Tag Archives: scale

RC Sand Ladder Test


One of the reasons I love these small scale adventures is all the cool gear you can get that is funtional. Sure I like the ice-chest and tool box that bounces around in the back of my mini Wrangler, but to have items that really work like tow straps and winches are pretty awesome.

I picked up my first set of sand ladders just before my first G6. For under $20 I had a set of MaxTrax sand ladders like my big scale rig has. They were used within the first 15 minutes of the start of the G6 in Bend, Oregon when after working our way through a maze of mud and sludge, we had to climb over a few ruts that was giving other drivers fits. I pulled the ladders off the roof rack of my little Jeep and Abby and I glided over easily where others were getting stuck.

I had noticed at the starting line at that first scale adventure how many different types of ladder systems there were. Many had been home built, while others were definitly manufactured. All had something in common, there were all longer than my set.

Over the next week I struggle to make a set of my own. They either looked great and were non-funtional, or were perfect bridging devices that looked like a sixth-grader’s shop project gone wrong. I went into my second G6 in Sparks, Nevada with my MaxTrax.
I used them a few times either alone to bridge or decrease an angle of attack or to help with my winch on an obstacle. They were fine until We went into the night course, which had a route that took us through a parking lot. Going off the curb….no issues. Going up and over a curb, my little orange bridges were too short and I wound up following another driver up his home-made bridges that were twice as long.

The following week I ordered a set of Siege Ladders from DS Pro. Twice in length and slightly less expenseive, and regionaly made from a great guy over in Oregon. I decided to test them right away.
They areas tested:

1) Scale Look – Here I think the MaxTrax wins without question. This is probably due to the fact I have a set for my big rig. They look like the actual ladders in production. With that said, since MaxTrax is also made in blue, black, and grey there should also be options for the other colors. The DS Pro looks good, and I hate to down grade it here, and as you will see in a moment…form does not discount funtion.

2) Durability- Before I comment, I have to give huge props to DS Pro here. In transit my ladders showed up warped. Probably happened in the mail along the way. Within 48 hours DS Pro not only had a new set to me, but was looking for ways to help me salvage the other set. I have had issues with other RC accessories and service has been hit and miss…DS Pro takes care of its customers.

Because of the geometry of the MaxTrax, there is less space for flex, especially when under stress of bungee cords. In addition, they use a concave shape to help strengthen overall load. They also have reinforcement on the long-axis of the ladder. There are small cutouts along the edge for mounting with a bungee, and under minimal stress, have either torn or stretched out of position.

The DS Pro ladders are longer and more suseptable to flex. They have smartly placed reinforcement along the two outer edges so there isn’t hardly any flex when under load. They have also been on the rig as it took a 30 foot tumble down the side of a rocky bank and did not break or bend, eventhough they protrude beyond the roof rack. I would like to see a slightly different plastic formula used since it is suseptable to bending like it did in the mail. I am curious as to what it will do in the summer. It does not seem at risk of snapping in cold weather. I drove today for about 6 hours in temps ranging from 29° to 36° and used the ladder for testing…no cold temp issues.

3) Usability- This is tough. Most likely, each has its specific place that shines, but here is where the Siege Ladders shine. The ladders not only long enough to bridge large gaps and provide a much better angle of attack, but are long enough that you can shove them deep into soft dirt or sand and they will stay in place as you transition out of the rut you are in. I will carry both sets, but if I had to pick one, I would most likely use the DS Pro product based on this alone.

4) Traction- for both sets, tracting was an issue, though the dimples on the MaxTrax were only slightly better. Only slightly, because with the siege ladder you have more options for angle of attack. Change the angle so you aren’t trying to drive as steep out of the sand trap. If there was some grip on the DS Pro ladders….outright awesome.

5) Overall Satisfaction- Again, if picking one…DS Pro. I really like the look and the ease of mounting of the MaxTrax, but for the reason of needing a ladder for urban and rocky environments, I would have to use the longer ladder. The other reason is simply the company taking care of me. I work hard for my RC gear and I hve to do it for Abby and Melissa as well (not always same brand- just same option), and when a company steps up to take care of me, it means allot.

With that said, I am sure RC4WD has some fine folks working there. But with our winch projects, I have already seen a lack of insight, like putting screws to mount the winch to the bumper in the packets or at least telling me up front I would need them. Still, they have a history of making great products.

You can’t go wrong with either set. MaxTrax look great and will do most of the work. Siege Ladders, best all around and will be my go-to set when I am stuck.

Be sure to check out our Facebook page for the video of these guys in action and be sure to tune into our podcast for more info on these and other adventures.









Scale Model Expeditions


Two Axial SCX-10 JK Wranglers working down the trail. This is not racing or crawling, this is oveland exploration using scale vehicles.


Amazing the details you find in terrain when moving over it with detailed vehicles.

Sunday morning working our way down a hiking trail with scale models of Jeep JK Wranglers. Watching our footing as the electric motors quietly propels each along, both with loads of 1/10 scale expedition gear. Climbing rocks, selecting lines, and working with the other rigs to get un-stuck or select a better path.

Radio Control Expeditions. This is our newest passion. In an effort to get back into shape, we have dedicated ourselves to scale model overlanding. Borrowing from other disciplines, trail hiking, real sized Jeeping and Overlanding, as well as RC rally racing (as done in Europe and Asia) and scale crawling events, we have built a few 1:10 scale (and highly realistic) models to explore local hiking trails.


Melissa working her JK through a bolder section on the trail. Scale Overlanding provides new or additional opportunities to PLAY outside and get a nice hiking and boldering workout

A few years ago we jumped into rc racing and “bashing”. Using several different Traxxas vehicles in various scales, we built up both a collection of cars as well as destinations we had taken them to. I normally travel on business with a 1/16 truck and We even built a rally course in our backyard.

While I did race, working the short course races never really appealed to me, I however loved the rc rally format done in Europe, where instead of a closed course that you repeated, you had to go from stage to stage. In the 4×4 truck world (rc) you also have the Axial G6 which is a competition with several stages like the rally racing.

I like the idea of the G6, but we are more about the adventure and exploration side of life rather than competition. So we have started doing “scale trail runs” with our Wranglers.

We know we are not the first ones to do this, in fact there are a few Youtube videos out there of guys getting together to do fun runs on weekend mornings, but we are one of the few and as far as we know, the only ones in our area doing trail runs and not just taking crawlers out to a spot to see if they can conquer the obstacle. For us, its driving the rig down a trail to a new destination.


Touching the rig to reposition or recover it not allowed. Here Rob’s red JK cannot get enough traction to get over an obstacle, so Melissa’s silver JK is helping out with a tow strap

Full Value Norms
First, I hate rules that look like “elitism”, but we are going for a look and feel with this experience. We implement a few rules to make it more interesting, a bit more realistic, and promote good driving skills and line selecting. Here is a quick run down of how we set up our rigs, handle getting stuck, and putting a bit of realism into our scale adventuring.

Vehicles are 1:10 scale 4×4. Must have a realistic drive train including “pumpkins”.
Tires and rims must be realistic to the model.
Vehicles must carry a tow strap and have recovery points in front and back of the vehicle. Recovery points must be realistic and comply with manufacturer or fabricator specifications. The tow strap must represent current manufactured straps available in the 1:1 world.
Vehicle bodies should represent street legal models, since overlanding in the 1:1 world is done on dirt roads, forest service roads, byways, as well as Jeep trails. This includes minimum one mirror, simulated lights, etc.

1.when a vehicle becomes stuck or turns over, it must be righted or unstuck in one of the following ways:
Winching by self
Winching by another vehicle
Yank strap by another vehicle
Yank strap by “judge” or hand (with a judge pull- it is a single strait line pull by fellow driver)
Anchor point (tow strap in anchored in place by fellow driver’s foot

2. Use of lifting and traction aides

If a hi-lift jack is on the vehicle, the driver can lift the vehicle by hand 3/4 the height of the jack
Objects may be placed under the tires as long as size and weight are proportional and realistic to what a driver could lift and place.
Use of sand ladders, pull pals, winches, shovels, etc is highly encouraged.

Use of the “hand of God” or “foot of God” is forbidden- except when vehicle is in peril of falling or in imminent danger of damage.

While it seems legalistic to have so many rules, we do it to preserve the culture we are trying to build with this and keep it enjoyable for us.

1. Most obvious is the 4×4 scale rig. As above, it should represent a manufactured, street legal, off highway vehicle. We chose to use the Axial SCX 10 for its scale realism and on trail performance.

Melissa’s rig is an out of the box ready to run rig, while mine is a kit. With that said, we swapped motors in Melissa’s from a 27 turn motor to 55 turn motor. I can explain turns in another post, but for now understand this, less turns= faster, more turns=torque. We wanted her to have the ability to go slower and have power to climb.

My rig was a kit. It comes with everything but the electronics. Troy Dewey of Team Dewey’s built the rig for me as a favor and learning experience. I have built kits in the past and I struggle, Troy is probably the top expert on rc rigs in the state, so getting him to do the build was awesome. Most kits we have both done are a matter of hours from start to finish. It took us 2.5 days working together. Mainly due to the way the parts are listed and laid out. The kit comes with a clear body, so naturally I selected a finish to match our new adventure rig. I will do a full review of the rigs in another blog.

2. Next you need a backpack with hydration bladder. This is a trail hike taking you far from camp or your 1:1 rig. This will give a place to store a few parts, batteries, snacks, and a first-aid kit.

We recommend at least three extra Lipo batteries for your rig and an extra pack of AAA batteries for your radio controller. The Lipos tend to last about 2 hours. That two hours is going to go fast.

A small first-aid kit is a must since you may be climbing rocks, going through brush, etc. Along with the kit, should be bug repellent.

Trail Etiquette
You are doing something out of the norm on trails where there are other users. While on a common trail, look out for mountain bikers and hikers and get out of the way. We practice Tread Lightly principles just as if it was a real rig so we don’t endanger our access rights. Stay close to rig as if it was a pup on a leash.

We think we have found a way to get outside and play more. Combining hiking and boldering with the rc hobby has us back outside. Trail climbs don’t phase us as much even though we are both out of shape, funny how the car pulls you up the trail. We are already selecting destinations to explore trails with our scale expo rigs.