A Place of Wonder and Will

The Owl’s Head Transport Museum - Stringo Vehicle Mover

The Owl’s Head Transport Museum, situated in the wilds of Maine, is undeniably one of the oldest, most prestigious automobile and aviation museums in the US. When meeting event manager Toby Stinson, in charge of the incredible Owl’s Head Charity Auction happening August 25-26 that helps fund the activities of the museum and its operation, it’s evident that the museum has a twin pillar of key commodities: people and passion.

Toby and volunteers wheel out one of the most famous vehicles in the collection, a 1929 Rolls Royce Derby that was used as a wedding to Clara Bow, a golden era starlet that was referenced in the recent blockbuster Babylon. The car is large and immaculate and a clear source of pride for Toby and the museum. But for Stinson, the objects aren’t the point… it’s something far more humanistic. “It's them [pointing to two volunteers readying the car].because I mean I can slack off if I want to but on Tuesdays and Thursdays you know these guys are coming in here and they're giving their time to keep all this stuff running by fixing it, restoring and repair it,” he says of the incredible volunteer effort that keeps it all rolling forward.

And Stringo—as a safety solution—helps keep those volunteers safe with Single, Safe, Operator Vehicle Moving as well Vehicle Damage Protection. “The mere fact that we've been able to have a Stringo here has allowed us to manage our collection so much better. It’s been an extremely beneficial safety resource because our volunteers are amazing people but they are on the older age side of the spectrum and we don't need 75 year old people pushing a V12 package around.”

Stinson is a local boy done good. Growing up in the area, his father fished the local delicacy of lobster as almost all residents were connected to the industry. Toby himself went on to be an educator, the prefect prerequisite to work with the museum and use its collection to spawn curiosity and investigation. “I mean at Owl's Head we can go back and we can talk about it in the theoretical but with a Stringo, we can move the vehicles in probably 15 minutes; I can pull out a 1910 internal combustion vehicle; I can pull out a 1910 air electric vehicle and I can pull out a 1910 air esteem vehicle. The question was in 1910 electric and steam outsold gas almost two to one… so why did why did ICE motors win? let's really study it, let's get the cars out and figure it out,” he says with real and unreserved enthusiasm.

His father also gave him his ‘what drives you passion’ for vehicles by acquainting him with Model Ts (“The gateway drug of car collecting,” he jokingly says) and igniting a love of what vehicles can tell us about our industrial history and society. “I have a huge affinity for Model T Fords. The significance is when I was a little kid and went back to the island where my father was born out in the driveway was a rusted old model T that was my grandfather's who at the time was like 80, smoking his pipe. And there's the old model T we got to go play on it and that was the only car that they had. It became my dad's car when he was in high school and I was out there rotting away. Then one day dad's like let's get another Model T and fix it up like the other one I had. So there's that connection to it you know um so I was like okay, well I guess I need to have one so I can understand it. And it kind of grew from there.”

As the weekend approaches for the large auction, one that will bring in thousands to museum over the weekend, Toby is busy with a thousand details but in his best mode. The cars, all donated to help the museum, are coveted in their own right. But the fact that they’re being auctioned to help the museum to do its important work is the magnet that pulls the community together. “We have a large fundraiser every August which is the New England Auto Auction it takes a lot of time and effort to put together. Luckily, it’s 100 % not solely on my back. If we don't have the people, all working together and really, really going above and beyond to pull it off with a small staff, if we don't do that, these guys aren't going to have the resources to do what we want to be able to do what they need to.” And again, Stringo plays an essential part in helping organize and distribute the museums collection. “We were amazed at the size differentials of what the Stringo could move,” explains Stinson, “the stream girl obviously but I moved a 33 V12 Dietrich style convertible Packard sedan convertible sedan pattern that easily weighs almost five and a half six thousand pounds. We moved it up a percentage grade into a storage facility and parallel parked it with about this much room and left in about two minutes. I mean Stringo has been a godsend, hands down,” says the ever busy Stinson. “Ok, looks like I’ve got to run. More cars are coming in for the auction,” he states with an air of a man who loves what he does and knows it has impact.