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Mad Ax

Toyota Chaser on TT02D

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In a departure from all recent Mad Ax build threads, and in the words of Blue Peter, here's one I made earlier.

All my other projects got put on hold recently when the local club announced a drift night. Usually I just grab a battered old shell for drifting, but this time I thought I'd go all-out - especially as the club also does a friendly "best drift shell" competition, and I always see it as my personal mission to take the challenge to one of my good race buddies, who has a collection of impressive drift shells that he's painted himself or bought in from others.

So the project began with a TT02D Skyline that I bought at last year's Iconic Revival. I built it almost as soon as I got home so I could run it at the August Bank Holiday Iconic meet at WLRC. It poured with rain, but I was foolish and ran the car anyway. This might explain why the brushless ESC stopped working:


Anyway, since then it's sat on the shelf, various attempts at repairing the ESC failed, so - apart from finishing the boxart silver Skyline shell and putting it up on the shelf to look nice - I had pretty much forgotten it existed until the club's Call To Action came along.

The first thing I figured I needed was a 200mm shell. I was going to post a thread about this a few weeks ago, but basically, I'm bored of 190mm touring cars. Tamiya's super-scale looks are great for a factory-stock replica, but add a set of deep dish wheels and suddenly they look stupid. I wanted a proper wide stance on this drift car, so there was no alternative - I had to have a 200mm shell.

A visit to Hobbybase in Westbury produced a HPI Weld JZX100 shell. It came with full light buckets, a hefty decal set and an enormous spoiler. Perhaps not the best-looking drifter ever made, or the most scale-realistic shell from HPI, but it would serve my purposes. Besides, large flat surfaces are ideal for a custom decal job.

It took me a long time to settle on a colour scheme, but eventually I realised I was already a third of the way to a very impressive put table if I matched the car to an existing support / team vehicle. So, silver and blue is my official new team colours for 2016. And as Easter Friday approached, the weather improved enough to get some solid time in the paint booth that my lovely wife made for me:


A couple of hours later and I had a fully-painted shell, and some light buckets, all shiny and chrome. I refrained from spraying chrome paint over my teeth and laughing maniacally. But only just.


And so the project was well on the way to knocking my pit-buddy off the top spot of the "best shell" rostrum.

to be continued...

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Reminds me of the old Need for Speed BMW M3 GTR from those last pics!

I want to do one of the Yokomo 180SX bodies, I think they look great. Look forward to the next update

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OK - so I'd intended to do the full write-up on Friday but I forget that build threads need approval :P then a massively busy weekend meant I didn't have time to add any updates.

Anyway - next update, lighting system!

When I saw the shell came with light buckets, I considered digging out the TLU-01 that came with an NIB TT01 many years ago and was never used. I've been saving it for "something special." I even thought - why not, I'll read up on how to link it to the radio and buy some extra LEDs for it. It was then that I discovered the TLU-01 is really just a module that does head and tail lights, and needs another expensive option part to make it do anything interesting.

I remembered the dealer at the local RC truck meet (Astec Models, https://astecmodels.co.uk/) often has lighting systems in stock. That was an excuse to pop out to the truck meet, watch some trucks go by, eat sausage and chips and buy a new lighting kit. He had touring car systems for the bargainous price of £9.50. I really was stunned.

This is the kit I bought:


Headlights, tail lights, main beams on full throttle, fogs / driving lamps on full throttle, brake lights on braking, reverse lights on reversing, indicators on turning - and all LEDs and Y-leads included. For less than a tenner, that's just amazing.

I had the whole thing assembled on the workbench one evening, but waited until the shell was painted before I cut the light buckets and fitted everything up. I was then left with a horrific mess of wires everywhere, and the dilemma of how to mount everything and still be able to remove the shell.

I would have fitted a ready-made drift interior, if I'd had the foresight to buy one. Since I didn't, that meant I had to make a rudimentary one.

And I would have used black plasticard, if I'd had the foresight to buy some. Since I didn't... You know where this is going!

I cut out a piece of white plasticard to fit snuggly in the shell, drilled body post holes and fitted some evergreen square section to give it some rigidity.




And to make the shell fit comfortably over the interior, I glued on some tube:


Light kit fitted, LEDs hot-glued in place, wires clipped down with the supplied non-permanent clips so the interior can be removed without disturbing the lights.


Car electrics fitted - used a cheap brushless controller from Hobbyking to match my old LRP motor. IIRC the speedo is the 130A model and seems to work pretty well, the motor is a Vector K4 but don't ask for any specs as there seem to be various different models and no identification on the can to tell me which one I have...


And finally, lights working:


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Next trick was decals. I wanted to make another SCRAPSpeed team car, and since I already had all the vector images from a previous car, all I had to do was resize them and put them on an A4 decal sheet that I could print out on clear vinyl.

This is largely why I chose silver for the contrast colour - inkjet ink looks more or less OK when backed with silver instead of white. It loses a little bit of intensity but makes up for it with a little bit of metallic glowing through from underneath. This helps it to match the main colour of the shell.

I had a few discussions with people who offer printed decals, but since nobody could offer a more long-term print onto clear than I can get myself with an inkjet, I just went ahead and did it all myself. Easier, quicker, and I can just print another set if I screw it up. Being in a tight deadline, that made all the difference!

There are some drawbacks to using inkjet - firstly, as mentioned above, the colour loses a bit of intensity if not going onto pure white. Secondly, the ink can be brushed off in a big crash or smudged by fingerprints. Thirdly, it's not waterproof, nor is it resistant to solvents, especially those used to clean tyres - which means taking extra care at the track. Since this is a drift car, there shouldn't be need to clean tyres much but my pit towel is often covered with solvent so I'll have to watch where I put it.

I use clear inkject paper from Crafty Computer Paper (www.craftycomputerpaper.co.uk).

In the long run, however, these things are not important - this is supposed to be a working drift car, and it will naturally get bashed over time. These bashes should eventually add to the character of the car. It looks pristine now, but will eventually look like it's seen a few tyre barriers. Scuffed decals are all part of the patina :D

Anyway, decals printed and fitted, it was off to the club night for the "best shell competition" - complete with my Wildcat tow rig and custom-made car trailer (see other build threads).

I think the lens on my smartphone might have been dirty as these pics came out a bit smudged:












And the end result - a top night of drifting (the TT02D in stock trim is quite controllable, even if it's very easy to totally overdo it with that brushless setup) and 2nd place in the shell competition with a £10 gift card as a prize :D

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What about laying a second piece of clear vinyl over the top, so protecting the ink from smudges ?

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What about laying a second piece of clear vinyl over the top, so protecting the ink from smudges ?

I'm fairly sure this is what some printing companies do. I considered giving it a try, but I'm having terrible dust problem at home due to some renovation work, the paint job on the shell was almost ruined after it picked up dust on the way to the spray booth. So I was really worried about getting dust and air bubbles under the second layer and ruining not one but two sheets!

It's something I'd consider if I was doing something that needed to be tougher.

I used the same clear decal sheet on my race mini which got heavy use for several seasons before I retired it, and besides some tyre rash and some splodges from solvent overspray they survived really well.

This might seem entirely bizarre, but I'm actually looking forward to it acquiring a patina of use. (now wait, next outing I'll crack the front bumper off entirely and it'll look awful!)

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Another option that works well in some instances is a color laser printer instead of an inkjet. With clear decal paper (typically used for mailing labels) rated for use in a laser printer, it's possible to make robust decals that show up with silver or white backing under the shell. It's the same idea as yours; the toner is more robust against water and mild cleaners. If you want to take the idea one step further, it's also possible to print reversed images on matte white sticker paper and use them as paint masks on the inside the of the shell. Paint the shell whatever color you want, remove the masks, paint those areas white, then print and apply the actual decals on the outside of the shell. That way you're not stuck with silver or white as the main color. As you know, making decals like this works best on relatively flat surfaces. The clear decal papers available from Avery don't have much stretch to them.


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Interesting ideas there Mr. Beans. I would use a colour laser if I had one, but I can't justify the expense for what is basically just a hobby. If a printer that could print white ink came up cheap enough I'd probably buy that, but they seem really hard to get hold of second-hand.

Using a decal as a mask and then white-backing it seems like an interesting idea, although I'm not 100% convinced: why not just print on white sheet? Seems like a lot of extra work. The only thing you potentially gain is not getting the white edge of the decal sheet appearing against dark colours, but that depends on how thick the sheet is.

The whole point of using clear sheet is that the base colour shows through the clear space in the design. Your Uncle Sam doesn't have any clear space, he's a solid design.

For darker colours, I have considered printing the shell colour into the clear space - e.g. turning the clear space blue for a blue shell, then printing onto white. The main issues here are getting a reasonable colour match and not being able to do metalics. But by keeping the cut lines as close as possible to the design, it might not be massively noticeable.

Lettering is the real problem - most logos can be designed to sit on their own background, within their own design shape; I just prefer lettering to logo design.

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Can't believe you only got 2nd place for your efforts! ;) The tow-rig/trailer/drifter combo looks very impressive.

To bash- and splash-proof your decals, give them a couple of coats of clear lacquer. Ideally you want to give your ink 24hrs to dry, then a dust coat of lacquer followed by a heavier coat 15-30 mins later. The lacquer can crack a bit when you apply the decal but some gentle heat will usually smooth it out again.

If you print on white vinyl and end up with a white edge showing around your decal, use a fine brush to paint a little body-colour paint around the edge of the decal.

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