Welcome to my review of the SWORKz S350 Evo II 8th buggy – some of you may be surprised by this review if you know me for two good reasons;
1. This is a review of a buggy and not a touring car!
2. It’s nitro! Not an electric motor in sight :)
Over the past number of years, here in Northern Ireland, 8th buggy racing has gone from strength to strength during the summer months. In contrast the electric touring car turnouts have got smaller and smaller which is sad as we have a great facility at Ballymoney. So this summer I decided to stop touring car early and do a spot of nitro buggy racing. In the past I have done some 8th racing but it was always with an electric buggy as nitro engines, to be honest, have scared me a bit. Before diving in I decided to buy a second-hand buggy to give it a try – so off to oople.com and I found a second-hand Kyosho along with a Novarossi engine and with some wheeling and dealing the servos were also left in the buggy. It duly arrived and one Saturday morning I headed up to the NIMCC’s astro track at Ballymena. To cut a long story short, with a bit of help from Alan Scroggie, I got the linkages set and I had a ball doing lap after lap round the NIMCC track. The Novarossi engine was perfect and never cut once. I had a chat with some of the other drivers and also checked out some of the other buggies including an Xray, the newest Agama and also the SWORKz S350 Evo II of Hugh McIlwaine.
Back home I decided that, for next summer, my plan was outdoors 8th buggy and I started to do some research into what way I wanted to go manufacturer wise as the Kyosho was only a test vehicle and while I liked it I like to go with a manufacturer that has more of a UK presence. I had a few ideas in mind from my day at the track including the Xray, Agama, SWORKz and HPI. By pure accident I started looking for information on the Novarossi engine first and came across AnswerRC (http://answer-rc.com/uk/en/) who I then discovered also distributed the SWORKz buggy in the UK. Onwards with my research and this looked like a good combination – I will also say that I have always been an Atsushi Hara fan from his Hot Bodies days and the fact that he is the main driver at SWORKz and my decision was nearly made.
The final piece of the puzzle was a good chat with Peter Edern at AnswerRC who turned out to be an enthusiastic and knowledgeable guy and I soon had an SWORKz S350 Evo II on its way to me along with a few other goodies which I will get to later.
And so the review begins…
The buggy arrived in a reasonably normal sized box for a buggy and comes with a really nice picture of Hara’s buggy on the box. Inside you get a black and white manual with very clear instructions, a set of decals, a shell for the buggy and, off course the buggy parts itself. Looking at the parts of the buggy through the bags everything looked like it was made of good quality alloy and plastics etc. So that looked good for the build.
Part of my conversation with Peter at AnswerRC was around the hopups required to make a buggy close to the spec run by the pro’s so that you can follow their setup sheets. Peter assured me that pretty much all that was needed to allow me to follow the UK team drivers was some Yellow springs (SW-210060) and the changeable rear plate (SW-330266) so these were duly included in my order. When talking to Peter about spares he suggested the usual like arms etc. and as I was getting a set of arms he suggested going for the hard versions as this was what the UK guys were running and then I could keep the kit arms as my spares.
The start of the S350 Evo II (here on known as the S350!) build is with the front, middle and rear diffs. Everything is very nice quality and went together very well. I followed my usual route of Schumacher diff grease on the o-rings and black grease on the outdrive shafts which should hopefully lead to a leak free diff.
The very nice 46T center gear;
SWORKz include ‘proper’ oils in the kit and not just samples the way some manufacturers do. These are the full sized bottles and they provide 7k and 3k for the diffs and 400cst for the shocks. You can also see that I like to put the number on my diff showing what oil I am running in each;
And a close up to show the quality of the diff parts;
Next up we start to build up the diff cases to hold the diff. Note the nice bearing holder in the middle of the picture below as I will come back to it!
The whole assembly builds up really well, the joins between the diff cases were very close although I did run small amount of grease around them just to make sure they were sealed. I used PTFE tape on the grubscrew into the driveshaft – I use the plumbers tape as it holds well but you can then remove the screw if you have to. I find sometimes with heavy thread lock getting the grubscrew out again can be a pain.
But… once built I tried to turn the driveshaft and the whole unit felt very tight and ‘notchy’. I was not a happy bunny! Took it apart again and decided it was not the shiming that was causing the problem. A quick post on the SWORKz page on Facebook and Kevin Brunsden was straight back to ask if I had made sure that the bearing holder was in tight and to make sure it was tapped well into the diff case.
I took the cases apart and sure enough the bearing holder was not tight against the diff case so I tapped it in and it moved slightly further in. I put the casing back together and the diff was completely different, very smooth. As you go on reading this review you will see that everything goes together really well…in this case it was completely my fault. Don’t doubt the kit LOL.
Another nice feature of the kit is that they include three different roll bars for front and rear – nice as some other manufacturers have the roll bars as options. I used the kit recommended 2.2mm in the front and 3.0 in the rear.
They went together really well and felt very free;
Next up is the front pillow ball front steering knuckles and very nice they are to. The carbon inserts key onto the pillow ball parts and the fact they are separate could indicate that there are potentially longer/shorter versions in the works.
I basically tightened the knuckle pivot ball nut until the pivot ball would not move and then backed it off again until I got smooth movement in the ball.
I put the driveshaft in and again, instead of thread lock I used PTFE tape on the grub screw that holds the pin in place.
Next up is the top part of the front assembly and SWORKz supply and nice carbon plate with an alloy caster block insert holder.
At this point I will admit that I did start to go a bit quicker with the build as there was a chance that I would get out for a run with the buggy on the following Saturday. I would also say that how easily the parts built up also meant that I just kept building.
The eagle eyed among you may see in the picture above of the completed front assembly that the arm plastics are a bit lighter than the knuckle. This is because I decided, as I asid in the introduction and at Peter’s recommendation to swap out the kit parts for hard versions;
There is no real reason to do this but the team drivers are using them (some might say the harder plastics give a quicker reaction I suppose but I suspect I am not good enough to notice) but I was planning on buying a spare set of arms anyway. So the kit arms have become my spares.
A view from the top of the completed assembly, really very nice…
Probably a better view of the ‘greyer’ arms
The steering is based around a nice alloy steering plate with three ackerman adjustments and the whole unit is built up with eight bearings to make it very smooth once built.
The completed steering ready to go..
And connected to the front assembly with two screws. SWORKz even include a 0.2mm shim to put in place if there is any play or up/down movement between the steering and the carbon top plate. That is attention to detail!
Next up is the rear and the hubs are very nice with lots of tuning options and builds up in a similar way to the front of the buggy;
Before I knew it I had it built up and it is good that the likes of mud guards are supplied as part of the kit and not an option like some other well know manufacturers. I also built the rear wing at this stage and used the kit settings for the down force level. The wing attaches to the rear shock tower with 20mm and 16mm screws so it feels very solid once it is in place.
Some more pictures… note that I did use the wrong screw for the outside camber link and replaced it with the proper one later…it was late at night!
At the top of this picture you can see the curved rear shell mount which flexes and should hopefully give enough movement that your shell does not crack.
And a view of the mud guard in place;
The only deviation I made from the manual was the use of the changeable rear plate (SW-330266) as recommended by the team which gives more adjustment;
So by this stage we have the complete front and rear assemblies built up and ready to go on the chassis so attention moves to the centre diff. I really like the red ‘professional’ brake pads and I especially like that the pads are already glued in place, a job I hated doing on other kits!! Ventilated brake disks are also included which should hopefully make braking consistent.
The build of the centre diff mount is reasonably normal and I really like the splash of red
At this stage in the build I decided to jump forward a bit and build up the clutch and put the engine on the mounts.
Talking of engine mounts they are two different sizes! The idea is that the engine will lean in towards the centre of the buggy, helping the balance. Hard to see in the picture below;
But, as you can see when attached to the engine there is a fair amount of ‘lean’;
The clutch all built up with the 13 tooth clutch bell in place on my Novarossi P5 XL engine and pipe.
The chassis on the SWORKz is a work of art with quite a bit of milling on the black chassis to provide the right amount of strength and flex;
I am going to feel really bad marking the bottom of this;
I really like the way that you build up buggies… you build the front, rear and centre assemblies an then the engine before attaching all the parts to the chassis so all of a sudden you have a complete looking buggy. Completely different from building up a touring car were pretty much everything is attached to the chassis as you go.
Everything went onto the chassis without any drama.
There are plastic braces to attach to the front and rear assemblies that then attach to the chassis to make it more rigid.
Now we have something that is really starting to look like a buggy.
As I had the engine built up I decided to put together the fuel tank which comes with plastic mounts that give some flex when attached to the chassis as well as a splash guard and holders to route the fuel tubing;
It never ceases to amaze me the sheer size that 8th buggy shocks have become… it makes me cry filling them with oil after the small amounts that are used in 10th touring cars! It is great that SWORKz do supply oil and, as I said before, they are proper bottles of oil. I also like that the SWORKz use a nut to secure the piston onto the shock shaft and this makes it tight enough that it does not move at all. I used some Associated green slime on the o-rings before putting them into the bottom of the shock body. The o-rings are sandwiched between three plastic shims and looks like it will form a good seal. I also really like the fact that SWORKz provide you with guidance in the manual as to the distance from the shock body to the ball end. With the oil in the shocks the movement of the piston feels very smooth. I pushed the piston up before putting on the bladder and screwing on the shock top. This gave me a small amount of rebound but was consistent across all the shocks.
At this stage I went with the kit springs as my starting point which were soft Pinks front and rear. The finished article looks very nice and I like the SWORKz on the cap and also the marking on the shock collar to make quick adjustments easy;
As with a lot of modern buggies the servo/radio is largely built from one piece that can be taken out of the buggy when cleaning. The SWORKz version is very well moulded and comes as one piece with two covers, one for the flat battery compartment at the four and another plate for the receiver box at the rear. A nice feature is the alloy throttle linkage arm plate that you can see in the middle of the assembly that will be used later to attach the throttle linkage;
I put my receiver and transponder into the radio compartment as there was plenty of room and I mounted a waterproof push button switch where the transponder would normally go. There are guides underneath for routing wires so it all look nice and tidy once built;
Closer view of the alloy throttle linkage arm plate and switch.
And the whole thing bolted into the buggy;
And the linkage in place and the air filter foam oiled inside and put in place. Still some adjustment to do when I start the engine up so at this stage I have not put the included cable ties on to secure the air filter.
SWORKz include rear mud guards which is nice considering, with some other kits they are an extra;
Front servo horn in alloy, in the past I have had kit plastic ones fail on me and I need to get myself an alloy throttle horn as well.
The rear showing the optional hangeable rear plate (SW-330266) in place and the neatly marked roll bar for easy identification;
Rear wing in place;
And the full SWORKz S350 Evo II in all it’s glory;
As always I decided to switch to buggy at the end of the season and the NIMCC’s last round clashed with the Irish National so the club round got cancelled!! There are some winter rounds coming up so my plan is to try and get one of those in to test the SWORKz while the indoor touring car season continues. So watch this space to see how I get on with the S350 Evo II.
Thanks again to Peter Edern at Answer-RC for the chance to run the buggy. I also want to thank Kevin Brunsden and the other guys on the SWORKz page on Facebook for answering my questions during the build!