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Project: Chimera-A

Project: Chimera-A

Intro

When the idea for this project first came to be, I had 24 past car & truck projects on record. However, not a single one of them did I purchase and own for the sole purpose of driving for the sake of enjoyment. They've all had a specific purpose -- proving a point, winning races, executing a specific theme, inspiring others to try something similar, etc. At the end of 2009, I decided it was time to break this bizarre pattern and purchase a vehicle just for me, just for fun, just to drive. The result is Chimera-A, an all-weather, all-terrain basher designed to be able to pick up & go anywhere, at any time, at any speed from a true crawl to a healthy cruise, with no changes.

Photos

Not the most extensive gallery so far as I've spent most of my time driving & filming and keep forgetting to stop & take pictures!

What exactly is it?

I decided to base Project: Chimera-A off of a Traxxas Slash 4x4 after a couple weeks of debate & hard thinking. I considered solid-axle chassis for their crawling ability, but had to rule them out because of their uselessness at speed. The Traxxas Summit was a good early contender, but its cost, huge bulk, low speed, twin battery requirement, and ludicrous proportions pushed it completely out of the running.

The main Slash 4x4 chassis has managed to remain fairly stock (so far), but nearly all of the fixings have been modified to completely transform the character of the truck.

  • Wheels & tires. I'm currently running Hot Bodies Rover 5.5" tires with Pro-Line 2-stage oversized foams, on stripped, dyed, and narrowed Pro-Line Wabash 2.2" wheels with Electric Rustler/Stampede front-offset hub adapters. For mud running, I also have a set of Integy ERC5 2.2" crawler tires on Pro-Line 30 Series (2.8") Wabash wheels, which are are left unglued so I can easily pull the tires off & dry the foams. There are no 2.2" beadlock wheels available that will fit the Slash 4x4 without having excessive negative offset plus a truly prohibitive price tag. I continue to experiment.
     
  • Suspension. I'm a big fan of Traxxas' stock plastic Ultra Shocks (which are bigger than the so-called "Big Bores") and always will be, so I left them on. However, I did quite a significant amount of experimentation & tuning to come up with a setup that would maximize my usable ground clearance and articulation. Articulation for the sake of articulation is pointless and can actually hurt rough-terrain performance. My first good setup used Losi 3.8lb/in front springs and Traxxas E-Maxx progressive rear springs, with a bit of uptravel limiting on the front. For a more believable outward appearance, with less gaudy color, I then came up with similar-behaving setup using Losi 4.1lb/in springs at the rear and dyed Rustler front springs, both of which are black.
     
  • Body. Obviously the stock short course body wasn't going to be appropriate for a trail-crushing, rock-crawling adventurer, and of course I wanted to do something that had never been done, so I first mounted a Traxxas Summit body (which just required longer body posts), and later modified it with custom-made windows & upper panels attached directly to the "exo-cage" to change the apparent scale of the truck & make it more unique as copycats showed up on the 'Web.
     
  • Power. Though I tried my hardest, I could not find any vehicle, whether stock or custom-built, that could handle the range of different driving situations Chimera-A was destined for, so I was left on my own to figure out a power configuration. My most recent setup is with a Novak HV 5.5T (3700kv) sensored motor, powered by a Castle Creations Mamba Max Pro and motivated by 2S LiPo packs. This gives plenty of vertical wheelie-ing power, but can easily handle crawling speeds as well. Before arriving at this setup, I tried the Velineon (regeared), an 1800kv sensorless motor, a 55T brushed motor, a Novak Ballistic 18.5T Crawler (1650kv) motor on 3S, and a 4.5T (5000kv) Novak HV.
     
  • Other stuff done to the truck has included the installation of an overtray, no-rust stainless steel stub axle bearings, and stiffening the diffs up with 500,000 wt oil all around for more crawling traction without completely decimating my steering radius. Also to help with the steering, I've stiffened the servo saver up by preloading the spring with a custom-ground spacer made from a very large washer.

Performance

The truck exists to go anywhere and do anything, and to date it has not disappointed. It was never intended to be any sort of competition-level crawler, but it can crawl better than any independent-suspension vehicle I've seen to date. At the same time, it can get its way around a track, over modest jumps and across rough terrain at speeds that'd put a solid-axle truck on its lid every few seconds. In case you couldn't tell, I'm very happy with it so far! That doesn't mean I'm satisfied, though. I'm still looking for more of everything!

Videos

Here are a couple recent highlights:

Here's a full list of YouTube videos from newest to oldest:


Follow along!

As long as I own this truck I'll be tweaking it & making improvements, so to see the very latest updates, be sure to follow the official Project: Chimera-A topic on the forums! See you there!