Beginnerís guide to the Slash 4x4 | Part I
After diving into this hobby head first, I thought Iíd write and share some of my personal observations about the Slash 4x4 with the goal of saving other newcomers some frustration and time searching for simple answers. I hope to add to this guide and look forward to the discussion that follows as a result. The following observations are mine alone and the advice I offer is simply meant to serve as a jumping off point for you to dive further into the hobby. By no means am I an expert; In fact, Iím far from it.
Setup Ė For any newcomer, setting up the Slash 4x4 properly based on the conditions you plan to run in can be the most intimidating, yet entertaining part of this hobby. The Slash 4x4 Ė as with most other hobby grade RCís Ė is almost infinitely adjustable. Ö And for good reason.
Iíve been nothing short of amused by the way most newcomers approach setting up their trucks. To offer an analogy: spending an hour searching the forums yields a collection of newcomers and their posts that would lead you to believe that they would rather drink water from a sewer versus the tap because a stranger on the forums convinced them that sewer water was better.
Most of know better, and for one simple reason.
We understand water, where it comes from, what it does to our bodies and the inherent advantages and disadvantages of consuming it from different sources. Weíve been consuming it our entire lives. Why is he talking about water? Because the more knowledge we possess about certain things, the more comfortable we are in our understanding.
Setting up your Slash 4x4 is no different. The more you drive it, the more comfortable you become and the more knowledgeable you are about the advantages and disadvantages of tinkering with it.
Helpful tips for newcomers:
I. Read the manual three times from front to back. Youíd be surprised how much information is included. From basic to complex, the manual that comes with the Slash 4x4 does an excellent job of explaining the ďhowĒ and ďwhyĒ of operating the truck.
II. For the first week, drive the truck as much as possible without changing a single thing. Learn how the truck handles, take note of how it performs on various terrains and make mental notes of what you like and dislike about the stock setup. Using setup sheets, provided by Traxxas here, may help to serve as a written diary of all that you have done to the vehicle? Donít like the changes you made, go back to your notes, change them back and start over.
III. If you want an even deeper understanding behind how the truck is built and why it performs the way it does, this guide is by far the single most well-written, in-depth piece about RC vehicles and how they do what they do. It isnít for the faint of heart, and a basic understanding of physics will go far in helping you to understand exactly why the vehicle operates the way it does.
IV. Be wary of the dog chasing his tail. The Traxxas (and other) forums are full of excellent information, but they are also full of conjecture and ridiculous advice given by people who havenít even tried what theyíre telling others to do. Use your noggin and learn to disseminate the good from the bad. If you follow the tips above, this wonít be a problem.
Once you familiarize yourself with the vehicle and understand how it handles, tear it down. All the way down -- every screw, every bolt and every bearing. Why? Because itís not enough to understand how the truck handles, especially when you start to make your initial adjustments.
By far, the most intimidating part of this hobby is taking apart your $400-plus investment. But if youíre going to enjoy this hobby to its full potential, youíve got to know how to work on the truck, make repairs and replace parts. The Slayden setup is an often used guideline for making adjustments, but if you donít know why youíre making them or how to put the truck back together, youíll be frustrated in a matter of minutes.
Helpful tips for working on/tearing down the Slash 4x4:
I. Use the expanded drawings provided with your truck. If you donít have them, they can be located here. These drawings provide you with a clear, concise road map should you get stuck or confused about the tear down/repair process.
II. Operate on one section at a time. Did you know that the bearing sizes on the front differential are completely different? I didnít either until I went back and looked as the expanded drawings. If you take apart the front c-hub carriers on one side of the truck, leave the other side untouched and use it as a reference when putting the truck back together. This truck is full of pieces and parts; each of them play a vital role in making it work properly. If youíre lazy and donít pay attention, the truck will act the same way you are.
III. If you get stuck and donít understand how to proceed, use the forums to ask questions. Note: Search the forums before asking your question. A dollar says itís been asked before and youíre watering down good information by starting a new thread to ask the same question thatís already been answered a dozen times.
IV. Work in pairs: If you repair/rebuild one front shock, do the same for the other one. Several parts operate in unison and things like oil consistency make a huge difference in troubleshooting issues later on.
Reference: Slash 4x4 Manual | Parts List | Troubleshooting FAQ | Slayden Setup
Next week: Upgrades Ė Where to save and spend your money