Rock crawler racing is an exciting and challenging hobby. There’s always something fun you can do if you’re an RC rock crawler fan. Today, I will guide you on how to build an RC rock crawler from scratch!
As a rock crawler enthusiast, you need the best to get the most out of your hobby. Besides, if you’re looking to compete in the big leagues, it’s vital to know that building an RC rock crawler calls for more than just a few devices for good results.
Advancing to a 4-by-4 needs careful planning, wise shopping, and research. Fortunately, I’ve done all the heavy lifting and come up with this comprehensive guide. By the time you’re done reading it, you’ll be able to build your RC rock crawler from scratch.
Here we go!
How to Build an RC Rock Crawler from Scratch
How do you want your rock crawler to look? Do you want a small, large, or mid-sized machine? These are some of the reasons design is crucial. So, come up with a design that best suits your needs.
It would be best to begin with something simple; consider drawing it several times on a board or paper when you find the time. You have to sketch on something robust, like a piece of wood, in actual size once you settle on a design. I drew mine on wood.
Next, gather your thoughts and decide on the measurements. With the risk of sounding redundant, please keep it simple. For my rock crawler, I chose measurements in 0.5-inch increments. This means I didn’t make any adjustments that weren’t divisible by 0.5, which came in handy when building the frame.
Now that you have come up with a design and picked the measurements, it’s time to start building!
You’ll begin with the frame. First, select its thickness. I preferred choosing a bigger size for the two major sections and then using a smaller size for the props.
Having settled on your rock crawler’s dimensions, you should easily find the rod’s length. You need to create one even frame piece by totaling all the measurements.
Now, take your pliers out of storage and bend the rod’s length on each corner of your sketch. Create two frames and bend the rest of the rod until they match your sketch. Nonetheless, it’s not yet time to bend it into the ideal shape, as it will be tricky to equal it.
Having a workstation where you’ll do all the tasks involved in building your rock crawler is important. For instance, you’ll have to do some welding and can’t just do it anywhere.
I used small rods, which are extremely difficult to clamp down using a huge ground. Next, I lay a huge metal piece on the bench and fastened the ground to it. Thus, anything you place here will be grounded.
Additionally, it would help if you had some water in a squirt bottle within your workstation in the event there’s a fire. I often used one on my workstation to cool my workpiece. That said, avoid spraying the water on the metallic sheet since it’ll rust.
In this step, put the frame together. Ensure you utilize some scrap rod pieces for practice, as the welder will burn through if you haven’t set it properly. When you find the right heat range and wire speed, note it somewhere, as you’ll need it again.
Next, cut four-rod pieces; they’ll be the frame’s width. I opted to slightly elongate the lower rods, allowing them to kick out the sides and give it a cool look.
Go back to where you’d noted the wire speed and heat range. Next, utilize a magnet to attach everything in one place. Attach it and allow it to remain that way for a moment. On one side, it looks perfect, but entirely wrong on the other.
Look at it to ensure it looks good, and if it does, weld it.
Style & Props
With the help of tiny rods, make additional props for structure credibility and style. You can add a front loop along with a few structure pieces. It’s okay to be creative but don’t make the crawler too heavy since its COG has to be near the track.
Next, paint your frame. Why? If you paint it, it will look good, and if you don’t, it will rust. You can paint it using different colors according to your expectations or a solid color like black. Besides, you can paint the frame again when you’re done building the rock crawler.
Drivetrain & Suspension
Well, your rock crawler wouldn’t be complete without an engine, would it? The final step is setting up the drivetrain and suspension.
You will require numerous tiny screws which will fit via the joints on all pieces. Also, you’ll need small lock nuts for each screw.
Take the entire back and front setup from another crawler, or if you have the necessary pieces, you can use them. Ensure you have the axle, the two shocks, and the three links. Arrange them to resemble how they appear on an existing rock crawler.
You’ll likely have to trim the lower arms. You can do this with a bandsaw and utilize tape to create fresh threads. Next, use a chalk or chalk dust to mark where each piece should lie and drive a screw in those places on the frame.
Further, if it’s necessary to shorten your rig, you can trim the upper and lower arms. This will as well shift the shocks` angle, so be cautious to avoid losing clearance.