Back in the spring of 2010 I started looking for my first scaler. I had built a Wheely King into a formidable crawler but it looked too much like a comp crawler and I wanted to something more “real”. I narrowed my search to the Axial Trail Honcho as I love the round body Toyota trucks from the mid-to-late 90’s and that was what the Honcho was based upon. I called every hobby shop within 5 hours and came up empty handed. What I did find though was a Dingo RTR for a really good price.
The brand new kit included a 27mHz radio, Pro-Line Flat Iron 1.9’s, Axial’s 8-hole beadlocks, an unsealed radio box and the first gen Axial ESC (that wasn’t lipo compatible and didn’t have drag brake!). I still remember plugging the battery into the truck for the first time and trying to crawl over a parking curb in the lot of the hobby shop. Even with those small tires the truck went right up it with no issues. I drove the truck over a decorative tree planter for an entire pack; I was hooked! I took the truck to a bunch of trails, all over Southern West Virginia, and ran more than 500 packs through it, completely stock, and had a blast doing so. This was what the truck looked like after the first 18 months of running:
The truck held up great stock, with the exception of a PIAA light cover that fell off the front bumper withing the first 10 packs or so. I consider that a testament to the trucks durability! The stock motor ran cool, the ESC didn’t have so much as a hiccup, and the transmission was whisper quiet. I have to say, even stock, the truck was impressive.
Come Christmas time of 2011 my wife got me a Pro-Line 1973 Bronco body to use on the truck as she knew how much I loved early Bronco’s (my grandfather had one back in the late 70’s). The Dingo kit included the required tall SUV style rear body mounts to use different bodies so that was swapped in. The wheelbase of the Dingo is 11.4″ (or 290mm) and the wheelbase of the Bronco is 12.3″ (or 313mm) so longer links needed to be fabricated. Unlike most, I didn’t split the stretch in wheelbase between the front and rear and instead chose to add the length to the rear only. This placed more of the weight of the chassis on the front wheels for improved climbing. The rear lower links were replaced with custom length units, sleeved in carbon fiber, and new upper links (built the same manner) along with a new axle mount to accept the triangulated 4-link setup were added. This kept the axle centered while also allowing for some extra adjustability in the rear suspension.
Once the suspension was sorted the body was trimmed and mounted. The Bronco is slightly narrower at the fenders than I would like so I removed the flares from the stock Dingo body and bolted them to the Bronco (a direct fit, by the way). This allowed the fenders to completely cover the tires and really added to the look. I also took this opportunity to move the battery tray to the front, using stock parts, and also switched the battery connector to a Deans plug to match all of my new batteries. At this point, the truck looked exactly how I had envisioned.
We took the truck to many of the same locations that we had before and a few new ones. One of my favorite outings was to a Civil War Historic Battlefield, Droop Mountain.I got the chance to run the truck on some of the footpaths and hiking trails there and getting those shots was a real treat.
While traveling with the truck was fun, I got the most enjoyment from running at a part near my home, Little Beaver State Park. My favorite area to crawl was between the parking lot and the restrooms. There was a creek bed that run under a bridge and provided the perfect location to spend an afternoon and a few batteries. The following shots were taken there:
It was after this outing that I decided to submit the truck to a few RC publications for their “Readers Rides” section. I didn’t hold out much hope as the truck was 90% stock but I was proud of it and wanted to share it with the world. I selected a few shots from the Little Beaver outing and submitted them along with a build list.
I was perusing the magazine rack at Wal-Mart one day and saw a copy of Xtreme RC Cars. We don’t normally get that publication in our area so I thumbed through it while waiting on the Mrs. and, lo and behold, there was my truck in print! I nearly dropped the magazine I was so surprised. I bought that issue and proceeded to pick up an extra copy to frame for my office. This picture hangs next to my desk to this day:
That was the June 2011 issue of XRC and since then the truck has received a few minor updates. I replaced the stock servo with a metal gear unit and aluminum servo horn, the factory unsealed receiver box was shelved in favor of a sealed unit from Traxxas, the factory radio was swapped out for a FlySky GT3B, the stock ESC was replaced with an Axial AE-2 (with Lipo cutoff and drag brake), a Castle Creations 10a BEC was added, the stock transmission gears were swapped out for machined units with pinned outputs, the pinion shaft in the diffs were swapped for pinned units and the rear bumper was swapped out for a swing-away unit from Axial’s Jeep Rubicon. I drove the truck this way the better part of a year with no issues. The truck crawled better than ever and I never had to worry about parts breaking while out on the trail…
That is until my first trail run with someone else. This truck hadn’t broken a single stock part since I bought it and had survived some fairly nasty tumbles over the years. When we got to the trailhead I lined up for the first rock and the truck didn’t want to move forward in a straight line. I thought one of the front tires was stuck on a rock or the axle was high centered but upon closer inspection I knew that something was wrong. The left front tire had a massive amount of negative camber and the tire was stuffed into the fender. The c-hub had broken in half allowing the inner axle shaft to pierce the tire, causing the hangup on the rock. This happened less than five feet into the run. At least it made for a good picture.
After replacing the broken c-hub with an aluminum one (I think it was a de-anodized Axial part, if I’m not mistaken) I didn’t have any more issues.
I switched out the stock 8 hole beadlocks for a set of narrowed Traxxas Stampede wheels. These wheels are 2.2″ in diameter and stretch the sidewall slightly for a more contemporary appearance. I initially painted the wheels a metallic gray but later went back to white with an orange trim ring.
And later in white:
That is how the truck sits to this day. Future plans include some new parts to transform the truck into something that I have always wanted to build. I have a new LED light kit for it as well as some new chassis parts. After the next iteration is complete it will be back on the trails for more adventures!