Associated TC5, First Impressions by Tom Watts
With the new Associated TC5 now on general sale, one of CML Distribution's junior team members offers his initial impressions of the build and first runs.
Having waited for so long for Associate's latest Touring Car I was glad to finally collect one last Friday. I was keen to get it built and racing as soon as possible but did not want to rush things. The instructions follow the TC4 layout with pictures showing the step-by-step build and very few words. The first thing to note is that the car has gone metric! This makes it a lot easier to be sure you have the right length screws for each part. It also simplifies the toolkit, almost all the screws use a 2mm hex drive. First up in the build are the shocks. They are the latest Associated VCS2 type and went together very easily with no bleeding or adding oil required to get them all the same. The new differentials were also good to build. These are a lightweight composite item and have 12 balls instead of the 6 used the TC4. The result is a super smooth action and the TC5 includes blue aluminium outdrive rings which should stop the outdrives spreading and popping out the drive shaft on tight corners. Chassis preparation was the first job for Saturday and after an hour or so I had all the sharp edges rounded off and filled with CA glue and could turn my attention to the rest of the build. The suspension mounts onto the bulkheads and a simple selection of holes and spacers provide all the tuning options. Following Craig Dreschers advice I opted for the "out of the box" factory settings but changing these trackside is going to be a lot easier than it was with the TC4. Installing the drive train was straightforward. The dif bearings are mounted off centre in a cam. Rotating the cam adjusts the belt tension while choice of cam holder adjusts the dif height. The steering linkage is a vast improvement on the TC4. With a single bell crank incorporating a large servo saver there are a lot less bearings to shim and hopefully the steering will be more precise. The steering block and hub assemblies are similar to the TC4, just a bit stronger and the rear ball stud now fits vertically instead of horizontally. The top mounting for the shock has been improved, it uses two short screws into the shock bushing instead of one long one and a nut. This means you can adjust the top shock mount position without removing the shock from the bushing. Fitting the top deck and the front bumper completed the rolling chassis just leaving electrics to be sorted out on Sunday morning. Sunday morning came and went and with the servo, radio and speedo in place I set off with my Dad for the Cotswold track to see how the car performed. Round five of the Cotswold summer championship was just finishing when we arrived so the track was nice and clean with good level of grip. For my first run I took it very gently stopping after about 5 laps to check all was well. I found no loose screws, the difs were fine and needed no adjustment so I took the car out again and pressed a bit harder! The steering was not very responsive so for my next run I moved the shocks out one hole and reduced the camber slightly. It worked and lap times improved. One more run confirmed that the car is good. I was able to consistently lap faster than my previous best time with the TC4. I am very pleased with the car it has been worth waiting for and am looking forward to the rest of the summer racing. Thanks to CML and Microtech for supplying the car and to Craig Drescher for advice on set up. Tom Watts