1970 Hot Wheels Road Trials Set: in action

Every car owner knows that regular maintenance and periodic repairs are an integral part of keeping your vehicle on the road. However, for kids, the mindset is more one of running your toy car into the ground and then getting a new one. But in 1970 Mattel took a different approach by letting the young enthusiast work on his car to keep it running “faster than ever”!

The Tune-Up Tower provided the back bone for Hot Wheels maintenance. The Road Trials Set planted the tower inside an oval track powered by a single-lane Rod Runner.

Box art – side.

That meant you could bring a slower running car in for an evaluation and adjustment, then send it out on the track for a “trial” run to see if it moved faster.

This time around I am working with 3 open wheel redline cars that Mattel released in 1969.

Indy Eagle on the left and 2 Lotus Turbines on the right.

All 3 of these machines ran in the 1968 Indy 500.

1968 Indy 500 starting grid.

Dan Gurney piloted the #48 Indy Eagle.

Dan Gurney in the #48 Indy Eagle. Courtesy http://openwheel33.com/paint-schemes/1968-paint-schemes/

He drove a spectacular race and finished second behind race winner Bobby Unser.

Joe Leonard grabbed the pole position in his #60 Lotus Turbine.

Joe Leonard and the #60 Lotus Turbine. Courtesy http://openwheel33.com/paint-schemes/1968-paint-schemes/

He was leading the race with only 9 laps to go when a fuel shaft broke and put him out of competition. He finished 12th for the day.

Every Hot Wheels Lotus Turbine car came with a #70 sticker sheet. The original #70 Lotus Turbine was driven by Graham Hill.

Gr.ham Hill and the #70 Lotus Turbine. Courtesy http://openwheel33.com/paint-schemes/1968-paint-schemes/

Hill won the Indy 500 in 1966 but finished 19th during the ’68 race.

Here’s some pictures of the Road Trials Set in action and a YouTube video to bring it all to life.

Track layout.

Another view of the layout.

Open wheel Hot Wheels parked on the 2nd floor.

Two F1 Racers parked on the 1st floor.

Lotus turbine heading up the elevator.

Purple Lotus Turbine on the Dyno-Meter treadmill.

Indy Eagle on the hoist. Tune-Up Wrench at the ready.

Lotus turbine getting a full suspension work over.

Indy Eagle on the 3rd floor ramp. Getting ready for a track run.

F1 Racer running through the lane merger and onto the race course.

Heading into the Rod Runner.

Blasting out of the Rod Runner.

Racing past the Tune-Up Tower on a fast lap.

So there you have it. The 1970 Hot Wheels Road Trials Set with Tune-up Tower and Rod Runner. Making Hot Wheels still fast. Still fun.

1970 Hot Wheels Tune-Up Tower: Treadmill

A great way to tune hi-performance cars is to put them on a dynamometer.

An engine dynamometer. Courtesy SuperFlow.

An engine dynamometer. Courtesy SuperFlow.

A 2 wheel drive dynamometer.

A 2 wheel drive dynamometer.

An all wheel drive dynamometer. Courtesy SuperFlow.

An all wheel drive dynamometer. Courtesy SuperFlow.

A tandem axle dynamometer.

A tandem axle dynamometer.

The Hot Wheels Tune-Up Tower treadmill is the all-wheel drive type. Unfortunately, the treadmill often malfunctions.

The number one problem with the treadmill is slippery grime on the rubber roller of the drive shaft.

Grime on the rubber roller of the first Tune-Up Tower.

Grime on the rubber roller of the first Tune-Up Tower.

A complete mess for the second Tune-Up Tower.

A complete mess for the second Tune-Up Tower.

The number two problem with the treadmill is a missing torsion spring to hold the roller in place that drives the treadmill.

Here’s my YouTube video on how to disassemble, clean and repair the treadmill on a Tune-Up Tower.

So there you have it. The 1970 Hot Wheels Tune-Up Tower treadmill. Getting it to work is another step in making Hot Wheels still fast. Still fun.

A Datsun 240Z on the treadmill.

A Datsun 240Z on the treadmill.

1970 Hot Wheels Tune-Up Tower: Dyno-Meter Head Unit

Now that we’ve got the main motor running, it’s time to start looking at the treadmill apparatus. First up is the Dyno-Meter head unit.

TUTHU1

This unit contains the blue needles that mark out the Wheel Speed and Wheel Drift on the Dyno-Meter panel. It also consists of the orange arms that hold the car on the treadmill.

What’s the most common problem with these needles and arms? Some ham fisted kid back in the early 70’s decided to see how far he could bend them.

TUTHU2

The Wheel Drift needle is bent forward.

The nearest arm is bent up and in.

The nearest orange arm is bent up and in.

Here’s my video on how to fix a wonky Dyno-Meter head unit.

So there you have it. The 1970 Hot Wheels Tune-Up Tower Dyno-Meter head unit fixed and ready to go.

Up next, how to get the treadmill running so we can keep Hot Wheels cars still fast. Still fun.

Tune-Up Tower box art - front. Close-up. Courtesy eBay.

Tune-Up Tower box art – front. Close-up. Courtesy eBay.

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.

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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.

1970 Hot Wheels Tune-Up Tower: Introduction

When they first rolled out, Hot Wheels were billed as the Fastest Metal Cars in the World. How right Mattel was. As kids, we loved the speed and would run our cars as hard as we could all day long. The result, more than a few of our vehicles ended up looking like this.

Well used '68 Custom Corvette.

Well used ’68 Custom Corvette.

All that wear and tear meant the axles got bent and the wheel bearings filled up with dust and debris. The result? Our blazing fast Hot Wheels cars began slowing down.

Thankfully, Mattel provided a solution for us in 1970. The Tune Up Tower allowed us to test our cars for drift and wheel speed.

Tune-Up Tower box art - front. Courtesy eBay

Tune-Up Tower box art – front. Courtesy eBay

Axles could be adjusted with a Tune-Up Wrench.

tool

Tune-Up Tower box art - side. Courtesy eBay.

Tune-Up Tower box art – side. Courtesy eBay.

Tune-Up Tower box art - back. Courtesy eBay

Tune-Up Tower box art – back. Courtesy eBay

Tune-Up Tower decals. Courtesy eBay.

Tune-Up Tower decals. Courtesy eBay.

Here are the instructions for the Tune-Up Tower.

Tune-Up Tower instructions. Page 1

Tune-Up Tower instructions. Page 1

Tune-Up Tower instructions. Page 2

Tune-Up Tower instructions. Page 2

Tune-Up Tower instructions. Page 3

Tune-Up Tower instructions. Page 3

Tune-Up Tower instructions. Page 4

Tune-Up Tower instructions. Page 4

Tune-Up Tower instructions. Page 5

Tune-Up Tower instructions. Page 5

Tune-Up Tower instructions. Page 6

Tune-Up Tower instructions. Page 6

Tune-Up Tower instructions. Page 7

Tune-Up Tower instructions. Page 7

Tune-Up Tower instructions. Page 8 showing the Road Trials Set layout.

Tune-Up Tower instructions. Page 8 showing the Road Trials Set layout.

The problem with most Tune-Up Towers today is they are used, missing parts and in need of repair. I have several Tune-Up Towers and none of them work properly.

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So, I am going to explore the inner workings of these machines and see if I can get some of them to work like they did in 1970. That way, when my ’68 Custom Corvette gets towed in…

Tow Jam towing the '68 Custom Corvette.

Tow Jam towing the ’68 Custom Corvette.

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…I can go to work on that grand, old car.

The 1970 Hot Wheels Tune-Up Tower; making Hot Wheels still fast, still fun.

TUT catalog

1970 Hot Wheels Collectors’ Catalog. Copyright Mattel, Inc.

Original packing. Courtesy eBay.

Original packing. Courtesy eBay.

Original packaged small piece contents. Courtesy eBay.

Original packaged small piece contents. Courtesy eBay.

Close up of original Twin Mill. Courtesy eBay.

Close up of original Twin Mill. Courtesy eBay.

1970 Hot Wheels Indy 500 Race Set

May 29, 2016 marks the 100th running of the Indianapolis 500.

Logo for the 100th Indy 500.

Logo for the 100th Indy 500.

Adding to this tradition is Hot Wheels. Back in 1970, Mattel issued the Indy Team pak.

Box art - back. Courtesy eBay.

Box art – back. Courtesy eBay.

Box art - back and side. Courtesy eBay.

Box art – back and side. Courtesy eBay.

Box art - side. Courtesy eBay.

Box art – side. Courtesy eBay.

It featured a 4 car box set of Hot Wheels’ open wheel cars.

Indy Team 4

Three of these cars ran at Indianapolis including the red Lotus Turbine which almost won the 1968 race (fuel shaft broke on lap 191 while in the lead), an aqua Shelby Turbine which almost won the 1967 race (transmission bearing broke on lap 196 while in the lead) and a light green Indy Eagle. Although Brabham Repcos competed at Indianapolis, the blue F1 model shown here ran in Formula One.

Today I’m going racing, Indy style, with a dual-lane Rod Runner oval track.┬áThis layout has 32 feet of orange track, 10 joiners, 1 dual-lane Rod Runner, two 180 degree dual-lane curves, 2 white trestles and a dual-lane lap counter.

Indy parts

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With the dual-lane lap counter we can run 20 lap races.

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For this open wheel race I am running two Winning Formula cars.

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Here’s what happened with this Indy race.

So there you have it. A custom track. The 1970 Hot Wheels Indy Race Set.

It’s still fast. Still fun.

Box art - bottom. Courtesy eBay.

Box art – bottom. Courtesy eBay.

Logo for the 99th running of the Indy 500.

Logo for the 99th running of the Indy 500.

1970 Hot Wheels Speedometer Race Set

Speed!

Box art - front. Copyright Mattel, Inc.

Box art – front. Copyright Mattel, Inc.

When it comes to speed, supercars and high performance concept cars take center stage.

Today I’m putting 2 supercars and 2 concept cars to the test.

l to r: orange Ford Shelby GR-1 Concept Car, yellow '12 Acura NSX Concept Car, metal flake silver LaFerrari and lime green Lamborghini Sesto Elemento.

l to r: orange Ford Shelby GR-1 Concept Car, yellow ’12 Acura NSX Concept Car, metal flake silver LaFerrari and lime green Lamborghini Sesto Elemento.

And that test is all about speed. This is a race set where the 1970 dual-lane Speedometer tells us who is the winner.

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There is no finish gate. Whoever slams through the Speedometer with the fastest speed wins.

To generate the highest speed, I’m using a 1970 dual-lane Rod Runner with double rubber bands on each shifter.

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Here’s what happened…

So there you have it. A custom track. The 1970 Hot Wheels Speedometer Race Set.

It’s still fast. Still fun.

Box art - side. Copyright Mattel, Inc.

Box art – side. Copyright Mattel, Inc.

Close up. Box art - side. Copyright Mattel, Inc.

Close up. Box art – side. Copyright Mattel, Inc.

Close up. Box art - side. Copyright Mattel, Inc.

Close up. Box art – side. Copyright Mattel, Inc.

Box art - end. Copyright Mattel, Inc.

Box art – end. Copyright Mattel, Inc.

Box art - back. Copyright Mattel, Inc.

Box art – back. Copyright Mattel, Inc.

1970 Collectors' Catalogue. Copyright Mattel, Inc.

1970 Collectors’ Catalogue. Copyright Mattel, Inc.