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Color0's Micro RC Blog -- A technical brain dump from the mind of yours truly...
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2WD Magic Parts: Front Wheel Bearing Spacers

Posted 02-25-2009 at 08:37 PM by color0
Updated 03-08-2011 at 10:37 AM by color0
One of the largest downfalls to the Mini-Z MR-01/015/02's design is the fact that the front wheel bearings have empty space between them. That is, when installing a wheel, you cannot tighten the nut all the way because that would bind up (and eventually damage) both wheel bearings. But that leaves the front wheels with a very noticeable degree of slop, which makes itself evident in the car's handling. To be able to tighten the nut down, you need a spacer in that empty space to take up the load.

Making your own spacers is possible and relatively elementary, but unless you make them out of metal (VERY time-consuming) they eventually get compressed and lose their effect -- the bearings start binding again.

However, recently Fast Pace Racing have come out with steel spacers exactly for this purpose.


Although they look plain, these are precision-made spacers that FPR designed to fit perfectly in the space between the front wheel bearings. I bought a set from him and tried them out on my MRCG -- and dang, do they work! Before the spacers, the wheel nuts couldn't be tightened down so I had a maximum of almost 2 degrees camber fluctuation from the play of the knuckles and the play of the wheels combined. After the spacers were installed, I cranked those nuts down, and the play from the wheels was instantly removed. Camber fluctuations now less than half a degree!

I tested my car before and after the shims in my dorm hallway, with a few corner dots to aim for.

The spacers make the car's handling MUCH more responsive and precise. I love knowing exactly where my car is going to turn in -- getting consistently within 2 inches of my corner dots used to be a challenge, due to the slippery carpet, but now I can do it with ease.

Furthermore, because steering response was improved, I was able to turn down the steering quick-response and steering exponential on my radio (KO Propo EX-1 UR). For those who haven't played with these two settings: increasing the steering exponential makes the car turn in faster, but makes the car a little bit twitchy at high speed. Increasing steering quick response makes the handling more responsive but makes the steering's ability to center progressively worse. Now that I've turned both settings down, I can have the confidence that my car will be easy to manage on the back straight, but will turn exactly as I want it to everywhere else. That's an incredible benefit for what are essentially a pair of shims, and that's what makes these front wheel bearing spacers a "2WD magic part."

There is one downside to these spacers, however. So far I think they only work with PN 20mm Delrin dish wheels. That isn't a bad thing per se (the Delrin dish wheels are pretty much the best racing wheels in the market today), but for people who prefer racing with other wheels, the shims aren't guaranteed to work perfectly. I use PN spoked plastic wheels a lot, and unfortunately the spacers are not quite thick enough to span the space between the bearings with these wheels. FPR is currently working on a fix for this so I look forward to writing an update to this article.

Pricing is currently at $6.50 a pair, so you can outfit a couple of your cars with them without hurting your wallet too much. If you're a serious racer using PN 20mm Delrin dish wheels on your MR-01/015/02, I would strongly suggest trying these out as the benefits are well worth the price.

Will have some pictures soon, I was a bit too lazy today to take my front end apart.
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arch2b's Avatar
cost issue aside, i'm not a fan of PN non metal wheels as they are not as durable as atomic in my experience. it's unfortunate that these spacers are not multi brand friendly. i'll have to post to mini-zracer asking about atomic fit.
Posted 03-18-2009 at 08:44 AM by arch2b arch2b is offline

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