View Full Version : Broken Motor in Vintage Tie Fighter

01-24-2011, 10:41 AM
Would anybody know how to fix a broken motor in a 1978 Tie fighter or X-Wing Fighter?

01-24-2011, 12:12 PM
First off what makes you think the motor is actually broken?

01-24-2011, 12:58 PM
The light works when the button is pressed, but there is no sound. I have another version of the ship that both the light and motor works.

I opened up the broken one, and the wire look fine, and appear to be connected in the proper places. It seems the round Nylon piece will not spin to create the sound.

01-24-2011, 04:31 PM
Ok, this is what I thought you were going to say. It's highly unlikely the motor is really broken. 3V motors are pretty hardy little motors and it takes a lot to truly brake them. What has happened is the motor is 'frozen.' When you don't run a motor for a long time they tend to freeze up and don't want to run. Luckily this is an easy problem to fix.

Since the LEDs work and you already opened the ship, the next thing to do is spin the motor by hand some. This helps loose up any frozen parts inside the motor casing. Next press down the button to turn the sound and lights on. You should start you hear a low whining sound from the motor as it starts to move again. If not spin it by hand some more with the button held down.

Once the motor starts running you'll need to let it run for a bit. Run it 10 to 15 minutes, let it rest for 30 minutes, then run it another 10 to 15 minutes. Rise and repeat. The rest is because I can't stand to listen to it for that long. After running it a bit you'll need to lubricate the motor. Any light machine oil works, most people have had the best luck with sewing machine oil.

If none of this worked I do have some other tricks before we talk about whole sale replacement of the motor.

01-25-2011, 07:08 AM
Thank you, I will try this and let you know what happens... Is this principle the same for the X-wing and Millenium Falcon ships as well?

01-25-2011, 11:25 AM
Is this principle the same for the X-wing and Millenium Falcon ships as well?

Yes. All the vintage vehicles with electronics pretty much work in the same way. With the exception of Vader's Star Destroyer (which is basically a flashlight), all the vehicles have a 3V motor that powers what ever they do. Each vehicle has it's own little idiosyncrasies, but the principles are always the same.

The Falcon I think is the easiest to work on. The motor is easily accessible and removable, the battery contacts easy to clean, there's very little putting back together to test it and it's pretty easy to put back together at the end.

01-26-2011, 07:01 AM
I tried spinning the motor for quite some time with no results. Actually spinned the wheel in both directions for about 10 - 15 min. Even gave it a very light tap with a small screw driver, still no results.. Curious if you have any other hints to try... Thanks again..

01-26-2011, 01:43 PM
Oh well, on to the next thing. Before my next suggestion could you take some photos of the opened cockpit? This will help if the next thing doesn't work. Two or three different angles would be great. Be sure to use you're camera in Macro Mode (normally a little flower icon).

I've found soaking the motor in white vinegar often gets the most stubborn motors running. I'd have to open one of my TIE cockpits to remember the best way to do this. I'm thinking I used a small bowl or glass and dipped just the motor in the vinegar. Another method is to place a paper towel soaked in vinegar around the motor.

I'd soak the motor for a good hour. If you're using the paper towel, re-soak or replace the towel after a half hour. Then while the motor is still wet, try running the thing. The acid in the vinegar helps with the flow of electricity. Again, once the motor starts running you're going to have to run it for a bit. This is very important as the motor dries. You'll have to try running a couple times a day while it dries. After wards you'll still have to lubricate the motor.

If this doesn't work after the first hour get some fresh vinegar and soak for another hour. If it still doesn't work I have one more suggestion that may work based on what I see in the before photos.

01-26-2011, 02:13 PM
The motor has a white nylon zip tie securing it to the inside. This can easily be cut and replaced with another. I believe there are only 2 wire leeds that connect to the motor, looks like they move in and out with ease..

I'll try the white Vinegar, and we'll see what happens... Thanks again for all your help.

01-27-2011, 03:31 PM
Not a problem. I'm more than happy pass along any knowledge I've picked up while tinker with my SW vehicles.

The leads that connect to the motor should not be loose. I've seen the battery leads loose before, but never anything else. If those wires are loose that might cause a problem (the LED shouldn't light if it's the problem I'm thinking of). Is it just the wires that are loose or the whole connection that feels loose?

01-28-2011, 01:33 PM
The 2 leads that connect to the motor can be easily taken out with a needle nose plyers. I did this, and actually soaked the motor in a container of white vinegar for an hour as you suggested. I then dried it off, put it back in and spun the nylon wheel a few times while pressing the button. The motor started to turn! It then stopped again, so i removed it again, and then soaked in the vinegar over night.. I removed it again, and decided to let it thoroughly dry out before trying it.

I will try it again later today. Maybe even quirt a little WD40 in the center..

If I needed to buy a new motor, is there a specific mtor and place you could recommend?

01-28-2011, 05:58 PM
That's great news. Once a frozen motor starts running they pretty easy to get running again. If you have to replace a motor it's a 3V DC (three volt, direct current) motor. Radio Shack use to be the best place for this type stuff. I wasn't impressed the last time I was in my local one. You might just bring the motor with you and ask if they this type of motor or where to go. I've never had to replace one, so I won't be a much help here. The real problem is going to be removing and/or replacing that gear wheel on the shaft.

WD 40 is fine to use in order clean motor or drive off the water from the vinegar bath. It is not a lubricant, it's too thin. After using WD 40 let it dry and then use a light machine oil to replace the lubricates dissolved by the WD 40. If you can't find sewing machine oil, regular 3 in 1 oil (cousin of WD 40) should work.