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Blue Bird Baja Growler Revamp

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I recently purchased a very used Blue Bird/Aristocrat Baja Growler from Ebay, and I have finally got the motivation to do something with it. I originally bought it to make a Javelin replica, as it's basically an Optima clone. The auction pictures were dark, and on initial inspection there was a fair amount missing. 

Trying to figure out TCphotos, but for now this is the best I've got. 

I'm still hoping to get a Javelin replica in the end, but with a twist. Thanks for watching!


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Missing a bumper, front hub, front shock, and dogbone. Shouldn't be too bad to source or make. This also has no adjustable links anywhere on the car - all the lengths are fixed, with undercuts in some of the links for clearance in suspension travel. I'm wondering if I can salvage just the one front shock for a mini shock setup as well.

You can see some of the aluminum pieces like the shock tower and a glimpse of the chassis. The gold anodizing (or yellow?) Is actually pretty nice on the car and very well in-tact. No major scratches. It probably saw limited use, then a major crash with the rest of its life on the shelf or in the garage. 



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Thanks! I think it'll turn out nice. The name isn't great, yeah. I'll have to think of something better. 

A few more pics, as I got Flickr to work. 


This side view shows the heatsink for the MSC. I'll put in an ESC (probably), but really like how that heatsink looks so I'll leave it there. Also shows some random receiver with a brand I've never heard of. 


Rear cover, which somewhat rips off the classic optima design, but just different enough to pass by potential copyright issues lol. Black motor and rubber cover can be seen also. The motor looks okay underneath but probably needs to be looked over and oiled before running again. 


This outdrive was on the battle damaged side. Pretty sure the slot isn't supposed to be like that! :blink:


Pic of the fiberglass underneath the front brace. 

More pics tonight or tomorrow. 

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first glance at the title i'm think'n Blue Bird Servos.

Nice rig, dig all the bracing. looks grand to me will be following, i like it. the Ol' fiberglass is way cool.

i like my elderly esc's they ring old toughness.

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That's what I thought too. Not sure how related they are, but I can't find much info in this chassis. 

Thanks! I think it's a cool little buggy. I've never had a chain drive car before, so all this is new to me. I may keep the old MSC, but I'm not sure if the wiper assembly is in tact. 

More pictures today:


Some images of the chain guard and inside of the chassis. Servo was held down with tape and a zip tie. I can probably come up with something more sturdy down the road.


Underside of chassis shows no major scratches and overall the anodizing looks good. Not a fan of the screws, so I may add a skid plate with countersunk holes later. 


Pic of the square drive servo. Unusual. 


Chassis stripped down to the single piece. The front has a slight bend, but the bulkhead screws pull everything in together fine. 

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Some more:


This shows the resistors inside their cover. Not sure if any of the MSC still works, but it doesn't look damaged. 


View of the diff and chain inside the front bulkhead. Not sure if the rounded sprocket profile was from the factory or is just wear. This also shows some bearings - there are only 4 on the entire car (2 per differential). The rest are plastic bushings. I'll be replacing them with bearings, assuming that they all are a standard size. 


Here is the inside of the diff. Metal gears with a ton of grease. I doubt the diffs are sealed, so I'll just clean out the old grease and put some new in after everything goes in the ultrasonic cleaner. 


Poorly taken photo of the rear gearbox. The cover that's not shown was darkened polycarbonate with a ton of excess grease around the inside. The gears look like they're in good condition, and the inside of the gearbox was very clean. You can see a bit of the motor in this picture, which has an exposed metal collar that looks like uncoated aluminum. It's strange because the rest of the motor (minus the white plastic cap for the endbell) is black. 

The next step will be to put everything in the ultrasonic bath and clean off all the grime before I assess what needs further cleaning or polishing. 

Up front, there's a few things that need to get replaced. I'm not going to use the wheels and tires, as there are only three and it's not the look I'm going for anyways. Also, I'm not a fan of the non-adjustable links. I already purchased a bulk pack of Traxxas rod ends for this and will make some linkages with threaded rod or partially threaded rod. I'm not picky on camber and caster on this - it's just the lack of realism of the solid links that makes me want to change things up.

I'll also do bearings throughout and will be replacing all the hardware with socket head or button head screws. 

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Started work on cleaning the car. 

I don't have pics of the plastic parts yet, but they've come out pretty well so far. I tore down the diff and cleaned it up. Everything seems to be in a good state, and the bearings are surprisingly smooth after all these years. 


Pic of the torn apart and cleaned differential. No complaints here. 


Adding some Tamiya grease to smooth out the turning. 


Reassembled and ready to go! Not too worried about changing out the screws that hold the halves together, as these won't be visible once in the gearbox. 


I also put all the other metal parts minus the shocks in the ultrasonic cleaner. I'll be replacing the screws but it's good to get an accounting of roughly how many to replace. The dogbones started rusting, but I'll clean those up and probably paint them for some corrosion protection. 

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I was able to clean the front and rear gearboxes in the ultrasonic cleaner. They came out pretty well, but still need some work. 


Here you can see the rear gearbox halves. If you look closely you can see a lot of machining marks, hand sanding, and excess sprue/flashing all from the mold. 


Here is a closer look. I'm sure Kyosho did a much better job back in the day on the Optima series chassis', but this budget Blue Bird was not quite at the same level. The outside of the gearboxes look okay, but I'm going to throw all of these in the vibratory tumbler to see if I can knock some of the edges and high points off. I at least want to make it less noticeable. 

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I've slowly been working on this for the past few weeks. First, I washed the plastic parts and tumbled them in walnut media. 


Most of the parts came out really well. It's hard to tell by the pictures, but all of the parts came out really smooth, but filled will walnut shells in every small hole. It was definitely frustrating and time consuming to clean it all out. 


Here's a picture of the inside of the rear gearbox. Maybe it's just me but it looks better. 


I put the white (or apparently at one point white) parts in some hydrogen peroxide along with the clear chain guards and sat them in the sun over the course of ~10 hours total. The guards didn't look much better, but the white parts came out well.


Here's a picture of the front hub (not put in the hydrogen peroxide) next to the front knuckle. A noticable difference. 


Unfortunately, the appearance didn't turn out to be uniform. I'm not too concerned, as this will mostly be hidden by the wheels. 


Cleaned some of the anodized aluminum parts. Very few scratches and in overall good shape.  


At the same time that I tumbled the plastic parts, I also tumbled the brass parts and the front aluminum brace. After some polish, they came out nice. The watermarks are there from post-ultrasonic cleaning, and should come out with a second polish. 


I finally have most of the parts for the linkages. I'm using #6-32 threaded rod, which I'll cut to length, then fit the aluminum tubing over the rod. I'll have to tap the aluminum tube to get it to fit over the threaded rod, and then I'll loctite it in place. I'll also need to open the holes in the rod ends to accept the larger thread size. 

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