Chevy Monza Tonka Clutch Popper

REMIX: Chevy Monza

Here’s an example of recombining a couple of broken models into one new and improved one! I had a 1987 Tonka clutch popper – Monza (Scorcher) that had a stuffed motor (broken teeth on one of the gears), and another ’83 model with a smashed in wheelbase, so the kids & I thought swapping the bits around might make a good experiment. Turned out pretty good and probably better than the other two we reckon. This is because the ’83 model with a silver wheelbase has a flaw – those white coloured wheelbase’s/chassis are not UV stable (by the looks of it), which means they can become brittle over time and one good smack and they’ll crack. Also the ’87 model does not have as heavier gauge steel for the body and not quite as good a paint job (more a print), but does have a black turbo piece for the hood. So the two combined together actually work pretty well, maybe even the perfect combo! It did involve drilling the rivet out of the good motor to remove from the broken base, then riveting (just with a pop rivet) into the ’87 black base, pretty quick and easy job.

So a good example of reusing broken toys, recombining parts and making something new, fun little project you can do with kids with these kinds of toys that have modular inter-changeable parts. So if you see any of these around that are going cheap ‘for repair’ or ‘for parts/salvage’ then grab a couple and give the kids a little project, and you could chip in too:)

1983 Chevy Monza – broken wheelbase
Chevy Monza Remix – ’83 & ’87
Chevy Monza Remix

Here are the original catalog pictures of the two models recombined into this one.

1987 Tonka Clutch Popper – Chevy Monza – Scorcher
1983 Tonka Clutch Popper – Chevy Monza
Chevy Monza

Service: Chevy Monza 2

This is a Tonka that was in a junk box, basically written off so was a salvage job really, just a few bucks so worth a crack getting it working again! I wasn’t holding out too much hope given it wasn’t really showing any sign of working, but at the very least thought it could end up being a reasonable cleaned up steel car for the kids to play with. Taking it apart I found it was really very dirty so it’s only chance required drilling the motor out and giving it a thorough clean. This one had no steel rivet in the middle hole, and instead two squashed down plastic ‘rivets’, so with these you’ve got to essentially drill those right out through the base to get the motor out. Having a look at the motor I found it was very dirty, basically loaded with a very fine sand, so this one had been really put through it’s paces!

After giving it a good clean out with CRC I managed to get a better look at what was going on. The motor and gears were all in good working order, but for some reason the clutch gear was no longer dropping into place by itself when the car is pushed forward. This is where normally it would push the button up into the ready position and drive another gear that spins the flywheel.

The motor, cleaned out

What I found though was that it functioned fine if the gear was manually pulled down into place, which in turn popped the clutch up. Just needed a way of setting it when the car was back together. So a little hack I came up with was to drill a hole in the base under the gear and make a little “key” that could hook the gear down into place with a little pull. Worked a treat! This one now has a special feature where you need its “key” to make it work, I may even find an old car key base and use that as the handle, makes it a bit more fun for the kids:)

I took all the stickers of as they were not in great condition, I quite like the look of these without the stickers, bit more simple and easier to clean up. This one now runs pretty quick even on a single rev up, so I added weight to the opposite side of the flywheel to try and straighten it up a bit. Also ran it on about a meter of a grippy mat to help it get going without immediately spinning out. Here it is all cleaned up an ready to go!

Tonka Clutch Popper – Chevy Monza 2 – Post Service
Chevy Monza Maintenance

Service: Monza – Disassemble & Lube

This is an early model Chevy Monza (no turbo sound), was in very good condition and actually in pretty good working order, just a little noisy, understandable for 40 odd years old, I’m a little noisy sometimes myself:p

So this post is mainly just going over disassembly and basic lube, that’s all this one needed, and a bit of a cleanup. I used CRC 556 as a penetrative lubricant, great for loosening up parts that are a bit seized up noisy, and safe on metals and plastics. I would not recommend WD40 for this, for reasons that I might do a blog about later, but it is not really a lubricant like CRC 556 (although that also is really a light lubricant). After a penetrative, cleaning, loosening lube, you could also use a silicone based lube around the flywheel and (potentially) in the motor parts, in a nutshell if at all possible keep it to minimum (to loosen seized parts), as this motor was originally intended to run dry. In this one I did apply a little Super Lube with PTFE (Teflon) on a couple of the shaft points on the outside of the motor, just a little is all that’s needed. At the end of the day this motor ends up transferring quite a lot of kinetic energy into the flywheel and the engagement of that into the rear axle can cause the car to go very fast if everything is in order. It then can become sensitive to any kind of shiny surface and needs something to grip onto from take off, and/or extra weight. But all that’s all part of the fun! This one is not one of those models, and runs at what I would call a good speed for the average kid in the average house. I suspect from around 1980/81 when they added the ‘turbo sound’ (not in this car so it must be pre that), they also added an additional gear that spins the flywheel even faster (which seems like a ludicrous thing to do but there you go!). I’ve found that the ones I have with the turbo sound feature, once cleaned and lubed (as above – just a little around the shaft pints and flywheel, and potentially none in the gears themselves) go significantly faster to the point of needing some kind of grip mat to run on (if revved up to the max, you can also control that by dropping the revs/flywheel rpms).

Chevy Monza

Service: Chevy Monza

This is a Tonka Clutch Popper, Chevy Monza model (probably had the Cragar series decals, 1980-ish, was hard to tell with what was left of them!), that came into the workshop (aka ‘the shed’) in pretty rough condition, beat up and down on its luck, barely running and a bit sad.

It was looking like the above picture. Not great, but you can see the potential here. The more beat up the better (to a point:)) on these cars, those are badges of honor for a toy car like this. Sorry a didn’t get a before video of how it was running, but use your imagination, sounded like shit and crawled a few inches. So it was time to get it sorted out and back on track!

So I took this through all the maintenance steps I’ve posted about on the maintenance page (may not have posted on all of them yet, but will update later), bar taking the motor out (which would’ve meant drilling the rivet out) as I wanted to see how well it could go with just the basics. So this was: cleanup axles, cleanup motor (without removing), lube axles & motor (CRC), lightly sand tyres, tire alignment, removed remaining decal/sticker remnants (with citris degreaser – in the states you could use something like Crud Cutter), cutting polish & wax, plastic cleaner, body buff/shine.

Here it is disassembled, post cleanup, body with a wax polish waiting for buffing.

Tonka Clutch Popper – Chevy Monza – Disassembled

Here it is finished, and running well! I’m not sure how far it will go now on a full rev as I don’t have a stretch long enough to find out, it currently always ends up smacking into something, but I expect it could do 30 odd metres (or more) on a good surface, one day I’ll find out and do a post about it.

Post Service – Chevy Monza
Tonka Clutch Popper – Chevy Monza – Post service run check