Remote Control 4WD. The Vaterra Twin Hammers Review
When a Remote Control (RC) Hobby store opened near us, I took my 12 year old son to investigate ("just to have a look", I told him)... and departed several hours later with a Veterra Twin Hammer (TH); so much for just looking.
Shortly after I bought another; can't have my son having all the fun.
Since then we have used them almost daily, in various environs, and have learnt a lot about the joys and sorrows of RC. The joy equates simply to RC being a lot of fun. The sorrow being when things break and the fun has to stop until things get fixed. More on that later.
Great All Rounders
Having rock crawled, jumped, bashed and raced our Twin Hammer's for several months now, the following is a summary of our experiences and some tips.
These are great all round RC buggies. Out of the box they don't do anything exceptionally, but everything sufficiently, therefore they make the perfect entry vehicle into the world of RC. And the upgrade path makes them even more appealing.
There are few places they can't go. They are tough and reasonably fast; up to 30 km with the stock motor. However, they do have some weaknesses, so we'll begin there...
Summary of Negatives
- Friction roll at speed on firmer surfaces (i.e tips over)
- Front chassis support fractures easily
- Known speed shift servo gear failure
- Weak/loose stock steering servo
- Wheel hex nuts strip easily
- Too many screws
Twin Hammer weaknesses
The first being the speed shift servo which is not always factory set correctly (mine's fine, but my sons failed after 3 uses); Vaterra have published a two page bulletin on how to correct this random problem.
Second there is the Front chassis support; snapped on both our TH's; cheap to replace, but best to spend the bit extra and get the aluminium aftermarket versions. I give a run-down of the various upgrades available later in the article.
Thirdly, the wheel hex pins tend to strip out the hex nuts; especially when pushed at high speed over rough terrain. Again, cheap to replace.
Fourthly, the number screws required to be removed just to access the internals is very high compared to other RC cars; eight screws need dealing with before repairs or upgrades can take place. Though this could be seen as an indication of the strength of the vehicle and overall quality of construction, that really wears thin on the twentieth undoing!
Lastly, on granular surfaces the Twin Hammer hums around corners at full throttle. On firmer surfaces (roads, lawns etc), however, severe friction roll requires a lot more scrupulous attention to cornering; unless you enjoy watching it tip over and roll half a dozen times.
Summary of Positives
- Does a bit of everything
- Value for money
- Well made
Twin Hammer Strengths
The vehicles strengths are its versatility, cost effectiveness and construction quality.
As already mentioned, these are great all rounders. If you are new to RC cars and not sure whether you'll enjoy rock-crawling, drifting, jumping, short course racing or just bashing around, then the TH will enable you to get a taste of each.
The TH comes as a ready to roll (RTR) boxed set, including a quality transmitter, charger, battery and vehicle. Considering that some RC cars are priced similarly, but only include the vehicle, makes the TH a clear winner in the value for money department. On top of this, replacement parts are easy to come by and relatively cheap; though the aftermarket upgrades can cost much more.
Having owned two, I can tell you that these are quality units. Not without their weaknesses, they nonetheless are built for the task, are precisely constructed and look great.
Father and Son Twin HammersClick thumbnail to view full-size
Which Vaterra vehicle is best?
If you prefer rock-crawling then leave the setup as is out of the box. However, if you also want to tear around the clay track or back lawn, then you may want to install the optional sway bars. They minimise the friction role (less tipping over).
With the provided 2000mah battery, you'll get approx' 15 minutes drive time. If you can afford it, get a few more batteries (either the 2000s or the 4000 shorty's) and invest in a multi port microprocessor charger. This will significantly reduce charge times and help preserve the life of the battery, while -most importantly- allow the fun to continue for longer.
The upgrade options below are suggested because I've done them and they worked well. However, the choices are endless.
- Upgrade Motor/Esc to brushless. Leopard Combo set 1/10th 10T 3930KV. Online best price: ebay - AU$62
- Steering Servo. Savox SC-0254MG. Speed 0.14. Torque 7.2/100. Cost approx AU$50
- Sway bars. Really helps control that friction roll on grippy surfaces
Like most top end RC vehicles, there are multiple ways to upgrade and improve performance, appearance and capabilities. Many of these upgrades are achieved via after market parts and therefore may void original warranty if installed.
Key Options include
- Upgrading Motor and ESC to brushless. The stock system is a 15T Dynamite motor coupled to a Dynamite Tazer 12T ESC.
- Upgrading Steering servo. Stock is a metal gear 625WP.
- Replacing easier to break nylon/plastic parts with Aluminium equivalents, for example, the front chassis top plate and the wheel hex nuts.