Purchased First RC, Traxxas Nitro Rustler w/ .15 Engine

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smith1090t

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Hello everyone!

I've been curious about rc's for a few years now, and I love working on cars, so today when I saw a ready to run nitro rc for only $120 shipped on eBay, I jumped on it. I have never had any "real" RC's, only radioscrap stuff, and that's 10 years ago. I am familiar with most if not all of the basics with owning and running one of these nitro rc's, but I can say I've never even touched one or saw one with my own eyes yet (I won't have mine for at least another week).

I bought some 20% nitro fuel, some after run oil, a new glow plug and glow plug wrench, and one of those cheap little fail-safe things. The truck I purchased was listed as having been received with a lot of other stuff, but it was briefly tested and fires right up after priming, with the included ez start wand thing.

I guess I currently have a few questions. Firstly, I know this truck is awfully old, can I still get normal parts for it? One part I really need is a new body, it currently has a non original, beat to death old chevy body. I have seen bodies that are listed as being for the newer rustler nitro with the 2.5 engine, but I'm not sure they'll fit. Beyond that I'd love to get a cheap proline body of an actual truck (perhaps a bronco) and put it on, and while I'm okay with modding, I need to know if just buying any old 1/10 body will be close enough to working. The listing also said that one of the shocks felt like it needed more oil, this is one area of RC's that I don't know much about. I suppose I'd need to replace the oil in all of the shocks as I'm not sure what oil is in them now. I also don't know what weight of oil I should use, and if there's anything else I need to buy to fix this shock, or if I need to buy anything else in general.

I have heard that the pull starts are better than the ez starts, so I'll try the ez start and in the future I may put in a pull start.

My main reason for buying this truck specifically was that It was ready to run and with everything else I need to use it the day it arrives, I only spent a total of $175 and that's good because I'm honestly not sure if I'll like RC's. I live on a highway by nobody else and I don't know anyone who might be interested in rc's so my only usage of this rc would be bashing it around the yard and driveway by myself. I do however know I'll love maintaining and upgrading this truck though, I love working on stuff!

Hopefully I can get some answers to those questions, and feel free to post any suggestions or comments.

Thanks in advance!
 

Nitrotrout

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There's a huge assortment of parts available for these cars on ebay.
Other than engines and radios, this model has not changed much over the years so parts compatibility shouldn't be an issue.
A 2.5 model body should fit your car with no problem.
If you intend to keep your car for a while, here's a few upgrades I'd recommend:
2.4 ghz transmitter/ receiver (if you're still using the old AM Transmitter)
A complete set of new shocks cost about 20 bucks so that's probably a better choice than trying to salvage the old shocks.
A Pull start would eliminate some excess weight and hassle often associated with the EZ Start.

Be forewarned, once you start wrenching, upgrading and driving these things, it becomes an addiction. :D
 

codfish

RCNT Member
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A Rustler is a good stadium truck. Traxxas has great support still available for it. Best thing I ever did for mine was to put a RPM front bumper on it. Trade in the engine and put a 2.5 on it.

If I remember correctly I think you can modify the Stamped body mounts to put a taller body on it.
 

smith1090t

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I got all the accessories necessary to run this truck and they have arrived already, the truck itself should be arriving tomorrow.

There's a huge assortment of parts available for these cars on ebay.
Other than engines and radios, this model has not changed much over the years so parts compatibility shouldn't be an issue.
A 2.5 model body should fit your car with no problem.
If you intend to keep your car for a while, here's a few upgrades I'd recommend:
2.4 ghz transmitter/ receiver (if you're still using the old AM Transmitter)
A complete set of new shocks cost about 20 bucks so that's probably a better choice than trying to salvage the old shocks.
A Pull start would eliminate some excess weight and hassle often associated with the EZ Start.

Be forewarned, once you start wrenching, upgrading and driving these things, it becomes an addiction. :D
Good to hear this old truck is still usable and moddable! I currently will be using the included 75.820Mhz JR Racing XR3i FM transmitter and JR Racing R135 receiver that the truck is supposed to come with. I suppose I could go to a 2.4Ghz later, but I'm not sure it'd be necessary, nobody lives near me and the truck won't ever get more than 60 foot from me. With shocks being that cheap, that sounds like a good idea to me.

Seems to me that a body and some nice looking wheels will definitely be high on the list of things I don't necessarily need, but want to get.

A Rustler is a good stadium truck. Traxxas has great support still available for it. Best thing I ever did for mine was to put a RPM front bumper on it. Trade in the engine and put a 2.5 on it.

If I remember correctly I think you can modify the Stamped body mounts to put a taller body on it.
I'm certainly not replacing any plastic parts until they break, but if the bumper goes, I'll find an rpm bumper! As far as the engine goes, it's probably about the same as the bumper, I won't mess with it (too much) unless it blows up. It does sort of seem like just popping in a new 2.5 if the .15 goes is an almost too easy move, might be more fun to rebuild the .15.

Progress on this truck will be a bit slow, just a few things here and there, but I'll keep you guys updated.

PS: Here's a link of the exact ebay listing for the truck I purchased, you should still be able to view it and its pictures for the next two months or whatever.
http://www.ebay.com/itm/151959515238?_trksid=p2057872.m2749.l2649&ssPageName=STRK:MEBIDX:IT
 

smith1090t

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Well I got the truck today. It's about 20F and there's still a lot of snow and ice on the ground but I couldn't stop myself from taking the rustler on a 15 minute test drive. Started up fairly quickly, though it seems I partially flooded it as it was my first time ever starting a nitro rc. Looks like it was running rich, there was more or less constant smoke, and the seller did say it idled high. I drove it around for about 15 minutes until it just died, I assumed it ran out of fuel as I barely put any in it, so I filled it up without looking then tried to prime and start it, only to completely flood the engine and kill my ez start battery :)

I cleaned the truck up a bit, but there's still a lot of dirt in all the hard to reach cracks and crevasses. I then installed my failsafe module and put in some after run oil. It's definitely in rough shape overall. Lots of dirt, corrosion, partially stripped screws, saggy rear suspension, front left shock has no resistance to it, some bearings are a bit wonky and the tune is all out of whack. Although I plan on driving it whenever I want regardless of how good or bad of shape it's in, I'm going to have to buy an overwhelming amount of parts in order to slowly restore this to its original glory. For now though it is driveable and I certainly will run it for a while tomorrow and possibly have a go at tuning it tomorrow. I still have to mess with the alignment a bit, though I did seem to fix the toe in the rear wheels by loosening then re-tightening the rear lower control arm mounting screws.

So far on the to-purchase list is:
4x new wheels and tires, possibly standard glue on ones, possibly beadlocks
4x new shocks
A new body
A battery box that actually mounts to the truck
New air cleaner & possibly header

Overall I'm so happy that I made this $175 impulse buy. I loved ripping this truck around on my driveway today, occasionally spinning out on the packed down snow and ice.

RPM RC
I miss my Rusty...should have never sold it.
Wow that's an awesome looking truck there. Is that a carbon fiber upper deck there?
 
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SchrodeMode

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I love my Rusty man, it's a fun little basher and is super easy to work on. I have gotten it to wear it can really take a beating, now I have to worry about cracking my engine block (I've done it a few times). I prefer the T-Bone Racing bumper to the RPM, I broke one of my RPMs when I clipped a tree one time but I've beat the crap out of my T-Bones and they're holding up fine. Another thing about TBR is the fact that they offer a rear bumper, RPM doesn't and that little bumper/battery box on the Rusty doesn't hold up.

RPM on the left......TBR on the right
20140129_194633_zpsjeckmukz.jpg



As far as the engine goes, I'd run the Pro .15 until it dies, just use it to learn on. After it goes, you can trade it in to Traxxas and get the 2.5R at a discounted price. You'll just need the conversion kit, it comes with the header and pipe as well as the linkage for the different carb. The 2.5R is a really good engine for the Rusty, the 3.3 is just crazy in it.

20130609_155124_zpsf5826068.jpg


Where do you plan on running it? Will it be just grass and dirt or will it see pavement?

I suggest Proline Badlands for grass and loose dirt, and their Dirt Hawgs for more of an all terrain tire. I did run their Trenchers but I thought they were a little too heavy.
 

smith1090t

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Ran the rustler for about 40 minutes on Saturday in a mostly dirt parking lot. It was amazing, kicking up all sorts of dust and rocks! Got REAL dirty though unfortunately, especially because the dust and pebbles stuck to the truck from the damp dirt and partially melted snow in some spots.

On to the important stuff!
Parts Ordered:
New Air Filter assembly
4x New shocks that are stock rustler nitro shocks
New stock bumpers and stock battery box (as this truck only had a 4xAA holder hanging from a wire, no box)
New rear lower control arm mounts (they were slightly stripped so there was leeway with the screws and thus the toe of the rear wheels would change on the fly)

Those parts should be here by Friday and I'll definitely install them ASAP.

As for how the truck is running.........meh. Usually starts pretty quick, has a high idle, picks up quick but it wasn't until Saturday that I actually went full throttle on it, as on friday at my house, I didn't have enough room. Now when I was at the parking lot on Saturday, the truck was already well and truly warm before I tried full throttle and it doesn't like it. Doesn't matter if I build up to it, or just slam full throttle, it bogs and will quickly die. Then the restart is a little quirky at times, I do believe the truck was running too lean and vapor locking, but I'm not sure.

I've done tons of research on tuning these nitro engines and I feel confident doing so, so sooner or later I hope to completely re-tune this engine and get it running just right.

I certainly need tires (and wheels) as it was HARD to control on that very fine loose dirt parking lot. SchrodeMode I suppose it'll see quite a bit of different surfaces, pavement, fine loose dirt, loose dirt with larger rocks, snow etc, I'll definitely look into the Proline Dirt Hawgs but do advise if you come up with something else.
As far as bumpers go, it doesn't seem my bumper will ever see a lot of action, it seems I have consistently only ever hit my front wheels against stuff, never a full frontal impact. I guess this is because I usually try to save it and turn at the last second. If I do feel the need to upgrade though I do like the looks of the TBR, seems more sleek.


I'll definitely upload some decent pictures once I get the truck in decent shape.

Thanks everyone!
 

codfish

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They are slippery on any thing except for pavement. Not a lot of weight in the back end and a bunch of power. I loved my Gladiators....worked good for multiple surfaces with good wear.

Have fun and let it run!
 

smith1090t

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I love my Rusty man, it's a fun little basher and is super easy to work on. I have gotten it to wear it can really take a beating, now I have to worry about cracking my engine block (I've done it a few times). I prefer the T-Bone Racing bumper to the RPM, I broke one of my RPMs when I clipped a tree one time but I've beat the crap out of my T-Bones and they're holding up fine. Another thing about TBR is the fact that they offer a rear bumper, RPM doesn't and that little bumper/battery box on the Rusty doesn't hold up.

RPM on the left......TBR on the right
20140129_194633_zpsjeckmukz.jpg



As far as the engine goes, I'd run the Pro .15 until it dies, just use it to learn on. After it goes, you can trade it in to Traxxas and get the 2.5R at a discounted price. You'll just need the conversion kit, it comes with the header and pipe as well as the linkage for the different carb. The 2.5R is a really good engine for the Rusty, the 3.3 is just crazy in it.

20130609_155124_zpsf5826068.jpg


Where do you plan on running it? Will it be just grass and dirt or will it see pavement?

I suggest Proline Badlands for grass and loose dirt, and their Dirt Hawgs for more of an all terrain tire. I did run their Trenchers but I thought they were a little too heavy.
I have to ask, where can I get that little rollcage and also the box for the receiver?
 

SchrodeMode

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I have to ask, where can I get that little rollcage and also the box for the receiver?
I actually got rid of that box, it was a spare from my LST but I didn't like it. The roll bar is sweet though, but it's from New Era Models and they went out of business....so it'll probably be hard to find.
 

smith1090t

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I actually got rid of that box, it was a spare from my LST but I didn't like it. The roll bar is sweet though, but it's from New Era Models and they went out of business....so it'll probably be hard to find.
Hmm, well I guess I'll wait on getting that box, perhaps I'll get it at some point though. I looked on eBay for that little roll bar and the only place I found that three point brace that you have is in a $500 NOS Parts lot that someone is selling. However I did find one other New Era Models Rustler brace on eBay and although it's only a two point brace (looks exactly like yours but without the third arm going to the rear shock tower) it was only about $20 so I grabbed it.

Since my last post I put on the four new stock shocks as well as the new stock front and rear bumpers/battery box, and I ran the truck a little last weekend. Last weekend is actually the first time I broke something on the truck, and said first thing is.........the steering servo. It was an old cruddy Traxxas 2018 IIRC, so upgrading it isn't the worst idea anyways, and I figured I'd get something real good since I have to upgrade. So I went with a Traxxas 2075, waterproof, digital servo and wow is it nice. Not only does it look great, but it turns a lot quicker than the old servo did. As I was putting in the new servo I noticed why the truck never turned evenly in each direction before, because the previous owner had set the trim on the steering like halfway to one side, then put the servo arm on, thus the steering worked, but would turn one way more than the other. I zeroed out the trim on the steering servo and then installed the arm, now I can turn equally both ways!

I tried to run it today but again the EZ Start was having problems engaging again. I got it running a few times, but since I'm working on trying to tune the truck, I stalled it every time and eventually the ez start just would not engage, it'd just spin. I took it all apart, cleaned and oiled it, it worked once more, and then not again. So I ordered a new OWB and starter shaft, and while I was at it, I got a new carb and air filter (the air filter assembly I already got last week is actually for the 2.5..oops). This is because I noticed the carb is just covered in garbage, and it just doesn't seem to work correctly. It's one of the ones that rotates, rather than slides, however this one does slide a little bit, when you try to adjust the LSN, and thus as your trying to adjust the LSN, the truck stalls out as the entire inside of the carb is sliding. Not to mention the opening inside just seems off center. I'm glad I spent the money on a new carb so at least I can tune the truck and not worry about a bad carb ruining it.

So far I've got $300 into this and I feel like I've just barely started lol. I saw on youtube someone had a video of a rustler with a really sick body on it, and I find that the body is from an Axial AX10. I went on eBay and found quite a few very nice bodys for the Axial AX10's and I do think that if I decide to get another body for this truck (the one it came with from the previous owner went straight in the trash) that I may get a real nice one that's made for an AX10.

That's sort of another debate I'm having, I'm not sure whether to even bother with a body or not. The rustler looks really good with no body and no body mounts, and if I'm spending so much money on truck parts, I want to see them (especially that 2 point brace)! I don't want some scratched up, dirty plastic shell covering it up. On the other hand putting on a really cool looking body does look rather nice. I'm torn as to whether to leave this with no body or to get a nice body for it.

I did get some pictures last week when the truck was looking pretty good with its new shocks and all but I won't bother posting them as I'll definitely have some better pictures after I install the new ez start parts and 2 point brace. I'll take advantage of having to take the motor out to swap carbs, and I'll clean that area of the truck while its out.

Still on the parts list are some new wheels and tires, I've not yet ordered any.
 
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Nitrotrout

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^ That is the coolest looking Rustler I've ever seen.:thumbs-down:


the steering servo. It was an old cruddy Traxxas 2018 IIRC, so upgrading it isn't the worst idea anyways, and I figured I'd get something real good since I have to upgrade.

I'm not sure whether to even bother with a body or not. I'm torn as to whether to leave this with no body or to get a nice body for it.
Good choice, those 2018 servos are junk. I always upgrade old worn out parts with better parts when possible. One other upgrade I'd suggest is replacing the AA batteries with a rechargeable humpback battery pack. You'll get better response from your servos and longer battery life.

Definitely run a body of some sort, even with a roll bar. My suggestion is a cheap, sacrificial body shell like an unpainted Rustler shell for example when you're bashing, and a cool looking painted body to display on your shelf if you're into that kind of thing. .
 

smith1090t

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Alright so the new steering servo is in, and steering is adjusted. The new ez-start OWB (didnt get the starter shaft yet) as well as the new carb and 2 point brace have also been installed. I ran the rustler for about a half an hour today with all the new parts and I'm totally loving it. Huge change from when I first got it when it didn't run right, had junk shocks, no battery box, and a junk steering solenoid etc. I did a minimal amount of tuning, I was just having too much fun!

However I did notice that at some point one of the rear wheels locked up, and after fiddling with it a bit it did free up, I thought nothing of it and kept running the truck. After I was done just by chance I was spinning both the wheels and I now feel a rough spot and a click, so I do believe I've somehow wrecked the transmission. I guess it was just its time to go, as I don't really beat up the truck as bad as I know a lot of people do, nor am I hard on the throttle or running a huge engine.

It's a bit of an annoyance but I guess I'll just order a stock transmission and run the rustler how it is until the new transmission arrives.

Really dirtied up the truck so I'm still going to withhold posting any pictures lol

^ That is the coolest looking Rustler I've ever seen.:thumbs-down:

Good choice, those 2018 servos are junk. I always upgrade old worn out parts with better parts when possible. One other upgrade I'd suggest is replacing the AA batteries with a rechargeable humpback battery pack. You'll get better response from your servos and longer battery life.

Definitely run a body of some sort, even with a roll bar. My suggestion is a cheap, sacrificial body shell like an unpainted Rustler shell for example when you're bashing, and a cool looking painted body to display on your shelf if you're into that kind of thing. .
I've been wondering about those humpback batteries. The stock 4x AA's seem to be the limiting factor with the runtime right now. Running the truck in such cold weather, it seems the batteries get too cold and drain too fast, then my failsafe keeps killing the truck becasue of it. Will a humpback battery pack fit in the stock rustler's battery box, it really doesn't look like it?

Why do you feel running a body is important? Don't take this the wrong way, I just simply don't understand what the benefits are. It seems to me that a body will only scoop up dirt that's flying around and dump it on the chassis. Dirt is currently my biggest concern. As I said before I also really love the way any rc's look without the body, and they look so much more clean without body mounts jutting off the shock towers. However I do really love some of the nicer bodies, and it would be cool to get one for having it on display when not in use, however that would mean putting on ugly body mounts.
 

Rooky78

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The body really helps protect things in the event of a crash. A body is a lot cheaper than say, a new cooling head. Yea, you'll get some dirt up in there, but it will be less than without a body in most cases. And a Hump pack should fit in there. You'll have a lot better response out of your servos as well.
Instead of ordering a whole transmission, just take it apart and replace what's bad. You'll save money and it's a great time to check bearings, maybe change out your diff oil and really get a good view of what's in there and how it works.
 

SchrodeMode

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However I did notice that at some point one of the rear wheels locked up, and after fiddling with it a bit it did free up, I thought nothing of it and kept running the truck. After I was done just by chance I was spinning both the wheels and I now feel a rough spot and a click, so I do believe I've somehow wrecked the transmission. I guess it was just its time to go, as I don't really beat up the truck as bad as I know a lot of people do, nor am I hard on the throttle or running a huge engine.
Check your bearings, one could be bad and causing it to lock up. I'm with Rooky on the trans issue, tear it apart and see what's up with it. I'd recommend upgrading your idler gear while it's apart, I went through a few of them before Traxxas released the Nitro Slash with a steel idler gear. The N Slash and Rusty share most parts, Slash has an extended chassis, so the idler gear is a direct replacement.
 

smith1090t

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Hello again everyone! It's been an awful long time since I've posted here and I've done so much with my rustler in those couple of months!

My total for the rustler is currently about $1100. Numerous stock parts were replaced (some multiple times), and I've gotten many upgraded parts. I should mention though that a good bit of that money is no longer on the truck, for example, I've tried 2 more motors in addition to my original .15 and current motor, so those (while bought used) costed a little bit and their accessories costed a bit as well. Currently I'd say to duplicate my truck as it stands right now (including the mods I listed as not having been installed yet) it'd take about $700 as a very rough estimate.

My Current Upgrade List:
Traxxas 3.3 With Pullstart
GPM Lightweight Flywheel
Dubro Inline Fuel Filter
Associated RC Fuel Primer Bulb
Duratrax Gold Glow Plugs

New Era Models 2 Point Brace (repainted gloss black after scrapes and rust)

RPM 2.2" Black Revolver wheels front and back
Proline Dirt Hawg rear and Road Hawg Front Tires (IIRC)
Proline Powerstroke Rear Shocks (real nice $75 a pair)
MIP CVD's
Traxxas Aluminum Rear Lower Control Arm Mounts
Traxxas Aluminum Rear Wheel Hexes

Tenergy Receiver Hump Pack
Tactic TTX300 TX & RX
Traxxas E-Maxx Receiver Box
Traxxas 2075 Servos

Proline 1992 Jeep Cherokee XJ Body
eBay lightbar & roofrack
eBay D-ring shackles (2 on front and 2 on rear)

Upgrades Not Yet Installed (but in hand):
RPM Blue A Arm's front and rear
STRC Blue Aluminum Rear Shock Tower
GPM Blue Aluminum Front Shock Tower
Traxxas Polished Single Chamber Tuned Pipe
Proline Slash extended screw top body mount kit

Pictures of the trucks current state are in this album: https://www.rcnitrotalk.com/forum/media/albums/nitro-rustler-3-3-5-8-2016-pictures.27/

Please excuse the trucks current state, it's still the cleanest it's ever been since I've bought it and a lot of things will be tidied up soon (like my bulky fuel line from the 3.3 install and garbage exhaust).

It's only been about 6 tanks since the 3.3 was broken in (sort of incorrectly BTW but whatever) and It's still running an almost stock pig rich tune, but I love it. This truck is absolutely amazing with the 3.3. I love to run this truck in a crushed gravel/dirt parking lot, it'll do a full wheelie while spinning the tires and kicking rocks 15ft back from it. I'll do a proper tune on it after I get my tuned pipe.

I'm also collecting a lot of spare parts from this build and I plan on doing something pretty epic with them. I have a second rustler chassis that I got on ebay and I plan on buying all the parts it needs that I don't have. I'll buy brand new stock parts (or maybe even upgrades) and instead of putting them straight on the second chassis, I'll put them on my current 3.3 rustler and then my 3.3 rustler parts will go on the second rustler.

Once the second chassis is a roller I'm going to seirously consider converting it to a mid engine electric rustler. I bought a custom machined aluminum motor mount plate that bolts up to our nitro rustler transmission and allows an electric motor to be mounted in the stock nitro motor location, thus making a very nice mid motor electric rustler.

EDIT: Maybe the second rustler will have to wait, I literally just won an auction for a Nitro Slash 3.3 that's fully complete, runs and drives, 2.4ghz tx & rx and all, for $113 shipped on eBay!

More updates on my rustler shenanigans to come soon!
 
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