Tamiya TRF415 guide, Mods, tuning and tips for racing

The Tamiya TRF415 was epic back in its day, and there is no reason why it cannot have a fighting chance on the track after all these years. 

The following is a comprehensive guide of the Tamiya TRF415. The goal is to provide details on spare parts to keep your TRF running. Importantly it will also offer ways to update the TRF415 and keep this classic TRF as competitive at the track. 

Like all of the guides here, it will be updated over time, so if you feel anything is missing, please contact me and we can ensure that it stays relevant. 


The TRF415 was a collaboration between Tamiya Japan and Tech Racing. Tech Racing had been making some interesting conversions for other manufacturers chassis at the time, along with releasing their own club level race cars.

Tech Racing My02 and TRF415
The Tech racing MY02 and the TRF415 share a lot of common design features. The main thing was that the layout was totally different to the high pulley layout of the TRF414. The dual belt layout would become the standard for all modern era touring cars. 

The TRF415 was a very successful chassis and over the years it was available it did evolve a great deal.  All versions of the chassis had the same bulkhead widths, but the height and some of the mounting positions did change quite a lot over time. 

There are several versions of the TRF415, let's take a look:

58320 - Tamiya TRF415

Released in Feb 2004 after a being extensively tested throughout 2003, the TRF415 heralded a totally new concept from the World championship winning TRF414. 

The original TRF415 had 3 top decks, one along the chassis and the other two for the front and rear stiffeners. This chassis was built in a time when flex was the anti-vision in car design, and the three decks, and 3mm lower deck ensured that this car was stiff. So stiff that many racers would remove the Side stiffeners when running outdoors on rubber tyres. For those of us that used to run foams, this chassis was epic.  (TRF415 Manual available here)

49349 - Tamiya TRF415MS 

This is the car that won the 2004 world championship. 

The significant changes were the introduction of the new Reversible lightweight suspension arms, providing more grip and better suspension response. Tamiya also included new shock towers that adorned blue TRF shocks. The TRF415ms had a thinner 2.5mm lower deck along with white low friction belts and a lightweight motor mount. (TRF415 MS Manual available here)

49381 - Tamiya TRF415 MSX

The TRF415 MSX released at the end of 2005 was one of the largest jumps in the development of the TRF415.

The chassis went from having the front and rear stiffeners, to having just one 2mm upper deck that was attached to a redesigned rear bulkhead. This rear bulkhead lowered the spur gear, and also moved the motor more inwards. The TRF415 MSX also had two piece detachable bulkheads, these ensured that maintenance was much easier. (TRF415 MSX manual available here)

49394 - Tamiya TRF415 MSX Marc Rheinard Edition

2006 gave us the excellent Marc Rheinard edition of the TRF415MSX. 

The drivetrain was Tamiya's first to come with a Spool at the front, and the centre direct pulley instead of the one-ways that would normally come with TRF cars. Marc always ran his TRF's in this  configuration. (As a note he won the worlds with his TRF415 MS running the front spook and direct centre pulley). 

The steering system was revised with a much better steering set-up. It was lower down and had an alloy steering bridge that provided more precise Ackermann adjustment.  (TRF415 MSX MRE Addendum manual here)

49419 - Tamiya TRF415 MSXX 

Released in 2007 the TRF415 MSXX reverted back to the front one way, and had a revised centre one-way pulley.

The lower deck was updated to use the newer bumper parts seen on the TB Evo V.. The 2mm upper deck was also revised, sporting a very flamboyant design with a deep front cut-out that helped calm the car down when running the twitchy one way set-up. (TRF 415 MSXX manual available here)

42104 - Tamiya TRF415 MSXX Marc Reinhard edition

This is sometimes referred to as the MSXX Reedy edition. This version was released in late 2007 to celebrate Marc Rheinard's successful winning spree including winning the 2007 Reedy Race. 

This is the final TRF415 chassis, and is very much the best example out there. It reverted back to the spool / direct centre pulley set-up. The 2mm upper deck was revised and provided a much more direct feel to the steering, that the spool demanded.  The other change was that the rear upper alloy brace was two separate parts, providing a little more rear flex and more grip. (TRF415 MSXX MRE manual addendum available here)

Fitting Modern electronics.

The TRF415 series is able to fit any modern 1/10 esc, motor and servo. The newer electrics are smaller so you have a lot of space to place the components and to work on setting the chassis balance. 

Another area where modern electronics can help improve the performance in that you can install one of the lighter and shorter brushless motors available in the market such as the Hobbywing G3r.  The TRF415 has a wide motor mount area, and the motor sticks much further out to the side than a modern chassis, so this can reducing the overhang weight and help with corner transitions. 

Fitting lipos

Now, we start to have a problem. The TRF415 series was designed in the era of Nimh's. It is not too hard to fit a Lipo in the original TRF415 and the TRF415MS. These chassis have a high top deck, so a LCG lipo will slide in quite easily. You only need to attach a stopper so the lipo does not hit the belt, and use a method to hold the batteries. 

The real problem for Lipo fitment if you want to have it inline comes with the TRF415 MSX onwards. The rear bulkhead was very long and low, so you could not fit a lipo close to the centre of the chassis.  

Stick Pack conversions

The TRF415 is a thoroughbred race chassis, so it was designed to run side by side batteries that would fit into the chassis cut-outs to lower the weight. It's also a Tamiya chassis, so at that time Tamiya would provide a separately available conversion to allow racers to easily fit standard Tamiya stick packs, necessary to run in their domestic Tamiya Racing series. 

There are three conversions available.

49341 - Lower deck for stick type battery. 

This is for the original TRF415 and TRF415MS. This was just for people that wanted to easily mount a stick pack. No-one in the west ever bought this as it was not needed, and you could fit a lipo easily on these two early models of the TRF415 as the top deck was so high.  

49385 - TRF415MSX lower deck for stick pack batteries

These stick conversions started to become a bit more noticed overseas once racers started to run lipo batteries. They primarily changed the rear bulkhead on the battery side, allowing you to squeeze a lipo closer to the centre of the chassis.

49436 - TRF425 MSXX Lower deck for stick battery.

This version is for the later models as they had a revised front bumper attachment. This version was the one that I did see pop up from time to time trackside. I am pretty sure that you could convert any of the TRF415's from the MSX onwards with this pack. You just needed to swap out the front bumper sprue for the later version. (Tamiya 51253 Tb Evo 5 B-Parts).   

The stick pack conversions are a very expensive, but slick way to help to get the lipo battery to fit. However you may still need to make a few small tweaks to ensure the battery is correctly mounted. So unless you have a lot of money to spare, I would look at alternative Lipo Fitment.  

Alternative lipo fitment.

So you do not want to spend a load of cash trying to hunt for the stick pack conversions. Here are some alternative solutions. 

Ultra Low profile Batteries

LRP make a ULTRA LCG 5500mah lipo battery. This is only 20mm high so you can slide it close to the centre of the TRF415 in the same position as the old cells used to go.  You will need to add weights to the battery side of the chassis to balance it, but this battery will fit.

Shorty Lipo

LCG Shorty batteries are another solution. As they are not as long as a std battery you position them more forward and they should fit fine. The main problem is that there are no tape slots for the shorty battery, so you can use the battery cut-outs on the chassis to get approximately where you want to be, or you can add some posts by drilling them into the chassis.

**NOTE** I would always suggest to run a low profile lipo (LCG) as a minimum in the TRF415 (Well any race car really). The older high ones are just too high to attempt to get close the the centre of the chassis. 

The Dremel!😬

The most common mod for the TRF415 is to Dremel the bulkhead to squeeze a lipo in😱 It's cheap and it is easy to perform as long as you have a decent Dremel like tool. Just take a small amount of, and keep going back until the lipo can fit under. (This will not work if your lipo is over 23mm high).


As you can see above, you may also need to dremel the screw. The other option is to use a 3mm X 10mm grub screw. 

This mod allows the more common 23mm or lower LCG lipos to fit on the chassis. As you can see on the photo above. The length of the lipo is still a consideration. Even with the ULP 20mm high lipos you may still need to file away a little of the motor mount to ensure it can slide in.

Hang it out the side

If you just want to run the car, you can basically mount the lipo further out to the side of the chassis. It's not the best from a chassis balance point of view, but it will work. A lipo tray is also an easy alternative, just use some heavy duty tape / Shoe Goo to attach it to the chassis and fit the batteries in there. 

3D printed parts.

I have made a selection of 3D printed parts that will ensure that the lipos will fit well on the chassis. These will require you to drill a couple of holes onto the chassis to mount them. They will be available very soon once I have done a final fit an finish (Update soon). 

TRF415 general tips

Maintenance and upgrading.

The manuals linked above will give you the part numbers that you need if you are looking to replace like for like parts. As you would expect some of the very specialist parts are hard to come by. Luckily these do not break often (If at all).  Importantly there are a lot of areas where you can upgrade the TRF415 to run the latest Tamiya parts, improving both performance and availability of spares. 

The following sections will provide information on key areas of the chassis and ideas on how to upgrade or maintain them. 

Suspension and driveshafts

The above chart relates to the suspension settings and driveshafts used in each of the TRF415 range

The TRF415 is able to fit any of the later models suspension components, right up to the 54886 suspension upgrade set used on the TRF420 (Click for out review of the set here). This new suspension is the best yet from Tamiya, it is strong and provides a lot of tuning possibilities.  

Here is a list of the parts needed for upgrading to the TRF420 suspension kit.

  • 1 x 54886 Tamiya TRF419 suspension upgrade kit - These are for the arms / hubs etc
  • 2 x 54249 3X32mm turnbuckle - You will need the upper turnbuckles for the suspension as they are not included in the replacement kit.
  • 1 x 42323 TRF Short Ball Connector Nuts - These are needed to attach the shocks if you use the TRF shocks from your existing TRF415 (Std TRF hard shocks).

Drive shafts

The TRF415 cars use the older Tamiya CVD design that would use a grub screw to hold them together.  ** NOTE** If you run the earlier EVO4 style arms the axles on the these parts listed below will not fit as they are a different length. 

Double cardan front and rears with lightweight option shafts

If you want to have the best possible grip at the front of your TRF415 when running a spool. You can run the double cardan drive shafts. These make a huge difference and are standard in many top end touring cars nowadays.

  • 42216 Tamiya Double Cardan Joint Shaft 44mm - These are the latest front double cardan axles, they eliminate vibration even on full lock. **Note**If you are running the later suspension systems such as the TRF420 style shafts these will be fine. If you are using the older longer arms then you will need the following parts. 
  • 42230 Tamiya Drive shaft for 46mm double cardan joint shaft

The rear is less important to upgrade from a performance perspective. However if you want to run the modern style drive shafts then you should look for the following.

  • 54515 RC XV-01 42mm Front Universal Drive Shafts - These are for the rear, in reality they are probably a bit too short but you get all of the fittings etc and it's cheaper than buying separate usually. If they are too short, then just buy the following.
  • 54077 44mm LW Lightweight Rear Swing Shafts (If running more modern Suspension arms from the 416we onwards) 

Suspension blocks

TRF's still have the same mounting holes for their suspension blocks. Tamiya now makes adjustable ones. The new blocks provide more tuning possibilities (especially roll centre related), and also save a lot of money as one block gives you the equivalent to five of the older blocks. The older TRF415's other than the TRF415MSXX do not have the ability to run split blocks. However you are able to run the single blocks. 

  • 54881 Aluminum Adjustable Suspension Mount (A) - This can go as wide as C blocks and more narrow to XB so are useful to get the standard base 415 settings. 
  • 54882 Aluminum Adjustable Suspension Mount (E) - These can go as wide as a G block (widest), and as narrow as a C block. 

Standard for the 415 and many TRF's was Front Front block (FF)=C, Front Rear Block (FR)=C, Rear Front Block (RF)=XA, Rear Rear block (RR)=D. So to get these settings you would need 3 x 54881 Aluminum Adjustable Suspension Mount (A), and 1 x 54882 Aluminum Adjustable Suspension Mount (E).

If you want to run the more modern TRF settings you would consider FF=E, FR=E, RF=XA and RR=D. So to get these settings you would need 1 x 54881 Aluminum Adjustable Suspension Mount (A), and 3 x 54882 Aluminum Adjustable Suspension Mount (E).

Important: Please check the guide CLICK HERE all about the TRF suspension settings. You are advised to not mix the old style suspension blocks (Alpha and Uno V1) with the newer blocks as they have slightly different pin positions. 

Drive Train

Most likely if you pick up an old TRF415 it will have a one ways in the front and the centre pulley. These are not ideal for modern running, and you may get away with it in 21.5. In reality you want to try to replace them for a direct centre pulley and either a spool or differential in the front. This will make the chassis easier to drive and provide more brakes when you need them. 

The above shows the drivetrain configurations for all TRF415 kits.  

Drivetrain Front

Most of the kits come with a front one-way. No-one really wants to run them nowadays. You are better off with a Spool (Direct Coupling). Tamiya did provide some of these for the TRF kits. 

  • 49358 TRF415 Front Direct Coupling - This is the original spool that has the fittings for the older 35t pulleys.
  • 3454401 Direct holder - This is the later spool that is for the TRF415 MSX MRE, this would allow you to fit the later 36and more modern 37t pulleys without having to modify the pulleys.

The problem here is that these are very hard to find. However you can make the new TRF spool fit.

Fitting a modern spool

The TRF415 has a central spool, it is not offset like the later TRF cars and many of the new TA chassis cars. You can however fit a modern spool and offset the pulley. 

You need a spool from a Tamiya that has a similar bulkhead width (The TA07/ TA08, TRF417, TRF419X / XR). The TRF420 spool will not work as it is a different type of unit. I used a TRF417 spool in this example. 

You also need a selection of spacers. I use the Tamiya 53539 5.5mm spacer set, I also have a selection of shims to make any fine adjustments if needed. 

I mounted the 0.5mm spacers over the direct coupling and screwed on the pulley on the inside of the spool.

You now have a pulley to mount in the chassis.

Next up you want to mount it into the chassis and attach the belt. You can add remove shims until it is nice and central.

Pulley sizes.
These new Spools will only work with the 36t and 37t pulleys. 

These are the 37t pulleys that are available.

  • 54023 DB01 Front One-Way Pulley  
  • 3454641/13454641 One-Way Pulley (37T) (Same as above but black plastic)
  • 42309 37T Aluminium One-Way Pulley - This is a fancy aluminium part, actually feels good on high grip, high speed corners. (Review here)

Remember, if you run a 37t pulley in the front of the chassis you need to run a 37t pulley in the rear of the chassis. 

Front Differential

Tamiya eventually provided carpet racers with a front ball differential. 

It was part number 53921, you also need to supply your own pulley. There is no modern alternative to this as the front diff is centred on the TRF415 so the later TRF417 etc ball diffs will not work in the front of the car, only the rear.. I would recommend you look for a spool anyway.

Drivetrain rear

Moving from the front of the chassis it's time to move to the rear. Again there are some good options to upgrade your TRF415. 

Gear differential

The kit included ball differential is perfectly fine to run, however a gear diff is more durable, consistent and has more bite when on throttle. 

If you decide to upgrade to a gear differential, I would recommend the latest TRF420 version. It's really smooth and very light. The older TRF419 style is also good. Part numbers

These gear differentials will need shimming to fit. You will require 10mm shims. I use Tamiya 53588 10 mm shims for this job. 

Ball differential

If you want to run a more modern ball diff, you can use the following.

  • 54689 TA07 Aluminium ball differential set. 

This ball differential will require shimming to fit. You will need 10mm shims. I use Tamiya 53588 10 mm shims for this job. 

**NOTE** Both the above upgrades have 37t pulleys. If you add a larger pulley at the rear, you will need to change the pulley at the front to match. Otherwise you will have 

  • Overdrive (rear pulley is smaller than front pulley (36tR and 37R), 
  • Underdrive (Rear pulley is larger than Front pulley (37tR and 36F)
It really is not common to run Overdrive or Underdrive with rubber tyres when it comes to racing. So I recommend you make sure both ends of the car (Front and rear), have the same 37t pulleys.  

If you decide to try it, well try to think of it from a tyres overall amount of traction. It can only proved a certain amount forwards and sideward. The more you demand from one, they less you get form the other. Overdrive makes front tyres accelerate harder than the rear, so so you will get less grip at corner entry so less turn in and more stable rear. A bit like rear toe but still easier on corner entry. Underdrive does the opposite, so the rear will have less grip, making the car sharp to turn in, but a less stable rear end. 

So now onto the centre direct pulley.. Here are the options:

53708 - TRF415 Direct Center Pulley - This is the 16t replacement for the original TRF415 to give you a locked centre pulley. This is quite hard to find by itself, so you might be better to search for 49351 Tamiya - TRF415MS / TRF415 MS World Champion Parts Set, which is almost the same price as the pulley individually.You have this so are fine, however if you want to run larger centre pulleys you need to find

The other option is part no 3454395 TRF415MSX MRE Direct Center Shaft - This part it hard to find, but is the best solution for a locked centre pulley as you can change the actual pulleys and go to larger sizes if needed. 

Another way to achieve it is to fit the TA05 parts, I have not done this myself, but have been told it will work. These parts are quite easy to find. 

  • 3455985 TA05 Blue Spur Gear Holder or 3455870 TA05 Original Spur Gear Holder
  • 53915 TA05 Lightweight Centre Shaft
  • 51213 TA05 Centre Pulley
  • 53874 TA05 High Precision Centre Pulley Bushing
  • And roughly 4mm shims to fit on the shaft to align it.

3D Printed parts

As these parts are rare, I have made some 3D printed parts that you can download for free and print yourself, or you can purchase high quality strong parts from Shapeways. I would say that these parts are really only going to be suitable for stock racing, and not modified. Although it all depends on the print quality and material used. If you buy the parts from the shapeways store, they are all assembled and will be stronger. 

TRF415 & TRF415MS 

This is a 3D printed version of part no 53708 (Click to download the files Here), or purchase the pre-built shapeways version (HERE). 

When you print out the files you will have two parts. You simply fit the two parts together. You can use SuperGlue to ensure that they stick. 

Then you want to slide it onto the main shaft. You may need to use a 4mm reamer to ensure that the part smoothly fits over. Then you use the grub screw to attach the pulley to the shaft. You now have a direct pulley for your TRF415 and TRF415MS. 

**NOTE** I recommend using a longer Grub screw as it will give more strength for the 3D part. I use a 6mm M3 grub screw.

TRF415MSX onwards

This 3D printed direct 16t pulley is a straight swap and will work on all TRF415's from the MSX onwards  (Click to download here), or purchase the assembled stronger version from Shapeways (Here).

You will have four parts that you need to place together to assemble. You may need to clean up the printed parts to ensure that the centre posts slide into the main parts.

The longer shaft goes into the short cap, the shorter shaft goes into the long gear part.

Ensure both are flush with the ends. It is best to ensure they fit, then add glue. Fit the bearings over the end parts.

Now connect the parts together, the longer shaft in the cap will align both parts. Use glue to attach. Now just add your spur gear. 

When it is mounted in the chassis all of the parts will stay together. This part has held up in 17.5, but for more strength there is an all in one part in my shapeways shop (Click Here). 

Different Centre Pulley sizes. 

I also have 18t and 20t centre pulleys for those that want to change the Internal Ratio of the car. These are available here.

  • STD 18t pulley (Download STL) (Visit Shapeways Shop)
  • STD 20t pulley (Download STL) (Visit Shapeways Shop)

  • MSX 18t pulley (Download STL) (Visit Shapeways Shop)
  • MSX 20t pulley (Download STL) (Visit Shapeways Shop)

Drivetrain Belts

Remember when you increase every pulley you need to increase the corresponding belts.

  • TRF415-MSX had 167t front and 59t rear as they had black 35t pulleys. 
  • TRF415-MSXMRE onwards had 168t and 60t rear (They had white 36t pulleys as opposed to 35t in the earlier car.

So if upgrading a TRF to 37t front and rear pulleys you will need

  • 51570 TRF419 Rear Belt (61T) - I am pretty sure the rear belt was 59t on the 415, you can check this.
  • 51569 TRF419 Front Belt (171T) - Again I am sure that the TRF415 had a front belt at 169t, but again please check.

If you increase the centre pulley then you need longer belts. I would always suggest you try original belts and use the diff mounts and the belt tensioner with the new pulleys.

I hope you have found this guide useful. This covers how to update and maintain the current versions of the TRF415.. 

What next...

The next section (Updated soon) will cover how to update the car with other, modern parts.. Including Low-Profile towers, A new lower and upper deck and more... Here is a small article that covers some of the goals. (Click Here) 

Help Support this Site

If you appreciate the non profit work I have done, please feel free to tip me to help me to afford to develop more parts. All these parts are non-profit. It all comes out of my own pocket. I have to pay for annual software licences so I actually always make a loss.  You can make a Tip by clicking this link https://www.buymeacoffee.com/TheRcRacer 

Trf415 2647803997748798955

Post a Comment

  1. Great article, really helpful to explain all the different models and pulley options. The links to the 3D printed parts and files don't work. I wanted to have the file for the Direct layshaft Pulley.

  2. I will updated the links tonight if you check back :)

  3. The centre parts should be downloadable now



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