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Beetlejuice Beetlejuice Beetlejuice

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When I'm not obsessing over vintage SRB stuff, I like to do some scratch building. I've been planning this lowrider bug for a while and I'm finally getting the build underway. You'll have to bare with me, as it will probably take a while to complete. It will take some time between work, other projects, family, waiting on 3d printed parts, etc...

The concept is pretty straight forward- 70's style lowrider Bug with servo's acting as the "hydraulics". It will be built from a combination of stuff I have laying around the garage and 3d printed parts.

Reference images:


The body I'm using. It's a Kamtec split Beetle. You can see where I started scoring a line for a ragtop


Ragtop cut in, recessed area for the roof rails added, and a header bow fabbed


Dark grey material for the sunroof. I'll use this material a little in the interior too when I get around to it.


Ragtop done


I wanted to run wire wheel of course, but the standard Pegasus wheels are far to large for this body. Top row is the standard wheel, and the bottom row is the final size I was shooting for. Tires are just cut down airplane tires with a white wall drawn on them.


Then I modeled a support ring/template and had them 3d printed


glued the ring to the back of the wheel and started cutting away


cut the centers of the wheels out


here are all the pieces.

left side- stock wheel, center rough cut out, machined smooth and sanded for primer/paint

middle- original wheel, center cut out, ring added and spokes cut down

right side- printed rings, ring glued to back of wheel


new center ready to be glued into place. I'll paint the lips before these are permanently glued into place. I'm actually working on a 2nd version of this that screws together from the back. Might be handy in the future.


and a pic of how it sits now. wheel size is MUCH better.



3d modeling everything to test how it all fits together and functions. The battery is as far back as it will go. The servos sit on top of a little 3d printed gearbox powered by a 380 motor. No need for a 540, it will be slow and easy going. Maybe with all the weight at the back I can get it to hop. It will still be fairly heavy at the front though with a hardbody, full interior, etc. I'm not far enough along with the chassis yet to test it out and make adjustments.


Gearbox is very compact. It just uses a crown gear and pinion. The outputs are from a traxxas 1/16. They were machined down and ride inside flanged bearings with a large ID. This lets the gearbox be as narrow as possible so the links and shafts can be as long as possible and the suspension can have a lot of travel without binding. I wanted to keep the suspension independent instead of going with a solid axle. Solid would have been much easier, but it's not what I wanted.


And part of the interior from an old Cox VW tether car. I'll use the seat and part of the floor. The floor is raised so it will let me run push-rods to the front for steering and the front suspension.


And that's about it for now! I'll update more as I slowly make progress.

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I'm going to follow this one like a hawk! I'm a big fan of Beetles and low-riders, I'm loving the work with the pistol-grip & box combo although one suggestion would be a strap for the box to stop it wrenching the wires.

Looking forward to the updates on this one ^_^

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A nice and very well done job bro !!! will be wathcing with interest too :) like so much the hundred spokes rims "chevy impala lowrider style", personally i would have chose the german style mods, but also this lowrider kustom style fits perfectly ;) nice job mate ;) !!!

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Beetles are always cool. Low riders, well they aren't my cup of tea but wow this project is tres interesting! Totally following it.

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Awesome work, I always love the mix of old skool chopping up stuff and new skool 3D printed stuff. As the other have said, I'll be watching this one closely!

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Always great to see somebody pushing builds to the next level, especially here on TC. Awesome work, subscribed B)

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Long time no update! It's moving pretty slow as predicted, but is gradually coming together.

The car will have head and tail lights, so I'm using the shifter as the switch to turn them on and off. I just need to give it a shift knob now.



I got the wheels done finally! I did a few sets before I got to a point where I was happy with them. What a pain...

painted lip chrome spoke RC lowrider 13s. Finally some proper lowrider wheels that aren't 2.2" Car's look like donks with those 2.2 spoke wheels....


The green on the wheel lip is what I have decided to go with for the body color.


And for reference- a comparison with the standard 2.2 spoke wheel (before painted lip).


I changed the gearbox and rear arms a little. reprinted them. The pieces on the left hold pots and route wiring in the switch box.




got the rear cage designed and printed. This holds the battery and electronics, acts as the rear servo mounts, creates a body mounting point, and in general add structure to the back of the car.



a pic with the battery in place. This is all designed to nest together as tightly as possible and tuck up against the back of the body in order to put all the weight at the back and leave me space for an interior (since the ragtop will be open and so much of the inside will be visible). The top side brackets give me a place to run a velcro strap through to hold the battery in place. The other side brackets are to zip-tie electronics to.


A bent wire push rod in place here for mock up and testing. I can get the real push rods made now. The rear of the car will be rigid and the front sprung. Hopefully this will let me do a pretty good 3 while keeping the front bouncy. I'm still a ways off from testing this though. I'll spend the $ on better servos once I know this all works like I want it to.


And the front view of the rear assembly. The servo mounts also clamp the motor (small 380 to keep it slow), helping to keep everything tight. There's a little wiggle room for gear mesh I'll have to take up with shims of some sort. Still working that out. Maybe something as simple as a set screw through each side would be good enough?


Printed brackets screw through into the bumper and act as the body mounts. These line up with holes in the rear battery cage and screw through the bottom. So there will be 4 or 6 screws through the bottom of the chassis that will hold the body on. Not a quick release by far, but well hidden, very sturdy, and easy to get to. This is what it looks like without the chassis plate. I have a template of it printed now and can cut it out of aluminum soon.


Rear assembly mounted to the body, this is about where it will sit when laid out.


With the front done it would do a pretty high 3 wheel. Right rear push rod is down in the pic, and left front is a pretty close guess. I might dial it back a little bit. If you've seen other people build lowrider r/c cars with independent suspension all the way around, you know they don't 3 wheel very high and don't get that body lean that looks real. It's a lot easier to do with a solid axle in the rear, but I wanted to keep it all independent like 1:1 VWs. So far it seems like I'm going to get the look I'm shooting for.

We'll see how it goes when the front end parts are printed and mocked up.


That's about it for now! Thanks for looking.

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Great project - thanks for the update! Looking forward to the next one.

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It's worth the wait, looking forward to seeing it dance 😉 Are you planning on that insane level of articulation with moving foot pedals, gear levers and steering wheel?

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It's worth the wait, looking forward to seeing it dance Are you planning on that insane level of articulation with moving foot pedals, gear levers and steering wheel?

Only if 2nd gear turns the head and tail lights on ;):D

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Interior trim pieces and radio housing painted. I wish I could remember where I got that interior kit. It's made for a Sand Scorcher. I would love to have another one!


Radio assembled. I'm still waiting on a couple small electrical parts, and a 3d printed adapter to correctly mount the wheel, but it's almost done! I think I've got more hours in this radio than most people do their whole car...


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It's just a Testors rattle can lacquer paint for model cars. I'll be using that on the body since it's not lexan.

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Chassis is about done. Dying parts now, and waiting on the new servos. Base colors of the body are sprayed. Next the graphics will go in the silver insert areas, then clear coat, then wet sand and polish. I'll be glad to get all that done and put all the trim on the body, and add the interior!


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Wow how did I miss this? Amazing level of detail, I'm really looking forward to the finished article!

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