On any given day, Yorburg is working on one of about ten projects.A hand-built train set winds around his backyard, where he has several woodshops and sheds.The two restorers met through a client of Taplin’s.“Bob was looking for some machines to buy, and we had some for sale,” says Taplin, who sports thick glasses and a white head of hair.Sometimes he passes that duty along to a friend or to his wife, Laura, 64, who is also an artist.They met in 1978 while he prepared a magic act for a Pathmark annual sales meeting.
The lion seems to spring to life, and Yorburg – his rosy cheeks puffing out with a smile – tosses the remote on his workbench and throws up his hands.
In the last century, many of the period’s iconic horses, chariots and carriages have become more mechanized and technologically advanced. Yorburg says he knows of only about a half-dozen independent American carousel carvers like him.
According to Patrick Wentzel, chairman of the National Carousel Association (NCA), there are just a couple dozen others employed by the few remaining companies that specialize in carousel carving and restoration.
They all work to maintain the two hundred antique American carousels Wentzel monitors in an ongoing NCA census project.
In fixing and sometimes recreating old carousel horses, menagerie pieces and band organs, Yorburg aims to make sure this number doesn’t drop further, preserving a sliver of Americana for generations to come.
“There are people who do one thing at a time, but that’s not me,” he says.