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1/10 Tamiya Formula 1 R/C Cars

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First here is an exciting video of 25 F1 rc cars racing together for 15 minutes. Most are Tamiya F103 and F104.

When it comes to electric rc on-road my favorite has always been 1/10 Tamiya Formula One radio control cars. I've been playing these for over 15 years, and still enjoy it today.

Tamiya F1 RC Cars Ferrar versus McLaren

Pictured: 1/10 Tamiya Ferrari F60 and Vodafone McLaren on the F104 chassis.

Tamiya F1 RC Cars"The Tamiya F104 chassis is narrower and longer to replicate the modern style F1s. The older F103 chassis is shorter and wider to replicate the older style F1s of the 80s and 90s."

Photo: Left is the Tamiya F103 and right the Tamiya F104.

So if you would like to own a Tamiya F1 rc cars, read on. Here I will share all that I know about these simple, fun and fast rc cars.

Tamiya F103 versus F104

The model to choose depends on what you are going to do. If you are going to join the Tamiya Championship races, the only legal chassis in 2012 is the Tamiya F104.

Tamiya F103 vs F104 RC Car Chassis

But if you are just about playing and having fun, it basically depends on what type of F1 you love. If it is the old school F1s, then it will be the F103 chassis. If you love the modern F1s then it is the F104.

Tamiya Ferrari Radio Control Cars 312T3 vs F60

Above photo: Here you can see the difference. On the left is the Tamiya F103 chassis. On the right the F104. The F103 is shorter, wider and uses small and wide tires. The F104 is narrower, longer and uses bigger but narrow tires.

Not to confuse you, but Tamiya also has a hybrid called the F104W (it is as wide as an F103 and as long as an F104). But to simplify, go to your hobby shop, look a the F1 body that excites you, and then buy that kit.

Let me share with you my two favorite Tamiya F1s. First is the old school Ferrari 312T3 on top of a Tamiya F103 15th Anniversary Edition chassis. I hear there were only 1,000 of these chassis made, lucky to own one.

Tamiya F1 Ferrari 312T3

I personally love the old school F1s with the wide stance and chrome wings. Photo taken inside my garage rc track.

Tamiya F103 15th Anniversary RC Chassis

Above is my 1/10 Tamiya F103 15th Anniversary Edition. Despite the steep price, I couldn't resist buying one. And it was well worth it.

I also love to compete. I won the 2011 Tamiya Asia Cup qualifier using the F103 above. But to join the 2011 Tamiya Asia Cup Finals held in Singapore, I bought a 1/10 Tamiya F104 Black Edition Limited kit as the F104 was the only chassis allowed by the competition.

Tamiya 2011 F1 Concours Winner

Going into the Tamiya Asia Finals, I had three goals. First was to win concours (rc body beauty contest). Second was to get Top Qualifier. And third was to become the Asia Champion. The first goal I was lucky to win, above is my concours winning Tamiya F104 rc car (called the skull by the judge).

As for the other goals, I managed to qualify second on the grid and finish overall in 2nd place. Close but not good enough. Maybe next year. I guess I do well in the F1 rc racing category because I truly love playing with F1s over other types of rc cars.

Here are a couple of videos. First is the serious competition in Singapore. And the other is an F1 Club Fun race where I organize monthly F1 races just for guys to relax and have fun.

Tamiya Asia Cup 2011 F104 Finals

F1 Club Fun Race

Hope you enjoy the videos and are now eager to join the Tamiya F1 rc world. Here are some tips to get you up to speed.

Tamiya F1 RC Tips

Out of the box, the kits are already competitive. There is no real reason to buy hop ups though the blue bling bling is nice. What is important is to build the F1 rc kit correctly. Here are some build tips.

Tamiya F1 RC Rear Pod balance

  1. Build the rear pod separately and balance it left to right.
  2. Ensure the differential is smooth. Not tight, just enough so you can still turn the spur gear with your fingers while holding both rear tires.
  3. Put some lubricant on the front kingpins to act as dampening. I use Tamiya Anti-wear grease.
  4. Make sure the rear axle is built correctly and does not bind against the ball bearings.
  5. Avoid overtightening front axle nuts. Front tires should spin freely.
  6. Use the soft center spring and soft silver springs for the front. Soft chassis and suspension gives the car more grip and makes it easier to drive (i.e. less twitchy).
  7. Make sure your servo saver has no slop. The Tamiya servo savers are notorious for having slop. Buy a Kimbrough or if using the Tamiya, remove the slop by inserting some material and use some superglue to fill in the slop.

F1 cars are very light, usually 1,100 grams fully loaded. Hence weight balance is very important in tuning the handling. I personally balance my F1s on scales to make sure there is no tweak and ensure the rc car runs straight when I punch the throttle. With tweak, the car will either veer to the left or to the right.

Brushless RC Car F1 on Scales for weight balance

Above is my F104 with Tamiya brushless esc and 14T brushless motor. On a high traction track, the chassis can handle fast motors and propel the car to ballistic speeds.

After building and ensuring good weight balance, it is vital to choose the correct set of tires. And that depends on the grip level available. But in general I use the tires that give maximum grip at the rear. My setup is usually on the easy to drive side with lots of understeer. I then use braking technique to keep a tight line entering the corner.

Recommended Rubber Tires

F104 - Pit Shimuzu PS-0571 front and PS-0572 rear. Tamiya 51399 medium front and 54199 soft rear.

F103 - Ride A compound. Tamiya Type A or Type B.

Full list of rubber tires, model number and price comparison here.

Tamiya F1 RC Car

Photo: 1/10 Tamiya F103 with 6.6v LiFe battery pack and Tamiya 14T sensorless brushless motor and esc.

For dusty parking lots, I would guess that rubber tires would work better. Use the Tamiya soft rears and Medium fronts.

NASA Mighty GripperFor indoor asphalt, foam tires are usually better. I apply traction compound fully on the rear and probably none or just 1/3 inside front tire using NASA Mighty Gripper V2 traction compound.

For carpet, I use Tamiya soft rear and hard front rubber tires.

Now if the track is dusty or lacks traction, try adding lead weights to the center of the car, near the whereabouts of the shock. Sometimes I add 120 grams, then take off weights as long as there is sufficient traction.

And finally, a good radio controller really helps you get a handle on these sensitive (and sometimes hard to drive) rc cars. I love and use the Airtronics / Sanwa MT-4.

To summarize:

  1. Get maximum rear traction via tires and soft t-plates.
  2. Use good tire traction compound if your track allows it.
  3. Lower the rear ride height to the lowest possible setting.
  4. Balance the pod and chassis left to right. No tweak.
  5. Use driving technique to avoid spinouts. Smooth throttle/braking and steering movements.
  6. Buy a good radio controller if you can afford it.

Hopefully these tips can get you dialed quickly. Nothing more frustrating than an F1 car that spins out on the slightest touch of the throttle. But once dialed (see the videos above) these are so much fun. Feels like you are driving a real F1 car.

F103 vs F104 vs F104W vs F104WGP vs F104W version 2

What Tamiya F104 model to buy

Summary:

F103 - Uses F103 rims and F103 tires. Rear rim is wider than F104 rim. 200mm wide.

F104, Ferrari F60 - Uses F104 rims and F104 tires. 180mm wide.

F104W, F104WGP, F104W ver 2 - Uses F103 rims and F103 tires front and back. 200mm wide.

180mm wide - Use modern day high nose bodies, or circa 2010 body (F104pro) onwards (e.g. F60).

200mm wide - Use old style F1 bodies.

Tamiya F1 RC Models Lineup 2012

Here are Tamiya F104 r/c model kits.

Tamiya Vodafone McLaren Mercedes F104 RC Car

Tamiya Ferrari F60 F104

And below are Tamiya F104W (wide) kits.

Tamiya Lotus 99T Honda F103
Tamiya Lotus Type 79 F104W
Tamiya Ferrari 643 F104W

Tamiya Mc Laren MP4/6 F104W

Tamiya is simply the best when it comes to realistic looking F1 rc cars.

The newest is the 1/10 Tamiya F104 version 2 with a link type rear suspension design. It is also the most expensive among all the Tamiya models. Review of the Tamiya F104 v2 Pro.

Tamiya F104 v2 Link Rear End

And here is a video..

Where to Buy Tamiya F1 Radio Control Cars

Here are the steps:

  1. Find a Tamiya distributor nearest your area.
  2. If you want to shop online, try the online rc store. Listed are some shops to get you started.

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