TAMIYA TRF414 M2 The blue pioneer!

There are a lot of cars that have been important over the years, one of which is the Tamiya TRF414m2. It’s a classic for 2 reasons. It w...

There are a lot of cars that have been important over the years, one of which is the Tamiya TRF414m2. It’s a classic for 2 reasons. It was the chassis that gave Tamiya their first IFMAR 1/10 world championship, and secondly it was also the first kit to have the blue anodised aluminium which has become synonymous with the Tamiya Hop-ups for Tamiya.

First a bit of history.

Despite their success in the radio controlled kit market, by the late 90's Tamiya had concentrated on beginners kits and scale models. A pioneer in the industry, and accountable for starting RC racing in many different classes such as Off road with the SRB chassis and 1/10 Touring with their TA01 chassis kits. Tamiya seemed to be happy to let other develop competition based cars as as it concentrated on its diverse range of kits for scale enthusiasts and beginners.

However in 1998, Tamiya America realised that there are many benefits with having a strong role in the competitive side of RC and requested Tamiya Headquarters to develop a competitive machine in on-road high-end RC races. The goal was to re-establish the Tamiya brand amongst the large racing community, as well as to ensure that they were always at the cutting edge of chassis development.

At this time the largest area of competitive racing was the 1/10 electric on road touring class. So it made sense to focus on this area when beginning the drive to enter the world of competitive RC racing. Tamiya had always maintained a presence at most of the major events, however it was never a main focus of the company, so the cars were not as competitive when compared to products that other manufacturers were using at the time.

The project was promptly started and the goal was simple, to develop a competitive racing machine that could become a world leader. The project was assigned to the little known team TRF (Tamiya Racing Factory), which is a centre of excellence that consists of gifted RC designers and excellent drivers.

The Prototype, TRF404X

The first actual 404X prototype had blue bulkheads
For the initial design of the chassis, Tamiya decided to use the 2-belt double deck type that had been winning events at that time. They designed a wide range of new suspension arms, coupled with unique aluminium C-hubs and front and rear uprights. The suspension arms were also held with a resin and carbon plates that were mounted on the bulkheads. This gave them their base design and the TRF404X, the prototype of the TRF series, was born.

The TRF team entered many races worldwide with this chassis. Through these events they compiled heaps of data as they refined the car. With is data they started to improve the TRF404X incorporating all of the lessons learned from their racing activities. The TRF404X evolved and the TRF team were happy that they had quickly created a car that seemed to handle well and have great performance. So it was time to release a new version to a select few drivers.


This new version was designated the TRF414X. It was actually only released in the U.S.A and to other team drivers. It was very close to the prototype with bulkhead positions being the main change (along with the lower and upper decks).  Back in Japan the TRF team were very active at major races with the car, and they took 3rd place at the 24-Hour Endurance Touring Car Race and 9th place at the JMRCA All Japan Touring Car Championships. These excellent results gave the board at Tamiya more encouragement to develop the chassis, as they could see that it was starting to realise its potential.


Toward the end of 1999, the next iteration appeared and was eventually released in all domestic markets and it was called the TRF414. The challenge of creating a high calibre competition spec chassis was pushing the TRF team to consider the optimization of every component in the previous 404x, and their were many changes incorporated in this new car. The chassis weight was reduced by changing the material of front and rear uprights and hub-carriers from aluminium to plastic. The upper and lower decks had been changed for better symmetry to aid flex and to make it feel more balanced in corners.

The chassis was entered in many major races including the JMRCA All Japan Touring Car Championships. TRF also participated in various races and took 2nd place at the prestigious millennium Ready Race. However, they still didn’t have the world dominating chassis they wanted, so further improvements had to be made.

The TRF414M

The TRF teams development of the TRF414 ensured that all of their race data was providing them with lots of useful information when refining their car in all areas. The carbon decks were changed, the front and rear aluminium bulkheads were lightened and there were some component sharing with the TA04 series of cars with the differentials and centre gears.

This evolution really pushed the car further towards the top end of the racing competition. The TRF team took victories at the German CS Open 2001, the 2001 Hong Kong International Race, and the 2002 Yamayama Cup in Japan.

TRF414M2 The Pioneer

The TRF414M2 was a minor evolution of the previous car, the first to feature the Blue anodised aluminum components and with slightly changed bulkheads. The knowledge that was attained over all of these iterations, optimisation of components and acquiring some very talented drivers was about to lead to a significant event for Tamiya.

The 2002 IFMAR ISTC World championship

The World Championship took place in Mogale City in South Africa. Surikarn Chaidajsuriya and Masayuki Miura competed for Tamiya.
Surikarn who placed 3rd during qualification runs on May 17th and 18th managed to maintain his overall position after the first final round. In the 2nd round, more consistent driving earned him a 2nd place finish right behind his main opponent Barry Baker from the USA racing an Associated. Then, just after the start of the 3rd round, Surikarn, known for his cool nerve and uncanny focus, took the lead of the race after a brilliant start, overtaking Masami Hirosaka’s Yokomo on the first corner and then Barry Baker on the second. Both Baker and Hirosaka put pressure on Surikarn throughout the race, but did so to no avail. Surikarn had done it! TRF had achieved their goal and won the world championship!


Tamiya released a worlds edition of the car, it had the lightened bulkheads, a higher front roll bar (great for outdoors fast corners, although not for technical indoor circuits). It was a clone of the car that had raced in the championship.

A closer look TRF414M2

So light that it floats!
Here is my TRF414 m2. I used this after my TRF414X and 414 were retired, and it was used until the 415 came along.

Motor in the middle makes sense or does it?
One of the big things that you can notice with the TRF414 cars is that the layout is completely different to the Std touring cars we have now. The motor is mounted in the middle of the chassis and the batteries go laterally across.

The spur and pulleys need to be high to clear the battery

As you can see the main disadvantage of this layout is that the spur gear is mounted high to clear the battery, so their is a lot of rotational force and weight high in the chassis.

The belt was a problem so we just kept adding belt adjusters and raising them up higher as the batteries got slightly bigger. The issue is that the belt tension itself is only changed with these, unlike the TRF415 onwards were you could also adjust the tension by rotating the eccentric bearing holders. basically we ended up with the belt feeling a bit tight!

Lots of roll centre adjustments, just not very precise

The bulkheads are very thin and light, one of the reasons for this is that the upper links are mounted on the large carbon front and rear towers. This seems like a good idea but when you look at the holes there are not a lot of fine adjustments to be made here, and that fine adjustment of roll centres can really help.

Font bulkhead, look how slim it is!
The front bulkhead houses the one-way. These were de rigueur back in the day, and they gave you a massive advantage over the guys who ran differentials... as long as you were smooth. The front roll bar is the low type (I have the high one as well, but never really liked it).

You used to get a lot of aluminium for your money!
The rear bulkheads are the lightweight versions and as you can see they are a work of art. These were much lighter than the originals and they also changed the height of the motor slightly lower. One of the really poor things about the 414 was that the bearings were mounted in the bulkheads and you really couldn't get them out easily. Many of my original parts were cast away, sometimes you could get them out, but the bearing never seemed to set right after that.

Lots of turnbuckes
The suspension arms were first seen on the TBevoIII. There were no issues with breakages with these as they were very strong. They were a little heavy which is not great for suspension arms, so we compromised a little strength for less responsive suspension. The steering system was the same for all of the TRF414 cars (Infact the first few 415's also had the same carbon steering bridge). It was smooth, but ackermann was only able to be adjusted on the hubs.

Most of the competitors were used to seeing the back of this car ;)
So there you have it. A car that I think is a classic, and one that has set Tamiya on a path to developing the strongest 1/10 on road racing team. 
TRF414 7111143983159827075

Post a Comment

  1. such a great work....

  2. i beleive this is still the best chassis layout. see my blog, i am driving a Kawada Sv-10 Alcyon II Ultimate today and it still handles as great as todays cars.



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