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ADDED: 501X Gear Chart PDF - by Mike West / oOple.com

ADDED: oOple 501X editable setup sheet PDF - completely remade by oople.com - Bitmap version HERE

ADDED: Tamiya 501X One-Way Diff - a small review / write up

The TRF 501X is Tamiyas answer to many peoples dreams – at last, a racing buggy from Tamiya which is not over engineered [Avante] and is designed purely to win on the race track.  Last and most importantly of all, it’s available to buy!  What is the world coming to.

The prototype – to – production of this car seems amazingly quick.  Once Tamiya get their teeth into a project they certainly seem able to put their money where their mouth is and get things done.
Perhaps with the departure from their hands of the ISTC Touring car world champion title, Tamiya have seen a real opportunity to regain some glory and take another World title – the 2007 IFMAR Off Road World Championships, to be held on their home soil, Japan.

I admit that the first time I saw this car I thought it was a Yokomo BX.  I have seen people defend against such comments, but these fanatics must be surely missing something since the car is, to the passing eye, a very close match to that other Japanese four-wheeler. 
The similarities are indeed many – Dual belt drive, central motor, carbon fibre chassis with dual top decks, angled steering cranks, Losi / Proline style wheels, blue alloy bulkheads.  The difference between me buying a car, and being given one – is that I can say things like that and feel good about it.

Originally a parts-bin prototype, the early 501X was assembled from a range of readily available components and some custom made parts – JConcepts BJ4worlds suspension and other parts, Associated shock absorbers, Losi and Proline wheels, the list goes on. 

501X promotional images
Prototype / production promotional shots - mouse over to see.

The promotional image (above: Right) is taken mid janurary from the Tamiya America website, even though this is the old prototype and not the final production car. Many of the parts mentioned already, from the likes of JConcepts, Team Associated, Team Losi and others feature heavily on this promotional image. A newer version of this image is featured on the kit box shrink wrap - I overlayed these two images to show the difference.

The car is now 100% Tamiya – though the legacy of those other manufacturers lingers on – good or bad, Tamiya have not only “borrowed” but added their own unique style and ideas into the mix.

So, despite the similarities with other cars in this class, the 501X is still unique – and as such needs its own spares backup.  Tamiya UK (The Hobby Company) were not willing to comment on their backup for this car – a sad situation which puts the 501X at a distinct disadvantage when stacked up against much bigger players with good support (and large race teams).   That said, the Tamiya branding alone will surely see this car make an impact – and parts supply shouldn’t be too hard to find online.

The TRF 501X comes boxed in a rather unassuming grey box with a marbled pattern effect and just the 501X and Tamiya logos.  The shrink wrap you already cast aside is the only piece of the packaging which contains any rendition of the car awaiting you inside.

On opening the box you could be forgiven for wondering – ‘where’s the rest?’  It’s all there of course (lets hope) but the  flat carbon chassis, low profile body and lack of tyres in the kit all contribute to the fairly large box being somewhat underfilled.

There is one ‘daddy sized’ bag of goodies, which contains most of the build.  It’s quicky apparent that there are no numbers on the bags - though the bags are numbered in the manual.  This means you are asked to get a screw from bag A and a screw from bag B (which both look the same) in the very first build stage – confusing ? well, yeah. 

Kit Contents
The answer is to empty these screw bags out and either just look for what you need, or better yet label the piles of parts yourself for quick and easy reference. Thankfully the manual contains accurate life sized renditions of the screws, bearings, nuts and other small parts in a ‘key’ at the left of every step.
501X 4-way tool is huge

The screws in the 501X are, thankfully, all ‘hex’ type. The hex is however slightly recessed into the screws (both countersunk and button head types).   The actual hex is also not very deep which does mean that keeping the screw on the driver isn’t always as easy as it should be and care is needed when tightening down into some of the metal parts so as not to slip the driver in the screw and damage it.  The vast majority of screws use a 2mm hex driver.  An allen key is provided but a decent quality 2mm driver is of course really essential for a car like this.

Along with the allen keys the 501X also comes with a four-way Tamiya tool for adjusting the nuts, a little like you may have seen in every Tamiya kit in history – but this one is on steroids since it is many times the size of the normal Tamiya tool.  The 501X also comes with a complete tube of thread lock and a small tub of Tamiya Anti-Wear grease – which is the stickiest grease known to man!


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