I really enjoy charging up my trail trucks and heading to the local park for a nice walk and occasional stop to climb over some rocks. I also enjoy putting something together that looks like something you may see in the full-size world. So when I get the opportunity to do anything with a trail truck, I jump at the chance.
A truck that I’ve been eyeing is the Gen8 from Redcat Racing and of course I couldn’t just get my hands on a stock ready-to-run and call it a day; I wanted to go to town and make it into something that stood out. I knew that if I picked up an RTR I would be tossing out the stock electronics and replacing them with something else so I made things a little easier on myself and started with the PACK (Pre-Assembled Chassis Kit) version which is an assembled chassis that’s ready for the electronics, tires, wheels and body of your choice. Let’s get this build started!
I ended up removing the stock shocks and replacing them with Pro-Line’s Pro-Spec Scaler shocks. These shocks have more of a scale look, have dual stage springs for improved performance and threaded bodies make adjusting ride height a snap. Pro-Line has them available in 105-110mm, 90-95mm and 70-75mm lengths and I went with the 90-95 length shocks for my build and I started them off with 40wt shock oil. This length is slightly shorter than stock and that helped lower the overall CG of my build. The front shocks are mounted straight up while the rear shocks are angled slightly to soften the rear end and help get the front up and over obstacles.
I really like the scale look of Pro-Line’s 1.9-inch TSL SX Super Swamper XL tires and they provide great grip in the areas that I take my trail trucks too so that made them a natural choice. I upped their game a bit by replacing the stock foam inserts with dual stage foams from Pro-Line. They allow the tires to conform to various surfaces well and provide enough support for improved side hilling. The tires and inserts are wrapped around Pro-Line’s Rock Shooter wheels.
There are a lot of scale truck bodies out there and I like many of them but there’s something about a Jeep that I can’t ignore. I picked up the 12.8-inch version of Pro-Line’s Jeep Wrangler Unlimited Rubicon and gave it a quick paint job with Orange Pro-Line paint. Before calling it done, I used the overspray film to mask the roof, fenders and body armor under the doors and sprayed them with a light coat of stone texture paint followed by a light coat of semi gloss black enamel to simulate the texture found on a full-size jeep.
I like to add scale accessories when they make sense but I try to keep things to a minimum. Too many accessories can take away from the scale look of a truck and they can add unnecessary weight. I was able to mount Pro-Line’s Ridge-Line High-Clearance Crawler Front Bumper to work on the GEN 8 chassis with some minor modifications to the Vaterra Ascender mount that comes with it. It’s a perfect match for the Jeep body and it holds a Pro-Line 2-inch light bar so I grabbed one of those too. Also on the body are door handles, headlight buckets with Pro-Line LEDs installed, rear hinges, and muffler from Knight Customs. I fitted a Pro-Line Overland roof rack onto the roof and that received a Pro-Line 4-inch light bar.
FULL METAL OPTIONS
I took a look at the optional parts offered by Redcat Racing for the Gen 8 and grabbed a few to improve durability and to add some weight in all the right areas. The transmission and transfer case housings were replaced with aluminum ones and inside are a complete set of steel gears. The center skid/suspension mount is also an aluminum unit now and it has a lot of material that adds weight as low as possible in the chassis. Steel universal center drive shafts were also used. They are more durable than the stock units and add more weight down low.
HIGH END ELECTRONICS
Having good electronics in a comp worthy build is important so I went with some high end stuff here. First up is a Reef’s RC 422HD servo; it produces 422in.oz. of torque when powered by 7.4-volts and has metal gears inside the case. The speed control is Hobbywing’s sensored XERUN AXE and it’s connected to a Hobbywing 4-pole 2300KV brushless motor. The speed control and motor are packed full of great features like Field-Oriented Control, Intelligent torque output, adjustable drag brake and more but the stand out features for me is the Bluetooth connectivity for easy field adjustments of the speed control and the unique waterproof sensor harness.
I’m not a fan of rock sliders and floor pans on trail truck because I feel that they can grab onto obstacles and hang up the truck so if they’re not required for a comp, I remove them. Doing that eliminated a place to mount the speed control and receiver in the chassis. After some thinking, the receiver found a home on top of the servo and the speed control is now attached to the skid plate. I’m not a fan of running in the water so not having the receiver in a sealed box isn’t necessary.
I was pretty excited to get my freshly finished project to my favorite trail for some testing. I run there often with several trucks so I have a good baseline of what my Gen 8 PACK build should be able to do. The Hobbywing speed control has great low end control and feels good from neutral to full speed.
On the way to the more complex sections of the trail there are several large roots that are exposed and some smaller rocks that need to be climbed down. The truck tackled those obstacles with ease and that got me excited to see what was going to happen later down the trail. Before I hit the hardcore stuff, I took the time to grab some quick photos of my build before falls and scrapes get to it. The body came out great and the scale accessories along with the tires and wheels make this truck a real looker.
My Gen 8 PACK build hit the larger rocks and its performance was exactly what I was looking for. The Hobbywing speed control and motor combo was smooth and the drag brake worked very well and the grip provided by the Pro-Line tires was perfect. My truck really shined when it came to side hilling; the tires held their shape and the low CG provided by all of the metal parts helped it stick to the ground. The solidly mounted Reef’s RC servo didn’t hesitate at all during my run.
This was a fun project build and I’m glad I started with the PACK edition of the Gen 8 as my starting point. Not having to remove ready-to-run equipment saved me a lot of time. Redcat’s optional metal components added some good weight to the chassis which stabilize the truck and the Pro-Line and Knight Customs accessories made it the best looking truck on the trail. For me, the stand out features were the Hobbywing speed control and motor combo along with the Reef’s RC servo. I had all the control that I could ever want over my truck.
Text by Kevin Hetmanski
Photos by Kevin Hetmanski and Leigh Guarnieri