Building the Axial SCX10 II Scale Crawler Kit

Building the Axial SCX10 II Scale RC Crawler Kit
Before Axial Racing released the original SCX10, most scale RC crawling enthusiasts were forced to take the more hardcore 2.2" wheel equipped AX10 and convert it to a scale crawler with one of a few scale chassis kits that were available at the time. I went down this road with my very own AX10 when I wanted to give it a more scale appearance. The conversion process wasn't all that hard but it took a bit of custom fabrication that kept it out of the hands of the average hobbyist. Then, in 2011, the Axial SCX10 hit the market and changed everything. Now anyone could pick up an SCX10 at their local hobby shop and they'd have an great scale truck that performs as good as it looks. In 2016, Axial upped their game once again with the release of the SCX10 II, a truck we've been wanting to build ever since. Now, thanks to the generosity of the fine folks over at A-Main Hobbies, we've gotten ahold of the Axial SCX10 II Jeep Cherokee kit, which we'll be documenting the build of, right here, for all to enjoy. While this will be a build of the stock kit, we plan to do a few follow up posts on whatever upgrades or mods we do to the truck in the coming months. For now, lets get to the build!

One of my favorite parts of building an RC car or truck kit is opening the box for the first time and taking a peek inside. As you'd expect from any Axial Racing kit, the SCX10 II comes packed in a box adorned with all of the details that the kit features. Inside you'll find all of the SCX10 II parts, other than the body and tires, neatly organized in separate bags that help you keep track of everything needed for each step of the assembly process. Along those lines, the SCX10 II includes a highly detailed assembly manual that makes the build process a breeze. Axial also includes a bag containing 30w shock oil, a tube of grease, a bottle of blue thread locker, a four way wrench, and even a couple of trail markers. To complete this build you'll need a few hex drivers, a pair of pliers, a pair of side cutters, CA glue for the tires, paint for the body, and electronics.
Axial SCX10 II Box Art
Axial SCX10 II Box Details
Axial SCX10 II Box
Axial SCX10 II Box Contents
Axial SCX10 II Parts Bags
Axial SCX10 II Jeep Cherokee XJ Body
Axial SCX10 II Assembly Owners Instruction Manual
Axial SCX10 II Instructions
The first step of the build process involves tackling the assembly of the SCX10 II's axles. Unlike the original SCX10, which utilized the beefy AX10 axles, the SCX10 II features the all new AR44 axles. Although the AX10 axles were cool looking in their own right, the AR44 takes things a step further with a smaller, more scale appearance. Just because they're smaller it doesn't mean they're weaker. On the contrary, the AR44 axles come equipped with stronger machined steel gears that replace the AX10's old sintered steel units. They also features a higher pinion gear position that increases the contact patch between the pinion and ring gears for added durability. The high pinion gears also contribute to the axle's higher ground clearance. To make things even better, Axial added larger bearings, solid steel lockers, and one piece axle housings, all of which increase the axle's overall strength.
Axial SCX10 II Steel Diff Gears
Axial SCX10 II Diffs and Lockers
Axial SCX10 II Diffs
Axial SCX10 II Axle Cases
Axial SCX10 II Differential
The split cases of the old AX10 axles meant that the case halves sandwiched the diff gears. That also meant that a full teardown was required just to get a peek at the gears inside. With the AR44's one piece housing, the diff gears are installed through the front of the pumpkin much like those on a full size truck. Now if you want to check the condition of your diff gears all you have to do is remove four screws. That makes the diff cover more than just a display piece, it actually acts as a functional part of the axle. Overall, I really like the design. The only thing I'd change is the oddly colored diff covers and suspension mounts. I think a gunmetal grey or black would look more realistic but that's nothing a little paint or dye can't fix later on.
Axial SCX10 II Diff Cover
Axial SCX10 II Differential Cover Red
Axial SCX10 II Axles Assembly
Axial SCX10 II Steering Knuckles and Axles
Axial SCX10 II
Axial SCX10 II Axles
The next step includes building the truck's suspension and steering links. While the ready to run version of the SCX10 II includes a set of plain looking steel links, the kit version comes equipped with all aluminum links that are finished in a glossy gunmetal grey anodizing. Though the aluminum suspension links really help in the looks department, I think their biggest benefit is the smooth transition to the end link that prevents hang ups better than their steel counterparts. The rear suspension features a full 4 link design while the front has 3 links with a panhard bar. The suspension links went together without much fuss but they'll probably have your hands aching for days afterwards. One trick I've found to make things easier on the hands is to install the balls into the end links first and then use a long, small hex wrench placed through the ball link to help twist the links in place.
Axial SCX10 II Aluminum Links
Axial SCX10 II Aluminum LInk
Axial SCX10 II Front Axles Steering Links
Axial SCX10 II Rear Links
The shocks on the SCX10 II are a carry over from the original SCX10 with the kit version featuring aluminum bodied Icon Vehicle Dynamic branded units. They have a clear anodized coating over polished aluminum bodies which are threaded for quick ride height and pre-load adjustments. They also come equipped with matching aluminum faux reservoirs that give the appearance of a full size performance truck shock. While I'd prefer that the reservoirs were actually function, Axial does include caps that allow you to remove them altogether if you'd like.
Axial SCX10 II Aluminum Shock Bodies
Axial SCX10 II Shock Body
Axial SCX10 II shock assembly
Axial SCX10 II shock o-rings
Axial SCX10 II shock shaft
Axial SCX10 II shock piston
Axial SCX10 II shock cap and reservoir
Axial SCX10 II shocks
Axial SCX10 II aluminum shocks
The SCX10's shocks attach to the axles with new separate mounts that replace the integrated mounts of the AX10. Now when you break a mount on a sharp rock you won't have to replace the entire axle housing. Again, their red color leaves a bit to be desired but since they're made of nylon they can be easily dyed black.
Axial SCX10 II lower shock mount
One of the biggest changes that the SCX10 II brought to the party was its new transmission. The new tranny was specifically designed to mimicking a full size truck transmission with everything from a scale bell housing to an actual transfer case. This allowed Axial to lower the driveshaft outputs for a more efficient driveline with better driveshaft angles. The more realistic dimensions of the new SCX10 II transmission also means that there is room for a optional two speed conversion. With that you can choose between a high and low gear ratio just like a full size truck's transfer case! And for those of you hardcore hobbyists wanting to swap back to the simpler AX10 transmission, Axial includes a mount for that.
Axial SCX10 II transmission gears
Axial SCX10 II transmission assembly instructions
While the assembly of most of the SCX10 II was an absolute pleasure, the transmission left much to be desired. The main problem I experienced was with what seemed to be the output gear grinding against the shoulder of the input gear. At first I thought maybe I missed something but upon further research it appears quite a few SCX10 II owners have had a similar experience. I read of a few quick fixes that included flipping the output gear 180 degrees and adding shims to the output gear shaft but neither alleviated my problems. To make matters worse, the case screws, which seemed to be unusually long, took so much effort to install that by the third or fourth assembly/disassembly they were already completely stripped. That meant that I had to spend the next two hours trying to carefully drill them out before being able to proceed. After assembling and disassembling the transmission a dozen times, I finally solved this issue by adding two thin shims to the output side of the input shaft. This pushed the input gear back slightly and away from the output gear so the two wouldn't interfere with each other. This entire thing was an unfortunate occurrence that could be easily remedied with a quick update to the truck's owners manual and maybe some shorter screws.
Axial SCX10 II transmission grinding shims fix
After finally getting the transmission working as it should, the transfer case went together quick and easy. Unlike those gorgeous machined steel gears in the axles, the SCX10 II transmission and transfer case are outfitted with sintered steel gears. While I would have loved to see machined gears throughout, the sintered gears keep costs down and should be durable enough for a rig of this type. Afterall, I never had a single problem with the sintered gears in the good old AX10 and it pushing those heavy weight filled 2.2" wheels and tires. There are a few manufacturers that sell hardened steel replacement gear sets if the need should arise.
Axial SCX10 II transfer case gears
Axial SCX10 II transfer case
Axial SCX10 II transmission and transfer case
Axial SCX10 II slipper clutch
Pretty much the only problem I ever had with my old AX10 was with the driveshafts. Not only would the u-joint ears break off, they twist like a warm pretzel. To be exact, the ear broke off one of the AX10's shafts on my first run. Hopefully that won't be the case with the SCX10 II thanks to the new Wildboar WB8 driveshafts. They feature a completely new design with larger diameter captured cross pins and a unique splined center sliding shaft that allows for additional material in crucial areas for less twisting and flex. I wish I had an AX10 shaft to compare them side by side but trust me when I tell you, the WB8 driveshafts are definitely beefier. They also appear to be made of a higher quality plastic.
Axial SCX10 II wild boar driveshafts
Axial SCX10 II transmission skid plate
Axial SCX10 II
Axial SCX10 II
The SCX10 II got an updated battery tray that sits lower and farther forward than the original for improved weight distribution and a lower center of gravity. Two plastic posts are included that allow you to fine tune the fit for your particular battery while a simple velcro strap keeps things in place. I really like the design of this new battery tray though it requires a little trimming if you're looking to use a top post battery like I have. A little dremeling and that battery fit like a glove. Other than that, any 2S or 3S sub-5,000mah battery should fit in this tray.
Axial SCX10 II battery tray
Axial SCX10 II chassis servo mount
Axial SCX10 II battery tray before
Axial SCX10 II battery tray fix
Everything previously built eventually gets bolted to the SCX10 II's steel c-channel chassis. This chassis is basically a carry over from the original SCX10 with the addition of a few more holes to facilitate the truck's adjustable wheelbase. The stock kit is designed for use with 12.3" wheelbase bodies but with one of Axial's optional link kits you can adjust the chassis to either an 11.4" or 12.0" wheelbase for tons of additional body options. Extra rear driveshaft center sections are also included with the kit to make swapping between wheelbases a breeze.
Axial SCX10 II chassis rails
Bolted to each side of the chassis is a floor pan of sorts that not only gives the truck a more scale appearance but also provides tons of room for mounting electronics. Speaking of electronics, the SCX10 II's left floor pan has an integrated receiver box with a waterproof lid and grommets to keep your radio gear dry during those snow and rain drives. Sadly, the receiver box was a bit too shallow to accommodate our Spektrum receiver so we wound up having to leave the lid off anyway. Bummer.
Axial SCX10 II radio box
Axial SCX10 II transmission
The SCX10 II Jeep Cherokee kit that we are assembling comes with a set of 1.9" BFGoodrich T/A KO2 tires and Method Mesh wheels that really give this truck a mean stance. Screw on center caps are also included to hide the large axle nuts and to make it look a lot more like a real truck. Overall I really like the scale appearance of the wheels and tires though I wonder if the compound Axial chose for the tires is soft enough. Don't get me wrong, they're pretty flexible, they just don't have the soft gummy feeling of other tires I've tried.
Axial SCX10 II wheels and tires
Axial SCX10 II tires and wheels
Axial SCX10 II tire tread
Axial SCX10 II wheel center cap
Once the chassis is assembled, the the floor pans are bolted on and the axles are mounted, all there is left to do is to bolt those wheels and tires on and you've got yourself a roller!
Axial SCX10 II chassis
Axial SCX10 II chassis
Axial SCX10 II chassis side
Axial SCX10 II chassis top
Axial SCX10 II rear axle
Axial SCX10 II front axle
This version of the SCX10 II includes a gorgeous Jeep Cherokee XJ body that comes decked out with a scale roof rack, separate door handles and mirrors, a molded plastic front grill, and LED compatible lights. To further compliment the body, the SCX10 II comes with a set of molded front and rear bumpers that have locations for LED lights, tow hooks and even a scale tow hitch. Some have complained that the Cherokee body with all of its add-ons is too top heavy. Whether those complaints are warranted is yet to be seen but in my opinion that's just the price you pay if you want a really cooling looking scale crawler.
Axial SCX10 II rear bumper hitch
Axial SCX10 II tow hitch
Axial SCX10 II front bumper
Axial SCX10 II lights
Although the Cherokee body looks amazing, we recently painted up a sweet Pro-Line Jeep Wrangler body in our "How to Paint RC Car Bodies" tutorial that was just begging to be put on something cool. So for now the SCX10 II will be running the Wrangler body, but for those wondering we've got another cool build coming down the road that the Cherokee body should be perfect for. In the mean time, check out these pictures of our completed Axial SCX10 II!
Axial SCX10 II Build Pictures
Axial SCX10 II Jeep Wrangler
Axial SCX10 II Jeep Wrangler Body
Axial SCX10 II Body
Building the Axial SCX10 II
Axial SCX10 II RC Crawler Build
Axial SCX10 II Scale Crawler Build Pics
Axial SCX10 II
Axial SCX10 II
Axial SCX10 II Project
Axial SCX10 II A-Main Hobbies
A-Main Hobbies Axial SCX10 II Crawler
Axial SCX10 II Custom Body Paint
Axial SCX10 II vs Tamiya Jeep Wrangler
Tamiya Jeep Wrangler Axial SCX10 II
Axial SCX10 II Tamiya Jeep
With the SCX10 II finally assembled it was time to throw my set of el cheapo electronics in it and see what she could do! The first thing that became clear was that I was dead wrong on my first impression of the tires. At first I didn't think these tires would be flexible enough to get good traction on the trail but after some testing it seems that Axial's R35 compound is more than sticky enough to get the job done. The included set of foam inserts kept the sidewall just stiff enough that they didn't roll too much while still giving the flex needed to conform to rocky surfaces. Although I'd like to try a softer or cut set of foam inserts at some point, I'm really happy how the tires/inserts performed on the ice cold dry terrain and light snow I tried them on. A test in some deeper snow should be coming soon enough.
Axial SCX10 II scale crawling
Axial SCX10 II snow
Axial SCX10 II rock crawling
In the handling department the SCX10 II just shines. Axial's choice of shock pistons and spring rates give the truck a firm planted feel on uneven terrain while still providing an adequate amount of articulation for more serious crawling. The truck's updated steering geometry, which completely eliminated any noticeable bump steer, combined with the AR44's high turn angle universal joints, provide a massive amount of precise steering that helped me get through technical sections with ease.  At first I was surprised how much heavier the SCX10 II was than my old 1.9 converted AX10 but that additional weight actually helped the truck feel stable and balanced on even the toughest terrain.
Axial SCX10 II hill climb
A-Main Hobbies Logos
Axial SCX10 II Custom Paint Job
custom painted Axial SCX10 II
Axial SCX10 II
Axial SCX10 II
Axial SCX10 II rc crawler
Axial SCX10 II rc rc rc
Axial SCX10 II rc
After running the SCX10 II through a half dozen battery packs I'm happy to report that I haven't experienced any problems with the truck. Six runs may not sound like much but it was well before this point where the driveshafts on my AX10 grenaded themselves. Thankfully that hasn't been the case with the SCX10's Wildboar shafts. And the transmission that gave me some difficulty during the build has been trouble free ever since. All in all, Axial really did their homework when they were designing the SCX10 II and I can honestly say it's the best performing 1.9" crawler I've tried to date.
Axial SCX10 II rc truck
rc truck
Axial SCX10 II
Thanks for following along and thanks again to A-Main Hobbies for making it happen! Be sure to check out the video of this truck running and don't miss our article on SCX10 II budget upgrades.
Axial SCX10 II
Axial SCX10 II
Axial SCX10 II
Axial SCX10 II
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