Tuesday, 21 December 2010

Mr Magoo's 2010 retrospective

So, that time of year has come round again. You know the one, too many pies, too many relatives and some kind of chunky knit sweater your gran thinks will look lovely. It's also that time of year we all go bleary eye'd and look back over another year. Not wanting to be one to break from tradition, here's my look back over a year in RC racing...

Mr Magoo's Event of the Year
This was a tough one, I've been to some great races this year. The stand-out for me was three days in Slough in September for the ProLine International Invitational. The track surface was amazing, I've never seen a groove develop like that on a UK track. The racing was awesome and the social element was also off the chart. Probably the most fun I've had racing, although my performance was less than stellar! I'd only raced buggy once before and so was always on the back foot, a bad engine tune and an RC8B that I just couldn't make work didn't help. This was the race that convinced me I needed a Losi 8ight EU, a decision I still stand by.

Mr Magoo's NOT the Event of the Year
Epic fail of the year has to be the SRS round 2 race at Slough. Radio gremlins meant I turned three laps all day in an event I was very much looking forward to. Given that this was probably the last time I'll ever get to run the truggy at Slough makes this especially disappointing. I won't dwell on this one, suffices to say that the fault hardware has since had a swift meeting with a wood-splitting axe and won't be causing me any more trouble!

Mr Magoo's Product of the Year
I'm going to give this one to the Alpha Plus line of engines. One of the main topics on almost every racers mind this year seems to have been the cost of racing. Lets face it 8th of road is not a cheap hobby these days and anything that can drive the price down with out sacrificing quality has got to help. I've run the Alpha S852 and F850 motors in buggy and truggy all year an found them utterly reliable, plenty powerful and very good on fuel. Both engines are deep into 4-5 gallons now and look to have plenty of life left in them. How good are they? Well, these £140 motors have relegated my £300 OS Speed Worlds engine to my spare... nuff said.

Mr Magoo's NOT Product of the Year
Sorry ProLine, but this ones gotta head your way... Over priced tyres that just don't work that well on your average UK track, and rubber compounds that just don't seem to last. You've been out front for so long that you never saw the competition coming until they were out in front. If you want to see what you should be doing, take a look at www.raceaka.com and learn a new trick or two. But mostly, can we have sensible prices please? At around £60 a set, people are going to stop racing just because they can't afford the tyres.

Mr Magoo's Why didn't I Try This Before?
Electric 2 wheel drive. Cheap kit (Ansmann X-Pro, some electrics from Hong Kong), low tech chassis and close racing has to be fun. Throw in a good club atmosphere and some great characters and a Sunday's racing at TORCH almost made it to my event of the year. I think I'll be doing a lot more of this next season, it's so much fun it'll probably be banned!

Mr Magoo's Man of the Year
Mr Neil McRae, figure-head of truggy racing in the UK, and Mr UK Truggy Pro. With almost no help and a hectic personal schedule Neil manages year after year to put on a top quality national truggy racing series against all odds. The guy's a legend, a status made even greater after a sat-nav induced 'incident' at a very wet Deerdale this year. Cheers for another year of fun event's Neil, we'll see you in 2011.

So, there you are, 2010 done and dusted. All that's left to do now is get this miserable winter out of the way, and get into 2011 ready to generate some more great memories. So you all track-side real soon!

Sunday, 19 December 2010

JVD RC Clutch review

The clutch of a nitro car is one of those things that's all too easy to take for granted, at least until it fails on you mid A final, or you need to make a change in a rush between heats. For most 8th scale off-roaders a three shoe clutch is the norm (we'll ignore Losi for just a while). These have been around for ages and most people will have worked on one at some point, and more than likely stabbed themselves whilst trying to pry the clutch springs over the clutch nut with a screwdriver. Sure, there are tools available but I tend to never be able to find mine when I'm in a rush!

In recent years several alternatives have arrived from sliding clutches to the (frankly dire) Werks Power Clutch, notorious for adjusting itself mid race. I've tried a few and never really found one I was happy with until I discovered the JVD-RC clutch system about a year back, since then I've been a convert and run one all season in my RC8T truggy. After a full year of racing and countless gallons here's the full SP.

The clutch in pieces

The JVD clutch is a four shoe arrangement, looking not unlike the Team Losi 8ight clutch at first glance. The main difference with the JVD is that the clutch pins are permanently attached to the flywheel as can be seen in the image above. Each aluminium shoe is drilled to accept a clutch spring, and the set contains a full set of each of the three common spring tensions (.9mm, 1mm and 1.1mm). The spring tensions with in the clutch can be set to precisely control the engagement of the clutch to help tune for track conditions, or to work around an engine with a weak low-end response. Typically I've run 4x1mm for most conditions in the truggy running a torquey but smooth Alpha Plus engine. In very loose conditions I'd probably drop to 2x.9mm and 2x1mm to ease the bottom end slightly.

Once all four shoes are fitted to their pins the main 'basket' can be added. It's at this point the JVD comes into its own, the basket tensions the clutch springs, but in doing so also serves as it's own clutch tool. Simply drop the basket on lining up the holes with the springs. Twist counter clock wise and the ramps on the basket will smoothly tension the springs. Finally press the clutch basket into place on the clutch pins and you're ready to fit the clutch to the motor. The photo below shows JVD's own tool for fitting the basket, in all honesty you don't need one as strong fingers are fine.

Using the clutch basket fitting tool to lock the clutch springs

The photo below shows the completed clutch ready to rock. One of the joys of the system is the the clutch can be fitted and removed from the engine as a piece. This means engine and clutch swaps mid race are a snap, and if you feel the need it easy to keep spare clutches built up ready to go in case the conditions change. Try doing that with your old three-shoe set up!

All done and ready to fit to the engine of your choice

The JVD set include a collet and specific clutch nut, plus enough shims to fit the clutch to pretty much any engine and chassis combination. It also runs a standard clutch bell (unlike the Losi clutch).

The clutch shown in the photos is the same unit I've run all year, the shoes having at least three gallons running on them, and they still have a ton of life left in them. I really do think that in terms of simplicity, ease of use and shoe life the JVD has every one else licked, and I can't recommend it highly enough. It's saved my butt on a number of occasions when I've need to change my clutch mid-race, with the JVD it's a snap and takes literally seconds.

So, what are the downsides? Well, it didn't fit my RC8B, the flywheel was too thick and rubbed the rear brake disk. Also, at present JVD only supply aluminium shoes and there's no UK supplier yet that I know of, so it's an internet only job. 

On the upside, the unit is the same as the US Ascendancy clutch (JVD makes those clutches as well), and they offer three flywheel weights and composite shoes so if you're happy to order from the US you really can have the best of all worlds, and probably the greatest off-road clutch available anywhere.

Tuesday, 14 December 2010

2011 Starts Here!

I always find the winters hard to stomach... cold, dark, usually wet. All the things that add up to cancelled races and sitting around on the weekend watching endless re-runs on TV. It's not even like there's 1:1 racing to watch.
There are only a couple of things brightening this time of year (aside from Christmas of course); those rare racing days when the weather doesn't suck and the track isn't a swamp, and planning the 'big' race days for next year. So for all those truggy racers out there looking for something to brighten their days, the dates for next years BRCA UK Truggy Pro national series have been announced. Here's hoping for good weather, good racing and some good times in 2011!

  • R1 1st/2nd May (2 Days)
  • R2 26th June
  • R3 17th July
  • R4 14th August
  • R5 4th September
  • Reserve date 18th September
Venues will be announced later this year, but round one will be the traditional two-dayer at Herts/Ware/Westmill... which ever you want to call it.