I've now completed a number of articles that have improved the handling, power and efficiency of the WL Toys 144001 which can be found here: All my WL Toys 144001 upgrade articles. The next item I am addressing is the tyres. The stock wheels and tyres (like the rest of the car) are modelled closely on the LR Racing EMB-1h micro pins which are design for carpet and hard packed dirt racing. Outside of these grip isn't great, and when you take into account the the rubber is firmer on the 144001 tyres then you are left with a tyre that is not really suited well for bashing off-road. In this article I'll explore some better bashing alternatives that shouldn't compromise the rest of the car
Stock wheels and tyres
Stock tyres have an outside diameter of 72mm which is the same front and rear (it needs to be on a 4wd). Widths are staggered meaning they are slightly wider at the rear - 30mm compared to the front - 26mm. Again typical for a buggy because on acceleration weight transfers to the rear and the extra width provides more grip. Drive on the wheels is provided by a 12mm hex drive which is something of an industry standard on cars around this size
The problem is that a combination of the design and compound of the tyre mean that they don't grip well on the majority of surfaces we run (off road bashing and tarmac). Since the 12mm hex drive is common there are a lot of wheels that physically fit but not a lot that work well because of the uncommon diameter. On to the theory:
Lithium Polymer (Lipo) battery technology has been perhaps the best leap of technology in the RC world. The relatively high energy density and absurdly high continuous current capability has meant that quadcopters have become a viable hobby and electric RC cars can now outperform their Nitro cousins without most of the fuss.
Voltage as measured in volts (v)
A single lipo cells has a maximum charge voltage of 4.2v which is usually reported as 3.7v for real-world purposes. Voltage can be increased by connecting these cells in series (s for series) and is reported as 1s (1 cell in series), 2s (2 cells in series) 3s (3 cells in series and so on). Voltage is additive when cells are placed in series i.e. 1s = 3.7v, 2s = 7.4v, 3s = 11.1v and so on.
Capacity as measured in milli Amp hours (mAh)
Lipo cells can vary in capacity, these are measured in mah and signify the amount of 'fuel' the lipo battery can output before it is depleted. All else being equal the larger the capacity they larger the physical size and mass (weight).
C - Rating
Where voltage and capacity are simple physical parameters, C-rating is slightly more complex. It is closely tied to capacity and has no relationship to voltage. In short the C rating signifies the maximum continuous output that the battery can maintain. Strictly speaking the C value multiplied by the capacity is the maximum continuous current output which we measure in Amps. The best way to describe this is to give examples:
We've now had the SG 1602 brushless RC Truck (same as SG 1601, HBX 16889) for 6 months and it has been abused several times per weekend by my 5 year old (and myself!) in that time. I'm delighted to say that it is still running, still fast and I haven't needed to buy any spare parts. So far the list of casualties are:
So, as you may be able to see, this fast and light truck has taken an incredible amount of abuse and has very little damage to show for it, even then the damage is purely cosmetic. So what are my thoughts on the good and the bad of this now and my more recommendation based on the additional experience? Read on:
Recently I upgraded to brushless power in the WL Toys 14401 as you can see in this article:
WL TOYS 144001: ULTIMATE BRUSHLESS UPGRADE GUIDE
Performance is so much better than stock and battery life has increased by over 50%. I much prefer this smaller brushless that the larger 3650 size that are usually limited to on road and speed runs. The install is fairly straightforward but you need to slot the motor mount to set the mesh on the smaller 17t pinion gear and this can be tricky. Good news though, I've found a workaround where no machining nor tricky gear mesh setting is required.
The 144001 uses a 0.7 modulus gear pitch and is very rare for pinions. We are typically limited to the very large stock 27t pinion (way too big for this application) or the 17t pinion from the WL Toys A959 / A969. The 17t pinion offers an excellent ratio for the 2838 and 2845 motors but you need to mod the motor plate as mentioned in my original brushless upgrade article.
Good news though, I've found that using the stock 380 motor mounts on the motor plate you can use a 15t pinion gear. Up until recently these have been impossible to find but I've done a LOT of testing and have found three options for you.
Option 1: 15t from Hobbyking
Hobbyking still have some old stock of a 15t 0.7m pinion that we used on certain helis but it is not a bolt on option - as it has an oversize 5.0mm bore. Because of this you need a 5mm to 3.2mm reducer which is available here. You may also need to file down the grub screw a little if it fouls on the mount.
The larger bore means the pinion collar is larger. It fits but the grub screw needs reducing in length just a little.
With the boom in popularity of the WL Toys 144001 1/14 scale RC buggy, there are a lot of aftermarket parts available now, all of which are currently available at here. For this article I'll be looking at why I chose the metal upgrade parts I did, how to install and my thoughts on the parts I did install.
Don't forget to check out the other guides and reviews I've already written for the 144001:
The first thing you probably think of with metal parts is that they will be stronger than the plastic parts they replace. Although this is true, strictly speaking, the stock plastic pieces do have advantages in some situations, specifically -
I've specifically avoided these parts below because I think they will reduce net durability for reasons explained underneath the images. If you are just going for looks however they do still look great!
Parts I recommend against:
Plus other parts available with my comments
RC car technology has changed a lot over the years and one of the biggest changes have been batteries. I started with Sanyo SCRC NiCd pack, left the hobby before NiMH came out and came back when LiPo was full swing. Along with brushless power systems, LiPo batteries have revolutionised all RC vehicles - more burst power, higher energy density and multiple cell options. LiPo batteries need a lot of care, more than than a set of nichrome wires that hook your battery pack directly to a car battery anyway. The technology you need to properly charge and care for Lipo (and LiIon batteries) is a balance charger which allows the charger to charge each individual cell at a time rather than all together in series. This is important to not only extend the life and performance of your battery but to minimise the risk of the Lipo pack causing damage to your surroundings.
The right tool for the job
Like everything else to do with RC Cars, LiPo balance chargers are available in any number of models with different features, different interfaces and different quality levels. However unlike, motors, wheels, servos, escs and any other RC car parts they don't wear out and typically the charger you use will be with you for a long time so it is definitely worth having one that does the job properly. With that said you don't need to spend a lot to get a good charger that you can trust with your safety and life of batteries. This is in contrast to charger that come with RTR RC Car kits which at best are inaccurate and at worst are downright dangerous.
The WL Toys 144001 is an excellent low cost hobby grade RC buggy that I ordered from Banggood. I've already taken free and low cost steps to improve performance in part 1 and part 2 of my upgrades guide. This upgrade guide here is dedicated to installing a powerful and efficient 2838 brushless system that is optimised for balance, handling and efficiency. It will also be much faster and reliable that the stock system.
As mentioned above the brushless upgrade I am doing here is based on a smaller, lighter more powerful motor than stock so I can get the best handling by reducing weight and improving balance. For this reason I have chosen a brushless 2838 sized motor (28mm diameter, 38mm can length) that runs at 4500kV. This is the same spec powertrain used by the premium LC Racing EMB-1h on which the 144001 is based. The objective is to optimise handling by removing the extremely heavy and power hungry but inefficient brushed 550 motor.
I have not gone with a brushless motor the same size as the brushed 550 (3650, 3652, 3660) as these are really only suited to speed runs although this will be an upgrade I'll do later on with my second 144001.
Benefits from this 2838 brushless setup over stock will include:
Click on any picture in this article to Embiggen or go to product link
Motor size comparison: The stock 550 weighs 271g and the new, more powerful 2838 weighs 95g. Damn!
This is the second part of my free and budget upgrade walkthrough for the WL Toys 144001. The first part can be found here.
The first series of upgrades I made to the WL toys 144001 was to improve longevity and handling by getting the shock absorber fluid level right, the diffs lubed properly and camber and toe in set correctly. This articles expands on that by further improving the handling through minor tweaks the are either free or cost very little. It is really important you get the handling right to make the car more predictable, especially if you plan on power upgrades further down the line. The upgrades I'll detail in this article are:
1. Decreasing the rear toe in
The WL toys 144001 comes set with a LOT of rear toe in (which is the amount the rear wheels point in towards the car when looking from above). Rear toe in does help with cornering stability by decreasing useful steering when powering on in the corner but comes at the cost of straight line speed, especially in high grip situations. In simple terms rear toe in does help make the car feel more stable through corners however I feel the 144001 has much too much and this is easily remedied for free as below:
Note, this is not a review. You've probably seen a ton of those already. This is about how to set your car up once you've already bought one.
Firstly, "must do" is a bit strong and a bit of a pisstake of the clickbait Youtube videos out there. With that said I do strongly recommend them if you can to get the best performance out of you car and extend it's life. I've arrived at these recommendations by comparing the 144001 directly to the car it was copied off - the excellent LC Racing EMB-1h plus basic fundamentals of rc car operation of which I've been around for years.
1. Fill (or empty) the fluid in the shock absorbers to the correct level
After a lot of feedback to the community, WL toys has started filling up the shocks with oil but now isn't too little but too much they are putting in. Too much oil in your shocks means that the shock cannot be fully depressed it will ultimately force the oil past the orings and in doing so damage them. The fix is easy and if you follow the method below you won't need any extra oil to top it up.
Remove the shock from the car by unscrewing the lower philips screw and upper lock nut.
Now that the shocks can fully compress it allows the spring to do their job properly. I found with the stock setup I needed to loosen the spring tensioners right up on the front and about halfway down on the back for the right right height. This is a good starting point and probably the next place you'd consider with the shocks is increasing the oil weight in the back because the dampening is pretty light - probably around 60wt oil would be ideal.
This review and advice article covers the use of the surpass hobby/racerstar/goolrc brushless ESC programming card which can be used on most in not all power systems from these suppliers. It is a simple <$10 device that allows you to easily change the parameter of the ESC.
One of the easiest ways to upgrade your brushed RC car is to change the brushed motor and ESC with a brushless ESC and motor as I did here with the Surpass Hobby 3650/ 60a ESC combo (click here to see full review). If you are lucky like me the drive train (gears, differentials, driveshafts) are designed to take brushless power but even if you don't there is a way to tame you power and still get the benefits of fast acceleration, higher top speed and better battery life. This came as a surprise to me as I thought the $40 combo I bought surely wouldn't have this functionality.
There are several cards that can be used to program these ESCs but the one I recommend is the Racerstar LED Program Card that works with all of the ESCs and motors branded as surpass hobby, goolrc, racerstar and probably more. For the record I accidentally bought the surpass LED program card for brushed crawlers and after initially thinking I couldn't use it it turns out I can, more below.