This is documenting my journey getting a getting and old Tyco Trucking Set up and running with my kids.
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Alright, so I'm a bit like a kid in a candy shop with this stuff. Another structure I never owned as a kid, but looks kinda interesting is the G.I. Joe missile launcher.
The white plastic on the launch pad pivots at the front, allowing the missile-laden flatbed truck to back up, threading on the missile, and then pushing it upright with the "fin" on the launch tower. Here's a closer shot:
I've seen other posts where folks rightly call out that the launch pad (which is fairly rare) is based on the dump yard, which is insanely common. From what I can tell, it definitely is. the big difference is that the dump yard is raised up right where that pivot point is (I can't find a pic now, but I've seen one of the rocket launcher pad without the top on, and it's completely flat inside, without the hump):
So, back to that whole "kid in a candy shop" analogy. I just bought a missile launcher and missile from e-bay, and it's in the mail. Making a 3D model of the missile & printing copies seems like it should be simple. But what really excites me is: can we make a launcher platform that sits on top of an existing dump yard? Sure, it won't be exactly the same as stock-- that doesn't bother me. But can we make something that seems authentic and true to the original set? I'm thinking that it will need hinge points spread wider, to get around that big hump. And it will still need the fin in the middle to allow it to be pushed upright.
What I find particularly interesting with going this route is that apparently the single hinge point was a really common point of failure and breakage. If the good folks at Tyco would have had more time to iterate on the design, I wonder if they would have ended up with a version with two hinge points off to the side?
And for bonus points: One of the awesome things about US-1 was that most things you could both pick up and drop off. As far as I know, there never was a way to pick up a missile. What might it take to build a missile loading facility?
When looking at e-bay for Tyco US-1 parts, it's quickly apparent that there are a number of plastic parts that commonly break over time. One of the first I ran into was for the box unloader. You can find the main track piece for this very frequently, but there's a special sign that only swings one way that is almost always broken or missing.
One of my big hobbies is 3D printing (and designing 3D parts). As for Tyco US-1, my interest is less in having everything be perfect & stock, and instead in having something that I can feel comfortable having my kids pull out and play with. I expect that some things will get broken, and that needs to be okay. I also love that, with 3D design, I can design something once, and then not only can I re-print it as many times as I want, but others can as well. All it takes is one person to design a bunch of simple replacement parts, and then all of these broken, unusable parts are suddenly more valuable and easily restored.
So yeah, you probably guessed that I designed a replacement sign & sign post:
Functionally, it works great. And while the picture gives you a close-up view where you can see all of the printing imperfections, in practice, they're not so visible, and it works great.
From this point, I've jumped off and started designing a number of other parts that seem to break often:
The dump yards are super common, but the original walls are frequently warped, have their pegs broken off, or are just flat missing.
I picked up a "Motor City Trucking" car carrier loader (I never had one of these as a kid, but it looks cool!) The "backstop bracket" was broken, but easily replaced with a 3D printed part (grey bracket in the middle).
The shed was missing on this Freight Terminal. This was kind of a fun build, as I designed the building to be printed flat, and folded, just like the original building was assembled. It's a surprisingly simple design that allows all of the walls to be printed as a top surface of the 3D print (so they look nice), without the need for gluing anything together. It's interesting how using a similar design that worked so simply with injection molding applies so well to 3D printing.
This whole project started when my brother decided that my kids needed a vintage Tyco Trucking US-1 set for Christmas. We live in different states, so he decided to order a bunch of stuff on e-bay and have it shipped to my house. A few days before Christmas, I started going through the stuff he had ordered, and realized just how much was needed to get these up and running.
The main things I ran into at first were:
Luckily, there are solutions for all of these.
Oh, and there's one more big issue. Early versions of the cars were made with brown gears. Later versions used white gears.
The brown gears are awesome. The white gears, however, haven't stood the test of time so well. Most of them are cracked. I went looking for replacement gears and couldn't find anything. So, this being 2021, I opened up some CAD software and went to work. I'd never designed gears before and designing mating worm and spur gears was an interesting challenge. A few weeks later, I got these back from Shapeways:
For about $20 including shipping, I now had 9 new gear sets. And as it turns out, these work really well. I've been using them in a few cars for about a month with no issues. You can find the STL here: https://www.prusaprinters.org/prints/55302-tyco-trucking-us1-gears
As a side note, before I got these back from Shapeways, I saw that someone else has designed replacement gears and is selling them on e-bay. It's good to see alternate options out there and others keeping this awesome toy working.
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