Wanna build something different, is a blast to drive, and gets attention? You need to build a Dakar Rally Semi Truck! Interested? keep reading. I won't get into what chassis you should use or go into too much detail on dimensions, motor/esc, wheels to use etc, since the focus of this blog is to give you ideas to help get you started on building your own. A few members of the SoCal RC Rally Runners group have built them from various chassis and since we don't have set rules for racing them at our group rallies, we leave specs on them pretty open to allow for different designs and concepts.
For this Blog I will focus on my first attempt to build a Dakar Rally Semi truck. I really wanted to build a true scale version, but for this first build, I wanted to keep a tight budget and also wanted to simplify it a bit. After looking through my hobby room, I found an old Tamiya F-350 Hi-Lift chassis collecting dust. It had a 3 speed transmission, leaf springs, solid axles, that can be locked and unlocked, and looked close enough to a semi chassis for my purpose without the need to buy a new one. This is what I based my build off of. I have seen members in our rally group use a Tamiya CC01, RC4WD, Axial SCX10, and other similar chassis as well. Use your imagination and have fun.
Okay, let's get started! You will need to pick a truck design, chassis, body, wheels, etc. Then you will need to put it all together so lets get started.
What you see in the two pictures above is the chassis, basically stock with a few aluminum hop ups, with a set of inexpensive beadlock Gmade wheels and tires from a RC4WD Trail Finder 2 kit. The blue cab is from a Bruder brand toy truck sold in stores such as Target, Walmart, online, etc. I picked this one up for $12 from a group member. The chassis is 1/10th scale and the body is about 1/15th scale. Keep in mind that a 1/15th scale Semi truck is larger than you might think. The tricky part for a build like this is either finding axles narrow enough or a body that will fit your particular chassis. The wheels on mine stick out from the body quite a bit, but was close enough for this first build. My suggestion is to research Dakar Rally Semi trucks first to get an idea of what you want to base your build off of as a starting point and go from there. There are many different types of trucks used in Dakar Rally's so you have many options. I have seen people use Unimog bodies and the RTR 6 wheeled Beast from RC4WD for a Dakar Semi truck build.
Mounting the cab
The front mounting plate I made from sheet brass and bolted it to bottom of the cab. I drilled two holes in the front of the mount so it can bolt directly to the front of the frame rails.
Front view showing the two 3 mm x 12 mm bolts securing the front of the cab to the frame rails (center of pic, second slot above the license plate).
The rear of the cab sits on a mount made from sheet brass and is secured with industrial grade Velcro found at Home Depot. I later made brass mounts which secure the rear of the cab to the frame rails, next to the front shocks and in addition to the Velcro mount.
Now that we have the basics for this particular build, a scratch built rear portion of the body is needed. I used various sizes of sheet styrene. I believe I used sheets of the following thicknesses: 0.20, 0.40, 0.80, & 1. As you can see in the first picture of this blog, the rear portion of the body is basically a box. I started with the floor, which required a bit of trial an error to fit. I used X-Acto blades and my trusty Dremel tool to cut and fit the floor. For mounting, I bolted the floor directly to the frame rails, two bolts in the front and two in the rear. Later you will see I made an access hatch on the roof to access the front bolts to allow removal of the body for maintenance and repairs.
Now moving on to building the front, sides and rear of the body. I used thick CA and 5 min epoxy to attach the parts of the body and also used 90 degree angled styrene strips on all joints for reinforcement.
A hatch was made on the drivers side to allow access to the battery holder.
Look closely on the roof, just behind the cab, to see the top hatch built to access the electronics and front bolts attaching the rear of the body to the frame rails.
The finished truck
Mud flaps were made from old mountain bike tubes. I still need to make and add final details such as rear tail lights guards for the cab.
Well, there you have it! Now its your turn to build one of your own so get to work! I love running mine and look forward to building another in the future.