It’s that time of year again ... Already the “seasonal goods” aisles in the supermarkets are beginning to fill up with Christmas items, and as soon as Halloween and the Guy Fawkes night are out of the way, it’ll be full on consumer excess – prompting the inevitable question from members of my family – “What do you want for Christmas?”.
Anyway, (having cut out approximately 1,000 words of me going off at a tangent), I thought it might be useful to come up with some RC related/tool gift ideas: things that are very useful – but not something that is used so often that the average enthusiast will have already bought them. So here they are, ranked in order of cost (lowest to highest):
These are formed like a screwdriver, but with hex tips – much less fiddly and faster than Allen keys.
1.5mm is probably the most useful size (pinion grub screws, etc), but some Tamiya fitting need a 2mm driver. After that, 2.5mm is very useful if you want to switch to M3 cap head screws. Getting slightly more obscure, if you want to fiddle with US made cars (the legendary RC10 for instance), then you’ll need imperial sizes: 1/16”, 5/64”, 3/32” and – where the size convention stops making sense to me - 0.50.
The RC oriented alloy sets look very tempting, but in my experience the tips are inadequately heat treated ad wear very fast, so you’re better off getting single tools from other brands – I’ve found Wera or Bondhus are good.
Guide price: 4 GBP each
To be honest, in the current climate where troubleshooting electrics and electronics is to replace black boxes until the thing works again these are a lot less useful than they used to be – but for the small cost, being able to do some basic voltage and continuity checks could save you a lot of head scratching.
Guide price: 5 GBP
Good for removing C-clips in Bigwigs, Foxes etc, and for winkling out bits of crud from inaccessible places. Some sets have double ended tools – which can be quite useful - some sets come with a mirror – which is less so.
Guide price: 5 GBP
Glass Fibre Pen
The ideal thing for tickling corrosion off battery contacts in transmitters.
Guide price: 8 GBP
I see the phrase “Calipers” seems to be used a lot to describe these tools, personally I’ll stick with “Verniers” as even its incorrect, at least I won’t associate them with what the young Forest Gump had on his legs.
These allow you to measure depth, diameters (both internal and external) and so on with a much greater degree of accuracy than a ruler (or guessing) – and are a lot cheaper know than I remember... If you do buy a set of the type in the picture here, do make sure you also buy some good quality LR44 batteries (around 2 GBP) – the supplied ones tend to be rubbish.
Guide price: 8 GBP
Contrary to popular belief, I don’t spend a lot of time sawing limbs off driver figures, or hacking parts of scale bodywork – but when I do, my razor saw is very useful: the whole point of these is they make a very narrow cut, thanks to the width of the blade - typically 0.3mm (0.12”). Lots of brands are available, including Tamiya, mine is a “Citadel” (from Games Workshop).
This is a tool with a very narrow focus – it’s only (correct) use is to enlarge holes for body posts in lexan bodies – which it does far better than drill bits or a rotary tool. My main advice has to be: don’t buy a cheap one.
Guide Price: 14 - 20 GBP
Hot Air Gun
Yet another tool that doesn’t get a whole lot of use – mine only ever gets dusted off when applying heat shrinking tubing – but it does such a good job compared to lighters, mini blow torches, gas hobs, matches, etc – that I think it’s essential for a properly equipped toolbox.
Guide price: 15 GBP upwards
Obviously you can clean RC parts by hand – possibly in the kitchen sink – so this again is a bit of an indulgence ... but it’s principal benefits are that you can put a batch of parts in to buzz while you’re doing something else, and that an ultrasonic tank does seem to do a better job on small screws than the usual soak in WD40.
There are an awful lot of models to choose from, I have a James Ultra 7000 & can recommend it – you can’t get chassis tubs in there, but just about everything else will fit.
Guide price: 35 GBP
Note the correct, non-trademark infringing use of “Rotary Tool” here – but let’s be honest, these are known as a “Dremel”, even when made by inferior manufacturers. My recommendation has to be the Dremel 200 – it’s an update of a long running proven design (my model 395 is over 12 years old & is still going strong), and being mains powered means there’s no battery to fail. Don’t forget the safety glasses
Guide price: 35+ GBP
Written by TB member Jonny Retro