built to glide across the sand, with a narrow chassis made of extruded aluminum and wrapped tightly in Lexan bodywork, adorned with molded imitation headlights, detailed driver figure and cockpit, and a rear wing for added downforce. Long-travel suspension at all four corners is supported by oil-filled shocks that soak up small imperfections and big air landings. A viscous torque-vectoring differential prevents wheel spin when cornering on loose surfaces, but lays the power down when hammering the trigger to deliver all 4500Kv of the Dynamite Fuze brushless system and included 7.4V 3000mAh Dynamite LiPo straight to the sand below. The battery is loaded into the car from the bottom, with a simple twist-and-lock trap door, making battery changes a snap when you’re ready to use the included LiPo balance charger. To test the Glamis Uno’s sand-blasting capabilities, I took it to another SoCal collection of powdery silica – Carlsbad State Beach (though I didn’t put its waterproof-ness to the test). One rip of the trigger on its Spektrum DX2L transmitter is all it took to appreciate the fanned rooster tail the buggy left in its wake, unweighting the ribbed front tires and dancing along the surface for as far as you can see. The aggressively treaded rear knobby tires hook up on a variety of surfaces, from soft sand to the moistened shoreline and even the hard pack of the nearby hiking trails. The buggy’s long and wide stance offers needed stability when landing from big jumps on lessthan-smooth surfaces. Rubber boots to protect the shock shafts and driveshaft joints are a dead giveaway that Vaterra intended the Glamis Uno for serious sand duty, and its earth-carving performance does not disappoint! SPECS Length: 18.7 in. (475mm) Width: 11.41 in. (290mm) Height: 6.18 in. (157mm) Ground clearance: 1.97 in. (50mm) Wheelbase: 13.7 in. (347mm) Weight: 6.75 lb. (3062g) Chassis: Extruded aluminum tub Part no.: VTR04000 Price: 0 34 RCCARACTION.COM Dynamite’s Fuze brushless ESC (far left) and motor (left) provide plenty of sand-throwing power. (Above) The Glamis Uno’s receiver is well protected from the elements of the outdoors. Right: The bottom-loaded battery tray makes for quick pack swaps.

SPECS Length: 18 in. (457mm) Width: 9.75 in. (248mm) Height: 6.13 in. (156mm) Ground clearance: 0.91 in. (23mm) Wheelbase: 11.6 in. (295mm) Weight: 4.4 lb. (2,013 grams) Chassis: Molded plastic tub Part no.: VTR03000 Price: 0 ROCK RACER Rock racing combines the wide-open stretches of racing across whooped-out deserts with the tight and technical trails of rock crawling to punish competing drivers and their machinery by pushing both to their limits. The 4WD vehicles built for this type of grueling off-road competition must handle a wider variety of terrain than specialty rigs focusing on one discipline, and the designs fueled by the nearly unlimited rules are appropriately different than what you’ll find almost anywhere else. Vaterra’s Twin Hammers 1/10-scale rock racer is named for the toughest trails, the Jackhammer and Sledgehammer, that define the annual King of the Hammers competition held each February since 2007 in the High Desert dry lake bed basin of Southern California known as Johnson Valley. Those who qualify for the King of the Hammers must finish the 165-mile course in 14 hours or less with absolutely no assistance from chase squads (hence the need for spare tires, like the one bolted to the rear of the Twin Hammers’ roll cage). Once you start, you’re on your own! The Twin Hammers uses cantilever-actuated shocks for the independent front A-arms, delivering maximum travel while keeping the oil-filled coilovers tucked beneath the hood. Out back, a four-link trailing arm setup is used to keep the solid axle in check, and is damped by travel aluminum body coilovers that attach to the roll cage just behind longpack with included charger. One flip of the thumb switch on the included Spektrum DX3E radio bangs the shift-on-the-fly transmission between low gear, with a ratio of 32:1 used to provide axle-twisting torque to get the cab. A front gear differential is used to tighten the truck’s turning radius and smooth out its acceleration across rough stretches of crazy terrain, while a solid rear axle delivers maximum forward thrust when climbing rocks or steep hills without bleeding power from the Dynamite Tazer waterproof ESC, 15-turn brushed motor, and 2S 2000mAh LiPo up the steepest of inclines, and the 18:1 high gear that allows the Twin Hammers to put the hammer down when the trail opens up. Few electric-powered RC cars throughout the years have enjoyed the versatility of a driver-operated, two-speed transmission, and perhaps none have exploited that potential better than the Twin Hammers. Low gear gives the truck the grunt it needs to snake along trails and claw its way to the top of rocks and slippery uphill inclines; once you’re on flat ground, the seamless shift to second is accompanied by a surge of velocity that breaks loose the Race Claw tires glued to its narrow 1.9-inch wheels. Credit the suspension travel and articulation for how well the Twin Hammers navigates the ruts and whoops of the local mountain bike trails with impressive ground clearance that prevents high-centering on rocks or anything else passing beneath its smooth undercarriage. What the locked rear axle gives up in corner carving agility, it more than makes up for with the drive to reach the top of almost anything that’s reasonably scale-appropriate. When the going gets tough, slamming the tranny back into low gear brings the truck screeching to a slower pace, even with the trigger clamped, and gets the Twin Hammers ready to crush the next obstacle. Right: The DX3E 3-channel radio handles steering, throttle/brake, and shifting. Bottom: Cantilever front suspension offers maximum travel. A slipper clutch protects the transmission from damage when climbing or landing from jumps. 35

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