Kickstarter Funded! On to Stretch Goals.
Thanks to everyone who made pledges to our Kickstarter campaign, we were able to reach our goal on Friday 26, 2014. A few days ago we reached our first stretch goal of $1,875 which cover our fiberglass costs, thanks so much! We are very excited to have reached these goals and are fully committed to restoring the Mortons Gap Muffler Man. We could not have done this without your support.
We would like to announce two more fundraising goals. We are hoping to raise the total to $2,300 to help cover the cost of soda blasting the statue before proceeding with the new paint job. We have been told it will cost us $700 to soda blast but we are searching for cheaper options. This will result in a smoother surface than sanding the statue by hand. These additional contributions will also be used to reproduce the lettering on Luke’s chest. If we reach $2,500, that money will be used to reproduce the statue’s hard hat, that we believe he once had.
Last week, we made some exciting discoveries about this statue’s history. While we were removing about six layers of paint, we noticed some faint lettering underneath. When we reached the first layer of paint from the early 1960s, we found the name “Implement Specialty Co Inc.” printed on the statue’s right chest. Soon thereafter, we uncovered the name “Luke Lombard” on the statue’s left chest.
We assumed that Luke Lombard was probably the owner of the Implement Specialty Co. However, after a few days of searching through 1960s newspapers, I found that not to be the case and unraveled the mystery. Lombard was a popular brand of chain saws in the 1960s and Luke Lombard was apparently the company’s mascot. In the mid-1960s, illustrations of Luke as a square jawed worker in a hard hat appeared in chain saw dealership advertisements nationwide.
With this new information, we will be restoring both names on the statue’s chest. In addition to replacing the missing arms and head, we are hoping to have Mark Cline make a new hard hat for the statue.
We are very excited about piecing together this statue’s history. Without your pledges which have made this restoration possible, it’s unlikely that anyone would have discovered the statue’s old lettering. The American Giants team and Big Luke really appreciate your support!
The Statue's Origins
In 1962, Prewitt Fiberglass Animals produced the very first “Muffler Man” statue. Around 1963, the company was purchased and renamed International Fiberglass. By using and modifying the original Paul Bunyan mold, hundreds of these giant statues were produced in the 1960s and 1970s. Today, less than 200 of them are scattered around the country.
In addition to cowboys, Indians, pirates, astronauts, and other variations, International Fiberglass also produced a 14 foot tall Paul Bunyan statue. It is not known how many of these were made but there are only about 15 of them known to still exist. The statue in Mortons Gap is an example of this model. However, it is in very poor condition.
The Mortons Gap Muffler Man
I saw a photo of the statue posted at RoadsideAmerica.com. Later that year, I was able to see it myself. This was early on in my documenting of these statues and I had not yet started my blog, usagiants.com. The couple that owned the statue told me the story behind it. In 1995, they acquired the statue from Pistol Pete's Pawn Shop near Clarksville, TN. It was already missing its arms and head at that point. No one knows where it was located originally.
Today, it stands in the couple’s donkey pasture on a hillside overlooking Edward T Breathitt Pennyrile Parkway. At some point, a handmade head was made for the statue and a normal-sized axe was hung from the statue’s arm socket. For more, see the complete story here.
I have returned a few times after that to see the Muffler Man and visit with its owners. They always asked where they could get arms and a head for the statue. Since International Fiberglass went out of business in 1972, there are no spare parts anywhere. However, a few people are making molds for replacement parts. In the 1990s, Mark Cline made a mold of a 14 foot tall Muffler Man. He has created a few other statues with it including a cowboy and a handful of soda jerks holding ice cream cones. After explaining the situation to him, he agreed to recreate the parts and make a new axe for the Mortons Gap statue. I realized that we did not have the money to pay for the restoration, but I went ahead and committed to the project.
The Restoration Project
In April 2014, I launched a Kickstarter campaign to raise funds for the statue's restoration. Although there was a lot of enthusiasm, we fell short of the $4,500 goal. The greatest challenge has been to get the word out to those who are interested in being a part of restoring these icons of Americana. This time we are spending more time on publicity. We have also lowered our funding goal to $1,575. Our focus will be on installing the statue's new head and arms. We will also repaint the statue. If we exceed our goal, we can use that money for more extensive fiberglass repairs.
We have already obtained the new head, arms and axe for the restoration. Although we paid for the new parts, we are hoping some or all of this will be reimbursed with this Kickstarter campaign. We also need financial help with transporting the statue to our workshop for assembly and painting. Some of the funds raised will also go towards producing a video documentary about this project.
New Kickstarter Rewards
While we have lowered our fundraising goal, the actual cost of this project remains the same. However, we want to make sure that you have some nice incentives for your contributions. With some generous donations from the RoadsideAmerica.com, Gabriel Aldaz, and others, we are offering some great rewards.
While we were organizing this Kickstarter campaign, one of the statue's owners passed away. It is even more important to us now that we follow through to complete this project in his memory. This statue is located on private property and is only visible from a distance. However, thousands of people will see it each day from the highway. I really appreciate all your support and help in completing this project. If you have any questions, please e-mail me at email@example.com
Click above to watch the extended version of this Kickstater video.
Risks and challenges
In 2013, the American Giants team began laying the groundwork for this Kickstarter campaign. This project is already well on its way. Mark Cline has already recreated a new head and arms for the giant. We also have the enthusiastic, full support from the statue’s owner.
Once the funds have been raised, we will install the new head and arms. The statue will be repaired and repainted. If we exceed our goal, the statue will also be refurbished. We will then deliver the statue to Mortons Gap, KY. Our film crew will be on hand to document the event. The footage will be featured in an upcoming episode of our American Giants video series.
Since so much of the work has already begun, there is no risk to your contribution. We are fully committed to this project and, with your donations, we hope to deliver the restored statue by this fall. We encourage you to keep checking this Kickstarter page and our blog, usagiants.com, for updates and photos of this statue’s progress. Thank you for your support!Learn about accountability on Kickstarter
- (35 days)