Soon after someone gets their first RC vehicle, they quickly discover that it can be highly modified. Inherently, all types of RC vehicles can be transformed to be faster, more durable, and even have its appearance completely altered. Customizing vehicles is the aspect that keeps us hooked and excited in this awesome hobby. Some people may only upgrade their ride slightly while others create highly customized vehicles that look and perform very different from its stock beginnings. One person that has been doing this for years is James Knight of Knight Customs. Now he has a company where he has made available some special products so others can enhance their vehicles just like he has. One of James’ latest project builds is the fantastic Knight Customs Sand Rail Conversion for Tamiya Wild One.
The Knight Customs Sand Rail Conversion project build is based on the Tamiya Wild One originally released all the way back in 1985 (kit #58050). The Wild One and its predecessor of the same chassis, the Tamiya Fast Attack Vehicle (#58046), were both based on the real life Chenowth dune buggies from the 80’s. Chenowth Racing Products Inc. built one of the most iconic 2-seater sand rails of that era employing simple tube work and utilizing easily available Volkswagen beetle suspension and air cooled engines. In real life Chenowth buggies were also converted for use in the US military for its light strike vehicles as well as a popular choice for those looking to rip up the dunes on the weekend.
THE STOCK TAMIYA WILD ONE
The scale realism of the Tamiya Wild One is hard to deny. It is one great looking 2WD buggy complete with a roll cage, headlights, cockpit and driver figure. The standard ribbed front tires provide directional control while the rear tires with block tread pattern offer high grip which is ideal for off-road running. A durable and lightweight ABS bathtub chassis is the backbone to the Wild One where the battery sits transverse under the driver. Oil-filled shocks matched to four-wheel independent suspension and trailing arms makes this buggy great to drive. The 2WD gearbox is enclosed with a reliable gear differential spinning inside. To protect the driveline, rubber boots cover the dogbone-type joints.
- Scale: 1/10
- Length: 16.73 in. (425mm)
- Height: 5.51 in. (140mm)
- Width: 8.86 in. (225mm)
- Wheelbase: 10.04 in. (255mm)
ABOUT THE KNIGHT CUSTOMS CONVERSION KIT
James Knight specifically designed the parts in this kit so that you could convert the Tamiya Wild One or the Tamiya Fast Attack into the sick-looking Sand Rail highlighted here. The Knight Customs conversion kit is available as individual parts 3D printed for you by Shapeways in New York or as a set of 3D files that you can download from MyMiniFactory.com.
Some of the key elements that James incorporated into this build to make the Sand Rail look as realistic as possible is the fake engine cover and micro electronics he selected. The highly detailed faux engine looks perfect mounted at the rear of the buggy and nicely conceals the brushed 540 motor underneath. To power his creation, a mini LiPo battery pack is hidden under the driver seat to maintain the scale looks.
The Lower chassis frame rails are designed to be printed in Nylon. When it is combined with the stock Tamiya Wild One rear roll cage and floor plan it forms a chassis durable for scale running. It needs to be said that if you are looking for a model to run a potent brushless motor system on something like 3S LiPos, this might not be the kit for you. Think of this Sand Rail as a scale model that is remote controlled and not as a hardcore basher or racer.
James setup his buggy with a mini 3300mAh LiPo battery pack that is tucked under the driver’s seat and hidden from view. For a mild setup he combined a 27-turn brushed motor with a proven Tekin FXR electronic speed control. This setup offers enough power to make wheeling the Sand Rail fun while also providing loads of run time. The FXR with its 1.1×0.80×0.40 dimensions makes for a nice compact component that can be easily tucked away under the fake fuel tank in the compartment that was used for the receiver battery pack on the 1985 version of the Tamiya Wild One.
In order to get a properly proportioned driver for the Knight Customs Sand Rail, James exploited 3D printing tech once again. The driver in these images was 3D printed in color using a sand stone print process. If you don’t want to go that route, the seat is designed to also fit a Tamiya Wild Willy driver for a more comical approach to your build. A very nice touch to the 3D printed driver are the blue seat belt restraints that James sourced from a 1/8 Pocher scale set available separately.
Good scale looking shocks are key to creating a really scale looking replica, especially on a vehicle where the shocks are visible like on a Chenowth dune buggy. RC4WD has a wide range of scale shocks available and their 70mm scale aluminum shocks were used up front. In the rear another RC4WD scale 70mm shock was used in combination with a front shock from the re-released Tamiya Wild One.
WHEELS AND TIRES
Wheels and tires really set the tone for a project and the Wild One came with low profile wheels and tires that were meant for performance. James took a different route and sourced the 1.7-inch front wheels from a Tamiya Fast Attack Vehicle that were fitted with machined aftermarket aluminum covers. The front tires are a 1.55 Tamiya Sand Tires Unlimited from the Tamiya Grasshopper, modified to fit the wheels. This was done to get a slightly lower profile front instead of what a stock tire on a 1.55 wheel would look like. At the rear, James stayed with the Grasshopper for the rear wheels and the Tamiya Sand Tires Unlimited paddles. You will notice that the paddle tires are not stock anymore and have been modified with every other paddle removed with snips. This gives a much more open paddle look over the stock tire. An aftermarket rear aluminum cover helps match with the front to tie it all together.
ON THE BENCH
You can see the 3D printed parts used in this build in white. All printed in high-quality Nylon from Shapeways. The chrome finish engine and suspension parts on this build came from the Tamiya Blockhead Wild One (#58695)…perfect for a more scale look over the original black Wild One and Fast Attack engine parts.
OTHER KNIGHT CUSTOMS’ WILD ONE BASED BUILDS
Tamiya created an iconic platform with the Wild One and Fast Attack Vehicle. It is a very popular chassis in the Knight Customs scale garage with a number of unique custom builds over the years including the ones shown here. The Navy SEALs Desert Patrol Vehicle (left) and a more scale version of the original Tamiya Wild One (right).
HOW TO CREATE YOUR OWN
Knight Customs Sand Rail Conversion for the Tamiya Wild One 3D file set $29.99:
Sand Rail Conversion for the Tamiya Wild One parts printed by Shapeways Price varies:
For more information about Tamiya products, visit: TAMIYA
For more information about Knight Customs products, visit: KNIGHT CUSTOMS