RC fuel driven models have changed the face of an industry that was dominated by electric models. Electric models were considered the order of the day before manufacturers decided to step things up a notch and introduce a whole new world where RC fuel driven models improved performance, appearance and the realism of the entire hobby. Today, RC fuels come in various forms that include gasoline-mixtures as well as other complex mixtures that allow experienced RC fans to push their RC models to the limit.
RC Toys were considered to be the one of the most important and significant improvements that the toy industry has ever made. Since the first demonstration of an RC boat, by Tesla in 1898, RC toys became the desired possession of a number of people, irrespective of their age. Ever since the introduction of integrated circuits, these toys have become cheaper to manufacture & purchase and as a result, innovations have come forth in terms of design, structure and even performance.
Although the origin of nitro fuels, as fuel for RC models, is ascertained to be around 1976, it was actually a part of the major revolution that swept the radio controlled toy industry towards the latter half of the 20th century. Since then, specialist RC Manufacturers of these fuels have emerged, along with regular model manufacturers, who supply fuels that are ideal for your RC model.
When you purchase an RC model, chances are that the instruction booklet carries the exact type of fuel, and in some cases the brand as well, that you need to use with your model for optimum performance. Sure, you can just run down to the store and get the brand but what you can also do is modify the proportions of the fuel mixture to find out the best combination for your model.
To do so, you need to understand the different types of fuels, the mixtures and the effect they have on the performance and longevity of your models. Gas-powered RC models are generally those models that run on an internal combustion engine. These two- or four-stroke engines require a special mixture of fuel that contains Nitromethane, Methanol and Oil in specific ratios. Sometimes, these engines contain sparkplugs that run exactly like your car or truck, however, it is essential to know your engine thoroughly before picking normal gasoline for the RC model.
Nitromethane, derived from propane, carries oxygen in its molecules and acts as a supercharger-of-sorts, for your RC fuel powered engine. A normal fuel mixture contains about 20% of Nitromethane, or Nitro, whereas Methanol, or Wood Alcohol, and oil comprise of the remaining part. Methanol is a common fuel in full-size motor racing as well due to its ability to cool the air intake as well as the fuel mixture. This ensures that the fuel remains cool, dense and thus, generates more power. It is the primary energy producer in RC fuel mixtures.
The oil is the part that has varied the most amongst all other components and there are ongoing debates about the best type as well as the appropriate amount. Initially Castor oil was majorly used until synthetic oils jumped into the fray. Since then, a delicate mixture of Castor and Synthetic oils has become the norm in RC fuels. At lower engine temperatures and higher RPMs, such as at the beginning of a race, or during take-off, Synthetic oils are appropriate due to their rapid breakdown properties at low temperatures. However, when the engine temperature increases, the Castor oil part of the mix comes into its own. The oil breaks down at higher temperatures and provides perfect lubrication for the engine.
Other than these three main components, other additives are also added at times to improve life of the engine, or performance.
However, RC fuels are dangerous due to their highly inflammable nature and there are numerous do's and don'ts accompanying them. Nitro fuel, landing on any part of the model other than the tank, can be extremely dangerous. It may lead to a fire due to its highly inflammable nature and so, when fueling your model, ensure optimum safety and care.
What works for your RC car, may not necessarily work for your RC Plane or RC Boat. RC Cars, RC Boats and RC Aircraft, all run in different mediums that have different characteristics. For e.g. an RC airplane needs a lot more thrust, than an RC boat, to get off the ground! Due to these differences, their fuel mixtures also have different proportions that ensure that they get exactly what they need. To know more about these specifics, it is advisable to opt for the manual-recommended fuel and then move on to experimenting with what you have.
Changing the RC fuel can be helpful although once your engine has broken in with one type it may not react well if the fuel mixture is changed. It is never considered a good idea to change your RC fuel as it increases the wear & tear of your engine.
Since you are using RC fuels, it is a good idea to store them carefully and safely so as to ensure future usage without any risk of a catastrophe. The container should always be closed tightly to avoid any evaporation. This also ensures that water doesn't enter the container as fuels attract moisture and this moisture can make it weak. So storing your fuel in a cool, dry and dark place is often the best way to go.
For experienced radio control hobby enthusiasts, experimenting with fuels is acceptable as long as they take all necessary precautions. For novices, it is advisable to stick to the manufacturer-recommended RC fuel as they are the safest and best bet to ensure that your model runs without any glitches. So the next time you decide to buy an RC model, go in with the confidence that you know your RC fuels.