Your Traxxas Nitro Model
Nitro powered radio controlled models offer an insane amount of speed and performance in an incredibly small package. The little two-stroke engines that propel these vehicles pump out a tremendous amount of power for their size, and spin at astronomical RPMs. The operating tolerances of these engines are very tight and are designed with extreme care for perfect fit and operation. Corrosion derived from moisture or other contaminants can rapidly break down an engine's ability to perform efficiently and reliably. Now, I know that we are not all big fans of taking things apart just to clean them. Although it's very tempting to just toss the vehicle up on a shelf after an all day bash session, it is not a very good idea. The times that you are allowed to do so will be quickly limited by the corrosion and gunk build-up that will form all around your chassis and engine components. Taking the time to perform these simple, yet effective maintenance procedures will keep your miniature monster in top condition, and ensure long life with less complications down the road.
Keeping it Clean
Keeping a nitro model (or any RC vehicle for that matter) clean is the first, and most important step of proper maintenance. Here are the tools and accessories needed for keeping your ride running and looking fresh.
When storing your nitro vehicle overnight it is necessary to perform the after-run maintenance procedure on the engine. After-run maintenance is critical for long life, and consistent tuning of your engine. The methanol in nitro fuel is a moisture magnet (hygroscopic), drawing in moisture from the air, thus inhibiting the precious metals inside the engine with rust and corrosion. Removing the raw, unburned fuel from the engine is very important. Also, fuel left inside the tank can turn bad in a short period of time, so removing all fuel from the fuel tank is a good idea as well.
Here's a perfect example of a neglected engine. It is obvious that the vehicle this engine was in was not properly maintained and all after-run procedures thrown out the window.
The moisture absorbing properties of the methanol inside of the fuel can cause real havoc on your engine's connecting rod.
Perform these after-run steps before storing the vehicle overnight.
1. Empty the fuel tank by drawing out the left over fuel with an empty fuel bottle. Do not place this fuel back into the can of fresh fuel. The old fuel must be properly disposed of. Give the bottle a squeeze before entering the tip into the fuel tank. This allows the bottle to draw in the raw fuel from the tank. Repeat this step until all fuel is in the bottle.
3. Clean the exterior of the engine case and carburetor by blasting the grease and dirt away with the denatured alcohol, or nitro cleaner. Use a small brush to aid in the removal of any stubborn particles that are difficult to break loose. Dry the engine case with compressed air.
Caution: Always wear safety glasses and gloves to prevent injury when handling hazardous chemicals, and using compressed air. Once the engine case is clean and dry, remove the glow plug and air filter from the engine.
Do not over-look the area between the cooling fins of the cylinder head. This is a very popular place for dirt and grime to hide. Excessive dirt between the fins, like this one here, can cause the engine to run very hot, making the engine difficult to tune.
4. Remove the air filter from the carburetor. Open the throttle fully and squirt a one second burst of WD-40 into the carburetor and also into the glow plug hole inside of the cooling head.
5. Remove the air filter element frm the filter housing. Clean the element and housing components with warm soapy water (dish washing liquid, such as Dawn™, works very well), and allow the pieces to dry completely.
Compressed air can be used to accelerate the drying process of the air filter components.
Once the filter element is dry, apply 30 drops of Traxxas air filter oil, part #5263, evenly around the entire element.
Thirty drops of Traxxas air filter oil will suffice. Do not squeeze out any oil from the element. Work the oil into the element with your fingers until there is an even color of oil throughout the entire element. Reinstall the filter element into the filter housing.Note - Traxxas recommends to clean the air filter after every hour of runtime with the engine (approx. one 500cc bottle of fuel). If the vehicle is operating in very dusty conditions, cleaning the air filter after every 30 minutes of runtime will be necessary to promote long engine life.
If you are using an inline fuel filter, it is very important to keep the filter clean and free flowing. Clogged fuel filters will cause tuning difficulty and poor engine performance. This means cleaning the filter on a regular basis. Cleaning the fuel filter at the same time ou clean the air filter should suffice. I recommend using a fuel filter that is made to be disassembled, or at least transparent, so that you can see the screen inside and determine whether or not it is completely clean.
This truck is in dire need of a good cleaning. it's definitely a blast when we are in the process of making our trucks look like this one, but the fun will soon come to a halt if we do not develop good maintenance and cleaning habits.
Between running sessions it is a good idea to clean off the chassis with denatured alcohol, and wipe away the dirt a debris from the chassis. This keeps the collective build-up of dirt and crud from getting out of hand, and causing a huge cleaning task later. More importantly, it prevents the grime build-up from producing greater problems with the vehicle functioning incorrectly. Also, inspect the chassis and drivetrain for any broken or damaged components.
Start by spraying denatured alcohol onto the dirty areas breaking up and flushing away as much grit and grime as possible. Be careful not to get any alcohol onto the electronics. If the vehicle is so grimy that it is unavoidable, then remove the radio gear from the chassis before continuing further. Use a small brush to assist in the really bad areas.
Once the chassis and components are free from the grunge, dry off the vehicle with compressed air.
Here is a truck that has been well maintained. Keeping dirt and gunk from caking up around the drivetrain and suspension components will not only prevent complications, but it will also provide a better handling truck too.
Follow this quick checklist of procedures and visual inspections between running sessions.
After cleaning the chassis and suspension, check over the chassis once more for loose screws and damaged parts. Engine screws are especially important. Always double check the mesh between the clutch bell and the spur gear before each run. Also, pick out any debris that may have found its way in-between the teeth of the gears. The vibration from the nitro engine, coupled with any rollovers or nasty wrecks, can loosen the these screws allowing the engine to shift. This causes the clutch bell to pull away from the spur gear losing proper gear mesh, thus wiping out all of the teeth on the spur gear.
Just a drop of
medium compound thread locker on each of the engine mounting screws is all
that is needed to help prevent the screws from loosening due to the
vibration of the nitro engine.
Medium thread locking compound is beneficial when used on the engine screws to prevent the screws from backing out.
Other key items to check include:
Slipper tension and friction pegs - Make sure that the slipper adjustment is set correctly. A good starting point for the slipper on the Maxx trucks is 1/4 turn back from tight, and the N. Rustler can start around 1/2 turn from tight. Also, make a regular check on the friction pegs for wear. When the pegs wear down to the spur gear, it is time to replace the pegs with new ones.
Throttle linkage and set screw collars Make sure that the set screw collars are fastened securely to the linkage rods and that the rods themselves are not bent or binding.
Free suspension movement - The suspension arms must move freely to function properly and consistently. Remove the shocks from the suspension arms and make sure that the arms move freely up and down. If there is any binding, check the suspension pins. Bent suspension pins will cause binding and will need to be straightened or replaced.
Electronics - Open up the battery and receiver boxes to check for moisture and dirt. Receivers with balloons must be pulled out regularly to make sure that raw fuel or moisture has not found its way inside to cause damage. If the balloon is torn or has fuel residue inside of it, then it will need to replaced.
Long Term Storage
A few extra steps need to be taken when putting your nitro vehicle up for a long period of time. Here are the steps to prepare your nitro vehicle for long term storage.
There you have it, all of the steps needed to keep your Traxxas nitro vehicle happy and healthy for a long time. Remember, the short time spent performing these maintenance and storage procedures will ensure many more hours of fun running your nitro powered Traxxas vehicle in the future. Damage to the chassis or electronics due to neglect, or failure to provide proper maintenance to your vehicle will void any kind of warranty claim associated with the problem.