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Ferruz

Mercedes C11 Kenwood (47484): first time building a Group C chassis

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I had the pleasure to find this beautiful kit under the tree this past Christmas. Thank you Santa, aka Mrs. Ferruz!

The build brought me so much novelty that it almost felt like rediscovering RC altogether. It might be because it is my first pan car (with the exception of a TT02, I have only built offroaders so far) and in fact I expected it to be different, but I didn't know I was in for such a treat.

Given how stimulating this build has been and how much I feel I have learned in the process, I thought I'd do a build thread. A thread specifically from the point of view of a newbie to this family of cars, including first impressions and all, so that hopefully future Group C builders will find it useful, and good enough to answer some basic questions.

Before I start, it's fair to point out that I took huge inspiration from  @TurnipJF's build:

 Pretty much everything I've done that differs from the instruction manual is based on his work and knowledge. Thank you Turnip for the advice, and last but not least for encouraging me to do a build thread.

Upon opening the box and investigating its contents, these were my first impressions:

-the body shell is BIG. Cool! 😎

-there are a few FRP parts, very appreciated extras as I thought this kit was going to be strictly plastic fantastic in stock form

-no grease to be applied, one lone shock and a chassis with no trailing arms: indeed a different type of build compared to what I'm used to

-the foam tires smell heavenly good. I'm a bit uncomfortable by the degree to which I like them ahahah

-I got an overall feel of being about to build a spartan chassis, one conceived for performance with no room for bells and whistles. A pure speed machine (or so I hope), love it!

Now about the livery.

I put some thinking into the color scheme. While there's certainly nothing wrong with the box art silver (very Mercedes!), I felt like treating the sleek silhouette of the C11 to something a bit more elaborate, and possibly less seen around on the internet. A few Group C liveries were selected, and it proved hard to eventually pick one amongst the ones shortlisted.
In the end, this is my choice:

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-Posche 962 Kenwood -

And so, black and red car it is! ...plus some white.
It will probably be a bit challenging, but definitely possible to adapt this color scheme from the Porsche 962. The shape is not that far off.
 I was able to find an MCI repro decal sheet for this livery, because Kyosho used to produce the 962 in these colors back in the day. It's very underwhelming to look at if compared to others (just a lot of Kenwood white decals in different size on whiteish background), but it will hopefully work with the plan I have in mind.
The car will remain a Mercedes, so both decal sheets will be partially used. I am comfortable with a Kenwood sponsored C11 that never happened: being pretty much period correct, it doesn't bother me that in a parallel universe Kremer could have cheated on Porsche for a one night stand with a C11... 😂

...but slapping a Porsche emblem on a Mercedes body would feel a bit too much, so I'll just have some fun adapting the 962's livery on the C11.

As usual with my builds, the body shell will be worked on later, so I will face the painting challenge later on. Meanwhile, since the color scheme is now figured out, I have ordered some red locknuts to reinforce the black/red theme throughout the chassis. I have noticed that quite a few visible nuts are employed in this build, so hopefully this will be a cheap and effective way to ramp up the looks a bit.
About the electronics, a red servo was selected for the above reason, and luckily Hobbywing's 1060, my brushed ESC of choice lately, is already sporting the right colors ✌

Now, after this long intro, let's go on with the build.

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Time to start.

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The first thing I did was treating the edges of the FRP plates/T bar. I gave them a light sanding and sealed them with cyanoacrylate glue. Not required, but I prefer it this way for both looks and durability.

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 I didn't receive all the extra parts in time, so I had to start the build with the rear end (step 7) while waiting for bearings and softer front springs to show up. Since this is the gearcase/motor mount and I have no upgraded parts planned for it, I decided to heat up the self tapping screws carefully and thoroughly before driving them in an effort to make more solid, less crack-prone threads. I set up a candle and took my time to tap each thread with a nice and warm screw. I don't know if it will make a difference really, but the result feels good and I'm glad I did it.

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The Sport Tuned motor included in the kit was another little treat I was unaware of, and it feels just perfect for getting acquainted with this new-to-me chassis. While building, I did some mild brake-in of the brushes using an old, half charged battery (my usual home brewed method that I'm sure I share with many). The low buzzing of a Tamiya motor is a great soundtrack for a build, by the way 😉

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Building the infamously yellow rear CVA shock was the only part in common with other kits I've previously built. I used the stock components including the shock oil, along with generous amounts of Green Slime to seal up everything (I find Green Slime to be quite the game changer when trying to get leak-free shocks, it's not just snake oil in my experience).


It felt odd not having to repeat the damper build four times in a row! This one is indeed a mono shock.


 It's at this point that I took a closer look at how the rear suspension actually works, and I was literally blown away by what I finally realized. That little, 1mm thick FRP T bar is FIXED, and the rear shock works with the FLEXING of it :o:blink:

 I just couldn't believe this. I thought that the rear end of the car would be pivoting on an axle, or work with some sort of links anyway, I would have never imagined such a blunt hardcore setup -again, loving all of this- which does show how little I knew about pan cars and the Group C chassis altogether.


At first I even though I did something wrong or skipped a step on the manual!

A good web research followed, and now I am a little less ignorant about pan cars :) Beside the basic stuff, I even learned that "links vs fixed T bar" is a thing amongst pan cars enthusiasts and quite a debate. Ha. It was fun to learn about that. Again, a very exotic building experience for somebody that has seen little more than just buggies so far.

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Once recovered from the ground breaking T bar flex discovery, it was time to install the rear shock. Curious to see the rear suspension come to life. Those little O rings sandwitched on the T bar to adjust the chassis roll(step 8, and further set up section on page 16) do bear a lot of responsibility!

The instructions would now have you insert a brass tube in the upper shock eyelet, and install it on the frame with a shaft going through it secured by a pin (step 14). As Turnip pointed out in his thread, the brass pipe doesn't feel quite right for a shock eyelet made to sit on a ball connector, and it could be a recipe for slop. So I decided to do a similar mod to it, using what I had in my spares stash. I went with a beefy M3 screw long enough to go through both holes in place of the pin and shaft, and found a threaded ball connector to pair with it, some blue bling leftover from my Manta Ray turnbuckles conversion.
These are the parts, to the right the kit's components, to the left what they were replaced with.
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Here is the rear end with the shock mounted, free from slop. The yellow and blue parts will have to be the "off-scheme"  accents on the otherwise black and red car! I was never too fond of the yellow of the CVAs as I think it makes them look a bit toyish, but performance wise I think they are great at their job.

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Here with the motor and rear shaft installed, both by the manual using the bearings supplied with the kit. I was a bit surprised to see that there's only one per side, so that the rear axle sits on two bearings instead of four.

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Speaking of bearings, they showed up just in time for me to keep going with the ball diff.

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I didn't want to build it (step 11) before getting the three 1280 bearings to replace the kit's plastic bushings, so it was good timing.

Along with them came the rest of the parts I needed, too bad I didn't take a pic of the bearing package as it was by far the nicest ☺

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The stock cheddar pinion was replaced by a hardened one, as usual with our favourite brand. I went for a set that offers from 13t to 17t, stock pinion is 14t so that'll allow me to play around with gear ratio if I feel the need to.

Stock pinion to the left, hardened replacement to the right

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The F1 front spring set (PN 50509) is another tip from @TurnipJF that I decided to fully embrace. The stock ones feel way too stiff, to the point that if this set didn't exist, I'd be probably butchering up all the ball pens in the house to try and devise some ghetto solutions for it. Fortunately, no need!

For now I decided to go with the medium springs amongst the set's three offerings. Here it is placed on the front uprights ready to be installed.

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Here's another modification that I went for, which is 100% inspired by Turnip's previous work: replacing the Hornet-esque skinny steering rods and respective 4mm ball studs with beefier M3 threaded tie rods and proper 5mm balls +ball connectors. Oh, and the HT servo saver (how many did I buy in the past year?? I lost count!) in place of the equally Hornet-esque servo saver. Hey, this also means a spare servo for my main fighter! She'll be glad to know😅

In order to make the above happen, the ball connectors need to be mounted in front of the servo, instead of in the back like the manual would tell you to, or else they would foul the servo saver at full extension. This is why, in order to preserve Ackermann, the servo needs to be mounted in the back of the servo posts rather than in the front as per the manual, so that it can compensate the different position of the connectors. By doing this, Ackermann is preserved. Easy! And great job @TurnipJF for coming up with such simple, seamless solution.

The 5mm ball stud installed on the upright and secured with a locknut and some threadlock 20240102-132556.jpg

Servo saver and front 5mm balls

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Servo now completed with the 3mm threaded tie rods and 5mm ball connectors. Looking a little... industrial? compared to some turnbuckles, but me likes.

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5 minutes ago, TurnipJF said:

Looking great so far!

Thank you! Sorry for mentioning you so many times throughout the build, but the least I can do is give you the credit you deserve! The build was amongst the most enjoyable ever so thank you again for all the valuable tips 😃👍

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Looks awesome mate!😎

Love the Kenwood livery and design. You look to be getting through the build pretty quickly as well!👍

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At this point I took a quick look at the electronics. Nothing to declare exept for the ESC needing a connector. A little soldering job later we have a brand new old school Tamiya on it (I've been wanting to start a thread on the Tamiya connectors alone, but this will be for another day).

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Next I thought I'd do the tires, better get them on the rims before I sniff them all up 😉

This process took me back some good 30 years, but I still remember it well. As a kid, I was an avid Mini4WD racer, and back then Tamiya came up with an extremely sticky compound for their foam tires. If memory serves me well, it was called Reston -I kid you not- and it was the thing to have. It worked, the little cars could basically drive up a wall with those tires, but installing them with the double sided tape as showed on the C11 manual (step 20) was hard as badword! I remeber so many kids freaking out impatiently, and me too I hated doing that.

As an adult, fortunately, there was no sweat and no issues. But I feel the small version of back then was way less forgiving, especially the tape. No way you could peel and stick again, ahah.

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Having momentarily steered away from the chassis, I decided to tackle the first steps of the body shell. By doing so, it will be ready for masking when I feel up to the task later.

This is the body as it stands now: cut, trimmed, filed and washed. The masking's gotta wait for the right stars to align.

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3 minutes ago, Kol__ said:

Looks awesome mate!😎

Love the Kenwood livery and design. You look to be getting through the build pretty quickly as well!👍

Thank you mate! Yeah I am very excited about carrying out the Kenwood livery, hopefully I won't make a mess of it 🤣 there will be some light features too to back it up!

I am a pretty slow builder, but this is kind of a post-build thread so that's why it seems quick 😅 the body is still as shown above, but the chassis is almost done just need to get there with the description...

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14 minutes ago, Ferruz said:

the body is still as shown above, but the chassis is almost done just need to get there with the description...

It's a great looking body shell. Fairly large area to paint, and certainly to cover with the stickers. You'll boss it mate, for sure💪💪👍

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From now on, the build has been smooth sailing. Not that it wasn't before, but at this point there's no more waiting for parts and I finally get to use all those red bling nuts!

Here you can see the steering completed and installed, with the beefier rods and the servo mounted at the back of its posts to preserve Ackermann.

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Front end now attached to the chassis

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And a different shade of bling for a change! 

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By now the chassis is almost complete, missing only body posts, some details and oh, the wheels

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8 hours ago, Ferruz said:

Thank you! Sorry for mentioning you so many times throughout the build, but the least I can do is give you the credit you deserve! The build was amongst the most enjoyable ever so thank you again for all the valuable tips 😃👍

No need to apologize! I am honored that my thread managed to serve as some inspiration for yours. Your car appears to be coming on extremely well! I am sure you will enjoy the end result.

 

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Great stuff 👍🏻 very nice touch with the red nuts 😉

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Chassis is now fully done.

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Adding the wheels to it felt so good, I enjoyed every turn of each locknut. Must be the tire smell ahah

I think that the kit's brass bushings look really cool. Too bad they gotta be replaced by "plain" looking bearings, it would have been a nice color accent to keep. But functionality comes before aesthetics!

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Bench tested and, later on, livingroom test complete with a few close calls in terms of avoided collisions with furniture 😁. Everything works well.

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This is the C11 as it stands now...

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...and this is the very underwhelming decal sheet I chose for it

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Hopefully I'll be able to turn it into something good. Hope is always an important ingredient!

Next thing is masking, hopefully next weekend will be sunny as I really want natural light to do that.

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Time for a little update on the build. It took me ages to mask up the body shell, and now I'm finally done. While at it, I also punched out the holes for the light buckets. Fortunately, no casualties there.

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Body is ready for paint, once I set up the station and double/triple check all the edges one more time.

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Feeling a little tense but excited. Hopefully I won't mess this up! It'll be nice to finally get some paint on it.

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On 1/17/2024 at 6:37 PM, Ferruz said:

I think that the kit's brass bushings look really cool.

I agree and was actually considering using them - old school RC!

I found that I needed a lot of shimming on the front wheels, close to a mm, "a la TT-02" ;) is it just me?

Great to see progress especially with that amazing Kenwood livery 👏

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2 hours ago, Pylon80 said:

found that I needed a lot of shimming on the front wheels, close to a mm, "a la TT-02" ;) is it just me?

No buddy it's not just you :lol: same thing happened to me, I slipped in a shim that was indeed just short of one mm!

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8 hours ago, Ferruz said:

In the middle of paint coats at the moment :ph34r:

I’ll just carry on with this in the meantime then (in keeping with the red theme) 😉

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14 hours ago, Ferruz said:

In the middle of paint coats at the moment :ph34r:

I think I saw snow on your last picture... you are unstoppable! ;)

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On 2/20/2024 at 11:21 AM, Pylon80 said:

I think I saw snow on your last picture... you are unstoppable! ;)

Thanks! It's just that, once I'm ready to paint at a psychological level, there's no way I can wait for further stars to align... fortunately I have a spot in a communal garage where I can do all sort of work including painting!

The snow was present for sure, gave me a hard time when trying to bring the prepped body to the booth during a blizzard, but that's all in good fun 😅

Painting is now officially done. It took me a while, as usual, and the result is not perfect, but definitely good enough for me 😊

Black went on first and ok, with not too much bleed through besides the usual couple random areas where the tape slightly detached

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Nothing that couldn't be easily fixed with some Polycarbonate body cleaner, a truly life saving product (I can't believe I used to paint bodies without it at hand).

Red was sprayed next. All good until the third layer, when I oversprayed some areas resulting in the solvent re-melting the black.

Live and learn! More swearing, more patience, more poly cleaner, more masking tape, more paint and the mistake was fixed :D

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Next was going to be the backing paint. I was unsure about what to go for between white and silver, so I used the wheel arches cut-offs to make some samples. And I'm glad I did! Both turned out not suitable for what I had in mind: the white backing made the red a little too bright, and the silver one made the red look way too dull. After an extra day of pondering, I decided and went for yet one more layer of red, just to get rid of some translucency.

While waiting for the paint to cure, I had a glimpse at the inside of the plastic bag I tossed the masking in during the painting process. It looks like the work of a mad man, look at it🤣

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The moment when you finally peel off the protective layer and see the result is just so fulfilling, can't put a price on that! 20240224-143442.jpg

Look at that shine... it will never ever be that shiny again!20240224-144341.jpg

My fingerprints are already everywhere, I'm starting to understand while some people use gloves when handling bodies! 

Anyway, I 'll just drool over the shine for the rest of the evening and probably jump on the decals tomorrow. Painting was dreaded, but decals should be fun and not too daunting in this case so I'm looking forward to it. 

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35 minutes ago, Ferruz said:

can't put a price on that!

I am totally with you on the painting when I think of my last project. You imagine a livery, you try to align the 'PS stars' for weeks, you do the masking, then all the coats. All the while life and weather get in the way viciously as they do :D and then somehow, miraculously, it's done and you lift that overspray film!

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