From models of race cars, exact scale replicas identical in virtually every detail, to far-out, off road, go-anywhere vehicles, remote-control car enthusiasts young and old enjoy the thrill of building their own car. If you want to build and race your own model, you need to understand how a remote control car is put together and what each component does. Not only will you be able to build a better car, you will be able to fix it too.
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The backbone of the remote control car is the chassis, which comprises the body pan, or floor of the car. Mounts at each corner allow the fitting of suspension and further mounting points for the motor and, if electric powered, the battery cradle. The body of the car is usually plastic and is clipped to the chassis to provide a protective and largely decorative shell for the components.
Remote control cars have electric motors or engines powered by petrol or nitrous oxide. Because of the high speeds that petrol and nitrous oxide models can attain, electric-powered remote control cars are more suitable for beginners. Also, electric-powered models are easier to construct and not as noisy as their fuel-powered counterparts.
To send the power of the motor to the wheels, the car needs a drive train. A remote control car can be front wheel, rear wheel or four-wheel drive, however the components that make up the drive train are similar to each type. The motor's centre shaft has small cog called the pinion gear, which turns a larger gear called the spur gear. The spur gear rotates the driveshaft that eventually turns the wheel to provide drive. The driveshaft is usually split to allow for lateral or vertical movement, and a differential is fitted to accommodate these changes in angle.
Just like a full-size car, remote control models require suspension to even out the road surface. At each corner there is an a-arm that mounts onto the chassis and holds the wheel in place. The arm moves up and down; this movement is controlled by the shock absorbers. Shock absorbers are made of a spring surrounding a central mount attached to the a-arm and the chassis. The central mount is filled with oil and can be compressed by a very small amount to absorb bumps in the road surface. The spring acts as a damper to stop the central mount from bouncing up and down too much.
Changing direction is achieved by a battery-powered servomotor. Control arms connected to the servo transfer the direction inputs from the remote control to the steering linkage. The steering linkage moves the steering arm, and this changes direction of the wheel. The steering arm rotates around a bolt, called the kingpin, that attaches it to the suspension. Some remote control cars have two servos, one at the front and one at the rear, to facilitate four wheel steering.
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