Stronger! Faster! Louder!
What the hell are you starin' at?
After the adventure that was the Mammoth, I felt ready for a more out-of-the-box radio control experience. Kyosho's USA-1 Nitro Crusher (hey, I don't name 'em, I just buy 'em) promised to provide it. Based on an old four wheel drive off-road buggy chassis and powered by a .21 ci (3.5cc) single cylinder methanol/nitromethane fueled glow ignited single cylinder pull-start two-stroke engine, this is the best gas powered four wheel drive monster truck you can buy. It is also the only gas powered four wheel drive monster truck you can buy.
Of course, I had to put my own special stamp on the thing, and I did so by once again discarding the provided polycarbonate body. With the body on, the USA-1 actually looks something like the full sale original, operated by one Everett Jasmer, a man who looks like what you'd get if you added together the two hairy guys in ZZ Top and divided by 1.5. I have never been to a real monster truck rally. I am sure it would be a transcendent experience, provided I was suitably prepared.
Instead of the scale body, I made another nice boxy roll cage, with six high intensity red LED headlights at the front. These look like tail lights and thus exacerbate the basic cognitive problem with this toy, which is figuring out which way it's pointing.
Hitting the throttle pretty much settles the issue; the Behemoth gets up to its top speed of about 40 km/h in Essentially No Time and can maintain that speed over functionally anything. It jumps, it tumbles, it comes back for more.
The greater Actual Play Value offered by the Behemoth is balanced by the considerably smaller amount of tinkering fun it has so far provided. Building the roll cage, endless buggering about with the dubious Kyosho engine the kit came with (it's now powered by an O.S. MAX-21RZ-B(P), an engine whose ludicrous name is justified by its screaming 2.3 horsepower output), packing the front and rear differentials with 50,000 weight silicone oil and locking the centre diff to stop lifted wheels madly unloading and screwing up the handling are about all the fiddling I've had to do.
Oh. Yes. There was the steering, too.
Kyosho demonstrate their great sense of humour by suggesting in the instructions for building the USA-1 that one should use a standard size servo for steering.
So I tried that.
The thing steered like a thing with no steering that was having a particularly going-straight kind of day. Then the servo died.
So I installed a much bigger Hitec quarter scale servo, mounted vertically as you can see in the above picture, because it wouldn't quite go in horizontally. Observe spiffy zig-zag pushrod, fashioned from music wire with brass and silver solder corner reinforcement. Thank you.
The quarter scale servo blew up. I got another one. It blew up. I ditched the Hitec crap and switched to a Futaba quarter scale servo. That works.
If you're after a big chunky R/C toy and you're not afraid of gas power, check out the USA-1. It's tough, it's fast for its size and it looks real good covered in steaming mud.
Got a question? Got a comment? Got some bloody stupid question predicated on your belief that The Sound Of Music was set in Australia? Email me!
Copyright © Daniel Rutter 1997. Last modified 15/05/02.