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A few weeks ago I got it into my head that my fleet was missing a TL-01B, so I set about finding one to restore. A TC member kindly responded to my Wanted ad, and sold me a "TL-01B" roller that upon arrival turned out to be a clone with some genuine parts fitted. Maybe I'm being naive, but I'd like to think the seller wasn't trying to pull a fast one - the price was fair, and it was a pretty accurate clone, to the point that I couldn't tell anything was amiss from the photos he sent me beforehand, and it was only when comparing it side-by-side with the genuine article that I noticed the differences. Nonetheless, I wanted a TL-01B, not a "TL01-B", so I set about disassembly to see what would need replacing. As it turned out, quite a lot! The parts that I kept: The parts that I binned: Some of the plastics were definitely clone, some appeared to be genuine Tamiya that had been modified to work with the clone parts, and some were of indeterminate origin, so I decided that a full replacement set was in order. Time Tunnel Models had all the bits I required listed on their site, so I placed an order with them for a set of A parts, a set of B parts and two sets of C parts. As the TL-01B uses different front hubs to the touring TL-01, I also tagged a set of those, but unfortunately they were on backorder and not expected for at least two weeks, so I ordered a set from the Vintage Tamiya Store as well since they had local stock. Today my Time Tunnel Models order arrived: I was slightly concerned that the C parts bag didn't have a genuine Tamiya paper tag stapled to the top, but upon close inspection the sprues appear genuine, and I would like to think Time Tunnel Models wouldn't sell fakes, so I started rebuilding the model using the new parts. Following the manual (which I downloaded from TamiyaUSA), I made an unexciting start by attaching the steering tie rods to the servo saver using genuine Tamiya step screws from my bits box: Then followed the attachment of the battery "wings" and motor protector: Then on with the propshaft: I am not certain if the propshaft is genuine or fake - if it is a fake, it is a very good one, as it has the same measurements, weight and tooling marks as the one in my wife's genuine TL-01. In the end I gave it the benefit of the doubt and installed it. The propshaft sits in 4 bearings. The ones exposed to the elements have rubber seals, and the internal ones are metal-shielded. Then it was time to turn my attention to the gearboxes. When disassembling the roller, I was relieved to find that all the gears apart from the front diff were genuine. Luckily I had a spare genuine TL01 diff in my bits box, so this was not a build-killer. Can you spot the odd one out? With a genuine Tamiya geartrain installed, running on metal-shielded bearings for the internal gears and rubber-sealed ones for the diffs, it was time to close up the chassis: I am leaving radio gear installation until later, as I want to buy the car a new RX and servo, and I have already used up the month's hobby budget on the roller and plastics. Next up was motor installation. You can't get much more genuine Tamiya than a box-stock Johnson! This might get swapped out when funds allow, but I am quite tempted to keep it in there, as I am building this buggy to be a geocaching companion, and the Johnson combines reliability with economy - just what I need when taking the vehicle on a 5-mile cache series. With the basic chassis complete, it was time to add some suspension arms and hubs: The hinge pins fall into the same category as the propshaft - I am not certain if they are genuine, but they are identical to the genuine articles in every way that I can quantify, so I am giving them the benefit of the doubt. The dogbones I know are clone parts, but in this instance I am putting practicality ahead of purity, as they are solid-looking machined steel items that look and feel a lot more substantial than the metal-and-plastic ones supplied by Tamiya for the TL-01B. Rubber-sealed bearings occupy the hubs: And that pretty much brings us to where we are now: The front suspension is also in place, with the lower arms secured with a Tamiya U-brace from my bits box since the roller came with touring-style lower hinge pins. No front hubs yet - they should be here in the next day or two. The fiberglass plate that would normally go at the rear of the chassis has been replaced with a small bumper from an M03, as minor nose-to-tail collisions are common when travelling in convoy while out geocaching. Electrics, shocks and shell will follow in a few weeks when payday rolls around again. I'm thinking a Baja King shell would suit it. Since this isn't going to be a shelfer, and it isn't 100% pure Tamiya, I won't go for a box-art colour scheme. At the moment I am leaning towards a black-and-chrome scheme such as the one I used on one of my DT02s: Thread to be updated as parts arrive!
So I'm going to start building my Baja Champ slowly over the next few weeks. Not much time, but I haven't built anything for a few years and this kit seems like a nice start. I've been collecting some radios over the last couple of years to have period correct gear for my cars. But I don't have anything from the 1998+2-4 years period. I'd like to get something that would have been put in a Tamiya buggy in that time frame. I'm guessing perhaps a Futaba,, but it's very hard to find a timeline of Futaba sets. What are your top tips? Preferably something I can get NIB for a decent price ;-)