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Whether you are new to nitro RC, or rock crawlers, or any other type of radio controlled madness, you are going to need to have some tools handy. For most in the RC hobby, fixing and upgrading their toys is half the fun (if not more!). I have compiled a list of mostly must-have tools for the beginning RC addict, with a couple of optional ones thrown in that I have found useful over the years.
Small Screwdriver Set
By small I don’t mean in numbers, I mean actually small. Have you ever seen the “jeweler” type screwdrivers? The kind that are real thin and have the top that twists? Those are great for RC. I have a set myself in my RC box, and I’ve used them tons of times. Get a set; they are cheap. I recommend both Phillips and flathead.
The Stanley Screwdriver Set makes a perfect set.
Allen Wrenches / Hex Drivers
You can’t work on your RC car without these. A good set of Allens or handled drivers is an absolute must. Personally, I recommend the drivers over the classic Allen wrenches because they are much easier to hold and don’t have the bent end, which can be problematic in tight areas. A decent set of either can be had very cheaply.
A great hex driver set would be the Bondhus Balldriver Set.
Needle Nose Pliers
You will be surprised how often you use these. Everything from taking the body off to major repairs often requires needle nose pliers. No matter what kind of RC you are running, these babies are worth their weight in gold when it comes to working on RC stuff. A set can be found at your local hardware store for a few bucks. You don’t need anything fancy.
For just a few bucks, Stanley Needle Nose Plier make a perfect choice.
Soldering Iron – Semi-Optional
While not *absolutely* necessary for the beginning RC enthusiast, you will eventually need one and know how to use it if you do major repairs or upgrades. Learning how to solder well takes a little time and patience, but it sure beats using lame butt connectors and tying bare wires together ghetto fashion. These babies can be purchased from about ten bucks up to a few hundred, depending on how serious you are and your needs. Look into one.
You simply can’t beat a Hakko FX-888 soldering iron.
These wrenches, which are basically designed specifically for RC applications, have so many uses it isn’t funny. You should have one in your box every time you go out to play. A good four-way can take the place of several sockets and a cumbersome wrench, and also saves a whole lot of time.
Don’t repair anything on your RC with Elmer’s or wood glue and expect it to stick. Crazy Glue, Super Glue, Gorilla Glue, or any major glue is the way to go. Get something that comes with warnings about skin contact and things like that. You want something that bonds, not RTV silicone.
Your RC, especially if it’s nitro driven, rattles and vibrates like you wouldn’t believe. If you repair something that has bolts in it, apply blue Loctite before you drive them home. If you don’t, they will back out, I guarantee it. Best to remove all doubt and do it right.
Highly recommend getting a Blue Loctite Stick, no more drying out, leaking, dripping or spilling, and goes on exactly where you put it.
Yes, you’ll want them. Even a small pack of five to ten will suffice. At some point, you’ll find yourself wanting one, trust me. They can be used for a wide variety of RC field fixes. A creative hobbyist can always find a use for zip ties. That’s just the way it goes.
Glow Starter (for nitro RC)
If your RC is nitro driven, you’ll need a glow starter. That isn’t optional. They come in all varieties by a number of brand names, but I recommend getting something that looks as if it’ll last. As with most things, you get what you pay for. The seven dollar unit down at the hobby store will technically heat your plug, but a more expensive glow starter will last longer, keep a charge better, and likely heat the plug more efficiently. Why mess around when you can be sure?
Be advised: This is not a comprehensive, all-you’ll-ever-need list. Rather, it’s a great list of tools to have when you start out. As you get more serious about the hobby, your tool needs will naturally grow with your RC needs. By that time, though, you’ll have a good idea what to get and where to go to get them.
I hope this helps a little!
Cheers until next time.