Brushless Upgrade 144001 vs LC Racing EMB-MT: Cost and performance comparisoN + 11.11 singles day sales
I love the WL Toys 144001 1/14 scale RC Buggy and have written a lot of articles on tuning and upgrading it here. It is inexpensive and runs well stock or is easily upgraded to brushless power which offers better speed and acceleration as well as battery life. But how does it compare against the car on which is was based, the LC racing EMB series on which the 144001 was (let's face it) copied from?
So surely you know by now that the 144001 is a budget copy of the LC racing EMB-1 but with a bigger brushless 550 motor and integrated ESC/receiver and no slipper clutch. This means that WL Toys have been able to grab a big slice of the popular RC car market at a price point of $70-80 for the 144001 vs $200ish for the LC racing equivalent. But this is clearly not a fair comparison so what if you take the brushless upgraded 144001 with a raft of replacement parts, tally up the cost and then compare? Would you still buy the 144001 to upgrade or would you just got straight for the LC racing? I'll break this down by price and performance in order to give you the clearest information to make this decision for yourself and my opinion I what I would (and did) do.
The WL Toys 144001 is a small 1/14 scale 4wd buggy with a massively oversized brushed motor that can reach well over 30mph. When this massive brushed motor is replaced with a massive brushless motor the top speed can become over triple that with the right setup. The below guide goes into detail the build components I used for such a build, the build process and setup to optimise handling.
By now you've probably seen some wild speed run builds based on the WL toys 144001 of up to and over 100mph. At the top end of the scale these are highly customised with expensive race-oriented gear and outboard twin-battery power supply. The objective of my build was stealth: to retain the stock look, making everything fit (somewhat tightly) under the stock bodyshell and be bolt-on without the need for machining or fabrication i.e. as simple to replicate as possible. For this reason I have specifically chosen to run my car with stock gearing on 2-3s only. To that end here are the parts I chose and why,
Parts used for build:
I've separated this into power system for the key components...
For those that upgrade to a much larger ESC in the WL Toys 144001 these is often an issue where the fan and or heatsink of a larger ESC fouls against the shell in the stock position. If you don't want to change the shell and don't want to jack it up I have a solution for you.
Although I recommend the 2838 brushless motor/30a ESC upgrade in this article for the 144001 for general bashing, speed runs require much larger ESC that typically have fans installed. In this particular build I used an 80A Flycolour lightning ESC that, although compact, fouls against the ceiling of the 144001 shell. Because this build is for road only I didn't mind a cutout in the shell but wanted it to be tidy and discreet. The easiest way I found to do this is as follows. Remember, click on an image below to embiggen and see all of the pixels
I've now built up quite a library of articles for the WL Toys 144001 and thought I would use this page to share them. I've separated here into beginner, moderate and advanced ability but hopefully I have enough information in these guides to make them straightforward enough for anyone to try.
Parts I would buy
Now that I've had experience with quite a few upgrades and replacements, here are the parts I can actually recommend:
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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:
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
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: