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Blakbird's 58675 Mercedes G500 Build 1 month 2 weeks ago #63820

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The Tamiya CC-01 (Cross Country) chassis was originally released in 1993. For more than 25 years this chassis has remained in production with no changes.  Hardly a year went by that Tamiya fans didn't wonder when (or if) a CC-02 would ever be released.  Finally in December of 2019, exactly 26 years later, we got our first CC-02.  This isn't just an update of the previous chassis, it is a completely new design with solid axles and a ladder frame.  There were a lot of things fans were hoping would be addressed in this model, and I'll try to briefly cover each major one.
  • Did they fix the steering?  Yes.  The CC-01 suffered from a convoluted steering mechanism with minimal lock.  The CC-02 uses a chassis mounted servo with a direct connection to the steering knuckle.  Lock seems improved as well.
  • Did they fix the gearing?  Yes.  And no.  One of the major problems with the CC-01 as a trail truck or crawler was that it was much too fast and could only be made even faster by swapping the 16T pinion with a 20T.  The CC-02 offers a huge array of gear ratios by using pinions anywhere from 16T to 25T as well as a high-low option based on changing a gear in the transmission that allows a further 1.69:1 difference.  While this array of choices is nice, they are all skewed towards fast running.  In my opinion, even the lowest gearing option is still much too fast for a crawler.  I'd prefer another 2:1 reduction if possible.  I replaced the motor with a higher turn (lower speed) motor which works pretty well.
  • Did they fix the tires?  No.  The original CC-01 suffered from hard, inflexible tires which were fine on gravel but terrible on anything more difficult.  The CC-02 uses the same style of tires which, for a model new in 2019, are completely unacceptable.
  • Are the old bodies compatible?  Yes.  And no.  The CC-02 offers a range of wheelbase options like the CC-01, and there seems to be a good overlap between them.  Any of the polycarbonate bodies should fit fine.  The hard bodies, on the other hand, used a specialized mounting system and it remains to be seen whether or not adapter brackets will be made available.
  • What about the inner fenders?  The CC-01 predates the current crawler and trail truck revolution by more than a decade, and even way back then they had inner fenders, a feature that is only now becoming commonplace.  Sadly, the CC-02 lost this feature.
The CC-02 is a solid axle, ladder frame chassis with 4-link suspension front and rear.  It uses a chassis mounted servo and four long travel, coil-over CVA style shocks.  The motor, gearbox, and transfer case are mid-mounted reasonably low in the chassis.  The ladder frame, links, axle housings, and virtually everything else are plastic unlike many competitors' trucks.  Nevertheless, the chassis is quite rigid.

Let's talk about the body.  There were a host of bodies available on the CC-01 over the years, mostly smallish SUV bodies.  There was never a Mercedes Benz Geländewagen though, which actually makes some sense because the CC-01 uses independent front suspension and the G-wagen used solid axles, sometimes with portals.  Tamiya never really seemed to care about drivetrain accuracy though.  Despite their highly detailed bodies, they were always perfectly happy to put a RWD car on an AWD chassis or vice versa.  Here was their chance to do one right, to put a solid axle body on a solid axle chassis.  Despite the fact that the G-wagen had been solid axle for 40 YEARS, Tamiya's body choice was a Gen 2 G-wagen, new for 2018, which now uses independent front suspension.  So this new body would be correct on a CC-01, and an older body would be correct on a CC-02.  Oh well, maybe I'm the only one who noticed.  In my market (North America), the G500 and G550 are the entry level versions with a 4.0l V-8 developing only 416hp.  The G63 is the AMG version.

So what's the verdict?  I think the truck is worth building.  The CC-02 wasn't the answer to all my dreams, and really is still a Cross Country chassis more than a crawler.  On the other hand, the list of compatible amazing scale bodies makes it compelling.  The price is quite high compared with the competition though, so only time will tell whether or not it will be a success.  It will be hard to match the 26 years of the CC-01 which, by the way, has not been replaced.  It is still in production.

This very first CC-02 model comes in a box very similar in size to a typical CC-01, though somewhat deeper.  That extra depth is to make room for the quite sizeable G500 body which is about all you can see when you open the box.  Apart from the tires, everything else is packed beneath the body shell.
   

You can already tell this is not going to be a simple chassis based purely on the number of parts trees and hardware bags included.  Most of the trees are black and only a couple are dark gray, but from what I can tell all are glass filled Nylon (example shown at right) for strength and stiffness.
       

The transmission uses 3 gears (2 pairs).  The 2nd pair can be installed two ways.  If the smaller gear is used as a driver, you get a gear reduction and a low speed ratio.  If the larger gear is used as a driver, you get a gear increase and a high speed ratio.  Since one of the major issues with the CC-01 was too high gearing, I used the low ratio as shown.  Note that the kit came with plastic bushings but I immediately switched to ball bearings.
       

Directly tapping into glass filled plastic is not a great idea because it tends to be quite brittle and can crack.  Wherever possible, Tamiya uses nuts instead.  Many of them are installed in a strange manner.  On the left, you can see a nut in a slot trapped by an overlapping washer in the transmission housing.  The right hand image shows the sealed up gearbox with only the transfer case output protruding.
   
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Blakbird's 58675 Mercedes G500 Build 1 month 2 weeks ago #63821

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The kit uses a very large 83 tooth spur gear with 0.6 mod pitch.  It seems like the disc attached to the spur could probably be replaced with a slipper clutch, but none is included nor does an optional slipper exist at the time of this writing.
       

Now the final covers can be attached to the transmission and the motor installed.  The kit comes with a standard 27T silver can which is really still too fast for a crawler.  I replaced the stock aluminum 16T pinion with a steel version.  The aluminum pinion is shown sitting on the housing for comparison.  Larger pinions up to 25T can be used, but nothing smaller.
       

Now we can start building the chassis which uses more glass filled parts.  Here another way to support nuts is shown on the right.  These square molded blocks hold nuts and are prevented from rotating by mating parts.
   

The chassis starts with the cross members, but these are much more than just I-beams or C-channels.  There is a huge molded front part which will hold the gearbox, the servo, and the electronics.  It is heavily braced and reinforced.  The rear longitudinal battery tray attaches above and behind this and fits modern rectangular Li-Po batteries.  On the right you can see that the molded plastic frame rails have been attached.  Yes, they are plastic but because of the construction this is still an incredibly rigid chassis.
   
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Blakbird's 58675 Mercedes G500 Build 1 month 2 weeks ago #63822

Excellent writing as always :y: :)
 

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Blakbird's 58675 Mercedes G500 Build 1 month 2 weeks ago #63823

Thanks for all these détails 👍👍👍

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Blakbird's 58675 Mercedes G500 Build 1 month 1 week ago #63902

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The plastic shock towers are attached to metal frame extensions as shown.  Front and rear shock towers are the same and each feature 3 upper attach points.  They also appear to be reversible to accommodate different wheelbases.  The front frame extension houses the chassis mounted servo which can be installed either horizontally or vertically.
   
    
Once the extensions are installed we can see the full length of the ladder frame.  Now the transmission can be installed using 4 screws from below.  It is tricky to get the gearbox aligned.  It has to be tipped, lowered, and then straightened out to fit.
   
The universal joints of the plastic drive shafts have to be assembled manually by deforming the yokes.  This is pretty easy to do because the plastic is so soft.  This same softness had me worried that they would pop apart under high torque, but I've had no problem so far.  The male splined ends of the drive shafts are installed to the transfer case as shown.
   
The CC-02 uses exactly the same cast differential parts as the CC-01 which, as far as I can tell, is the only commonality between them.  The version on the far left shows the stock open differential, while the version just to right shows how to lock the diff by inserting a plastic locker in place of the spider gears.  I fully locked my build.  The axle housing is significant and rigid.  There should be no breakage here.  The axles have dogbone ends, but universals are available as an upgrade.
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Blakbird's 58675 Mercedes G500 Build 1 month 1 week ago #63903

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Here's the beefy front axle all buttoned up on the left.  On the right I've added the brackets for attaching the suspension links.
   
    
Now I can install the steering bits.  The knuckles are one piece plastic with no caster.  The steering link is plastic and not adjustable.  The servo link is a metal rod with plastic rod ends and balls.  In the photo on the right you can see the suspension links.  Upper and lower links have different profiles but are all plastic with no adjustability.     
The rear axle is just a simplified version of the front without steering.  The differential is exactly the same, but the links are a different length.
   
    
The brackets shown are used to attach the links to the chassis, and this is where all the wheelbase adjustability comes in.  You can see that there are an extra set of holes for each bracket.  These are spaced at 10mm so they allow a shortening of the wheelbase by that amount.  You can also see that the link attachments are not centered between the screws; they are actually offset by 5mm.  This means you can swap them left to right for 5mm adjustments.  The G-500 body uses a 267mm wheelbase, the second longest possible on this chassis.  The full list of options are: 242mm, 247mm, 252mm, 257mm, 262mm, 267mm, and 272mm.  Note that different length links and drive shafts would be required when changing wheelbase.  There is very little triangulation in the suspension, so it is almost more like trailing arm than 4-link.
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Blakbird's 58675 Mercedes G500 Build 1 month 1 week ago #63904

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The gray oil shocks included are simplified CVAs with integrated pistons just like the CC-01, but with a longer stroke.  All four corners use the same size.  It is relatively unusual to see Tamiya include the red damper oil with a kit.  This is the softest (least viscous) oil they make.
   

If you put on long enough shocks, you'd get a land strider look like this.  U-joint angle might be a problem.     
With the shocks installed the chassis is essentially complete.  Note that the shock diameter is vastly too large for scale (as is the length), but this is a good thing for performance.
   
    
There is plenty of room to install the included TBLE-02s ESC and route the wires neatly as shown on the left.  Installation of the wheels and tires completes the rolling chassis which is now fully driveable.
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Blakbird's 58675 Mercedes G500 Build 1 month 1 week ago #63922

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Even though this body looks a bit like a big, simple cube, there is still a lot involved in preparing, painting, assembling, and mounting it.  The picture at the left shows the body as it came out of the box.  On the right, I've trimmed it all out.  Less obvious are the 15 different holes I had to ream into the body.
   

There is almost always something I screw up on each model.  In this case, I was happily following the lines to cut out the body before I noticed that you are NOT supposed to cut out those notches in the bottom of the rear bumper.  Those lines are just showing detail but are not intended to be trimmed, so I ended up with an asymmetric bumper as shown.  Luckily, this area is pretty much invisible on the trail and it doesn't look that bad anyway.  The picture on the right test fits the body on the chassis.  The mounting posts seem a bit tall.
   
    
There is a lot of masking to do as well.  There are 9 total windows when the sun roof is included, and the headlights and tail lights are also masked.  Note the fiddly C-shaped masks required for the tail lights shown on the right.  I also chose to mask and paint the running boards.
   

I've got several gun metal colored models already and didn't feel the color was wild enough for a G500 anyway, so I surveyed my collection and tried to pick something I hadn't used before but would still look good.  I went with light blue.  After spraying the solid color as well as the black running boards we have the intermediate result shown here.
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Blakbird's 58675 Mercedes G500 Build 1 month 1 week ago #63923

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The sticker project seemed too daunting to attack all at once, so I decided to start in the rear.  On the left you can see the stickers surrounding the rear window, the tail lights, the hinges, and the bumper.  On the right I've test fit the spare tire to see how it looks.  I was waiting on matching TS paint to arrive.
   
    
Now I've moved on to the front.  On the left I've applied the little rings around the headlights and the details to the front bumper.  On the right I've test fit the lights buckets and the grille.
   
    
On the left I've completed all the decals including surrounding all the windows, the hinges, door handles, pin striping, and running boards.  Even after all that work I still felt it was lacking detail though, so I went over the whole model with trim tape and outlined the doors and body panel lines.  The result is on the right.  I think it looks a lot better.  I've also test fit the mirrors and turn signal markers.
   
    
This kit came with a full TLU-01 lighting system, but only one pair of white and one pair of red LEDs are used. The light buckets in the rear double as body stiffeners.  The white parts shown span the whole rear of the body and make it more rigid so it won't flop around on the trails: a great idea.  The picture on the right shows how the installed tail lights look illuminated.
   
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Blakbird's 58675 Mercedes G500 Build 1 month 1 week ago #63924

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Now I've given the front the same treatment.  The headlight buckets are chromed to improve reflection.  The right hand picture shows not only the completed lights but also the painted grille.  Compare it to the picture with pure chrome from earlier so see how much better is looks with most of it blacked out.
   
    
Done!  Now we can examine the completed model.  All the decals have been applied, all the painting is done, the panel lines are on, and the lights are installed.  You can see that I've now also painted the spare tire case in two-tone.  I think the back of the truck looks just as good as the front.
   
    
The picture on the left shows the detail on the mirror which required two tone paint and stickers.  It looks really good.  I couldn't help but compare the completed model to my G65 on the MST CFX-W chassis.  The gold version seems like it is a much larger scale, but it is actually almost all just due to a higher lifted chassis on the G65.  The body itself is only slightly bigger.  These two models also represent two different generations of G-wagen.
   
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