Over the last few years I have been emptying my loft, boarding it and adding extra insulation in the hope that this would make my house warmer. I think it has helped but to be honest I think new carpets (stops draughts through the floorboards) and new radiators (50% more heat into the rooms!) have probably been more effective. My plan is that eventually I will never need to go into the loft again as it requires a certain amount of flexibility and strength to get in and more importantly out! and I'm not quite the person I used to be. Anyway, the last few boxes were removed earlier this week. As it turned out, it was quite a few boxes, probably nearer to 20 than the four or five I remembered from the last time I was up there.


There was all the usual stuff from many years of life; old books, University notes, mementos from holidays and so on but among all this was a toy tank. I do not remember ever buying or owning this tank although I am still sure it is mine. I must have purchased it some 40 or more years ago and it has sat in a box in various lofts ever since.



In the video I give the manufacturer as Mary but this is due to my not-so-good eyesight, it is in fact Marx toys which apparently is a manufacturer of tin-plate toys from the 1940 and 50s. They must have also continued making electrical versions of their tin plate toys into the 1960s and probably 1970s as well. I had even left the batteries I had used with it, Ever Ready's which I am pretty certain were carbon-zinc technology. Amazingly they had not disintegrated or spread chemicals everywhere, despite being in a loft for possibly forty years. They even still have some power, not much; one battery had a voltage of 0.1 V and the other had 0.3 V.


The detail and quality of the top plastic cover is very good, as illustrated in the photographs below. The bottom part is a tin-plate construction. All done with almost no screws. I didn't have and D cells, the equivalent of the U2 batteries originally used so I connected a power supply. Amazingly the motors still work, albeit a bit noisily and the tracks still go around. It must be very high quality rubber tracks to still be flexible and workable after 40 years.  The gears are plastic so they are probably Nylon so should still be viable, but will need some lubrication. Anyone know what is the best lubrication for 40 year old Nylon gears?

Top View of the Tank


A Close-up of the detail


A View of the Two DC motors


The Battery Compartment


Inside the Turret


Unfortunately the tank is not quite complete as the red transparent end of the gun is missing. I assume that it contained a small bulb and that at some point in the past I was in need of a small bulb and removed it.


I looked up on the internet if this vintage tank had any value and surprisingly it did, possibly £35 although the box has been cut and the barrel end is missing so it is unlikely to be worth that much. I am not a collector of vintage toys so I will not be keeping the tank as it is. Either I will throw it away or give it away (I cannot be bothered to try and sell it) or more likely convert it into a mobile robot. There is plenty of room inside the turret area for all manner of electronics. The problem with converting it is accessing the motor wiring as the tin-plate bottom is held together with eight folded tabs, only 2 of which are accessible from inside the tank. This would make undoing the other six quite difficult and some would almost certainly break off. The motors are controlled using a wired hand-held controller so I might try to drill a hole in the rear of the tank where the cable to this controller connects and gain internal access to the motor wiring in that way. It would make an interesting hack although I do not think I have enough time left for the current Project14 competition. Maybe some time in the future.