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BuggyGuy

4WD Buggy Woes - DF03 Gotchas?

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Hi all

Have built myself a lovely TT-02B during lockdown over the last month - with the intention to be to get back into regular club level racing. Though I'm sure the TT-02B will be absolutely fine for reminding me how to drive - it's got some major limitations that can't be easily solved:

- No clutch 

- Low ride height

- Limited setup options (e.g Rear toe, antisquat, front caster - though it might be possible to address some of this with the TT02S style rear suspension mounts). 

- Relativly short wheelbase

- Lacks much in the way of front kick up

With that in mind I've been looking at other options from Tamiya, and I think I've ruled out everything apart from the DF03 / Dark Impact. 

I'm already using DF03 shocks and driveshafts on the 02B, the 03 kit comes ball raced, so I think I'd only need to get a clutch and a set of hardened diff balls + out drives, and some turnbuckles to have something that should jump and handle a bit better than the 02B.....

But... No carbon shock towers/mounts available for this car anywhere that I can find, and the rear looks like an obvious weak point on this car. Bottom loading battery looks a bit quirky too... 

Are there any other models I should be looking at from Tamiya for a bit of 1/10 off road racing - no TRF buggies are in production at the moment. 

 

Many thanks

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44 minutes ago, BuggyGuy said:

Hi all

Have built myself a lovely TT-02B during lockdown over the last month - with the intention to be to get back into regular club level racing. Though I'm sure the TT-02B will be absolutely fine for reminding me how to drive - it's got some major limitations that can't be easily solved:

- No clutch 

- Low ride height

- Limited setup options (e.g Rear toe, antisquat, front caster - though it might be possible to address some of this with the TT02S style rear suspension mounts). 

- Relativly short wheelbase

- Lacks much in the way of front kick up

With that in mind I've been looking at other options from Tamiya, and I think I've ruled out everything apart from the DF03 / Dark Impact. 

I'm already using DF03 shocks and driveshafts on the 02B, the 03 kit comes ball raced, so I think I'd only need to get a clutch and a set of hardened diff balls + out drives, and some turnbuckles to have something that should jump and handle a bit better than the 02B.....

But... No carbon shock towers/mounts available for this car anywhere that I can find, and the rear looks like an obvious weak point on this car. Bottom loading battery looks a bit quirky too... 

Are there any other models I should be looking at from Tamiya for a bit of 1/10 off road racing - no TRF buggies are in production at the moment. 

 

Many thanks

Are you looking to bash a round a local track and have fun or you actually looking to competitively local race?  If the later, I highly don't recommend a tamiya.  They're not built for competition.  You're looking at Losi, Yokomo, and  Associated  in the 4wd class to race or check with your local race scene to see what they're racing.    

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7 minutes ago, legacygt777 said:

Are you looking to bash a round a local track and have fun or you actually looking to competitively local race?  If the later, I highly don't recommend a tamiya.  They're not built for competition.  You're looking at Losi, Yokomo, and  Associated  in the 4wd class to race or check with your local race scene to see what they're racing.    

Bit of fun at the local track - not expecting competition spec from a DF03 or the TT02B. I'm happy to race round at the back of the pack until I settle on the class and car I want to return to competition with. But to me a bit of fun is something that could handle a reasonable jump and be reasonably tough without shocking handling, and be able to use a 13.5 brushless motor without destroying itself. 

I have other cars In mind for the future that would be better suited to competition level stuff, but would prefer a Tamiya buggy to start with if possible as I have a reasonable amount of Tamiya stuff already - and who doesn't love a Tamiya? I'd run a TTech Predator again in a heartbeat if I could have sourced one - but they are long dead... 

Whatever happens my TT02B is probably destined to be converted to a touring car (for which I think the TT02 is a good platform) after the tiny bit of running I've given it in buggy form (which its bad at - at least on astro even with some choice Hop-ups) 

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Unfortunately Tamiya doesn't have any real options for offroad racing, onroad they compete with the best but they haven't released anything for offroad for years. I wouldn't spend any more on the TT02B, even after addressing all those issues they still dont jump well.

The DB01 would be the best option though if you can't find a TRF buggy anywhere. Ideally a DB01RR or RRR if you can find one, but you can hop up a standard DB01

Otherwise look at other brands. All the major brands have something, my 4wd are HB Racing and they are bulletproof and only need the exotek diff cap out of the box. If you run mod you don't even need that, but I run 17.5T stock class so need the smaller spur that the exotek cap allows,

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1 hour ago, BuggyGuy said:

I think I've ruled out everything apart from the DF03 / Dark Impact. 

Just out of curiosity, how did the Top Force (DF01) get ruled out when you were ruling out stuff?

For a Tamiya buggy, it's pretty competent, and I believe it still has more hopups available than the DF03 (ask me how I know).

For reference, I have both a TT02B as well as a DF03. I sorta wish I got a DF01 instead of the DF03, which is probably destined to remain a mint shelf queen due to my fear of breaking or even damaging something that I can't find replacements for.

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14 minutes ago, DeadMeat666 said:

Just out of curiosity, how did the Top Force (DF01) get ruled out when you were ruling out stuff?

For a Tamiya buggy, it's pretty competent, and I believe it still has more hopups available than the DF03 (ask me how I know).

For reference, I have both a TT02B as well as a DF03. I sorta wish I got a DF01 instead of the DF03, which is probably destined to remain a mint shelf queen due to my fear of breaking or even damaging something that I can't find replacements for.

I wasn't sure if the df01 is still being produced - I was looking at them originally rather than the TT02B but couldn't find one in the UK (admittedly a few months ago now) same reason I ruled out the db01 (still available to order from Japan but not in production?) 

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2 hours ago, BuggyGuy said:

Bit of fun at the local track - not expecting competition spec from a DF03 or the TT02B. I'm happy to race round at the back of the pack until I settle on the class and car I want to return to competition with. But to me a bit of fun is something that could handle a reasonable jump and be reasonably tough without shocking handling, and be able to use a 13.5 brushless motor without destroying itself. 

There's a multi part article on RC Soup titled "DF03 MS: Can it compete" that I found quite enlightening as well as reviews on Oople of both the DF03 and DB01. To sum it up, you can race a DF03, just don't crash...ever. 

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3 hours ago, BuggyGuy said:

I wasn't sure if the df01 is still being produced - I was looking at them originally rather than the TT02B but couldn't find one in the UK (admittedly a few months ago now) same reason I ruled out the db01 (still available to order from Japan but not in production?) 

I don't believe the DF03 is still being produced either. In fact I don't think the DF03 was ever re-released, but there is a 2017 re-release of the Top Force (DF01), so technically there are DF01s in the market that have been manufactured much more recently than DF03s :lol:.

If I'm not mistaken, the Top Force is currently being sold by rcjaz.com at a pretty attractive price as well. Shipping may change all that though, depending on where you are.

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2 hours ago, DeadMeat666 said:

I don't believe the DF03 is still being produced either. In fact I don't think the DF03 was ever re-released, but there is a 2017 re-release of the Top Force (DF01), so technically there are DF01s in the market that have been manufactured much more recently than DF03s :lol:.

If I'm not mistaken, the Top Force is currently being sold by rcjaz.com at a pretty attractive price as well. Shipping may change all that though, depending on where you are.

The thing about the top force buggy is you're going to have to replace those shocks and upgrade to ball bearings if you're going to have any success on a track.  It's also a 2005 design.  I'd get myself a used competitive buggy and just start from there.  You're going to end up paying some money with a new kit and upgrades just to get around an offload track.  You'll also need to upgrade those tires too.  Same issue with the DF01. 

If it had to be a tamiya, the DB01 is probably the better car among the tamiya group.  But that's not saying much.  You have to upgrade a lot just to make it survive even a triple jump using the stock shocks alone.     

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Although I've a soft spot for the DF03, finding upgrade parts is getting harder and harder (it was a challenge 10yrs ago when I got mine!!)

By the time you've got one, got the slipper , outdrives/diff balls etc etc, you could have bought a decent 2nd hand Schumacher L1 (now we're back racing, and the L1 evo has been released, well UK anyway), which would be, by far, a more rewarding drive, full spares availability, setup sheets etc etc.

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Just to add, I got a mate of mine into 1/10 off roading at our local club and he started with a DF 03. He snapped 2 chassis in 2 weeks in the same place - where it joins the front bulkhead. He then got a 2nd hand schumacher and didn't look back. This was with pretty tame brushed motor too.

9 hours ago, Saito2 said:

...To sum it up, you can race a DF03, just don't crash...ever. 

 

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My son and I took a DF03 Dark Impact to the local indoor clay track 10 years ago and here's what we found:

  • Various self tapping screws would loosen after every run including those holding the rear gearbox to the tub as well as a few upper tub screws.
  • We had a consistent issue with a lower screw loosening in one of the steering knuckles, even after replacing the knuckle several times.
  • The rear ball diff is weak in kit stock form and needed a lot of service.  Running a set of front metal outdrives in the rear, and using some tungsten carbide diff balls, helped.  But the diff design itself is too compact for the power going through it (based on the TA04 onroad car).
  • The internal gear on the spur layshaft is made of aluminum and will eventually wear into a sawtooth pattern, cutting into the nylon gear it mates with.
  • The front outdrives had a tendency to chip and crack; I never figured out why.
  • The front damper stay is weak; we went through several of them in crashes.
  • We had one or two instances of the body pin falling out of the battery cover retainer, which led to the retainer nearly falling out.
  • By default the spur gear is 0.5 mod pitch.  No one uses that pitch except for some RC helicopters.  Most everybody who makes a racing buggy uses 48dp spurs and pinions.
  • The stock pinion/spur cover doesn't seal against dirt very well.  The improvement is to get the cover from a DF03Ra parts tree.  Good luck finding one now!
  • The motor doesn't get enough air flow to stay cool under hard use.

A DB01R, RR, or RRR or used TRF501 or TRF503 would be much more durable and usable as a track toy than anything else Tamiya makes.  Otherwise it's time to switch brands as stated earlier.

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Well thanks to everyone who took the time to reply! It's quite a sad state of affairs for Tamiya to have literally nothing available in this space that we can actually buy! 

My intention always been to get a competition spec car within a couple of months or starting to race again - sounds like I'll be bringing that forward a bit...!

 

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Are you still 100% ruling out a top force? As above it only really needs bearings and some adjustable shocks which you already have in the df03 alu ones on your tt02b. These can be made to fit the top force.  There is also much better parts availability due to yhe recent runs of ta02 models.

I have both and must admit only run them lightly but the top force feels like a beast compared to the slightly dainty brittleness of the df03.

 

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It's bizarre that people post about weakness on the DF03.  It was my first Tamiya on my return to the hobby in the mid-00s; my memories of early-90s cars falling apart as soon as I looked at them filled me with dread, but the DF03 survived all the abuse I could throw at it, and more.

As said above - I did have some failures in that first year:

  • Plastic rear diff melted itself when I ran it with a Super Stock BZ.  Hardened version much recommended
  • Rear shock tower broke - replaced with a carbon version (3Racing, IIRC)
  • Lost screw from rear upper arm caused loss of rear dogbone.  Replaced with aftermarket unis, which died a while later.  IIRC I now have unis up front and dogbones in the rear
  • Front carbon shock tower broken in collision with out-of-control E-Maxx.  E-Maxx went right over DF03 and impacted a bollard and split its chassis.

I also fitted the alloy rear gear cover, and then a slipper clutch, which made the gear cover obsolete.

Other points to note:

  • Battery door is a pain.  I never had the pin come out, with LiPo stick packs I actually had more trouble getting the pin back in, as fitment is tight
  • Battery door is still a pain.  You can trim the body so you can pull the pin with it fitted, but you can't plug the battery without removing the body
  • Chassis tub restricts size of electricals
  • Dark Impact body is very close and restricts cooling (turn the fake air intake pods into real air intake pods)
  • Limited cooling to motor, hop-up heatsinks look like they do absolutely nothing
  • Most hop-ups were discontinued ages ago, for reasons that totally flumox me

The Top Force is a great buggy (I love mine to bits) but it also has its weak points - there is no slipper option so you can't run super-hot motors unless you turn the punch down.  While mine is of 1991 vintage, most of the gearbox plastics are new and yet it still cracks them with alarming regularity.  The front tower mount in particular looks like it should be incredibly weak, and although I've only broken it once while racing, I only race it twice a year at vintage events.  Spares are dead easy to get and there are documented fixes for many of the weaker areas.

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I think the lack of clutch is putting me off the Top Force a little, the rest of the hop ups look quite reasonable and not insane cost wise if you keep it to the essentials. 

I should already have enough bearings and hex screws, and the shocks and possibly driveshafts, wheel hexes and wheels from TT02B would fit (just like they would for DF03) 

I think both are now on the list to be added to the collection anyway :o

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4 hours ago, BuggyGuy said:

I think both are now on the list to be added to the collection anyway :o

Thats the spirit.

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5 hours ago, Mad Ax said:

It's bizarre that people post about weakness on the DF03.  It was my first Tamiya on my return to the hobby in the mid-00s; my memories of early-90s cars falling apart as soon as I looked at them filled me with dread, but the DF03 survived all the abuse I could throw at it, and more.

As said above - I did have some failures in that first year:

  • Plastic rear diff melted itself when I ran it with a Super Stock BZ.  Hardened version much recommended
  • Rear shock tower broke - replaced with a carbon version (3Racing, IIRC)
  • Lost screw from rear upper arm caused loss of rear dogbone.  Replaced with aftermarket unis, which died a while later.  IIRC I now have unis up front and dogbones in the rear
  • Front carbon shock tower broken in collision with out-of-control E-Maxx.  E-Maxx went right over DF03 and impacted a bollard and split its chassis.

I also fitted the alloy rear gear cover, and then a slipper clutch, which made the gear cover obsolete.

Other points to note:

  • Battery door is a pain.  I never had the pin come out, with LiPo stick packs I actually had more trouble getting the pin back in, as fitment is tight
  • Battery door is still a pain.  You can trim the body so you can pull the pin with it fitted, but you can't plug the battery without removing the body
  • Chassis tub restricts size of electricals
  • Dark Impact body is very close and restricts cooling (turn the fake air intake pods into real air intake pods)
  • Limited cooling to motor, hop-up heatsinks look like they do absolutely nothing
  • Most hop-ups were discontinued ages ago, for reasons that totally flumox me

The Top Force is a great buggy (I love mine to bits) but it also has its weak points - there is no slipper option so you can't run super-hot motors unless you turn the punch down.  While mine is of 1991 vintage, most of the gearbox plastics are new and yet it still cracks them with alarming regularity.  The front tower mount in particular looks like it should be incredibly weak, and although I've only broken it once while racing, I only race it twice a year at vintage events.  Spares are dead easy to get and there are documented fixes for many of the weaker areas.

Thats a big part of the problem of now running a df03 in anger. As you note ths parts your replaced the originals with like the carbon shock towers etc are almost completwly non existant now. And upgrading the cheese mainshaft gear involves buying a specially made steel robinson one and owning a press (or some sockets and g-clamp)

With the top force you can get a full set of carbon chassis plates and shock mounts made in what thickness of carbon you want from places like fybrelyte. 

Its a real shame the support ended for the df03 long before they kept selling them.

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Well - thread has accelerated my plans and an Xray XB4 2020 is now showing up tomorrow (good prices around now Xray have teased the 2021 version). 

I blame you lot - my next car was meant to be an M08 Concept to compliment my newly built M07R. Going to have to push back that TC-01 order as well if I'm not carful :o

 

Gits. 

  • Haha 2

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A modern race buggy is head and shoulders above anything tamiya has to offer, and an obsolute dream to drive, but, lack the ,scale model, Tamiyaness (if thats a word..)

Enjoy, driving, and enjoy being back with a club 👍

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