Classic 0ff-road Trailin’!
Photos: Walter Sidas
This article was originally published in RC Driver’s May 2015 issue.
Whether you call them scalers or trail trucks, the full-scale replica world of RC is filled with skill and creativity that will amaze any RC fanatic. Modelers continually strive to build and detail trucks in their own unique ways from beat-up old trucks to highly detailed showpieces. Some do it for show and many are built to drive, and man, are they driven hard! So if you are involved with this RC segment, then the name RC4WD has undoubtedly come across your path. RC4WD has been pumping out some wild scale accessories and vehicles that get those scale minds racing. Well, those minds will certainly spool up more with the release of the new Gelande II with Cruiser body set. The G2 is a precision designed off-road vehicle with amazing quality metal components and is now topped off with a full-sized replica Cruiser body that has scalers and trailers drooling to add another rig to their stable with just one look at this new kit. We’ve given you an RC Driver Reveal look at the kit’s box contents on rcdriver.com, now it’s time to take a look at the kit assembled, evaluate its contents and see what it can do out in the wild.
AT A GLANCE
WHO MAKES IT: RC4WD
WHO IT’S FOR: Any scale truck enthusiast
PART NUMBER: Z-K0051
HOW MUCH: $429.99
BUILD TYPE: Kit
• Kit is loaded with machined and cast metal goodness
• Awesome scale Cruiser body with removable top
• Full interior with seats, dashboard, shift levers and door panels
• Scale axles and transfer case ready for abuse Axles, shocks, transfer case and transmission come assembled
• Decal sheets are not backed with white
• Lots of body roll with the weighty body and interior
RC4WD claims to be a leader in scale and I have to agree that they are certainly ranked up in the top. Releases like the Gelande II with Cruiser body are proof positive of why. The design and quality of this kit is top notch. The build is easy and fun and there is plenty to detail with the super scale looking cruiser body with full interior. The truck is fun to drive as soon as you get a feel for its weighty body tugging on the suspension in the corners.
TOOLS AND ACCESSORIES INCLUDED
• You’ll need to provide all of the tools, threadlock, plastic cement and oil to be used on this kit. You may also need a servo extension lead.
• 7.2V NiMh or 7.4V LiPo Pack
• Radio System
• High Torque Servo
• Electronic Speed Control and Motor
• Holmes Hobbies Trail Master BLS HV400 Servo– This servo features an all-aluminum case with center heatsink cuts for heat dissipation. The servo has tons of torque, all-metal gears and its board is coated for weather protection, it’s the go-to servo for those who want the best for their trail rigs.
• Holmes Hobbies TorqueMaster ESC/ CrawlMaster Motor Combo– Holmes offers combo deals on their motors and ESC’s so I chose the BR-XL Waterproof brushed ESC and Crawlmaster Expert 13T brushed motor for a durable setup that offers excellent drag brake and power when I need it.
• Tactic TTX300 Radio– For under $50, this radio has a lot of bang. It’s a simple 3-channel radio with an antennaless, small footprint receiver so it looks great in a scale machine. Later the programmable third channel should come in handy when adding to this rig. The radio is light with a comfortable feel for long trail rides.
ADDITIONAL ITEMS USED
• Duratrax Onyx LiPo
• Tamiya Paint
• RC4WD Mike Action Figure
HOP-UPS WE RECOMMEND
• Ultra Scale Hardened Steel Driveshafts “Ver. 2” (3.15”/4.33”-80mm/110mm) (VVV- S0120)- Although the stock shafts are well supported, the sliders are still plastic and might twist in high stress situations. The steel slider options are great for those who are tough on their rigs.
• XVD For Yota II Front Axle (Z-S0823)- The front dog-bone and cup style axles can chatter at full lock so swapping out to RC4WD’s XVD universal style shafts will smoothen out the drivetrain action while cranking the wheels.
• Heavy Duty Metal Servo Arm 25t Futaba (Z-S0822)- The kit does not include a servo horn, so you’ll probably want to pick up an optional aluminum horn from RC4WD to outfit your servo and give it a strong arm to muscle the steering.
The chassis consists of two machined aluminum ladder frame rails that are unique to each side. They are notched and cut to fit the transmission, link plate and other bolt-ons. The center skid serves as a plate to mount the transfer case and for the lower suspension link mounting point. Back up top, an aluminum plate with end posts serves as the battery mount with Velcro straps to secure the pack. Posts extend from the sides of the rails where a side rail is clipped on and the body mounted to the rails. At the back of the chassis, an aluminum plate gives you ample room to mount electronics such as an ESC and behind the plate is a faux fuel tank where you can mount your receiver. The aluminum bumpers mount to aluminum brackets on the chassis and once everything including the additional cross braces are in place, the chassis on this rig is rock solid. The quality throughout the chassis is incredible and just sets the pace for what’s about to come next.
The Yota II axles, R3 transmission and Hammer transfer case all come preassembled from the factory; thank you very much RC4WD! These cast case pieces feature wide cut steel gears for the ultimate in durability. The axle cases are black coated with the front featuring an offset pumpkin and the rear centered. To access the gears, you remove the pinion side of the housing which is held in with multiple screws, giving them a realistic look. The rear axle has straight axle ends while up-front, round 8-degree knuckles support the steering knuckles. The R3 cast transmission case is fitted with a machined aluminum motor mount to keep the motor locked in solid as it hangs over the front of the vehicle for more front end weight on the wheels. A Delrin 32P spur is sandwiched in slipper pads to help protect the transmission components. A straight steel shaft connects the R3 to the Hammer transfer case. The transfer case puts power to the axles via slider shafts. The output yokes and universals are steel while the slider shafts are plastic. Aluminum rings slide over the plastic yoke tabs to prevent them from separating under stress.
In the suspension department, the front end features a three-link with panhard bar setup. The aluminum links have their sizes laser etched on the ends which is a nice feature while building. The end links are composite with metal pivot balls. The rear setup is four-link; two upper and two lower rods and the links mount to the axles on aluminum tabs that don’t hang too low to catch on the rocks. Then to damp the suspension action, RC4WD supplies dual spring aluminum shocks with threaded collars to adjust pre-load. The ball ends and lower perches are aluminum too. The shocks had a coating of oil inside but were not filled, I added some 30wt oil and bled them before mounting them to the aluminum shock hoops in the front and rear.
Each corner of the truck receives beadlock wheels and soft rubber tires. The wheels are three pieces with the front and rear of the wheel stamped from steel and coated black, the center ring is machined aluminum and the wheels are bolted together at the center hub with an aluminum backplate on the wheel to meet up with the axle pin. The tires are RC4WD’s Dirt Grabber scale tires with foam inserts.
This rig’s main attraction is the Cruiser body which is modeled after the full-scale cruiser. The body is a hard plastic molded ABS with awesome detail on the body lines. Vents, hood latches, fuel door, fender flares, rear door hinges, the details just don’t seem to end. Then you get to some of the add-on accessories. If it looks like a light on the truck it can be. The marker lights, head lights, tail lights, fender lights are all ready for an aftermarket LED light kit. It’s not over yet, this truck has a full interior complete with dashboard, split front seats, shifter levers, steering wheel, roll bar, and rear jump seats, all molded in ABS plastic and even door panels. The front windshield and surround bolt on to the body separately, allowing you to pull the top off the truck and you can run the rig topless.
When you get this kit, it comes beautifully packaged in a large box with foam padding supporting the majority of the machined components. Everything is bagged for protection or easy identification. Some parts are even wrapped in tissue paper so it’s like opening protected presents of scale goodness. The instructions are basic but you can easily get through the build without issue. I did have to open a few holes in the body with a reamer to get some accessories in place like the mirrors and marker lights after paint, but all of the fit and finish is basically spot on. For the paint, I used Tamiya model paint and painted the truck with TS-38 Gunmetal paint for a modern look since I’ll be adding modern accessories later to detail this classic off-roader.
ON THE TRACK
To me the G2 with Cruiser body is more of a light trail machine rather than a “climb a treacherous ledge rock type of path” vehicle so I headed to a park with smooth dirt trails with rolling bumps. There I simply walked behind the G2 Cruiser and enjoyed the scale look of the drive. The truck certainly looks cool hauling along as the Holmes Hobbies power components have plenty of punch for a full throttle scale look. Dirt was churning up off the tires and the tires would roll in the corners.
The corners are where things get exciting in a good and a little scary way. If you just put in a lot of time and effort to paint a factory finished looking body, you want to watch your corner speeds. There is a lot of roll in the chassis due to the full plastic body and interior adding significant weight up high. The G2 doesn’t hook, there is some push as the front tires roll and tug on the bead, but as you see the weight shift, you instinctively back off the throttle so as not to roll and scratch your scale prize possession. At full lock in a turn, the radius is fairly tight with the locked diff, but there is some chatter at full throw while on the throttle. This is due to the doggone axle ends hitting the wall of the stub axle cups. To ditch the chatter you’ll want to look at RC4WD’s optional universals.
I did find some obstacles I was confident to clear. I approached some tree stumps and attempted to set a front-wheel in to climb up and over the stump. The front bumper overhang does pose a little bit of a challenge because it sticks far out and is a hard aluminum design, but I was able to hook the wheel on some stumps and push the rig up and over the stumps or roots. Low profile rocks were fun, too, to watch the suspension
SPECS AND TUNING OPTIONS
LENGTH: 18.35 in. / 466mm
WIDTH: 8.5 in. / 215mm
WHEELBASE: 10.83in. / 275mm
WEIGHT: 6.57 Lbs. / 2.98Kg
BODY, WHEELS AND TIRES
BODY: Molded ABS Plastic with windows and interior
WHEELS: 1.9-inch 3-Piece Beadlock
WHEEL ADAPTER TYPE: Pin-type
TIRES: Soft Dirt Grabber Tires
TYPE: 3-Link Front/ 4-Link Rear
SHOCK POSITIONS: 2 on shock hoops
RIDE HEIGHT: Adjustable shock collar pre-load
MISC: 2 panhard bar link locations
TYPE: Direct servo to hub with BTA link
TYPE: Rail MATERIAL: Aluminum
TRANSMISSION: Single speed tranny with transfer case
GEAR RATIO: Internal 1.78:1
BEARINGS: Shielded ball bearing
CLUTCH TYPE: Slipper
Performance – Acceleration: 8
Performance – Steering: 7
Performance – Handling: 7
Performance – Durability: 9
Feature Breakdown: 10
Overall Value: 9
THE LAST WORD
The RC4WD Gelande II with Cruiser body was the first kit from the company that I built. Just a few weeks prior to unboxing the G2 Cruiser, I broke the seal on a G2 with D110 body but put the build on hold. A deadline forced me to build the Cruiser and I was sure glad it did, so much so that the D110 is moving back to the front to be built immediately. The G2 Cruiser was a top notch build with quality parts that all fit together perfectly. All of the screws are labeled in their own bags so you easily know what type of hardware you are working with. The details on all of the metal chassis and driveline components are incredible and are backed up with awesome durability and performance. Then you get the body, just tons of detail pieces, chrome parts, metal grill, the option to put lights in, scale interior complete with panels for the door―it’s a modelers dream. If you haven’t experienced a RC4WD kit, you need to; they’re worth it from the price to the performance and style.
Holmes Hobbies, holmeshobbies.com
Duratrax, distributed exclusively by Great Planes Model Distributors, duratrax.com, 800-682-8948
Tactic, distributed exclusively by Great Planes Model Distributors, hobbico.com, 800-682-8948
Tamiya America Inc., tamiyausa.com, 800-826-4922