1970 Hot Wheels Tune-Up Tower: Motor

Usually, the first thing that doesn’t work right on an old Tune-Up Tower is the motor. The motor is housed on the top floor and lives right under the white toggle switches.




The electric motors that Mattel used in the early Hot Wheels line-up powered Super-Chargers and Tune-Up Towers. They were all made in Japan. In my experience, these motors are pretty much bullet proof.

2 way Super-Charger motor. Front view

2 way Super-Charger motor. Front view

2 Way Super-Charger motor.

2 way Super-Charger motor. Back view

When I get one that doesn’t run, more than 90% of the time it’s not the motor that’s at fault, it’s typically a bad electrical contact that’s the problem.

And the number one cause of bad electrical contacts in Super-Chargers and Tune-Up Towers? Corrosion on the battery terminal posts. Although a slow leak from alkaline batteries left in the battery compartment will produce a white calcium carbonate build up on the negative side of the battery, by far the biggest issue is copper tarnishing. Copper begins to oxidize when exposed to air. Basically, refined copper metal will automatically return to it’s more natural state which is an “ore”.

Here are 3 questions:

  1. How do you access the metal contacts on a Tune-Up Tower?
  2. How do you go from tarnished
    Tarnished copper.

    Tarnished copper.

    to golden?

    Cleaned and ready to conduct electricity again.

    Cleaned and ready to conduct electricity again.

    3. Will the toggle switches and motor work again?

Find out what happened on my YouTube video.

Next up: I begin work on the treadmill apparatus.

The 1970 Hot Wheels Tune-Up Tower. It makes Hot Wheels still fast. Still fun.

1970 Collectors' Catalogue.

1970 Collectors’ Catalogue.


5 thoughts on “1970 Hot Wheels Tune-Up Tower: Motor

  1. Fantastic! This stuff takes a special kind of touch. Keep it coming! I have two of these and I’ve been trying to figure out how to make it run. I love Hot Wheels restoration!

  2. I found that with patience, you can remove the short copper strip without going through the housing.

    I used a 1.5mm Allen wrench whose long arm just barely fit into the battery compartment. Working the short arm into the thin gap between the red housing and the white plateau at the positive end of the battery compartment (on the side nearest the dynamometer), I was finally able to lay the short arm across the top of the short copper strip and pull the first rocker switch 1/32″ toward the battery compartment. Shining a flashlight past the rocker switch (or through the elevator end of the red housing), I could just see where I was. I pushed the short arm slowly toward the second switch until it dropped in front of the copper strip’s upward-angled tip; then I pulled it back toward the battery compartment.

    It’s very difficult to pull a tiny Allen wrench hard enough to force it under the copper strip, so I cheated: I locked a pair of needle-nose Vise Grips onto the long arm. Now I could push (more power) carefully against the Vice Grip’s jaws with my thumb. The short arm slipped under the copper strip.

    The smaller the Allen wrench, the easier it will be to pull it under the copper strip – but 1.5mm is too small to lift the strip above its retaining post. Locking the Vice Grips onto the wrench at a 45-degree angle allowed me to slowly and slightly rotate the Allen wrench enough to lift the copper strip off its post. I then worked the copper strip free.as shown in the video, rocking while gently pulling.

    This part certainly isn’t fast, but it’s still fun.

    • The vinegar bath and rinse worked brilliantly. I put the lids on the pill bottles and shook them for two minutes. I’d bought 2000-grit sandpaper for the touch-up, but skipped it in favor of the #0000 steel wool you mentioned elsewhere. Now the contacts are all bright, shiny, and smooth.

      Using the Q-tips on the riveted contacts works much better than it looks in the video. (Cameras can be funny sometimes.) A few swipes with the steel wool and they look new again.

      Thanks so much for this video. Now I’m off to find some foam.

      • One last (important) comment:

        If you remove the treadmill before working on the control box (motor, copper contact strips, gears) BE SURE to remove and put in a safe place the tiny spring that keeps the treadmill drive shaft pressed against the treadmill apparatus. Otherwise you may spend an hour on your hands and knees looking for it. This didn’t happen to me of course, but I’ll bet you that a metal detector will find every nail in the floor before it finds that bloody spring!

  3. The tower I’m working on now doesn’t have a treadmill spring. I’m either going to make one or double stick tape a insert instead of gluing one in.

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