Project: Ultimate Rustler
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Jangification: Page 1
If you've never heard the term "Jangification," you must be new to the online Rustler community. I don't recall who coined the term for the radical Dremelling I started back in Phase I, but it wasn't me. As you can see above, by the time the Ultimate Rustler was fully evolved, it didn't look much like the original Traxxas design. In the years that I was actively developing and racing this vehicle, I received much praise and much scorn, both from people who tried my techniques and those who didn't. Some were very sloppy in their attempts or went way overboard and ended up with weak parts that broke under hard bashing. Some (to this day) follow my cuts accurately and are very pleased with the results. Those who never tried any of it just don't know what they're talking about. Also, it's important to note that this vehicle is modified specifically for racing, in stock (27-turn, 24-degree fixed timing) class. It's not intended to be bashed at a skate park with a brushless motor, though some members of the forums have actually bashed very successfully with Ultimate Rustler-based vehicles.
My "Jangified" parts aren't just randomly cut up. Care was taken in choosing places to trim in order to limit negative effects on stiffness and strength. Most of the trimming work was done with Dremel #115 and #194 bits. In some cases I would use a 1/8" drill bit to outline a large area for removal with holes, then punch out the plug of waste material and finish up the edges with the high-speed cutters. Many times I've been asked how I got my cuts so round and smooth, and there are two answers. First, it takes some patience. The Dremel should be wielded as a fine artistict tool, not an implement of destruction. Plan your cuts, take off a little less than you need at first, and then finish off with a light touch and brushing passes. Secondly, my cuts weren't really all that good if you look closely! If I could do it all over again, I'd definitely do a better job.
The main chassis piece is 126 grams, or 34% lighter than stock. The upper plate lost 14g, or 33% of its original weight. This does cause some loss of stiffness that was then offset with a miracle $0.00 hop-up part -- see the Phase II photo at left. That plate you see bolted across the back end of my battery tub is a Dremeled-down MSC mount. This single, free piece of plastic which we normally discard when we upgrade to an ESC more than doubles the stiffness of the chassis in my experience. How could this be possible? The arrow in the picture points to an odd gap sliced into the stock Rustler chassis. That's there to let the MSC servo wire through, and it absolutely wreaks havoc on the tortional rigidity of the truck by interrupting the critical longitudinal ridge of the battery tub on that side. Years later, Traxxas quietly addressed this issue in the interlocking design of the ESC mount they designed for the XL-5 Rustler.
Speaking of the battery tub, I Dremelled out the back part of the tub to allow the battery to slide back all the way for more rear traction. I use Associated or Losi battery spacers or just a piece of styrofoam when I want to move the battery forward again. The battery now gets held down with a strip of double-sided Velcro threaded through slots in the chassis. With the stock battery hold-down out of a job, I drilled out the right battery mount post hole and slotted it to mount the antenna. Off came the stock antenna mount and the entire section of lower chassis that supported it. Note that the chassis is not trimmed all the way up to the outside of the battery tub. The little horizontal ridge of material not only leaves this nice channel for running wires, but is very important for chassis stiffness. Looking back, if I were to do this all over, I would route the antenna wire somewhere separate from the servo cable to avoid interference.
People who saw my Phase I a-arms were quick to say that they are too thin, that I'd gone too far, and that they'd shatter into tiny fragments upon landing the first jump. I was equally quick to point out that I ran those exact arms for two years and never had a problem with them. In Phase II, I realized I could further lighten the front arms without passing a minimum required level of strength. The trimming involved all 3 axes, but barely touched the critical areas around the suspension pins. The result was therefore a pair that was plenty strong for racing purposes, but 25% lighter than stock. I had also trimmed down my stock rear a-arms, but later swapped these out for a Nitro Rustler set, as you will see on the rear suspension page.