Associated TC6.2 Build Review
I have always liked the Associated TC6 range of cars and I have driven all the models in the TC6.x platform right from the TC6 that, in my mind, really made the move for Associated towards a Lipo centric chassis and the higher demands that the brushless motors and dynamic timing speedos put on todays chassis.
A bit of history…
The TC6 started to do what a lot of manufacturers had been doing, moving the motor in towards the centre line, lowering the spur gear and starting to tune the geometry of the car. The TC6 also introduced the Factory Team VCS3 shocks featuring hard-anodized threaded shock bodies with bottom-loaded seals. The VCS3 shocks continue to be used in the TC6.2 that I am reviewing here and are very smooth and well made shocks.
While the TC6 was a great car Associated continued to look at how they could improve the options on the car without, for example, having to buy a lot of optional arms, hubs etc. They did this by introducing new caster blocks and rear hubs that featured integrated inserts for caster and rear-toe angle adjustments. By simply changing the inserts you could change the caster/toe angles etc. without replacing complete hubs. So you got inserts that provided you with different caster blocks at the front and rear of the car right out of the box. If you bought spare hubs they came with the inserts so you didn’t have to buy 2 or 4 degree caster hubs… you just bought a spare set of hubs and decided how you wanted to run them by putting in the required insert. This was a lot cheaper than having to carry separate 2 or 4 degree caster hubs and also spares in case you broke something racing.
The TC6.1 introduced Associated’s take on the anti-roll bar system called the H.D.R.C. (High Definition Roll Control) system… great name! The H.D.R.C. is built on a solid aluminum center bar that can rotate freely but does not move from side to side. The roll bar itself is actually two bars mounted into the sides of the aluminum center bar and links to the suspension arms. By removing the torsional flex with the aluminum center bar, a higher definition of roll control is achieved with the different wire options. The TC6.1 also introduced Associated’s own lightweight rear gear differential which is, in my opinion, one of the best sealed diffs on the market – this is down to the way the seal is implemented between the two halves of the diff. The front spool uses replaceable composite outdrives that make it cheaper if you break one in a bad crash.
On to today… and the TC6.2…
All of these things have been carried over to the TC6.2 and Associated have continued to build on their previous cars. There was a lot of debate when the new car was announced, and the usual leaks started to come out on the Internet, as to whether the new car would be called the TC6.2 or TC7. I think that it would have been fair to call the car the TC7 as so much has changed but I also agree with Associated wanting to show the new car’s heritage being based on the successful TC6 platform.
As with a lot of the current cars coming onto the market Associated have really focused on the flex and grip characteristics of the car as well as making sure that the car is easy to drive and tune. New for the TC6.2 are updated bulkheads, a new top deck and a chassis that allows you to control the flex and, according to Associated, this arrangement provides predictable flex through the entire length of chassis, giving maximum grip on any track surface. The new chassis is narrow at 88mm wide and is 2.25mm thick and believe me looks and feels narrow when you hold it in your hands.
For me, I had two issues with the previous cars; my biggest annoyance was the fact that the hinge pins were connected by arm mount ‘hangers’ to the bulkheads. While this was great as toe in/out and wheelbase width could be changed by using different sized shims it also meant that the hangers moved in any sort of hit and then the arms moved back and forth. The other, more minor, thing in my view was the use of a single crank steering system. While Associated’s steering system worked well and had a number of different adjustments I found it, at times, to be twitchy and almost too direct. Most cars have moved to a dual bellcrank system in the past few years and any car that I have driven with the dual bellcrank system has always felt smoother and more precise.
As we will see later in this review Associated have definitely done a fantastic job of sorting out these issues…
The TC6.2 also uses a new floating servo mount that not only improves steering control but, because they have turned the servo to be 90 degrees to the chassis, also offers an increased area for mounting the ESC and receiver. The floating servo ties directly into a new dual bellcrank steering system with optimized Ackermann and steering speed.
The TC6.2 retains the H.D.R.C. anti-roll bar system, the gear diff, blue titanium turnbuckles and as mentioned before the Factory Team VCS3 shocks. Considering all of the changes and the impressive feature list it is still a car that comes in around the £329 mark, in shops, here in the UK compared to others such as Xray or Yokomo that are £359 and above.
The first time I saw the car in pictures was Juho Levanen’s car at the RedRC ETS event;
The quote from the RedRC guys sums up my thoughts on the new car; “Juho Levanen is running a pre production version of the all new TC6.2 chassis, which he ran for the first time at the recent IIC race in Vegas. Apart from the wishbones, uprights and steering block assemblies the car is completely new and is now more in line with the current touring car designs on the market with a new steering assembly, floating servo mount, flex over the entire chassis and chassis mounted lower suspension arms. Expected to be released at the end of this year, compared to the previous model it turns in better and can carry more corner speed.”
To save you reading the whole review I have now driven the TC6.2 at our club and it is a great car, with loads of grip, steering and tuning options to keep you busy for a while – it really is a step up from Associated’s previous models.
But for those of you that still want to see the build and read the review…here goes;
Associated have gone for an understated box for the TC6.2… it doesn’t even say TC6.2 on the box! But what it does say is 27 time world champions and that is what you are buying into with the Associated name. For reference the part number is AS30109 and here are the links on the Team Associated sites (http://www.teamassociated.com/cars_and_trucks/TC6.2/Factory_Team/specs/) and CML, here in the UK (http://www.cmldistribution.co.uk/cml_product.php?new=true&productId=0000007857)
Upon opening the box you are faced with a number of plastic bags containing the actual kit and manual.
The Associated manuals are always very clear, with the build broken down into small steps and includes plenty of tips and setup tips as you go through the manual. The other thing that I really like about the TC6.2 manual is the back of the manual that contains a number of pages describing the setup options for the car and what the different changes do. There is also a copy of the setup sheet that the manual build will end up with and is a useful reference at the end when you come to check your final setup before running the car. The other useful pages at the back of the manual contain diagrams showing all the parts that make up the car and are useful to identify spares that you might want to order.
A final mention should also go to the page that folds out showing the actual size of the screws, washers etc. that make up the car. This is useful as some steps use screws that are a similar size and you can compare the screw with the fold out sizing sheet to make sure you are using the right screw at the right time.
The first stage of the build are the shocks and as already mentioned Associated continue to make use of their well proven VCS3 shocks.
These are pretty much all alloy with hard-anodised threaded bodies, the o-ring and seals load from the bottom and the shock shafts are Titanium Nitride (TiN) coated to help make them as smooth as possible. As you can see in the photo below, if you look closely to the left, Associated supply you with a range of different pistons and also 40wt oil.
Talking to Alan Bickerstaff, one of the UK team drivers he recommended sanding about 0.1mm of the O-Ring spacer just to give the O-Ring a bit more space to swell.
I changed oils to 37.5wt oil in the front and 35wt in the rear and built the shocks up as per the manual and went with the kit silver springs.
Next we start on the diffs and in the box you get a spool for the front of the car and a gear diff for the rear.
You glue the ring (diff pulley flange) on the right onto the diff pulley with super glue being careful not to get glue on the teeth (or glue yourself to the pulley!). I use a couple of spots of glue and then run these round the pulley before putting the ring onto the diff part.
A nice feature of the Associated spool is that the outdrives are separate and are made of plastic. This means if you have a heavy impact and break or damage an outdrive you only need to replace the cheaper plastic parts and not a whole spool.
It is possible to buy steel versions of these outdrives as part number 31638 if you feel you need the extra strength.
And here is the spool built up with the bearings and bearing holders in place;
Associated make one of the nicest gear diffs in the industry and I have never, to date, had one leak while in my car. This is probably down to the three different seals that go into making the unit up; you can see the small red ones below that go on the diff outdrive and then the weird shaped one in the middle that gets sandwiched between the two diff halves.
Here you can see the two halves built up. As it says in the manual use a fair amount of black grease on the read O-Ring diff seals when building up the diff and also take note of the number of diff shims that are used on each half of the diff as the one with the small gears in it has two while the other half only uses one (all in the manual). Make sure everything is well seated and turns well before adding the diff oil. The kit recommends 40wt oil which is about 500cst but I have been using 2000wt in mine and like the feel of it. Something to experiment with.
If you look closely at the diff half on the left of the picture you can see the weird diff seal in place and on the half on the right you can see the plastic outline that will squeeze against the seal. You can imagine that this is going to be pretty secure.
And the whole gear diff complete and ready to go in the car;
Now we come to the driveshafts and here we see some more innovation from Associated as they use a metal retaining clip to stop the cross pin coming loose. I build the driveshafts as per the manual using black great on the coupler and then some grease on the bone before inserting it into the axle and putting the cross pin through. You then put the retaining clip on. The manual goes on to suggest putting a small grub screw in as well but I leave this out as it makes it feel a bit more free to me and I have never had a pin come out.
Four completed driveshafts;
Associated are bringing out their version of Dual Cardan Joint (DCJ) driveshafts which they are calling DCV driveshafts part no. 31632 but, at the time of writing they were not available as a complete set.
Associated provide nice blue titanium turnbuckles and while it is my least favourite job when building a kit here they all are;
Later in the build when you go you connect the turnbuckles the manual points out that it is a good idea to orient the notch on the titanium turnbuckle to the left throughout the car. The notch indicates which end has the left hand threads and means that you always turn the turnbuckle in the same direction to shorten/lengthen the turnbuckle.
In order to give fine adjustment for the shock bottom on the arm of the car Associated introduced the idea of inserts in the TC6.1 and as you can see in the picture below they supply an arm with three inserts to allow you to change location of the ball stud that the shock attaches to;
As I said in the introduction on the TC6.1 and it’s predecessors the hinge pins were connected by arm mount ‘hangers’ to the bulkheads which tended to move in crashes. Associated have solved this with the new car by using arm mounts that attach directly to the chassis. In order to set toe and also width you use the inserts shown below;
Each of the 3 dot, 2 dot and 1 dot inserts are put into the arm mounts and depending on how many dots you use and where the dots are placed, i.e. dots to the inside or outside you get the following toe in;
On the front of my car I like a bit of inner toe out so I use +3 dot at the front and +2 dot at the rear which equates to about half a degree toe out.
You can see the holders and arms in place below;
And a closer look at the rear.
It really is a nice setup and means that your arms will not move as much in a crash.
On to the bulk heads, layshaft mount and motor mount and it really is a sea of blue anodising;
This is another really nice change in the TC6.2 with the layshaft mounts installed in such a way as the top deck does not touch the layshaft. So the top deck pretty much goes front to rear bulkhead and then one screw goes through the post that comes up from the motor mount.
In the TC6.1 the motor mount seemed to be very sensitive to tweak but not with the TC6.2. After each part of the motor mount and layshaft mount was attached to the chassis I checked for any tweak on my MuchMore Tweak Master (it really is just a replacement for a piece of glass but looks so nice! http://www.muchmoreracing.com/index.php?main_page=product_info&products_id=13607). There was never any sign of tweak so my confidence was growing with each stage of the build.
Here’s another view of the motor mount in place…it really is low!
Next up is the layshaft/spur gear assembly;
This goes together very simply although watch you don’t lose the tiny shims that go on the outside of the bearings;
The layshaft is attached to it’s holders using m2.5 x 8mm screws which is a strange size as everything else is m3 in size. I made a point of ordering a packet of spares just in case I drop one as it’s not a screw size I carry in my spares box (part no. 31521).
Layshaft, rear gear diff and spool all in place along with the belts;
You can see how well the layshaft/spur gear assembly looks on the new mounts;
And the front spool in place;
The eagle eyed among you may have noticed that I have replaced the ball studs in the car with the Ti Nitride equivalents (the gold colours ones rather than black/silver). When you are fitting the ones that come with the kit they fit fine but you may have to squeeze the plastic ball ends a bit with pliers to ensure that your turnbuckles move freely. By installing the Ti ones the titanium nitride coating reduces friction and you don’t have to do anything to get your turnbuckles and shocks to move freely. They are relatively expensive and not 100% required but if you have a few pounds/dollars spare I think they are a nice upgrade.
The bulkhead bearing caps screw onto the bulkheads after fitting the ball studs and then the shock towers are attached;
The same on the front;
And another view of the rear;
Any cars that I have driven recently, like the Xray T4 2014, have all had dual crank steering and with the TC6.2 Associated have moved in the same direction. And it is a very nice implementation with Associated using eight bearings and making the whole setup including the steering rack, posts and bellcranks all out of nice blue anodised alloy.
It goes together very nicely;
The steering is attached to the car through the two bellcrank posts and we will see later how this attaches to the graphite servo mount;
In the front an rear hubs Associated continue to use inserts which you will either love or hate. Some people do not like them as they believe that the inserts can move or be a bit loose causing movement in the hub. I really like the idea because it means that when you buy a set of hubs you can then decide how you want to set them up, i.e. as 2, 4 or 6 degree front hubs. Associated do recommend that you glue the inserts into the hubs to make them secure and I always do this.
The other thing that I do is to drill a small hole in the bottom of the hubs below where the hinge pin will go. Then when it is fitted to the car I screw a small grub up to touch the hinge pin and this helps stop any movement that may develop in the car with the hubs moving on the hinge pins.
A picture of everything screwed together;
Again, the eagle eyed among you may notice that I have not used the kit CVDs in the front but I have fitted Dual Cardan Joints. The aim of DCJs over the kit supplied CVDs is that they hinge in to places so that when you are cornering the steering is smoother and there is a lot less ‘chatter’ when using a spool. Associated are bringing out their own version (http://www.teamassociated.com/parts/details/31632/) but as these were not available at the time of writing I went with the Reflex Racing ones but I will switch to the Associated ones as soon as they become available.
And all fitted to the car;
The rear hubs built up;
Because of the way that Associated get you to build up all the components of the car like the shocks, the CVDs, the spool and gear diff everything starts to come together very quickly.
Here are the front shocks fitted;
And the rear;
The bumper for the TC6.2 is a slimmer version than the TC6.1 and a nice feature is that Associated have built in a space for your transponder. To be honest I don’t use it as the space on the chassis with the servo turned sideways and the size of my electronics allows me to attach my transponder to the chassis near my receiver but the optionis there for you;
Another place that Associated have spent a bit of time thinking differently is on the anti roll bars. Instead of being one single piece of wire that can be difficult to make sure is flat Associated use two bars and a roll bar tube that the pieces of wire go into and are secured with grub screws;
To me the advantage of this is that you can make sure the bars are flat and when the roll bar tube is attached to the car with the bar mounts it moves up and down but not side to side. This is more accurate than trying to use grub screws to do it.
The roll bar wire comes in different thicknesses to allow you to tune your car;
- Green: 0.8mm
- White: 0.9mm
- Blue: 1.0mm
- Yellow: 1.1mm
- Red: 1.2mm
and Yellow (front) and White (rear) is included in the kit.
Here you can see the bar fitted… note that because of the difference in width between the TC6.1 and TC6.2 bulkheads the roll bar tubes are different;
The mounting onto the arms is the same as previous versions;
All cars seem to have moved to a servo mounting method that means that only one side is attached to the chassis. The aim of this is to reduce the chance of the chassis being tweaked when you tighten both sides of the mount.
Associated have gone with a nice blue anodised servo mount and post option with a carbon fibre top that allows the outer post to move in or out depending on the width of your servo;
It screws together with two screws into the mount that will attach to the chassis and then one screw into the post on the outside part of the car;
Two screws attach the servo mount from underneath the chassis and then two screws joint the carbon fibre part to the steering assembly. This all makes if feel very secure but you can still see daylight under the servo which is effectively floating… so no chance of tweak.
The kit uses the RC8.2 servo horns now which are a big bigger and beefier and you can see that a number of washers are put in place to aline the servo with steering rack;
A point to note that I missed is that the lipo brace does allow for adjustment moving the battery forward or back depending on which mount you put to the front and rear of the car.
The car is pretty much complete now and ready for your choice of electronics and because of the way the servo is oriented in the new car you should have no problems fitting everything in/
Some final pictures;
Rear three quarters;
Front three quarters;
And a final top view;
I decided on a new paint scheme for my new car and ordered up an LTCR, a Speed 6 and a Speed 6 GX to try all painted by Merv Wignall here in the UK;
A nice job, based on the old Associated TC5F advertising shell from a few years ago;
I have a number of people to thank for making this review possible including Jason Varley and all the guys at CML Distribution who distribute the Associated brand here in the UK. Thanks also to Alan Bickerstaff, one of the team drivers here in the UK, thanks for the advice. To Merv Wignall for painting my shells and to Michael Ball of MB Models and Andrew Rennick of Rennicks Modeltune for helping me with everything else to allow me to complete the build.
As my last word on the review… I have now raced the TC6.2 at a number of local club rounds, on carpet, and I can safely say that it is a great car and definitely a move on from the previous TC6.1. I have been working with Alan Bickerstaff to get a good setup and I will do a post later with our latest setup and will let you know how I have been getting on with the car…