At the young age of about 9, my stepdad Jeff came home from work one day with a couple of milk crates filled with RC Car Action (RCCA) magazines from his friend “Tiny” at work. Tiny, much like my stepfather and I, was into RC, and even had an original Tamiya Hilux 3-speed truck. Tiny passed the magazines onto me to check out and I spent what would be several days reading through them all.
At the time, one of my favorite sections was the “Readers Rides” department. I noticed that within these issues from the early 90s, there were quite a few custom Tamiya Clod Busters submitted. A particular truck that stood out to me was called “Slightly Altered,” a Clod built by Tom Faircloth of Longmont, Colorado that was featured in RCCA’s March 1993 issue.
This truck in particular really stood out to me, it was the epitome of a late 80s, early 90s “Jamboree” style show truck. It had a scratch built cowl, induction hood, a Lund visor and fastback (all made from plastic styrene). It was also fitted with Sees Precision Machining aluminum wheels and high-end (for the time) electronics such as a Novak 610 Speed controller and Trinity matched Madness motors were just some of those additional top grade goodies. I remember thinking to myself, “man I wish there were more pics of this truck”.
Fast forward 25 years later to 2018, I’m feeling nostalgic and going through some old issues of RCCA. As I approach the Readers Rides section of the March 1993 issue, I see “Slightly Altered” again. As this point, I am in full swing of building old school style Clods myself, but I couldn’t help but think to myself “Where is this truck now?” Does it still exist in a collection? Has to been sold or traded? Or is it just gone for good?
Fortunately, we now live in an era where you can find the answer to just about anything on the internet, in a YouTube video, or other social media platforms. This got me thinking and a quick name search into Facebook revealed only a handful of Tom Faircloths from Colorado. Now I know what you’re thinking… “Bro…that’s some stalker stuff,” but is it? I was really just curious if the Clod still existed and if it did, more importantly, is it for sale?
After a few clicks I noticed one profile of a “Tom” which appeared to be a “car guy” and thought to myself, “I’m into RC trucks and I’m also a 1:1 car/truck guy”. I figured if it were to be the Tom who built the Clod, it would be him. A quick message revealed a rather speedy reply, which stated, “Yes, I still have the shell but not the chassis.” At this point, I’ll admit, I was beyond stoked…my “detective work” (if we’ll call it that) paid off! I continued the conversation with Tom and struck a deal to buy the body. The body was really the center of the build and I knew I could re-create the truck back to its original glory once I had it. About a week later, the body showed up, perfectly packed, and in perfect condition; in fact, it looked even better than it did on the Readers Ride picture. Now it was time to get to work
Tom’s truck featured a stock Tamiya Clod Buster chassis but was worked up with some goodies. I sourced a good condition ESP Clodzilla center chassis brace and treated it to polish work on the buffer wheel. This truck also had a SWB 4 link kit from ESP Clodzilla as well but those particular links aren’t as popular as the LWB variant from the later model Clodzilla conversions. I decided to go with some CPE links and polished them up as well.
For shocks, it wasn’t clear which ones were originally on the truck and Tom didn’t recall the exact ones other than that they were aftermarket aluminum ones. I had to spend some big bucks and sourced a set of vintage Trinity Power Plus shocks. These particular ones came with a gold anodized finish and the ones in the pic appeared to be either raw or polished aluminum so I sanded off the anodized finish and then polished the shocks to a mirror finish. In order to keep them bodies gleaming I opted to assemble the shocks with internal springs.
WHEELS & TIRES
The wheels and tires that were on Tom’s truck have long been discontinued; much like many of the aftermarket parts it possessed. Fortunately, I had a set of Sees Precision Machining wheels in my collection. They were a bit rough but after some work with scotch bright and Mother’s Polish using a Power Ball and drill I was able to obtain a brilliant shine. I then sourced a mint set of Duratrax V Spike tires from eBay and got them wrapped around the Sees wheels and secured the combo with Sees Knock Off nuts.
The axles on Tom’s original truck were color matched to the blue on the body, but due to the lapse in time Tom wasn’t able to recall the color used so I opted for new Clod gear cases and left them in their natural Tamiya finish and assembled them with ball bearings. In the readers ride photo you can see the truck featured ESP aluminum tube gear case bumpers with optional skid, again, not the easiest to find items, especially in good condition.
For these, I phoned longtime friend and Clod guru Dan Wyatt whom was happy to part with a mint set in order to have the build be as accurate as possible. I mounted them to some chrome factory mounts similar to those you would have seen from CCP (Custom Chrome Parts) back in the day. I finished off the cases with aluminum polished steering links from CPE and a lock out for the rear steering. The front steering retains the center mount servo set up but I replaced the stock bell crank servo saver with a discontinued aluminum unit from JPS Pro.
MOTORS & ESC
With Novak Racing having sadly closed their doors after serving the RC community for decades, I knew finding the 610 ESC was going to be a task. Not only did I want one for the period correctness of the build, I wanted one that worked. 25-plus year old working electronics aren’t always the easiest to find so another phone call to longtime friend Brian Martonick of Space Coast Customs (formerly The Paint Factory) was an order. Not only did Brian have a working ESC he also had the matched Trinity motor set to complete the build. Amazingly his set included a reversed rotation motor that is required for the Clod. I finishes off the electronics by binding it up my Spektrum radio, while not period correct, I can’t run the risk of 90s AM/FM radio tech glitching out and sending the truck into a curb or onto its roof.
While I wanted to keep the build as accurate as it was in the magazine, I did add an additional couple of touches. I swapped out the stock Clod Buster plastic chrome bumpers for a set of polished aluminum bumpers courtesy of Chatham CNC Machining. They retain the stock appearance but are a really nice machined aluminum and after some polish work on the buffer wheel they really look the part. I topped off the front bumper with a vintage Autographics license plate decal and registered it as “RCCA1993” to pay homage to the originality of the build. I also added set of vintage APM double tube nerf bars, which I think flowed well with the show truck look, and accessories it retains.
Re-creating “Slightly Altered” wasn’t an easy task, with many of the parts being out of production and very costly; this project built wasn’t cheap nor a breeze to pull off. However, the finished product is nothing short of awesome and rewarding to be able to build this time capsule build back up. There are so many great touches to this build, from the amazing paint job, to the custom wing, and “stainless” style scratch built headlight covers and bed liner, you really have to see the truck in person to appreciate all of its details. However the best part was gaining the knowledge on the back-story as well as a new on-line buddy. After completing the truck I sent photos to Tom and he gave it the “thumbs up” approval and that is priceless.
The best part of finding this body and being to build it back up was how cool the original owner of “Slightly Altered,” Tom Faircloth, was about the whole thing. He was pretty stoked to share the back-story of the build, as well as another Clod Buster of his (which, I was also able to obtain) and several photos of his model building and paintwork. I conducted an interview with Tom about the truck; this is what he had to say.
ML: How did the build on “Slightly Altered” begin?
TF: I like things that are different. I had built a lot of plastic models and with the (Clod) body being plastic; I went into it no holds barred.
ML: Any specific challenges you can remember when building it?
TF: Probably trying to get the truck to track straight with the chassis set-up.
ML: What key features of this build set it apart and were most important to you during the build?
TF: The final look of the truck.
ML: Is there anything you would have done different?
TF: Not really, I was pretty happy with how it turned out, though I was iffy about the look 1 of the wing.
ML: I know in our earlier discussions you had told me that you sold the original chassis of the truck with a custom painted lexan painted body. What made you keep the original “Slightly Altered” body all these years?
TF: I get attached to my creations. (lol) I don’t have a problem custom building or painting projects for others, but I have a hard time parting with my own stuff.
Text and Images by Mike Lohmann