How do you know you’re getting the most out of your truck’s engine/motor? Temperature! This applies to both Nitro’s and Electric vehicles alike.
Every manufacture produces their product to operate within certain parameters. When it comes to engines/motors the most important parameter to be aware of is running temperature. What is the optimal temperature for your engine/motor? What is the maximum temperature you should not exceed? Knowing these parameters will ensure that you get the most from your equipment and keep it in good working order. Exceeding the manufacture’s operating temperature excessively can cause premature wear/damage to equipment and shorten its useful life.
Using your fingers to gauge how hot something is isn’t accurate enough! Luckily, there are many tools that can help you with monitoring temperature: infrared temperature gun/gauge, dedicated temperature monitor, transmitter/receiver telemetry, cooking thermometer. The most versatile of which is probably the infrared temperature gun. For about $30 dollars you can use it on any number of vehicles in addition to any random objects that you want to measure (not particularly useful for cooking applications since you usually need internal temp! ). The Infrared temperature gun can take its measurements without making contact with the object’s surface so it is quite nifty. One thing to be aware of with these types of devices is their resolution or the size of the area they will sample to determine the temperature from. If a device’s resolution is 1:1 it means that the device will sample an area with a diameter equivalent to the distance the device is from the surface! IE: if a device is 1 inch from the surface, the sample area is 1 inch in diameter (not bad). If the device is now 10 inches from the surface, the sample area is 10 inches in diameter (not so good when our equipment is much smaller than this area). Moral of the story here is to keep the device as close to the surface as possible!
The next type of monitor I would suggest is the type that is integrated into the transmitter/receiver like those found in some Spektrum systems. These devices use a probe that is attached to a surface you want to monitor and continually transmit the data back to the transmitter or receiving unit so you will always know what the current temperature is. These aren’t as portable as the infrared ones but are great if all your radios support this feature.
The dedicated units (like those from Venom) are equally useful, they are a small digital device that is attached to the vehicle and monitors temperature during a run and allows you to see what the max temp was. The cooking thermometer is probably the least reliable only because of the time it takes to get a reading….now if the device was attached to the surface like some of the others…hmmmm.,
For electric motors, you can use the running temperature to determine if you are running with optimal gearing. To start, run with a lower tooth pinion. If the temperature is within the safe threshold increase the pinion a tooth or two and do another run. With the increase in pinion size, you should notice a top end speed increase. If the temperature is still good, increase the pinion size again and repeat. Each test run should be for 5-10 minutes to allow the motor to reach its max running temp with the new settings. Continue increasing the pinion size until you are running near the top end of the temperature envelope. This is the optimal gearing! You can do the same thing by changing out the spur gear. Measure the temperature on the motor can.
In addition to monitoring the temperature of your motor you should also check the temperature of the battery pack and ESC. These components also have an optimal temperature range.
Just like with electric, there is an optimal temperature your engine should be running at. Refer to the engine manufacture to find what the optimal range is for your engine. Finding the right running temperature is all a part of tuning. You will need to run your truck to warm up the engine before you can tune it. Once the engine is warm you can affect its temperature by richening or leaning out the fuel mixture. Ensure that your air filter is clean and your glow plug in good condition as these will affect the performance of the engine. Take the temperature reading at the location where the glow plug is installed.
Once you have your truck running at the right temperature you should continue to periodically monitor it. If the temperature changes it is an indicator that some parameters on your truck has changed – maybe your bearing are worn and is causing the engine/motor to work extra hard?
So, with a simple device like a thermometer you can ensure that your truck is giving you all the performance it is capable of while prolonging its usable life. Sounds like a no brainer to me!