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Advice & Guides
The following guides and articles have been put together to help you get the most out of your new Radio Control Car. To read a particular article, simply click on the links below.
Electric or Nitro?: This is a very important question that most beginners overlook!
Spare Part questions: Do you need a spare part, but not sure what you need?
Getting Started in Electric Radio Controlled Cars: A beginners guide...
Battery Life and Charge Times: Understanding Your Battery...
Frequently Asked Questions: about your Nitro Radio Controlled Car...
Maintenance Guide: Nitro RC Cars...
Nitro Radio Controlled Car: Tricks and Tips...
Nitro RC Engine Guide: Starting, running in and tuning the engine on a Nitro RC Car...
Electric or Nitro?: This is a very important question that most beginners over look!
Nitro powered cars are generally faster than electric cars and can sometimes require more driving skill to control. The downside to Nitro models is there is a lot of maintenance required because of the engine. You will need to be prepared to learn and understand the model and mechanics of basic hobby engines. If you have patience and are looking for a something that needs more than just simply charging then Nitro is best for you. Bear in mind that the new brushless motors on some electric cars the speed is very quick.
Note - Nitro cars generally don't have a reverse gear, so bear that in mind also. With electric, your in full control forward and reverse.
Electric powered cars are much simpler and require less maintenance than nitro. You can simply charge the batteries and run the car. Very little adjustment is needed. Recommended for beginners who just want to get the model out and use it straight away or if you have restrictions on where you can use the car then electric cars make no noise.
Please remember the RC Electric and Nitro Cars we sell are not toys and should not be used by anyone under the age of 14 without supervision from an adult.
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Spare Parts?: We stock many spares for the models we sell and are also compatible with many other brands.
First of all HSP (who are also the actual manufacturers for several other brands) are the same parts as used on Wind Hobby and some Himoto Models. Himoto share HSP branded parts and their numbering system is very similar, in that the last few digits of the part Himoto numbers are the same as HSP making it easy to cross reference. They are actually the same parts in many cases. The same goes for Redcat and Atomic models.
When you purchase a model from us, you will have received a full parts list with the part numbers attached. Entering these numbers directly in our website search bar will bring up the part if in stock or you can browse by scale, type etc. Our website incorporates a live CMS and stock control system, spare parts that are out of stock do not appear. That doesn't mean we don't stock it. Most people prefer a website which only shows available products that are currently in stock.
If you have any questions about a spare part for the models we sell or equivalent brands, you can contact us either through our "ask a question" or contact us page or email us. If you wish to discuss a particular product or need some advice, you can email us at firstname.lastname@example.org and we will get back to you usually within 4 hours during normal hours. We are also happy to phone you back to discuss anything one on one, just email us your number and the subject or item your wish to discuss and we will get back to you. If you specify a time, we will do our best to phone you back at you preferred time.
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Getting started in Electric RC Models: A beginners guide...
THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN TOY RADIO CONTROLLED CARS AND HOBBY RC CARS
The Radio Controlled Cars and Trucks you see in toy stores offer a great way for young kids to get involved in an exciting hobby; however, there are few similarities between these toy-grade models and hobby grade radio controlled cars. For example, with hobby-grade R/C models, all spares are available and you'll be able to make repairs yourself without having to send it back to the manufacturer. Also, hobby-grade R/C vehicles are generally made of better materials than toy grade vehicles, so they can withstand the severe punishment of a backyard obstacle course or a high-speed cartwheel at the local parking lot. Hobby kits are designed to provide long life and superior performance.
SPEED CONTROL BASICS
Our electric-powered models come with electronic speed controllers. They're the device that allows the car to move forward at different proportional speeds instead of just one single speed as with a toy radio controlled car, as well as a reverse function to allow you to back your car out of trouble. Mechanical speed controls perform well enough, but ours come with advanced electronic speed controls (ESC). You'll find that an ESC allows much more precise throttle control, requires no maintenance, operates more efficiently, and saves both weight and space on your car's chassis. Also features like proportional braking and ABS are now common place on these ESCs.
WHERE TO RACE
Most hobbyists run their vehicles in informal settings. Backyards, vacant lots and unused, paved areas are where you'll probably find people driving and enjoying R/C vehicles. If you have a competitive nature, however, there are hundreds of R/C racing clubs and tracks throughout the country.
OFF-ROAD vs ON-ROAD
The most popular type of R/C car is the Off-Road Buggy and bigger still the Monster Truck. Big tyres with "knobby" spikes, full-travel suspension parts and a high ground clearance allow the off-roader to go almost anywhere. On-Road cars usually have lower ground clearances, slicks tyres, aerodynamic bodies, and are capable of a bit higher speeds.
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Battery Life and Charge Times: Understanding your battery.
BATTERY LIFE IN A MODEL
The time a battery will last can vary between 10-15 minutes per 2000mAh battery. The time depends on how it is driven and the surface it is driven on. Flat hard surfaces like bitumen create the least friction where as long grass creates the most. The toy ones last longer but this is because they are very slow so do not use much power. It has nothing to do with the price or quality like a Porsche uses fuel quicker than a Skoda but the Skoda is not a better race car.
The car is designed to last for the international standard for electric car racing, that is races are always held for a 5 minute duration on the world circuit.
You can increase the times by using a battery with a higher capacity. Batteries come with a capacity up to 6500mAh however around the 3000 - 4000mAh is the most economical.
This is for the supplied wall charger supplied with the cars.To calculate the charge time for the battery, To do this use the following formula.
As an example and to keep the maths easy, I will use an example of a 1000mAh battery and a 100mA charger. Just replace these numbers with the numbers written on your battery and charger. In a perfect world where there was no loss (heat) you would just charge the battery for 10 hours (1000 divided by 100) however there are losses in charging of around 20% so in this example you would need to charge the battery for 10 hours x 1.2 for the losses = 12 hours.
This of course is only when the battery is dead flat. For the rest of the time just charge the NiMh battery until it gets warm (not hot). Once the battery starts getting warm it is fully charged. Just be careful not to overcharge the battery as it will damage the battery. The light on the charger does not go off when the battery is charged - it lights up to show that the battery is connected.
NEVER CHARGE A LITHIUM BATTERY WITHOUT A LITHIUM CHARGER !!
If you want to race your car more often then you'll required a Rapid Charger for fast charge your racing batteries. There are many on the market, some good, some not so good and many deal with different battery chemistries like NiCad, NiMh and LiPo, LiFeO4.
There are currently 3 main types of batteries used in electric cars today. These are:
Nickel Cadmium (NiCd) - These old tech batteries have been around for many years but are less common today due to the heavy metals used in their construction and battery technologies have been developed to replace them. NiCd batteries also suffered from what people call the "memory effect" You won't find these still available in the UK due to WEEE restrictions.
Nickel Metal Hydride (NiMh) - These batteries replaced the older NiCd cells and offer 30% more capacity for the same weight as a NiCd battery. They are cleaner for the environment as they don't contain any heavy metals in their manufacture. These are the most popular types supplied with model as standard.
Lithium Polymer (LiPo) - Lipo batteries are the latest battery technology used in RC Cars (and Planes, Helicopters etc) mainly for their great power to weight statistics. Power to Power they are less than half the weight of the equivalent NiCd or NiMh battery offering lighter faster models and longer running times. (WARNING - Lithium Polymer batteries must not be charged with any other charger than one design for LiPo batteries)
Q. So what's the "C" rating on the battery?
A. The "C" rating is to do with the Current rating of the battery. Let's say you have a 2000mAh 20C battery, The 2000mAh is the capacity at 1C. i.e. it can supply 2000mA or 2Amps for 1 hour. Now a 20C battery tells you the battery is capable of a continuous discharge current of 20 x its capacity. i.e. 2A x 20C = 40A Also remember it still only 2000mAh capacity, so at 40A discharge your run time is 1 hour/20C = 3minutes !
Caution should to be sought when buying new batteries as there is no point in buying a battery which could burn out your ESC.
Let say you have a 75A rated ESC and you buy a 5000mAH 40C LiPo battery to run your car. This battery is capable of producing very large currents through your ESC. 5000mA x 40C = 200A continuous. The burst currents from the battery can be double this! That's 400A and probably a new ESC. Please remember, as long as the Capacity times the "C" rating can supply the rated current for you ESC then there is little point wasting cash on the bigger battery. You'll have enough cash to buy two smaller ones instead.
40A ESC - 2000mAH 20C would be fine or a 4000mAH 10C
80A ESC - 2000mAH 40C or a 5000mAH 20C would be fine.
It is OK to go higher but there is no real reason to as the current is limited by the ESC internal resistance.
NB// These are just guidelines to get you started.
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Frequently asked Questions about your Nitro Radio Controlled Car: Our FAQ's will help you get started in the world of RC-Nitro Cars.
Q. Do I need anything else to run my Nitro model?
A. You will receive your model with the radio control (Transmitter) and servos fully installed. You will only therefore need to get 12 AA batteries (8 for the transmitter and 4 for the receiver in the car), a rechargeable Glow Plug igniter and 15/16% Nitro hobby fuel (available at most hobby stores).
Q. How long will the fuel last?
A. The car will run for approx. 10 – 15 minutes on a tank of fuel. You should be able to fill the tank about 10 – 15 times from a 1 litre fuel bottle.
Q. What caused the gears to strip?
A. The spur gear (a flat spot on the plastic gear that turns the drive train of the car) will be stripped or shredded if the pinion gear does not have the correct mesh with the spur gear. Essentially the clutch bell housing needs to correctly mesh with the main gear.
Q. The con rod on my model broke, why did this happen?
A. The con rod can break if the engine is revved without any load or if there is not enough fuel in the engine which causes the piston to jam. Do not rev the engine when the wheels are off the ground, if the flywheel is loose or if the model does a jump. Please note that con rods are not covered by the warranty although you can purchase as a spare part if they do break.
Q. Why are the wheels turning when I pull the pull start?
A. If the wheels turn when you pull the pull start it is likely the clutch shoes have melted. This can happen if the car has been incorrectly adjusted so that the brake is still on slightly when the throttle is in neutral, if the wheels / model is held still while the engine is revving or if the idle speed is too high. You will need to purchase a new clutch shoe to replace the melted one.
Q. How do I ensure I get correct gear mesh?
A. It will take a bit of practice but the easiest way is to put a piece of paper between the spur gear and pinion gear as you tighten the motor mount screws. The piece of paper should be impossible to remove after the motor is completely tightened except by turning the spur gear to rotate the paper out of place.
Without the paper turn the spur gear with your finger to feel the amount of movement or "play" there is between the spur gear and pinion gear. There should be very little play, but you should feel a little bit - this is the correct gear mesh. Remember to make sure the motor mount screws are very tight - use lock tight glue to keep them in place. A big crash could move the motor towards or away from the spur gear, stripping it out.
Q. What caused the flywheel to wear away?
A. If the flywheel is not fitted tightly when the car is used it will, over time, be worn away. Always check that the flywheel is tight before each run to prevent this from happening.
Q. Are you required to have a licence to use a nitro Radio Controlled car?
A. No a licence is not required. Remember simply to use common sense around where you use them – away from places where you will disturb others, damage property or injure someone if you lost control.
Q. What age range are nitro radio controlled cars suitable for?
A. We recommend nitro radio controlled cars for children of 14 years and over. Younger children would probably be able to drive them but might struggle with the speed and reaction times required to control them. They are also likely to find it difficult to set up and maintain the cars.
Q. What kind of range does my nitro car have?
A. On average the car will have a range of 70-100 metres; however, we recommend that you complete a range check before use.
Q. How do I stop the engine from running?
A. If you cover the exhaust hole the engine will turn off a second later.
Q. What fuel should I use?
A. Use a good branded fuel with a nitro content of 15/16% for breaking in and general use. Higher percentage fuel increases the speed of the model but will make the engine hotter and costs more which is why it should ideally be used only for racing. You can buy fuel from most hobby stores.
Q. Why does the car keep losing compression?
A. There are a number of different factors that can impact the performance of the car and which should be considered if the car is losing compression:
Always start with a fresh new glow plug.
Set the mixture every day for the ambient conditions (it is not uncommon to have to adjust the mixture throughout the day as the conditions change)
The factory settings are as follows:
- High Speed Mixture (large screw) 2.5 turns out from fully screwed in.
- Low Speed Mixture (in the side of the carburettor throttle actuator arm) 1 and 3 quarter turns out from fully screwed in
- Idle Screw: Venturi open 3mm
The above are the default settings assuming the following ambient conditions:
Barometric Pressure: 1010 HPA
Altitude: 800 feet above sea level
The car will need to have the settings adjusted where the ambient conditions are different to these default levels. If you haven’t been doing this the car could be running lean with corresponding damage to the motor.
Finally, check that the head bolts are on tight and that the glow plug and washer are also tight.
Q. What is causing the hot engine to keep cutting out?
A. It is likely that this is caused by the fuel evaporating in the carburettor before reaching the engine. In order to prevent this, the engine needs to run cooler.
There are 3 ways to achieve this:
- Make the mixture richer by winding out the low speed mixture screw 1/4 of a turn at a time and try again. Prime the engine before starting each time by putting your finger over the exhaust and pulling the cord 1-2 times.
- Use a fuel with a lower Nitro percentage on a hot humid day.
- Use a cooler Glow plug (they come in several different temperature grades) #3 for UK typical.
If the above don’t make any difference then try a different make of Nitro Fuel.
Q. What is and How to use a Glow Starter or Igniter?
A. A glow starter is a tool you will need to start the engine in your nitro car. Using simple finger pressure it locks on and off the glow plug in the cylinder head. Once the glow starter is attached to the glow plug (on the cylinder head of the engine) the wire coil on the side of the glow plug glows and ignites the fuel in the engine.
Q. How do you use a glow starter?
A. The first time you use a glow starter you will need to charge it. To charge it insert the nut shaped charging end into the locking socket of the glow starter (the same way as when starting the engine). Plug the charger into the wall socket to charge – the charging time is shown on the packaging.
Once charged, lock the glow starter onto the glow plug by placing it over it and adding gentle pressure with your palm and twist. You should feel the flow starter fixed onto the glow plug and the voltage meter should be registering a reading.
The engine is now ready to be started.
Q. The engine has started but the car is not moving – what is wrong?
A. There are a number of reasons why this is happening;
- On a 2 speed model the first gear (the bigger one) has a one-way bearing in the middle which sits on the gearbox and spins in one direction only. In dirty or cold conditions these one-way bearings can fail preventing the car from moving.
- The brake pads are too tight or have expanded after getting wet which has resulted in the brakes being engaged constantly.
- A grub screw from one of the drive cups has come loose which means that the drive cup will rotate but not turn the shaft.
- A part from inside the differentials has broken or come loose.
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Maintenance Guide: Nitro RC Cars
This Maintenance Guide has been compiled to provide assistance with keeping your Nitro RC Car well maintained and to achieve great performance from it.
Keeping your RC Car clean is a good way of ensuring that any problems can be spotted early and dealt with. Additionally, whilst cleaning the car you can give it a quick once over to check that everything is in order. To clean your car use a large natural-hair bristle brush, available at hardware stores, to remove dust and dirt from the chassis and inside the body. To get rid of tyre and asphalt marks from the outside of the body use denatured alcohol or motor spray.
Differentials help the car stay on the correct path when turning by allowing the outside wheels to spin faster than the inside wheels.
For gear differentials ensure you check the area around the diff shafts for leaks after 20 – 25 runs. If grease is leaking take apart the diff and add more grease before reassembling.
On a car with ball differentials you will need to check the diffs every 5 runs. To do this hold the spur gear and turn the wheel slowly checking to see if the action is smooth or ‘gritty’. If the latter or the wheel is difficult to run the diff will need to be rebuilt. Repeat the technique for the other diff.
It is possible to reuse diff rings and thrust washers twice before replacing – just switch them over to the smooth side. You shouldn’t however use diff balls and thrust balls more than once and they should be replaced each time. time you rebuild a ball differential.
Shock absorbers let the tyres maintain contact with the racing surface by smoothing out irregularities in the track. If you don’t race you should have a quick look at the shocks before you run the car at the start of the session. If you spot any leaks the shocks will need rebuilding. This must be done with brand new o rings.
Racers on the other hand should check the shocks before and after each run. Again if you spot any leaks you need to rebuild the shocks. They are likely to need to be rebuilt every ten to fifteen runs. Again never use old o rings.
Drive Shafts transfer power from the engine to the wheels. Regardless of whether you race inside or outdoors they come under a lot of stress. They should be checked at the start before racing looking for bends in the shafts or wear on the ends and replace any that are damaged.
Drive Cups connect the drive shaft to the wheels and differentials and are held on by grub screws. You need to ensure that the screws are on tight using strong thread lock on any that are loose. A loose drive cup can cause damage to the differential or other components if left unattended.
Bushings are used to prevent direct contact between the various rotating parts on sport and budget kits. They do not require any specific maintenance other than to be kept clean and greased well when first installed.
Ball bearings are used on pro level kits in place of bushings and make the car faster overall. If the car has the standard shielded bearings you will simply need to brush them off every now and then. You can put a little bit of oil on the bearing and let it soak in.
The Gear Mesh is the relationship between the primary drive gear (pinion or clutch bell) and the secondary drive gear (spur gear). If the Gear Mesh is too tight excess friction can cause the engine to work too hard and melt the spur gear. Alternatively, if it is too loose the pinion gear can strip the spur gear.
The easiest way to set a correct gear mesh on electric cars is to put a small piece of paper between the pinion and spur gears and tighten the motor to the motor mount. If you then remove the paper you will have the correct gear mesh. For Nitro cars use the same technique but fold the paper in two before inserting as they can get away with a slightly looser gear mesh.
It is important that every few runs the one way diff is taken out, the gear shafts are removed and the bearings inspected. If there isn’t any grease on the bearings they should be re-lubricated with blue capped grease – you only need to use an amount equal to that on the end of a pin. The lubrication of the bearings will prevent the differential from failing.
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Nitro Radio Controlled Cars: Tips and Tricks
In addition to the regular maintenance detailed above the following tricks of the trade will help your nitro RC car run better and last longer.
Tip #1 - Warm the antenna tube in a pan of water for a few minutes to make it easier to fit and less brittle which will prevent breakage if the car crashes.
Tip #2 - The antenna tube can also be glued to the mounting to prevent it from coming loose during racing.
Tip #3 - A plastic zip tie threaded through the fuel tank lid will help you open the tank whilst using the model.
Tip #4 - Silicone bathroom sealant is ideal for sealing the receiver box and filling any gaps where leads are exposed.
Tip #5 - Prevent batteries from becoming loose by taping the cell receiver pack with insulation or duct tape.
Tip #6 - To control the model in the air (when doing a jump) give a quick blast of the throttle to level out of a nose dive and apply the brake if it starts to climb and looks like it will land on the back wheels.
Tip #7 - Use fuel tubing over the aerial tube to keep it neatly and securely on the outside of the tube if the aerial is too long.
Tip #8 - Use fishing wire to keep the body clips in place. Cut tiny holes in the body shell near the body mount holes, thread the fishing wire through the shell and tie a knot to prevent it coming out, the other end should be tied to the body clips.
Tip #9 - Use an elastic band to keep the fuel tank lid closed by stretching under the tank and attaching it to the handle on the tank lid.
Tip #10 - Attach the steering links to the top of the outer fixings will make the car more stable over rough conditions.
Tip #11- Snip the outside tyre tread to reduce grip and prevent the model flipping when you go around a corner because of grip role.
Tip #12 - Screw down the threaded collar on the shock body on an off road model to increase ride height over long grass.
Tip #13 - Use high temperature gasket or silicon sealants around the carburettor, exhaust manifold or pull start mechanism to prevent leaks which decrease engine power and performance.
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Nitro RC Car Engine Guide: Starting, running in and tuning the engine on a Nitro RC Car.
Prior to using a Nitro model the following things should be checked. If there is one downside to this hobby it’s the amount of maintenance needed because of the engine. You will need to learn and understand the model and mechanics of hobby engines. If you have the patience and want more than just something which needs charging then Nitro Engines are for you!
Starting a Nitro Engine
The following steps should be completed when starting a Nitro Engine:
- Fill up the fuel tank and check the pipes are secure and free of kinks so that fuel flow is not obstructed. Also check there are no air leaks around the exhaust manifold.
- Prime the engine by putting your finger over the exhaust or air intake and pulling the starter. Note, if the fuel is not being sucked in, there will be an air leak somewhere.
- When fuel reaches the engine, pull the starter two or three more times to ensure fuels spreads around the engine. Don't do too many as you will flood the engine.
- Attach the glow start to the glow plug.
- Pull the recoil starter but be careful not to pull it fully as it may damage the starting spring. Short, sharp pulls is what is needed. If the pull start becomes very hard to pull the engine has been flooded and you shouldn’t pull it again until the engine has been un-flooded. Please note that if the engine is cold you may need to pull the start a few times and opening the throttle a little can help.
- To un-flood the engine, remove the glow plug and to remove the excess fuel.
The engine should start assuming all of the engine settings are correct. Once running for 6-10 seconds, disconnect the glow clip. It is common for the engine to stall after the glow plug has been removed. If this happens, reattach the glow plug and restart the engine.
Tuning the engine is the number one most important aspect of running a Nitro Powered Vehicle. Your day will be jam packed with fun or you will get so frustrated you will want to throw your car across the parking lot.
Idle Adjustment - All nitro engines have an idle adjustment screw. This adjusts the motor speed when the throttle is in the idle position. If it is set too fast, the tyres will want to move. If it is set too low, the engine will cut off. The factory setting is usually spot on, but if you need to adjust it, you want the throttle opening to be about 1/8" (3mm) at idle speed. If you are new to nitro motors, you may easily get the impression that the motor is always running too fast. If the motor is actually running too fast, the clutch will be engaging and causing the wheels to turn. You want an idle position that is as slow as you can get without the engine Idle Screw shutting off. In most cases, the factory setting is correct as you want the throttle opening in the carb to be right around 1mm. This is not likely to need adjustment.
Low Speed Adjustment - If your carburettor has a low-speed adjustment needle like shown on the Nitro TC2 engine above, this needle is used to adjust the fuel mixture when the throttle is between 0 - 50%. This is the needle to be adjusting if your engine is difficult to start. Some motors are very sensitive to this setting and a difference of a 1/4 turn may be the difference between good performance and not being able to get your engine to start at all. Once you have this needle set, you should rarely, if ever, need to adjust it again. Turning the screw for the Low Speed Needle clockwise will lean the setting while counter clockwise will richen the fuel mix. A good method of testing the low speed adjustment is to get the motor up to operating temperature and pinch off the fuel line that goes from the fuel tank to the motor. If the engine dies abruptly in under 3 seconds, the low speed setting is too lean, if it takes 4-5 second or longer to die, then the low speed setting is too rich.
High Speed Adjustment - The high speed needle adjusts the air/fuel mix when the throttle is between 50% - 100%. This is the needle you will be adjusting to get the top performance out of your car. If the high speed adjustment is too rich, you will hear a chugging sound when romping on the throttle before the motor revs up and takes off. If the setting is too lean, the motor may sound like it is slowing down or hesitating before revving up.
Single Needle Carbs - Some engines only have a single needle adjustment which means the low-speed and high-speed are eliminated by a single setting. While this is easier than a dual-needle setup, it is not as efficient as you are often sacrificing acceleration for top speed or vice versa. The best way to tune these is to start with as rich a setting as you can get the engine to start under and keep leaning it out 1/8 of a turn at a time until you find the motor's sweet spot.
Is It Set Right? The best way to tell if the engine is tuned properly is by testing the temperature of the engine. Each engine is a little different so consult the engine owner's manual or website to find out what the optimum temperature of the engine is. This is usually between 110-127°C (230-260°F). There are some engines that run under that range and even some that prefer hotter temperatures, so again, check with the engine manufacturer. Without a temp gun, how can you tell if the engine is too hot or cold? One simple way is to put a drop of water on the cylinder head. If it evaporates in 5 seconds or less, the engine is too hot and needs to be enriched (counter clockwise adjustment of the high speed needle). If the water takes longer than 7 seconds to evaporate, the engine is too cool and can be leaned out. After each adjustment, run the vehicle as you normally do for at least 2 minutes before adjusting it again in order for the temperature to equalise. Always make small adjustments.
Trouble Shooting - You'rre sitting there yanking on the pull start for an hour and getting blisters on your hands and your engine still won’t start. What do you do? The best thing to do is to put your settings back to a point where the engine "should" run even if poorly. First, make sure the idle adjustment isn't set too low, make sure there is at least a 1/8" or 3mm gap for air to flow through in the throttle body. If the idle adjustment is not at fault, then the low speed mixture needs to be adjusted. Start by turning the low-speed needle (or single needle adjustment screw) all the way clockwise until it stops, be sure to not tighten this screw down as you will damage the needle valve. Next turn the screw counter-clockwise 2 1/2 turns. Almost all engines will start within a 1/2 turn of this neutral setting. To test the low-speed setting once the motor is running, pinch the fuel line. If the motor dies within 2 seconds or less, the low speed setting is too lean. If the engine takes 4 seconds or more to stop, the setting is too rich.
Rules of Thumb - While every engine is a little different and will take a little effort to get dialled in perfectly, there are a few things to keep in mind. First, it is always better to run a engine rich than have it be too lean. If an engine is run too lean, it will run hotter and wear out the components quicker. Secondly, keep in mind that at the temperatures these engines run at, they can easily cause nasty burns. Always think safety. Remember that when you adjust a setting, the motor needs to run for at least 30 seconds for the motor temperature to adjust to the new settings before you can tell if that setting works better or worse. The single most important thing when tuning a nitro motor is patience. Take your time, learn the "personality" of your new motor and you'll soon will have it dialled in and working perfectly.
Things to check if the engine won’t start
It is unlikely that the engine not starting is because of a fault so check the following points which are the most common reasons an engine won’t start:
- Is the flywheel loose? You should not be able to turn the flywheel without turning the engine as well.
- Do the wheels turn when the starter is pulled? If yes then the clutch shoes may have melted and need to be replaced.
- Has the glow plug burned out? Check this by attaching the glow plug to the glow start directly, if the bottom of the glow plug doesn’t glow bright red in a few seconds you will need to replace it.
- Is the recoil starter hard to pull? This means that the engine is flooded and you should get rid of the excess fuel before trying to start the engine again.
- Does the engine stall when the glow clip is removed? This could be because the car is idling too low. Check the carburettor is closed with only a 1 – 2 mm gap to allow air in. Adjust by turning the idle screw in or out a small amount.
- Does the engine feel tight when you pull the pull start? Release some of the pressure by undoing the glow plug slightly until the engine starts. Don’t forget to tighten it back up again once started.
- Is there enough fuel in the engine? Check that the engine has been primed with fuel correctly and then try starting the engine again.
Running in a new engine
In order to get the best overall performance from the engine and extend its life you should ‘run in’ the engine before using it.
To run in the engine place the car on a smooth hard surface that won’t put it under excessive pressure. Raise the wheels off the ground and start the engine as detailed above.
Once the engine starts and is idling place it on the ground and drive it slowly. On the first time do not let it run for more than 3 minutes. Repeat this process for short periods of time until you have used 2 – 3 tanks of fuel.
Do not over accelerate the car during this procedure as it can damage the engine. After each idling time let the car rest for about 10 minutes between each tank. Never accelerate the engine while all four wheels are off the ground, as this will break the conrod or other important components.
Always run in the engine without the body of the car to get as much airflow as possible to it and avoid running it on very hot or humid days. Don’t run it with a too high idle speed and don’t run the engine too lean or you risk causing damage to the internal components of the engine or burning out the clutch.
It is normal for the engine to consume a lot of fuel during running in because you are running it "richer" than you would normally do in order to keep the engine cool and to flush out the engine as the parts "seat" themselves. After the engine has been run in you will lean it out and gain better performance from it.
You will usually have to replace the glow plug after running it as a large amount of deposits get left on it so don’t forget to have a few spares on hand. The important thing to remember when running in a new engine is that the performance can be very erratic but you need to persevere with it and eventually it will run smoothly.
Tuning a Nitro Engine
The first thing to do before starting to tune your engine is to check that the carburettor is opening fully when you pull full throttle.
When tuning the engine let the car run on a smooth flat surface with enough room to get up to top speed. As you slowly lean out the mixture keep a note of the speed. You can lean it as long as you continue to have thick blue smoke coming out of the pipe. If the engine gets to top speed and loses power it is likely you have "leaned" it too much.
As you start to tune the engine and lean out the fuel you must keep an eye on the engine temperature. You should always ensure the engine is running within its intended operating temperature or you will damage it.
The easiest way to test for over-heating is to put a drop of water on the engine head. If it boils immediately, shut down the engine and let it cool down. It if takes longer for the water to evaporate then the engine is running at a good temperature.
Continue to adjust the mixture until the engine is running smoothly and you have a strong sounding pitch when you let it wind out. It is always preferable to run the engine a little rich rather than too lean.
Running lean = less fuel
Running rich = more fuel
When setting up the engine run the car on a smooth flat surface with enough room to let the model get up to top speed. Keep track of the speed as you slowly (1/8 of a turn at a time) lean the engine.
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