Model Number: 58328
4WD shaft, 2 gear diffs
4 wheel independent, double wishbone, coilover oil shocks
4WD shaft, 2 gear diffs
4 wheel independent, double wishbone, coilover oil shocks
I bought my Gravel Hound in August '04. £100 is a pretty decent price but it's easy to see where Tamiya have cut costs...... Beware the Pro-Built version (X only has friction shocks NOT the oil-filled ones in the kit version, so maybe the XB version isn't quite as good value as it seems. The Kit version is very simple to assemble and the plastic is of a slightly higher grade than Tamiya kits of the past, although it's still extremely easy to 'thread' many of the holes.
If you're intending on using a different motor & ESC than the ones supplied (which you really should!!) then you will definately need to perform these simple hop-ups:
FULL BALL-RACE KIT - you only need 8 extra bearing (2 for each wheel hu
ALUMINIUM DRIVE-SHAFT - the plastic kit one feels tough enough but quickly flexes & weakens with a higher-power motor.
BALL DIFFERENTIAL - The stock items are very tough so this upgrade is not essential but it saps LOADS of power so your motor will get much hotter & will require rebuilds more often. You would definately notice the power increase with ball diffs (and slightly quieter running), although the only downside to this mod is the price (about £30 per diff - 2 required!)
METAL MOTOR MOUNT - again, the stock item is sturdy enough, but the metal motor mount will channel heat away from your motor. Also, seriously think about an aluminium motor heat-sink.
The most glaring oversight by Tamiya is the shocks / suspension set-up. Tamiya have marketed this car as an off-roader that can soak up the jumps & bumps, but the sad truth is - it's absolutely useless at jumping etc. The stock set-up is great for flat tarmac running and also on flat gravel/mud/dirt etc. but as soon as you try to go over a jump, or even a small bump then the the car bottoms out with a loud smack! To prove the point, once you've built your car, place it on a hard even surface then lift the back end up about 1-2 inches from the floor (make sure the car is fully laden with motor, ESC & battery), then leave go. SMACK! If that's the result from dropping it from just an inch or so then imagine what it's going to when it lands from a decent height.... Even if you use every shock spacer supplied in the kit it still bottoms out from a few inches, and in ab case, this makes it far too stiff & bouncy to handle over the rough-stuff. You can try to swap the o-rings in the dampers for the ones which have just 1 hole (the manual tells you to use the ones with 3 holes), this increases the damping ever so slightly but nowhere near enough. The problem is the ride height - it's just far too low! Sure it looks great on the tarmac and in stationary photos, but it's an off-road buggy! You need to increase the ride height (see my gallery), i've found this makes an incredible difference to the car's performance and i can now run it confidently on any surface and jump to my hearts content....
You will, however, need to swap the solid plastic upper arms for adjustable turnbuckles but this is a relatively cheap mod.
As for the metal dog-bones & plastic out-drives.... Well, the less said about them the better! This is one place where Tamiya have saved money. But i guess if you want a top-spec kit you'd by something else, but the plastic outdrives aren't going to last long - and just HOW big are they!? The same drives are used at each end of the drive-shaft and because of their size a slight malformation in any of them (i.e. bending or anything that would put them out of balance) will make a big difference in the smooth running of the drivetrain - much in the same way a buckled wheel feels on your real car. These really need to be swapped as the out-drives from the gearboxes can easily accumulate dirt & stones (again due to the sheer size of them) which will lead to premature wear of parts. The metal dog-bones in mine have slightly warped & bent already so they are next on the list for replacement. Universal drive shafts will be used along with metal or aluminium out-drives (the smaller ones as used in other models).
The steering is very sloppy and even swapping the plastic kit bellcranks for aluminium ones doesn't help too much, but this is a minor gripe for a budget kit.
The kit supplied wheels & tyres do look good, and the tyres are so firm that they don't need glueing to the rims, but the down-side to this is the loss of grip. Obviously the softer the tyre the more grip you get, but hey - no complaint - just an observation, but if you want to run it on gravel & dirt then you really do need a nice soft set of mini-pins or mini-spikes & keep the kit tyres for running on tarmac.
All-in-all the kit is well made and can stand plenty of abuse, i love the 4-wheel drifts & wheelspinning that i can't do on my Losi XXX-4 G+ (slipper clutches are good for racing but not for showing off!). The instruction manual is typically Tamiya - very clear & concise. Let's hope that Tamiya will be releasing some upgrades for it - Carbon Fibre twin deck chassis anyone...!? I did love my Top Force Evo!!
Just got my Gravel Hound, the first proper buggy from Tamiya for years now.
At a quick glance you notice some things about it.
Positive first impressions:
Generally good design
A-arms look solid
CVA oil filled shocks rather than friction type
Some bearings included
Suspension seems to be a good design
Plastic seems to be higher quality than typical tamiya kit
Negative first impressions:
Joint cup out drives from diff are plastic and could wear out (this is a major concern)
Gear diff design does not impress me
Centre prop shaft is plastic
Stickers are not so exciting as the old time classics, no personal profile sort of.
The body is a bit rougher molding than before, not as nice as a top force or egress body, but at the same time better than a baja king.
All in all, I like the car and I plan to keep it as a daily driver, although I really hope they release some hop up outdrives and/or universal shafts, and a ball diff.
What would be even better would be if they released a tricked out version, like a Top Force compared to a Manta Ray sort of. The Top Dog perhaps?
I bought my Gravel Hound in July 2004 just after they came out. The box is one of the now seemingly standard 'large shoe-box' size that Tamiya use. The image on the box depicts a good looking buggy which should be good for the price. Mine arrived along with a full set of Tamiya blue-sealed ball bearings and a Super Stock RZ motor. The kits comes supplied with a TEU-101BK electronic speed controller as standard.
I built my Gravel Hound in an afternoon. It's a cinch to assemble, nothing but a screwdriver, sharp knife and allen key are required to assemble the model. The latter is supplied of course along with the ubiquitous box wrench.
The chassis of the Gravel hound is the all-new DF-02. At first glance it looks the same as a TT-01, but although they look similar, sit them side by side and they are in fact very different. For starters, the positioning of electronics is mirrored along the longitudinal axis of the car. Looking from the front, the Gravel Hound has the motor, ESC and steering servo on the left and battery on the right, whereas it's the opposite for the TT-01. It's obvious that they share the same design philosophy and there are several parts that are interchangeable.
The Gravel Hound goes together very easily and very quickly. The chassis feels better quality than that of the TT-01 and many of the plastics do feel very good, although there are a few 'shiny plastic' sprues in there. Four oil-filled shocks suspend the car via double wishbones all round. Torque is transmitted to the front diff via plastic shaft.
Painting the body is easy - no masking required and the decals are all pre-cut.
Having run my Gravel Hound, it does go rather well, especially with the torquey motor. I set my shocks as soft as possible, and I think they are perhaps a bit too soft. They do soak up the bumps incredibly well though and the buggy is very compliant over short grass. I think the socks would need stiffening for heavy off-road use as it bottoms easily at the moment.
My only gripe so far is that of the supplied ESC. It's got issues...! My buggy will drive off out of control if instantaneously you punch WOT (Wide Open Throttle) forwards from a standstill and let the stick return immediately to the centre. Same for going into reverse. It wanders off for 5-6 yards steering itself and out of control. This is anything from 2m away or more. The further you go, the worse it gets. I have used an almost brand new 40MHz Futaba Receiver that I know works fine as it's been in daily use in my TT-01 for 3 months or more. I re-routed the antenna wire so just 3cm of antenna lead is visible before it enters the tube and out of the car. Same problem. I suspected the TEU-101BK and sat my trusty P-Sung no limit next to the Rx and held it in with an elastic band for a test. Quelle surprise, the car would drive 25m in full control, punching the throttle forwards or backwards with the Tx antenna RETRACTED...!
So there you have it, either I have a duff TEU-101BK or it's got a noise problem. No big issue, I'll sling it back in the box and replace it with another P-Sung no-limit which will open up possibilities for some lairy winds in the future.
To sum up the Gravel Hound is a great little entry level buggy and despite still having the blunt front end, is a much sharper looker than either of the Baja series that preceded it. Mine cost under £100 delivered with the bearings and motor so it's a bargain way into enjoyable 4WD off-roading.