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Wrenching Time! Learn about basic RC tools - Hobby Letter #24/21


Late summer greetings from Tervakoski, Finland! Heikki here and today we entertain ourselves with an small but important issue - RC tools! Now, this may be a kinda "yeah yeah you fools I am the one who knows my tools!"-kinda issue for you if you are a seasoned RC veteran. However it appears that for many of our customers some of these things are actually a fresh topic so lets dive in to a interesting world of Basic RC Tools! Reading time 7 minutes, 56 seconds.

Tool of all Tools

Timeless icon, a symbol of dedication - that little wheel key that came with your first RTR is a highlander of all RC tools. This little socket key should be found from your pocket every time you go out racing or adventuring. Personally I am pretty much against multitools but these make an exemption as all the parts defend their purpose and cross shape makes it easy to use.

Typically this wheel wrench has always a 7.0mm hex key for wheel bolts and 5.5mm hex for smaller nuts that are very common in RC generally. Other two ones may vary, usually there is atleast hex key for very small M2.5 bolts and sometimes a handy Ball Cup key.

As a true Icon, I've seen people make jewelry, art installations and even a tattoos out of it! How many do you have and can one ever have to many?

Cheap Level

Wheel Key is good for holding the bolt but something is needed to turn the screw. Nowadays most of the screws we use here in the world of RC are with hexagonal head and in metric size. Tamiya and cheap RTR's make exemption with their traditional crosshead-screws for historical and budget reasons. However as a screws, these are simply outdated and we should get rid of those!

Why hex is better? Well, it does not slip out so easily and nothing is more annoying than trying to remove a screw that has it's head stripped. Hex and "Torx"-type screws are infinitely better here. I am about to contact my representative in EU about total ban of cross head screws. Seriously! It should be a punishable offense to use them.

General crappiness is the sole reason why you don't get very far with cheap RC tools what you'll find from the net with temptingly low prices. They claim that they'll do the job but in real life their accuracy of fabrication is not very high and material used can be softer than white bread. Ergonomically this junk is just horrible.

Try to avoid these very cheap tools because you will end just destroying your screws, hands and all the fun. If you feel like a supersaver, then just grab a normal allen hex key set from your local supermarket.

Budget Level

These can be recommended when you need just the basics to get the job done. Like this Fastrax basic metric set above, they are nice in price but atleast they have their tolerances right and the handle has some texture for better grip. As you can see, it is also possible to change the tip for these tools in case they wear out someday and trust me they will. Why? Small particles such as sand and dust get stucked in the head of the screw and will slowly eat your tools tip.

This and similar budget sets can be recommended for Weekend Warrior -level of hobbyist but if you wrench more often than once a month I recommend that you invest in to something better though the price may be a bit salty if you take just a quick look. Remember that decent tools for real cars cost basically the same and RC cars are real cars, just a bit more convenient in size!

Professional Level

Like said, dont get too shocked by the price of these God Tier tool sets. There is a reason behind why they are bit on the pricey side. Most of all it comes down to a machining and material costs. Accuracy of these tools is in astronomical level. This means that when they key indicates that it is 2.0mm, it really is what it promises and not like 1.8 or 2.1mm. Machining with this accuracy is not easy or cheap. It never was.

About the materials, these tools have their parts made from higher grade steel and aluminum. For example state-of-the-art RC tool producer Hudy makes their tool tips from graded spring steel. Same type of steel is used in your full sized car springs. Now think a moment about the forces that hit your cars suspension parts everyday year after year. Would you like to have things like air bubbles or anything else crappy faults there inside those materials? Spring steel is no joke. Stop laughing!

Why make RC tools out of it? If the screw is stuck the forces needed to "pop" it open are actually quite powerful and the twist at the tool end is very high. Now repeat this few hundred times weekly for several years and we'll start to see results between the cheaper and professional tools. Do not forget the ergonomics. Better tools are better for your hands! RC is no fun at all when your hand hurts like hell.

There is a reason why these tools cost what they do. It all dilutes down to these three words: Quality, quality and quality.

The Last Turn

To clamp everything in a nutshell - you can start with a cheaper tool set. It is ok. Everything does not have to be professional. What we recommend is anyhow that you stay away from the super cheap tools. They just suck and make you hate everything around you. When you get deeper in to hobby you should get a decent set of tools. You deserve it and so does your car!

Read more about the basic tools used in RC!

Pro-Tip: Get another smaller set for your field pack for racing days. Never take your best tool set out in to wild! Remember to keep most universal nuts and screws with you.

Members Ride time! Here stands original and well preserved Tamiya Frog dating back to 1983 from our customer Timo V. It had still the original servo operated mechanical speed controller installed what we changed to something that meets todays specifications. Loving the poisonous and rare blue colour too. Team Frog Racing Team Forever!! Thanks Timo for sharing. Keep the rides coming folks!

Remember to follow our magnificent Halko RC Instagram! Halko is our in-house brand that combines high quality to reasonable prices. Follow us up!

Greetings from Tervakoski!

Heikki / EuroRC


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