Building the Transmission
In the first part of our build we’re going to focus on the Ascender’s transmission.
We start off the build with a basic overview of the bag layouts that Vaterra has put in place. I found this to be pretty accurate when assembling the Ascender as it only allows access to the parts you need for a particular step.
Start by attaching the motor plate to the gearbox half as shown.
Vaterra has supplied a one-piece lower transmission gear with the Ascender. Slide it onto the shaft followed by a plastic hat washer and bearing. Make sure you slide the hat washers on the correct way.
Some steps require you to use threadlocker. I like to put a small puddle of the blue threadlocker onto my plastic work area and dip from it. This allows me to control how much I put on.
Dab the long setscrew into the threadlocker and insert it into the top shaft. Pop one of the e-clips into the groove at the other end.
Slide the pin into the hole of the top shaft at the e-clip end, then slide the gear up and key it to the pin. Slide the plastic spacer on and capture both parts with another e-clip.
On the short end of the top shaft, slide the small washer followed by the bearing. On the opposite end, slide the metal spacer onto the top shaft followed by the other bearing.
This is how your assembled top shaft should look. Temporarily set it aside.
Slide a bearing into each end of the transmission’s center gear.
Slide the shaft through the center gear followed by a plastic spacer on each end. Set aside.
Slide the lower transmission gear assembly into the case assembly, short side first.
Insert the center gear assembly into the case as shown. Also insert the metal guide shaft into the case. Note the direction.
Finally, slide the top shaft into place. Make sure that, when you insert all the gears, all of the bearings and spacers remain on the shafts.
Slide the other transmission half into place and secure with the 4 screws. Snug them down and then give the top shaft a spin. If it spins freely, tighten the screws down. If they top shaft sticks or doesn’t rotate, disassemble and make sure you’ve assembled the gear sets correctly.
Place the square sticker on the top of the transmission as shown. This helps keep and debris out of the transmission.
We’re going to install the slipper clutch now but need to start by pre-compressing the slipper spring. Compress 2 or 3 times.
A quick look at how this will all go together. I would suggest laying out the pieces prior to assembly as one of your hands will be busy holding the transmission.
Place a slipper pad onto the gear, making sure the notches line up with the cutouts in the pad. Side a slipper plate onto the top shaft and, while holding the transmission as shown, slide the gear onto the shaft; pad side first. This part is a little tricky because the pad doesn’t ‘stick’ to the gear, so it moves around quite easily. Assembling in this ‘upside-down’ fashion will help keep it keyed the gear.
Once you’re seated the gear, flip the assembly over and hold as shown. This will keep the gear from moving and the slipper pad from becoming dislodged. Now place the second slipper pad into place, keying the notches to the cutouts as we did before.
While still holding the gear firmly, slide the second slipper plate onto the top shaft followed by the large spring retainer, the slipper spring, the smaller spring retainer and the locknut. A support page for the Ascender suggests tightening the slipper all the way down and then backing off 5 1/2 turns.
For this build I’ll be using Tekin’s T-35 Heavy Duty Brushed 540 Motor and FX-R Brushed ESC. This is a great combo for crawling; one I highly suggest.
Slide the red ‘washer’ onto the motor, lining up the holes with the mounting holes on the motor. Attach the motor using the 2 M3x8mm screws. Install the pinion and set the gear mesh as shown.
Press the 8mm screw through the hole in the gear cover and slide the small o-ring over it. The Ascender’s gear cover doesn’t have a hole to adjust the slipper so you have to remove the cover each time you want to make an adjustment. Kind of bummed about that since, to me, the ‘hole’ method is what I’ve been accustomed to for years. On the other hand, once you adjust it there really should be much of a need to do it again.
Set the cover into place and tighten the screw.
You’ll notice as we build the center driveshafts that there are two lengths. The shorter, plastic slider shaft goes to the front while the longer to the rear.
Match the flat spots on the outside of the metal coupler to the flat spots IN the slider shaft and press together. Dip the 10mm screw in your puddle of threadlocker and assemble.
Goop some black grease onto the inner coupler and insert into the outer coupler. Slide the pin through the assembly.
This took me a few minutes to figure out but I found a super easy solution to get these on. Start by slide the spiral retainer over the outer coupler. Take one end the spiral coupler and pop it into it’s final groove area. Using your fingernail, hold it in place and slowly rotate the outer coupler. This will spiral the retainer into it’s final mounting location. Of course, this will only work if you have nails; if you don’t ask your girlfriend/wife/mom if she’ll lend you a hand…or a nail.
Dip the setscrews into the threadlocker and thread them into each side of the outer coupler as shown (do not tighten down yet). Notice the ‘groovy’ spiral retainer in place.
Slide both axle assemblies onto the output shaft of the lower transmission gear and tighten down.
Part 2 – Assembling the front suspension.