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.

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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.

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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.

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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 Road Trials Set

The 1970 Hot Wheels Rod Runner Speedway Set lets you run “lap after lap” action on an oval using a single-lane rod runner.  To take things one step further, Mattel added a Tune-Up Tower and produced the Hot Wheels Road Trials Set.

Box art – front. Courtesy eBay.

This set includes 12 1/2 feet of orange track, 8 joiners, 2 full curves, 1 lane merger, 1 single-lane rod runner and 1 tune-up tower with 1 wheel wrench.

The Tune-Up Tower is a 3 level structure with parking on the first 2 levels and a Dyno-Meter on the top floor.  This rolling treadmill is activated by a white switch on the tower roof.  The Dyno-Meter measures spinning wheel resistence and wheel alignment.  If a wheel is bent to the left then the car drifts to the left.  It makes sense that a car pushing into the sidewall of the track will encounter greater friction and run slower.

A wheel wrench is provided that allows you to bend the axle so that tire alignment is more true.

The result should be a faster car.  Mattel lets you “Road Trial” your mechanical fix by supplying an orange ramp off the top level for access to the track oval below which is powered by a single-lane rod runner.

Top floor on ramp. Connect to track and GO! Courtesty eBay.

Track layout. Courtesy eBay.

If the car’s performance is still off you can bring it back in for another “tune-up”.  If it runs fast and straight you can come in and park or stay out and “race ’em nonstop!”.

The Tune-Up Tower also has an elevator operated by a second white switch that will take your car to any of the 3 levels.

Here’s a 1970 TV ad from Mattel demonstrating the Road Trials Set.  Courtesy Mark Roach.

So there you have it.  The 1970 Hot Wheels Road Trials Set with Tune-Up Tower and single-lane Rod Runner.

It’s still fast.  Still fun.

1970 Collectors’ Catalogue. Copyright Mattel, Inc.

Road Trials Set: Box art - front. Courtesy eBay.

Road Trials Set: Box art – front. Courtesy eBay.

 

Box art – side. Courtesy eBay.

Box art -back. Courtesy eBay.

Box art – end. Courtesy eBay.

More box contents. Courtesy eBay.

More box contents. Courtesy eBay.

Stickers and papers. Courtesy eBay.

More stickers. Courtesy eBay.

Page from Road Trials instruction sheet. Courtesy eBay.

Page from Road Trials instruction sheet. Courtesy eBay.

Back page of instruction sheet. Courtesy eBay.

Back page of instruction sheet. Courtesy eBay.

Content pieces. Courtesy eBay.

Sunday Newspaper Comics Section from August 23, 1970. This ad is for Mattel's Road Trials Set featuring racing legend Dan Gurney.

Sunday Newspaper Comics Section from August 23, 1970. This ad is for Mattel’s Road Trials Set featuring racing legend Dan Gurney. Courtesy eBay.