› Cus­tom Builder Close-up: Mike Lohmann

Clod Buster mas­ter—and much more

RC Car Action - - CONTENTS - By Matt Boyd

Mike Lohmann first popped up on RC Car Ac­tion’s radar when he sent in to Read­ers’ Rides a stun­ning retro-themed Clod Buster build. Then he sent an­other that was even bet­ter. We started fol­low­ing some of his builds on Face­book, and when he launched the Youtube chan­nel Mike’s RC World ear­lier this year, we be­came truly aware of how ex­ten­sive his skills were and how di­verse his project list is. So we reached out to Mike and found out that he is not only a bril­liant builder but also ex­cited to share his knowl­edge and en­thu­si­asm for all as­pects of RC. He epit­o­mizes the con­tem­po­rary RC maker, blend­ing old-school crafts­man­ship with mod­ern tech to cre­ate some amaz­ing ve­hi­cles. We sat down to talk with Mike about his his­tory with RC, cur­rent trends and in­ter­ests, and where he sees things go­ing in the fu­ture.

RC Car Ac­tion: Some of our read­ers may know you pri­mar­ily for your stun­ning Clod Buster builds, but you’re ob­vi­ously a prolific builder with lots of dif­fer­ent in­ter­ests. What was your first love Rc-wise? What was your first car/truck? Was it that one that got you hooked, or was there a later ve­hi­cle that re­ally flipped the switch for you?

Mike Lohmann:

The first hobby-grade RC [I re­ceived] was at the age of nine, and it was a Tamiya Black­foot that was handed down to me by my step­dad

Jeff. It was ba­si­cally all stock but had a Lunch­box body on in­stead of the typ­i­cal F-150 body. What re­ally drew me in was when Jeff got his first Clod Buster and then see­ing “Prima Donna” built by Steve Levine, which was fea­tured in the Au­gust 1991 is­sue of RC Car Ac­tion.

You’ve seen some trends come and go. Any­thing you’d like to see make a come­back? Any that sur­prised you?

Well, every­one said that rock crawl­ing would be a “fad” and it would never last; now it’s prob­a­bly one of the largest seg­ments. Glad that stuck! When I started into the scale crawlers, I was us­ing very ex­pen­sive and dis­con­tin­ued (at the time) Bruiser chas­sis and Tamiya TLT-1 axles with cut-down/nar­rowed

2.2 tires to fit onto

1.9 wheels. Try­ing to find the Hilux body at the time was the hard­est and most ex­pen­sive part.

I would love to see some more old-school Clod

Buster parts make a come­back— alu­minum roll bars, bumpers, wheels, etc.

How many ve­hi­cles do you have? Do you have a fa­vorite one or a fa­vorite cat­e­gory? Why?

The col­lec­tion is cur­rently sit­ting at 115 ve­hi­cles, which in­cludes: mon­ster trucks, pullers, drag cars, scale trucks, and vin­tage Tamiya ve­hi­cles. It’s re­ally hard to choose a fa­vorite, but if I had to, it is my old-school Clod Buster, which I re­fer to as the “Pur­ple Peo­ple Eater.” I love old-school-style Clod Buster builds, but I am also very in­volved in scale RC trucks; I was a big into vin­tage Tamiya 3-speed trucks (Bruis­ers) and have been build­ing “scale” trucks since 2000.

To what do you at­tribute your skills? Any par­tic­u­lar thing you got into that taught you the most? Any­thing give you trou­ble?

Early on, [I got] a lot of help came from my step­dad Jeff. I am also heav­ily in­volved in full-size cars. I drag-race a ’68 Chev­elle SS and four­wheel an ’83 Toy­ota mini truck, so wrench­ing on 1:1s helps with the RC stuff. To this day, I have al­ways had trou­ble lay­ing down paint; I’ve never been fully sat­is­fied and usu­ally end up hav­ing a 1:1 body shop paint my bod­ies for me.

Give me a su­per-tiny model brush and some Testors paint, how­ever, and I can paint the tini­est of de­tails all day.

Did you have a men­tor or some­body that passed along the love of RC to you, or did you find it on your own?

That credit—100 per­cent— goes to my step­dad Jeff; he got me hooked. All of my par­ents were very sup­port­ive of the hobby as I grew up. As a kid, I was in the lo­cal hobby shops ev­ery week­end, and as we got into com­pet­ing, we would travel 14 hours to the NRCTPA [Na­tional Ra­dio Con­trol Truck Pulling As­so­ci­a­tion] events to race mon­ster trucks and com­pete in truck/ trac­tor pulling.

Any cur­rent trends that ex­cite you that you’re ex­pand­ing into?

Shoot­ing video, for sure. I started up a Youtube chan­nel, In­sta­gram, and Face­book page called “Mikes RC World” and have re­ally en­joyed get­ting my ve­hi­cles out, shoot­ing some footage us­ing a gim­bal tool, and learn­ing to edit. There is quite a bit to know/learn but it’s been fun, and the feed­back I have re­ceived in do­ing

“Rig Re­views” has re­ally mo­ti­vated me. It has been a great way to in­ter­act with like-minded en­thu­si­asts.

Any­thing you pre­dict will be­come a trend in the near fu­ture?

I think 3D print­ing is go­ing to be a huge part of the fu­ture. It’s grow­ing in leaps and bounds, and it al­lows for some awe­some cre­ativ­ity, which is great for build­ing the scale trucks. As the print qual­ity gets bet­ter, it’s go­ing to open a lot of doors for new bod­ies and parts.

When you run into rook­ies just get­ting into RC who are blown away by your work and want to learn, what ad­vice do you give them? Any­thing to get into/stay away from?

I would say to check out lo­cal clubs and tracks, and find fel­low en­thu­si­asts to talk to. The In­ter­net is great, but don’t be­lieve ev­ery­thing you read! You also don’t need a su­per-ex­pen­sive rig to have fun, ei­ther.

Get your kit, build it up, play with it, and see what you ac­tu­ally need. That way, you can fo­cus your time and money in the right places.

Cur­rently, I have been work­ing on my “Nitemare” Retro Clod Buster build. I even tracked down John Ric­cio, who orig­i­nally painted “Prima Donna,” and had him do the art­work on the truck. I am al­ways work­ing on my scale trucks too. I am pretty ex­cited about a cus­tom 4Run­ner that a friend and I built to­gether. He did the 4Run­ner con­ver­sion, and I did all the paint, de­tail­ing, cus­tom in­te­rior, ar­mor, etc.

Mike’s step­dad Jeff (left) gave him his first RC truck and sup­ported his love of the hobby, trav­el­ing with him to com­pete in RC mon­ster truck and trac­tor-pull events. Top: This is one of two retro Clods that Mike sub­mit­ted to Read­ers’ Rides that first caught our at­ten­tion. It is a fully chrome-dipped kit with APM front and rear bumpers and APM roll bar with RAM lights. It rolls on AJ’S foams mounted on TMS alu­minum wheels. Above: This Mo­tion Graph­ics–painted body dates from 1990. The blue-an­odized Sassy Chas­sis is old school, too. It sports Trin­ity shocks, JPS alu­minum axles and steel APM gears, Chatham CNC alu­minum lad­der bars, Sees wheels, and IMEX puller tires.


This grainy snap­shot shows Mike’s first real RC truck: a Tamiya Black­foot with a Lunch­box body his step­dad Jeff gave him when he up­graded to a Clod Buster (the kit box is in the back­ground). Jeff still has the Clod!

With so many awe­some trucks, it’s tough for Mike to pick a fa­vorite. But if he had to name just one, it would be his old­school tilt-bed Clod, which he calls the “Pur­ple Peo­ple Eater.”

Mike says that his RC4WD 4-door LWB Hilux is his most de­tailed build to date. The en­gine is a 3D-printed GCM Rac­ing 22r en­gine. The coolant and washer jug bot­tles are also 3D-printed, by VS Cus­toms. Many of the other en­gine-bay de­tails he scratch-built out of styrene, such as the brake mas­ter cylin­der/ booster and clutch mas­ter. In the back of the truck, the milk crates and Power Tank are also 3D-printed.

Mike’s col­lec­tion of 115 RC ve­hi­cles runs the gamut in terms of style and genre.

Mike’s cur­rent project is a retro Clod Buster with tons of ex­tras: tilt bed, tilt hood, Parma Hemi en­gine con­verted into a Chevy en­gine, and alu­minum wheels. All the hand-painted let­ter­ing, char­ac­ter, and pin­strip­ing is by Max Cus­toms/john Ric­cio, the same guy who painted the “Prima Donna” truck that in­spired Mike way back in 1991!

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