RCU Review: HPI Racing Nitro MT2

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    Contributed by: Eric Hege | Published: May 2005 | Views: 197252 | email icon Email this Article | PDFpdf icon
    HPI Nitro MT 2 18SS

    HPI Racing

    70 Icon Street
    Foothill Ranch, CA 92610 USA

    Phone: (949) 753-1099
    Fax: (949) 753-1098
    Website: www.hpiracing.com

    See the MT 2 18SS in action!
    Resolution:  Low  Medium  High

    Assembly Ease*
    * This reflects it's score as a kit, and takes into account quality of instructions and parts fit. This model will be more difficult to take from the box to the field than a RTR version however.

    .18 Cubic Inch Motor
    Four-Wheel Drive
    Dirt Bonz Jr. Tires
    Nice Upgrades Over MT 2 RTR
    Excellent Build Instructions

    Needs More Hex Head Screws
    "I've been drivin' all night, my hand's wet on the wheel
    There's a voice in my head that drives my heel"
    Golden Earring (Radar Love)

    While sometimes thought of as a monster truck according to HPI's "MT" designation, the HPI MT 2 is more closely aligned with a stadium truck. However, unlike most stadium trucks, the MT 2 offers four-wheel drive, which can prove very beneficial when it comes to off-road situations. The MT 2 is a platform that has seen a few years pass in its tenure, and has developed a large fan base. So to accommodate the desires of hardcore RC hobbyists, HPI has decided to provide the MT 2 in a kit form.

    Just like with other kit versions of their vehicles, HPI adds a few extras in with their unassembled version. First and foremost is the 18SS motor, packing more power with its bigger displacement. For getting the power to the ground, they threw a set of their Dirt Bonz Jr. tires and black plastic rims to mount them on. On top of all of that, it comes without a radio. This allows you to use whatever radio you desire, without having to pay for a cheap stock one you may not plan on using.

    A 1/10 scale four-wheel drive of this nature is just begging for some off-road abuse and jumps. I'm very anxious to get this truck built and give it some runtime, as it looks like HPI has certainly listened to fans of the original MT 2 and given them much of what they wanted. I have to smile as I realize that, as it's great to see a manufacturer pay close attention to what their customers want and then give it to them.

    Model Name: HPI Nitro MT 2 18SS
    Manufacturer Part Number: 10441
    Price: $340.00 (Approx. Street Price)
    Type: 1/10 Scale Four Wheel Drive Stadium Truck
    Width: 12.5" (317mm)
    Wheelbase: 11.75" (298mm)
    Height: 6.5" (165mm)
    Ground Clearance: 1.5" (38mm)
    Weight: 4.96 lbs. (2.2 kg) No Fuel/Will Vary With Electronics
    Wheels: Black Plastic Spoke-Style 2.2" (56mm)
    Tires: Dirt Bonz Jr. 4.05x1.98" (103x50mm)
    Front Suspension: Independent C-Hub
    Rear Suspension: Independent Carrier-Based
    Shocks: Plastic
    Center Driveshafts: Dogbone-Style
    Axles: CVD-Style
    Chassis: 2.5mm Anodized Aluminum
    Engine: HPI Nitro Star .18SS (3.0cc)
    Brakes: Crossdrilled Fiberglass Disk/Stainless Steel Calipers
    Fuel Tank: 100cc

    Additionally Required Items
    Radio and Receiver
    8 AA Batteries (or Transmitter Pack With Charger)
    4 AA Batteries (or Receiver Pack With Charger)
    Steering Servo (High Torque Metal Gear Recommended)
    Throttle/Brake Servo
    Fuel Bottle
    Glow Igniter (and Charger If Applicable)
    Glow Plug Wrench
    Air Filter Oil
    After-Run Oil
    CA Glue
    Flathead Screwdriver
    Phillips Head Screwdriver (#1 and #2)
    Hobby Knife
    Needle Nose Pliers
    Box Contents

    HPI provides you everything you'll need to assemble the MT 2 18SS and, despite the way it may first appear, the assembly process is rather simple compared to some kits on the market. Items are logically grouped in bags, and I never found myself rummaging through the bags looking for a single part placed in a bag with items not related to the step I was working on.

    Probably the single most important item in the box is the manual. The manual is well detailed and will help you to easily walk your through the assembly procedure. It's obvious that HPI has tried to make the assembly process as easy as possible. The steps are easy to follow and the bags you'll need to open, at various stages of the assembly, are clearly marked. Part numbers clearly reference items on the plastic parts trees that you'll need to find and prepare for assembly.

    One of the nicest features of the manual is the fact that HPI provides you with a actual-size representation of the fasteners, and other hardware, you'll need during the assembly process. Instead of having to measure fasteners to try and determine which one you'll need, you can easily match it up with the diagrams provided by HPI. This combined with the nicely organized and labeled bags, make assembly as easy as possible.

    In addition to the manual, you're also provided a few other items of interest. Two of these items fall along the lines of documentation as well. One is a diagram of how to apply the stickers on the body to match the image provided on the box the MT 2 arrives in. However, I didn't follow the factory painted look, and sticker suggestions, provided by HPI. I opted to go a more customized route. That's one of the advantages of a kit as opposed to a RTR model, as you can alter things along the way to suit your tastes. The other paper covers the two-year limited warranty on the Nitro Star motor included in the kit.

    HPI provides you with a nicely detailed set of stickers to round out the appearance of your MT 2. Despite the fact that I applied my own paint scheme, I definitely took advantage of the nicely detailed stickers that HPI provided to detail the truck once I was finished with the painting process. Along with the stickers, you're also given double-sided tape and some fasteners to help you secure the rear wing to the body when it comes time to assemble them.


    HPI does provide you some tools to assist you during the assembly process. The tools provided are minimal in design and comfort, although they'll get the job done. I suggest that you pick up some good hex drivers for the assembly process, as well as have a good Phillips head screwdriver on hand. You'll be using your tools tremendously during the assembly process. The better your tools are, the better your assembly experience will be. As a reference, the included hex drivers are 2.0 and 2.5mm.

    The wheels provided by HPI are molded in black plastic, and have a spoked design to them. The rims themselves are pre-drilled to allow air to flow in and out easily. This allows the suspension to do its job, instead of the tires providing too much of an un-dampened feel to the suspension. HPI has done well in this area, as the wheels should provide a very nice platform for the tires to mount upon.

    Continuing with the trend of well thought items to include with the MT 2, HPI included a full set of Dirt Bonz Jr. tires with the kit. The Dirt Bonz Jr. tires are a soft high traction tire, optimized for use on dirt surfaces. Keep in mind that due to the fact the tire is a soft compound, and has a dirt-optimized tread pattern, that using them on surfaces such as pavement will result in accelerated wear. This isn't a shortcoming of the tire, but rather a tradeoff you get when looking for optimum traction in the dirt. Besides, an off-road truck belongs off-road!

    Lexan Body

    One of the chief areas that owners of the HPI MT 2 RTR wanted to see improvement in was the motor. The RTR version sported a .15, that lacked the power that some people wanted to see. Keeping this in mind and continuing the tradition of providing a bigger motor in their kit version of a model, HPI stuffs a .18 cubic inch side exhaust motor in the box. This means more displacement, and more power, for the power hungry off-road crowd. To handle the exhaust duties of the larger motor, HPI provides a composite tuned pipe to compliment the motor's powerband.

    The foundation for the HPI MT 2 is the 2.5mm aluminum chassis plate. Keeping with an HPI tradition, the chassis plate is anodized in purple. Screw holes are countersunk where necessary, and cutouts for the center differential and flywheel are provided in the plate as well. The outside facing edges of the chassis flare up to help shield the chassis components while the truck is being driven.

    The body HPI provides comes unpainted as I mentioned earlier. While I chose to go with a different look than HPI gives you directions for, the stock paint scheme could be easily accomplished with a couple cans of lexan paint. Aside from the paint, this body comes as ready as it possibly could. HPI has already cutout cooling holes, as well as the body post holes. In addition to that, they covered the whole body with an overspray film to protect the outer side of the body during the painting process.

    Clutch Spring Update
    Trimming Excess Plastic
    Gear Support

    One final item I should mention is that my MT 2 SS came with an updated set of clutch springs. These springs are attached to a sheet of paper showing that that they should be used instead of the original ones that came with the kit. After production of the MT 2 SS started, HPI decided to change to a different set of clutch springs better matched to the power output of the .18 motor that's included with the truck.

    Before I begin an assembly walkthrough, let me mention that parts preparation is very important when assembling a kit. While you can just rip the parts off of the plastic tree and slap them together, you'll likely find that method doesn't offer the truck the chance to perform optimally. So as you gather the parts for each step, be sure to trim the excess plastic away from parts you pull off of the plastic trees. A hobby knife, or even a Dremel, will handle this chore with ease.

    The first assembly step involves mounting the center gear support on the main chassis plate. The chassis plate is easily found, as it stands out with its purple anodizing and large size. The gear supports are found attached on the plastic trees in the box. All the hardware items you'll need can be found by opening the bag labeled "A".

    Under the chassis, opposite of the gear support housing, you'll attach a plastic cover that protects the spur gear from debris while you run the truck. The opening that this plastic plate covers allows you easy access to the slipper clutch, should you need to adjust it after the vehicle is assembled.

    Spur Gear
    Drive Yokes
    Spur Assembly Installed

    The next order of business is to work on the slipper clutch assembly itself. To assemble this, you'll want to have something handy that will allow you to tighten a 10mm nut. An open end wrench, socket, or four-way wrench will work just fine. You'll install the slipper clutch pad on the spur gear, and then assemble the various components of the slipper assembly together.

    Once the slipper components are together, you'll need to properly set the slipper clutch. To do this, tighten the 10mm nut down until the spring coils bottom out against each other. Then reverse the nut back half a turn.

    After the slipper assembly is together and properly set, the drive yokes come next. You'll need to locate a pair of 10x15x4mm bearings to slip on the spur gear's shaft before you install the drive yokes however. These bearings will be what the gear assembly rides on in the housing. Once the bearings are in place, you'll slide the yokes on the shafts and secure them with screw pins.

    There is a minor mistake I noticed in this step, as the book references the use of the 2.5mm hex wrench. However, the screw pin actually uses a 2.0mm wrench not a 2.5mm one. This is just a minor typo in the manual on the part of HPI, and far from being a major issue.

    After the drive yokes have been attached to the center gear assembly, you'll drop it into place on the mount you attached to the chassis plate. The nut on the slipper clutch will face the front of the MT 2, and the gear assembly should spin easily on the bearings.

    Spur Assembly Cover
    Brake Assembly

    After the center assembly has been installed in the support mounted on the chassis, you'll need to install the upper cover. The cover should be fastened into place with the screws indicated in the margin of the manual for step #6. The brake cam will also be installed as indicated, as one of the gearbox clamps fit over it.

    With the brake cam installed, the next course of action is to install the brake disk and calipers. The fiberglass brake disk will provide long life as well as excellent stopping power when coupled with the stainless steel calipers provided by HPI. You'll place one caliper on each side of the brake disk, while sliding the disk over the drive yoke that is indexed to match it. Two shoulder-style bolts hold the calipers in place. Once I tightened these down, I found it was necessary to back them out slightly to prevent the calipers from rubbing the disk and providing a slight amount of brake drag.

    Now it's time to focus attention towards the differentials. The first step is to locate parts bag "B", as you'll need the hardware inside of it to assemble the differentials. Once you have all the parts located, install the pinion gears into the differential covers. You'll use a 10x15x4mm bearing on each side of the cover, and the pinion shaft will slide through them. A drive yoke installs on the outside portion of the shaft, and holds the pinion in place.

    The ring gear, and differential housing, requires a bit more work to assemble. However as long as you pay close attention to the diagrams provided, you should have no problem. I started by installed the drive yoke assembly in the differential housing, and then capping it off internally with the indicated gear which is secured by an e-clip. Pay close attention to the bearings and other items indicated, as proper installation is crucial to the vehicle operating properly.

    After the drive yoke and lower differential gear is installed, you'll install the side gears. These ride on a steel shaft that fits into a notch in the differential housing. The ring gear will mount to the upper end of the differential, but you'll need to install the drive yoke, shims, and differential gear to it as indicated. As with the other drive yoke, an e-clip will hold everything in place.

    One of the nice things about a kit is the ability to modify items as you walk through the assembly process. So when installing the differential, I utilized this ability and opted to use some differential lube instead of the grease provided by HPI. Differential lube comes in varying weights, and provides a more consistent means of operation than grease does. I opted to take an approach I often use with 1/8 scale buggies, and use 5000 weight lube for the front differential, and 3000 weight lube on the rear differential. The heavier lube in the front will help pull the truck out of a turn, although it will usually provide a slight on-power push condition. However, I prefer to have an off-road truck handle in this manner instead of feeling like the back end is loose when exiting the corner. If a looser condition is what you'd like to achieve, using the heavier oil in the rear will accomplish this.

    Differential Cover
    Rear Shock Tower
    Suspension Arm Trimming

    After you've assembled the differential, it's time to place it into the differential cover and mate it up with the pinion gear. Before you get too far along with this step, make sure to find the grease supplied by HPI, as you'll need it to provide some lubrication between the ring and pinion gears. You definitely do not want to use differential lube between these gears, as it will end up being slung off. Before fastening the cover halves together, check for proper gear backlash between the ring and pinion gears. You should see about 1mm of play as you try to move the gears. If you see too much backlash, add shims as necessary. If there's not enough, pull some shims out. I had a good backlash by simply using a single shim between the ring gear and the 10x15x4mm bearing indicated in the directions.

    Once the differential assemblies are ready, you'll want to focus on the one you plan on using for the rear of the truck. Locate the rear shock tower, and parts bag "C". The shock tower will mount onto the differential assembly, and the screws needed to secure it will be found in the aforementioned parts bag.

    Set the differential/shock tower assembly aside for a moment, as next you'll need to focus on the rear suspension arm assembly. Dig through the box until you find the rear suspension arms and their lower mount. You'll also want to find the suspension pin hardware as well. Before you finalize the assembly and secure it with the e-clips, examine how smoothly the suspension arms operate when moved up and down. If they do not appear to operate freely use a Dremel to remove a small amount of material on the insides of the arms until they do. This will allow the suspension to operate properly and allow the shocks to perform their jobs.

    Rear Arm Assembly
    Rear Arms Installed
    Steering Linkage

    Once you've performed a little Dremel work on the suspension arms if necessary, go ahead and secure the suspension arms with the pin braces and e-clips. This will ready the rear suspension arm assembly for installation onto the truck's chassis.

    Next place the suspension arm assembly on the chassis, with the differential/shock tower assembly on top of it. However before you secure these assemblies to the chassis find the steel dogbone and the rubber o-ring indicated in the manual's sidebar. The o-ring should be placed in the rear differential's drive yoke, then place the dogbone in between the drive yokes. However, despite the manuals indications of using grease to lubricate the drive yokes, I opted to use powdered graphite as a lubricant. Grease will tend to trap dirt and debris, and over time, cause more wear than it will prevent. Powered graphite will not suffer this fate. However, you'll need to reapply the graphite to the drive yokes each time you take it out to run.

    With the rear end of the truck taken care of for the moment, attention shifts towards the front. You'll start by installing the steering linkage. First locate the stainless steel turnbuckles and rod ends. Thread a rod end onto each end of all of the turnbuckles. Even though only two of the turnbuckles will be used during this step, it's easier to go ahead and take care of all of the turnbuckles at one time. You'll want the turnbuckle assemblies to measure 82mm from end to end, and don't miss the fact that the manual indicates that one end of each of the turnbuckles use reverse threads.

    With the turnbuckle assemblies finished, you need to install the steering linkage onto the chassis. Take note that the bellcranks use plastic bushings on their upper and lower ends. If you're looking to provide a much smoother range of motion, you can substitute bearings for the plastic bushings. You'll also use the supplied tie bar and shoulder bolts to tie the bellcranks together. Once you drop the bellcrank assembly onto the chassis, make sure you use threadlock on the lower screws that secure to bellcrank steering assembly to the chassis, otherwise the screws can work their way loose.

    Front Shock Tower
    Front Arm Assembly
    Front Arms Installed

    With the steering assembly installed on the chassis, it's time to focus on other items at the front of the HPI MT 2. Specifically the shock tower and differential. Continuing to use the hardware found in parts bag "C", attach the shock tower to the front differential. Also make sure to install the ball studs in the locations indicated in the manual.

    Just like with the rear end of the MT 2, you'll need to assemble the suspension arm assembly as this will mount between the chassis and the shock tower. Find the suspension arms, and the hardware items needed. Just as with the rear arms, you want to Dremel the inner edges of the arms if it's needed for smooth operation. Once you have all the parts ready, assemble them, using the hinge pins and e-clips to hold all of the items together.

    Before you mount the suspension arms and differential/shock tower assembly you need to locate parts bag "D", as it has the hardware items you'll need next. Once the hardware items have been located, and the necessary screws to mount the front assemblies are on hand, set the suspension arm assembly in place. Then place the differential assembly on top of the suspension arms and find the front dogbone. Just as with the rear, place the dogbone in the drive yokes, and then use the supplied screws to secure all the items to the chassis from the bottom. Once again, I recommend avoiding the use of grease on the dogbones. Instead more powered graphite would be a better overall option.

    Before moving on to the next step, you'll also want to install the front bumper mount. The rear pegs of the bumper mount slide through holes at the bottom of the shock tower. Once they pass through, secure them with a set of plastic clips that resemble small clip-on preload spacers. Take notice that the bumper mount is designed to move rearward, and when its completely finished it will help to absorb a frontal impact.

    Carrier Assemblies
    Axles and Carriers Installed

    Now it's time to assemble the front CVD-style axles. Find all the necessary parts, and follow the well laid out steps in the manual. I really like how HPI uses anodized aluminum rings to hold the cross pin for the axle in place. Not only does it eliminate the need to use a grub screw to hold the pin in place, but it also prevents the pin from being able to slide out. Most CVD failures are a result of the cross pin sliding out of the joint, and catching on the suspension arm or bearing carrier. The HPI setup avoids this vulnerability.

    You'll need to carefully handle the axles while installing them in the bearing carriers, as the aluminum rings can slip off of the axle stub while you're readying it for the bearing carrier. The axle stubs ride on sealed bearings, which you should find and insert into the bearing carrier. The outer bearing is a 5x11x4mm bearing, while the inner one is 10x15x4mm. Once the bearings are in place, slide the axle through them.

    The dogbone end of the axle should be passed through the c-hub, after the steel inserts are placed in it. Then you can slide the bearing carrier into its resting place, and secure it with the cap head machines screws indicated in step #19 of the instruction manual. Once you have the axle and carrier assembly put together, follow up with the ball studs as indicated in the directions. One ball stud will be placed on each c-hub, while another one will go on each bearing carrier.

    Now you'll want to drop the axle assemblies into place on the truck's chassis. The turnbuckles you have already installed on the steering bellcranks should be pressed onto the ball studs you placed on the bearing carriers. Use another pair of turnbuckles to tie the c-hubs to the shock tower. Suspension pins and e-clips are used to secure the lower end of the c-hubs to the suspension arms. If you haven't already installed the bumper onto the bumper mount, now would be a good time to do so. This was actually mentioned in the step before the axles were assembled, but I chose to do this after the axle assemblies were installed.

    Rear Carriers
    Piston Head
    Lower Seals

    With the front axles taken care of, attention shifts back to the rear of the truck. Before you begin, you'll need to open parts bag "E". First prepare the rear axles in the same fashion as the front ones. Then place the bearing carriers on the rear suspension arms, and pass a suspension pin through them to hold them in place. While you'll want to go ahead and install one e-clip on the backside of the suspension pin, do not install the one on the front side yet. You'll need to slide the shock on the suspension pin before you do that.

    With the shocks being needed next, attention is now going to be focused towards them. It's easiest to assemble all of the shocks at one time, but since you'll need to bleed them of air, it saves time to have one or two sitting aside allowing the air to escape while building the others. Therefore I find it's easiest to assemble the shocks in pairs.

    Assembling the shocks isn't necessarily difficult, but does require some degree of care. To start off, you'll want to find the shock shaft and plastic piston head. Place an e-clip in the lower groove on the non-threaded end of the shaft, and then slide the piston head into place. Secure the piston head to the shaft with a second e-clip placed in the groove above it.

    Now slide the shock shaft into the shock body, passing the threaded end of the shock out the lower end. You'll then want to slide two of the supplied o-rings onto the shock shaft. Be sure to lubricate the o-rings and shock shaft threads with some shock oil. Even better would be the use of some Team Associated Green Slime. This will prevent the o-rings from being damaged by the threads on the shock shaft.

    Shock Cap and Rod End
    Assembled Shock
    Complete Rear Suspension

    Next you'll want to install the shock rod end. Initially threading this may not be difficult. However, as you tighten the rod end down, the shock's shaft will become harder to hold. If you find this to be the case do not use pliers to hold the shock shaft, as this can scratch the shaft and cause the lower shock seals to seal poorly. Instead, use a pair of wire cutters situated in between the uppermost set of threads to hold the shaft. Then tighten the rod end down as far as it will go.

    Now locate the purple aluminum shock caps, and their plastic inserts. Push the insert into the cap, and install an o-ring inside it. The o-ring should be bottomed out in the cap to avoid it being pushed across the threads when the cap is installed.

    Now you'll need to fill the shock will shock oil, and bleed it. This is another area that you can take a different path if you choose, as you are certainly not forced to use the stock shock oil. However, I opted to use the stock oil instead of something else, as I wanted to see how well the factory oil would work first. You'll fill the shock up with shock oil until it is around a millimeter or two within the top. Then work the shock shaft up and down a few times to move any air around in the shock's oil, forcing it towards the top of the shock oil. Then set the shock aside for a few minutes while the bubbles rise.

    I should mention that the HPI shocks are commonly referred to as emulsion shocks. Emulsion shocks do not use a bladder to separate the oil and the air in the shock, as the two items mix with one another while the shock works. So you may be asking, why bleed the shocks when filling them? The answer is simple. Even though the shock oil and air will eventually mix, you want to match them as close to each other as possible. Bleeding the shock oil of air helps in this regard, as you can see the true level of oil in the shock. Two other things to keep in mind with emulsion shocks are not to overfill them, and their rebound distance shock be matched as closely as possible between the pairs. When filling them, leave a few millimeters of air, otherwise you'll have difficulty fully compressing them. In regards to their rebound length, after compressing them, you'll notice the shock shaft will slide itself back out. Front and rear pairs should be matched as closely as possible in this regard. If they are not, you do not have matching amounts of air and oil in them and it will cause handling to be erratic.

    With the shock filled and capped off, you'll need to install the spring and its associated hardware. Slide on any preload spacers you wish to use, followed by the upper spring retainer. Next slide the spring in place, and slightly compress it while pushing the lower spring retainer into place on the end of the shock.

    Once the shocks have been assembled, you can finish the installation of the rear suspension. Slide the axle assemblies into place in the carriers and then secure the bearing carriers in place with the last pair of turnbuckles. Then slide the lower end of the shocks onto the suspension pins, followed by a washers and e-clips to hold them in place. The upper end of the shock is secured to the shock tower by a hex head screw and a lock nut.

    Complete Front Suspension

    The front shocks install in a somewhat similar fashion, although they do not tie into the outer suspension pins. The lower ends of the shocks are held in place by a Phillips head screw that ties it to the c-hub. The upper end of the shock does tie into the shock tower in the same manner as the rear, with a hex head screw and a locking nut.

    With the front and rear suspension finished, it's time for the good stuff. That's right, I'm talking about the motor. Also, believe it or not we're headed towards the home stretch when it comes to assembly. The first thing you'll start with on the motor is the flywheel, after you open parts bag "F". Slide the referenced washer on the motor shaft, followed by the collet and flywheel. Then follow up that by threading the pilot shaft in place, and tighten it down. Make sure you use some threadlock between the crankshaft and the pilot shaft. You'll also need something to hold the flywheel in place while tightening the pilot shaft. You can use one of various flywheel or piston-locking tools available at your local hobby store or you can simply use some channel-lock pliers to hold the flywheel while tightening the pilot shaft. Just take care to avoid damaging the flywheel if you go that route.

    After the flywheel has been installed, you'll follow up with the clutch. Remember to use the updated clutch springs provided by HPI, and not the ones included in parts bag "F". Refer closely to the directions when it comes to how to orient the clutches and the clutch springs. It's a little tough to get springs of this nature installed, but if you place them in the clutch shoe and then slide it on you should be able to work them down with a little effort. You'll probably need to pry the end of the spring down into its position against the pilot shaft with a pair of needle nose pliers. It takes a little patience to get the clutch shoes installed correctly but, once you're finished with them, you have the hardest part of the motor assembly behind you.

    Clutch Bell
    Header and Pipe
    Motor Installed

    The next order of business is installing the clutch bell and the engine mounts. Locate the indicated 5x10x.5mm washer and place it on the pilot shaft. Then find the clutch bell bearings and insert the into the clutch bell. Once the bearings are installed, slide it onto the pilot shaft, securing it with a 3x6mm hex head screw, cone washer, and threadlock.

    The engine mounts, and their screws, should be located and installed next. You'll want to use threadlock with these screws as well. After the mounts are installed you'll want to install the ball stud on the carburetor's lever, in the hole closest to the low speed needle. Then you'll want to install the air filter. Place it in the rubber housing, and slide the housing onto the motor's carburetor.

    With the clutch bell and carburetor taken care of, attention shifts to the exhaust. Find the exhaust header's gasket, along with the exhaust components. Slide the screws intended to hold the header in place on the motor into their respective positions. Then slide the gasket on, and follow up with the header. Keep in mind that you should use threadlock on these exhaust screws. Once the header is in place, and tightened down, slide the exhaust coupler on followed by the composite pipe. Then use zip ties to secure the coupler around both components.

    Next, it's time to drop the motor onto the HPI's chassis. HPI supplies some Phillips head screws to do this with, but quite honestly, I'd ditch these as soon as possible for some good hex head screws. You'll crank down on these screws pretty hard, after applying threadlock, and Phillips head screws simply aren't going to last in this situation. I would have loved to see HPI provide better screws for the motor, as this is the one location that a hex head screw would have been most beneficial.

    You'll want to run the motor screws down, but not all the way. Then slide the motor towards the spur gear to adjust the gap between the spur and the clutch bell. You're striving for a small amount of play between the two gears. An often used trick is to slide a small sheet of notebook paper between the gears, and then push the motor in as far as possible. Once you have the motor slid in, tighten the screws holding it to the chassis down, and remove the paper. If you have a small amount of play, you're in good shape. If there is no play, or more than about a millimeter when rocking the gears back and forth, readjust the gears and try again. At this point the manual instructs you to install the fuel and pressure lines, but I opted to wait until I installed the fuel tank to keep them out of my way during the next few steps.

    Center Support
    Steering Linkage Brace
    Shock Tower Support

    With the motor installed, there are a couple of other items that should be attended to next. The first is the plastic center brace. Drop it into position, and then secure it with one screw from above that ties it to the center gear brace. Another screw comes in from the underside of the chassis. The fuel tank mount follows that, and it's secured with a pair of screws from the underside as well.

    The next item you'll need to install is the steering linkage brace. Before you install it though, you'll need to open parts bag "G". Then slide the mounting post for the receiver box into it. Next, secure it from above the top of the brace, and below the chassis, with the necessary screws. I'd recommend using threadlock on the screws that run down into the bellcrank posts, even though the manual doesn't mention it in this step. Any time you are placing a screw into a metal component threadlock is a good idea.

    After you've installed the steering brace, you'll need to install the bracing for the rear shock tower. Slide the pullstart bracket onto the lower section of the shock tower brace and drop it into place. Secure the lower brace with a screw from under the chassis, and follow it up with a screw into the pullstart bracket. Once the lower brace is installed, drop the upper brace into place, and lock it into place with two screws at its lower end and two from the rear side of the shock tower.

    Fuel Tank
    Mount Servos
    Receiver and Battery

    With the bracing installed, it's time to drop the fuel tank into place. I had previously skipped installing the fuel lines, so at this point I trial-fitted the tank into place and cut the lines to the appropriate size. HPI provides a chart to assist you with this. Then I pulled the tank out of the way, and ran the fuel and pressure lines. Once the lines were run I used screws to fasten the tank to the mounts. O-rings were placed between the tank and the tank mounts before the screws were installed and tightened down. The o-rings help to reduce tank vibrations and the fuel foaming that can result from it.

    The next item to work on is the receiver box. With most of the HPI MT 2 installed, it should be easy to find the necessary items in the rapidly emptying box. Using the supplied screws, fasten your steering and throttle servo to the box, after running the servo wires through the cutouts and into the box. HPI supplies plastic shims, should you need to shim the servo mounts. The steering servo mounts underneath the front side of the box, while the throttle servo mounts inside the rear of the box.

    You'll also need to prepare the servo saver and turnbuckle for installation on the steering servo. The turnbuckle and rod ends should measure 76mm once the ends are turned down far enough. When installing the servo saver, be sure to use the appropriate lower section for the brand of servo you use. HPI provides you a handy reference chart to help you determine what items you should be using with the various servo brands.

    I highly recommend the use of a metal geared servo for the steering duties. I chose to use a JR Z590M with 85 oz/in. of torque at 6 volts. For the throttle duties, I used a JR Z270. These were the two servos that came with my JR XS3 that I would be using with the MT 2.

    Once the servos are in place, you'll want to install your receiver and battery. I chose to use a receiver pack in the rear of the receiver box instead of using a AA battery holder. I've modified this receiver pack to work with the standard plugs that most power switches come with. HPI supplies a set of plastic mounts to accommodate most on/off switches you'll encounter. So you should have no problem mounting your switch in the receiver box, using the items provided in parts bag "H". Mount your receiver in the front of the box and route the antenna towards the back of the box, as the antenna exits at the rear of the box.

    Receiver Box Covers
    Receiver Box Installed
    Throttle Linkage

    Once you have all the electronics installed you'll want to install the front and rear covers for the receiver box. The front cover, which protects the receiver, is held in place by two Phillips head screws. The rear cover is held shut by a body clip. Be sure you don't pinch any wires when installing the covers.

    The entire receiver box easily drops onto the chassis, and is held in place by a pair of body clips. Take notice of how easily the receiver box design allows you to remove the electronics for cleaning purposes. While this approach isn't unheard of, I do wish more manufacturers would use this approach. Cleaning can be a time-consuming task, and details of that nature certainly help in regards to cleaning.

    You'll want to push the antenna through the antenna tube next. Take it easy though, when pushing the antenna wire through the tube, you don't want to bend or damage it. If you find it difficult to feed the wire through the tube, sprinkle some baby powder on the wire before pushing it through. Another method I've used is to place a couple of drops of bearing oil in the tube before pushing the antenna wire through.

    Next you need to focus on the throttle linkage. The HPI MT 2 18SS comes with a .18 motor that uses a rotary carburetor. So you'll use the instructions laid out in step #40. This step details how to assemble the throttle linkage, and how long you should make the throttle rod after screwing the rod end onto it. The manual also gives you a diagram of how long to cut a section of fuel tubing for the brake linkage. Make sure you use the correct servo horn parts to match the brand of servo you are using. Otherwise, you'll have centering and operation issues later.

    Throttle Linkage Installed
    Front Body Posts
    Rear Body Posts

    Once the throttle/braking linkage is finished, install it onto the MT 2 after you have centered the servo. You'll want to check the operation of the linkage to ensure the carburetor is opening completely. In addition, check the braking strength. You'll want good braking action at the end of the servos range, but none while the servo is in the centered position.

    The last chassis-specific items you'll need to work with are the body posts. Body clips are used to hold them at the designated height you desire. I chose to run them down nearly all the way, stopping just a hole shy of being fully pushed down. Both the front and the rear body posts install in this same manner.

    Wheel Adapters
    Glue Tires
    Install Tires

    To ready the MT 2 for its wheel installation, you'll need to perform a few small tasks. The first of these is to install the wheel adapters. HPI includes a nice set of aluminum hex adapters well suited to the task of handling the needs of the MT 2. Simply find the axle pin, slide it through the axle, and then fit the hex over it. Be aware though, that the aluminum adapters fit a little looser than many plastic adapters. So be careful when the wheel is removed, or the hex adapter may allow the pin to drop out and become lost.

    Following the hex adapters, you need to prepare the wheels and tires for installation. The instructions mention inserting the tire foams into the tires, but mine were already pushed into the soft Dirt Bonz Jr. tires. All I needed to do was push the wheels inside of the tires, matching the beads up with the channels on the wheels. Then, after all the tires were assembled, I glued them. I started with the backs of each tire, and then pull the bead away from the wheel. I then squeezed a little thin CA glue into the bead channel on the rim, and replaced the tires bead into the channel. This procedure should be repeated at a couple other spots around the wheel. After the glue has been given sufficient time to dry, come back and glue the tires to the front sides of the wheels.

    Once the tires have been glued to the rims, it's time to mount them to the truck. Locate the angled aluminum washers, as well as the wheel nuts. Then install the wheel onto the axle, making sure that it fits over the hex adapter properly. Slide the aluminum washer in place, and then secure everything with the supplied wheel nuts.

    Completed Truck
    Top View
    Side View

    Once the wheels are installed, the assembly of the truck is completed. You'll still want to paint the lexan body in a fashion that suits your tastes, but the actual assembly phase of the truck is over. So sit back, relax, and come up with a design you'll want to use for the body before you jump into painting it.

    I deviated from the on the box image, and sticker suggestions, provided by HPI opting to go a more custom route and perform a basic airbrush job with the included lexan body. I first laid the design out with a fine tip permanent marker on the outside of the body. Since the overspray film would be removed when the body was painted, cleaning the marker off after I was finished would not be an issue.

    Once the design was laid out, I applied several coats of liquid masking to the inside of the body. Then, once the liquid masking was dried, I used a hobby knife to cut the design out. The scalloped pattern was painted with some Parma Fasfluorescent Orange and Yellow. The basic purple color is actually two shades of Fasescent Purple. I took some of the purple and darkened it with some Fasblack. Then I used it to add some darker depth to some of the areas that would be purple, and filled the rest of the area in with Fasescent Purple straight out of the bottle. The rollbar molded into the body was painted with Faspearl Silver.

    Mounting the body was a snap as HPI provides all the cutouts and body post holes. All I had to do was to mount the rear spoiler using the supplied hardware, and then drop the body into place on the truck.

    With assembly, and body painting, behind me it was now time to start working on getting the truck good and dirty. Of course the first stage of that involved breaking in the motor. The break-in procedure specified by HPI in their manual was pretty basic and straightforward. So I didn't anticipate any difficulties with the procedure.

    The first two tanks, according to the manual, should be idled through at the factory settings with the wheels off of the ground. So in preparation for the first tank I fueled the truck's tank up and then plugged the pipe's stinger with my finger before pulling on the pullstart a few times to prime the motor. Then I attached a glow igniter, and pulled the pullstart a few more times and the motor fired right up. However it was apparent to me, judging by the sound of the motor, that the idle speed would need to be increased to keep the truck running. So I turned the idle screw clockwise about 1/2 to 3/4 of a turn, which caused the wheels to start rolling forward slowly. At that point everything appeared to be golden as I watched the truck and the motor temperature throughout the first tank.

    As the tank neared empty, I shut it off. I didn't want to allow the tank to run out causing the motor to run lean for a few seconds, especially during break-in. I allowed the motor to cool down for around ten minutes, and then filled it up with fuel and restarted. I watched the truck for the first few minutes to ensure everything was still going according to plan. Then, with about 3/4 of a tank left, boredom struck. With about 10 minutes of idling left on tank two, I needed something to occupy my time. So I figured this would be a great time to try and get a broken limb that was hanging about 40 foot up in a tree. After all the ice storm that had broken it had only occurred two years ago, and there's no time like the present!

    As it turned out, the tree limb was the perfect time waster. I used my rock and string many times in an attempt to entangle it around the limb and yank it down. However, before I succeeded, tank two was nearing the end. Again I shut the motor off before the tank emptied, and allowed the motor to cool before proceeding to tank three. Before the cool down period was finished, I had succeeded in ridding the tree of the broken limb, making it one less danger to man and beast!

    After the idling tanks were finished, it was time to start driving the truck around some. HPI's manual instructed me to run 3-4 tanks of fuel through the motor, with the motor running slowly. That left a little room for interpretation, although it clearly meant don't run the motor in a wide open fashion. So I ran a tank through it varying throttle input, but never giving it more than 1/4 throttle. For tanks two and three, I followed a similar pattern but kept the HPI at 1/2 throttle or less. For tank four, since break in was ending, I varied the throttle but kept it at 3/4 throttle or less. I allowed a cool down period of around 10 minutes between each of these tanks, as mentioned in the manual.

    With break-in behind me, I set out to do some general running and tune the motor for more performance than was offered by the break-in settings. After all, lots of thick smoke and a blubbery rich sound to the motor are great signs for the break-in stage, but far from ideal when you're ready to start rearranging some dirt. So I started by making a few adjustments to the high speed needle in 1/8 turn increments. Once I leaned it out a little over 3/4 of a turn the 18SS really started to wind out well in the upper end of the RPM range.

    After the high speed needle adjustments were made, I focused on the low speed needle. I ended up leaning it a half a turn, which is the most that HPI recommends. This helped quite a bit, although I admit I wanted to see a little more punch on the low end. So I did try to lean it out a little more which helped, but the motor didn't seem to be getting enough fuel at idle. This caused the motor to run a little too hot for my liking. So I reset the low speed setting back to the minimum setting recommended by HPI. Then I tailored the idle to an appropriate level, allowing the motor to continue to run but with a few RPM's as possible.

    Once tuned, I started motoring the truck around pretty heavy-handedly. Even though I felt it to be a little softer than I wanted from a standstill, it quickly showed some serious power once the motor started to spool up. A small adjustment of the slipper clutch, in the form of tightening helped, but it was obvious that the 18SS was geared more for speed in it's out of the box configuration. At slower speeds I found myself wanting a little more low-end grunt when hitting some of the rougher terrain, and I would have geared down slightly if I would have had suitable gear available. This is fairly typical of a stadium truck though, as they normally see use on smoother terrain.

    While driving around, I noticed that the MT 2 handled very nicely. A combination of a low weight, when compared to bigger four-wheel drive trucks, and the low center of gravity, allowed it to hug the ground well. Both pairs of tires grabbing at the dirt allowed it to quickly pull itself out of a corner with a slight push, due to my differential oil selection. However it was very easy to keep the truck under control. The soft Dirt Bonz Jr. tires provided an excellent amount of grip coming off of a corner, and yet still allowed the tires to cut through the corners without providing too much side bite. Quite honestly, the included Dirt Bonz Jr. tires should make HPI proud. There are few models on the market that provide tires of this quality in the box, and the MT 2 18SS is certainly one of them.

    I'm sure some of you might be thinking, "so what, it handles great?but how well does it jump?" Well never fear as it didn't take me long to start heading towards a good pile of dirt for some low-key jumping. The 18SS seemed to enjoy hitting the jump with lots of speed, since at the upper-end range the truck's motor flat out screams. However, that calls for a little care, once you become airborne. With all four wheels grabbing air, while the motor screams madly, the nose points skyward right after leaving the ground. However a little brake easily brings it back down to a level position, and the whole scenario reminds me more of typical 1/8 scale buggy behavior than a stadium truck. For the timid, a little slower pace across the jump, results in a truck that leaves the ground in more level position. However, what's the fun in taking it easy? Especially with the MT 2 feeling as if it's at home running fast.

    I spent quite a bit of time running around and hitting the small dirt jump, then doubling it back and hitting it again. The HPI was simply a blast, and seemed to thrive in this sort of environment. I also noticed that the suspension seemed to be decently matched to the truck's characteristics. The springs, provided by HPI, seemed to be matched with the chassis weight very well, although I could see the need for a heavier oil to increase dampening. This was because the truck did have a somewhat bouncy feel to it when it landed. I imagine some 45-50 weight oil would be a much better match for the truck and help tremendously.

    In addition to needing a shock oil change, I did see the need to perform some other minor suspension changes from the way the manual had me set them up initially. To start off with, I set about adjusting the front toe setting as it way slightly toed-in. This made it a little too twitchy for my liking in a straight-line dash. I ended up going with a slight toe-out of about 1.5-2.0°, as this is typical of what I like on most off-road trucks I'm piloting and makes the truck much more well-tempered when being driven in a straight line. The rear toe setting was suited well to my driving style, as I used the carriers that provided 2.0° of toe-in for the rear when building the kit. The rear of an off-road truck behaves just the opposite from the front in regards to the toe setting. On the rear, toe-in helps to keep the vehicle pointed in a straight-line manner. With the amount of toe-in the carriers provided, I felt the rear toe was perfect for my tastes.

    With the toe-in adjusted, I decided to alter the lateral grip a little. While I mentioned earlier that the tires worked well, I still opted to seek a small handling improvement by adding a little negative camber to the wheels. I ended up with roughly 1.5° degrees of negative camber at each tire, which would give me a little more grip to help power out of a turn. This, combined with the heavier differential oil in the front, provided me plenty of traction after turning, further helping the truck to pull itself out of the turn instead of being on the loose side and having a tendency to spin out. The toe adjustments had also definitely improved the ability of the MT 2SS to track nice and straight after leaving a turn.

    After spending some time getting used to the suspension changes, I decided it was time to spend some more time in the air. However this time around, I was seeking some larger air than I had previously. So I enlisted the help of my curved ramp which, on many occasions, has often proven to be more along the lines of a torture test! Most vehicles either seem to love it or loathe it, depending upon how well they like to jump, and how well they can handle the landings.

    After setting the ramp up, I started my first run up it, and into the air. While it was far from a perfect jump, due to it being my first attempt with this truck, it was immediately apparent that the MT 2 18SS loved launching into the air in this manner. So I doubled back and readied myself to hit the ramp again. My second run was met with much more success, as I carried a bit more speed to the ramp. I was rewarded with a nice peak of around 6-7 feet, and with a little brake brought the truck's nose back down, as it had been pointed skyward, for a nice level landing. As I'm normally used to jumping heavier monster trucks the landing seemed soft and cushy in comparison. However the need for heavier shock oil was even more apparent. There's certainly a lot to be said for a lightweight approach to an off-road vehicle, as the heavier weight offered by many trucks often just creates additional stress on the vehicle's components.

    I spent a lot of time after that jumping the MT 2SS and continuing to gain some serious air. I was easily hitting peaks of 10-11 feet, and the HPI was conquering it with style. I once again felt like I was running an 1/8 scale buggy more than a stadium truck when leaving the ramp, as it was predictable and easy to control from the moment it left the ramp until it touched back down. I attempted a few flips, intermixed with some basic jumping. Although I didn't pull all the flips off, several attempts turned into a success. The ones that were not a success looked pretty rough in regards to the landing. Despite this, nothing broke although the body was showing some signs of wear. Most of this was due to the rear spoiler catching on the ground, as the truck landed on its rear end several times. These landings were especially rough on the body, but nothing else on the truck was damaged at all during any of this jumping.

    After spending quite a bit of time jumping, I decided to put the 18SS in front of the radar gun and see what kind of numbers I could get out of it. I started out by trying to get some good runs in the dirt, but fell short of what I wanted to see. I seemed to run out of room in the area I was in, before I could get it wound out good. I ended up with a speed of 34 MPH, but knew it had a little more in it. So I ended up taking the truck to a large open parking lot that was a little more conducive to a few high speed runs. Once I had a large flat open area, the MT 2 18SS was able to build up a full head of steam, and ticked off a reading of 44MPH, definitely verifying the claims that HPI boasts on the box. This certainly satisfied my curiosity.

    As a final test of ability, I journeyed with the 18SS to nearby Hobby Park, wanting to see how well the truck would handle an environment of smaller back-to-back jumps. I wasn't disappointed either. Once again, the truck showed itself to be exceptional in the air, in regards to handling. I could easily build up speed and double the first couple of jumps and feel like I was in excellent control. Then take the remaining two jumps as singles, clearing them individually. As long as I had myself up a fair amount of speed I had no problem all continuing the pace across the jumps. However if I had to back out of the throttle, and slow down, because I needed to keep the truck's composure in check, I still felt as if I needed to have more of the motor's power towards the lower end of the RPM range.

    It's very clear to me now though, the reason for this is the truck is geared more for upper end speed out of the box. I suspected this before, but now I can judge this on my experiences driving it and feeling the power band of the motor as well as the radar tests. I don't really see that this is a drawback, but rather more of a personal preference. A slight gear change, or a good mid-range pipe, would shift the power band of the motor around to accommodate someone with tastes such as myself. In fact, HPI probably took the better route, as many owners the MT 2 is targeted towards would often be more concerned with speed rather than gobs of low-end torque.

    In all honesty, I really can't find anything of much substance to complain about with this truck. It's solidly built, and took an enormous amount of punishment during all of my driving and jumping with it. The only part of the truck that showed signs of wear was the body. That certainly is not abnormal, as any off-road truck's body tends to catch more abuse than any other part of the vehicle. I normally try to recap any issues I've had with a vehicle after I run through my driving experiences with it, but the HPI MT 2 18SS leaves me empty-handed in that regard. However, that should certainly make HPI proud as they have put together a very tough truck that is most definitely up to the task at hand.

    See the MT 2 18SS in action!
    Resolution:  Low  Medium  High

    The HPI MT 2 18SS certainly shows itself capable of handling off-road terrain even more than the standard version of this truck. You'll have a hard time finding a stadium truck that packs a motor with the displacement of the 18SS, and then drops a very capable set of tires in the box as well. HPI has done their homework, and put together a very attractive and well-rounded package.

    There isn't much to suggest in the way of upgrades, as the truck proved itself to be tough right out of the box. With it being a kit, and minus a radio, it allows you to use a radio of your own choosing. This offers you a nearly infinite amount of possibilities in regards to the radio and receiver combo, so suggesting an upgrade in this area isn't really applicable. I do think a good mid-range pipe would definitely help the motor provide a more even power distribution. For those seeking a little more low-end power, a slight gearing change may be beneficial as well. However for most owners, the HPI will be exceptional right out of the box.

    HPI deserves to be congratulated for the MT 2 18SS. They have taken one of their popular platforms, offered it as a kit for those who wanted it, and threw in some top-notch upgrades over the original equipment as well. If you're looking for a good truck capable of taking a beating, and providing some top-notch parts right of the box, then look no further than the HPI MT 2 18SS.

    HPI Racing
    70 Icon Street
    Foothill Ranch, CA 92610 USA
    Phone: (949) 753-1099
    Fax: (949) 753-1098
    Website: www.hpiracing.com

    3585 Cadillac Avenue
    Costa Mesa, CA 92626
    Phone: (714) 850-9342
    Website: www.teamassociated.com
    Products used: Air Filter Oil

    Dubro, Inc.
    480 Bonner Road
    Wauconda, IL 60084 USA
    Phone: (732) 635-1600
    Website: www.dubro.com
    Products used: Fuel Bottle

    Distributed Exclusively By
    Great Planes Model Distributors
    P.O. Box 9021
    Champaign, IL 61826-9021 USA
    Phone: (800) 637-7660
    Website: www.duratrax.com
    Products used: Receiver Pack

    Dynamite RC Products
    Distributed Exclusively By
    Horizon Hobby, Inc.
    4105 Fieldstone Road
    Champaign, IL 61822 USA
    Phone: (877) 504-0233
    Fax: (217) 352-6799
    Website: www.horizonhobby.com
    Products used: Glow Igniter

    JR Radios
    Distributed Exclusively By
    Horizon Hobby, Inc.
    4105 Fieldstone Road
    Champaign, IL 61822 USA
    Phone: (877) 504-0233
    Fax: (217) 352-6799
    Website: http://www.jrradios.com/
    Products used: Radio, Receiver, Z590M Servo, Z270 Servo

    Maxx Products International
    815 Oakwood Road, Unit D
    Lake Zurich, IL 60047 USA
    Phone: (847) 438-2233
    Fax: (847) 438-2898
    Website: www.maxxprod.com
    Products used: JR Transmitter Pack and Charger

    1100 Klein Road
    Plano, Texas 75074 USA
    Phone: (888) 872-9927
    Website: www.traxxas.com
    Products used: NiMH Receiver Pack Charger

    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%), After Run Oil

    Comments on RCU Review: HPI Racing Nitro MT2

    Posted by: Pecanpatch on 09/20/2008
    I want one!
    Posted by: embesh on 02/25/2009
    I got the Firestorm
    Page: 1
    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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