Off the Road, Onto the Trail
Words & Photos: Ty Giebel
RC4WD is again pushing the limits of scale, but this time they are making it a little easier with the build already taken care of. The Trail Finder 2 ready-to-run is just that…just plug in your battery and go! But underneath this beautiful body is a different drivetrain just making this rig even better than the previous version. The scale details are still unmatched by any other company in the world. With a full vehicle that is more focused on scale looks then a standard R/C vehicle, it’s no wonder RC4WD is at the top of the scale world. But the drivetrain is no slouch, pairing steel gears to all the moving parts. Get ready, because it’s time to hit the trail!
AT A GLANCE
WHO MAKES IT: RC4WD
WHO IT’S FOR: Scale fanatics
PART NUMBER: RC4Z-RTR0019
HOW MUCH: $459.99
BUILD TYPE: RTR
+ Beadlock wheels
+ 32-pitch gears
+ Amazingly scale
+ 3-cell capable
+ Comes with a BEC
+ Outcry ESC can handle 14 volts
+ ABS body
– Driveshafts are a little weak
RC4WD is the king of scale. The Trail Finder 2’s ready-to-run looks have remained the same as the previous kit version, but the drivetrain has been simplified. Borrowing the transmission from the Gelande kit, the TF2 now has a single speed, which drops a ton of weight and simplifies the entire vehicle. For me, this creates a more durable vehicle that will withstand some serious abuse. While the transmission is the major change to this TF2, there are still many parts of this vehicle that I absolutely love, from the axles to the body…this ready to run offers the best scale details in R/C.
• The chassis of the Trail Finder 2 is solid aluminum; it provides a low center of gravity and a solid platform to hold everything together. The cross braces bolting between the frame rails create a rigid platform that allows the suspension to do its job while the chassis holds strong.
• The suspension of the Trail Finder 2 is a traditional setup that has been around for countless years in the full size automotive industry. RC4WD has carried on this tradition and kept things scale, creating a 1/10-scale vehicle that is as real as it gets. The leaf springs of the TF2, paired with the dampers, allow the suspension to take bumps and jumps with the best of them. As with any leaf springs, they require a break-in period; as the springs begin to soften up they handle the rocks even better, allowing the tires to maintain constant traction with the ever-changing conditions beneath them.
• The steering servo is mounted between the frame rails above the front axle. This type of steering creates a realistic look and feel to the vehicle. The servo packs 153 ounces of torque, enough to push the small tires around on the rocks. The tie rod steering system creates direct contact from the servo to the knuckles, and combined with the length of the servo horn, the maximum amount of torque can be applied to steering the tires without loosing torque to other parts in the system flexing.
• The drivetrain of the TF2 RTR is similar to the original truck, but with a change of the transmission. The original TF2 had the R3 two-speed transmission. This required a shift servo and extra room for the bulk of the transmission; a great system, but a smaller option is always a plus. The ready-to-run version has (in my eyes) improved the design; the R3 single speed simplifies the design and adds room to include an interior for those ultra scale looks. Transferring the power to the axles is a transfer case. The Hammer transfer case uses wide 32-pitch gears to create a solid platform for the truck to continue on the trail for years.
• The body of the Trail Finder 2 is one of the main features of this truck. The hard ABS body mounts firmly to the frame. The particulars shine, with several small parts detailing this body inside and out. The door handles, mirrors, bumpers, side markers and the list goes on. This body bridges a gap between radio control and models. The details will leave you looking twice in photos and picking this truck up and studying all the small details that bring this truck together.
• “AA” batteries for transmitter
• Racers Edge 3400mAh 30C 3-cell LiPo, Part Number: RCELP3S3400.
This hardcase LiPo packs plenty of punch for the 45-turn motor of the Trail Finder 2. The TF2 keeps room tight in the battery compartment, but this battery fits perfectly with the Velcro straps holding it firmly in place. With massive amounts of run time and tons of punch, this battery does the trick.
HOP-UPS WE RECOMMEND
• XVD axle for TF2 axle, Part Number: Z-S0342, Price: $45.99.
Increases steering and durability in the front axle.
• Red Super Soft Flex Leaf Springs, Part Number: Z-S0570, Price: $29.99.
These leaf springs will improve articulation and allow the vehicle to flex more easily.
• Scale Steel Punisher driveshaft, Part Number: Z-S0209, Price: $24.99.
Improves drivetrain durability, lowers the center of gravity and adds a scale touch to the underside of the TF2.
BEHIND THE WHEEL
I headed out to a new location with the Trail Finder 2, somewhere I had never been before. With a quick hike through some tall brush I sat down and plugged the TF2 in. The journey began with setting the truck down in the dirt and navigating up a small rock face. The forward bias of the motor and steering components made quick work of this small section and the trail had begun. Across a dirt washout and onto a large, slick rock slab, the TF2 felt at home traversing across and down. Up the rock was a task at times, but a challenge the truck was ready for. The first real challenge came on a steep descent, testing the dragbrake of the Outcry ESC. The ESC held firm, almost too much to a degree. I had to use the steering servo to wiggle the truck down the face as the ESC was holding strong, but with this technique I was able to make a slow controlled descent of the rock and was onto the next part of the journey. Moving down the trail was more dirt and rock, presenting ever-changing tests for the Trail Finder 2. Every challenge is the very reason that I love crawlers and scale-based vehicles so much. Where a fully built competition vehicle could conquer an obstacle without flinching, this truck made you think, made you use the throttle as more than just a go button and made use of the steering to find traction and grip where there was none before. As the trail continued, I tested wheel speed and made the little truck fight for traction. A steep dirt hill created an obstacle far more difficult than any I had come upon yet. The recent rains had created a semi-firm base with loose gravel on top, and after countless run-up’s to the hill, eventually my luck turned and the TF2 snaked up the dirt hill ready to tackle its next objective.
Pot holes, hot tubs, whatever you want to call them, the trail was littered with them, creating a trail that Mother Nature uses to drain water away from rock. The water had eaten away the rock, creating cutouts that acted as little pools. The trail was littered with these; at least 50 yards of the upcoming trail had these hot tubs, but we had to start right at the bottom. The first hot tub swallowed the front end of the truck; I reversed out of it and went for a new strategy. I drove the driver side tires onto the side and with a “blip” of the throttle, I was able to float the passenger side front tire up and was able to climb through to the next hole. The next hole was even more technical, pushing the truck into it, smashing the front bumper onto the rock, jamming the front tire into an undercut and popping the front driveshaft off. The driveshaft didn’t break though and would have been an easy fix if I had remembered to bring tools… alas, I left everything at home, so I limped off the trail in rear wheel drive, keeping constant speed, while allowing the front end to spin freely and traverse the easy way back to the car. Even in two-wheel drive, the Trail Finder 2 was a blast to drive. It went from a rock crawler to a stock truck, spinning the rear tires through the tamer ground ahead.
SPECS & TUNING OPTIONS
LENGTH: 21.25 in. (540mm)
WIDTH: 8.5 in. (215mm)
WHEELBASE: 11.3 in. (287mm)
CLEARANCE: 2.5 in. (57mm)
BODY, WHEELS AND TIRES
WHEEL ADAPTER TYPE: 12mm hex
TIRES: Mud Thrashers (X3 compound)
TYPE: Leaf spring
SHOCK POSITIONS: Adjustable on chassis
RIDE HEIGHT: NA
TYPE: On the chassis, drag link
TYPE: Ladder frame
TRANSMISSION: Front mounted
TRANSFER CASE: 3-gear center-mounted
CLUTCH TYPE: Adjustable slipper
GEAR RATIO: Optional pinion gears
BEARINGS: Full set of shielded
Every ready-to-run I have ever driven has needed some type of upgrade to live up to the rigors of my driving. The TF2 was no exception to this, but what it does need will make the smallest of divots in the wallet. Wiggling, bumping and jumping across the rocks presented me with more than just a day out with the hobby I have loved for nearly a decade, it gave me a smile, a smile that came from a vehicle and company that strives to be the best in all that is scale. The Trail Finder 2 allows us to live those dreams of the full-size world that are otherwise too expensive for most of us to fulfill.