Johnny Astro is well built and easy to repair and maintain.  Below are some repair and maintenance tips.  If you have additional tips you feel should be added, please let us know.  To read about other performance problems and tips, click here.


There are a few things that you can do to keep your Johnny Astro running smooth and to improve it's performance.

Lubricate All Linkages & Bearings
Lubricating all linkages and bearings will reduce wear and help your Johnny Astro operate smoothly.  Use a light lubricant.  Never use WD40 because it leaves a residue which can gum up and seize the part.  Use a multi purpose, spray lubricant.  It  has the advantage of being able to clean the residue when you apply it.  It's a good idea to stuff some paper towel around the area to keep other parts clean when applying.

There are 4 points to lubricate, the front and rear linkages and the front and rear rod bearings. Wipe around each part that you lubricate to minimize any oil residue that could attract dust. 



 Lubricate and clean the 2 riveted linkages.


Lubricate the 2 black rod bearings. (one shown here)

Lubricate Motor
Accessing the fan motor is pretty easy. It's much easier if you detach the fan unit from the linkage first.  The fan unit was made to detach. In fact, when the toy was new, the fan comes unattached.  The first picture shows the fan unit detached, the remaining pictures show it attached.  Detaching the fan unit was an afterthought for us!

Remove the top fan cowling by removing the three screws from underneath.

Next, pull off the propeller and remove the 2 screws that secure the top motor plate. Remove the top motor plate.

Use a light oil to lubricate the top  bearings.  Slide the motor out and do the same to the bottom bearing.  Spin the motor a few times by hand to ensure the lubricant enters the bearings.

Clean off the dust and any residue that might have been left on the rear fan housing.

When you reassemble the fan unit, ensure that you put the prop on with the hollow side facing up.  If you don't the thrust is reduced a lot.  It will still fly a balloon, but at a lot lower altitude.  A small performance tweak is to not push the prop all the way down on the motor shaft.  This allows for more air flow and therefore, a bit more thrust.



Detach the fan unit then remove the fan cowling.


Remove the motor propeller and top plate to access and lube the top and bottom motor bearing.


After re-installing the motor, clean any remaining oil before refitting the propeller.

Reduce Linkage Play
Reducing play (slop) in the riveted linkages improves fan control.  The linkages for the fan and joystick are accessible from the top. The fan linkage is accessible from the bottom and the top.  Generally, you simply squeeze the rivets that link the control arm to the fan and the joystick.  Caution should be used because you do not want to over tighten.  As well, use a pair of pliers that do not have teeth to avoid marking the rivet.   Alternatively, you could protect the rivets with small pieces of plate metal.

It is interesting to note that the the linkage arm can be adjusted to change the range and sensitivity of the fan control.  This was made possible with additional holes in the fan and joy stick linkages.  I don't recall seeing this in any instructions.  Perhaps topper was not sure how sensitive the controls should be so they gave themselves options.

While you're inspecting the bottom, make sure the wires that lead to the fan motor are secure and not being bothered by the fan control linkages.



Squeeze the linkage rivets to reduce play.


The fan unit's rivet is accessible from the top or bottom.


The extra hole below the link arm allows you to adjust the sensitivity of the joy stick.


Most problems are electromechanical and usually effect the throttle control.  If your throttle control has a dead spot or is erratic, the following information should help.

Repairing The Throttle Control
The throttle control consists of a wire wound rheostat and a wiper that moves along the edge of the rheostat.  As you move the throttle control arm back and forth, the resistance of the rheostat changes.  This ultimately changes the voltage across the fan motor.  A common problem is a dead spot in the throttle as result of oxidation or lack of sufficient wiper contact.  If the fan does not run at all until you move the throttle somewhere beyond where it was supposed to start, you may have a broken rheostat winding.

To resolve the problem with a dead spot or erratic throttle, the wiper and rheostat need to be deoxidized and the wiper should be adjusted to ensure positive contact with the wire wound rheostat.  In the photo, we show the rheostat removed.  This is not required.

A burnishing tool is useful to deoxidize a wiper or the windings of a rheostat.  It's kind of like a thin nail file but with a much finer abrasive surface.  Alternatively, you can use #600 or #400 sandpaper.  To deoxidize the wiper, you will need to remove only one screw which holds the black plastic end cap.  It is shown below the wiper in the picture.  Put the throttle in it's off state before you begin.  You will need a small Phillips screwdriver.  Once the end cap is removed, lightly sand the wiper edge.  While the end cap is out, it's a good time to bend out the wiper a bit to ensure it makes positive contact with the wire wound rheostat.  

Next, clean the edge of the wire wound rheostat that the wiper touches.  Do not sand side to side but rather with the direction of the wire turns.  Make sure no wire is broken.  If it is, that's another repair we'll write about soon.  Lastly, check all the electrical connections that use a screw and make sure they are snug.

Reattach the end cap.  Check the throttle for smooth, predictable control. 

One last note - Most old battery operated toys fail from corrosion or oxidation.  If a motor does not work, often spinning the motor by hand will clean the motors internal brushes and get it working.  Other things to look for are battery terminals or any place that an electrical connection is made.  After cleaning any electrical connection, I often spray that part with electrical contact cleaner or contact lubricant available at electronic parts stores. 



The throttle assembly.


End to end, the rheostat  measures 16 ohms.


A burnishing tool.


Cleaning the wiper with a burnishing tool.


The wiper may need to be adjusted.


The following products and techniques apply to most plastic toys.

Making It Shine
Keeping your Johnny Astro looking great only requires a light cleaning using a cloth with some mild soap and warm water.   I keep a clean paintbrush around to clear out dust from hard to reach places.  You can keep a shine with household spray on furniture wax. 

Scratches & Blemishes
Most scratches and surface imperfections can be polished out with specially made plastic polishes or my choice, automotive rubbing and polishing compounds.  The rubbing compound is a heavy wax with a built in abrasive.  Turrtlewax automotive Rubbing Compound and Clear Coat Polish work exceptionally well to restore plastics. You simply take a paper towel, put some on it and rub the scratch or blemish out.  Next you do the same with the much finer polishing compound to bring back the shine.  Try to remove light scratches first with the polishing compound.  Once you commit to the rubbing compound, a lot of polishing is required to bring back a consistent sheen.  I have used a buffer wheel to remove scratches and to polish toys with a lot of success.  I would strongly recommend however that you first develop your skills on something you don't care about.   A beginner can easily melt and distort the plastic in just a few seconds.

White Blemishes
If you have some white blemishes, there is nothing that can be done.  White blemishes are usually stress marks that exist through the finish. 

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