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Ken Draus

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About Ken Draus

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  • Birthday 05/13/1966

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  • My favorite Christmas story
    I grew up in a christmas family. My gradfather was an avid decorator, going back to right after WWII, when in 1946, he made his own light strings out of wire, sockets, and 25 watt colored lamps to outline the roof of the family home in the Hegewisch neiborhood of Chicago. The display there evolved over the years, and by the late '60's, became a large spectacle. The bug bit me from an early age, and I eventually took it over, and actually started a small business during High school doing small commercail displays, which led to my landing my dream job with one of the largest commercial display companies at the time, in Chicago in 1984. Still work there today, as needed, but through my experience there, eventually became a commercial electrical contractor in the Chicago area.
    In recent years, I have recreated many components of the original display from my grandparents home at my own, and my young children are now getting into it as well, now passing it on to the 4th generation.
  • Location
    South Holland, Illinois, USA

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  1. Hamberger was the high volume leader in the mechanical animation business. Unfortunately, their pieces were not the most durable, and in fact they were extremely fragile, so they often broke with improper storage. They were also largely unrepairable, mechanically, as they used sealed mechanisms and motors. There were several other custom, low volume manufacturers of mechanical animation as well, including: Silvestri Art Manufacturing, Chicago Perren Gerber Associates Chicago Creative Presentations, Chicago Advanced Animations, California Howard-Harrill Georgia. It should be noted t
  2. Allen, there is a 3rd company called Carpenter decorating that is probably the largest of the three. They seem to be the leader of the industry these days. -Ken
  3. I use 2 6 pole 40 amp rated contactors. 1 electronic time clock turns them both on. The first one ( 6 circuits) energizes immediately upon the timer contact closure, the second via a 5 second time delay relay, ( 5 circuits) so the entire load, approx. 200 amps, does slam in all at once.
  4. I buy nothing but GKI lights. These are true "professional grade" that display companies use. Though they are around $5 for a 50 light string, I have some strings that are in excess of 20 years old now, so I'm well money ahead. I put the year they went into service on the plug with a paint marker, and have some going back to 1988!!!!. Bottom line is, I will never buy those cheap big box store lights, and throw them away after 2 years.
  5. The nativity above was originally from my grandparents house, and was built in 1965. I recreated it exactly at my house, including the original Poloron and Beco figures. The only thing I had to replace was the angel on the roof. The original was a Royal flatback that got destroyed in storgage.
  6. My 5 year old daughter Bellie helping out
  7. Noma. That one look like it could use a good cleaning
  8. The first year only (1966) they were silver anodized, but they found out it faded and peeled almost immediately when exposed to the weather. In 1967, they switched to a gold anodizing which held up a little better, but still faded and peeled over time. The gold anodize had a very faint gold hue. From a distance, it didn't look that much different from the silver. -Ken
  9. There were 4 evolutions of the center. The original is the version with anodized lighted center ran 1966-1971 The next version, with the molded cone shaped blue and green center ran 1972-1978 The third version was similar, but the center was less cone shaped, and more concave, and made of a smooth plastic ran 1979-1990 and the last version was the flat disk, which ran around 1991-2010. The original Co. went out of business in 1995, and the assets were purchased by an employee, who renamed it GP designs. The display co. I work for was the area rep, in the Chicago area for them, from 1963-1
  10. The version with the center reflector was made 1966-1971
  11. They were gold anodized originally. That process requires special equipment, and doesn't last in the weather. I've had the best success with gold spray paint. I used tru-test brand, sold at true value hardware stores, and it looks very close to the original. Be careful with those reflectors. they are very fragile, and will crack if you overtighten the screws.
  12. I have 2 of those Mel, do you know who made it? -Ken
  13. Nice find Sam. Broke my ankle, been laid up for a while. I'll email you -Ken
  14. Great info, Mel, Thanks. Earlier than I even thought. I found out for sure that the display company I work for started doing the streets of deerfield in 1965, a year before I was born. As soon as I can get around again, I'll dig out the soldier, and try to find the deer. The deer I have looks identical. I wish there was a way to verify it is a Deerfield deer, but I can only speculate. It was in the same trailer as the Deerfield soldiers. Ken
  15. Those candles were made by a company called Frederick Display, somewnere in new york. They were extremely fragile, made of a very thin celluloid type plastic, in the vacuform process. I doubt any survived. -Ken
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