Do you have an RC car with a brushed motor? Have you ever found a really cool place to run your car but wondered if your brushed RC motor can handle it because of wet conditions.
I’ve done some research to see if brushed RC motors can get wet and the effects that water can have on a brushed motor.
Can a brushed RC motor get wet? Yes, a brushed RC motor can get wet. Some people break in RC motors running them underwater. It’s important to clean and lubricate a brushed RC motor after it gets wet.
A brushed RC motor can get wet but let’s look into the effect water has on a brushed RC motor, how to maintain it and why some people break in their motors in water.
Just because a brushed RC motor can get wet there are more factors to consider if you get your RC car wet.
Effects Water can Have on a Brushed Motor.
There are different types of brushed RC motors but the main two are rebuildable motors and seal can type motors.
One issue with most rebuildable brushed motors is once water gets into it dirt can get into the brushes. Motors have a channel that the brushes slide in but as soon as any dirt gets in there it can jam the brushes in the channel and this can have an effect on the contact with the commutator.
Sealed brushed motors have the brushes on springs, if dirt gets in, the springs will still work fine and keep good contact with the commutator, any excess dirt will wash off the next time you run your car.
Seal can type Brushed RC motors can handle wet conditions much better, and they are cheaper than rebuildable ones.
You might find that your car doesn’t work if you’ve put it away for a while after driving in wet conditions, it could be that copper-oxide gets on the brushes and gives a poor connection.
How to Maintain a Brushed RC Motor after getting it Wet.
Maintaining your motor and keeping it clean can really help your motor so it keeps working to it’s full potential.
Maintaining a sealed brushed motor.
Remove the motor, in most cases, the pinion gear needs to be removed from the motor so the motor can be removed.
Be careful when removing the connectors from the motor, it’s always a good idea to make a note of how you took them off so they go back on the same way.
Remove the screws and washers the motor is held on with. Using a clean toothbrush, carefully brush away any dirt from the bearings. Use compressed air to blow out the rest of the dirt through the vent holes.
This is a method the oldschool guys used to break in their motors, also its a way of cleaning brushed motors.
- Wire the motor to the electronics so its as if it was mounted to the car.
- Fill a bowl with enough water so the motor can be fully submerged in it.
- Let the motor run for around ten minutes at a steady rpm, this will cause the brushes to contour to the commutator and help produce more power to the car.
- You’ll probably see the water turn grey after a while, this is all the dirt washing off the brushes.
- After the ten minutes is up, remove the motor from the bowl, and let it dry. Relubricate the bearings with oil.
Maintaining a rebuildable motor.
The good thing about rebuildable motors is that they can be taken apart and cleaned properly, but this can be a tricky process. The following method can be used as general maintenence for a rebuildable brushed motor.
- Remove the endbell, take out the screws holding it in place. Start at the end the armature sticks out and then carefully remove the endbell.
- Make notes as you go of any shims or spacers you’ve removed so there’s no mistakes when putting the motor back together the same way.
- Take the armature out and clean it with a commutator cutter, if you don’t have one then use a pencil rubber.
- Remove the bearing from the endbell, use oil spray to blow out the bearings and oil them.
- Now its time to put everything back together, start with the shims and spacers, then the armature and lastly the endbell.
- Wire up the motor and run it in your hand, you should notice it running quietly a and smoothly.
Another tip is to spray electrical cleaner and WD40 on the bearings, before, during and after a run through muddy,wet conditions. This can really help the motor last longer so well worth a try the next time you run your car through mud!
For more on maintaining your brushed RC motor, you will find my whole article on how to clean and maintain a brushed RC motor helpful.
Methods of breaking in a Brushed Motor.
Breaking in a brushed motor can add an extra 1to 2 mph to your vehicle,this may not sound like much but could really help when running down the last straight in a race.
The water break-in. As explained above with the waterdipping method.
Dry break in, method 1.
One way of breaking in a brushed motor without removing it from your vehicle is to run it on a surface like a parking lot. The trick is to go easy on acceleration and keep it consistent, even when turning. Do this for a minute or so and then gradually slow down bringing the car to a coast then accelerate again going to a quarter throttle then up to no more than a half throttle. Do this process until you totally run the battery out.
It’s extremely important not to do any harsh acceleration or braking when doing this otherwise the brushes won’t seat properly on the commutator. When the brushes are nicely seated on the commutator,this is what gives the motor optimal performance.
Once this is done take the motor out. This should always be done so the gearmesh can be checked, so you can check what is called the backlash between the pinion and the spur gear.
Sometimes these can be adjusted too tight from the factory and if not set correctly this could wear the gears, put pressure on the motor and the battery wont last as long.
The gearmesh needs to be set loose enough so not to strip the gears out and not too tight so the the gears dont bind.
Put a piece of paper between the gears so the teeth of each gear is bending the paper, the paper acts as a good spacer to give the correct setting.
Dry break in, method 2.
Another way is to take the motor out of your vehicle and attach a wire from the motor to any cell battery like an AA or a D cell, and attach it to both sides of the battery making sure the positive and negative are correct so the motor spins in the correct direction.
Once connected, run the motor until the battery totally runs out. During the process spray electric motor spray into the motor,you will hear a whizzing noise and the motor will increase in rpm and then slow down a little. by doing this debris will clear away and youll get a good seat on the brushes, make sure you spray on both gaps on the motor.
Once the break in is done, spray the motor out again and then get some electric motor oil and apply some to the bearings on both ends of the motor. This will help the motors performance, increase speed and make the motor last longer.
What to Consider Before Getting an RC Car Wet.
As we now know that brushed motors can get wet, it doesn’t mean an RC vehicle can get totally wet. Just because a new RC car has waterproof written on the box from the manufacturer it doesn’t mean that the whole car is 100 percent waterproof!
With lots of different parts on an RC vehicle, you should do a little research and even contact the manufacturer to get a good idea of the possible consequences of running your vehicle through wet conditions.
Heres what to consider;
- Brushless motors should not be submerged in water.
- Tires, foam inserts can deteriorate quickly once wet. If tires are glued to the wheels, they will need replacing once soaked in water.
- ESCs, servos and batteries, all of these can be damaged in water.
- Drivetrains might be said to be waterproof but axles and transmissions are not waterproof.
- Receiver boxes are ok in wet conditions but shouldn’t be submerged in water.
Take a look at my detailed article covering all aspects of how wet RC cars can get.
RC cars come with an industry rating, known as IPX. IP stands for international protection and X indicates solid particle protection.
These ratings determine the degree of water levels the vehicle can withstand.
- IPX-0: No protection.
- IPX-1: Protected against water drops.
- IPX-2: Protected against water drops at a 15-degree angle.
- IPX-3: Protected against a water spray at a 60-degree angle.
- IPX-4: Protected from splashing water from any angle.
- IPX-5: Protected from jets of water from any angle.
- IPX-6: Protected from high-pressure water from any angle.
- IPX-7: Protected against water immersion, 30 minutes at a depth of 3 feet.
- IPX-8: Protected against continual water submersion in conditions underwater.