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Electric vs. Nitro


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Parts of Electric and Nitro RCs

Clockwise from Top Left: Battery Pack, Electronic Speed Controller, Motor in Electric RC. Axle and linkage, shock tower, air filter in Nitro RC.

© M. James
The care and maintenance of hobby-grade electric and nitro RCs are similiar, up to a point. Both types of RCs require regular after-run maintenance in the form of cleaning, checking tires and rims, checking or replacing shocks and bearings, and checking/tightening loose screws to keep them in tip-top shape. The big difference is in the parts that get replaced or repaired and the additional care needed for the nitro RC engine before and after use.
  • Electric RCs require charging a battery pack. A new nitro engine must go through a proper nitro engine break-in in order to avoid costly repairs down the road.

  • Starting an electric RC involves little more than flipping a switch. There are multiple ways to start a nitro engine, some of which require additional accessories or parts.

  • For electric RCs you will replace worn brushes on a brushed electric motor or replace the motor completely. On the nitro RC you replace the glow plug periodically and check the fuel system.

  • On an electric RC you adjust the throttle trim on your ESC (Electronic Speed Control) and the trim settings on the transmitter. You only have to make a small adjustment on brake and throttle linkage on a nitro RC to have the brakes react quicker when you let off the throttle. To further adjust the nitro RCs braking power you could also tinker with the trim settings on the nitro RCs transmitter as well.

  • After use, after-run maintenance on a nitro engine that's not necessary on an electric RC includes draining the fuel tank, cleaning and oiling the air filter, and adding after-burn oil.

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