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Proper RC Engine Break-in Tips Part Two

Article by Kenny McCormick

Drive 90% of the first tank out, making sure it warms up and stays warmed up the entire time. then shut the engine off by plugging the exhaust or stopping the flywheel. Use the back of a screwdriver or the tip of your shoe if you opt for the flywheel method, as using your finger can and will cause painful injuries. Plugging the exhaust should be done with a thick leather glove, end of a pencil, something like that, as it will be very hot. The engine may even shut itself off for you, if it dies at this point don't restart it. Once the engine is off, turn it over to bottom dead center and let it cool. BDC is easy to find, simply turn the engine over slowly. Pull it through the pinch and stop half a turn later, and voila! Bottom dead center! You should be able to easily rock the flywheel with little resistance in the direction the engine turns. This is important, do not forget to do this.

There's a reason we're driving the car as soon as the engine will stay running. There's more to break in than just the engine. Differentials, wheel bearings, brakes, and clutch will last longer and operate better if they're run in gently as well. This is also a good time to make sure those linkages are adjusted properly. If you noticed the brakes were laggy, or you needed excessive trim to keep the car from screaming/dragging it's brakes, adjust the linkages now. Get them set up so you need only 10 degrees or so of trim to get things centered nicely, and you want the brakes releasing before the clutch engages. Also, keep in mind that the engine is not going to want to stay up to temp at this point. You absolutely must keep the temps up to break it in properly, and placing a load on the engine will convince it to stay warmed up, as well as keeping it from getting too hot. Driving the car will also keep the RPMs up, which will help keep the engine from stalling. Lastly, it keeps you from getting bored, keeps you involved in the process.

Once the engine has fully cooled, fill the tank up and restart the engine. Repeat the driving just like you did on tank one while keeping an eye on those temps. Don't be afraid to block off cylinder head fins if it won't warm up, but do not lean it out to get the heat up, and if it goes over 250 degrees open some fins up. After this tank is done, shut it off, set it to BDC, and make any further linkage adjustments as needed.

For the third tank you will be using up to 1/2 throttle and 1/2 brakes in your figure eights. Feel free to take it out farther with each tank, but don't let the engine rev too high. Otherwise, it's the same as the previous tanks. Tank four is the same way, but with 3/4ths throttle and 3/4ths brake, and tank five is wide open throttle and full brake. Remember to let the engine fully cool between each tank, and stop the car with about 10% left in the tank each time.

Now, with your fifth tank completed, your engine is broken in. Change your glow plug at this time. Keep the one you pull out as a spare, it should screw into your four-way hobby wrench. Slip the new plug into the long end of the 4-way, then carefully get the copper gasket into position on the head. Slowly turn the plug backwards, to loosen it, until you feel a click. Now, tighten the plug, when it bottoms out give it 1/8 to 1/4 of a turn to snug it up and nothing more. It does not need to be any tighter than this. Clean and re-oil your air filter, fill the tank and your pit bottle, back up, and we're ready to tune for performance! I cover proper rc engine tuning in this article.

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