It’s time to set your starter box up for perfect starts, every time!
To get your nitro-breathing buggy or truggy up and running, you are more than likely going to need a starter box of some sort. Configuring a starter box to your particular chassis will take a little patience, especially if you’re upgrading a ready-to-run with a new engine. To get everything set up, you will need some basic tools, a marker, possibly a rotary tool, your car or truck, and your starter box.
Get the Correct Box for your Vehicle
When getting set up with a starter box, one of the first things you will need to do is figure out which configuration you are going to need. 1/8 scale buggies and truggies require a different box configuration than a 1/10 scale stadium truck or shaft-drive nitro sedan. Once you have determined if you need an inline or offset starter box, it is time to make sure your chassis is properly configured to work with a starter box.
This step is much easier if you are starting with a Kit or Race Roller instead of an RTR, but that in no way means that you can not use a starter box with an RTR - it just takes a few more steps.
The first thing you will need to do when setting up your starter box is to set the peg location. Where you locate the pegs on your box is crucial to ensuring that the flywheel on the engine is properly aligned with the wheel on your starter box. If you position your chassis too far forward or aft, the starter wheel could possibly drag on your chassis and damage the starter wheel.
When you are working with a kit, it is easiest to work with a bare chassis that has not yet been assembled. With a bare chassis, you will not have to deal with A-arms flopping around, an obstructed view of the flywheel opening, or other obstacles. Place the chassis on the starter box and make sure the flywheel opening is aligned with the starter wheel. From here, slide the starter box pegs into a position that will hold the chassis in that approximate orientation. Do not tighten the pegs all the way down just yet as you will need to make some final adjustments to account for the slight change in the angle of the starter box top that occurs as it is pressed down to activate the motor. Once this is done, you may begin assembling your vehicle.
You have a few extra steps to go through to get an RTR ready to use with a starter box. If your RTR was originally equipped with some sort of starting system, such as an ez-start, pull start, or motorized starting mechanism, you will need to replace several engine components. To accommodate a pull start mechanism or other starting system that bolted to your back plate, RTR’s include taller engine mounts than what you would use with a car and engine that have been configured for use with a starter box. These taller engine mounts provide additional clearance for the starting mechanisms, but can prevent a starter wheel from being able to make contact with an engine’s flywheel when the time comes to start the engine. What you need to do is replace the existing starting mechanism with an eliminator back plate and install lowered engine mounts onto the engine itself. These two items will make it possible to use a starter box with your RTR. Once the lowered engine mounts and the eliminator back plate are both installed, follow the same basic steps to line your chassis up with a starter box that someone with a kit would use. You may find it beneficial to remove a few other items from the chassis to improve your view of the flywheel opening, such as the fuel tank or the radio tray, but it is not totally necessary.
Now that you feel everything is properly aligned for solid contact between your starter box and the flywheel, it is still a good idea to double-check that the starter wheel will not drag or rub on your chassis around the flywheel opening. While more of an issue with RTR chassis’ than kits, beveling the edges of the flywheel opening can prevent premature wear and tear on your starter wheel. This is easiest to check before you install the engine onto the chassis. With the chassis setting securely on the starter box’s pegs, push down on the box mimicking what you would do when attempting to start an engine. If you see that the wheel does not completely clear the chassis, you have some filing to do. You can use a file or a rotary tool to remove excess material from around the flywheel opening, but make sure that you wear some sort of protective eye wear while doing so to prevent metal filings from getting into your eyes. Remove a little material at a time while frequently checking the clearance on your box. Once you have the proper clearance around the flywheel opening, you are ready to install your engine on the chassis.
Powering your starter box
Depending on what starter box you select, it may require anywhere from 7.2 volts up to 14.4 volts to power your starter box, and you have a number of power options. The most common method is to utilize standard 6-cell sub-C stick battery packs. If your box only requires 7.2 volts, then a single stick pack will do. For 14.4 volt starter boxes, you simply need two stick packs. One thing to remember is that while you can save a few dollars by going with a lower capacity pack, a higher capacity battery will provide more starts per charger, be able to handle more charges over it’s battery life, and keep you happy.
A second option is to use Li-Po battery packs. Li-Po battery packs are ultra-lightweight, yet they have superior voltage and capacity compared to their NiCd or NiMH counterparts. The downside to Li-Po batteries is that they are more expensive and require Li-Po-specific chargers. It is very important to note that using a non-Li-Po safe charger can lead to severe damage to the battery, including having the battery catch on fire. But with the proper safety methods in place, you can use a 2-cell Li-Po pack in starter boxes that require 7.2 volts, two 2-cell Li-Po packs in a starter that requires 14.4 volts, or a 4-cell Li-Po pack in a starter that requires 14.4 volts.
A third option would be to use a 12-volt lead acid battery. Lead acid batteries have been around for many years and are a proven and inexpensive way to power your starter. Lead acid batteries can also deliver high amounts of current for short periods of time when necessary. Lead acid batteries can be found in a variety of different sizes, including ones small enough to fit inside most starter boxes. The main downside to lead acid batteries is their weight - sometimes weighing more than your starter box alone. Another issue with lead acid batteries can be charging. Much like a Li-Po battery, a lead acid battery requires a very specific type of charger to get it powered up.