What is the Chassis?
The Chassis is the main component of any vehicle. This is the backbone, or base, that the rest of the parts will be bolted to (in some fashion).
There are really only 4 types of chassis compounds: Molded Composite (or Plastic), Fiberglass, Carbon Fiber Composite and Woven Carbon Fiber (also known as Graphite).
Tuning with the Chassis
Molded Composite: Molded Composite chassis’ are normally a tub design chassis. They have ribs and ridges in them for re-inforcement. This makes them the heaviest of the bunch, but it provides alot of flex which is good for traction.
Fiberglass: Not a real popular choice anymore, Fiberglass chassis were used mostly on pan cars. It’s cheap, easy to produce, and has good flex and strength properties. With the cost of the other materials continually dropping, Fiberglass has really lost its niche in the RC world.
Carbon Fiber Composite: Carbon Fiber Composite is also formed mostly in tub design chassis. It’s lighter, stronger and more rigid than standard Molded. It also has ribs and ridges molded into it for re-inforcement. This does, though, cause the vehicle to be more responsive, and may not be the best choice for slippery surfaces.
Woven Carbon Fiber: The best looking type of material, the Graphite chassis has been around a long time! Typically, a Graphite chassis comes in 2 pieces: the Chassis and the Upper Deck. It is usually attached to the bulkheads and possibly some standoffs to make the whole assembly rigid. While Graphite is pretty simple to produce, it does have it’s drawbacks…there is quite a bit of preparation required to produce a good chassis. Since the edges are laser or water cut (in most instances), the edges can be sharp. This can cut fingers or, worse yet, the shrink wrap on your batteries, causing them to short. And, since the Graphite chassis is formed using layers, it has a tendency to peel in a bad crash, loosing it’s rigidness and becoming useless. To properly prepare a Graphite chassis, you need to sand all the sharp edges off (especially around the battery slots), apply some super glue to the edges (to keep them from splitting during a bad crash) and, as a final measure of protection, put some tape or some sort of covering near the edges of the battery slots. Alot of work, but the final product can be a masterpiece…just don’t crash it!!!