Thursday, October 20, 2011

Dolly #157 Purchased by Filmmaker Steven Mahoney

Introducing my new friend and the new owner of the David L. Wolper, Mini-Crab Dolly #157, Steven Mahoney.

Steven flew in from Auburn, Washington on October 18th and purchased #157. I spent some time demonstrating how the hydraulic lift operates, how to engage the crabbing features and finally how to disassemble the dolly for transport. Steven and I had a great time packing up the dolly, taking it to a local freight dock and securing it on a pallet for shipment. The dolly is now on its way to the Seattle area where Steven lives and should arrive during the next few days.

More information will be following as to the film-project Steven will be working on, which may include using this dolly along with a RED ONE camera system. Steven will become member #12 of the Sarkell Society. Welcome to our group, Steven! Click on any image to enlarge.

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Ideas on transporting a Mini-Crab

If purchasing a Mini-Crab Dolly or you're moving a Mini-Crab Dolly out-of-state, here's some ideas.

Before the new owner, Steven Mahoney, arrived to buy #157, he had prearranged a freight company to transport the dolly back to Steven's hometown in the Seattle area. The cost was surprisingly low, about $225.00! Not bad for 300+ pounds of weight!

We transferred the dolly onto a wood pallet. Once on the pallet, we applied the dolly's two brakes to stop any movement. It also helped, as you can see, the wheels of the dolly fell into the pallet-slots for a cradled fit. The bungee cord you see was only to hold the push bar in place (not the dolly!).
Steven took this shot of me and #157 at the shipping dock with his iPhone. If you have any questions about shipping a Mini-Crab, please e-mail me and I will forward your questions onto Steven Mahoney, who is an expert with shipping large items.

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Maintaining your ColorTran Mini-Crab Dolly

Recently, as I'm preparing to transfer ownership of Dolly #157, I've taken the lower panel off to do a final 'lube-job' on #157's chain and gears. Essentially, I'm preparing the dolly for its new owner, Steven Mahoney.

Please note, when performing any maintenance below the deck, and you're planning on flipping your Mini-Crab over, be sure to position the wheels as shown above (in full-crab mode). This provides the least amount of stress on the wheels/trucks. It also helps to have a good amount of foam underneath as to not inflict damage to the aluminum wall.

When oiling your Mini-Crab, use a lubricant to oil all the gears and lightly oil the entire chain. Don't try to spray everything in sight, then end up having lubricant dripping everywhere. In fact, if you get overspray onto the aluminum undercarriage, I would recommend wiping it off as quickly as possible. Otherwise, some lubricants can have a tattoo effect on the aluminum. Click on any image to enlarge, once enlarged, click again to super enlarge.

Also, it doesn't hurt to lubricate all bolts, Allen screws, strap screws, etc., to keep them from rusting. Remember, some of these dollies are approaching 50 years old, so they will need a little extra TLC.

I'm still quite fascinated on the design and build quality of this dolly. The inventor, William Sargent, is to say the least...a mechanical wizard! No one but Sargent could have pulled-off this sophisticated yet 'portable' design.

Take a look at the above're really looking at perfect harmony! Compact hydraulics, 360-degree crab steering, precision bearings and gears all self-contained inside an aluminum shell that was designed some 50 years ago. Way ahead of its time! My hats off to you, Mr. Sargent!

Keeping the Well for the hydraulic lift clean from oxidation and the build-up of old grease helps with easier installation and removal of the hydraulic lift when needed. At almost 1" thick, the Well area has the thickest concentration of solid-aluminum on the dolly.
Once the Well is clean and shiny, I'll apply a thin layer of grease inside. I will also put a thin layer of grease on the hydraulic lift. The white nylon blocks you see here are the brakes that you apply against the hydraulic lift once it's in-place inside the Well.
Lightly lubricate the entire chain. Remember...once a chain gets's worthless.
Lightly lubricate all gears and other metal items.

Originally, I thought there were only 2-factory stampings of the serial number #157. Well, lo and behold, I found a third #157 stamping that's on the bottom of the Well for the hydraulic lift.

So this dolly has a total of 3-factory stampings of the serial number and 4 if you're counting the DL Wolper ownership stamp. I haven't seen this many stampings on one particular item since admiring a vintage Luger pistol, where every piece imaginable on a Luger is stamped!

If you have any questions on maintaining your Mini-Crab Dolly, just e-mail me at:

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

David L. Wolper's Mini-Crab Dolly #157

I've been meaning to write about #157's previous owners for more than a year now, especially the most famous one of all, David L. Wolper.

Soon after purchasing #157, I was quite surprised when I removed the bottom panel for the very first time. Hidden beneath years of oxidation on the panel was the stamped name of D. L. Wolper.

At first glance, I didn't recognize his name until I did some research. I quickly recalled that Mr. Wolper was one of the most accomplished Hollywood and TV producers of our time. According to his site, Mr. Wolper won a total of 2-Academy Awards (Oscars), 50-Emmy's and 5-Peabody Awards. Undoubtedly, one of the most celebrated producers of all time.

Needless to say, as a filmmaker myself, it's an honor to have had in my possession, one of Mr. Wolper's pieces of equipment. To me, it's like having one of Ansel Adams' Hasselblad cameras. You can see more of Mr. Wolper's work at:

David L. Wolper - IMDb
Some images of the DL Wolper stamping before cleaning it.
It's quite possible the stampings were done at the ColorTran factory in Burbank.
After using a little rubbing compound, I was able to clean many years of oxidation off the stamping. As you can see, the stamping is more legible.

Tip...If you own a ColorTran Mini-Crab, be sure to check the inside of the bottom panel for any stampings. You'll have to look hard as it may be under years of oxidation.

During the conversation I once had with the former president of Berkey-ColorTran, I was told that a handful of famous filmmakers purchased the Mini-Crab soon after its release. I know two of which for sure, Francis Ford Coppola and David L. Wolper. Who knows...with only around 200 or so of these dollies being built, it's quite possible you too may have a famous 'Hollywood' dolly! Check your dolly and let me know what you find!

Click on any image to enlarge.