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Tonka Bronco Restoration

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  • Tonka Bronco Restoration

    I picked up this sad specimen of a Tonka Bronco scaled for 1/6th figures at a thrift shop recently. Looks like some impudent child covered it completely in what appears to be manila file folder labels, then left it in a hot attic or barn loft for 30 years. Oddly, three of the tires are the same off-road style, but the front right tire is more of an on-road style. Need to find a replacement. Anyone have a parts vehicle like this with a spare tire?

    I've begun efforts to remove the labels, but have had limited success. I first tried "Un-du" adhesive sticker remover, then "OOPS!" solvent, neither of which had any effect other than softening the top paper layer so I could scrape some off. Next I tried a soaking it in hot soapy water and scraping on it with a plastic putty/spackle knife, as well as one of those blue scrubbing pads, which helped a little, but not significantly.

    Before taking a break from working on it, I tried some "Goof Off", which has worked much better. But I think it might also be softening the paint. There are a few bare metal spots where I had used it. Don't know if they were already there under the labels or if the Goof Off softened the paint.

    More to come.
    Left Side Right Side Front
  • #2

    You'll end up repainting it anyway, so if GoofOff ruins the paint, no big deal. 😀 . Nice find!


    • #3

      Its a great vehicle for Joe, I have one myself. They are such a great vehicle for customizing, I have seen some great ones over the years! Looking forward to seeing what you do with yours


      • #4

        Must have been some nasty glue used. The Goof off has likely damaged the original paint permanently, so I would take the whole truck apart at this point so the Goof-off doesn't hurt the plastic parts and just do a full restoration. For the plastic parts, you might try alcohol.

        Tonka wheels are available as new or used parts on restoration sites or on ebay. That version of the Bronco used the same big knobby wheels Tonka used with the big dump trucks and are easy to find.


        • #5

          Looks like the former Joe driver had a flat and put on the spare. Great find!


          • #6

            Thanks all. I did my best to keep the Goof-Off off the plastic parts for fear it would melt them. I suspect I will have to do a complete restoration, but I'd love to try to save the Chevron Oil company graphics on the sides of it.


            • #7

              I would suggest Goo Gone, it won't hurt the paint, but it will dissolve the decals. I personally have never found a way to clean decals without ruining them, I'm sorry to say. I have a Tonka that has the same decals, but with a different roll cage. Luckily I found it in much nicer shape.
              If it should come down to it, I suggest going to an auto parts store and getting Tal Strip. After taking it apart, you can spray it over the metal parts, and it will completely strip away the paint and decals. After letting it sit for a bit, hose it off. It will leave the metal clean for a repaint. I
              wouldn't use it on plastic.

              I have one of the black Broncos, it has seen some action. There are scrapes on the paint, and the decals were in such bad shape I peeled them off. The one with the Chevron decals is kind of a tan color, and was in much better shape. I got both of them off ebay for not too expensive.
              They are around here somewhere. I haven't done much in the hobby for a few years, 1/1 life has been crazy for me.

              But maybe, if you soak in warm water, the labels might come off without damaging the original decals. That's all I can think of doing. But let us know how it turns out!



              • #8

                A shot of mine.

                Major Mike & the Tonka Ford by Blonde Actionman, on Flickr


                • #9

                  I like it Dal (Blondeactionman) , the striking paint finish is that classic 1970's fastback style.
                  Fall in A, fall in B, fall in all the company!


                  • #10

                    Nice project! I had one as a kid; and managed to pick up a few as an adult! Good Luck! There was a member here who was an expert on these vehicles, as well as the empire jeep; but I haven't seen his post since the new site went up. "Gordon", maybe?



                    • #11

                      Originally posted by TNshooter View Post
                      But maybe, if you soak in warm water, the labels might come off without damaging the original decals. That's all I can think of doing. But let us know how it turns out!

                      Daryl, I tried soaking it in warm soapy water but that just dissolved most of the paper layer of the stickers. I'll investigate the auto-body quality paint stripper next. I'll probably have to give up on salvaging the Chevron decals and just strip it down to bare metal as you suggested.


                      • #12

                        Did you try . Lighter fluid on the Stickers.
                        or Heat from blow Dryer


                        • #13

                          I wonder what they used back in the day for sticker adhesive. Did you try oven cleaner? I'm pretty sure I've read one or two GI Defender posts on using it for stripping paint off plastic model kits. It'll definitely strip the paint. I use it exclusively for Fuzz removal. It has a nice consistency that's easy to work with so you can avoid the painted areas.


                          • #14

                            Had some free time this weekend and decided to do some more work on the Bronco. I managed to disassemble it up to a point. These things are very hard to disassemble, much harder than a typical Tonka vehicle like a dump truck. Man, what a rust bucket! Any further disassembly will require drilling out some rivets. The front grill is riveted to the body, as well as two rivets holding the chassis to the upper body.

                            Next step is to de-rust it and prime it. I've given up all hope of saving the original paint.
                            Click image for larger version  Name:	Bronco5.JPG Views:	2 Size:	138.1 KB ID:	1775Click image for larger version  Name:	Bronco6.JPG Views:	1 Size:	129.9 KB ID:	1774
                            Attached Files


                            • #15

                              Awesome! Keep us posted on your progress!


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