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Many enthusiasts enjoy watching race cars and are enthralled with their speed. Since most people cannot afford to buy a full size race car for themselves, the next best thing is a nitro radio controlled vehicle. Many different options are available from beginner to advanced and one can start with a minimal model kit to get a feel for the sport.

Nitro and Glow Plugs

Nitro engines in RC sports are also commonly referred to as "glow engines", and are fueled by a mixture of methanol, nitromethane, and oil. The engine's carburetor incorporates a device called a glow plug. The glow plug is fed a direct current which then heats the heating filament. This makes the plug glow with heat. The engine also incorporates an internal crank in order to feed the engine with nitro fuel. When the engine has started from the glow plug's power, the electric ignition source can be removed. Each firing keeps the glow plug filament hot and subsequently allows it to ignite the next charge. This keeps the engine running and gives the radio controlled vehicle the power it needs to move.

Nitro Engine Sizes

The majority of nitro engines are between .12 and .35 cubic inches and can come in either two or four stroke capacities. Although two stroke engines generally have more power, four stroke engines have more of a realistic revving sound, which many hobbyists enjoy. It really comes down to personal preference.

Nitro Engine Tuning

Tuning a RC nitro engine normally only requires a long, flathead screwdriver. There are three speed needle screws found around the carburetor which control high speed, low speed, and idle. Each of the speed needles control the fuel-to-air ratio for the different speeds the model will run at, including idle. The modeller starts the adjustment with the high speed needle screw and gives it a small, clockwise turn. Then the RC vehicle is given a test run. Adjustment of the high speed needle continues until the RC vehicle can run full throttle at maximum RPMs without sputtering. Then the low speed is adjusted after the car has been in idle for at least thirty seconds without stalling. Small adjustments clockwise on the low speed adjustment screw will enable the low speed setting to be properly calibrated. The idle speed needle is then adjusted so that the clutch can be engaged correctly without making the RC vehicle jump forward.

RC vehicles that use nitro engines can be refuelled and ready to go in just minutes; battery-powered RC vehicles often need to be taken apart to replace the batteries when they run dry. Nitro engines are air cooled so they do not need to take as many cooling down breaks, as some other types of RC engines need. The realistic revving sounds and greater torque with higher possible speeds make nitro engines the favored form of RC power among hobbyists and racers.

Precautions and Disadvantages to Nitro Engines

Some of the downsides to powering your RC vehicle with a nitro engine include unburned oil deposits forming on the vehicle's chassis, which necessitates a more frequent and thorough cleaning than their battery-operated counterparts. Hobbyists also have to be diligent in maintaining the correct fuel to air ratios in order to keep the fuel and speed at their maximum potential. Care must also be taken to ensure that the nitro engine does not overheat and cause damage to the vehicle. Mechanical wear is also greater in nitro powered vehicles simply because of the increased speed and power that the vehicles can attain; this can result in rougher driving and more collisions. Many of the moving parts need to be replaced at regular intervals, including the glow plug. The whole engine also needs to be rebuilt or replaced after the RC vehicle has burned around eight gallons of fuel. This is why some people find the maintenance and the associated high costs to be a major detractor to nitro. On the other hand, many hobbyists enjoy tuning and rebuilding their nitro vehicles and consider it part of the fun of the hobby.

Nitro Fuel Safety

Nitro fuel is highly combustible and must be stored safely away from heat and open flame at all times. It is recommended that the fuel be kept in a designated opaque container out of direct light because condensation can form and weaken the fuel mixture. There is often an additive mixture that is recommended to be added to the nitro engine after each use and before storage. Failure to do so may cause gunk to build up and ruin the engine. Always check your engine's user manual for proper storage and maintenance procedures.

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