NISSAN Hardbody mini truck

next level

micro  lowriders

Next Level mini truck, Akihabara Tokyo.

specs & features

  • 1/20 scale 1993 Nissan King Cab by Lindberg

  • Full working suspension controlled by 3 micro servo's

  • Micro drive motor, drive train, U-joints and working rear axle

  • Working 5 stage aluminum Z-rack powered by 5 micro servo's

  • MP3 and speaker setup

  • RC controlled lights including signal, parking and brake lights.

  • Custom made 15" wire wheels with stretched tires

  • Custom paintjob by Francisco Pancho Barron

Mission Impossible?

I have build 1/25 scale bed dancing mini trucks before but the plan for this 1/20 scale Nissan King Cab mini truck is to take it to the next level.
Creating a full function RC mini truck bed dancer with working Z-rack, MP3 player and lights was my mission.
As usual I spend a lot of time behind the computer searching for photo's and videos figuring out the design and functionality as well as looking for usefull parts.

scale mini truck side lifted bed
RC model truck rear view laying low
scale rc mini truck painted hood
rc mini truck rear view tilted bed
scale RC bed dancer front lights on
Starting out

In 2006 my good friend the late Brian Archuletta send me this Lindberg 1993 Nissan extra cab mini truck kit.
I started out creating the Z-rack using styrene plastic and went with a configuration that enabled the bed to tilt side ways and lift it to an impressive height.
It proved that the styrene rack had too much flex so I used aluminum sheet metal instead and cut the individual stages. 
I wrapped the chassis to reinforce and make it stiff enough using sturdy styrene sheet material.

polystyrene z rack on the mini truck
When I started out building this Z rack beddancing mini truck I used a 1.5mm styrene sheet, tubing and flat bar. It proved to be to flexible and not ideal to rock the bed.
folded out polystyrene z rack
Creating the polystyrene z rach wasn't a complete waste of time at least I had a good template to work from creating the aluminum version.
jig saw cutting the z rack stages
I used a jig saw to cut the four different stages out of 1.5mm aluminum sheet material. Aluminum is light weight and super stiff which makes it the ideal material to create the stages for the z rack.
aluminum z rack with cylinder
Downside is that you can't solder alu part together so I had to use super gleu to mount the tube hinges.
mock up of the z rack bed setup
Here's the z rack all put together with cylinders mounted and hooked up to the servos that sit behind the front seats in the cabine.
lifted 4 stage mini truck bed
Tghis is the first version of the truck bed fitted with "hydraulic" cylinders to make it lift and rock side ways.
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"Hydraulic" Cylinders

For this mini truck beddancer I created realistic looking hydraulic cylinders in combination with a strong fishing line tht runs through steel spring tubing.
I used aluminum tubing with a rivet on the end to make sure the braided fishing line  runs smooth and lasts a long time.

For the cylinder's I didn't want to go with micro servos mounted to the individual stages of the rack so it took four more years before the coin dropped on how to create working cylinders after seeing one of Marcos Lopes A-arm hopper cars.

To create the ram I used a paperclip and glued the fishing line to the end that sits inside the cylinder. 
The 1.5mm spring tubing is made by Japanese Wave Company called A-Spring. The fishing line runs through the spring tubing to the micro servo where the line is attached to the servo's arm.
When the servo's arm turns 180 degrees the line pulls the ram out of cylinder.

fake hydraulic cylinders
Alluminum tubing, a rivet and spring tubing to create the cylinder.
Cylinder ram
Ä piece of paperclip with the end made flat and Spider wire fishing line glued on.
fake hydraulic cylinder and ram
I used a piece of styrene for my first cylinder with a rivet inside to make sure the line runs smooth.
assambled styrene hydraulic
The Spider wire fishing line runs through the spring tubing over the edge of the rivet and inside the cylinder.
assambled hydraulic cylinder
Spring tubing running on the outside of the cylinder toward the top where it meets the rivet.
Hydraulic cylinder styrene
The cylinder with ram retracted.
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Drivetrain & Suspension

Next step was to get this Nissan Hardbody mini truck on the road adding a 10:1 ratio micro gear motor, drive train and working rear axle.
I used the kits rear axle housing and installed a slot car crown and pinion gear. The U-joints I found in Japan and are used on HO model trains, the size is perfect and they work flawless.

Instead of trailing arms I went with an original one leaf spring setup made from thin steel and brackets  and shackles made of brass and aluminum.

The front suspension consists of a brass bar with spindles and micro servo placed in the middle that slides up and down in the shaft that is mounted on the chassis. It's a pretty basic setup but it works flawless and never let me down so far.

Drive train and gears
I used the original rear axle that came with the kit and added brass tubing for the axle to run through.I ordered the smallest Scale trix gear and pinion I could find and they fit perfect inside the pumpkin.
Universal joint and gear housing
The universal joint I bought at a model train store in Japan. The two parts snap together and are made out of tough plastic.
Assambled rear axle with drive shaft
Before I installed the rear axle I did a test to see if the U-joints worked well enough under different angles. The mini truck is powered by a N20 gear motor with 10:1 gear ratio running at 5V.
Gear motor mounted and drive shaft
I soldered a brass strip on the N20 gear motor and mounted it on the chassis with tiny screws.
U-bar front suspension with steering
I wanted to create a basic, hassle free front suspension using a U-bar slider. In the center I mounted an ultra micro servo for steering.
U-bar slider in shaft
Four strips of styrene keeps the front suspension in place and it can freely slide up and down. There's enough room for the ultra micro servo to move around so that the mini truck can go side to side.
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This mini truck has so many working features that it was a huge challenge to pack everything inside and around the cabine area. 
I used an Turnigy 8 channel receiver, removed the casing and all the parts that weren't absolutley necessary. The mini truck has well over 10 functions so I added a RC switch to switch from suspension mode to bed dancing mode both setting have overlapping functions.

A tiny USB stick sized MP3 player was added and connected to a amplifier and micro bass speaker that fits under the dashboard. Four tiny button on the center consule operate all the MP3 players functions.

In the end all the parts fit together and the system is powered by a 3.7V 1000Mah Lipo Battery.
A micro voltage booster is used to squeeze 5V out of the 3.7 lipoly battery so the servos get more power and work faster.

Nissan mini truck chassis with parts
It's essential to create mockups to see how everything fits, what works and what not.
Turnigy 9X receiver made smaller
The Turnigy 9X receiver is way too big so I removed the casing, connections and cut 15mm of the circuitboard.
Nissan minin truck painted by Pancho
After I received the body back from Pancho Barron I started assambling all the parts and MP3 player components.
Modified MP3 USB stick
I used a cheap USB MP3 player, removed the casing and added a micro amplifier.
Mini truck model dash MP3 player
The MP3 player and micro amplifier fit perfect under/ inside the dashboard.
Mini truck model servos
An array of 5 micro servo's control the Z-rack and rear suspension.
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