1989 was a busy year for Traxxas, which is what has prompted me to separate each vehicle into a single post going forward. In 1989 Traxxas released the Villain IV boat, Sledgehammer monster truck, Radicator racing buggy and Hawk stadium truck. So without further delay, let's have a look at part one of the series... the Traxxas Sledgehammer!!
Part one of my four part series covering the releases in 1989 is dedicated to the Traxxas Sledgehammer. The Sledgehammer was the first monster truck developed by Traxxas, perhaps motivated by the popularity of such offerings as Tamiya Blackfoot and Clod Buster, Kyosho Double Dare, USA-1, etc. This truck met with reasonable success, and ultimately was released in three versions. The earliest versions of the Sledgehammer included the white plastic and gold aluminum parts seen in previous models, followed by a white plastic with black aluminum parts and finally an all black plastic version with black aluminum.
This intimidating platform had a high center of gravity with it's large tires and tall suspension. Speaking of tires, these are some of the better looking monster truck tires introduced to the market to date. While I've never seen tires like this on a full scale truck, the normal truck tread with added near-sidewall spikes makes the truck look like a Misfits fan on steroids. The two shock per wheel setup (inspired by the Clod Buster?) carries on today in the Emaxx truck and while probably not the best performing option, it definitely gives the look of an aggressive monster. The body was that of a Chevy short bed truck with plastic chromed bumpers and roll bar. This added to the realism and although branded bodies became a rarity (presumably because of licensing) I think it serves both the automotive and RC companies well- I'd like to see more of it (outside of Tamiya) these days.
The sledgehammer was powered by a single brushed motor and Traxxas branded ESC which included a much larger heatsink than on previous versions to handle the additional current required by the heavier vehicle. The standard pistol grip transmitter/controller setup was again available with this truck and steering was controlled with a single (albeit underpowered) servo. The performance was on-par if not better than other monster truck offerings of the time. The Sledgehammer's high center of gravity is exaggerated by the rear motor/transmission placement and it suffered from the same brittle white (or in latter designs, black) plastic outdrives. This problem was even worse in the Sledgehammer than previous models because of the additional rotating mass in the wheels and tires. Snapping an outdrive meant taking the entire rear section of the beast apart and splitting the transmission case, leaving most people out of commission for several hours/days. Additionally, the same brittle plastic was used to make the body mounts, which were tall and thin, leading to many body mounts breaking on the first roll. Being a monster truck, rolls were common and therefore so were broken body mounts. Other than a couple of disappointing weak points, the Sledge is fairly durable, and it's a lot of fun to drive.
My Sledge is the second version with white plastics, black anodized aluminum, and original electronics. It has a XL-1 ESC with the signature large heat sink. It took me quite some time to find one with the original white body mounts, as most were either broken or replaced with the slightly stronger black plastic part. The body is in good condition but no original decals are applied. Also, the rollbar is installed but the front and rear chrome bumpers are not. I have the bumpers but haven't had the opportunity to install them yet. Enjoy the pictures, feel free to comment and look forward to part two of Traxxas 1989, the Radicator!