Winter Operating Tips

Article #50685

Winter Operating Tips

Cold weather is here, and many people will be running their Traxxas models in very cold and wet weather conditions. Cold weather can have an effect on any remote control Traxxas model, such as hinder proper nitro engine break-in, require retuning of nitro engines, as well as increased risk of damage to plastic parts, as the cold weather makes parts more brittle. Traxxas does not recommend operating certain models in the snow or rain, however, we do know that there will be many owners eager to run their high-performance Traxxas models regardless of winter's fury. This article will cover the basic precautions of cold and wet weather operation, and give tips for a successful winter outing.

A word about wet weather operation:

Some Traxxas vehicles can be damaged by exposure to moisture. Running non water-proof Traxxas models in the snow is not a good idea for many reasons. Snow is frozen water, water and electronics DO NOT mix.  Although all current Traxxas electric vehicles (Except those including the Mamba Monster brushless system) include waterproof electronics, our earlier vehicles did not.  Blue cases on the ESC and servo indicate that they are waterproof. Consult your owners manual for more information regarding water resistance. Snow can build up inside your chassis, and surround your on-board electronics i.e., servos, receiver, electronic speed control, etc. As soon as the snow starts to melt, the water will find its way into these components shorting out the vulnerable circuits inside. This can lead to permanent damage. Our current electric waterproof vehicles can be operated safely in cold, wet environments when properly maintained, and some nitro models can be made to withstand wet weather with certain preparation. Traxxas does not warranty water-damaged electrical components or rusted/corroded hardware.

If you insist on running your non waterproof Traxxas model in the snow or any wet environment, use extreme caution. Cover your receiver, battery, and other radio gear with a balloon or a waterproof bag. DO NOT allow your speed control to get wet, the water will damage it. Do not run any Traxxas model completely submerged underwater!

There are a few things to remember when operating your model in extremely cold weather:

1: To make starting your nitro engine easier in the cold weather, warm your engine up to room temperature before taking it out to run. A very cold engine can be difficult to start.

2: Remember that plastic, and even the metal parts on your model can become brittle in extremely cold weather conditions, causing them to break easily. Use extra care when driving your vehicle in cold weather.

3: If you return from operating in a wet environment, be sure to clean the car, dry it off, and spray a light mist of a moisture inhibitor like WD-40 over the vehicle to prevent rust. See Maintaining and storing your vehicle.

4: The AA batteries that power your nitro vehicle's on-board electronics can also be affected by the cold temperatures, causing them to be down on power, providing sluggish performance. If you've installed brand new batteries into your battery box, and are still having response problems, bring the vehicle inside to warm-up to room temperature before heading back out.

Always remember to drive with care, and use good judgment when operating your Traxxas model in cold winter conditions.

Winter Break-in
for Your Nitro Engine

Breaking in your Traxxas engine correctly is crucial for long engine life and proper performance. These tips will inform you of what you should know, and what you should do during this very important process.

During the break-in process, the piston and sleeve wear into each other to form a precise fit. The engine needs to heat up to a certain minimum temperature (at least 200 to 215 degrees) to allow the piston and sleeve to achieve this fit properly. A precise fit between these two components is critical for proper compression, and optimum performance over a long period of time. Proper engine temperature and break-in is especially important during the colder winter months, so that when winter has past, and the engine is operated under warmer running conditions, they will continue to provide the best possible performance and wear.

If the engine is too cold during break-in, the engine's piston and sleeve cannot properly expand, resulting in excessive wear and requiring premature component replacement. The engine may run fine for a short while, but the life span of the piston and sleeve can be shortened significantly. For instance, what could have been a five-gallon engine could quickly turn into a two-gallon engine due to improper break-in temperatures (of course this is just a scenario). The life of your engine solely depends on how it is treated through its entire life. This includes 'post' break-in as well, in the form of proper tuning and maintenance.

Here are some tips for
cold-weather break-in:

1: Warm the engine to approximately room temperature by keeping it indoors. The engine can become difficult to start in cold weather. Note! Do not bring the model indoors with fuel in it. Always remove fuel when storing or transporting the model. Click here for more information about fuel storage and handling.

2: After the engine is running, it is important to keep the temperature of the engine up around 200 to 215 degrees during break-in. In weather below 45 degrees, TRX Racing Engines will not want to run over 160 to 180 degrees (when tuned at proper break-in mixture settings). This is too cool for break-in. Do not lean the engine to get a hotter temperature. This will decrease lubrication as well, and will also cause your piston and sleeve to wear prematurely. (Below: TRX 2.5R Racing Engine shown, procedures for TRX 3.3 are the same.)

3: You can wrap the cooling head with a paper towel, clean rag or sock to help keep the engine running around the recommended 200 to 215 break-in temp. The idea is to reduce the efficiency of the cooling fins to allow the engine temperature to rise to an acceptable level. Be careful though, if too much heat is contained, the engine can actually run too hot. Make sure that you monitor the engine's temp closely for the first couple of tanks until you get the right amount of cover for the cooling head. This will, of course, depend on your current weather conditions. Adjusting the cover up and down, exposing more or less cooling fins is a convenient way to regulate engine temps.

4: You can also run an uncut body on the vehicle to block the airflow across the engine to help keep the engine temperature where it needs to be.

5: For owners that do not have access to a temperature probe, a drop of water on the cooling head (around the glow plug area) should slowly sizzle for approximately 6 to 8 seconds around 200 to 210 degrees. If the water sizzles for only a few seconds, then it is likely that it is over 220 degrees, and needs to cool down. If the water takes a long time or does not evaporate at all, then of course, it's too cool. This is highly generalized, we recommend using a temperature probe for more precise measurement if you want to break in your engine in cold weather.

6: We do not recommend that you operate your engine below 35 degrees Fahrenheit. If you insist on running your vehicle below 35 degrees, just make sure you are aware that nitro engines may be very difficult to start and tune at those extremely cold temperatures. Also know that below freezing, nitro fuel can actually begin to gel up, and this can be harmful to the engine.

Follow the break-in procedures as outlined in your owners manual. This, along with the steps listed above, will ensure a good break-in for your new nitro engine, and provide many hours of enjoyment.

Recommended Reading:

Tips on engine break-in and tuning.
Air filter maintenance
After run maintenance & storage
Factory carburetor settings

For more questions regarding engine break-in and tuning not shown here or in the manual, call 1-888-TRAXXAS to speak to a customer service representative.

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