Customized Models Preserve Steam Donkey Tradition

Collector remembers stationary steam used to drag logs with a model steam donkey.

| December 2007

  • OzarkMiniaturekit.jpg
    A steam donkey built from an Ozark Miniature kit, as purchased. In real life these were usually rust-colored or black, but Jon painted this one red to enhance the details.
  • CaterpillarD8Hplastickit.jpg
    An AMT/Ertl 1/25-scale Caterpillar D8H plastic kit. Jon added metal tracks to replace the original plastic ones, a canopy, sweeps, front brush guard on top of the blade, hydraulic lines and other small details.

  • OzarkMiniaturekit.jpg
  • CaterpillarD8Hplastickit.jpg

Jon Stiles has delved into a tiny niche of customized toys: the steam donkey, modeled on old stationary steam engines used to transport logs in the woods. "What was done in the northwestern U.S. in the old days was pretty amazing," he marvels.

Steam donkeys were used to drag logs from one stationary donkey to the next with a winch mechanism until the logs could be dropped in a river or trucked out of the mountainous terrain. Logs were also carried across valleys and gorges by cables stretching across chasms.

After the advent of tracked equipment, steam donkey use diminished, but because of their massive size and the cost to bring them out, many were abandoned in the forest. Easily accessible units were quickly dismantled by metal scrappers. "Today, people in the northwest go on 'donkey hunts,'" Jon says. "They get together on a weekend, take beer and sandwiches, and hunt for old steam donkeys abandoned in the woods."

Jon has customized logging crawlers (also called logging cruisers or northern loggers) with industry-specific apparatus: canopies, front sweeps to protect the operator from brush and winches. He's also customized steam donkey miniatures and scratch-built ones. "I had to have a few of those to set next to the logging crawlers, because they worked together for a number of years before the crawlers eliminated the donkeys." FC 



Read more about Jon's collection of cutomized tractor toys in "Building Customized Caterpillar Toys".



SUBSCRIBE TO FARM COLLECTOR TODAY!

Farm Collector April 16Farm Collector is a monthly magazine focusing on antique tractors and all kinds of antique farm equipment. If it's old and from the farm, we're interested in it!

Save Even More Money with our SQUARE-DEAL Plan!

Pay now with a credit card and take advantage of our SQUARE-DEAL automatic renewal savings plan. You'll get 12 issues of Farm Collector for only $24.95 (USA only).

Or, Bill Me Later and send me one year of Farm Collector for just $29.95.




Facebook Pinterest YouTube

Classifieds