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Unbelievable RC

Project: RallyE-Maxx

Click to enlarge

Unnatural Progression

The vehicle you see here is, under that 1/8th scale car body, an E-Maxx. Specifically, it is the Ultimate E-Maxx: Spyder in Phase IV form. This was one of the projects that fully solidified my reputation for taking an RC and transforming it into something entirely different. A number of manufacturers over the years have made 1/8th scale nitro rally cars, and any of these could be converted to electric form, but with their onroad-limited suspension, none of them can tackle real offroad terrain. The RallyE-Maxx can. Though the car has since been sold off and converted back to monster truck form by its new owner, the lessons learned from the RallyE-Maxx project will influence many Ultimate projects to come!

Click to enlarge

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The world's first
complete E-Maxx rally
car conversion
Even w/o chassis mods,
the wheels almost fit
in the wells
Representing its
true identity!

Video

Project Log

10/14/2002: Every now & then I try to take the Spyder out to the track for some runs. Between running the J-SPEC fleet and maintaining the track on race days, I don't have a lot of extra time to work on my own racing program. This past Saturday I brought the Spyder with me again, and actually got some work done on it. I finally trimmed the front a-arms so that they wouldn't bind in the bulkheads anymore, and refilled a few shocks that had been 1/2 empty for about a year. Handling is now much smoother, as you can imagine.

Since the last pictures were taken, I narrowed the track a bit by screwing the pivotballs in as far as they would go. I've also eliminated my rear toe-in in favor of about 1/2 degree of toe-out. Up front, I have about 1-2 degrees of toe-in. I've also moved the Dirty Harries up front and the slightly worn Crime Fighters to the rear. Now the rear of the car slides out nicely on our track and I can stay on the power more than ever.

I ran in the 1/8th scale sportsman class, using the same battery packs all day (2x Ballistic 6-cell packs in series) without recharging them. In the second heat, my pinion backed out partially and I stripped the spur badly. In the main event, I switched to a parallel setup to get the most out of what charge was left in the cells. I started about 20 seconds late, but before my batteries finally dumped, I had passed 4 buggies.

I'll just keep on doing a little tuning at a time like this -- it seems to be working out well. Love this car :)

5/18/2002: At the races this time, fortune wasn't on my side. I had mounted some new rear tires, Dirty Harry buggy treads from Pro-Line, hoping to get even less rear traction for easier drifts. I also put on some new wheels all around, and oh, how they look purdy:

Unfortunately, under damp, tacky racing conditions, the track gave me far too much traction and I couldn't unload the tires to save my life. I continued to try, using hard braking to force a slide and then opening up the throttle wide, but this only led to current overload shutdowns on my brushless motor controller. Nevertheless, I was actually doing fairly decent, staying around the middle of the pack, but I was getting hacked like there was no tomorrow. I'm convinced that at least 1/2 of the local sportsman drivers need to get RTR Rustlers and compete in Novice Electric class until they learn a little bit about how to drive. Very frustrating, but I was able to put on a good show. A couple of the expert 1/8th scale drivers are worried about what's to come, once I get this electric Tazmanian Devil dialed in.

5/16/2002: Finally I got a chance to do some actual practice! After finishing up the previous day's track maintenance, I hooked up one of my 12-cell racing controllers and two matched Ballistic Sony 3000 packs in series to see just what the car could do. It quickly showed me that it had at least as much raw power on our track as any 1/8th scale buggy, landing farther off of our triple jump than any other vehicle I've seen to date, with only a moderately clean run-up and 2/3rds throttle. The track was dry and I was able to break out the rear end by mashing the steering and giving 1/2 throttle in 1st gear, leading to some beautiful controlled 4-wheel drifts! Fun!

5/11/2002: Today I took the Spyder: RallyE-Maxx out for her first race against the 1/8th scale buggies. With the exception of a few J-SPEC fill-ins, I hadn't raced R/C's in months, and it showed. I couldn't handle the car well on the very technical track that I made at Delta R/C, and I also learned of a couple of bugs in the system. For one thing, the body is so huge, being open as it is, it catches a lot of air when I hit the jumps, and I don't get good midair attitude control with the throttle. Secondly, the front overhang is a bit much, and if I pitch down off of a jump, the nose catches the ground. Nevertheless, it's still a blast and I look forward to racing again.

4/16/2002: My recent foray into simulated rally racing via Codemasters' Colin McRae Rally 2.0 for the PC got me completely hooked on the sport. I created J-SPEC in the image of rally cars and decided that next year the offroad track I'd design for Delta R/C would accommodate rally-converted 1/10th scale touring cars. Worse yet, I decided that my next real, 1:1 scale car would be a 1994 Toyota Celica GTFour which I would bring up to rally racing specs. I tried converting my 4-Tec into a rally car briefly, but longed for something larger and with far more suspension travel. Of course it had to be 4WD as well, else I wouldn't be able to do nice 4-wheel drifts through turns & such. What did I have in my R/C arsenal that could fit my needs? The Spyder!

Through quite a bit of research, I found that the ideal pseudo-realistic rally car setup for my 'Maxx would be to run 1/8th scale buggy tires with an Ofna Ultra GTP 1/8th scale onroad car body. Lucky for me, one of the few available bodies was a 1994 Toyota Celica GTFour! No chassis modifications were required, everything was a perfect fit. With the brushless-powered, superlow-CG Spyder underpinnings and beautiful body, the car handled like a dream! I had fallen in love all over again!

More Info

For the rest of the story of the buildup of the RallyE-Maxx chassis core, see the Ultimate E-Maxx: Spyder project pages.