RCU Review: Schumacher Fusion


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    Contributed by: Eric Hege | Published: June 2004 | Views: 78648 | email icon Email this Article | PDFpdf icon
    Schumacher Nitro Fusion .21 RTR

    Review by: Eric Hege (Misbehavin)

    Schumacher Racing USA

    6302 Benjamin Road Suite 404
    Tampa, FL 33634

    Phone: 813-889-9691
    Fax: 813-889-9593
    Website: www.racing-cars.com


    See the Schumacher Nitro Fusion in action!
    Resolution:  Low  Medium  High

    Quality
    Performance
    Ease of Assembly
    Handling
    Durability
    Speed
    Engine
    Price

    Very Fast
    Easy To Start
    Motor Tunes Easily
    RTR Radio Includes Dual-Rate

    RTR Body Not Painted
    Drive Belt is Exposed on Bottom
    Uses Torx screws
    "Go on and write me up for 125,
    Post my face wanted dead or alive,
    Take my license, all that jive,
    I can't drive 55!"
    -Sammy Hagar

    What's that old saying, about speed costing money? The tricky part is how much speed do you get for a certain amount of money. Well, it looks like there may be an answer to that question, at least in the eyes of Schumacher Racing.

    According to Schumacher, with the Nitro Fusion, you have the capability of hitting the 80 MPH mark. To accomplish this, you will need an optional Schumacher clutch bell. However even the stock gearing is far from shabby, as the Fusion out of the box should see speeds around 65 MPH. That's more than enough to put you past the legal speed limit in many areas, if you were in your real car. It's also most definitely fast enough to provide you some serious challenges at your favorite stomping grounds.

    So grab yourself a glow igniter, a jug of nitro, and nerves of steel. Then head out to the biggest paved area you can find. With a little luck, maybe the local law enforcement officers will let you off with nothing more than a warning ticket... which would put you one step ahead of Mr. Hagar himself!




    Model Name: Schumacher Nitro Fusion RTR
    Price: $499.99 list price
    Type: 1/10th Scale Touring
    Length: 16.54" (420mm)
    Width: 7.87" (200mm)
    Wheelbase: 10.08-10.24" (256-260mm)
    Weight: 65.26 oz (1850 grams)
    Chassis: 3.0mm CNC Machined
    Engine: 'E-Start' Thunder Tiger .21 ABC Pro Engine (3.5cc)
    Drivetrain: 3 Speed/4 Wheel Drive
    Shocks: Adjustable Aluminum Shocks
    Tires: Rubber/No Inserts
    Wheels: Plastic 12 Spoke


    Additionally Required Items
    Transmitter Batteries or Rechargeable Pack
    Receiver Batteries or Rechargeable Pack
    Single D-Cell Battery For Included Glow Igniter
    Nitro
    Fuel Bottle
    Cordless Drill
    Polycarbonate Paint For Lexan Body
     
    Lexan Body
    Accessories
    Documentation

    Upon opening the box, you are greeted with a number of items included to help get you up and running. The first thing you'll probably notice is that the included lexan body shell is unpainted. I didn't mind this myself, as I enjoy airbrushing my bodies. However, I generally feel that RTR kits should come with painted bodies. After all, RTR's are targeted towards beginners and those who wish to get up and running as fast as possible, so an unpainted body is a hindrance on either count. The body itself does include a peel-off overspray film, and all the holes that need to be cut are plainly marked on the body. In addition, Schumacher has provided detailed vinyl stickers to help trick out your body once it's painted. So if you don't mind painting the body, you'll find doing so is as easy as it gets in the hobby.

    Among the other included accessories, you'll find several tools, such as a turnbuckle wrench, and hex wrenches. You'll also find a T10 Torx wrench as well. As the Nitro Fusion uses Torx head screws almost exclusively, this is an important item to hang onto. Not many people will have a T10 Torx driver sitting in their toolbox, but if you plan on spending a lot of time with the Nitro Fusion it would be a good idea to pick one up. The included L-shaped Torx wrench is fine for taking out a few screws, but will quickly lead to aggravation if used frequently. The included D-Cell Glow igniter is a little cumbersome due to it's size. However that's typical with other large cell igniters. I opted to use my Dynamite NiMH rechargeable igniter instead, once I was in the field.

    The Schumacher Nitro Fusion is well documented throughout the paperwork you'll find in the box. You get a detailed manual that contains exploded parts views, as well as an assembly walkthrough. It's nice to see that, even though the Nitro Fusion is a RTR kit, Schumacher provided assembly instructions as well. A good set of assembly instructions always comes in handy further down the road when you are performing routine maintenance, or replacing a broken part. In addition the RTR kit comes with a manual for the included Airtronics Blazer radio as well. The radio manual describes the various features of the radio, helping you to understand their benefits.

    Left Side
    Right Side
    3-Speed Assembly

    The Nitro Fusion is laid out nicely. On one side of the chassis, you have the fuel tank and motor. The other side has the roomy receiver/battery box, which we will take a peek into later. Both the receiver box and tuned pipe hang off of the chassis, as is typical of many cars of this genre. The servos themselves are nearly centered on the chassis plate.

    The 3-speed transmission, consists of three sets of gears that are easily visible. The stock gearing combinations are 21/65 (first), 25/61 (second), and 29/57 (third). The cam-style shifting mechanism has preset weights and springs, which eliminates the need for shifting adjustments. It's very obvious that Schumacher intends this transmission to be very low maintenance. The stock clutch bell will get you in the 70 MPH range, while you'll need the optional high speed clutch bell from Schumacher if you intend on trying to see the 80 MPH mark.

    Front Suspension
    Tuned Pipe
    Adjustment Needles

    Schumacher did an excellent job on the suspension. The first thing you'll notice is the purple aluminum shocks, which match the purple anodized chassis plate. Even though the shocks are not threaded, they are still quality units, and fill from the bottom. There are two available mounting positions for both the top and the bottom of the shock. Everything, suspension-wise, is connected by turnbuckles and ball ends and allows for a nearly infinite amount of adjustment possibilities. The manual provides a very thorough explanation of the adjustments and how they effect the overall handling of the car.

    The included tuned pipe has a nice polished finish, and helps to add high-end look to the car as well. The header is held in place by a spring clamp and spring which facilitates easy removal, while the pipe itself is supported by a hanger at the front of the car. Removing the pipe is very easy, and only takes a few seconds. The 75cc fuel tank is a little small for the motor, as the Thunder Tiger Pro .21 can drink fuel quickly. However it's typical of what's found in most touring cars, because of weight concerns. Expect to see runtimes of 5-8 minutes between refills, depending upon your driving habits.

    I should also point out an inconsistency with the car and the included manual. Evidently there was a running production change with the car, and the pressure line for the fuel tank now fits onto an elbow fitting on the lid as shown above. In the manual the pressure line slides into place on the tank itself, right behind the lid. You can use the tank location as a "parking spot" for the line when the car is not being used, but make sure that you hook the pressure line to the fitting on the lid before you run it. Otherwise, you'll be scratching your head for a while trying to figure out why you can't get any fuel to the carburetor.

    The carburetor adjustment needles on the included Thunder Tiger motor are easy to see and reach. I could even stick my screwdriver through the body's rear cooling hole and access any needle I needed to. This eliminated the need for additional tuning holes in the body. The picture above details the locations of the adjustment needles. The high speed needle is in the brass housing on top of the carburetor, while the low speed needle is located directly beneath it, and faces the rear of the car. The idle adjustment screw is located just to the left of the low speed needle.

    Rear Suspension
    Rear View
    Drive Belt

    The rear suspension mimics the front suspension. Once again purple anodized aluminum shocks keep the wheels and tires firmly planted to the ground. The range of adjustments for the rear is just as diverse as the front, so you should easily be able to set the cars up to suit your tastes. In addition to that, the steering hubs used in the front are also used for the rear. This means that you can buy replacement hubs, and they'll fit either the front or the rear of the car.

    The drive belt for the Nitro Fusion is double the width of the drive belt found in other belt-driven touring cars. To be exact, it's 11mm wide. Schumacher obviously thought that the speed and power of the Nitro Fusion made a large belt necessary. The rear of the car allows you to visually inspect the belt for damage, and also give you a good look of the turnbuckles that hold the rear hubs in place.

    The drive belt itself can be easily seen in the middle of the chassis, once the fuel tank and tuned pipe have been removed. The lower portion of the belt rides in a aluminum guide plate, which helps prevent the belt from contacting itself as the motor pushes the car to some very insane speeds. The guide plate also helps prevent airborne debris, flying above the belt, from finding it's way down onto the lower half of the belt.

    Chassis Bottom
    Receiver Box
    Airtronics Radio

    The stock Torx screws stand out against the bottom of the anodized 3mm chassis plate. From the underside you can also see the heavy duty hardware that secures the motor to the chassis as well. The chassis plate is slotted to allow for easy gearing change adjustments, and to keep the mounting hardware flush with the rest of the chassis plate. The belt is exposed by inspection holes at both the front and rear of the car. I would have preferred that these openings not be there however, as they exposes the belt to debris from the underside of the car.

    The receiver box itself is very roomy when compared to other receiver boxes, especially in the touring car genre. The Airtronics receiver that comes with the RTR can be seen towards the front of the box. The rear of the box holds the battery or receiver pack. While I performed all of my testing with the battery pack and Duracell AA batteries, this car really should be coupled with a good NiMH receiver pack and a failsafe. AA batteries are very unreliable, and there's no good reason to leave anything to chance. The included throttle return spring, which isn't seen often on a RTR, provides a good amount of protection from a runaway. A failsafe will help further that protection, and provide another layer of security.

    The servos themselves also mount to the receiver box, making electronics removal a simple process. All you need to do is to pop the servo linkages loose, and remove a few screws from the bottom of the chassis. Then the receiver box simply lifts off of the car. Then you are free to perform any cleaning you wish, and not have to worry about damaging any of the car's electronics.

    Where RTR radios are concerned, the included Airtronics Blazer AM is a decent enough radio. It has a nice comfortable feel, and even includes a dual-rate adjustment. So it's well ahead of many other RTR radios. However the adjustment knobs are analog as opposed to digital, so they're susceptible to being moved when the radio is off. I can also appreciate that Schumacher was keeping costs down with an AM unit such as the Blazer, and I can't really fault them for that either. After all including a good FM units could have easily added another $100, or more, to the car's price tag. However I would recommend that a FM radio be installed shortly after the car is purchased. At 65-70 MPH, this car can chew up real estate very quickly. An AM radio just isn't the best choice for a car like this, and the better signal provided by an FM radio can easily be put to good use. A better radio will also provide numerous other features that can also be utilized with a high-caliber car such as this.


    Glue Tires
    Receiver Antenna
    Check Screws

    Before you take off and try to get your first speeding ticket, there are a few things you need to do to get your Nitro Fusion prepped and ready. First and foremost, you'll need to glue the tires to the rims. Peel a section of the tire away from the rim. Then drop some thin CA Glue into the channel on the rim where the tire bead normally rests. You'll want to do this all of the way around the tire, on both sides. I suggest doing all of the back sides, then coming back and applying glue to the front side of the tires/rims. This allows the CA glue a few minutes to set up before you start the other half. In addition this means you'll start off by practicing on the side of the wheel that won't be seen, should you get a little messy with the CA glue on your first few attempts.

    Another detail needing attention, is the receiver antenna. The wire is already pushed through the tube. However you'll want to insert the lower end of the tube into the receiver box on the chassis. Allow the excess wire to hang out of the top of the tube. If you are worried about damaging it in a crash, you can use a small section of heat-shrink tubing over the top of the tube to help protect it.

    You'll also want to spend a little time checking all of the screws on the car itself. It's not uncommon to find a few screws that need to be tightened down. I found a couple loose towards the rear, on the underside of the chassis plate. The screws holding my servos in place were a little loose as well.

    Receiver Batteries
    Radio Batteries
    Painted Body

    You'll need to install yourself four AA batteries into the battery holder, which is located in the receiver box. Alternatively, you could also replace the battery holder with a receiver pack. In that case the receiver pack would plug straight into the receiver itself. Over the long term, this would be a much more reliable route than using AA batteries.

    The Airtronics Blazer radio will also need to have AA batteries installed in it. For the radio, you'll need eight AA batteries. You could also purchase a rechargeable radio pack. However if you plan on replacing the radio later, you may be better off to just save your money and buy a rechargeable pack that fits the new radio you will buy later on down the road.

    The final step you'll need to be ready to run, is to paint the body. While I feel that a model that called a RTR should come with a painted body, I didn't mind too much. I enjoy painting my own bodies. However for many people, painting a body right after buying their RTR isn't something they are very fond of having to do. Regardless, painting the body doesn't have to be very complicated. While I chose to get a little creative with my airbrush, you could just as easily pick up a single color of polycarbonate spray paint. Coupled with the stickers that are included in the box, you could still have a very sharp looking body which would require very little effort.

    When you get ready to start painting, don't forget to find the window masks Schumacher included with the Nitro Fusion. They are pre-cut so they fit the windows perfectly, and will save you a lot of time as opposed to making your own. I did find myself wishing that Schumacher had decided to use vinyl windows masks instead of paper. To handle the design I painted, I used the included window masks along with some Bob Dively liquid masking. The dried liquid masking would often adhere to the paper window masks too well, causing me to rip them as I was removing the liquid masking between colors. The paper masking also left a gummy residue behind when they were pulled off after the painting was complete. It was nothing that a cloth dipped in WD40 couldn't take care of, however including vinyl window masks would have made things much easier.


    The first thing I needed to do with the Nitro Fusion was to break it in. According to the manual, they suggested running two or three tanks through the motor with a rich setting and then start to lean it out. I generally recommend following the manual to the letter for break-in, but in this case I decided to alter the suggested break-in process. Two or three 75cc tanks of fuel is not a lot of runtime for the break-in process in my opinion.

    When you get ready to start the Nitro Fusion for the first time, you'll realize why the starter shaft for your cordless drill has a ball-type end. The header is directly in line with the starter mechanism on the Thunder Tiger motor itself. This means you'll have to insert the starter shaft at an angle when starting the Nitro Fusion. This isn't difficult, as the ball end on the starter shaft easily will accommodate this. However you will want to ensure you aren't contacting the header while starting the car, as the included starter shaft can quickly wear away the header causing you to buy a replacement.

    I started off by running two tanks using no more than 1/4 throttle. I stuck to mainly running large ovals in the parking lot while doing this. The car was running with what would have been ideal settings for after break-in, which was a little too leaned out for break-in. So before I got too far through my first tank, I richened up the fuel mixture around 1/2 a turn. For tanks three and four, I used no more than 1/2 throttle while driving around the parking lot, and then followed up with using 3/4 throttle for tank number five. For the last break-in tank I used full-throttle runs, and after it was completed I began to lean the mixture out for performance.

    Once the motor had been leaned out it became very clear that this car was wicked fast. From a dead stop, first gear is strong and the car can easily point itself in another direction due to tire spin if you aren't careful. However, that in itself may not seem impressive, as many cars can easily overpower the tires on takeoff.

    After takeoff the Nitro Fusion speeds up quickly and shifts into second. In second gear, speeds are rapidly increasing. Once again though, you're not seeing anything that's too uncommon as many 4WD touring cars can accelerate pretty quickly as well. The difference is that the Schumacher's Thunder Tiger .21 isn't even starting to break a sweat yet, and the exhaust note lulls you into a trance making you feel very comfortable in your driving ability up until this point.

    Then you hear another shift, the Nitro Fusion has hit third gear. The thing is, you not only heard it, you saw it as well. The car seems to launch forward with increased vigor, like some little gremlin inside the car has flipped a switch and decided to truly let the car run wild. "I didn't expect it to pull third gear so hard", was all I could think to myself as my trigger finger went from full throttle to the brakes.

    The stock gearing on the Schumacher Nitro Fusion tops out around 65-70 MPH. By the time the transmission shifts into the third for it's final assault towards those speeds you're starting to tear up real estate quicker than Attila the Hun, which will quickly leave you with no room. The mad speed runs I made, throughout the rest of the afternoon, were more like back to back drag strip runs than oval or road racing. This was mainly the result of the stock tires, which are a pretty hard compound.

    At higher speeds the Nitro Fusion pushed hard in turns, as the front tires couldn't provide the grip needed for the car to corner properly. An obvious solution to this dilemma would be to change to a softer compound tire. However, while that would work overall, a soft compound tire could also present some difficulties of it's own at higher speeds. With the higher center of gravity the larger motor provides, and the speeds it allows this car to reach, too much grip could be much worse than too little, causing the car to possibly roll. Regardless of the route you take when choosing tires, care should be exercised when driving at high speeds.

    At low to mid-range speeds the car itself handled pretty well. It was easy to cut the back end out while turning and powerslide the car through the turns, all you needed was to simply get in the throttle a little too heavily. However, that should come as no surprise considering the size of the motor that was under the hood. The brakes were excellent, and easily stopped the car time and time again without brake fade. At the higher speeds you could easily spin the car out by going from full throttle to full brakes, so to avoid this care should be exercised when braking. I don't really consider that an issue though, as I'd rather have too much braking ability than too little. Especially with the speeds this car can hit.

    The Thunder Tiger .21 Pro, that powers this model, has a well deserved reputation throughout the hobby as being easily tunable. However despite that fact, it can still provide more than enough power for this car. Very few adjustments were needed throughout my time with it, once I had gotten past the point of breaking the motor in. While the speeds this car can achieve demand that the owner have some driving experience, the motor itself can easily be tuned by someone starting out. Since most of us want to spend more time driving instead of tuning, that's definitely a plus in my book.

    The Nitro Fusion has also proven itself to be a very durable car as well. Due to the high speeds it can reach, it was inevitable that the length of the parking lot would be misjudged a few times. When that happened the concrete curbing around the parking lot came into play, providing anything but a gentle stop. However the front bumper of the Fusion took the impacts in stride, and the car itself wasn't damaged or tweaked in any way.

    I only managed to break one part during my final testing session, which involved a crash that would have made great footage for a NASCAR race at Talladega. I was in the middle of a high speed run, almost ready to shift into third gear. At that moment I managed to hit some debris which caused the front end to lift. When the front end raised up, the body was lifted up further by the airflow tunneling under it at such a high rate of speed. The car immediately flipped over on it's lid, sliding upside down for around 50 feet before coming to a stop. The body itself sustained a decent amount of road rash due to the pavement. Unfortunately I also broke an upper suspension mount, which ended my day. Considering the speeds I was at, for that to be the only part broken, I feel is a testament to the durability of the Fusion itself.

    I only managed to find one true drawback to the whole car while driving it. That's the belt access holes on the underside of the chassis.

    If the area you drive in it's anything other than 100% debris free, you run the risk of something becoming lodged in the belt assembly. I had this happen on several occasions, and it's usually easy to tell after you've experienced it. The most obvious sign, is that you'll notice the car doesn't roll freely while the radio trigger is at a neutral state. When this happens you need to address the situation immediately, and remove what's become lodged in the drive system. Otherwise you'll be replacing the drive belt shortly afterwards.

    A small section of some scrap lexan, and some duct tape, can help prevent anything from finding it's way in from the underside of the chassis. I consider the belt issue to be of more serious concern that the upper suspension mount I broke. I expect parts to break when I crash, but I feel as if the underside of the chassis should offer more protection to the drive belt than it does.


    See the Schumacher Nitro Fusion .21 in action!
    Resolution:  Low  Medium  High
























    The Schumacher Nitro Fusion .21 is one well designed car, and an absolute blast to drive. While the speeds at which the car is capable of isn't suited well to someone with little driving experience, the minimal effort required to tune the motor can easily suit both beginners and veteran drivers alike. This leaves you plenty of time for the fun part of the hobby, which is driving.

    One of the first upgrades I'd suggest with the Nitro Fusion would be to swap the stock Airtronics Blazer radio out for a good FM unit. While the Blazer is a decent enough radio from a RTR perspective, this car really needs something better in the long run. AM radios are much more prone to having interference related problems than their FM counterparts are. With the speeds this car is capable of, there's no good reason to leave anything to chance. You can quickly put some serious distance between you and the car, and with AM radios, that greatly increases your risk of interference that could result in an expense crash. Along those same lines, I'd also suggest using a NiMH receiver pack as it's more reliable than four AA batteries are. Also, to provide the best protection, a fail-safe to help compliment the included throttle return spring would add some security as well.

    While the Nitro Fusion isn't legal at sanctioned events due to the large displacement motor, that's not to say you can't race it at a local track or with friends. However the strength, and focus, of the Fusion is as simple as automotive history itself. Take a lightweight car, and shove the biggest motor in it you can find. When it comes to that, Schumacher delivers, with a vengeance. From powerslides to high speed runs, the Nitro Fusion is sure to put a smile on anyone's face.


    Schumacher Racing USA
    6302 Benjamin Road Suite 404
    Tampa, FL 33634 USA
    Phone: 813-889-9691
    Fax: 813-889-9593
    Website: www.racing-cars.com


    Bob Dively Models
    Post Office Box 144
    Wood Ridge, NJ 07075 USA
    Phone: 201-804-0077
    Website: www.bobdivelymodels.com
    Products used: liquid masking


    Dubro, Inc.
    480 Bonner Road
    Wauconda, IL 60084 USA
    Phone: 732-635-1600
    Website: www.dubro.com
    Products used: fuel bottle


    Paasche Airbrush Co.
    7440 West Lawrence Ave.
    Harwood Heights, IL 60706-3412 USA
    Phone: 708-867-9191
    Fax: 708.867.9198
    Website: www.paascheairbrush.com
    Products used: VL Airbrush

    Parma International, Inc.
    13927 Progress Parkway
    North Royalton, OH 44133 USA
    Phone: 440-237-8650
    Fax: 440-237-6333
    Website: www.parmapse.com
    Products used: Faskolor Paints


    Trinity Products, Inc.
    36 Meridian Road
    Edison, NJ 08820 USA
    Phone: 800-848-9411
    Fax: 732-635-1640
    Website: www.teamtrinity.com
    Products used: Monster Horsepower Fuel (20%)

     

    Comments on RCU Review: Schumacher Fusion

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    The comments, observations and conclusions made in this review are solely with respect to the particular item the editor reviewed and may not apply generally to similar products by the manufacturer. We cannot be responsible for any manufacturer defects in workmanship or other deficiencies in products like the one featured in the review.

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