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Associated RC10 B5/B5M Team Kit
I go back to the future with the RC10
Text, photos and video by Tom Hintz
Posted - 8-1-2016
For a little background, I was running the RC department of a super-sized hobby shop in Cudahy, Wisconsin when the original RC10 monster reared its head through the sea of Japanese buggy’s and trucks. The RC car and truck world has not been the same since. The original RC10 was so popular that we literally sold every RC10 we could coax out of suppliers. Fast forward 30-some years and when I decided that I wanted a RC buggy that I could broad slide around the flowerbed I looked up the current Associated offerings. My favorite local shop Anderson RC (Thomasville, NC) had one RC10 in the B5 configuration left with the new version arriving the next day so I snatched it up.
Be forewarned: If you are looking for a review written by some hair on fire teenager with Jedi-like reflexes competing against their contemporaries I’m not your guy. On the other hand, if you are looking for an old fart that just loves things that go fast and still gets giddy over sliding a car around a corner in the yard slinging dirt everywhere, I am your guy. Read on.
Made in China
The Associated RC10 B5/B5M shows what happens when an American company tells their Chinese manufacture to make a high end product. Too many Americans have a knee jerk response to the Made in China label, automatically equating that with inferior manufacturing and materials and blaming all that on the Chinese. The Associated RC10 B5/B5M shows that the Chinese are fully capable and very willing to make top quality products when told to do so by an American company willing to pay the understandably higher manufacturing bills. Associated Electric has always been a quality company and that apparently has not changed over the last 30 years or so.
Something everybody likes about Associated kits is the heavy plastic bags filled with logical groups of parts that follow the superb instruction manual. If you can read and see putting the Associated RC10 B5/B5M together and having it work right the first time isn’t going to strain the brain. Looking through the parts bags I also noticed that Associated has not backed off their penchant for quality manufacturing of the pieces. Super precise molding produces parts that fit and perform correctly the first time around without having to “tweak” parts to get the performance expected.
Something that is becoming increasingly rare in the world in general is an understandable, effective instruction manual. We should all be bowing to the Associated honchos for not cutting costs in the production of the manuals they send along with their products. They also provide electronic (PDF) versions of their manuals with updates on their site. I have seen the increasingly laughable excuses for interpreted instruction manuals that come with too many of the Pacific Rim-sourced airplane kits. Finding professional writing augmented with numerous 1st class illustrations sized so you can actually see what is going on is shocking to find everywhere but in an Associated box. Add to that the superbly thought-out construction flow and building my Associated RC10 B5/B5M nearly gave me a rush I hadn’t felt since a portion of the 1960’s that I refuse to talk about in detail.
Note: There are no separate instructions for applying the B5M conversion parts in the box but you can download the entire B5M manual and a four-page supplement, both in PDF format that makes the process simple. Link in Resources at the end of this review.
Between the logical grouping/bagging of the parts, clear instructions and parts that are molded and machined to the correct dimensions, building the Associated RC10 B5/B5M goes surprisingly quickly. Now that I have the Associated RC10 B5/B5M completed I can say that the instructions follow a sequence that prevents having to do things twice. When there is a choice of components or installation points the instructions indicate which is considered “standard” to produce a buggy suitable for the widest range of surfaces. You can always tweak the car later when you have some experience with it and identify a point of its handling that you want to change.
Building the transmission is in itself revealing. With the motor ahead of the rear axle the transmission needs to have a fourth gear to get the axle rotation correct. With the super-precise gear manufacturing, mounting them on heavy-duty metal shafts with each gear using two ball bearings this transmission is both easy to build and super smooth when you spin the shafts. With so little play and distortion the wear of the internal components is going to be far slower than with most gearboxes on the market today.
I admit to being skeptical of the shocks. In my previous RC life 30-some years ago the technology of even reasonably effective RC shocks began fading early in a race with a noticeable performance decline throughout the remaining ¾ of even relatively short heat races. The shocks in the Associated RC10 B5/B5M kit are worlds ahead of the leakers of yesteryear.
The shock bag in the kit is very large and that can be a little intimidating but relax, building these shocks is a snap. The hard aluminum shock bodies are precisely machined so everything fits correctly and then functions as they were designed. The fine-threaded adjusters allow for quick precise spring tension adjustments that stay put through the race. After the first several battery packs had been run through my Associated RC10 B5/B5M I opened the shocks to see if they had generated any air. That turned out to be wasted effort as there was no air other than what I had just let in. I re bled all four shocks per the instructions and put them back on the car.
As mentioned earlier, the instruction manual provides base settings for things like the shocks and the placement of pivot balls and I used all of those “standard” settings. My Associated RC10 B5/B5M turned out fine for my kind of driving/tearing up the yard. After running the first couple of battery packs I wanted to “loosen” the chassis up a bit and again, the design of the Associated RC10 B5/B5M made that easy. I am tempted to get a set of four postage scales to see if I can set the Associated RC10 B5/B5M up as we did with real dirt cars. There is a method to the madness of “moving weight” around a car with spring tensions and ride heights as well as simple ballast weight.
The guys at Anderson RC suggested the super soft AKA tires and inserts that are seen on my Associated RC10 B5/B5M throughout this review. Having run them through several battery packs they seem well suited for running around my yard in short grass and semi-loose dirt that gets more like powder every time I run on it. Even though I have spent most of my time with the Associated RC10 B5/B5M sideways, wide open and slinging dirt, the AKA tires don’t show any wear.
I am most happy when my Associated RC10 B5/B5M is sliding through a corner, butt out, wheels crossed up and slinging dirt to the outside. The Spektrum DX4S and the 4210 receiver with the built in AVC (active vehicle control) made me a dirt warrior the first afternoon. I know some of you will pooh-pooh the use of the AVC but it’s my car and I will cheat all that I want to. I’m not racing you for money or pink slips so lighten up or go away. Also, I am not anticipating encountering any organized racing in my yard but just in case, there is a setting in the receiver that officially kills the AVC to the satisfaction of the sanctioning bodies that ban its use.
My taking a 30-some year break from running RC cars meant that I had to get back in that zone, so to speak. Along the way I made a few professional over-steers and wound up blasting very large and very heavy flower pots and such. I was pretty sure that the long control arms on the Associated RC10 B5/B5M would succumb to that kind of force but they stayed intact, bounced off and happily continued on its way throwing dirt around as it went.
I have also delivered some blows to the rear wheels to stress test the rear arm with the same result. Drive away and continue tearing up the yard. The Associated RC10 B5/B5M is as tough as the near bulletproof original RC10 that began Associated’ s domination 30-some years ago.
Tweaking the Contact Patch
The current state of electric motors for RC cars means pure power is seldom the limiting factor, getting that power to the ground is. The adjust-ability of the contact patch of each tire on the Associated RC10 B5/B5M allows the driver to tune the car to the track and even more importantly, for the track conditions that day. The suspension of the Associated RC10 B5/B5M keeps the tires surprisingly steady throughout the suspension travel. Add to that the super simple but highly effective ability to manipulate each tires camber individually. That means we can maximize the contact patch of each tire to get the most “bite” possible.
The slip clutch in the Associated RC10 B5/B5M is very well made, tough and easily adjustable. This method of traction control has been around a long time because it is very effective and easy to adjust. As is Associated’ s custom the simple slip clutch idea has been given the Associated once-over to use superior materials and manufacture to make it easier for the end user to get the most out of this system with less maintenance. The design of the Associated RC10 B5/B5M suspension means that we can maximize the contact patch which lets us dial in less slip at the clutch to reduce lap times a little more.
The Associated RC10 B5/B5M really is a product of Associated’ s penchant for quality design and manufacture. Because the chassis is so strong and so cleanly designed it allows the high end coil-over shocks to work better. The durability of the Associated RC10 B5/B5M chassis means you can go faster longer with less work.
The unequaled performance of the Associated RC10 B5/B5M in competition is a good thing for the younger set who use this chassis for competition. For the “old farts” squad that kind of adjust-ability and durability means we can tear up the backyard or local abandoned lot to our hearts content and actually get better at it if we so desire.
Though the Associated RC10 B5/B5M is absolutely one of the more sophisticated designs the easy-to-follow instructions and a common sense layout of the chassis means you do not have to be a wizard to extract a surprisingly high level of performance from this car. The Associated RC10 B5/B5M truly does represent speed and handling for the common person.
With the new version of the RC10 coming out this Associated RC10 B5/B5M kit that includes the B5M update kit has been selling for $239.99 (8-1-2016) and probably a touch less in some places. For the backyard “racers” the Associated RC10 B5/B5M represents a great value that allows us to get into a fast, durable car without breaking the budget or having to knock over a fruit stand or two for funding.
Whether you want to tear it up on the local track or around the back yard flower bed the Associated RC10 B5/B5M gives you a highly adjustable platform with which to go faster than you thought possible. Because Associated is and has been one of the leading names in this industry parts and hop-up options are available through local and web-based sources. The potential is in the box; you get to decide how fast you want to go.
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