Car & Truck Terms
AC/DC Describes the power source required for battery chargers and other electrical equipment. "AC" means alternating current, such as a household power outlet. Items requiring "DC," or direct current, should be powered from a 12V field battery (or auto battery).
Adjustable Travel Volume (ATV) Radios with ATV allow you to set how far a servo arm can move from its neutral position to either side. Such settings help tailor steering response and other controls to your driving style.
ARR Some cars and trucks are almost totally assembled at the factory. Those are indicated by the abbreviations ARR (Almost Ready-To-Run) or RTR (Ready-To-Run, usually identical to ARRs but also including a radio system). ARR/RTR models cost a little more but spare you the time and effort of assembly. Keep in mind, however, that building a model from a kit gives you greater knowledge about how it workswhich makes repairs, adjustments and modifications much easier.
Ball Bearings Most entry-level cars include bushings to reduce friction and wear at points where two surfaces move against one another. Ball bearings are even more effective friction-fighters, extending the life of the parts and increasing the vehicle's overall performance. They're often a modeler's first choice of upgrades.
Battery Eliminator Circuitry (BEC) A circuit that lets you power your electric vehicle's receiver from the motor battery, eliminating the need for a separate receiver battery.
Blue-Anodized Anodizing is a process that coats a metallic surface with a protective oxide. To add to a car's high-tech looks, some manufacturers offer engines with cooling heads anodized in various colors, such as blue.
Camber Refers to the in-out inclination of the wheels as viewed from the front or rear. This is typically adjusted by changing the length of the upper suspension arm (or rod or link).
Charger Device used to recharge batteries.
Chassis The framework on which the components of an R/C car or truck are mounted. Chassis can be made of sturdy composites such as Kelron, orwhen such factors as low weight and heat-resistance are importantaluminum or graphite. The term chassis is also sometimes used to refer to an entire vehicle, excluding body, wheels and tires.
Clunk A weighted fuel pick-up used in a fuel tank to assure that the intake line is always in fuel.
Clutch Engages and disengages a shaft and a driving mechanism. The number of shoes in a clutch influences the car's ability to accelerate. Since 3- and 4-shoe clutches grip better than 2-shoe styles, they provide quicker, stronger acceleration.
Differential An arrangement of gears that permits two shafts to turn at different speeds. On the rear axle of an R/C vehicle, the differential allows the wheels to rotate at different speeds for better performance on curves.
Disc Brakes A disc brake is comprised of a metal or fiber disc that rotates (with the wheels, axles or a shaft on the transmission) between two opposed plates. When braking action is required, the opposed plates grab or squeeze the disc, causing the vehicle to slow or stop.
Dogbones Shafts that connect the transmission to the wheels, also sometimes referred to as "halfshafts." They look a bit like a dog bone, hence the name.
Downforce As air rushes over a moving car, it can also be manipulated by the shape of the body and wing to push downwardhelping to hold the model tight to the track.
Electric Models Electric vehicles are quiet, easy to build, speedy and yet comfortable for a beginning R/Cer to drive. They're powered with a rechargeable battery that can be charged in as little as 15-20 minutes, and offers about 6-8 minutes of run time when used with a stock motor. With a couple of batteries and a 15 minute charger, an electric car or truck is ready for hours of use.
Electric Starter A hand-held electric motor used for starting a model engine, and usually powered by a 12-volt battery. Electric starters are generally designed for airplane engines, and require an adapter to work with car and truck engines.
Electronic Speed Control (ESC) Electronic speed controls replace the mechanical speed control and servo usually found in "entry-level" electric R/C cars and trucks. Such an upgrade increases power efficiency and precision, and also reduces the model's weight for better, faster performance.
Engine In the R/C car hobby, the term "engine" usually refers only to the small, internal combustion power plants used in "gas" or "nitro" models. The power plants in electric vehicles are called "motors."
Field Bag A special box or reinforced bag used to hold and transport equipment used at the track.
Field Charger A fast battery charger designed to be used right at the race track, powered by a portable 12-volt power source such as an auto battery.
Gas Models Gas vehicles are powered by a small internal combustion engine burning glow fuel (not gasoline!). Many modelers enjoy the realistic sound and smell that goes along with gas-powered racing. Some gas models can reach speeds over 50 mph! The wider availability of pull-start engines and the new wave of gas vehicles has made it much more affordable for the beginner to enjoy this type of racing.
Kelron Strong, lightweight composite material used to form the chassis of some vehicles.
Lexan® Strong, clear plastic material used to form R/C car and truck bodies.
LiPo Lithium Polymer battery. While newer, lighter and more powerful than NiCd or NiMH cells, LiPo cells also cost more and require special chargers.
Manifold An exhaust header pipe that connects a tuned pipe to the engine exhaust port.
Monster Truck Monster trucks are gigantic! They are the king of the hill in any group of R/C vehicles. Designed for torque instead of speed, these car crushers can move up hills, down slopes and over unsuspecting cars by virtue of sheer, brute power. The gas powered monster trucks are nearly unstoppable.
Motor In the R/C car hobby, the term "motor" usually refers only to the power plants used in electric vehicles.
Mounting Posts Small knobs at the front and rear of an R/C vehicle's chassis. The model's body fits over the posts. Each post has a small hole for an e-clip, which prevents the body from popping off during a race.
NiCd Nickel Cadmium battery. These rechargeable batteries are typically used as power for radio transmitters and receivers.
NiMH An abbreviation for Nickel Metal-Hydride. Like NiCds , they are generally described by their storage capacity (mAh) and/or number of cells they include.
Nitro Nitromethane, a fuel additive which increases a model engine's ability to idle low and improves high-speed performance. Ideal nitro content varies from engine to engine. Refer to the engine manufacturer's instructions for best results. Nitro content in fuel is indicated by the percent of the fuel.
NiCd Starter A self-contained battery and glow plug clip, used when starting the engine. (See Glow Plug Clip.)
Off-Road Buggy Off-road buggies are the most popular R/C land vehicles. Available in gas or electric, these cars feature full-travel suspensions and high ground clearance. Their knobby rubber tires give them the ability to tackle any dirt terrain. On a dirt track or at the park, they're great fun.
Oil-Filled Shocks Shocks at the wheels of R/C vehicles keep handling smooth by absorbing the force of bumps and jolts. Oil shocks are filled with fluid and absorb bumps more effectively than shocks using only springs.
On-Road Car On-road cars don't have the beefy suspensions that off-road cars do, but they are impressive in their authentic looks and all-out speed. Built for racing on smooth, paved surfaces, they are available in gas or electric, 1/10, 1/12 and 1/8 scale. It's easy to get involved. On-road cars are burning up the tracks of organized parking lot racing courses everywhere.
Peak Charger A peak charger automatically shuts off when your battery is fully charged. This means longer run times for your vehicle. Peak chargers are nearly foolproofif you forget to turn it off, the charger does it for you to prevent overcharging.
Polycarbonate Plastic material used to form the bodies of some R/C cars and trucks.
Power Panel 12-volt distribution panel that provides correct voltage for accessories like glow plug clips, fuel pumps and electric starters. Usually mounted on a field box and connected to a 12-volt battery.
Receiver (Rx) The radio component that is mounted in the vehicle and receives the signals you send from your transmitter. It then relays those commands to the servos. This is somewhat similar to the radio you may have in your family automobile, except the radio receiver in the model perceives commands from the transmitter, while the radio in your full-size auto perceives music from the radio station.
ROAR Radio Operated Auto Racing. A national body to standardize and sanction R/C car and truck racing.
RTR Some cars and trucks are available virtually prebuilt and will be indicated by the terms ARR (Almost-Ready-To-Run) or RTR (Ready-To-Run). The ARR/RTR vehicles cost a little more, but if you're just not interested in building your car, this is an option for you. Most vehicles, however, come in kit form and require you to do the building. This may require a few evenings, but the familiarity you gain from assembly will make repairs, adjustments and modifications easier down the road.
Servo The electromechanical device which moves the control surfaces or throttle of the airplane according to commands from the receiver. Servos are the radio components doing the physical work inside the airplane.
Servo Reversing This radio feature allows you to install the servos where they can give the best pushrod routing without concern about the direction of servo rotation. When your installation is complete, turn on your radio and check each channel. If a channel operates opposite of its intended direction, a simple flick of a switch corrects the problem.
Shock Towers The vertical plate that the top of the shock absorber attaches to on the chassis.
Stadium Truck Designed for backyard fun or all out racing, R/C stadium trucks are the masters of "bump and jump" excitement. Like full-size stadium trucks, they're built to take punishment. They have heavy-duty suspensions, oversized shocks and large tires which enable them to survive the roughest terrain. Yet, when tuned correctly, they also display speed and agility equal to off-road buggies.
Starter Box Starter boxes are an alternative to starting your gas engine using an electric starter and adapter. The boxes include a motor and starter wheel. For power, they use either a 12V field battery or internal NiCd packs. Starter boxes are designed so that you can easily align your car's flywheel to the starter wheelmaking starting a simple, "one-man" job.
Suspension/Suspension Arms Suspension is an all-encompassing term that refers to all of the parts that "suspend" the car on the driving surface. This would include suspension arms, shocks, tie rods, etc. Suspension arms specifically refers to the arms, rods or links that attach the wheels to the chassis.
Throttle Manipulating the throttle (controlled by the trigger on your pistol-grip radio transmitter) changes the voltage going to your car's motor or the fuel/air mix going to its engine. The result is an increase or decrease in acceleration.
Tie Rods The rods that attach the steering servo to the front wheels, providing steering control. They "tie" the front wheels together and to the servo, hence the name.
Toe-In The relationship of the front or rear tires to each other left-to-right when viewed from the top of the car, measured in degrees or inches. Toe-in means they point slightly inward or towards each other; toe-out means they are pointing out slightly. O-degree toe would mean the wheels are parallel.
Transmission The system of gears that link a car's engine to its driving axle.
Transmitter (Tx) The handheld radio controller. This is the unit that you use to send commands out to your model.
Turnbuckle An adjustable link used as a tie rod or upper suspension link. Turnbuckles have right-hand threads on one end and left-hand threads on the other, allowing them to be adjusted without removing the link from the attaching points.
2-Wheel Drive vs. 4-Wheel DriveR/C cars, like full-scale cars, use two main drive types. In two-wheel drive (2WD), power is supplied to the two rear wheels. In four-wheel drive (4WD), motor or engine power goes to all four wheels. The 2WD vehicles are less expensive and require less overall assembly and maintenance than 4WD vehicles. The trade-off is that 4WD vehicles offer better steering through turns.
Cars & Trucks
© Copyright 1994-
, Tower Hobbies