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Several RC magazines around the world have asked us to write a monthly column. With the kind permission we will re-publish the column at our web site too so all of the XRAY fans can read the latest news and behind the scenes information. Enjoy.

Archive:
Column #1 - Behind the Scene Stories

Column #2 - Worlds Flashback

Column #3 - T2'007 Debut

Column #4 - Designing the T2'007

Column #5 - Worldcup Review and NT1 Testing

Column #6 - Developing and Designing the NT1

Column #7 - Developing and Designing the NT1 - Part 2

Column #8 - Back to the Races



XT8 Truggy... A Long Time in Coming, But Worth the Wait
With the shipping of our brand new NT1 and the new version of the XB8, this afforded us the time to finally concentrate all of our resources and energy to finish the very last project on our schedule, the new XT8 truggy. This project took much longer time than I had thought, and had to be delayed so many times that I started to get a bad feeling that there was some weird karma at work. Having the first prototypes already done almost two years ago, I thought it would be super easy and fast to build the whole truggy and to produce it quickly; however as is typical, from small issues big concerns developed and the headaches from this project became a bigger and bigger as time went on but at the end of the project the happiness from a perfectly well done job was even greater and I am very pleased with this new car and very confident of its success.

Two years ago when we started to work on this project I was confident (or “optimistic” in hindsight) that it would almost make itself, since there were not many new moulds required and we could easily use most of the parts from the XB8. The first idea I was playing with was to go with the market trend of the time – to use regular off-road arms and just to make longer wheel adapters. Preparing the first prototype and seeing the outcome, I was sure that with short arms and such long wheel hubs there was no chance that the truggy would handle easily. After a few short tests my suspicions were confirmed; the car was simply terrible and I was more than sure that the problem was in the arms. For such large and wide wheels/tires as used on the truggy and with the required steering angles we could find only one solution – purpose-designed truggy suspension arms and special offset truggy wheels. With recent experience on suspension arm flex, I had a clear idea of how the arms should look and also the required flex. You know what is coming now... to make the new arms required a completely new mould, so the whole project had to be delayed. After several months of testing the XT8 with the new arms on the test track, the difference was unbelievable (in a VERY good way)! The truggy was handling very comfortably and it was super easy to drive.

Testing with the XB8 drivetrain I was still not 100% happy and confident in the maximum drivetrain efficiency. To keep all the parts as low as possible and centralized I have decided to change the whole drivetrain ratio completely, which allowed us to make super low center diff gear which of course resulted in the change of the pinion gears and front/rear diff crown gear. This allowed us to achieve completely different ratio and with the super low center diff gear comparing to all other standard truggy diff gears and all parts in center this has improved the acceleration and handling of the car dramatically. Despite we had to make new tooling for all these parts, I will still very satisfied with the performance improvement. With the new balance of the car we have at the end played around position of the engine and the influence on the handling in both bumpy condition and on the large jumps. With the final solution on both drivetrain efficiency and balance/handling of the car we have just finished several last tests with different shocks configurations and the different shocks position both on arms and shock towers.

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Several more months of development and testing made me very comfortable with the truggy and the short tests by few factory team drivers in different racing conditions confirmed that the XT8 project was ready to go into production. And so the fun began in a different sense. Preparing to go into production, we realised that producing the extra-long truggy drive shafts from super-tough Hudy Spring Steel™ was simply not economically feasible given current production technologies and the required production time would be so long that the drive shafts of one car alone would be worth their weight in gold. The only feasible solution was either to a) increase the price of the kit (which would make XRAY customers very unhappy) or b) delay the project and wait for the new CNC-technologies which were scheduled to be installed in the new XRAY Millennium Factory in summer 2006. Since we had already learned from previous experiences of this nature, this time we had not announced to the public that XRAY would be pursuing such a new project and as such we were not forced to make unsound decisions based on market pressure. We chose to take the sounder, economical route which would not affect the wallet of the customer and to use the extra time to bullet-proof all the remaining parts to ensure the final product would be the best truggy on the market. After the new machines were installed we opted for another delay as the new XB8EC was already scheduled for production and since most of the parts are identical we could save plenty of production time by joining both projects into one production lot. After several delays we were finally ready to introduce and present the XT8 at the Nurnberg show. We had great attention and success with the XT8 introduction both at the show and at the several races where the XT8 was showing its fantastic performance. Market demand and pre-orders exceeded our expectations and production plan, so we had to act quickly to adjust the production runs and prepare the second batch.

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Having most of the parts finished and ready for the release for spring, we were hit with some very annoying bad news – the market standard for the truggy class had developed significantly within the last year, including the requirements for a 150cc fuel tank. Again we were faced with another difficult decision... either release the XT8 with the planned buggy fuel tank (120cc capacity) which would cause some negative feedback, or delay the project again and make a completely new mould for a larger fuel tank. Faced with this very difficult decision, I was just not sure which way to go when we got a race report from UK where the XT8 was on a winning pace at a major race but failed to win due to the need for extra pit stops. Suddenly my decision became a bit easy – we would design and produce the larger capacity fuel tank at the cost of another delay. We realized that postponing the project would disappoint XRAY customers, but we knew this would be outweighed by the happiness those same XRAY customers would feel when they got their new truggy and would not need to purchase the extra fuel tank... that and they would get the best XRAY product with the finest specs. Please know that this was not an easy decision as I knew whatever decision I made would give rise to some disappointment, but when it comes to the quality I am not willing to cut corners or sacrifice, and since the truggy is a serious racing high-competition race car then my decision is double valid.

So after a long way we were finally ready and we packaged all the parts to let the XT8 hit the streets within a very short time. At this point with so many delays I am still very confident that the decisions we made were correct and in the best interest of everyone, most importantly the XRAY customers. I am very much looking forward to the response from the public. As usual with any new project I am a bit nervous but this time a little bit less, as from our long-term tests I have nothing but the most positive feedback.

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Double Win at LRP Masters
With so many different production issues to solve and with all the stress and rushing around for the final phase of the XT8 project, I was really looking forward to the LRP Masters race at the end of April. This is one of the world’s largest and most competitive indoor touring car races with rubber tires. I badly needed to get out of the daily grind, get amongst people and meet with the team, and enjoy the time at the races where my body gets pumped up with adrenaline and my brain can switch off for a while and relax. In the past years we have always worked very hard for this race. Despite winning several titles in the Stock category and last year putting the T2 on the podium in second position in the Modified class, the coveted Modified Champion trophy has managed to elude us. Needless to say, we were highly motivated to capture the title and trophy this time. Our European team was additionally supported by US National Champion Paul Lemieux, so we had our dream team at full power. The race started well and Jilles was the fastest in practice with his T2’007. As the race was progressing, track conditions on the new carpet were changing so fast that not only our team but everybody else at the track had never-ending problems finding the best set-up for the ever-changing conditions. At the end of qualifiers we were able to place 4 cars into the main final with Martin, Andreas, and Steven missing the final by only a fragment of a second, so at the end we had 7 cars in the top 20, which is an excellent result. Paul gave excellent performances (as did his car) considering he is a “foam tire specialist” amongst some of the world’s top drivers who regularly run rubber tires.

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Jilles was really super fast in the finals but with heavy traffic and bad luck he finished in 4th position despite having the same points as 3rd best. So again the Modified trophy was not meant to be ours in 2007, yet the XRAY T2’007 was outperforming the crowd in Stock and Stock 17 where Team XRAY claimed both wins and trophies. Thanks to Patrick Reich for winning the Stock Challenge category and thanks to Daniel Wohlgemuth for taking the win in the Stock 17T category.


Enjoy the ride and ‘til next time...

Dipl. Eng. Juraj Hudy
Chief Designer XRAY