Sunday, January 3, 2016

F1 Flow Chart

I made this post over at RC tech, but I figured I'd copy it over here before it winds up pages back on the thread....

F1 Flow Chart:

TCS racing?
If yes, see below, If no skip directly to "Buy XRAY"

Do You race on carpet? If no skip directly to "Buy TRF102"

If yes, this is where things start getting interesting.

F104 t bar cars - you need to really look at the F104X1 (or a car optioned to the same spec) or the F104W GP. The X1 has fiberglass chassis parts which actually can be a good thing. It makes a little more traction and has a little more weight down low, which again is not all bad. I have witnessed several brutal beatdowns on high grip carpet with this car. Pretty well optioned if you can get a kit/car. Really the only things you may want are the carbon axle, and clamping hub.

The WGP car is very similar, however you will need to buy the standard F104 front end plastic parts and shorter turnbuckles as the car is an older "wide" 200mm car with the included F103 front end parts. That being said, it is the most well optioned F104 in my opinion. All pod parts are aluminum, chassis is graphite, it includes the aluminum front knuckles, and the t plate I like better. The t plate has a different flex point which I think makes a little more traction. You may also fit any of the other F104 t bars as well, noting that the standard F104 cars cannot use the WGP's tbar due to the larger chassis opening required. Last time I checked you can still find this car for under $200 USD at rc-art online from Japan.

These cars don't turn in quite as hard as a TRF102, which has a much thinner chassis and flexes more in general. That's not always a bad thing, but I have always found that you need to keep a good balance in the car's handling to make it driveable. The car will feel either a little dead off the center of the wheel or it will get a little unstable if you want a steering machine. This is not a concern if you are only racing other Tamiya cars but you will be off the pace vs. Xrays or cars with a similar layout. (off topic excursion coming...) In my experience, and that of even other guys who I feel are better drivers than I am, you won't get the ultimate pace of the other brand chassis. I have been to non TCS races where we threw the kitchen sink at it and in the end you just make the car hard to drive trying to keep up.

The TRF101 has some nice features, including the ability to move the links around and has a little more flexible chassis than the F104V2. Oddly enough, I always had the feeling that it accelerated much better than the other cars in the series, why I don't know. I haven't tried to measue the pod or anything to see if there is some difference, but whatever.

I really don't care for the front end. There is little adjustment and the design is less than optimal to use what should be good features. If you let the upper arm flex too much, the kingpins can pop out. Ride height can be hard to set where you want it. No caster adjustment, like the normal F104 front end ( well not really true since you get more caster the less camber you run). It actually would have been super simple to add to the design via a couple extra holes in the upper arm, but that's neither here nor there. It's simple, and camber is easy to adjust to the 2 positions offered, but on carpet you wind up searching for steering most of the time. At least the F104 front end lets you have 6 camber settings and the ability to add dynamic caster like a 1/12 car with different height ball studs. The more stable handling has seemed to work for some on asphalt. Trying a set of the normal F104 upper arm parts might make this car a little better, but I have always liked the feel of the t bar's more stable launch out of a corner vs Tamiya's link cars.

Getting to the TRF102, the biggest flaw is the chassis if you are going to race carpet. I have gotten this car to within a couple tenths of my Xray car on carpet, which is pretty good since I feel like the Tamiya front end does not produce the steering of the Xray. You need to strap the battery to the chassis and also use double sided tape to make the battery a "stressed member" to help stiffen the car up for carpet. Otherwise, every corner is an adventure if traction is up. For non TCS racing you could fashion an upper deck from scratch or cut up F104 parts, as the holes line up. This is semi effective, but you will get crushed by Xrays and their clones anyway. The other problem is that a lot of the steering is actually produced by chassis flex just behind the servo, so you can't just make it a tank.

I think the TRF102 is probably going to work out for carpet if you use the battery to get the car stiffer. It does have a good amount of steering that just needs to be tamed. Work still needs to be done to get it 100% dialed for carpet, in my opinion. Otherwise, I would go with an F104WGP, which just has a different feel, and can be really fast as well, and has a lot of good setup knowledge out there.

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