I have been a diehard RC enthusiast for over thirty years and I am still being constantly amazed by fellow hobbyist’s ingenuity and building ability to create completely unique one-off custom RC creations. With that said, there are rare times where I discover a vehicle that is a true standout and is nothing like I have ever seen before. This was definitely the case with Byron Townsend’s extraordinary, all-metal, scratch-built, 1941 Chevy Pickup Pro Street Truck.
Byron Townsend lives in Australia and at 23 years old, is already quite gifted with metal fabrication and welding. He started modifying RC vehicles back in 2010 when he decided to tweak the suspension on his 1/5-scale rock crawler which quickly escalated into transforming the truck into a King of the Hammers-style Jeep constructed of aluminum. Once this truck was completed he moved on to another 1/5-scale that was a replica of a full-size Nissan Patrol GQ off-road truck and again he used all aluminum.
Before his next build, Byron purchased a TIG welder and taught himself how to weld stainless steel. The first project was TIG welding 3/16 stainless steel tubing to create a roll cage for a 1/10-scale drift car. Although he found it to very difficult, he also discovered how much he liked the polished look of the stainless steel mixed with the beautiful discoloration of the metal around the welds he made.
These projects instilled in him valuable lessons on fabricating with metal. Like being able to predict how the metal will react to the heat from the welder. They also led Byron to outfit his workshop with some cool tools like a lathe, TIG welder, a bench mounted sheet metal nibbler, drill presses and a variety of hand tools.
Byron’s constant source of inspiration has been the full-size automotive world where he would draw upon different genres of automotive engineering and from motorsports to ignite his creative juices. Segments such as Off-Road Racing, Drifting, Hot Rods and especially events like King of the Hammers. It was when he discovered Hot Rodding and Pro Street-style drag cars that triggered the concept to build the truck you see here, a scratch-built, all-metal 1/10-scale 1941 Chevy Pickup truck.
BYRON’S BUILD GOALS:
Once Byron had the chassis and suspension figured out for this special truck, he began to brainstorm what the motor would be. He did not want a run-of-the-mill electric RC motor setup. It had to be unlike anything else out there and replicate a blown and injected big block V8 engine. His solution was downright ingenious.
After many sketches on paper the Triple Stack was born. Byron realized that he could build a motor plate in the shape of a V8 engine and then mount three HPI Firebolt 15T 540-size brushed motors to it. The ultra-cool part of this design was that he was able to incorporate a supercharger-style belt to run from the top motor while pinions are used on the lower two motors. The belt from the top motor spins a pulley that is attached directly to the spur gear and the pinions from the lower motors mesh with the spur gear which is mounted to an output shaft that runs out the back of the motor to drive the rear axle. Byron used Mod 1 steel cut gears with 19-tooth pinions and a 39-tooth spur gear. The pulleys that the belt rides on were all custom machined by Byron. The finished motor is very trick looking, especially with the faux blower mounted on top.
Following in the footsteps of a typical full-size Pro Street vehicle, Byron went with a 2WD drivetrain where just the rear wheels are driven by the electric motors. The all-metal axle was one of the items he did not fabricate and chose to simply pick up a billet aluminum SCX10 axle from Integy. It is attached to the chassis frame rails with a 4-link setup that is damped by aluminum-bodied, oil-filled shocks. Again, in keeping with the Pro Street theme, the front uses an I-Beam axle that was inspired by a 'Hot Rod' theme and used a perpendicular, inverted leaf spring for suspension.
The nice-looking, 5-hole wheels were machined from billet aluminum by Byron on his lathe. Just as you would find on a real Pro Street truck, Bryon gave the rear wheels a larger diameter and width. A standard rubber treaded tire is used for the front, but for the rear he gave the ’41 RC drift style wheels which he machined himself from Polypropylene plastic.
The electronics are nicely hidden out of sight on the custom ’41 Chevy. The box mounted at the rear of the chassis, which resembles a full-size fuel cell, stows two 2S 2200mAh LiPo battery packs which are wired in parallel to provide more runtime. Wiring can be hard to keep hidden especially when electronic components are positioned far from each other on a chassis. For Byron, this was a piece of cake and a beauty of his all-metal design. Since the frame rails are boxed structures, he was able to run the wires from the battery packs through the frame rails and to the speed controls located in the cab of the truck. And yes it is speed controls in plural; three HPI SC-15 speed controls, one for each motor. A bench style seat became the perfect spot to mount the bank of speed controls along with the receiver. All three speed controls are run from one channel on the receiver via a Y-connector. To provide cooling to the electronics in the bench seat structure, Byron added a series of cooling holes. The steering is actuated by a Towardpro servo to direct the front tires. It is mounted on the driver’s side floor with a turnbuckle link that connects to the steering arm for the wheels.
The stepside 1941 Chevy Pickup body is awesome-looking and is the feature that lets onlookers know immediately that this is a special RC truck. Byron hand hammered the entire body from .9 mild steel sheet metal and joined it all together with his TIG welder. He really nailed the look of the full-size ’41 Chevy, especially the front end with its recognizable giant front grille, fender mounted headlights and even the side intake vents for the engine compartment.
After four months of work the truck was completed. Byron told me that he feels he successfully met his goals and is very happy with the final results. When he set out to build this Pro Street-style truck, he wanted something that was really unique and to be something that would showcase his skills and passion for metalcraft. The TIG welder, the use of metal and Byron’s skill definitely gives his ’41 Chevy Pickup a very unique and timeless quality. It is no wonder that Byron calls his builds “Rolling Works of Art”.
Last edited by Paul Onorato; May 22, 2014 at 04:45 PM..
I am glad you guys really like Byron's build. I knew as soon as I saw it that I had to share it with you guys.
And 'Ute' is Australian for 'Utility Truck'.
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