This week I received my Xray T3 2012 from RCDisco, the UK distributor for Xray, Hudy, Ko Propo, Tekin and a number of other big brands. Xray have, in my opinion, always been viewed as the premium kit makers in the R/C world and they always produce a quality product – it was time to see if this comes through in the latest evolution of their 10th touring car, the T3 2012…
Compared to previous boxes the box that the T3 2012 arrived in was surprising small. Xray, in the past supplied the chassis with the bulkheads already attached in one part of the box and the rest of the parts for the kit in another part… had this changed?
No it hasn’t – they have simply shrunk the box (possibly a nod in the direction of saving the planet with less trees required to make the box?). The parts and the chassis is in one smaller box along with the usual glossy and comprehensive full colour brochure.
But enough about the box! What has changed for the 2012 version of Xray’s T3 platform. The list, taken from the Xray site include;
- New graphite chassis designed for increased overall traction and improved on-power steering
- New re-designed graphite top deck for increased in/out of the corner steering
- New front & rear graphite shock towers designed for new upper bulkheads
- New upper bulkheads with 3 upper linkage mounting positions
- Quick change linkage length & roll center position by shim addition/removal
- New XRAY leak-free gear differential is lighter and smoother than all other differentials; no maintenance required
- New harder steering blocks give smoother steering and cornering, prevent front tire overheating in high-grip conditions
- New 4-spring servo-saver for smoother handling and increased steering accuracy
- New closed cup ball-joints for freer movement
- Vertical servo position gives more space for electronics
- Optimized shock tower shock positions for increased on-power steering and improved high-traction handling
Some of these changes bring together the running changes that Xray have also sold for the 2011 platform separately including the upper bulkheads and gear diff. You can read more about the development process here - a fascinating insight into the work that Juraj and Martin Hudy do to bring us the latest in RC developments.
For me the noticeable changes are the servo mounted to point forwards and the inclusion of the gear diff in the kit. All of this comes made to the high standards that we have come to expect of the premium Xray brand.
On with the build…
I always like to take the bags out of the box and make sure that they are all there! Xray label all theirs so it is easy to run through them.
As I said earlier Xray have always shipped the chassis with the bulkheads attached to the chassis in all their orange alloy glory. I believe (possibly wrongly!) that Xray do this to make sure that the chassis is flat with the bulkheads attached and make sure none of the bulkheads have been damaged during manufacture.
First up is the removal of the bulkheads from the chassis to prepare the chassis. Some question the benefit of this based on how good the quality of carbon fibre has become. I like the idea of rounding the edges slightly for carpet racing so that the chassis will not catch during cornering and if the byproduct of this is a chassis that will not delaminate then it is worth doing. My method is to use a Dremel with a coned sanding bit in it. I run this lightly along the sharp edges of the chassis on both sides (make sure you do this in a well ventilated area preferably with a face mask on as the dust is very dangerous). I then apply a coat of tyre glue round the sanded edges using a cotton bud. Once this dries I apply a second coat and that’s it.
Next in the manual is the new gear diff;
In the manual they recommend 700wt oil and as I was building my kit to the carpet setup I went with 700. The manual shows how the gear diff can be filled with the correct amount of oil every time by measuring the weight of the gear diff at about 7.90g and then adding 1.3g of oil to take the weight to 9.20g – amazing detail! The manual also provides hints on when you might want to use heavier or lighter oil – softer oil increases rear traction and harder oil increases on-power steering.
You then move on to the front spool and centre layshaft. The spool is a very nice one piece moulded affair and into this goes two driveshaft adapters that the front driveshafts go into without the need for plastic blades. Xray have also released a sprung steel version of these for those that feel the need for a bit more strength. They are part number 305137 and come with blades.
The centre layshaft is black alloy and comes with 20T pulleys and a 84T 48DP spur gear.
And the completed gear diff, spool and layshaft before fitting;
So by page 10 of the build manual the chassis is prepped, the gear diff built along with the spool and centre layshaft and they are ready to go onto the chassis. These simply drop into the bulkheads that are attached to the chassis. There are recommendations in the manual on how to set the front and rear belt tensions and I found these were spot on.
Once the diffs and belts are in place the shock towers are attached and the new upper bulkheads are attached.
At this stage you just want to put the top deck on to complete the look but not yet! The next step is to build up and attach the arms and then you need to build up the very nice dual steering system.
The arms first; The arm mounts are again a very nice orange aluminium. The front arm mounts are both solid (attached left to right if that makes sense – you can see them at the top right of the picture below).
Replacing the rear front mounts, at the front, with split mounts seems to be the way to go for tarmac – possibly to provide slightly more flex? For carpet the solid mount is the one to use and is supplied in the kit. Suits me as my first outing with the car will be on carpet. At the rear the arm mounts are split towards the front and when attached to the chassis they are angled to give 1 degree toe. This means less shims are required at the rear to make up the 3 degrees toe that the carpet setup calls for. The lower suspension holders come in three flavours; -0.75mm (more in-corner steering but can cause tyre overheating), 0mm (kit standard) and +0.75mm (less in-corner steering and easier to drive). The arms go together very well although I did do a small amount of sanding on the plastic spacers to make sure that the arms fell under their own weight. This is a very, very small amount of sanding – check this before doing any sanding as sometimes mounting the arms and then tapping them with the handle of your hex driver is enough to let the arms fall freely under their own weight.
As you can see in the pic above the arms have three locations for mounting the roll bars and the theory for selecting the right one is explained in the manual on page 21 – again great attention to detail.
Next up is the steering and then the top deck;
The very nice dual steering system runs on 6 bearings and when built up is very smooth. The main part is a very nice orange alloy steering plate and that has two plastic arms connected to it (there is a hopup in the form of alloy arms, part no. 302515). The servo saver has also been improved in the 2012 and now has 4 spring parts for smoother handling and more positive steering. I found the best way to build it is to put the two plastic parts together and then push the springs up from the bottom through the opening starting with the smallest spring part to the largest.
And the car so far with the 2mm top deck in place;
Now we have to build up the parts to get the drive to the wheels via the front and rear transmission;
The car comes with two types of driveshafts both 52mm; the front is thinner (but stronger) sprung steel and the rear is black swiss 7075 T6 aluminium (lighter)… very nice!
The other thing of note is that the drive axle has been drilled to make it lighter!
These all go together very nicely and are very free as the drive axle does not completely cup the driveshaft like other manufacturers. The manual also explains the alternative driveshaft length versions in 50mm lengths and why you may want to run those on some occasions. The optional ECS (dual jointed driveshafts) for the front is also described – these decrease front wheel vibration when using a spool up front and should give increased steering (something I think I would like to try in the future).
The plastics used for the front hubs, steering blocks and rear uprights coming in different hardnesses and they all look and feel quality.
After building up all the steering parts and turnbuckles we are starting to near completion.
Into the final straight now with the suspension parts the main areas for completion. Next come the roll bars and again Xray quality engineering and attention to detail comes into play with the roll bars marked with lines to indicate the thickness of the bars – the kit comes with 1.4mm for the front and 1.2mm for the rear with other thickness’s available separately.
And the roll bars in place;
Next we come to the part of touring car building that you either love or hate (in other words you are good at or not!) – the shocks.
Xray have continued their tradition of supplying adjustable pistons which allow you to twist the shock (when pulled out to fill extension) and you can open and close the number of holes on the piston – a great tuning idea. The kit also has a set of 2, 3 and 4 hole non-adjustable pistons and I decided to go with the 3 hole non-adjustable pistons for my build. Some people complain that for a kit the quality of the Xray T3 they only provide plastic shock bodies. I have no problem whatsoever with the plastic ones provided and the shocks build up to be very smooth.
As per the manual I built the shocks with 350wt oil and the foams on top of the bladder. They build up to be very smooth shocks with 100% rebound. I like to run my shocks with about 20% rebound for indoors and so I followed the instructions in the manual to bleed the shocks. When bleeding the shocks to get the different rebound options the Xray shock tool is definitely recommended – it just makes life so much easier when tightening/loosening the lower cap.
This involves using the tool to loosen of the lower cap on the shock and pushing the shock shaft up and down very slowly. Some shock oil will leak out – the manual says that it takes up to 20 times to get 25% rebound but I found that the best method was to do a couple of strokes and then retighten the bottom cap. Then test to see what rebound you have and then loosen and do a few more until you get the desired rebound.
And again I have to use the quality word for the springs – Xray have engraved the number of the shock rating onto the shock for easy identification;
And the finished shocks;
The car is essentially complete at this stage with just your choice of electrics to install. The servo, as I said at the start, is now mounted facing towards the front of the car and this means that there is plenty of room for even the biggest of modern brushless speedos – it is not just the speedo that is big any more it is the capacitors that come with them!
After the build was complete I put the car on some Hudy ‘pins’ to see what the car was like balance wise, left to right. As you can see from the picture below pretty good!
What can I say – as usual Xray has updated their car with changes that make a difference and make the car easier to tune and drive. They have managed to do this with the usual Xray quality in tact and this is definitely a premium car. Even the hints and tips in the manual set this car apart. If I was to use one word to describe the car and the build it would be ‘quality’. I cannot wait to get this car on the track – watch this site for an update when I get the car on the track.
My thanks goes to Xray for making the car and to Greg Hill at RCDisco the distributors of Xray in the UK for sponsoring me and supplying the car for this review.