c.1946 Gunthermann Quadruple Level, Twin Over-Under Cars

c.1946 Gunthermann Quadruple Level, Twin Over-Under Cars

This has to be one, if not, the most unusual toy I've found. Produced by Gunthermann, and marked only "Made In U.S. Zone Germany", this is a quadruple level, twin car, clockwork "Over-Under" toy. It's all tin litho, all complete, and most amazing of all it works! It's also the only example of this toy I've seen.

All of the "Over-Under" toys I've ever seen use two track levels. That is, a gravity powered cars rolls down an incline, strikes a release lever while a rotating pair of support arms grab the car, lift it to the upper level, where it rolls down, and then the cycle repeats. But in this case Gunthermann took this classic toy and doubled the number of elevated tracks to an amazing four different levels! In addition to doubling the levels to four, they also doubled the number of cars from one to two!

So, with all these levels and cars, to make it work it must be precisely timed to release one car while the other is being picked up. This must happen or else it won't work. Also all four tracks must be exactly perpendicular; the edges of each must line up. Then the rotation of the four support arms must be perfectly aligned to avoid rubbing against the tower or any of the track. And the two "wings" on either side of the cars must be at the correct angle and height to grab the tabs on the end of the support arms and yet still release at the right time!

It must also be well wound up while being careful not to over wind it. The motor has to be at it's maximum level so that it rotates at precisely the right speed. As it unwinds the power starts to decrease, it slows down just slightly, the timing will be off and it'll not release when it's supposed to. I got it to run through 8 cycles before this happened. As complex as it is it still works beautifully.

Other things to point out; to insure perfect timing it uses a large external flywheel. This insures that the motor will run and spring unwind, both uniformly. The top three tracks are see-saws. The fourth is stationary. The base is stamped "Made in U.S. Zone, Germany". Both cars are also marked. There is no manufacturer name. However, Gunthermann was the only company which made a 4 level, pre-war over-under. Technofix (Einfault), Arnold, and Distler (Ess-Dee) also produced over-under toys, but all of my research indicated that they were two levels.

To set up the toy 1)Wind it sufficiently. 2) Set the release lever (at the tracks lowest point) under the support arm tab to catch it in position. 3) Place one car manually at the far end of the bottom track, facing right. Let it roll down to the support arm where it will release the lever and be lifted to the top level. It'll then stop without releasing the car. 4) Start the second car the same way you did the first. It'll hit the release and be lifted by the support arm, while simultaneously releasing the first car. The first car will roll down while the second is lifted and stops at the top. The first car rolls all the way down and restrikes the release lever. You can then let it run by itself and the cycle will repeat.

Size: 13½" long, 8¼" tall, and 3-3 8" wide at the base

Sold: May 2011

Price Sold: $ 635


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Subject: c.1946 Gunthermann Quadruple Level, Twin Over-Under Cars

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