A lot of things can go wrong with R/C's, from carburetors losing tune to CVD's falling apart on the track. One of the less spectacular, but more nagging annoyances the hardcore R/C enthusiast encounters on a regular basis is the screw. In a bid to shave costs, manufacturers often provide cheap, fairly mediocre quality hardware. Threads strip, heads enlarge or sheer off, and edges rust.
Enter the aftermarket screw kit, to the rescue! R/C ScrewZ recently sent me one of their new stainless steel kits to look over.
The notable mention about this product was its size -- about 2 1/2" x 3 1/2". The last monster truck screw kit I got was about five times this size, or at least the case was. Once I opened up the tiny R/C ScrewZ box, things changed dramatically as screw after set screw after locknut after washer emerged. There are 198 items in the Mad Force kit, as seen here (click to zoom in):
The completeness of this kit is excellent, and all screws have Allen heads for long-term durability. A set of small wrenches is also included, in case you don't have any already or are missing one of the needed sizes.
The next thing that caught my eye was the size of the heads of the screws. Not only were they large in diameter, but also quite tall, promising to hold inserted wrench ends deep and snug, even on the smallest parts.
The Vegas Stripper
My three measures of quality of screw kits are completeness, material strength, and resistance to stripping of the heads. You can see for yourself above that R/C ScrewZ did not shirk on providing a comprehensive selection of pieces. To test the strength & durability of screws, though, I put a sample through a gruelling torture test I like to call the Vegas Stripper. The test involves threading a screw into a firm platform (an old molded chassis, in my case) and proceeding to do everything in my powers to strip out or break off the head for three minutes non-stop. With Allen-head screws, this involves repeatedly inserting a new, sacrificial wrench to various depths and bending it back at random angles until the wrench slips out, often bringing a chip of metal with it. The goal is to break off or completely strip the head.
Below are shown, from left to right, a brand new standard "black oxide" coated 4-40 x 3/8" cap-head screw from a Losi kit, an identical screw after going through the Vegas Stripper, and then a brand new 3mm x 10mm cap-head screw (the metric system equivalent of a 4-40) from the R/C ScrewZ kit, and an identical piece after I got through abusing it.
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As you can see, the Losi screw's head was badly mangled, the top being flanged out dramatically and the sides being gouged down pretty deep. Getting the screw out after the test required a bit of elbow grease. The R/C ScrewZ piece on the far right shows a bit of rounding at the very top and some very superficial scratching inside. Even though my Allen wrench was rounded off after the test, I was still able to remove the screw without putting any downward pressure on it as the wrench slid deep into the head and held firm.
These screws are tough, and the kit certainly comes with plenty of them. I could only find two things to complain about. Firstly, the compartmentalized box that the parts come in is tiny and cramped, making it difficult to eye the specific screw you need at a given moment and pick it out. Secondly, magnetic-tip tools can't pick up stainless steel screws. The latter property is a necessary evil, as the corrosion resistance of stainless steel is a huge plus in the world of fasteners. As for the first issue, of course, the idea of these kits is to transfer all of the parts to your vehicle, not store them away for the future. While performing the hardware upgrade, you can just transfer the parts to a few small white paper plates for easier access than any size of multicompartment box can offer.
In the past few years I have had occasion to try six different brands of aftermarket screw kits, in addition to working with the factory-supplied hardware of seven manufacturers that I can think of offhand. For value, completeness, quality of material and design, I can honestly say that the R/C ScrewZ kit tested here is, in the entirety of my experience, second to none.
R/C ScrewZ kits can be purchased online directly from RCScrewZ.com.