The WL Toys 104001 is an all new 1/10 scale 4WD offroad RC Buggy that was released in 2021 and you can find my full review of the 104001 here. I found this to be a great handling car but felt a little on the slow side. I was able to get some more speed out of it for very little money by increasing the size of the pinion gear here but performance is still a little on the lack-lustre side. Clearly this car is crying out for a brushless upgrade so it's my pleasure to present the one I have put together and have been testing over the last few months and I'll call the 104001 big brushless upgrade.
WL Toys have just announced that they are releasing a brushless version of the hugely popular 124018 and 124019 1/12 scale ready to run RC cars. Of course they have gone with predictably boring names - 124016 and 124017 🤦♂️. I've set this blog up to discuss the specs and what we can glean from the images. I do no have the cars (yet) so this is not a hands on review but of course I expect to review these as soon as they are available.
Firstly if you want to see my reviews on the brushed version of these cars, here is the one I did on the 124019 and the differences for the 124018. Based on initial pricing, the new brushless 124016 desert buggy and 124017 race buggy this looks to be only around $20-30 more than the brushed version which represents really good value. I made a guide on the cheapest brushless upgrade worth doing and at best mine had a $50-$60 premium although it did include replacement radio gear, servo, esc and motor. The benefit on coming from the factory is that you won't be left with a spare brushed setup in a cardboard box in your shed somewhere (True story, I have a box full of 5 stock brushed systems!)
UPDATE! Banggood have kindly supplied me an exclusive code to bring the the pres-order price of the 124017 down by 10% to just $133. Use code BG124017 at this link That's pretty solid value - check the detail below to see if it suits your needs. Coupon is valid till End July 2021
UPDATE 2: I now have a code for the 124016 brushless model as well: Use code BGe8b148 at this link to get it for $132
The WL Toys 124019 is a small and fast car out of the box - it'll do 55km/h on the old technology brushed motor that comes stock out of the box. For bashing and off-road I prefer to upgrade with physically smaller and more efficient brushless motors but if straight-line on road speed is your objective as is the case here, then using a 3650 sized motor can get you massive speed... there are many examples where this car can go well over 100mph. The objective of my build here is to see what kind of speed I can get without pushing the budget or modifications too far - bolt in parts, stock body and a car than is as reliable as stock and can easily be converted back.
For this build I've chosen the WL Toys 124019 which is a long-wheelbase version of the popular 144001. The reasons this car makes for a good speed run build is:
Let's get on to the build which I have broken down into sections. We'll start with the powertrain which most of you are here for but I'll also cover important lessons in wheel/tyre choice, suspension set up, aero, speed measurement and driving technique. Read on for more
Whether you realise it or not, your RC car has been designed to run quite a specific battery voltage, in this article I'll explore what happens if you put a 3s battery in a 2s car (and vice versa) and why jumping up in cells should only be done as part of a novelty or pissing contest for top speed. I'll be making particular reference to the WL Toys 144001, 124018 and 124019 series of cars (most notably to my drop in brushless upgrade) but conclusions here can be generalised.
My recent guide on upgrading the 144001, 124018 and 124019 with a drop in 2445 5400kv made for a very fast car but also generated a lot of heat for the motor and ESC. In this guide I have a brief look on the impact of adjusting ESC timing on power output as measured by speed and the resulting change in heat of motor and ESC plus efficiency.
Most cheap ESCs, notably the Surpass/Racerstar are impressive in that there is some basic ability to programme the ESC for throttle punch, dead band, low voltage cut off plus braking and reverse as you can see in this guide. Step up to a more premium ESC like the hobbywing 16BL30 and 10BL120 as recommended in my brushless guide and amongst other items you also have the ability to adjust motor timing.
By now I've made a number of brushless upgrades to the WL Toys 144001 which I've documented, each with a different objective in mind. All of these offer an improvement over stock which, depending on option offer an improvement of speed, acceleration, weight, balance and efficiency over stock. The objective of this brushless upgrade is simple - the cheapest brushless setup worth having for bashing
WL toys have had a series of hits with the 1/14 scale 144001 and now more recently with the 1/12 scale 124019 and 124018 - same car just a little longer. In order to hit their price point though they have had to compromise on the power train - opting for brushed motor technology that although surprisingly fast offers poor long term durability and even worse efficiency leading short running times. Upgrading to brushless is a solid option but has required hacks and workarounds in the past to get anything other than basic speed run builds. This new guide aims to be drop in solution with no mechanical modification required.
Just to recap I've already made 3 brushless builds. If you have the ability I still highly rate the ultimate brushless upgrade as I believe the motor and gear combination is perfect for fast, reliable and efficient 2s running.
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...
Recently I upgraded to brushless power in the WL Toys 144001 as you can see in the below article which is also relevant to the new WL Toys 124018 and 124019:
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. Please note this may now be out of stock depending on warehouse
The larger bore means the pinion collar is larger. It fits but the grub screw needs reducing in length just a little.
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. This upgrade is fully compatible with the new 124019 and 124018 as well and an excellent option to improve performance and battery life.
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-1 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 - see my speed run build guide if that is the kind of build you are looking for
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!