DONKEYS & DONKEY PUNCHERS
"The KOOS KING DONKEY"
The Koos King Donkey was the invention of Stuart Lyons, owner from 1914 to 1940. Mr. Lyons offered a much safer and efficient
logging machine to loggers in an era when there was no social support programs for on the job injuries.
Traditional donkeys required the operator to manually loop or "tack" loops of cable around a slowly spinning drum and
physically manhandle and stack the line as it came off the drum. If by chance a loop slipped pff the drum, the line would instantly
fly off as tons of load weight usually rolled or crashed to the ground, sometimes crushing those nearby by or killing the operator
as limbs were wrapped up or torn off between the cable and drum. While steam powered offered the men infinite control it was
an ordeal in itself to fire up and maintain water levels and pressure.
With Stuart Lyon's design the operator never touched the cable and worked safely to the side, using only pedals and levers to
manipulate the line. Mr Lyon's also surmised that a chain drive would be a much more efficient method of power transmissions
than traditional spur gears which generated friction between teeth as the metal surfaces were required to slide during each
meshing of the teeth. The roller chain eliminated the friction and when coupled with the new Fordson engines, gave instant
starting without the long steam up time. Also, being much lighter, could be transported by large truck; although most donkeys
just pulled themselves along skids short distances rather than undergo loading and transport.
Koos King Donkey with a
Fordson power plant.
Sometimes 2 Fordson engines
were used for the giant stuff.
Easy to repair and adjust in the
field, loggers loved the easy
maintenance a big wrench or a
BF hammer when things got
There are still several Koos
Kings still being used locally
The last remanufactured
(1930's) Koos King left the
ironworks in 2012 to Clarence
Jacobson, (Roy Jacobson's
c.1920's. Operator positioned to the side of the donkey out of harm's way. This particular
model has spur gears rather than the favored roller chains for power transmission.
c.1930's. The Koos King business end showing the controls and
pedals for the operator,
Before hydraulic equipment was prolific, roads were difficult
to cut and gullies to cross. The Koos King enabled "highline
logging", logs being lifted into the air and flown along hundreds
of feet of what we would term "zip lines". The front drum pulled
the load, the second drum could be used for manipulation of the
zip line if needed or to power back the load carriage, typically
the small drum (on right) was used for the "straw line" to quickly
return the carriage back to the loading area.
Time was money and the more turns the equipment could
make within a given time, the happier the loggers.
|c.after 1935 pre-1949. This is a modern version of the KOOS kING featuring a flathead Ford V-8 which came out in
1935. Ford was able to cast the V-8 block in 1-piece. It took GM until 1955 to figure that out... they built their
engine reputation on their 1926 6-cylinder ("anvil 6") the popular 216 cubic inch which endured basically
unchanged until the early 50's.
The Iron Works was fortunate to have an ex-Ford Plant foreman working on staff. That was their "in" to get
new Ford components at wholesale cost. Leftover NOS Ford parts are still found in the box from time to time in the
This model is still a "manual" transmission. Later models from 1949 on featured the Mercury V8 as it was the
most powerful and an automatic transmission which gave the operator the finesse of steam; being able to feather
the throttle and have a soft clutch engagement offering a seamless operating range of power,
Coos Bay Iron Works Photo Gallery 2