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TOPIC: Blakbird's 47350 Top Force Build

Blakbird's 47350 Top Force Build 4 days 3 hours ago #58063

The Top Force holds a special place in history as the 100th Tamiya RC model. While the number 100 doesn't signify anything in particular, the first 100 are traditionally considered as the Golden Age of Tamiya and the most highly collectible. The 58087 Manta Ray from 1990 was the first to use the new DF-01 chassis. The 58100 Top Force followed only a year later and was also based on the DF-01 but with quite a few changes. The original plastic bathtub was replaced with FRP (fiberglass) chassis plates as were the shock towers. The gear differentials were replaced with ball differentials and the suspension had more adjustability. This can therefore can be considered a more deluxe version of the chassis. The Top Force was re-released as 58362 in 2005 with minimal changes and quickly sold out. It came back as a limited edition kit (47350) in 2017 which is the version I have.

This is a 4WD shaft drive buggy with four wheel independent suspension and oil shocks. I used a vintage Dynatech brushed motor to give it performance worthy of itself, and I'm glad I did. There's something special about the high pitched hum of a low turn brushed motor. It drives very well indeed with poise and stability, and the jumps are almost perfectly level. No complaints. I love the way it looks too. This is probably the lowest profile body in the Tamiya buggy lineup, and it features an undertray as well so the internal components are almost completely enclosed. The wing is pretty but fragile. Sadly, there is no room for a driver.

The Top Force uses the DF-01 chassis which was previously used on the Manta Ray and the builds are extremely similar. See my Manta Ray page for additional photos and build details.

The Top Force box really doesn't do justice to the glorious model within, but the cover art is pretty nice. Inside are dividers but no blister packs.
There are a substantial number of parts involved in building the Top Force as you can see. Apart from the numerous plastic sprues, there are also 6 bags of hardware. The obvious difference between this pile of parts and those of the previous DF-01, the Manta Ray, is the use of FRP chassis plates instead of a plastic bathtub.
The build begins with the front and rear differentials. While the Manta Ray used gear differentials, the Top Force uses ball differentials in both front and rear gearboxes. The left hand picture shows the balls which are housed in the main spur gear. The balls in the right hand photo are part of a thrust bearing which prevents the clamping bolt from unthreading when the diff is slipping.
The completed rear differential can now be placed into the gearbox housing. It inserts from the rear which allows it to be serviced without removing the gearbox from the chassis.

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Blakbird's 47350 Top Force Build 4 days 3 hours ago #58064

The motor mount is a determinant assembly which uses sets of fixed holes to set the gear mesh, allowing a pinion anywhere from 16 to 21 teeth. I'm using the largest pinion which should yield the highest top speed. The motor mount then bolts into the rear gearbox ahead of the rear axle.
The rest of the gearbox is just like the Manta Ray, except that one of the aluminum gears has been replaced with nylon. This supposedly solves a notorious wear problem of the original. The bevel gears drive the prop shaft which will go to the front gearbox.
Here we can see some more differences from the Manta Ray in the rear suspension. The plastic shock tower has been replaced with FRP and the fixed length upper links have been replaced with adjustable rods (but not turnbuckles).
The lower arms and uprights are identical to the Manta Ray.

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Blakbird's 47350 Top Force Build 4 days 3 hours ago #58065

The front gearbox appears to be just like the Manta Ray. The only internal difference (not visible externally) is the use of a ball differential.
Like the changes to the rear gearbox, we've added an FRP shock tower and adjustable upper links to the front suspension. Lower arms, C-hubs, and knuckles are from the Manta Ray.
The dual bellcrank steering is very similar in layout to the Manta Ray, but the simple z-bent center rod has been replaced with an adjustable link with ball ends. The FRP chassis plate is a complete departure from the Manta Ray's plastic bathtub, but the servo and battery positions have not changed.
The shocks are the same plastic CVAs as the Manta Ray, but molded in black instead of yellow. Once built and filled, they can be installed on the front and rear suspension modules which can then be bolted to the chassis plate with the wire prop shaft between them

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Blakbird's 47350 Top Force Build 4 days 3 hours ago #58066

An upper FRP chassis plate completes the chassis build. Now we just need to add the electronics. I used a Hobbywing ESC because I knew I wanted to use a motor much hotter than the stock silver can. Because the battery does not need to sit in a molded curved battery tray, you can fit a modern Li-Po battery. The tires use rectangular spikes.
I knew that the standard motor was going to be inadequate for this model so I checked into what optional motors might have been available at the time it was originally released. The Dynatech 01R seemed to be the best match. This is a 19 turn motor as opposed to the 27 turn stock motor which makes it much faster (and smoother too). Highly recommended, though I'm sure a modern Super Stock BZ motor would do just as well.
The body attaches with a single body clip at the front and back along with a long strip of Velcro along either side. The rear wing is quite fragile because the sides are only a single layer thick. This makes it a lot easier to paint compared with the narrow vertical pockets in most wings, but also thin. Sure looks good though.
Here is a comparison with the rare and top-of-the-line Top Force Evolution.
The following user(s) Liked this: 1972 LeMansGT Jim

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Blakbird's 47350 Top Force Build 4 days 3 hours ago #58067

There's something about the combination of the extremely low and sleek body shape and the striking color of the Top Force that make it one of the best looking Tamiya buggies, in my opinion. I cringe every time I flip it over. I'm going to keep driving it though.

The following user(s) Liked this: stingray-63, 1972 LeMansGT Jim

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