The name Model Tire Store pretty much tells what owners Dick and Edith Bukovec do - sell and repair tires. But there's no hint that the business at the corner of 12th Street and Main Avenue in Durango houses enough antique tools of the trade and automobile parts to double as a museum.
The Bukovecs, who are always willing to show off their collection, aren't familiar with many of the items that fill shelves and cover countertops. Some items date to the early 1920s, as does the business.
"It's a guessing game for us," Edith Bukovec said. "All this was just collected over the years."
The assortment of items is enough to make automobile buffs salivate.
Take car jacks. Lurking on shelves are ratchet jacks, scissor jacks, hydraulic jacks and jackscrews. One early-day jack has stamped in relief the name of the long-gone manufacturer. An Internet search for the Rees Manufacturing Co. of Pittsburgh, Pa., comes up blank.
Among other treasures are:•A horn button from a Nash, an automobile in production in one form or another from 1916 to 1957.
•Two white-sidewall tires - an Armstrong 6.70-by-16 and a Firestone 6.50-by-16 - that stand side by side, resembling a pair of staring eyes. They date from about 1960.
•A brass fire extinguisher made by The General Fire Extinguisher Corp., which made its product from the 1930s to the late 1950s.
•A tire-pressure gauge patented in 1911.
•A hood ornament in the form of a stylized peacock or swan.
•A buffer and tire molds that the Bukovecs used to recap tires for the Vanadium Corp. of America while it was milling uranium on Smelter Mountain from 1948 to 1963.
•Wrenches - open-end, box-end, crescent and monkey (derived from inventor Charles Moncky). Wrenches stamped Ford are sought by hobbyists, who want tools to keep company with their antique auto of the same name.
•Oil cans with nozzles such as those used in gas stations of yesteryear to transfer oil from a bulk container to the automobile. The cans hang from pegs.
Also gathering dust are tool boxes, hammers, tow chains, gearshift knobs, side-view mirrors, gas tank caps, headlights, trailer hitches, pliers, screwdrivers, chisels and padlocks.
"A lot of this accumulated from salvage," Edith Bukovec said. "Pop (patriarch Pete Bukovec, Dick's father) also took in some of the items on trade for tires or tire service."
Records at the Animas Museum show that the Model Tire Store building, 1162 Main Ave., was constructed around 1883. The first tenant was a saloon. The watering hole was followed by a second-hand store, tinsmith, laundry and auto repair shop and finally a tire outlet under a different name.
In 1925, the business became the Model Tire Store. One of the employees was Pete Bukovec, who bought the business in the 1930s. A 1947 eight-cylinder, four-door Buick Roadmaster that he took out of circulation with 41,000 miles on the odometer is stored elsewhere, his daughter-in-law said.
"It's spotless," Edith Bukovec said. "All original parts."
Dick Bukovec, who turned 70 in March, started working at the tire shop at age 12. He doesn't know any other life.
"I wanted to play baseball after school, but my dad told me, 'If you have time to play ball you have time to play tire,'" Bukovec said. "So I played tire and I've been doing it ever since."