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6/15/06
RTHO Thunderjet Tools
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Rick Terry is RTHO. As the site proudly states, all items are CNC (computer numerically controlled), and Made in the USA. Both work well for Rick. His products show a definite sign of thought and precision. Though he makes what we consider the best front ends for Thunderjets in the HO world, we are going to focus on a few of his tools. We will use Rick's own words to describe the products.

The first is his simplest, but very elegant tool, the T-Jet Pinion Gear Puller (# RT-300 $13.50). "Armature pinion gear & wheel puller for Aurora T-Jet, AFX , Johnny Lightning, & Model Motoring HO slot cars. "This is a piece of steel, with a screw running through it, to remove the gears from the gear plate of a Thunerjet, and for my purposes, I like it as a wheel puller best.

Well, once you get the gears off, you need a tool to replace them. Rick offers a gear "installation tool for Aurora T-Jet. A hole in the press screw holds the shafts straight and on center & the anvils hold the gears square and on center. Press on the armature, drive pinion and driven gears. Drive pinion anvil includes adjustable set screw stop & wrench." (# RT-600 $32.00)

The purpose of this tool is, frankly, to get the gears back on in an idiot-proof fashion. It does that. Exchanging the "anvils" takes a little extra time over the "hammer" type jigs available, but with practice, you're flying right through the process.

Lastly, and most elegant of all is the T-Jet Gear Press. "The T-Jet Gear Plate accurately locates on 4 holes in the tool base plate. Spring loaded ball plunger automatically locks the press pivot arm precisely into 3 positions. Tool will perform the following functions with minimal damage to the gears or shafts. 1. Press driven gear from cluster gear shaft. 2. Press drive pinion gear from cluster gear shaft. 3. Press wheels or front end retainers from axles. 4. Press armature pinion gear from armature shaft. (may warp gear plate, I recommend the RT-300 gear puller for this job). Precise high quality components. Press arm and base plate are CNC machined from solid steel." (RT-550 Gear Press $40.00)

This is one well thought out tool. The gear plate fits one way, with holes drilled for the plate tabs, and it clicks into position for each task. His site gives clear pictures of how this tool works.

If I had to offer any comments to already well crafted tools, it would be these. Putting on the pinion shaft is easy with these tools, but they don't allow for one new trend that is starting to happen, and that is the shaft is being positioned above the drive gear, so that very little of the shaft is sticking through the pinion gear, and down into the chassis. (Note: Rick has since made the tools necessary to perform this task. They come with the latest version). The second thing would be to include a tool to peen the holes of the gears, after you pull them, to close the hole a little, before replacing it.

If you are a Thunderjet enthusiast, who loves precision tools and parts, and has a desire to tweak the most from your chassis, Rick's tools and parts are a good start.