Recently I’ve been selling off a big part of my collection. I’ve sold my buggy, a bunch of bodyshells and a lot of other stuff. This meant I had room left in the budget for a new car, and I knew exactly what I wanted. The new 3Racing Sakura D3! Here’s a build report on it, but beware.. Its a bit different than you might think!
Let me explain why I chose the Sakura D3. First there’s the price, obviously! I paid only 126$ USD to get the kit to my doorstep. This is probably the cheapest car you can get right now that’s worth having, even a Tamiya TT01 is more expensive. Second, I needed a new racing chassis. Yes, you read that correctly, a racing chassis.. Not a drift chassis! In October last year I’ve joined my local RC car club and since then I’ve been racing touringcars every thursday night. Not only is it a lot of fun, but it is a perfect way to keep up your skills and learn about chassis setups. I’ve been using a friends Tamiya FF03 all that time and I fell in love with the way a front wheel drive touringcar handles. Its very different from a normal 4wd touringcar that everyone is used to these days, maybe even a bit slower aswell, but the handling is so much fun and realistic. You have lift off oversteer, cornering on 3 wheels, massive understeer at times, torquesteer and all that you would get from a full size FWD track car. Now, back to my original point. I needed a FWD touringcar; There’s not that much choice these days. Tamiya has the FF03 in 3 different guises, 3Racing has the Sakura FF, T.O.P. has the Sabre I and II, and Serpent has the F411. Besides the stock Tamiya FF03 all of them are pretty expensive and to be honest, all the carbon and alloy and other fancy racing bits won’t help me much on the very low grip track I drive on. I wanted something cheap and different. This is where my eye caught the Sakura D3. The layout is perfect, motor in the front, the battery just in front of the rear axle and as a bonus its belt drive. So here’s my build report on converting a drift specific chassis to a racing chassis.
When I unpacked the box I found a nice surprise, a decalsheet. Not really sure what the deal is with the Sanwa logo’s on it, but thats alright as I’m using a Sanwa servo in the car. I don’t understand why the cheap sets like this and the MST have decals, and the expensive high end chassis’ like my Yokomo DRB don’t. Take note drift chassis manufactures! You can also see the manual here, which is pretty damn good. Almost up to Tamiya spec. I will be building this car following the manual at first so I can show you what it would be like to build it as a drift car.
The first thing I would like to recommend when building this kit is to get some very good quality tools. The plastic used is very tough, so unless you have pre-threaded all the tools with a M3 tap, you will have to use a lot of force to get the screws in the first time. With cheap or worn hex drivers I am sure you will strip some screws and your hex bit during the build. Start prepared!
The next thing I want to warn you about is to check ALL plastic parts for mold release residue, as there’s a lot of it on all parts. Keep your hobbyknife close during the build. On moving parts this might even cause the car to break!
Time to start the build. The first step is to attach the suspesionarms to the main chassis. I already have something negative to say, but please stay with me to the end of the build. The rear suspensionmounts are under a lot of tension when you mount them due to the 3.5 degrees of toe-in it has. It might be a good idea to upgrade to aluminium suspensionmounts, but the arms can move freely and there’s no excessive slop… So we’ll see how they hold up when I drive this thing. Also, the stock setting for the droopscrews is way too much, instead of 2mm that the manual says, set them to 0.5 or 1mm. It will be a much better setting to start from. The main chassis deck has a lot of flex in it, which is good as it will make the car feel grippy and make it fast.
In step 1 I left out the belt tensioner as I won’t be needing the rear belt. No remarks on the belt tensioner though, looks like it will work well.
Next are step 2, 3 and 4. Step 2 is installing the steering arms, which remind me of OTA-R31 parts. They come with ball bearings from stock, which is pretty nice. A nice and cheap upgrade might be to replace the center link with a turnbuckle. It will resolve the little bit of slop that in the steering and it will give you more adjustibility for ackermann and toe. Step 3 and 4 are installing the lower bulkheads and diffs. The car comes stock with 2 spools which is alright for the beginner, but if you have some more experience its a good idea to replace the front spool with a oneway or maybe a balldiff from a Sakura FF which I think might fit. Remember to look for mold release residue. I found some on the spool outdrives which I needed to remove to fit them properly. Mounting the bulkheads is pretty straight forward. The design is quite nice with cam tensioners that can be secured with a screw. Much easier to see in what setting you have the cam tensioners compared to the Yokomo DRB/DIB or Tamiya VDF.
There’s no thread lock included in the kit unfortunatly. Make sure you use some on the screws that hold the pulley onto the spool, and make sure you have the right threadlock; Loctite blue or Tamiya works.
Here’s a picture with the diff installed. I found that the stock setting on the cam tensioner was no good as the belt was too loose. Set it for 1 step tighter than stock and it will be fine. Obviously I left out the rear belt and diff as I won’t need it. The rear diff comes with a 30t pulley while the front has a 38t. This is because the car comes stock with 47% overdrive, or a CS ratio of 1.47.
Step 5 is the upperdeck and rear center shaft holder. Mounting the upperdeck is again very straight forward except for the rear. You need to screw it on from the underside, trough 4 big holes in the main chassis. As I’m not using the rear center shaft I replaced it with 4 shims and locknuts.
In step 6 you need to assemble all the centerpulleys, centershafts and the spurgear. The centershaft on the Sakura is a 4mm shaft just like most Tamiya’s, Yokomo’s etc., so you could use centerpulleys from them. 3racing sells a whole range of plastic and aluminium pulleys for the Sakura aswell, so you will be able to get almost every CS ratio you want. If you plan on taking the car apart a lot I suggest you get the aluminium pulleys as the stock pulleys are mounted with roll pins you need to hammer into the pulley and not with grubscrews or a normal pin like other drift chassis’. If you just want to leave the car somewhat stock its fine to just use the stock pulleys. Remember to look carefully at the manual when assembling the front center shaft, as the spurgear uses a normal pin and not a rollpin. I made the mistake myself too! I also found that there’s a little bit of slop on the centershafts. There’s a few 0.3mm M4 shims included, but it might be a good idea to order a few extra M4 shims if you are a bit OCD like me.
I left out all the rear belts and pulleys here and changed the spur to a Xenon 77t spur instead of the stock 80t. Eventually I will change it to a 75, but that spur is still traveling somewhere between HongKong and here. The stock spur is a 48dp 80t which if fine for drifting. Its also the biggest size you can run as the spur is very close to the diff outdrive. Make sure you order a pinion when you order the car, as there’s no pinion included in the kit.
The upperbulkheads and shocktowers are next in step 7. Only one thing stood out in this step of the build and thats the ridiculously stupid design for the front upper bulkheads. Its hard to describe in words how it is, but I’ll give it a try. The front shocktower and upper bulkheads are held in place with the same 4 long screws, which are secured in the motormount. But instead of screwing them into the plastic of the motormount, there’s 4 slots in the motormount where you need to put a small M3 nut which holds the screw for the shocktower and bulkhead in place. Not only does this feel like over engineering, but it also is a royal pain in the *ss to put the 2 right M3 nuts in place as the centerpulleys, rear belt and spurgear are blocking the slots. I hope you understand what I meant with all this.. If not, here’s a picture of the situation to help:
Another thing I found out here is that the front shocktower flexes quite a bit. This is no reason for panic when you use the car for drifting, not at all. But when you’re racing and using much stiffer springs it might be. Time will tell how well it holds up. There’s a carbonfibre shocktower available as a hopup so I’m good even when it breaks.
By now it is really starting to look like a car. Step 8 will almost finish the car even, as this is where you’ll be adding the knuckles, drive shafts and camber links. First up are the camber links, and all I can say is that if you have a ballend wrench.. use it! The ballends are very tough, which is a good thing for the handling and durability of the car, but not for your hands when building the car. I’m not sure on the camber and steering toe angles that you get when using the specs in the manual, but there’s a turnbuckle wrench included in the kit so you can adjust it quickly to your preferred settings. When you attach the camber links to the chassis remember to always use the right hand threaded side of the links on the right side, and the left hand threaded on the left for convenience.
Next up knuckles and CVD’s. The car comes stock with 44mm CVD’s that are the same as Tamiya VDF or Yokomo DRB CVD’s, and just like those it uses 1050 bearings in the knuckles. The CVD’s come pre-assembled and lubricated which is good. I still took them apart to add a tiny bit of threadlock to the grubscrews, just in case. The bearings also come pre-oiled but the oil in them is a little bit too thick as with most pre-oiled bearings. They will run smoothly so its not necessary to change the oil, but if you have some proper thin bearing oil.. why not right?
Attaching the hubs to the arms was a bit of a problem. The hubs were not moving freely, so I had to sand the arms a little bit for them to fit. Don’t overdo it or you will have slop, which also isn’t good. Take a fine grit sandpaper like 320 and make a small sanding block from popsicle sticks and sand just enough for the hubs to move freely in the arms. The front arms were better than the rear by the way.
Once the sanding was done and the hubs fitted properly I discovered something I really likes on the Sakura. The kingpins are kept in place in the hubs/arms by a grubscrew, but unlike Tamiya for example there’s not a flat spot on the kingpin but a slotted groove that falls over the grubscew. Hard to explain again, but once you are building a Sakura D3, S, XI or FF you will see what I mean and like it just as much as me. Its not the most important part of the car, but it shows that the engineers at 3Racing are creative and not just copying other cars. They are really making an effort!
Right, on to the dampers. A quick tip, if you don’t have a damperstand like me.. Just punch a few holes in a cardboard box. DIY damperstand! The dampers on the Sakura are essentially Tamiya TRF copies, but with plastic cilinders and their own pistons. The shafts are also normal steel, not low friction titaniums. I was a bit worried about the plastic cilinders, but I’ve been reading nothing but positive things about them on RCtech and other forums so I guess they are alright. You get a choice between 2 and 3 hole pistons, and there’s also some damper oil included. Following the manual there should be #1200 oil up front and #300 in the rear. I’m sure that this will be a good base to start your setup from. I didn’t use it though, and went for MuchMore #400 up front and MuchMore #300 in the rear with the 3 hole pistons.
I also ditched the stock springs in favor for some Tamiya TRF springs. Blue (hard) on the front, yellow (medium) on the rear which was basicly my setting from the FF03 I have been racing all winter. I went with full rebound on this thing as a base setup.
Something I noticed when screwing on the ballends on the dampers was that one of the dampershafts is different from the other three. Check for it on your kit to make sure all 4 of your dampers are an equal length.
As you can see I mounted the dampers a bit different than the manual suggests. The Sakura D3 comes with different front arms than the Sakura S, and it has the mounting points for the dampers way further inwards which makes the front suspension really soft. Good for drifting, not for racing so I changed it. Stock geometry on the right, racing geometry on the left.
Last but not least the frontbumper, bodyposts and electrics are screwed in place. Following the manual I started with the servo. For this car I have a Sanwa SDX-801 low profile servo which is pretty fast and also very durable which is needed as this car will get a good beating every week. The kit comes with a servosaver like the hightorque from Tamiya. A pain in the ass to put together, but very strong and with no slop in it. Included is both a 25t and 23t adapter for the servosaver so you can use almost all servo brands. The only one I can think of now you can not use is HiTec, but I’m sure a 24t adapter from Tamiya will fit. If you are going to use the stock servomounts make sure to thread them first with an M3 tap as the plastic is super tough. I snapped my servocase trying to screw the servomount onto the chassis. You’ve been warned!
Next up is the front bumper, which is the same as the Sakura FF bumper. Don’t forget to cut off the excess foam from the bumper as the manual suggests. Its quickly overlooked and you will be wondering why the bumper doesn’t fit properly. A tip from me is to add a little CA glue to keep the little M3 nut in place in the bumper as it will pop out and you can’t reach it with a motor installed in the car. To make it a bit nicer I flipped the bumperholder upsidedown so you don’t need the hopup aluminium bumperholder to get a smooth look.
Add the bodyposts, and step 10 and 11 are done!
The last step in the manual is adding the wheels and diffuser. I didn’t fit the diffuser though, as I think its ugly and only adds weight. If its weight I want, I’d rather control it myself by adding small lead weights instead. Plus there’s always someone on your local RC drift forum that does want it, so you can make a little money back to make the Sakura kit even cheaper!
So there you have it, a completed Sakura D3.. Or in my case, a Sakura F3. I’m sure I forgot to mention a few things and I also might have been writing way too much about unimportant things but I hope I gave a good impression of what to expect from the Sakura D3 kit. I have to be honest and say I have been nitpicking during the build and have complained about things most people won’t even pick up on. Other chassis’ from this price range have a lot more problems and I was very strict because even though the pricetag and the fact that it has a lot of plastic parts suggest this is an entry level chassis it can be compared to cars like the Tamiya VDF. Anyway, here’s a quick summary of the things that stuck out during the build:
– Both very nice and very stupid designs parts in the car.
– Very good quality materials, way better than any budget kit I’ve ever had.
– Hex screws!
– Very good manual, up to the same level as Tamiya manuals.
– Nice included extra’s like the decalset, wheels&tires, setupsheets in the back of the manual, extra damper pistons and a turnbuckle wrench.
– Sexy pink anodized aluminium.
– Well equiped; Comes with ballbearings, some aluminium parts, proper dampers, CS (47%), 10° caster C-hubs, lots of steering angle and almost everything adjustable.
– Strange setup from the manual. Set up for very hot and grippy tarmac according to the setupsheet. If you use different tires and a different type of track it might not work well right away and will need some tuning.
– Cheap spare parts and hopups.
Overall I am very impressed with this kit, even more than expected and I expected it to be good. Look at the list I’ve posted above and keep in mind that it is around the same price as a Tamiya TT01, which is an all plastic (crap quality plastic too) chassis with next to no adjustabilities. Even though I have not driven the car yet I can already highly recommend it if you are looking for a good drift chassis for not too much money and already have some rc-drifting experience. For a beginner this car might be too much to handle unless you have a friend or a local club where you can get advice on how to setup your car. It is a really nice kit, and except for maybe a oneway diff and some different springs and damper oil its all there ready for some serious drifting action. I am really hoping some of the pro drivers buy one of these 3Racings and show us the true potential of this kit!
In part 2 I will be showing you the mods I’ve done to convert this drift chassis to a front wheel drive racer. Stay tuned!