Tamiya TRF417 v5 Build and Review

The TRF417v5 was released at the end of 2012. It is the latest in the line of successful Tamiya TRF touring cars, that have managed to make ...

The TRF417v5 was released at the end of 2012. It is the latest in the line of successful Tamiya TRF touring cars, that have managed to make Team TRF the most successful 1/10 onroad chassis. They are renouned for their great build quality and exceptional speed and reliability. There are lots of other great cars out there nowadays so can Tamiya keep ahead of the competition?

Sasha Involv3r to play in the background whilst building
The 417v5 is a copy of the 2012 IFMAR winning TRF car that Jilles Groskamp expertly drove to claim the title! A popular win as Jilles is a very well liked and respected driver, and the move he made to claim the prize was really bold allowing him to claim the title by a split second.. Here is a fantastic 25min video covering the worlds. You should really take a look at this when you have time.

So you have this car, will it help you become a winner like Jilles? Lets take a closer look

The TRF417v5 is the third revision of the TRF417, the main changes are 
  • Floating servo mount for more even chassis flex
  • New chassis, different flex characteristics with less cut-outs, and also more narrow to help corner speed.
  • New Bulkheads (1mm higher)
  • New Motor mount (keyed into chassis to avoid Tweak).
  • New Top Deck with less fixing points to change the flex characteristics

I got the car from Fusion Hobbies. No worries about import Tax and UK based service is always a winner when investing in an expensive car. So as normal with Fusion it was delivered to me in no time with no hassle :)

The box is pretty nice, capturing Photos of the IFMAR event with pictures of Jilles on the box, but its what's inside that counts so I quickly opened it up to take a look.

Getting familiar with the kit
As you open the box, you get all of the parts bagged up and a quick inspection soon makes you realise why TRF kits are so well regarded, the finish on the carbon and the aluminium components are spot on and the Manual is clear and concise as you would expect from Tamiya.

For the Build you will need
  • 1.5mm hex driver
  • 2.00 Hex driver
  • Long nose pliers
  • 5mm Nut Wrench
  • Superglue

Stage One - Preparing the carbon

If you are a club racer you really need to glue the edges of the carbon parts to stop the carbon delaminating. The simple thing to do here is to get cotton buds and dip that in a pot of superglue and then rub it along the edge of the carbon part. This helps give a nice shiny look to the carbon edge with very little effort, and it also makes this job pretty quick to do.

I don't prep everything just the following
  • Lowerdeck - Outer edge only
  • Top Deck - No Prep
  • Front Tower - Outer edge only
  • Rear Tower - Outer edge only
  • Bumper mount - Outer edge only

Flex is king?

Some people argue that adding CA glue to the chassis can affect the flex characteristics. Personally as a club racer I think the effect will be minimal (if any) especially if you follow the above method to treat your chassis. I have seen people go crazy and even treat screw holes, that will likely effect the chassis characteristics.

Stage Two - Diff

Whilst the glue is drying we need to build the diff. The v5 has a diff in the rear that you can fill with silicon oil. I use 900 weight oil (included) for a free running rear diff. The 417v5 has new diff out-drives that now allow you to fit 3.5mm blades, a nice improvement to give more long term reliability for the drive shafts and will reduce the potential wear on the diff outdrives

TIP - Making a perfect Gear Diff

After racing with a gear diff for some time there are some tips and tricks that you can use to build a very good Tamiya Gear diff that is smooth, leak free and will last for a very long time between servicing.

Here is what you will need:

  • Tamiya 54428 Steel Bevel Gears (although the plastic ones are ok if you dont over sand them)
  • Tamiya 42259 Gear Diff 5mm O-ring (red, 8pcs) or Kyosho ORG05 o-rings
  • TDX AC16003 Smart Shim for Tamiya Gear Diff. 0.3mm (Although the new Tamiya ones are fine)
  • Associated Green slime

First up, place a little green slime in both sides where the internal o-Rings go.

then pop in the O-ring.

Pop a little more Green slime on and then fit the shims

I find that I only need one TDX shim on each side when fitting the steel gears.

Then pop on the gasket, again I use green slime on this, and then push the gasket on over it. You want to make sure that it reaches the screw holes.

Fit the metal gears. These are fantastic, they are the correct size, no sanding required and they will last a very long time before they wear out.

Once you have installed the gears its time to fill the diff with oil, I fill it until the oil floods over the main set of gears. I then let it rest for a while for air to come out and then top it up to this level again if needed.

Now I screw it together, take your time and screw the opposite corners in turn to ensure you dont warp the case. Take care not to screw it too tight at first, once all 4 screws are in and seated in the case then do half turns, again with screws in opposite sides until the screws feel nice and tight.

Here is the final result, a smooth ultra reliable gear diff.

Whilst I'm at this stage I also fit the bearings and their belt tension adjusters (That I sand down a little)

Stage 3 - Rear bulkheads Motor mount and spur assembly.

The TRF417v5 has new bulkheads that are 1mm higher than the earlier cars.

There is also a new motor mount, these are now have pegs that key into the chassis to reduce tweak. This new motor mount is also 1mm higher.

I assembled them to the chassis, I did fit the one part suspension mount instead of my usual split blocks as the extra flex that the V5 has at the rear of the car may be too much for me so I will have the kit part installed at first to keep the rear stiffer, it all fits together beautifully.

I then just fitted the diff and the rear belt. I used the kit settings for the belt tension.

Next up, time to fit the spur, just follow the manual and take care when fitting the C clip.

Sitting pretty, in the mount, use this stage before you have the front assembly and belt fitted to check it spins freely and it will be shimmed correctly.

Stage 4 - Front bulkheads and spool.

Like the other 417's the front and rear bulkheads are identical, so install these. I also fitted the split front suspension mounts to allow the most amount of flex at the front for the steering.

Now it's time to build the spool. The 417v5 has new steel spool out-drives, there are pros and cons to metal out-drives, personally I am ok with them, but I don't run a spool very often, I usually run a 500k gear diff.

The rest of the spool fits together nice and easily

Now just fit the spool and the front belt. The manual now shows a belt tightness setting that myself and others usually run, just tightening the front belt a notch to ensure its slightly tighter than the rear belt. This gives better drive out of a corner, ensuring the rear end stays more stable and is less likely to step out.

Stage 5 - Steering Assembly

Take your time here, shim it correctly so its smooth but there is no vertical movement, otherwise you will introduce a fair bit of slop in your steering.

Stage 6 - Fitting the Top Deck

The top deck is a new shape, allowing even more flex, especially at the rear. The new top deck allows you to only fit 2 screws as opposed to 4 in the rear motor mount, again giving the rear of this car more flex.

Looking good now.. its taking shape

Stage 7- Rear arms and Driveshafts

The TRF417v5 uses the same suspension components as the earlier 417's. Tamiyas suspension geometry is still first class, and other manufacturers are eventually catching up.

I used the hard fluorine hex cups for the suspension balls as they have a hex head allowing me to remove them from the arms without popping off the shock, which can cause slop over time.

TIP - Some people ream out the arms when building so the arm moves freely around the hinge-pin. This is not the way to build TRF's, it just creates slop. You need to fit the hinge-pins in the arm and then ensure it moves freely once you have mounted the pivot balls and fitted the arms in the suspension blocks. This gives you a much more precise handling car (with less service intervals). TRF factory drivers will never ream out the arms.
TIPS - When placing the shims on the suspension arms there is a 0.5mm x 0.3mm shim. If your arms bind when fitting, DO NOT shave the arms as per the instructions, instead just use 0.1 x 3mm shims until there is no slop and the arms move smoothly. Shaving arms ruins you suspension geometry as no two arms are the same if you shave them.

The rear shafts fit together well, just ensure that you fit the retaining clip on the wheel axles the correct way around as per the manual, otherwise you could pop the pin out, and the whole shaft will just fall to bits stopping your race early. The design on these are amazing, much more reliable than the grub screw versions, I have never seen a Tamiya one fail.. excellent.

Just assembled and now check the rear arms drop down under their own weight, and also rest at the same place.

Stage 8- Front arms and Double cardan Joint drive shafts

Another easy stage, the arms fit easy, just check the shims are correct on the suspension pins so that they are able to freely fall under their own weight but with no slop.

Then its time to build the Double Cardan Joint drive shafts. These are almost essential for most racers if you want to run a spool at the front of the car they will ensure that the car doesn't chatter when the steering is at full lock.

Having these included in the kit is a great bonus, and if you add the price of the equivalent X-ray ones to the T4 Kit the Tamiya actually works out to be pretty much the same price.

They go together really well, they have the same basic method as the std drive shafts, so CHECK that you mount the retaining spring clip the correct way around. If you dont, you could have a mini disaster as the clip can be pulled out leading to a failure.

Stage 9 - Anti - Roll bars

A nice easy thing to do, there is an article on this Blog about how to set-up your anti-roll bars so follow that and you will be sweet. I fitted the kit supplied ones (Medium front, Soft Rear) again as I am keen to test the stock settings, although I found the 417 to handle much better with a hard roll bar at the front.
Getting there now

Stage 10 - Aeration shocks

One of the noticable things about the V5 is that it doesnt come with the classic TRF shocks, but instead comes with a set of TRF Aeration dampers.

The main defining characteristic of these dampers is that they do not have a bladder, and instead they have a cap with a bleed hole. This allows you to build a set of shocks with full negative rebound.  I wont go into the details of this, but negative rebound can at times help give you more grip if the tyres are not working (Or in Jilles case, when running no additive in the worlds).

Now its time to build the shocks, they go together really easily, and the Tamiya quality shines through in the build as all of the components are perfectly machined.

Now its time to fill them with oil, and have a cup off tea.

If you want to build them as per the instructions you need to drill a hole in the cap and then fill the shock. Once you attach the cap you can then bleed the surplus oil out and then fit the screw in the bleed hole to stop the rest of the oil escaping.

I like my shocks to have zero rebound, and you can make these shocks easily work for this set-up. Once the oil has settled, dont drill out the caps. Move the shaft to the top and then attach the cap. This will give you some very reliable shocks that have zero rebound and can make the car work really well in mid / high grip situations. 

I went for this method, although I did fit the screws in the cap as I know I will loose them otherwise ;)


Stage 11 - Shock Towers

The V5 uses 3.5mm thick towers, and it also has a few more suspension settings on the tower. The car also comes with some new fittings for the TRF Aeration shocks (The buggy ones were plastic).

Stage 12 - Floating suspension mount

One of the key features of the V5 is the floating servo mount. The idea behind this is to allow the chassis to flex evenly on both sides. The Tamiya part is a nice large piece of blue bling. It has 2 screws and a mounting peg (Not on the prototype that I have on my spare car). The mount is tight to fit into the chassis due to the peg (It needs to be otherwise it will move on impact). I found using a dab of grease on the peg and incrementally tightening both screws made the mount fit flat and firm.

The servo mount also acts as a battery retainer, You need to shim it out and add a screw to ensure the battery will not rub the front belt.

There is no rear battery retainer to stop the battery moving across onto the belt in a collision. This is because most team drivers would mount their weights there, both ensuring the car was up to weight and ensuring the battery is unable to hit the belt.

Step 13 Battery mounts / Wheels

Just time to fit the wheels and the battery retainers. Gone are the L-shaped mounts from the 417 and 417X and now its time to fit the batteries like the team drivers. The previous mounts did seem to put weight were you wont want it so this simple method is better. Just 2 servo mounts with a shim raising them up, and a screw in the front mount to help keep the battery from moving forward.

Make sure you leave a 1-2 mm space for the battery, making it tight will ruin the chassis flex, and can cause the screw to potentially crack the lipo case in a heavy collision

Test Drive

The car was all set up for 17.5 blinky and its first race outing. It was fitted with a Hobbywing Justock and a speed passion V3 17.5t motor. I was going to test it at Stockport RC club racing on low grip carpet.

I managed a few laps practice and the car handled really well straight out of the box. I was concerned that the shocks might make it feel a little too grippy but the car was planted but with a dab of brake I could get it rotating well.

I raced the first race without making any set-up changes, the car was a little slippery on the corners compared to the practice, although the other racers were also suffering for grip.

for the second race I just added a touch more camber all round (0.5 degrees), and the car was much better. I got out to the front and stayed there. Even more impressive as I was running a 17.5 motor and the rest of the field were on a 13.5. The car was really predictable, I was able to hit the apex consistently. Unfortunately the carpet raised on one part of the track making the apex on the fast corner a ramp so I had to go wide, taking a slight hit on my lap times. The car was amazing, it just went where I wanted and the 5 minutes were some of the most satisfying of my entire RC racing life. I had a massive smile on my face and really felt like the car was an extension of myself.

maybe the other racers should get used to seeing the back of the car?
For the last race I kept the settings and decided to not run additive as the grip had come up quite high.

The car was flying, I was on for the FTD however the carpet raised in a different place making me launch into the air and loose my lead. I quickly recovered however and caught up with the leading car. Unfortunately a tussle along the straight (Must have been an wonky steering column in the orange car, that made it wander across and ram into the side of my car) put me up and over the barrier so I sat there for 2 laps as a Marshall hunted for my car before popping it back on the track. That's racing, and proof of the strength of the car that after hitting a brick wall at top speed, it just rejoined the track and raced to the finish line.

The important thing was the car was flying. I got fastest lap and if 'racing incidents' hadn't occurred I could have got FTD, fantastic!


Tamiya TRF are great cars, and the TRF417v5 continues that tradition. It is not the cheapest car out there but it comes with all the option parts you need to storm to the A-Final (Assuming you have the thumbs to match). The car has excellent build quality and it is very tough and reliable. Corner speed is improved over the 417, and so is the overall 'planted' feel of the car.

The main thing is that I love racing it, I did dally with the idea of racing a T4 but the V5 really suits my driving style and the set-up window is larger than the earlier cars making it easier for more racers to get the car quickly responding to their driving style.

A fantastic car that really deserves an A Star rating

You can buy the car here from Fusion hobbies in the UK

trf 2397187271732605596

Post a Comment

  1. Thanks for all the tips, great post.

  2. Hey i was wondering if you could give me a list of the option parts you used in this build, and also what size of spur did you use for your 17.5 setup?


  3. Hi,

    I used the Square Titanium screw set for TRF417v5, and I also used Tamiya Blue aluminium screws for the top deck etc.

    The only other option parts I used were the Flourine coated ball ends.

    All of the above are not essential, I just like a light car, and the ball ends dont seem to wear as much.

    For gearing I used 101t spur and 49t pinion

    1. ahh thanks for your insight, i am doing a blink 17.5 build too, do you usually use front diff or just spool?

    2. It depends on the track. If its large then a spool, smaller and tighter then a spool with 500K or 300k in it



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