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How to: 3D Printing Replacement Parts for Vintage RC and why it’s easy again!

3D printing and restoration of vintage RC parts for toys, toy-grade, or hobby-grade is a match made in heaven. Parts which were lost forever can now be created on a computer, or 3D scanned from an original and reproduced decades after they were last sold. Whether you need a replacement bumper for your Turbo Hopper, a battery cover for your Bandit, or a totally new suspension setup for your Tamiya Lunchbox, 3D printing is the answer.

BUT WAIT! You tried 3D printing, and it sucked!

Worse than paper jams, you now have filament jams, calibration til fractions of a millimetre, bad prints that take all night, bed adhesion, and the list goes on!

Not anymore. Because Bambu Labs just made the most consumer friendly, almost whitegoods appliance like device I’ve ever seen, and it’s taken the 3D printing community by storm. It’s made me love 3D printing again!

TLDR: If you’re a beginner to 3D printing, don’t look at anything else. Just get a Bambu Lab A1 Mini or P1 series

So I recently purchased the incredible Bambu Labs P1S 3D printer, a real game changer.

Anyone who has tried 3D printing will know that it often ends in frustration due to the constant calibration, necessary upgrades, and nonsense. That was until several engineers formerly of DJI (drones) decided to change all this, and design a printer that just printed!

Beginning in 2022 with the Bambu Lab X series and this year the more affordable Bambu Lab P series which seriously shook up the 3D printing community, and got me back into it. At around $699 USD or $1100 AUD for an enclosed printer which works like an appliance, it’s like nothing else. For beginners, the $299 USD / $450 AUD Bambu A1 Mini has everything you need, and JUST FREAKIN’ WORKS!
Links: Bambu Lab Website and Bambu Lab on eBay.

Since then, I’ve spent time designing replacement parts for several of my Taiyo and Tyco RC Cars. The STL files for these and future parts will be downloadable here in the near future.

Let’s take a look at them!

Battery Cover

Suitable for: Tyco Eliminator, Tyco Bandit, and similar chassis.

With most of the Bandit and Eliminator cars I purchase missing the battery cover, finding replacements can be tough, and expensive. So I set out in Adobe Fusion 360 to design my own replacements.

And no, that Tyco logo isn’t painted, it’s a fully 3D printed part in both matte black, and white. Manufactured in 50 minutes is fast, but at full speed the Bambu will create one of these in 30 minutes flat!

There was no post-processing on these parts, how you see them is straight from the printer. One of my other considerations was to try and make these parts as smooth and less 3D-printed looking as possible. It’s not quite perfect yet, but I’m getting there.

Wheel Hub

Suitable for: Tyco Lamborghini 9.6V Twin Turbo, Taiyo Super Fast F1, Tyco Marlboro Indy Car and others with the same chassis.

The best on-road chassis that Taiyo / Tyco ever made was easily the one used by the Taiyo Super Fight F1 Dual Motor, and of course the Taiyo / Tyco Lamborghini 9.6v Twin Turbo, and several others. It’s just epic for a “toy” grade car, heavily inspired by the more expensive hobby grade models, but it does have a few weak points.

Most common of all in my experience is the wheel hub crack, where a hard smack into a wall or post with your wheel/tire, and the plastic part gripping the axel will crack in half. Time to make one with reinforcements!

Adding a 1mm band of support around the whole cylinder, and making the overall span thicker also, I’m hopeful that these parts printed in something strong enough like ‘Tough PLA’, Nylon, or PETG should be at least as strong, but perhaps even stronger than the original. NostalgiaRC will be testing, so fingers crossed!

Bumper Bar

Suitable for: Tyco Wild Thing, Taiyo Jet Hopper II, Tyco Heads Up Turbo Hopper, Tyco Turbo Blaster.

Most people agree that this chassis was an improvement over the original Turbo Hopper MK1, MK2, MK3 chassis which required the body to come off to install new batteries, however so much was done to reduce weight (increasing runtime and speed) that the bumper bar and side bars were effectively hollowed out, leading to almost certain breakage if you drove your car how it was meant to be driven!

And so the actual first model I designed was this bumper bar. Plenty of inspiration was taken from Zedic’s excellent model (see his website here), though with the underside not flat (per original Taiyo design), printing it out and obtaining a smooth result was difficult. I eventually figured it out, but also wanted to try my own design – something flat and easy to print, ensuring a smooth, almost manufactured look.

Is it identical to the original? No. But we all know this isn’t an original part, and so I’ve tried to create the best possible part knowing the limitations of my manufacturing process, while compensating for the lack of strengthening lines by simply making the whole part extra thick.

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