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[Sticky] Apache/National Cart Corp story

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Apache/National Cart Corp story 

Taken from the American Vintage Airguns forum.

With thanks to Larry H:

Back in 1984, I was contacted by a fellow airgunner about an experimental Apache air rifle that was being offered for sale. At the time, I had a few Apaches and Plainsmans, but knew next to nothing about them overall. My friend's connection to the experimental Apache was that he happened to be married to a gal who came from a military family. Her father was a career army Captain who was good friends with a gentleman from California named Albert Dale Fogel who owned the said Apache and who wanted to sell it. I was put in contact with Fogel, agreed to buy the unusual airgun ( a combination rifle/pistol built on one frame), and arranged for a lengthy phone interview with him.

I then wrote an article about what I had discovered for Airgun News and Report  which ran in the April 1986 sense repeating that info here as it is readily available. However, the original draft of that article was a little different in that the publisher Gary Cobb's attorney "sanitized" the story to prevent a possible libel issue from an era 30 years prior. Now that another 35 years has passed since that original interview, I wanted to gently report what I was told by A. Dale Fogel as to why there was such a sudden demise to the Apache venture.

As a brief preface, let me state that this information was what I  had heard directly from Dale Fogel. Some recent research has revealed a possible conflict with some of the details from those reported to me 35 years ago. Dale was indeed depending on an aging memory at that time regarding a personally bitter era in his life, so it is certainly possible that some details (and time recollections) are suspect. However, Dale gave us valuable details which we may never had known had he not been so willing to share his story. These details include the National Cart/Apache connection to the Plainsman story, factory details about the number of employees, Apache production number details, and the establishment of the trio of primary investors named Charles Burhans, Orville Schimel, and Albert Dale Fogel. So for this reason, we owe Fogel a great deal of gratitude for the preservation of this history.

Onward with the reveal according to Dale Fogel....

The Apaches with their fragile plastic stocks and leaking valves were a nightmare to deal with, especially considering the Apache's stated lifetime warranty. This put a huge strain on the finances for both the Apache and the new (1949) Plainsman airguns. Fogel reported that one night about 3 1/2 years after the production of the Apache began, Charles Burhans disappeared, reportedly with $800,000 drained from their company bank account. Fogel and Schimel hired a private investigator to find Burhans. The investigator reported to them that Burhans had fled to Rio de Janeiro with his wife and two adopted children where he died six months later.

Now forced into bankruptcy owing $400,000, Fogel and Schimel both were each saddled with $200,000 in debt. Fogel said it took him 10 years to pay off his portion. Angry and frustrated by the entire airgun debacle, Fogel destroyed all copies of company records, personal drawings, etc. (the original plans for the patents, etc. were sold as assets in the court-ordered bankruptcy liquidation).

I cannot personally vouch for any of these details, but I have accurately stated Fogel's details as they were reported to me in 1984. I was only able to eventually buy several memorabilia items from him, which were prototype western scabbards designed for use with the Apache rifles which he had made for possible future sales at the time...I think I sold a couple to collectors 30+ years ago.

As an unrelated footnote to this Apache story, a few years after the Fogel interview, I was approached by a gun dealer friend who offered me a cache of new old stock Apache rifles found in an old warehouse in Louisiana. I believe there were about 2 1/2  (IIRC) cases  (6 rifles per case) of NOS Apaches in their plain, original boxes sealed with Apache tape. In that group, I also obtained quite a bit of original Apache paperwork and correspondence between Burhans and the owner of the distributor Allied Wholesalers...pretty interesting stuff mostly recorded on carbon paper!

The initial purchase order for 60 rifles and ammo is dated October, 1947 (placed after Burhans sent him a sample case of 6 rifles). This puts it within the first year of production with the plastic stocks. I never opened any of the sealed boxes in order to preserve all of the original packing, tape, and literature, but a few collector friends that I sold them to steamed open the seals and reported that the Apache rifle inside was indeed fitted with a plastic stock. Pretty cool, sealed time capsules that were nearly a half century old when I sold them (and now celebrating 70+ years old!).

And for these pics:


And DT Fletcher (decd) for this:

Some dates from Sporting Goods Dealer: 

February, 1946, first Mi-carT (folding golf cart) ad.
September, 1946, M-312 intro
January, 1947, Apache rifle intro
January, 1948, Apache pistol intro
March, 1948, Lead BB shot announcement 
May, 1948, big, color, 4-page "Fireball" introduction spread. This is the last Apache ad seen in SGD after over a year of monthly ads. This spread must have cost a small fortune. 

October, 1948; first ad for the Plainsman Line, Challenger Arms.

January, 1949, first ad for the SIMCO line. 


And Dave T for this:

Looks like Burhans faked his death in South America or paid off Fogels Private investigator.
Here is Burhans alive and well living in Florida in 1956. He the manager of, get this, Tag-a-long Carts Corp in Pompano Florida.
Tag-A-Long Carts were one of Burhans products at National Cart before skipping out. His Wife Elma is listed as well and matches the name of his Wife in Pasadena in 1947.

[Editor's note: Of course Burhans may not have faked his death; the 1956 directory could simply have reproduced wrong information... although he sounds thoroughly dodgy and him faking his death sounds plausible. But would he use his real name like this if so?]