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Getting Started With Nitro RC Trucks

Nitro powered RC trucks also require a radio system and basic tools necessary for building, and have some additional specific needs of their own. Remember to ask about the following items when you're in the hobby shop!


Unlike electric powered trucks, which use the on-board battery that powers the motor to also power the receiver and servos, an rc nitro powered model requires a separate rc battery pack to power the on-board radio equipment. Most radio controllers include a holder for 4 "AA" batteries to do the job, but replacing batteries can become very expensive. Most modellers use a rechargeable receiver battery pack instead, which requires a charger. Although more expensive up front, a rechargeable receiver pack and charger will save you money in the long run.


This heats up the engine's glow plug (the equivalent of a spark plug in a full-scale truck) so that the fuel in the combustion chamber can ignite and cause the engine to run. Once the engine running, the heat of combustion keeps the glow plug hot, and the glow-plug igniter is removed.


Most entry-level kits include a pull start (like a lawn mower), and do not need an electric starter. But for those that don't have a pull start, you'll require either a hand-held, 12V starter or an electric starter box. Both types of starter have spinning, rubber wheels that, when placed against the engine's flywheel, cause the engine's crankshaft to rotate and fire the engine into life.


Although often referred to as gas powered, nitro trucks DO NOT run on gasoline. RC nitro fuel is a mixture of nitro methane and synthetic or castor oil lubricants. It is flammable and must be treated with care, but it is not quite as volatile as gasoline. Never attempt to use gasoline in a nitro engine!


This is simply a small, squeezable bottle with a long neck that makes it easier to fill your trucks gas tank. Pouring fuel into a tiny tank opening from a full gallon jug of fuel invariably leads to a mess, waste and a danger!


Many electric-powered kits come with mechanical speed controls. They're simple, switching devices that are worked by a separate servo to provide a range of forward speeds (usually three), as well as a reverse function to allow you to back your truck out of trouble. Mechanical speed controls perform well enough, and because they're inexpensive and included with many entry-level kits, they allow beginners to get up and running with a smaller investment.

When you've gained some experience with your new RC truck, you may wish to upgrade to an electronic speed control (ESC). This self-contained, electronic switching device replaces the mechanical unit and its additional servo. You'll find that an ESC allows much more precise throttle control, requires no maintenance, operates more efficiently, and saves both weight and space on your truck's chassis. There are many ESCs available from expensive, full racing versions to economical ones that may have reverse. Whichever you consider, you should match your speed-control purchase to the type of RC activity in which you participate and the size of your budget.


Are you interested in RC trucks, but the prospect of building the kit yourself has you worried? Fear not! Many of the popular RC truck manufacturers offer assembled versions of their nitro and electric powered kits that are completely ready to run (RTR), which substantially cuts down on the time needed to go from box to track. You get the convenience of a "toy" RC truck, with the quality and performance of a hobby-quality kit. With an RTR, you can be ready for mad RC truck action in an hour or less. If you buy an RTR truck, be sure to save the instruction manual, because it will be invaluable if you have to make repairs. It is also possible to get kits which require a minimal amount of assembly. These are known as (almost ready to run) ARTR trucks.

For more information on specific RTR RC Monster Trucks, check out our reviews section.

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