anniversary cake made evident
what everyone knew: that twenty five years is a
long time for a show to
run, and that the Puget Sound Toy Show at the
Northwest Washington Fair
Grounds in Lynden WA was a stalwart survivor, one
of the last of the
roster of a half dozen Northwest toy shows. Most
shows now specialize,
as did this one in Farm Toys, a natural fit for a
small town surrounded
by rolling farmland.
any show sellers
display their wares, but this one also invites
collectors to show their
collections, and ďNot for SaleĒ signs are just as
common as oneís
marked ďBargainĒ and ďRareĒ. Some of the most
fascinating are dioramas
of farms and towns, some anticipating the annual
Toy Train Show held
the next weekend. One of the most fascinating
dioramas had plowed
fields made of combed coffee grounds.
collector, I came to walk the tables of Oliver and
John Deere tractors,
and get ideas from the dioramas of scale muscle
cars. But I did close
the sale on an Erector Set from the early Ď50s,
that had seen better
days and had pieces missing, but qualified both as
ďbargainĒ. Glancing across the room, however, I
saw a towering
construction that looked as if someone had started
playing with an
Erector set and just kept building. Having secured
my own set in the
car trunk I ran over and met the owner, Gareth
Kundert, and begged to
see the contraption in action. Once he turned it
on, it was the hit of
the show, a magnet for wide-eyed kids and
attendant adults. I snapped a
few pics, and Gareth, in true collector spirit,
consented to conduct a
phone interview the next day about:
Looking at your
device brings back memories of Erector and Meccano
sets, because it
looks like someone started building and made an
it was made it 1945, it was mostly hand made. I have a
of admiration for the man who was able to make it. His
name was ďL.E.
DierksĒ. Itís etched on the brass where the controls
sit. Thatís the
most history I have on the builder.
plaque on the model says that Sauerman Bros.
ďDragscrapers and CablewaysĒ. Is that what this is?
a working demonstration model of a dragscraper, which
was used to
promote the product. The model was made in 1945, but
theyíve been in
business a lot longer than that.
model towers about eight feet high, if you include the
spans about twenty feet. Do you think itís to scale?
but Iím not sure what scale they used. This might
a five yard bucket. These things were made according
to the job site.
If you had a small area, it would be a short tower. If
you had a larger
area, a taller tower. The height of the tower was
determined by the
length of the run.
did the model come into your possession?
1989. I worked for Pacific American Commercial in
Seattle, and my
boss got it on loan from Sauerman in 1982.
Above: An Erector set from the '50s.
Above: Cover Detail.
Below: Plaque from the model base.
GW: And youíve been taking it around to toy shows ever
My boss was a distributor for Saurman, and he got it
on loan from
them to help promote the product out here, and show
how it worked. In 1989, they ran out of room for it,
and Saurman didnít
want it back, because their system is a bit different
now. So they
asked me if I wanted to start taking it around to toy
shows. thatís how
I got involved doing what Iím doing.
the controls on the model similar to the real thing?
they are. The levers would be approximately where
theyíre at on
the model. Itís running on a sewing machine motor,
which represents a
transformer, which is what the real thing would have
if it were
electric. It used to be a three speed motor, and now,
due to wear and
tear, is down to one speed. The only thing that would
be different from
the model would be the brakes, because youíd be
standing on a platform
with the levers in front of you, and the brakes at
your feet. The model
is very detailed, very close to what the real thing
said, ďif it were electricĒ.
I talked to a gentleman who, in 1929, helped trench a
what they call a donkey system They used horses on the
whole back end
slack line. Itís the same system thatís used in the
only instead of a tower, they call it a ďspar poleĒ.
They also used
steam power before the turn of the century. When
electrical power came
on the scene, they used that. Plus diesel and gas
engines. So there are
multiple ways to power these systems.
looks like when the bucket gets up to a certain point,
automatically starts turning over to dump out the
line that holds the bucket back is called the slack
line. The one
that pulls the bucket up is called the haul line.
Thereís a stopblock
on the slack line. Itís kind of hard to describe, but
pulling the way
it does causes the chains to pull on the back of the
bucket and tip it
systems like this still in operation?
The company is still in business today. But they didnít
model back, because instead of a built-in system like
this model, today
it would have collapsible hydraulic towers, and be on
tracks so it
could move around. Itís much easier. Systems like this
are still in
use, but the company is no longer selling this type of
system. But itís
still used in the Northwest, for instance, by Sterling
Centralia, WA and Cadman Rock in Monroe, WA, to name a
May I ask about
your own involvement? What made you want to take this
model around? It
seems like quite a bit of work to take around and set
it all up and
enjoy seeing the faces of the little kids when they
see it run, and
itís also a joy to watch the faces of the big kids.
certainly generated interest this weekend. Do you find
that to be
true a lot of places?
it generates a lot of interest because of the fact
that itís not
static; itís a working model.
at the rest of the show, there were quite a few toy
including some ride-ons, and some very well kept farm
ďHappitimeĒ, from the Ď50s, when Marx made all the tin
was my sonís display. Those buildings are all from the
were sold by Sears and Montgomery Ward.
quite a collection. This is an interesting show,
have set up dioramas, and arenít just selling things.
are starting to die off, because itís a lot of work to
them. But my family all enjoy doing these shows. We
enjoy talking to
the people. Sometimes you only see these friends once
a year, but you
really enjoy connecting with them.
did that start? When does that go back to?
sons got involved in 1986. I started getting involved
in 1989, just
a little at a time. It just kind of grew. The Toy
Farmer, thatís been
in business probably around thirty years. That
magazine was an
outgrowth of people who were collecting already and
that connected them. The National Farm Show back in
has been going for a long time. Ertl is back in the
Are all the toy
shows you frequent farm toy type shows? Where have you
much farm and construction toy shows. There was one
construction toy show I took it to about three or four
years ago. Iíve
had it to Oregon, mainly Harrisburg. I took it up to
the Portland area
once. In Washington state, Iíve had it over to
Spokane, down to Fife
and Sumner, and up to Lynden.
you meet people whoíve used this equipment?
had people who were operating these devices come and
ask me how to
make adjustments so they can operate more efficiently.
I get a lot of
women coming up and expressing interest in it, because
they ran the
controls for their father. Their dad didnít have any
sons, so they
ended up working with their dad in the logging
industry. Just listening
to peopleís stories is a lot of fun.
used to be more toy shows that rotated annually
Northwest, which e-Bay and the Internet have pretty
much wiped out.
The Lynden show used to be a lot bigger. Itís true
that e-Bay and
the Internet are kind of creating a problem there.
Personally, I like
to touch and see what Iím buying. I like the
interaction of the people
Iím dealing with.
been to this show before, but I didnít realize they
dioramas on display that werenít for sale. I really
like that aspect of
the show. Iíd like to make a robot diorama.
grandsons and I put up a 1/64 scale diorama of a feed
lot, and put
cornmeal in for grain in the feed trough. There are so
ways to do these things. Iíve been to a train show
where they take
styrofoam and cut it to shape, and they sculpt it with
a propane torch
to look like rocks. You can take green carpet and make
it look like a
hay field, and you take Easter grass and make it look
like rows of cut
hay. My daughter had her stamping and scrapbooking
stuff at that show,
and if you wanted to bring in your space stuff and
robots, I think a
lot of people would be interested in that.
Do you ever sell
Iím not one
who buys and sells. Itís my biggest downfall.
Iím a collector,
and it gets a little tight crawling around our home.
There are people
who look for bargains, just so they can turn around
and sell it again.
I donít get a bargain just to turn around and make a
buck off of it. I
just enjoy the collecting. I look at it this way: a
do you much good if youíre the only one who looks at
it. I enjoy taking
my stuff out where other people can see it and enjoy
What are your plans now?
Iím fighting a
very aggressive form of sarcoma, which is a form of
cancer, and Iíve
lost my arm to it. Thankfully, I have a lot of family
help, which makes
it easier. Otherwise, it would be very difficult for
me to set that
model up and take it down, and the same with my
displays. I can do a
lot of things, but I donít do them as fast as I used
And the sarcoma took your arm?
It was amputated
to keep it from spreading, but unfortunately, it was
already too late.
Youíre certainly out there doing a lot of work.
Iíve got two
choices. I can enjoy life, or I can sit down and feel
sorry for myself.
I prefer to do things.
much the collector spirit. The stereotype is that
accumulate things, but I find collectors taking an
interest in life.
Some people just
accumulate. I like to think of myself as a collector.
I look at it this
way. By taking the model around, Iím preserving
history a little bit.
Iím happy people enjoy it. It makes it worthwhile
taking it around.
-Copyright Gord Wilson, 2010.