Original Nylint T-24 “in the box.”
Original Nylint T-24 (with Tonka bucket) and Michigan T-24 model toy by CCM.
Original factory brochure.
Michigan T-24 model toy truck crane with pile driver by CCM at 1:48 scale.
Michigan T-24 model toy crawler crane by CCM at 1:48 scale.
More photos available in the Nov. TT&C 2011 magazine. Call (701) 883-5206 to purchase.
The pressed-steel toys from the Nylint Tool and Manufacturing Company are considered by many as being among the best American toys ever made. Over the years, their line has featured dozens of models of construction equipment, trucks and cars, many of which had action features that enhanced their play value and provided countless hours of constructive fun for thousands of young boys and girls.
One toy that stands out among the group is their classic mid-1950s Michigan T-24 truck-mounted crane which became a must-have for every kid with a backyard and an imagination. With its lifelike operation and tough durability, this lattice boom crane was adored by sandbox excavators, Lincoln Log architects and playtime foremen everywhere.
The T-24 Michigan crane wasn’t born overnight. It was the result of decades of innovation by a heavy-equipment manufacturing company diversifying its product line and a second company making kitchen utensils in response to the unique demands of the post-war baby boom. Together, these companies brought out one of the most popular construction toys in history to the market.
The story of the T-24 crane begins with the Clark Equipment Company, a manufacturer of industrial machinery and equipment from Benton Harbor, Mich., with roots reaching back to 1903 as the George R. Rich Manufacturing Company. This company was owned by executives of the Illinois Steel Company in Chicago, Ill.
Illinois Steel employee, Eugene B. Clark, found a number of inefficiencies in Rich Manufacturing’s business model. Over time, he suggested implementing business techniques to improve management and basic operations; as production increased, Clark became an equal partner.
After spearheading mergers with several other manufacturing businesses, George R. Rich Company became Clark Equipment Company. By the mid-1920s, Clark owned four plants, producing drills, reamers, electric steel castings, axles, wheels and transmissions.
By the 1950s, Clark’s sales were primarily driven by the automotive industry in Michigan. The company earned nearly three-quarters of its total revenue from axles and transmissions produced for six major U.S. car companies. In an effort to reduce its single-industry business dependence, Clark began diversifying its product line through additional company acquisitions.
In 1953, Clark acquired Ross Carrier Company, a local manufacturer of large lift trucks, straddle carriers and cable cranes. Ross Carrier sold its products under the Michigan trademark and had a well-established distribution network.
Using the manufacturing capabilities of Ross Carrier, Clark developed a new line of rubber-tired front-end loaders and marketed them under the Michigan brand name. Clark’s Michigan lineup soon featured elevating scrapers, wheel loaders, tractor scrapers, compaction equipment, truck shovels, trench hoes and the crane that would soon become a toy legend.
Just like Clark, the Nylint Company faced a crossroads in the postwar era. Prior to World War II, the Rockford, Ill.-based company produced simple kitchen utensils, like cheese slicers, flour sifters and gravy strainers. As the war neared its end in 1945, Nylint was compelled to establish a new direction as its old manufacturing focus grew stagnant.
Nylint already possessed modern metal-stamping facilities, so the company chose to manufacture metal toys in anticipation of the millions of soldiers who would be returning home to start families.
Nylint first made waves with the introduction of a windup toy car, a staple of toy boxes to this day. Its innovative mechanism allowed the car to start and stop, move forward or backward and turn side to side. The success of the Nylint toy car prompted a new generation of toy development.
To read the rest of this story, call (701) 883-5206 or 1-800-533-8293 to order the Oct. TT&C 2011 issue.
Other features included in the Nov. 2011 issue:
• Exciting Models From Europe by Carsten Bengs
• The World of Tekno by Martin Smits
• Nylint Scale Models Once Ruled Backyard Roads by Larry LeMasters
By Alex Gabriel