It was 1968 when Hot Wheels introduced the world to speed and fun for diecast cars. And you know there was a lot of speed and a ton of fun just by the way some Hot Wheels looked.
1968 red Custom Corvette.
Trouble is, these heavily used cars had lost most of their get up and go!
Crashin’ in the loops.
Calling for a tow.
What’s needed to get some of that zip back? How about a 1970 Hot Wheels Tune-Up Tower with track…
The layout including a 1969 Double-Dare Race Action Set.
…and some wrenching that includes a little axle cleaning, straightening and lubing plus a brand new set of tires.
Up on the hoist.
Putting the Tune-Up Wrench to work.
Picking up new tires.
Hauling back to the Tune-Up Tower.
Putting it all together.
Getting that final tune up check.
Hitting the drag strip.
Running hard again!
Here’s how the 1968 Custom Corvette’s tune up turned out.
So there you have it. The 1968 Custom Corvette getting a full service job with the 1970 Hot Wheels Tune-Up Tower. Making Hot Wheels still fast. Still fun.
Every Hot Wheels Tune-Up Tower fix, for the most part, simply requires a thorough cleaning of the electrical contacts, the treadmill pulley and the elevator drive belt mechanism. Although this will restore most of what ails a Tune-Up Tower, I found that the elevator mechanism can still be baulky, usually when going up and especially when carrying a car.
The problem centers on the brown staining of the plastic elevator belt. It’s some kind of oxidation, possibly related to sunlight, moisture and dust, and this stuff is slippery. Fortunately, I’ve come up with a quick fix for this elevator problem.
The answer is friction tape applied to the rubber drive roller. (By the way, the rubber drive rollers that I have seen still seem soft and useable. So, as long as it is clean, I don’t think the rubber part itself is the issue.)
Interestingly, you don’t have to wrap the entire circumference of the drive roller to get the elevator mechanism working. I found that a little bit of friction tape covering 1/4 to 1/2 the drive pulley would fix the problem. I suspect that this is variable and you may need less or more friction tape to get your Tune-Up Tower elevator working right.
Here’s a short video on this quick fix.
So there you have it. The 1970 Hot Wheels Tune-Up Tower elevator working properly with just a little bit of friction tape.
It’s time for a tour of the 1970 Hot Wheels Tune-up Tower.
Tune-Up Tower box art – front. Courtesy eBay
We have 3 floors to drive thru.
A fully assembled Tune-Up Tower.
The first floor.
The second floor.
The top floor.
Today we’ll head into the Tune-Up Tower driving a ’73 Firebird Trans-Am.
Swinging out the merger bar lets you drive your car into the tower.
With the elevator down, the safety bar goes up and lets your car in.
The main feature on the top floor is the dyno-meter treadmill.
Here are the stickers adjacent to the treadmill.
And on the far side of the treadmill.
Close-up of the Firestone tire section.
Close-up of the Good Year tire part.
Parked on the top floor…
…sitting on a molded hoist.
On the ramp waiting to head back to the track.
Up goes the ramp.
Off goes the Firebird.
Running through the lane merger.
On the road again!
Here’s a little bit more detail on driving thru the Tune-Up Tower.
So there you have it. A drive-thru of the 1970 Hot Wheels Tune-Up Tower.
It’s still fast. Still fun.
The Tune-Up Tower has it’s dynamometer testing unit on the top floor. Cars come into the tower from ground floor track. To get up to the testing area the cars are lifted up by an elevator.
Problem is, the elevator is often malfunctioning or not working at all. Fortunately, Mattel engineered these towers so well that getting them to work properly again requires little more than a thorough cleaning of a couple of parts.
The most critical part is the drive roller on the top of the elevator’s back side. It pops out on the gear side.
The grime and debris on the rubber roller have to be completely removed otherwise the belt will just slip.
I find that a Mister Clean Magic Eraser does a great job.
The second piece that needs cleaning is the plastic drive belt itself. Again I use a Magic Eraser to gently clean the dirt and stains away.
If cleaning the drive roller and the drive belt doesn’t get your elevator working right…take it apart and clean them again. Usually the drive roller is the problem at this point. Every time my cleaning got the drive roller back to showroom condition, the elevator functioned like it was suppose to.
Here’s my YouTube video to walk you through some of my elevator fixes.
So there you have it. The 1970 Hot Wheels Tune-Up Tower with properly functioning elevator. Now we’re ready to make Hot Wheels still fast. Still fun.
Box art – front. Close-up. Courtesy eBay.
A great way to tune hi-performance cars is to put them on a dynamometer.
An engine dynamometer. Courtesy SuperFlow.
A 2 wheel drive dynamometer.
An all wheel drive dynamometer. Courtesy SuperFlow.
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.
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.
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.
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.
The Wheel Drift needle is bent forward.
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.
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. 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:
- How do you access the metal contacts on a Tune-Up Tower?
- How do you go from tarnished
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.