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Vintage ride on toy - in Australia these were called a Wallaby

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    Posted 9 years ago

    Wallabyone
    (1 item)

    Would love to know more about this item, have had it for about 30 years. It is very heavy and the action is like that of an old railway hand trolley, the word RACER can be made out on front handle which is pushed back and forth to make it go.

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    Comments

    1. OldKingCole13 OldKingCole13, 9 years ago
      It's a child's toy called an Irish Mail Cart. From the design it looks like something from the 1920's but it could be a little newer. As it is now, un-restored, it could cost around $300+. Fully restored usually seems to destroy the value, but I have seen these at the $1500 range. That's an 'Asking' price...but they are valuable. I have made several of these and sold them for around $250-$350. They are great for giving the rider an upper body workout.
    2. CyclopsToys, 9 years ago
      This type of toy is actually called a 'Flivver', if you google this word or check out sites such as http://www.thepedalcarguy.com or pedalmania.com or http://www.vintage-pedal-cars.com you will find this item. This particular model I believe was made by 'Hi-Speed', which is an Australian brand and is from the 1940's, I have the exact same one myself and several others which were made by Cyclops.
    3. ValHutchinson, 5 years ago




      The Wallaby Trolley
      These were invented by Lance Hutchinson, Nimmo Street Essendon.
      When his younger Richard was a toddler, he had asthma, and excema. They were fortunate that the person next door kept a milking goat, and, by Rich drinking goat's milk, the excema problem was solved.
      His dad wanted to do something to make his young son's chest and lungs stronger, making something that would be fun to use. He came up with the idea of inventing a toy, that you could sit on, which could only be propelled by pushing and pulling a handle, not unlike what they used as Railway trolleys.
      It was steered by using your feet on a bar, similar to a Billy cart.
      When Lance finally came up with a prototype, he called it a wallaby trolley, and he asked Richard's older brother John (6), to test it out on the footpath. Unfortunately John could not get the hang of it, as it was a bit unwieldy. Lance was very disappointed, thinking it was a failure. I can remember him telling me how Richard (4) said to him "I can wide a wobbly daddy", got on it, and made it go.
      That was the start of a backyard industry that continued for many years. Postwar there were many kids who were recovering from polio, with their legs in irons, who could never ride a bike, trike, or scooter, but could sit on these little trolleys, exercise their arms and chests, and still be able to steer with their legs, by moving their hips. The Royal Children's Hospital and Austin Hospital were customers, as they could see the benefit for asthmatics and children with other afflictions.
      Of course it didn't take long for John to ride it too, and the boys were a common sight on the streets of Essendon.
      At the end of the war there was a shortage of materials. Lance went to an air base near Avalon, where he bought lots of what they called belly tanks, fuel tanks for Lancaster Bombers, which he cut up to make the steel wheels, which were sent off to be pressed to make the solid metal wheels. He made his own solid rubber tyres, and with brute strength put them on each wheel.
      The frame and seats were made from Tasmanian blue gum, but later the frame was made with 1" square tube metal, welded. Lance had a little furnace and used to cast his own seat supports, but had the gears cast professionally, and the fixed wheel welded to the axle by Thomas Cook, the welder, in Mt Alexander Road.
      Rich used to get paid threepence a dozen for painting the uprights and crossbars bright red, whilst his dad hand painted the wheels on a special spinner.
      His biggest customer was Tim the Toyman, Myers bought some also, and Lance delivered them in the big red Pontiac ute he drove. (Circa 1920 with spoke wheels).
      Pre Christmas was always the rush time, but in the winter time he took on the painting to make ends meet, and the wallabies were secondary.
      Lance also made the lathe and assorted tools that he used to manufacture the trolleys, having gained experience working at several engineering firms, (Henderson Springs, Bethune pumps, and Konigs), and at the ordinance factory during the war, making all the back sights for Bofors anti-aircraft guns.
      The cost of a wallaby trolley in the early sixties was seven pound fifteen shillings - the equivalent to a week's wages, which didn't make them a cheap toy, but they were built to last.
      The wallaby business was successful from about 1949 to the mid 1960's, when the shed burnt down, and all the special lathes, jigs, motors, air compressor, etc., were lost.
      Our kids were very fortunate to have had the experience of owning one of these unique fun Hi-Gear Toys, made by their grandfather.
    4. Wallabyone, 5 years ago
      Val, thank you so much for this information! Co-incidentally I have just finished scanning some photos taken around 1905-6 of my late father-in-law as a child riding a similar but much less substantial version!
    5. Neilw20, 3 years ago
      I had one and lived just up the street. I visited Lance in the backyard, being a sticky beak, in the 50's

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