You Build, You Drive R/C Replica Trucks
DID YOU ENJOY BUILDING PLASTIC MODEL KITS AS A KID? DO YOU HAVE ONE OR MORE DIE-CAST TRUCKS DISPLAYED IN YOUR HOME?
If you answered yes to one or both questions, you need to take a closer look at building a super-realistic 1:14 or 1:16 scale radio-controlled (R/C) truck. They’re tons of fun to build and drive. And there are many others like you who are really getting into this very enjoyable hobby.
R/C tractor-trailers are a wonderful hobby for early teens on up. Designed to be built with ease, each replica takes a few hours to several weeks (depending on how
simple or complex you choose to build it). For fathers or mothers, it’s great fun to share with children. The kids can learn how to work with their hands, take pride in their builds, and then enjoy time with you as they bring their trucks to life in your driveway, at a nearby park or in a safe corner of a parking lot.
For anyone who is retired or disabled, R/C trucking is a great hobby. You can sit and build at your leisure. When your truck is completed, you can display it with pride in your workmanship or activate it and show off your driving skills. No matter who you are, it’s always fun to get together with other hobbyists to share ideas and drive on a course for display or just for enjoyment. With the assortment of products available, the fun is almost never ending.
West Coast Mini Truckers
To learn more about the world of R/C replica trucks and capture the essence of the hobby for RoadKing readers, Jason Lane, Executive Director of West Coast Mini Truckers (WCMT), and six other members recently gathered at a park in Lake Elsinore, California for a Sunday morning photo shoot. Together, they brought 15 tractor-trailer rigs that demonstrate the diversity of the builds and the scope of the paint schemes. Depending on the combination utilized, tractor-trailer combos can be four to five feet long.
WCMT is a club dedicated to the hobby of building, displaying and operating highly detailed, customized and fully functional 1:14 and 1:16 scale model trucks. Members utilize Tamiya tractor-trailer kits, Wedico
replica kits and others, as well as modified die-cast/plastic units made by Bruder and Ertl. Unlike R/C racing, the driving skills required very much parallel a full-size truck. Slow, exact movements and good judgment when backing a truck into a loading dock, traveling down a road and making proper turns are essential.
Started in November 2010, WCMT grew slowly. Based on his extensive knowledge of the hobby and the many contacts he has in the industry, Lane assumed leadership of the organization in April 2013 and has grown the membership from there. WCMT is dedicated to building friendships through the design, operation, and display of radio-controlled tractor-trailers with an emphasis on vehicles in 1:14 and 1:16 scales. The current member benefits include attendance and participation at all events related to WCMT, connection to the assistance of others with extensive experience, and the opportunity to join or form district clubs in local or regional areas. As with most things in life, members get out of the organization what they put into it.
An excellent example of a WCMT district group is the 605 R/C Truckers. The Los Angeles group communicates via Facebook. Loose affiliations exist with East Coast Mini Truckers, Central Plains Mini Truckers, Deep South Mini Truckers and Scale Builders R/C Club of Ontario. Additional groups in other regions are part of a longer-term vision. A quasi-national and international organization provides a widely utilized forum for exchanging ideas and information at RCTruckandConstuction.com.
When your truck is completed, you can display it with pride in your workmanship or activate it and show off your driving skills.
Tamiya kits provided the focus for this story. The models represented in the photographs include the following tractors and trailers:
King Hauler – Produced in 1994 as the first of its kind, it can be modified into popular variations including Peterbilt and Kenworth replicas.
Globeliner – Shortly after the success of the King Hauler, the only U.S. style C.O.E. tractor was introduced. It is very similar to an International 9670, although several have been modified into Peterbilts, Kenworths and Freightliners.
Knight Hauler – This beautiful tractor is very similar to the Freightliner Coronado. By making just a few modifications, it can easily be made to resemble a Freightliner Classic XL.
Freightliner Cascadia – Freightliner licensed this very detailed tractor. It requires a bit more skill for assembly, but is well worth the effort for the person who loves this truck.
Grand Hauler – In recent years, Tamiya upgraded the King Hauler based on input from experienced hobbyists. With several new parts and an extended frame, this is an excellent tractor for R/C veterans.
Ford Aeromax – This licensed product of Ford is a good replica that can be built as a Sterling by using some aftermarket decals.
Trailers – Box Van (discontinued), container, flatbed, pole, reefer and tanker.
Euro Models – Several Euro truck models are also available for those who have an interest in European truck manufacturers. You can win a MAN R/C truck kit. See page 12 for details.
From the standard hop-up options offered by Tamiya to the exotic build with custom fabricated parts, the limits to a build are left to your imagination. In addition, a few specialty suppliers to R/C truck hobbyists provide brand specific and special customizing parts to help you turn your workhorse 1:14 truck into a showhorse in accordance with your vision for the finished kit. Precision Model Distributors, Exclusive R/C, True Scale R/C and IHB Scale Models are well known distributors. While each one carries a standard listing of parts, some will even make one-off custom parts to help you achieve a special look or replicate a particular brand.
Depending on which truck and trailer you choose to build, the cost of entry into the hobby can be in the $1,000 to $2,500 range. A used truck can cost substantially less. If you incorporate performance and/or appearance options and require custom parts, the cost can be significantly higher. In addition to the truck and trailer, this price range includes a 4-channel radio, a sound and feature unit called a multi-function unit (MFU), batteries and a charger. Most newbies enter the hobby on the low end of the scale. You may choose to start with just a tractor and the electronics. A trailer can be added as a second step. Once you build one kit, plans for the next one begin to take shape.
IN PURSUIT OF A DREAM
Ever since he was a child, Jason Lane, the Executive Director of West Coast Mini Truckers (WCMT), loved big trucks. Every chance he had, he talked his dad, Bob, into taking him to the local truckstops, and whenever a truck show was taking place within 50 miles of home, he would plead with his parents to take him. Trucking was ingrained in him, and diesel ran through his veins.
Lane was a heavy equipment operator for more than a decade before circumstances enabled him to obtain a Class A CDL after graduating from a trucking school. For a couple of years, he drove cross-country in all 48 continental states for Werner Enterprises. In many ways, it fulfilled his childhood dreams.
In 2003, Lane was diagnosed with a pituitary tumor that limited his vision and caused gigantism. The doctors performed an emergency transsphenoidal surgery to reduce the size of the tumor. Their prognosis was that he had only about 18 months to live.
Since he was no longer able to drive a truck and his passion for the road lived on, Lane turned to his hobby of R/C trucking to keep himself occupied. Starting with a Tamiya Aeromax and Box Van, he joined a Yahoo Group that was dedicated to the hobby. In 2009, the Yahoo Group changed to the website RCTruckandConstruction.com, and in 2010 the West Coast Mini Truckers was formed. During 2013, he assumed the leadership position and now, some 14 years after the original diagnosis, continues working to make WCMT and the entire hobby more successful.
Where to Turn for Help
TIPS FROM TAMIYA’S R/C EXPERT
If you’re building a Tamiya tractor or trailer and discover you need assistance, help is just a phone call or e-mail away. Customer Service representatives are available Monday through Friday, 8:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. Pacific Time at 800.826.4922 (800.TAMIYA-A). Experienced and knowledgeable staff members can assist you with any questions or problems you’re experiencing during the build process.
As a further backup to the Customer Service team, Joe Anderson, currently Tamiya USA’s Network Administrator/Web Coordinator may also be available.
Anderson has outstanding experience building 1:14 scale R/C trucks, both the U.S. and the Euro models. In addition to his fulltime job responsibilities, Joe is very involved in the development of videos, photo sequences and other self-help tools that you’ll find at TamiyaUSA.com.
In a Q&A session, Anderson also provided some tips and suggestions to help RoadKing readers determine if 1:14 R/Cing is a hobby that merits consideration. It’s great for trucking enthusiasts of all ages, from early teens to those in retirement. The hobby is something that can be enjoyed alone or in cooperation with a son, daughter, parents, grandparents, relatives, friends or neighbors. Giving a gift is a great way to involve that special someone in the hobby.
Q. What is the first thing someone should do to get started in the hobby?
A. Before buying anything, conduct some online research to see everything that is involved. Visit a local hobby store and ask for some advice on everything you need to build and operate a 1:14 scale radio-controlled truck. Watching the many YouTube videos is also a great place to actually see what’s
Q. Where can 1:14 R/C kits be purchased?
A. R/C kits can be purchased from a Tamiya dealer, mail order outlet or the online store. Check the online locator for a source near you.
Q. What sort of tools and equipment are needed to build an R/C truck?
A. A small tool kit is provided with each model. You may need a few other basic tools that you’re likely to have at home. A flat workbench with good overhead lighting is recommended. Be sure to retain the provided tools for future maintenance.
Q. When that first kit is purchased and brought home, what should I do?
A. Proceed carefully. Read the detailed instructions before opening any of the parts packaging. The parts are grouped in a logical sequence that will help guide the builder through the process. Avoid the temptation to open all of the packaging. Parts can be lost or mixed up, confusing the novice builder.
Q. How important is it to follow the build sequence?
A. Very important, especially for a newbie. Once you’ve built one or two kits, personal preferences may enable you to modify the sequence to your liking, but you can never go wrong following the recommended sequence.
Q. How practical is it to take portions of the build process on the road to work on in my truck during off-duty hours?
A. Each kit contains many small parts that can be easily lost or misplaced. Without an appropriate work platform to contain the parts and good lighting, building on the road has some risks. Building the first kit in your home workspace might be best.
Q. How sophisticated has the 1:14 scale R/C hobby become?
A. Excellent full-size, scale effects are achieved, which demonstrate the current state of the art in construction, as well as the realism in R/C models. In addition to the truck itself, semi-trailers, sound and lighting options are available for each builder’s enjoyment.
Q. What other tips and suggestions do you have for RoadKing readers?
A. You can find answers to other commonly asked questions in the online FAQs. The best part of this hobby is building and detailing each kit to make it your own. The most important part is having FUN building and operating your unique creation. You’ll also have opportunities to share your newfound
hobby and make new friends who share your interests. Online, there are facebook groups and web forums that can also provide a wealth of knowledge, as well as list any local clubs or events that you can check out. Above all, have fun and make these rigs your own!