California Style Super Slash – AKA Project ‘Van Phalen’
This Traxxas Slash 4×4 Project was a result of a little West Coast vs East Coast competition between Mr. Vogel and I. When I found out about this, my girlfriend and I sat down and discussed what the West Coast is all about…Disneyland, Hollywood, rock stars, etc. Well, I wasn’t too keen on building a Mickey Mouse Slash, nor was I that interested in a 4WD Marilyn Monroe, so we went with the rock star idea. But which band? Who is famous enough that they might have a car painted like one of their instruments? Well, if you’ve ever performed a Google search on Van Halen, you will see quite a few cars with Eddie’s red, white and black random striped paint scheme as the one I have here. Plus, of course, Van Halen morphs into Van Phalen pretty easily. That being said, we had ourselves a winning Project Slash 4×4 theme.
Realism is always in the back of my head when I do a project build, but I always care a little less about it when it comes to power. Power is everything (I heard that somewhere), and with 4WD and a pretty stout drivetrain, I figured the Slash could handle quite a bit (even more with a few drivetrain upgrades). I immediately swapped out the stock servo for Hitec’s HS-7940TH High Speed HV Coreless Titanium gear servo. This beast has been used on numerous occasions as a throttle servo, so for this project I thought it was time to test it out in the steering department. To give Project ‘Van Phalen’ a ‘little’ more power, I yanked the stock Velineon motor and speed control and dropped in a Castle Creations Mamba Monster Combo. The Mamba ESC is completely plug-and-play and includes massive 6.5mm bullet plugs, an integrated cooling fan and can handle up to a 6S LiPo pack! I paired the Mamba ESC up with a 2650kv Neu-Castle motor. This baby bolts directly to the stock motor plate (without modification) and also includes enormous 6.5mm bullet plugs. The wires coming out of the motor were pretty long, so I did shorten them slightly for beauty purposes. A bigger motor/ESC combo means a bigger battery, right? I thought the same thing so, for a little added juice, a Thunder Power 5200mAh 50C 4S pack was fitted into the battery box (you will need to get Traxxas’ #TRA587X Battery Hold Down Retainer conversion which allows you to install larger battery packs). To keep power loss to the absolute minimum, I soldered on a set of Deans Ultra Plugs to the speed control and battery. To control this now-too-fast-for-its-own-good Slash, I installed my trusty Futaba 4PK radio system. Because the motor and speed control were much larger than the stock units, I had to remove the waterproof receiver box. In its place I added a small lexan shelf that I attached the receiver and speed control to.
Chassis & Suspension
I knew at the beginning of this build that I wanted to incorporate a cage of some sort, so I decided to keep the stock chassis and just dye it black. For front end protection, I installed a RPM front bumper with integrated light set. On the rear, a RPM bumper was also installed, as well as RPM’s mud-flap system. A full set of RPM suspension arms also found their way onto Project ‘Van Phalen’. As most rock stars highly modify whatever vehicle they have, I figured some trick aluminum pieces would make this the perfect build. I installed a set of STRC machined aluminum C-hubs, steering knuckles and rear hub carriers. Front and rear aluminum shock towers from STRC were also used, as were a full set of STRC shock bodies and shock caps. To finish off the bling, STRC aluminum wheels hexes, motor mount and multi-piece steering servo saver set were bolted on. All of these parts were a p-e-r-f-e-c-t fit and the blue and silver color combination really pop on this all-black ride.
While doing my research I read that, when installing more power into the Slash 4×4, the front plastic center driveshaft hub would fail. So, when I upgraded the STRC aluminum center main driveshaft, I also added the front aluminum center driveshaft hub. I was dropping in some major mojo, so upgrading just the front didn’t make much sense. I removed the stock plastic spur gear and replaced it with a beefy Robinson Racing GEN3 Slipper Unit. This metal unit drops right in and will definitely be an improvement with any big-horsepower upgrade. To keep an eye on these gears, I covered the area with Traxxas’ clear gear guard.
Body, Wheels & Tires
Being a rock-star build, I wanted it to be something you might actually see on the street, so I decided on a full set of Pro-line’s Split Six wheels wrapped in their Trencher tires. This setup gave me the aggressive, off-road look I was going for. To help protect all the electronics, I bolted on a flat black HBZ Slash 4×4 cage. This beauty bolts right on to the stock (or aftermarket) shock towers and allows you to retain the stock body mounts. To top things off, I chose Pro-line’s Ford F150 body shell. I love the lines of this body and, thankfully, it fits perfectly over the HBZ cage without any modification! JawDesigns laid down the killer ‘Van Phalen’ design of rock-star red, white and black, including a custom painted front grille and truck bed. This guy has only been painting a few months…just wait until you see some of my other upcoming article cars! You’re gonna be blown away!
With the massive Mamba system and a 4S Thunder Power battery pack, I figured this was going to be a knarly ride…and I was right. I started off with a light-on-the-trigger approach, but with this much power it was like telling a NHRA drag racer to creep down the dragstrip. So, why fight it?? Full throttle it is, and from a standstill the soft Proline Trencher tires dug into the asphalt, lifting the front end up slightly off the ground. Once the Slash was back on all fours, I had a chance to see how fast it really was! Project ‘Van Phalen’ certainly had no problem with speed runs, but how would it do in the dirt? I arrived at my secret offroad test location to find some kids had modified my track. The Trencher tires hooked up great, and the added weight of my aluminum and cage made the Slash feel pretty planted. It jumped pretty good, and the RPM bumpers did a fantastic job of protecting the truck. Even the cage had a purpose, preventing the body from collapsing under some very hard crashes. Inspecting the truck after my bash session, I found no broken or bent parts other than a mud flap falling off! It seems I had built a pretty bulletproof Slash. I’ll need a couple more test sessions to really prove that point.
As with any project build, there really is no best solution. Do a little research by checking the forums or visiting the web sites of our advertisers. Either way, a project build is a build the way YOU want it. I wanted a semi-realistic rock-star theme that wasn’t to over-the-top. I also wanted it to be better than Mr. Vogels. In the end, he has his version of greatness and I have mine. That’s the beauty of project builds. Go now, young padawans, and build your project Slash 4×4. When you’ve completed this task, head over to the RC Driver Forum and post a picture. Greg and I would love to see your creations! Now, in my best David Lee Roth voice: “Everybody wants some…I want some too!”
• Machined Aluminum 12mm Hex Adapter, ST1654B
• Machined Aluminum Rear Hub Carriers, ST1952B
• Machined Aluminum Shock Caps, ST2267B
• Machined Threaded Aluminum Front Shock Body, ST3765XB
• Machined Threaded Aluminum Rear Shock Body, ST3766XB
• Machined Aluminum HD Rear Shock Tower, ST6830B
• Machined Aluminum C-Hubs, ST6832S
• Machined Aluminum Steering Knuckles, ST6837B
• Machined Aluminum HD Front Shock Tower, ST6839B
• Machined Aluminum Multi-Piece Steering Bellcrank, ST6845S
• Machined Aluminum LW Center Main Driveshaft, ST6855B
• Machined Aluminum HD Motor Mount, ST6860S
• Machined Aluminum Front Center Drive Shaft Hub, ST6888S
• Machined Finned Aluminum Motor Plate, ST6890S
• 4PK 4-Channel 2.4GHz, FUTK4900
• Black A-Arms, Slash 4×4 80702
• Black Front Bumper & Skid Plate, 80022
• Black Light Canister Set, 80982
• Black Rear Bumper, Slash 4×4, 80122
• Mud Flash System, 81012
• Ford F-150 Body, 3314-00
• Black Split Six Wheels, 2721-02
• Trencher SC Tire, M3, 1159-02
• Traxxas Slash 4×4 GEN3 Slipper Unit, 7854
• Slash 4×4 Cage, HBSLS4
• HS-7950TH High Speed HV Titanium Gear Servo, 37940S
• Mamba Monster Combo with 2650kV Motor
• G4-Pro Race 50C Lipo, TP5200-4SPR50
• Battery Hold Down Retainer, TRA5827X
• Clear Gear Cover, TRA6877A4-Pro Race 50C Lipo, TP5200-4SPR50
• Ultra Plugs, 1301