This article was originally published in RC Driver’s April 2015 issue.
Race Truggy Power Transplant
• Lightweight Spiral Bevel Gear- 67191
• Lightweight Steering Post- 67195
• Lightweight Wheel Hex Hub- 67196
• Lightweight Outdrive- 67197
• Lightweight Differential Shaft- 67200
• Lightweight Diff Axle Shaft- 67211
• Aluminum Front Spindle Carrier Set 10
• Aluminum Front Spindle Set- 67216
• Lightweight Shock Stand-Off- 67202
• Aluminum Steering Servo Horn #25- 67169
• Rear Hub Carrier Set- 113475
• 2012 BullDog Clear Body- 3369-00
• Trifecta Yellow Wing- 6249-02
• Blockade VTR 4.0” X3 Tires- 9046-003
• Velocity VTR 4.0” Yellow Wheels- 2800-02
• Pro-Cap 17mm Wheel Nuts- 6090-00
• D8T V4 Brushless Conversion Kit- TKR4507
• RX8 Gen2 Brushless System 4030 2050kV- TT2316
• PRIME 6400MAH 100C 4S LiPo battery pack- RCELP4S6400100C
• Rear toe block system- 8900 PROTEK RC
• 150T Digital Hi-Torque/ High Voltage MG Servo- PTK-150T
• D812 Upper Titanium Screw Kit- PTK-T-2008
• D812 Lower Titanium Screw Kit- PTK-T-2007
• 4PX 4-Channel 2.4GHz T-FHSS Telemetry Radio- FUTK4905
The Hot Bodies D8T has enjoyed a long life of wins in many racers’ hands from the club level up. Its simple design makes it easy to work on, its refined geometry makes it easy for any driver to tune and its price tag is certainly in the affordable range. So when I was searching for a base rig to build up an electric truggy conversion to run with fellow Editor Tony Phalen and his e-truggy racer, the Hot Bodies D8T caught my eye. After a little research I found plenty of parts to build up the competitive machine I wanted and I set out to swap out power plants, upgrade for durability and performance and most importantly beat Tony for office bragging rights.
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The moment after deciding to use the Hot Bodies D8T as the truggy to build an e-truggy racer from, it was natural that I would turn to Tekno RC for their V4 electric chassis conversion. There are several other options available for converting the truggy to electric power, but since I was looking to go for a full race build, Tekno’s chassis conversion was the way to go. Tekno has made a name for itself in the electric conversion world as many pro racers have turned to the chassis offerings for countless major races. Tekno didn’t just find a way to fit the electric power components in the platform, but rather redesigned it for better weight balance for electric power. The Tenno V4 Brushless Kit comes with a hard anodized 7075 aluminum chassis that has been milled to reduce weight; however, Tekno went several steps further. Instead of leaving the center diff where it was and fitting a motor and battery in the chassis, the center diff has been moved towards the rear of the truck. This allows the battery to sit further forward for more weight toward the front wheels. The motor’s shaft now faces the rear of the chassis with its weight over the center. To balance (the chassis, the electronics like servo and ESC) are placed on the right side and the receiver can be tucked way in Tenno’s compact radio box. All of the install parts are included like servo mount, body mount, ESC tray, mud guards and even a transponder mount. Extra servo mounts are also included in case you want to add a servo for brake bias, but I’ll be using the ESC for brakes. The motor mount is black anodized 6061 aluminum and bolts to the chassis with four bolts. The battery tray is long and wide enough to accept just about any battery you want to stuff in it and it’s secured with three Velcro straps. Then we get to the center shafts, yes, Tekno had to include a new CV front shaft and stubby rear dogbone with drive cup to accommodate the new center diff location.
As you can see there is plenty going on in this conversion, but relax, the swap is easy, just a little time consuming, and even more time consuming if you swap screws like I did. To lighten things up, I headed to Amain.com and grabbed their D812 upper and lower titanium screw kits. It’s not the exact kit for this truck but I was able to replace most of the stock screws with titanium. Back to the chassis, you’ll also need a Losi chassis brace to complete the conversion. It’s missing from the photos shown here, but we did grab one from the local hobby shop and installed it at the track before our first run. Finally Tekno includes a new upper front chassis brace machined from 7075, stronger than the stock composite brace.
Several changes were made in the suspension department. Starting up front, the steering knuckles were swapped out with HB’s optional black anodized aluminum units. Then in the back of the truck the hubs were also upgraded to Hot Bodies aluminum hubs. These two components are high stress parts from the wheel’s weight and transferring loads to the other parts, so they are always must-do upgrades in my book for race builds. My other tweak to the suspension was to install M2C rear inner pivot blocks. M2C’s strong aluminum pivot mounts not only keep the suspension pin where it needs to be, but they use pivot inserts so you can alter toe or antisquat; great for racing. But that’s where my tweaks end. The D8T has a nice nimble suspension feel which makes it easy for racers to drive, so I didn’t want to mess with anything else other than oil, spring and possibly piston changes as I travel from track to track.
All of my driveline upgrades are hidden, but they make a difference. The difference is lightening up the drivetrain and to do that, I installed HB’s lightened ring gears on both the front and rear diffs. While the diffs were apart, all three received lightweight aluminum bevel gear support cross pins. And it doesn’t end there, the outdrives were upgraded to the lightweight outdrives to replace the stock full steel outdrives. It was getting light, light, light. The last things to lighten up were the wheel hexes. HB’s lightweight hex hubs were installed on all four corners. What I did pass on were the lightweight aluminum stub axles. HB offers them but I personally like the steel axles when considering the wear and tear they experience.
The project was shaping up nicely, but now it was time to select the new guts for the truggy, sounds so poetic doesn’t it? So to start; the brushless system! Tekin brushless speed controllers and motors can be found in many of my vehicles and I can add this project to the list. Stuck to the rear ESC plate is a RX8 Gen2 BL speed control. The Gen 2 has a precision throttle and brake feel, it’s programmable with Tekin’s Hotwire and can be programmed for a high voltage BEC; all in a cool white case. For the motor, I also stuck with Tekin for a complete power combo and used a T8 G2 2050Kv motor since I was planning on running 4S. For steering I turned to (see what I did there?) ProTek and installed 150T digital high torque, high voltage servo. What really makes the servo stand out beyond its brute force ability is its aluminum case that can handle the rigors of truggy racing. For the battery, Racers Edge announced their prime series a while back and their 100C rating stuck in my mind. They offer a 4S pack with 6400mAh capacity which I felt was perfect for the build so into the battery straps it went. And to complete the electronics package, this project was stored as a new model in my Futaba 4PX radio system with its R304SB tucked into the Tekno receiver box.
The factory D8T body that came with the truggy is very nitro oriented and its compressed design doesn’t speak E-truggy to me, so Pro-Line’s Bulldog was ordered up. It is also a nitro body, but I didn’t cut out the engine or filler holes and it looks perfect on the project with paint by Kustom RC Graphics master paint slinger, Larry G. Pro-Line also has new wings in their stable and the yellow Trifecta wing with its aggressive decks was bolted to the rear of the truck. The wing has a cool graphics sheet that comes with it and a shaped wickerbill. Then at each corner Pro-Line’s M3 Blockade VTR tires were mounted to VTR 4.0 rims and bolted to the hex hubs with Pro-Line 17mm Pro-Cap wheel nuts. The wheel and tire combo is excellent and a favorite go-to tire on my nitro truggies so I was amped to try them here, too.
Of course the day I got to finally run my new project in front of the camera, the weather decides to turn cold and rainy so I gave our test facility’s indoor shop a call and asked to run on the indoor track at Wolcott Hobby and Raceway. “The doors are open,” is all I heard and I packed up my gear to run.
The first thing you have to do with a truggy loaded with power is find the big straightaway and punch the throttle to see what your machine can do. I did just that. The D8Te squealed from the electric system and drivetrain and the wheels started spinning on the packed dirt. The truck squatted just a bit and finally caught traction and shot down the straight. Before I knew it I had to grab the brakes and the nose dropped with the rear wheels just barely touching the ground as it slid to a stop. So cool!
Time to run laps! Needless to say, the acceleration on this thing is not only on-point as far as racing is concerned, but on the excitement level as well. Every time I punched the throttle coming out of a corner, the wheels would light up, the truck would hunger for traction, grab and just rip. Over jumps, the D8Te leaps and doesn’t appear to want to land. Hit the jumps with too much throttle and you’ll easily find yourself overshooting corners. Yes, I even landed right into some pipes on jumps that had corners after them. It took a few laps to get my rhythm down with my trigger finger, but once I did, the Project was gliding over the track’s jumps with ease.
Since I overshot jumps because of the truggy’s rip, you can probably guess I was overshooting a lot of corners, too. It’s so easy to miss your corner marks when you’re enjoying the power a machine pumps out. But as I put my mind to it, I found my marks and the truggy cornered well. It exhibits some push going into corners, but it rotates well mid-corner with a little rear end slide, squares up and I can straighten the wheels to push out of the corners fast. In the sweeper, I was able to hold more power and the traction was there to keep the truggy under control. The project handled great and the truggy was durable, too. It sounds like all cotton candy landings, but there were several hits the D8Te took that made me wince and required a marshal to reset the truck. Nothing broke, just some tire wear over several test sessions.
It appears that electric power has really caught on in the 1/8 world around our local tracks and this coming year I expect to see many more electric buggies and truggies filling up full heats on race days. As trends transition, I want to be prepared to switch around classes from weekend to weekend to experience the different skill required to run each machine and have fun competing against different crowds. I’m confident that my project Hot Bodies D8Te will be ultra competitive on the track with the conversion package I put together. The truggy was fun to build and handled ultra smooth on the track. The power package was insane and pulling the trigger on this truggy gets you hooked. Looking for a new class to run or revive your D8T? Going electric
Hot Bodies/ HPI Racing, hpiracing.com, 949-753-1099
ProTek, distributed by A Main Hobbies, amainhobbies.com, 800-705-2215
Pro-Line Racing, prolineracing.com, 909-849-9781
Tekin, Inc., teamtekin.com, 208-634-5559
Tekno RC, teknorc.com, 877-857-2872 Racers Edge, racers-edge.com, 866-855-5566
M2C Racing, m2cracing.com. (803) 417-3071
Futaba, distributed exclusively by Hobbico, futaba-rc.com, 800-682-8948
Kustom RC Graphics, www.kustomrcgraphics.net