|18 wheel log truck (Model 20)||
Sturdi-Bilt toy trucks were designed, assembled and distributed by the Sturdi-Bilt Toy Company in Norway, Oregon, a lumber town near Coquille and 18 miles south of the Coos Bay/North Bend area. Casting was done by both the Pacific Die Casting Company and later the Product Engineering Company (PECO), both in Portland, Oregon. Through a royalty arrangement, PECO also distributed and sold Sturdi-bilt trucks. Production started in the Spring of 1950, and is estimated to have ceased in 1955 or 1956 due to the entry of lower priced toys to the market. Sturdi-Bilts are similar in size and heft to the Smith-Miller trucks produced in California, and those produced in Salem, Oregon, All American.
Sturdi-Bilt Toy Company, Coquille
Mr. Enno Dornath conceived of the idea of a toy log truck during Christmas, 1948. It is unknown how Mr. Dornath financed the operation, but blueprints for dies are dated from October 1949 as is the original patent filing. The dies were manufactured by Pacific Die Casting Company, Portland.
Pacific Die Casting cast the components, which were shipped to Coquille for preparation, painting, assembly and distribution. The first production batch was made in the Spring of 1950. Assembly was mostly done by family members and friends. Completed toys were put into generic brown boxes and stamped with a model number and description. Orders were filled by family members, who loaded their vehicles and drove throughput the Northwest.
Product Engineering Company, Portland
PECO was a custom "job shop"; it designed and manufactured the ideas of others in addition to creating its own products. Family photographs show the founder's son posing with the Sturdi-Bilt log truck in a 1950 advertisement. A December 24, 1951 article from the Coos Bay Times indicates that Mr. Dornath had a royalty arrangement with PECO, giving PECO rights to manufacture and distribute the toys outside four Western states. Public records indicate PECO had five warehouses throughout the U.S. in 1950, so it have had the means to distribute Sturdi-Bilt toys nationally.
Sturdi-Bilt Truck Models
There are seven original toy trucks made by the Sturdi-Bilt Toy Company as shown on the left. Besides the variation in casting stamps, there are considerable differences in the color, painted or unpainted components, tires, wheels and decals. The first batch of Sturdi-Bilt castings had a "PD" stamp (for Pacific Die) inside the cab and frames, but with most castings the "PD" is obliterated and replaced by a crude "PECO" stamp. Later model log bunks also have the PECO casting stamp.
Exact pricing for these toys is unknown. In the Coos Bay Times, advertisements for log and lumber trucks ranged from $15.95 to $19.95 during 1951 and 1952. PECO product literature recommends retailers list the log truck for $18.95. These were expensive toys for their time.
Final Days & Resurrection
Lower priced toys entered the market, these being made from plastic and stamped metal. Smith Miller (1945 - 1954), Sturdi-Bilt (1950 - 1955/56), and All American (1947 - 1956) ceased production around the same time.
Smith Miller was re-established by Fred Thompson in 1979, and Pat Russell re-started All American in 1992.
If readers have additional information or photographs of toys, literature, boxes or any company history, please email me through the link above. Any material you are willing to share will be published to this site. Click here to see photographs submitted by readers!!
Many missing parts (headache rack, hub caps, log bunks and fuel tanks) can be purchased from Greg Coleman in Milledgeville, Illinois. His eBay buyer ID is "chevi-shop".
Current Market Value
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Richard Carroll, Oregon
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