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
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)
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
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
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.
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.
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 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
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
Reattach the end cap. Check the throttle for smooth, predictable
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
The wiper may need to be adjusted.
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
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
first with the polishing compound. Once you commit to the
rubbing compound, a lot of polishing is required to bring back a
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.
If you have some white blemishes, there is nothing that can be
done. White blemishes are usually stress marks that exist through the