I spotted one of these old Tonka Quickshifters the other day being sold as a junker (one mans junk is another mans treasure and all that:)). Guy didn’t know (or probably care) what it was, said wheels didn’t move and was very playworn, thought it might have some kind of friction motor but sold as is where is. The description was accurate, but I figured it was worth a crack to clean it up, take a look inside and see if I could sort it out and get it back on the road:p.
These things are all pressed steel, body and chassis, with plastic bumpers and window piece. Here’s a page with a bit of description about them. They are about double the size of a Tonka Clutch Popper, and double the weight. They are seriously durable toys, and this one looked like had been through one hell of a ride over its 43 year life (these were produced in 1977/78), bit of denting and paint damage, the underside scratched up in a big way, bumpers pretty dinged up front and back. Badges of honor:) And yes it did not hardly budge and was pretty seized up. Couple of the original screws had been replaced with different types.
The dust cover over the motor had been glued in place (not sure whether this was a factory thing or done later), so took a bit to prise it off. Found that the motor all looked fine, and it may have been that the dust cover had remained in place its whole life. The gears were just seized in place. The motor in these Quickshifters is larger than the Clutch Popper, due to the size and weight being significantly more it has a larger and heavier flywheel to drive it. It is not also completely closed off by the steel frame, with the dust cover off you can access the gears directly, which makes adding a bit of lube more straight forward. A bit of CRC in and around the axles, gears and flywheel got thing moving in pretty short order. It was/is totally functional, including it’s “Quickshifting” ability, which is basically the ability to charge the flywheel through one gear transmission line (that spins the flywheel very fast), then when you stop applying forward force, it automatically drops in to a different transmission line (and reduced output) that now engages the flywheel to the rear axle. This design and patent was essentially extended with the Clutch Popper, that enabled you to “hold back” that auto shift to the second transmission line, and instead engage it when you wanted through the push of the button on top.
Once it was all cleaned up, this turned out to be a great little (well reasonably big) car that will probably now stay in use for another decade or so with this family, then maybe others after that, who knows, its made it this far!. Not a bad innings for a toy car from ’77.