There was a point in time that within my vast RC fleet, I actually had no scale crawlers to speak of or even knew what an RC4WD Trail Finder 2 was. One of RC4WD’s most popular crawler platforms, the Trail Finder 2 (TF2) is a popular kit to base custom RC crawler builds on. I started noticing TF2s at crawler competitions and online and the more I learned about them, I knew I had to have one.
The TF2s that I really liked looked like real 1:1 trucks and were super scale. I turned to a buddy of mine who does excellent scale work, Mike George, for help. Mike builds some amazing scale trucks and his TF2s are typically packed full of scale detail. Mike explained to me that leaf suspension trucks require a different driving style, can look really scale and that I needed to add one to my fleet. Mike also explained to me that building scale trucks takes time and patience. Without any knowledge of TF2s, I needed to do some research.
I spent a couple weeks researching TF2s on YouTube, joined TF2 groups on social media, and reached out to friends in the RC community. One day I was scrolling through an online auction site and I saw a TF2 Marlin up for auction. It was almost ready to run but needed electronics and a motor. This TF2 Marlin was pretty much stock but was a good starting platform for me to begin my build with. I decided to bid on it. I watched the auction all day. With less than an hour to go, someone increased their bid higher than mine. I really wanted this truck so I put in a higher bid at the last second and won the auction. I was super stoked for this project. Next I had to plan out the build.
My vision was to build a tough scale Class 1 truck that could handle a crawler competition course and the trails. I turned to my buddy Jeremy Kilburn for some advice on the platform and necessary upgrades. He has built many scale competition-worthy TF2 rigs that always deliver results. When I received the truck, I sent Jeremy pictures of the rig and he reviewed the truck. After taking a look at it, he explained to me that it didn’t need to much work and he would assist me with modifications to get me started as I didn’t have much build knowledge of TF2 s.
I shipped the truck off to Jeremy to assist me with necessary upgrades along with a Holmes Hobby Motor, Hobbywing 1080 ESC, A&M Garage parts, and a Reefs RC Raw 500 servo. The rest of the truck was left stock with Yota axles. The A&M Garage parts included a skid plate, front bumper with reverse shackle, and anti wrap bar. Once Jeremy got the truck and parts, he installed, tested, and sent the truck back to me. I was super stoked at how the truck turned out. He did an excellent job with the upgrades. Now it was time to make the truck look more scale on my own.
How could I make this truck look really scale, I thought to myself. I needed an interior, a driver, and some scale accessories to give it that detailed scale look. First, I purchased the RC4WD interior kit. Next, I purchased a driver and had it custom painted by Soots Scale Painting. I provided the desired look of the driver and the color scheme; Soots took care of the rest. When I received the painted driver, I was very impressed as it fit perfectly in the interior and looked perfect. I installed the interior and driver; it looked great. I also found scale newspapers, beer cans, cigarettes, and a cooler, which I promptly installed. After all the scale accessories were installed, it was now time for some testing.
ON THE TRAIL
I ran the truck with stock Yota axles, 1.55 white RC4WD OEM wheels, 1.55 Pitbull Rockbeast tires, Reefs RC Raw 500 servo, and a brushed ESC and motor. I took the truck out on some easy to medium trails, which included hills and some rocks. I was impressed by the performance and it handled great. It climbed hills with ease and had nice wheel speed. I spent the next couple of months running the truck and documenting each run. I continued to do research on performance upgrades and added notes after each run for future improvements. Now it was time to run the Marlin in her first comp.
I ran the Marlin in a Treal Hobbies team driver competition at Harford Rocks in Maryland. I was super excited for the comp but had a motor failure, which didn’t allow me to finish the comp. After the event, I decided to make some major improvements. I did an Axial AR44 axle swap using JEC Racing AR44 leaf adapters, added a Castle Slate 2280Kv motor with the new Copperhead ESC, Vanquish Incision driveshafts, and 1.9 Treal Beadlocks with JConcepts 1.9 Landmines tires. By making these improvements, I had better steering radius, more power from the motor and ESC, and good grip thanks to the upgraded tires. Once these updates were complete, I took the Marlin out back on the trails.
Wow, all of the modifications delivered and the truck ran great and has been solid. I currently run this truck on the trails and it always performs well. I am planning on running the Marlin in comps in 2022 and have added more scale accessories, a light kit, and other various upgrades.
I really enjoyed this build and I learned a lot about TF2s and leaf suspension. There are many forums and groups that discuss leaf trucks on social media. But like any other platform, my advice is to do your research, build, teach yourself, ask questions, and have fun while learning. I now have three leaf trucks and I am looking to add one or two more leaf trucks to my fleet. If you want to see more of this build, follow my Instagram at “@Rc_teamzone”. I post build pictures and product updates on my social media pages. Please see the below build list and check out all of the great vendors that I used for this build. Lastly, keep the hobby positive while having fun.