Schumacher Mi3.5 (no build required!) review
As many of you know Schumacher have been championing the Mi3 car for a while now and it has done extremely well in the BRCA 19t (or 10.5 brushless) championship this year and the car has a lot of wins to it’s credit. During the lifetime of the Mi3 Schumacher have continued to develop the car and released many special parts such as the Euros top deck and chassis and other parts to increase strength and reduce weight for today’s racing where cars just seem to be getting faster and faster (and you get to hit things faster as well).
Reviews that I have done in the past have always been ‘Build’ reviews where I have gone through the build of the car showing the build at different stages. This review is going to be somewhat different and is going to be a ‘Lack of Build’ review – this is not because I am getting lazy in my old age but because Schumacher deliver the car, in it’s box pretty much 95% built. Yes you did read that right – a professional car (which the Mi3.5 definitely is) completely built from the factory. Now there has been some debate about the pros and cons of a professional car coming ready built. Some people believe that you are better to build the car up from scratch to understand the car and others think that the car coming ready built allows you to get on the track and do some all important racing. I was keen to see the quality of the build before I jumped on the bandwagon with either camp.
The box as it arrived in the post direct from Schumacher UK;
Upon opening the box you are presented with a manual, a decal sheet, a bag with a surprisingly small number of parts and off course the car itself.
I have to say it does feel a bit weird seeing the car ready built but the Mi3.5 is a thing of beauty – no expense spared with carbon fibre everywhere and where there is no carbon fibre there is a lot of purple alloy. The shocks even come filled with oil!
Seriously – this is the car as it came in the box!
The manual is of a very high standard and covers the complete build and something else I like is the inclusion of setup sheets for rubber on tarmac, rubber on carpet and foam on carpet as well as some setup pointers and a gear chart – handy having all this information in the one place in the manual. I added the front bumper and body posts to the car and added my electrics . The car was ready to run in well under an hour but as my plan was to use the car for a spot of rubber on carpet racing at my local club, the Ulster Model Car Club (UMCC) I had a bit more work to do. The setup on the car, out of the box, is the rubber tarmac setup so I stripped the car down a bit to make the required changes to move to the rubber carpet setup in the manual. I would recommend, when ordering your car, that you get some of the additional shims that are used to make the different adjustments to the car – there are some supplied with the kit but you will always find a use for more of them.
Adjusting the car is done with the use of shims of different thicknesses so adding rear toe in for example is done by adding additional shims to move the arms out or removing them to create less toe-in as you can see in the diagram below;
The most notable adjustment is the ability to rotate the diff holder around to raise and lower the diff – this in itself is not that notable I will hear some of you shout as there are other cars on the market that can do this. And most of the other cars will talk about removing ‘only’ four screws to get at the diff. With the Mi3.5 it is only two screws!!
The other thing that I would recommend is getting a good set of hex drivers because some of the screws that have been screwed into metal are very tight (don’t know if they are just tight or if they also use thread lock at the factory). This is not a bad thing as it ensures that nothing will come loose if you just put the car on the track but I loosened of all the screws and retightened them to make sure that I would not strip a screw when I was under pressure at the track. While making the changes to set the car up for carpet I also changed the spur gear from the 48dp one supplied in the kit to a 106T 64dp one (Schumacher supply a number of different sizes of 48dp and 64dp for the Mi3.5) – no real reason for this change but all my pinions are 64dp and it was cheaper to swap the spur gear.
The final job was to change the oil in the shocks as the carpet setup called for slightly heavier oil. I drained the shocks and put the new weight of oil in them, made sure there was no air in them, put the rubber seal in and then started to slowly screw on the shock cap. The shock cap has a small vent hole in it and as I tightened it down some oil leaked out – this means that all the shocks have the same amount of oil in them. Testing the shocks afterwards I found that I did not have to make any adjustments by adding removing oil – I had two pairs of smooth shocks which had the same rebound in each pair. On they went to the car and I was ready to go racing. This is not a lot of work when you consider that you would normally have to build the car.
Before the weekend I took the chassis of the car by removing the front bumper, placing the car upside down, and removing the eight screws connecting the chassis to the rest of the car. I did this so that I could sand down the edges of the chassis so it would not catch on the carpet and I added some superglue round the edges to make sure that it would not delaminate. Once dry the chassis was back on and some final checks on the droop, chassis height and tweak were done – good to go.
At the Saturday race I had a chat with one of the other Schumacher guys who was running an upgraded Mi3 (I think he was jealous of the fact that you get the Mi3.5 with all the upgrades that he had built up on his car). He had worked towards a setup during the year which was a bit different to the kit carpet setup but I decided to stick with the setup from the manual. On the track, for its first outing, the car really surprised me for a number of reasons; it was very stable and had a lot of turn-in. I raced the first two rounds and feel that I was probably up to the speed that I would have been with my old car. For the final round of qualifying I moved from the blue/white spring combination in the manual setup and moved up two spring rates front and rear. This made the car react better but did not take away from the steering and the car still felt safe to drive and push.
I enjoyed my first days racing with the Mi3.5 and have come away happy with my move to Schumacher and have some ideas for my next day’s racing. I think that there are a number of chassis’s out there at the minute including XRay 008, Serpents S400 and Associated’s TC5 that are very good and the Mi3.5 is easily up there with them. I would recommend having a look at this British based car as there is plenty of support from team drivers in the UK and the parts can be ordered from model shops and also direct from Schumacher via their web site at http://www.racing-cars.com which is, I believe, a first for a manufacturer to supply direct.