Christmas is 72 hours away and you don’t have the stockings filled yet. What to do? This is especially problematic for those buying for an RC fanatic as hobby retailers can’t get the product to you before the big day at this point. Even Amazon’s delivery date is past the point of no return. With those options now off the table what are the options for RC equipment that can be found locally?
It is easy to simply say “go to the local hobby shop and get what you need!” For some that is a great option and I urge you to do so; supporting the local hobby shop grows the RC scene and can give you a sense of community, not to mention the personal service and advice you can get from not only the employees but also experienced hobbyists that frequent such establishments. But what if your local hobby shop is like mine, a great place to go with friendly people and good prices but is located two and a half hours away? Fret not, there are still plenty of options to be had even without a trip to the hobby shop.
- ROTARY TOOLS AND ACCESSORIES. Rotary tools from many different brands can be found lining the shelves of your neighborhood hardware store or even places like Wal-Mart. Cordless tools are convenient for trackside use as they don’t require an outlet but the limited run-time and reduced power makes them less than ideal for shop use. If that is the primary function for the tool stick to models that plug in to the wall and enjoy all day use without needing a platoon of batteries on standby. Most tools use the same size collet so accessories from one brand will usually fit another but for 100% guaranteed compatibility stick with bits designed by the manufacturer of your tool. Price range: $5 and up for accessories, $25 and up for the tool itself.
2. CREATEX AIRBRUSH PAINTS. If the RC nut in your life enjoys airbrushing their own bodies consider trying these paints for use on Lexan. Available at Hobby Lobby stores nationwide these paints are easy to spray out of the bottle, come in a wide variety of colors and clean up with water. The paints can be backed with different types of clears for improved impact and abrasion resistance as well as making them more resistant to nitro fuels. Price: $4 and up per bottle
3. SHOE-GOO. It is surprising how many RC uses there are for Shoe-Goo (or most other silicone adhesives like E6000, some types of Gorilla Glue, Aquaseal, etc.) including reinforcing Lexan bodies, sticking ESC’s down while also providing some shock protection, waterproofing servo’s, the list goes on and on. A tube typically doesn’t last particularly long so it may be wise to stock up. Price: $3 and up per tube.
4. BULK PACK CABLE TIES. Plastic cable ties, more colloquially known as zip-ties have a million-and-one uses, not just in RC but everyday life as well. These wonder devices can be found at nearly every retailer for just a few dollars but check places like Harbor Freight or Wal-Mart for bulk-packs in multiple sizes and colors. Price: $1 and up depending on quantity and sizes.
5. AA BATTERIES. Most RC transmitters still use AA batteries for power and nothing ruins an afternoon RC outing like a dead transmitter. Standard “heavy-duty” batteries from the Dollar Tree don’t really cut it, they don’t have the voltage stability or capacity of alkaline cells and can die unexpectedly, putting not only your RC in danger but also anyone in its path should it take off out of control. Stick with name brands or splurge for Ni-MH rechargeables for their increased capacity and “buy-it-once-and-be-done” convenience. Price: $4 and up.
6. SHARPIE MARKERS. Permanent markers (like the Sharpie) are incredibly versatile in the RC toolbox. From marking body post holes to creating trim lines on bodies, marking holes or cuts to make when fabricating, signing T-Shirts after that big win at the track, the list goes on and on. Keeping markers in every corner of a shop and in different colors is a handy way to maximize productivity in the shop, leaving more time for pulling trigger. Price: $3 and up.
7. PARTS AND TOOL STORAGE. A stroll down the sporting goods aisle of your local department store can net everything needed to store every random part know to the RC hobbyist. From small tackle boxes to large rolling bins there are options for every level of RC’er. Keep an eye out for special pricing this time of year, especially in places that don’t have ice fishing. Price: $2 and up.
8. CA GLUE. Another “wonder product” in the RC industry is CA glue (more commonly known as super glue) which can be used to stick anything to nearly anything. From repairing cracks in bodies to touching up a tire bead that has separated this especially handy adhesive can save the day when no other fix will do. CA can be found in different thicknesses (thin, medium and thick) denoting different drying times and rates of flow; most RC’ers use medium as it strikes a balance between working time and flow. Cost: $3 and up.
9. PRECISION PLIERS SET. Hardware stores typically carry these smaller sets of hobby pliers that have nicely cushioned handles and can be used to reach that nearly impossible to reach fastener with ease. Each set typically comes with numerous different styles of pliers and their use isn’t limited to RC use. A quality set will include straight jaw, curved jaw, side cutters, flush cutters, flat nosed, long nosed (or needle-nosed), among many other specialty types. Price: $10 and up.
10. WD-40. The old adage “If it doesn’t move and should, use WD-40” is true even in the RC hobby. From restoring plastics to their original sheen to cleaning rusty parts there are numerous reasons to have a can on hand at all times. Price: $5 and up.