Tonka Toys Trucks Frequently Asked Questions FAQ
Question: I notice that Tonka used two different hydrants with their pumpers. When was each used?
Answer: Tonka enthusiast Tim Matifes contacted Tonka historian Lloyd Laumann looking for the answer and received this response. "....the solid base hydrants with the clip, chain and wrench were used from 1956 through 1969 and the hollow base hydrants with the attached finger tab wrench were used in the 1970's. "
Question: What are the dimensions of the logs as used on the 1953 #575-3 through the 1956 #575-6 and the 1957 #14 Tonka Logger?
Answer: With logs being reproduced for various toy truck manufactures, it's getting difficult to tell which logs are for Tonka, Buddy L and others. Tonka's logs are 15 inches in length and 7/8 inch OD.
Question: I have two 1956 Model #46 Pumpers. They both have the 1955 logo decal on the underside yet have the 56 bumper and grill. What's really interesting is that both have "bullet style" taillights. Are these prototype trucks?
Answer: I contacted Tonka collector Mark Hollandsworth for this answer because he had already researched this question. Over the years, Mark has owned three pumpers with "bullet style" tail lights. Mark states "....Tonka wanted to introduce the Suburban pumper in 1956 officially with marketing materials and such. During the year end production runs, they tooled up for the suburban pumper and tooled the taillight fenders to accept the individual bullet style of taillight. That style was riding the popularity craze during the 50's if you looked at the auto industry. They used that same idea of bullet or nose cone style as the middle of the 50's America had a fascination with space and spacecraft.
I never got information as to why the bullet style taillight was discontinued and changed to the button style with backing plate. Why do changes happen in production anyway? Usually from either a supplier not being able to fill and order or it could have been cost prohibitive to produce that style of tail light in house. I wish I knew!!" Click here to see an example.
I would also add another hypothetical reason Tonka did not continue with the bullet taillight. A manufacturing/assembly issue.
Question: I've come across Tonka tow trucks (wreckers) with link chain and cord. With so many "RESTORED" and "'TINKERED WITH" trucks available on the market, how can I tell if the truck is correct?
Answer: Tonka's first wrecker was manufactured in 1949. Using Tonka dealer catalogs as references, the 1949 COE version through the 1961 square fender, used link chain. And therein is the rub. Original, unretouched real world 1961 #18 Wreckers have been found with link chain or a heavy nylon cord. For yet known reasons, Tonka switched to nylon cord during the 1961 model year run. Did Tonka run out of chain earlier than planned? Did Tonka run out of the earlier crank sooner than planned? This may be another Tonka mystery. Click here to see details of the 1949-early 1961 and the later 1961-forward wrecker boom assembly. NOTE: The 1961 #18 Wrecker can be easily identified by the Tonka "T" embossed into the front bumper.