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540 motor types found in vintage Tamiya kits

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As part of the "Is it vintage..." thread, we've been discussing the standard 540 motors that came in vintage kits. But it may need it's own thread, to get some more input. B)

Excluding special motors (Technigold etc), the 540 motors included in kits in the vintage era (let's call it kits 1 to 150 for simplicity, same as this forum) underwent subtle changes over the years.

Focusing on vintage kits only, below is a basic list of the standard 540 motors included. We also know that some models came with up to 3 different types of motor during their production run - this was due to the passing of time (kits that ran for many years), and also a tendency for Japanese vs non-Japanese kits to get different motor types.

My question is: Is the following list complete, or were there other motors, during kits 1-150? We only want standard 540 motors that are known to have been included in vintage kits.

The 6 types so far:

  1. Mabuchi 540 with white plastic end bell. Red/Black wires. Found in early XR311s and Cheetahs. Unsure if others had it. Unsure if it was even officially named "RS-540S" or just "RS-540"? (Anyone know?).
  2. "Mabuchi RS-540S" with 2 slot can on pinion end, and black plastic end bell. Red/Black wires. Found in Rough Rider / Sand Scorcher Mk1. Unsure if others had it.
  3. "Mabuchi RS-540S" with 4 slot can on pinion end, and black plastic end bell. Red/Black or Green/Yellow wires. Found in numerous early-mid 80s kits.
  4. "Johnson" 540 with white plastic end bell. Green/Yellow wires. Found in numerous mid-late 80s kits.
  5. "Mabuchi RS-540SH" with 4 slot can on pinion end, and recessed black metal end bell. Yellow and black RS-540SH sticker (red writing). Green/Yellow wires. Found in mid-late 80s kits onwards. The "H" naming denotes the new metal end bell, compared to previous motors.
  6. "Johnson" 540 with recessed black metal end bell. May have black printed numbers on can also. Green/Yellow wires. Found in some early 90s kits.

The point...

When restoring an old model, some are keen to use an exact motor that came in a kit. e.g. a white-end bell vs black end bell, or a motor with a sticker on it - whatever originally came in the kit. The main goal is to help with that. And threads about "end bell" colour etc have been around these forums for over a decade.


It's also worth noting that Johnson vs Mabuchi performance is slightly different. So if you had a Frog with a Johnson motor as a kid, and you're restoring another one today, you might want the Johnson again for that reason, or vice versa.


In the 6 motors listed above, I have not recorded Japan vs Hong Kong manufacture. Early motors were Japan. Later Hong Kong. This fact is sometimes (but not always!) stamped on the can or end bell, but the motors are otherwise identical. It's a minor detail.

Yes I know it's all minor details, but sometimes little details are satisfying when it come to vintage R/C ^_^

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Something interesting I noticed:

My 2 Hotshot 2 NIBs have different end bell colours. And it depends on the region the kit is from.

The USA version has a white end bell on the motor. The Japanese version has a black end bell and is supposedly a better motor. 

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Yep, that's something @beefmuffin @taffer @chickenman242tk @huasze and @Rosey and I were trying to work out in the other thread. The conclusion seems to be that many (but not all) mid-late 80s kits (e.g. Boomerang onwards) have this pattern, where the Japanese got the black end bell Mabuchi (motor #3 in the list above), while non-Japanese kits got the Johnson (motor #4 in the list above).

But! It doesn't hold for every model. Particularly the Thunder Dragon, which we found has a mix of both motor types among both regions. So it can be considered a common pattern. But not absolute.

Also, the Johnson motor is reputedly a little faster. I think internally, they are different.

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I tested the johnson v mabuchi black end bell thing a while ago in my falcon , the johnson is faster but its not super noticeable but the punch off the line is the difference. 

Im building a vtg frog currently , and i think the black end bell looks better suited in even though the research tells me it should be a white end bell

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In the case of the Frog, the good news is - it is definitely "kit original" to use either black or white. Because the Frog came with both types during it's production run. So you can take your pick.

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