My DF-02 chassis with options
Before talking about options, I first stripped down the whole chassis to clean it and to check every part. After this check-up, here are the plastic parts laying on the work bench (I didn't include the hardware and the gearings which are similar to the TT-01 chassis's):
All parts are in good condition, except the front damper mount I will replace with a brand new A part tree reference 51075 that will also supply the missing battery door. The SuperStock BZ motor you see on the photo will not be installed on this model, neither will be the motor heat sink. So, let's see the options:
- 53620 aluminum propeller shaft: replacement for the stock plastic unit
- 53791 universal shaft assembly (2 pairs): replacement for the stock rusted units (that could still serve)
- 53666 metal motor mount: replacement for the stock plastic unit
- 53790 Cup Joint for universal shaft (2 pairs): required when using the universal shafts
Here's the result once everything is re-assembled:
As you can see, I installed a Hobbywing brushless unit made of the 3656 motor (4000kv) and the WP SC8 120A controller: it's main advantage is to be entirely dust-proof (motor and controller). On our new track, this is a much appreciated characteristic since motors quickly get dirty.
You can also notice that installing electronics is a rather complex operation, both because the brushless elements are bigger than usual and because the bodyshell shape leaves very spare room:
In concrete terms, the controller can only be placed in the middle of the chassis bathtub, as close as possible to the rear drivetrain in order to leave enough room for the controller fan underneath the bodyshell roof because it is too big to fit between the motor and the steering servo. As for the motor, it is a 550 format, that is the same size as a classic 540 but longer: this is the reason why you can see it is a very tight fit. Here is a view of the bodyshell shape onto the chassis and the very spare room available:
To make it shorter, the best choice would be a standard electronic speed controller since most come without fans and are easy to place into the chassis. For a brushless combo (which controllers come with a fan most of the time), either it can fit into the chassis bathtub between the motor and the steering servo, or you will have to test several layouts before you manage to place everything correctly, always taking great care of properly tieing all cables.
My DF-02 chassis and options that don't fit
I am not going to exhaustively list all available options, only the ones I would have liked to install. The fact is, unlike its TT-01 cousin and most of Tamiya modern chassis, the DF-02 chassis is compatible with very few options. Very few.
For example, forget about the motor heat sink (reference 53664) unless you are ready to cut a hole in the bodyshell: this is annoying. But the biggest issue I found is the stock servo-saver: I wanted to install a Hi-Torque unit (reference 51000 or 50473). Impossible. Here's why:
The stock servo-saver
View from underneath the chassis with the bodyshell on
The first photo shows the chassis was molded to fit the stock servo-saver shape (this molded shape can also be seen from the chassis underneath on the second photo). This makes it impossible to fit any other bigger saver-saver unit (most of reinforced servo-savers are bigger, especially the Hi-Torque).
The second photo shows the other side of the problem: in stock form, the servo-saver head travels off the bathtub chassis limits when wheels are turned. This is why Tamiya supplies a reinforcement scotch tape to be placed on the inner bodyshell to prevent the servo-saver head from scratching the paint. So the servo-saver head must have a thin shape not to get further off limits from the bathtub when wheels are turned.
One common complaint about Tamiya stock servo-savers is they are too soft, making the steering imprecise: it is true, but this softness also prevents it from breaking and preserves the servo (which is the servo-saver function). However, my personal experience shows these stock servo-savers are rather fragile, thus my intention to replace it with a more reliable unit. Since I am stuck with the stock unit, it will be both wise and essential to always bring a spare servo-saver at the track when running this model.
Reinforcing the DF-02 chassis to make it more reliable
After reading several comments on internet, and most of all after noticing the front damper mount weakness on my own model, I made a few modifications to reinforce some parts I considered fragile on the chassis.
On the left side, the stock assembly and on the right side, the modification: the stock step screw was replaced by a 3x20 screw, a flanged tube and a lock nut. The screw gets through the upright, the flanged tube goes through the linkage bar (flanged side on the upright side) and the lock nut firmly holds it. You can also reverse the lock nut in order to make it hold better if you want. This modification was made on the 3 other uprights.
- Fixing the front dampers
The stock assembly is on the left side, the complete modification is on the right side. There are two parts is this modification: the first one is for holding the damper while the second one is about the damper mount.
First consideration: the stock assembly makes the damper stay quite away from the damper mount because of the ball connector (that allows the damper head to move freely). This situation also creates a cantilever effect on the damper mount that is made of thin and soft plastic: this was the second consideration.
So the modification is first about fixing the damper mount onto the front gearbox housing: that is what the red arrow is pointing on the second photo. The 3x10mm step screws were replaced by 3x15 screws held by lock nuts.
Next step is to make the damper head come closer to the damper mount and to stiffen the damper mount by using a reinforcement bar. Parts used and side view of the modification:
On the first photo, a 3x35 screw, plastic spacers and flanged tubes: the plastic spacer are leftovers from the B part tree. This spacer holds the damper head against the flanged tube that is placed against the damper mount. The screw goes through the damper mount. On the other side of the damper mount, the thick flanged tube holds the second plastic spacer and the reinforcement bar adjuster against the damper mount. Last, a flange nut holds everything together (a lock nut would suit too).
With this modification, the damper cantilever effect and efforts on the damper mount are now reduced. In addition, the long screw passing through the damper mount reduces the risk of twisting the damper mount (see how this part was when I received my model). It also transfers part of the efforts towards the other side of the damper mount through the reinforcement bar (a classic rod with two adjusters and an plastic tube in the middle to hide the rod).
- Fixing the rear dampers
Overall, the modification process is about the same as the front: to make the damper head closer to the damper mount and reinforcing the damper mount with a linkage. Here again, flanged tubes, B part tree leftover spacers and long screws were used to get through the damper mount. Again, the linkage bar is made of a classic rod with adjusters (the two aluminum tubes hiding the rod come from TT-01 foam bumper mounts).
First runs with the Rising Storm
At last, we had a decent weather for the season so I could head to the new track for a first test run and then a full run. As you can see, the track was still a bit wet after the last rains:
From the first minutes, it became obvious that the Rising Storm feels very well on our track: the motor is just a little bit too powerful for my driving skills (so perfect for improving), the chassis handling is very good without any bad surprise. However, I was a little worried with the (very) low ground clearance, despite setting the dampers for the maximum ride height: on our track, this is not a big issue, except 2 very bumpy sectors where the buggy is quite shaken around. The 5mm to 8mm less lower ground clearance compared to my Sand Viper make these sectors quite delicate to drive for the moment. However, our track is not completely finished yet: when fully done, we will be able to drive rally chassis like my TB-01, so the problem will disappear.
On the first photo, my Rising Storm is very very close to sweeping the ground whereas on the second photo, it compares to my friend Laurent's Dark Impact ground clearance (yes, Laurent was not willing to let me overtake ). The low ride height is the DF-02 chassis drawback: it can be an issue on bumpy tracks and when landing jumps.
However, the Rising Storm is a very interesting chassis that is easy to control, in addition to being both basic and solid (you can imagine overtaking Laurent didn't end nicely ). Also, I was quite amazed by the stock tires grip on our track despite the powerful motor. As for the pleasure of driving, you can count on it: the Rising Storm is perfect for beginning and learning to drive, even with more than decent motor power.