The Venture Trail Team Hits the UK Recon G6!

Fri, 8th June 2018

This report is from Stephen ‘Speedy’ Allen, one of the UK’s top competitive RC crawler drivers and the first UK member of the HPI Racing Venture Trail Team. Speedy has been a prominent member of the UK RC crawling scene for many years, helping to organize the UK Scale Crawler Nationals and the UK editions of the Recon G6 events for the last several years. This is Speedy’s take on what he did to prepare his Venture FJ Cruiser for heavy duty G6 driving, and how the Venture did on a G6 weekend that was rocky and muddy!

 

Getting back from the third UK Recon G6 and having had a little time to reflect, I have to say I really do love this side of the RC hobby. Crawling gives you more time running your RC and less moaning - unless, of course, it’s about the amount of mud on the trails! Being part of the UK Recon G6 family is a great thing and it’s nice to see all those smiling faces coming from people coming off the trails - apart from those carrying parts of their rigs back with them! But even then some had huge smiles on their faces and that for me makes it even more worthwhile.

For me, the UK Recon G6 prep started a month or so before when the infamous HPI Frank asked if I wanted to join the HPI Team as part of the Venture Trail Team. At a previous event, I had the chance to try out a bone stock RTR, and I was impressed. Having driven other trucks for a long time, I was quick to reply and soon took delivery of a pair of Venture trucks to get testing in preparation for the UK Recon G6.

 

G6 Truck Prep

Now, I could have gone down the route of leaving it bone stock and just running the RTR but that just isn’t me! I love the Toyota FJ body so that was definitely staying. With the scale of the body, it was soon clear that this would want a smaller 1.9 tire size. The stock wheels and tires aren’t bad, but I wanted that little bit more with alloy beadlocks and some sticky rubber. Replacing the plastic links with some homemade stainless steel ones was the next port of call.

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Along with the links, I also got some brass knuckle and hubs from STRC and alloy rear lockouts. I also got some brass wheel weights which fit to the wheel hub for the front wheels just to get that little bit more weight forward.

For the electric, I wanted to go sensored brushless, and there’s only one brand of motors I run in any of my crawlers: Holmes Hobbies, they make some of the best crawler/scaler motors on the market and I’d always wanted an excuse to try the Stubby Puller Pro motorand this was it. To go along with the motor I used an HPI Q Base ESC, as this can handle the job and is sensored as well.  Upgrading the servo was my next job - a Hitec 7955 was called into play from my stock of parts and was soon fitted in. The most difficult part of the pre-build was fitting a Castle Creations BEC, Futaba 6-channel receiver and a transmitter-controlled switch inside the radio box - but I managed it!

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On the hunt for good weight distribution, I made a mount where the stock ESC goes and put my small 2200mAh 3s LiPo pack there. With the efficiency of the brushless motor, I could easily get an hour’s run time out of one pack.

For some extra scale touches, I added a Pro-Line interior with a driver and extra scale items inside. With this done, it was onto lighting. With the UK Recon G6 there is normally a night trail… sadly, I’ve not made it to one yet! I will do one day! I still added some lighting though - I found the perfect roof light bar from Onetoomanyrcs which lines up with the roof bars (more luck than judgment, though).

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Finally, I worked on the bumper, tucking in the front bumper in as close to the body as possible. This left no space for a winch to go on the bumper, so I made a little bracket and mounted a winch servo next to the transfer box and ran a stainless steel tube up to the front bumper.

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Testing the HPI Venture for the first time, for my driving style I found the shocks a bit light on shock oil weight. Bumping it up to 70wt gave me a really nice action and feel and testing some more I was over the moon with how the Venture acted and gripped. Finally, I had to look at waterproofing - going to a Recon G6, that is one thing you should always prepare for! So making sure everything was waterproof was my last job in preparation for the event.

 

Prep Done, Bring on the G6!

Being in the UK Recon G6 family, for me, the weekend started early on Friday by making my way to the event location and helping the rest set up for the weekend's extreme scale trail fun. With Brian Parker at the helm, we went about setting up 8 50 gate courses, all in differing terrain through the mass woodland area that we use. This year Parker was over the moon with what he calls “liquid sunshine”! For us, mud is scale so there just had to be some extreme mud trails and they did not disappoint! With the 8 trails set and Parker's secret duties done of hiding special bonuses on the trails for people to find it was off for a relax and final prep making sure all my LiPo’s were charged and everything was in my backpack that I may need while out on the trails.

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Let the madness begin! Booking in. With over 150 drivers booking in on the first of three days I knew it was going to be a crazy weekend. I managed to get out late morning and hit the first of the eight trails. This had a gentle start and broke you in gently before getting to some gnarly rocks and giving you a challenge. The Venture didn’t miss a beat through the whole trail.

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I did notice the difference in driving a smaller 1.9 tire that pumpkin and skid plate clearance was reduced this is where the power and wheel speed of the 3300kv 4 pole Holmes Hobbies motor really came into play. The trick is to just get the front wheels up and then a blip of the throttle to hop up a ledge or over a crest was all that was needed.

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With the Venture FJ showing no signs of stopping, I continued on and did two more of the trails before heading back to G6 Central. I was having so much fun with the smaller tire size it was great and it just looks right with the body. While out on the first trails it was really nice to see a couple of other HPI Venture drivers and have a chat and see what they thought of theirs and share tips and tricks to what we had done to our Ventures.

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Three 50 gate trails down and no signs of stopping! In the afternoon I managed to get back out on the trials, I replaced the LiPo which had done all three trails before and put in a fresh one. Heading back out with my wife and fellow G6 Crew member Ian we went for the two muddy trails. Now, when I say muddy, I mean some of the best scale looking mud bog trails that you will ever see.

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I was a little worried at times as I had seen people coming back with burnt out brushed motors and rigs covered in mud but I was very surprised at how well the Venture went through the now quite deep mud, it didn’t get stuck once just worked its way through it all.

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I did make a tactical detour when I saw the mud getting above the bonnet but other than my not willing to risk expensive electrics it did everything and more than I could through at it.

 

Got bog? The @recong6 this weekend in the UK has plenty! Thanks to @speedysteve79

A post shared by Venture (@venturehpi) on May 26, 2018 at 8:32am PDT

With Parker's worst mud bog hell trail done, I was onto a second muddy but a little more rocky trail that Ian had set out. This is where I had my only issue of the whole weekend and it wasn’t the Venture’s fault. With the grass being long and my love for the loud pedal, there had been quite a considerable build-up of grass wrapped around the front drive shaft to the extent that the rig was getting very sluggish. On inspecting the truck, I had to get some scissors out of my bag because the grass was that tightly wrapped around the axle! It was soon all cut off and the Venture was back to its spritely self again, allowing me to finish the trail.

Getting back to G6 Central, I quickly washed off the worst of the mud and checked over the rig. I found more grass had wrapped itself around the wheel hexes, so with the wheels off I removed the hex and cleared all the grass out, as you don’t want to put any added strain on the drivetrain if you can help it.

While I had been on the two trails Parker Had set out the Terra Cross course and they were just starting practice as I was heading back to check over the Venture. I was tempted to enter but my belly was telling me I needed to eat - and I listened! With Day One over for me, I was over the moon with the HPI Venture. I really was impressed with the punishment it took. That evening I relaxed in the Hotel restaurant and chatted with fellow G6 Crew member Scott "Aceofaxe" about our day’s fun on the trails.

 

Recon G6 – Day Two!

Day Two saw the last three of the trails and these where the furthest away from G6 central and the car park and they didn’t disappoint. Granted, one of the courses myself and Scott set up in an area I had previously scoped out at our UK Nationals event and I wanted to run a trail right up at the top. This saw some really challenging rocky areas where you had to pick your lines well. I found this really easy with the narrow width I was running made things easier squeezing between rocks that wider rigs had to go over.

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With the first trail of the day complete, it was straight onto the second which Parker had set out and it had the most epic gate,  a rather large upside-down V-shaped rock with a gate just before the rock. Suddenly into my head came the dukes of hazard theme song and I knew what I had to do – yep, pin it to win it! Giving Ian my camera I just had to record this to share on Instagram.

The Venture jump over the rock landed on its wheels and then bounced and rolled sideways back onto its wheels. Watching the video this was possibly down to heavy shock oil but this didn’t bother me, the Venture ran so well on the tails it was forgiven.

Completing this trail had me right by the starting point for my final trail. This had some really large rocks and some tough inclines which I knew were going to be tough, the winch was used several times but only after trying to get up or over without it. I like to push the rig and see just what it can do before I resort to using the winch or try the tougher line before taking the easier option. 

With the last three trails done, it was back to G6 Central and my crew duties took over. We set up for the raffle where one lucky person Jon Kemmish won an HPI Venture FJ RTR of his own – well, until he got home that evening and his children relieved him of it and played with it in his back garden!

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Speedy, Venture FJ prize winner Jon and Parker of Recon G6 fame!

 

Final G6 Day!

The final day saw the team event where teams had to run three short little trails which were judged only on touching a gate or the boundary marker. This saw for some great action but sadly being one of the judges I couldn’t compete. I did, however, run the course after the teams had run and they were all quite challenging. Sadly after this Parker had to leave to catch a flight so we said our farewells to him and Johanna, and we let everyone who stayed go out and explore the woods for the afternoon.

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All in all, it was a great weekend! I was so impressed with the HPI Venture that I’ve put some of my other scale rigs up for sale, as they are just not going to get used now. The Venture FJ will be my rig of choice for any event or even just on fun trail walks on the weekends.

I must say a huge thank you to Frank for giving me the chance to be a Venture Trail Team driver and to HPI for bringing out a rig that’s not like the rest!

Thank you to Speedy and Johanna Wechselberge for the great photos!


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