Rebuilding a wagon
Ive been looking into purchasing a vehicle to drive my ponies in pairs and fourinhand but by the time I found something with shipping from Pennsylvania (where everything seems to be made) to British Columbia, the cost was quite high... so I thought I'd just rebuilt this old wagon that we have and use it!
I've done a lot of research and all that does it lead to more questions that I end up researching! At first I thought about removing the double reach and adding a full fifth wheel but that seem far too much work.
The wheels are in terrible condition. More than half of the spokes are broken at the felloes. I've spoken to Eric at Rustic at Heart and he is going to rebuilt the wheels for me. My plans are to make them shorter and add rubber. After speaking with some people it seems that I could replace the 46" back wheels and 42" front wheels with 4" smaller wheels and then raise the box up a few inches and that should give me quite a bit more turning radius.
Does this sound plausible? How much should I raise the bed by? Is 4 inches enough to shorten the wheels by?
I have a friend who is a finishing carpenter and he is going to do all of the wood working for me. I just need to tell him what to do.
This is what it looks like now. This is is looking at the front of it. On the back you can see the box was just bolted to the piece of wood going from side to side. To raise the box I can just put a thicker piece of wood there, but I'm wondering about how to raise the front.
The axle cap is quite rotten as well, so I plan to purchase a new one. Since the box was directly bolted to the edges of the spring bar, how to I raise the front of the box? Can I buy a much thicker spring bar? Or put a block of wood on there, bolt it together and then use really long carriage bolts to go through the box floor, the lifter wood and then through the spring bar?
The wheels aren't ordered yet. If anyone has a better idea I would entertain it.
As for painting the vehicle after it's all built, I've been reading on how old coaches and things were painted and it seems like it wouldn't be possible anymore. Lead paint isn't around... neither is oil paint. Both have gone the way of the dodo bird. I want a very very high gloss piano-like finish. Any product suggestions or input on this would be grealy appreciated as well.
I'll also need a pole to use. Who sells a good pony sized pole? And my final question... for now.. (I have many more).. What type of pole should I use? A straight drop pole? Should I use an evener? or splinter bar?
why not buy something used I'm sure there's plenty of stuff in the western part of the United States . I think you're trying to do too much customizing to make that work I would worry about the safety aspect of it
Originally Posted by nfld_pony
I can't find anything around me. Everything is mini or horse size...
Why do you say it's unsafe? The box only attaches with four bolts and it being rebuilt by a professional carpenter. The wheels are being rebuilt by a wheelwright and attach with a single nut... What's unsafe?
Doesn't Pacific Carriage make a large pony sized carriage or cart? You'd have to act quickly, though, as they will be closing their doors soon.
Yes, they do, but I don't happen to have $11 000 to spend. I already have a pacific training cart. I'll happily accept donations though... Why is Bill shutting down anyway? I hadn't heard that.
I would not change the wheel sizes, because they won't then be in proportion to the vehicle. If the vehicle is too big or small for your animal, I wouldn't fix up that wagon. You would have a better vehicle, if you purchase one the correct size
to fit them.
Changing wheel sizes on a wagon as shown, will change how the wagon turns, might be hitting the box sooner (larger wheels) or even get caught underneath the box on turns with making them smaller wheels! With box on a reach, you will NEVER have small turning radius in a vehicle like that.
Vehicle is not DESIGNED to handle a full 5th wheel turntable, is NOT going to take the stresses of removing the reach, leaving unsupported rear and front axles. If you do brace and change things to make axles solid, you will probably have a pretty ugly wagon. Wagon body is not heavy enough to bolt on the 5th wheel, so you may just rip the front axle right off with any load on the wagon. To make wagon floor heavier, you will be removing part of the ease in pulling and lightness that is so desired in a wagon like this. Will make it harder to move for the horses pulling, especially if they are out for a while, have a load of folks in it or a good load of "supplies" you want moved. You use up horsepower wastefully, making a vehicle heavier than it was ever designed to be, then loading it with weight to be moved.
Your wood worker friend may be a carpenter, but is he ALSO a Wheelwright? Totally another set of skills beyond fitting wooden items together like furniture. He needs to use the correct woods for new parts, steam-bend new felloes to put the spoke ends into, maybe make new hubs too. Takes special tools. Wheels have to be CORRECTLY dished to handle the load of wagon. Few wheels are flat if they are wooden. Part of the design of spokes, hubs and felloes is the dish. AND THEN, the whole wheel needs to have steel channel or a steel wheel tread put on the felloes to make wheel able to drive down the road.
Rebuilding the box of wagon needs skills that can EXACTLY replace what is worn out, rotted, damaged. You DO NOT make the boards bigger, use heavier wood of a different kind. Wagons are made of several kinds of woods, each chosen for it's strengths, lightness, flexibility in the moving vehicle. Changing and "improving" a wagon with the wrong material can seriously affect how it drives or lasts in work. A painted vehicle definately has various woods in it's construction, makes it a better wagon. The old makers had EVERYTHING figured out, were EXPERTS on what worked or didn't work. People coming later never want to just copy and replace bad parts with exactly the same thing. Later fixers always think they are IMPROVING the vehicle, instead of actually just messing it up.
Do know that the right and LEFT sides of vehicle are NOT exactly the same. You need to MARK each wheel for the corner it come off from, so you don't put it back on the wrong place. Hub of wheel and axle spindles are probably "worn to fit" after this many years. You also will have Left and Right side hub nuts, so they MUST be used on the correct sides. Left side nuts are MADE to turn off/loosen, to the right, so they don't come off while driving. Don't strip them during removal. You will probably need to replace EVERY screw, all nuts and bolts because they are worn and unsafe. Use HARDENED bolts and screws so they can take the stress of use, don't shear off on you. Replace with the same sizes, head shapes if possible so your vehicle doesn't scream "Been Repaired" to the knowledgable driving folks. It will also keep the value up when finished.
Here is Witmer's information. They sell wheels, poles, shafts, ALL kinds of parts for repair of buggies, wagons, vehicles.They ship too. They are Amish, so no computers that I know of. You can call and talk to them. Make sure you and they are clear on a "special name" for various parts. Lot of local names across the continent, which are easily confused in discussions, so you could order the wrong pieces. Might be easier to order a catalog, which I think you have to pay for, so you can see pictures and drawings, have names right in front of you, for ordering.
The wagon shown, is a common design. Locally it would be a Democrat Wagon or Light Delivery Wagon, but that is my area, not EVERY area. The common pole used with it would be a drop-pole, with an evener with singletrees on top, light neck yoke in front to hold it up on the horse's chest. They also had shafts for a larger, single horse to pull it with, cheaper to run than a pair. Having 3 seats, it could have been a family vehicle, able to seat everyone for trips to church or visiting neighbors. Seats in back obviously are removed when using it as a wagon.
Automotive paint is commonest for repainting these days. However you need spray tools and MUCH sanding before application and between every coat, to get the glossy finish. You could ask Witmer's about paint, could have some special stuff with all the paint improvements. With carriages being wood, used in humid or dry conditions, the paint has to be flexible to not break or flake off when being used. Cars don't flex like that, so some paints need special mixing to apply.
Witmer Coach Shop
1070 W Main St.
New Holland, PA
717) 656-3411) phone
thank you for that information. The wheels are being made by a wheel guy in Ohio. I have marked them front left etc. for him. The nuts were also replaced to the same axle removed from.
I've stripped the paint from the existing wood as well as know where the wagon was built and we know that it is made from fir. I've contacted a local mill and they going to custom mill the wood to the exact thickness in the current wagon.
I wasn't altering the size of the vehicle so it fit my horses. The person I bought it from used it on ponies as well. My plans were to alter it so the turning radius was a little more than it currently is. That's what I was dropping the wheels and raising the box; the seat would remain approximately 55" high. With slightly smaller wheels and a higher box the wheels could turn in under the box and I would then add the rollers to the reach.
Do you think this will cause an issue? I'm not looking for a cross country or speed vehicle, just something to drive around town in.
I do happen to have access to a paint sprayer. I will look into that.
I think it could make it top heavy and maybe turn over easier. I am just not a fan of that many and kind of alterations you are making. that is what seems unsafe to me. It is not designed to do what you want it to do.
I can't really tell what your reach gear is like from the pictures- but it's possible that the radius of the reach fan (I'm calling it that because I don't know the proper term for it) maxes out before you hit the body with the wheels... it's also possible that hitting the body (rollers) with the wheels IS the safety stop that prevents the reach from going beyond it's limits. I'm concerned that you are focusing on getting more clearance for the wheels without checking that the gear will stay together in that extreme a turn.
On the original carriage there is a metal ginding plate. it's well over an inch and almost ground through. It doesn't have rollers now, I was only adding those because I'm changing to rubber and they will stick to the metal and cause a flip.
The Robert's pony hitch wagon is 70 inches... mine is only 53. Both are the same width. Is theirs top heavy? Not trying to be rude... just wondering...
Could you tell me please, China Doll, what this wagon WAS designed for? I just looked up democrat carriage use on google and it said for light luggage and quick trips between towns... that's even harder work than I am looking at! I just want to be able to drive around the farm roads where I live.
Without some alterations this thing barely turns at all and is hardly useable. The reach has a pretty good radius with the box off, it will turn all the way to the reach. What about if I still put smaller wheels, only partially raise the box and put the rollers on the body again, not the reach like I was going to, so the wheels don't come in contact with the reach? Even though the reach has metal running from front to back, as well as the wood, I wouldn't want the wheels to hit it.
How high should a pony vehicle of this type be? I can't find any literature anywhere on that... other than the roberts one which is way higher than mine.
I wouldn't call the vehicle you have (as it was in the photo) a wagon at all, to me a wagon is a freight vehicle and a passenger vehicle it would go by some other name- but I'm not a vehicle expert and I know that there are some multi seat vehicles that do go by wagon names (like Wagonette)
The two pictures you just shared of the goal represent two very different types of vehicle to me. The natural wood one is very much the style of a hitch wagon- like you would see in Draft horse showing. What says hitchwagon in the styling to me is the way the front is a flat wall with the seat on top and just a footboard affixed to the flat front with no dashboard. It's not done up exactly like a show hitch wagon- but the basic structure is there.
The other one, I would think of more like a "market wagon" To vehicle pros- there are fine details like the cutunder- or the way the seat is mounted, or the floorboard- which would totally change the identification of one vehicle from another.
These folks have a variety of wagon types with good pictures and the names:
Have to agree with Plainandtall, the natural vehicle is a form of hitchwagon. Same look as all the Hansons wagons. These were for hauling large loads, are coarsely built of lumber. Originally plainly built and not refined at all. On a MUCH heavier gear, with HEAVILY built wheels with wide treads, stout hubs, have a FULL 5th wheel for turns. It would have a drop-tongue for the Pair, not a drop-pole for pulling with.
The black cut under light wagon is probably what stores in town did deliveries with. Cut under allows sharp, short turns needed in city driving, holds a fair load, but not tonnage like a hitch wagon type will. Could go Pair or large single to pull it. Refined look next to the hitch wagons, light wheels, axles, only able to do partial turns with no 5th wheel.
They are NOT the same kind of vehicle, did not use the same kind of equines to pull them, or the same kinds of harness. They are EACH nice wagons, but not similar wagons in usage or style.
Forgot to add on my other post, that the light delivery type wagon shown in your OP, is not going to work well with a Four hitched to it. Not made for that, and a light drop pole has no safe way to hitch the Leaders on. Just the wrong kind of vehicle to try using a Four with.
How big are your ponies? If I want a vehicle for an animal, I want the seat high enough to see ahead of them. Bigger animals would need a bit higher seat. A correctly designed vehicle should have it's main weight down low, axles and wheels, to aid in preventing being top-heavy. Tipping chance is increased with height of load and speed, especially in turns or cornering. Wider wheel tracks can help decrease tipping, but antiques were built for slower speeds on our terrible rural roads. Often had a narrower wheel track BECAUSE they were 4-wheeled, not traveling at great speeds back then. Especially true of wagons hauling loads that could be damaged with rough roads. Filling all those seats with people would greatly increase your "high weight" above the wheels and axles and springs between. Going at speed would much increase tipping chances with that high weight in the wagon. Laws of motion can not be ignored.
Marathon type modern vehicles have a LOT of their weight down low to the ground. Wheels are metal, often heavier than wooden wheels of antiques, and smaller in diameter. Pairs and Fours Marathon vehicles are HEAVILY built to withstand the strength of the animals ahead. People who have tried to "save weight" on their animals in Marathon, experienced a number of issues with breakage and problems on the vehicles not made to be used that way. Four of ANY size animal is a LOT of strength for vehicle to withstand. I just heard of a 6 of sheep that could pull a Ram pickup, used as an act at Rodeos. And sheep are LITTLE compared to even small ponies, not minis.
I am looking at what you want to do, as being hard on the type vehicle you have chosen to fix. The light wagon is for hauling goods, not doing sharp turns or competition beyond the show ring. Made for going straight ahead, LARGE and gentle type turns at moderate speeds.
You can't turn a sow's ear into a silk purse. You end up with a really unhappy pig and vehicle STILL can't do things it wasn't made to do. There is no one vehicle that can do "everything". Wagon can do a number of things pretty well, but other uses are going to damage it, could get you wrecked if it tips or parts fail when over-stressed. It is what it is.
I can WISH I was 6ft tall, but that is not going to change my height. I still can't reach the top shelves in the cabinets. I just have to deal with it by not keeping things up there or buy a stepstool. Can't change ME to fix the height problem.
I'm getting ready to go to the Southern IN Spring auction later this week- I wish I could take you with me nfld-pony!! It got me thinking, there is a horse drawn auction and swap meet that I know of out west- not EVERYTHING is in PA... I know when you zoom out on Google Earth I can kind of squint my eyes and pretend that Madras OR is close to BC but it's probably a pretty big trip depending where in BC you are.
Here is a youtube of the auction (the first vehicle is going very high because it must have some historic collector's importance) The second half of the video you can see some of the other vehicles there. I don't know how big this auction is- but the one I'm going to has hundreds of vehicles parked outside and rows and rows in other buildings- when auction time comes they get rolled through the ring- so what you see is probably only a fraction of what is there.
I don't know if they catalog the sale or not. Sometimes auctions even take phone bidding.
And look- they have even set up a board to help people move their stuff and themselves- sharing rides/hauling how nice!
I didn't mean the two vehicles in my "goal" were the same type, I just meant that they were high bodied, with a reach so the front wheels turned under which is what I was looking to do.
My ponies are 13HH.
I'm really at a loss... you're all making it sound like the vehicle is just useless and with the turning radius it has right now it pretty much is...
By putting smaller wheels that is only going to make the gear lower, wouldn't that make the weight lower?
If a dropped pole isn't used for a four in hand, why do most of the supply sites I've looked at have hooks for leaderbars at the end?
You may be looking at sites, like for the Hanson wagons, that use dropped tongues. This is a HEAVILY built tongue that is supported by a yoke on Draft type harness. Tongues are used with heavy American built wagons, like Hitch Wagons, Conestogas, Prairie Schooners, Stage Coaches, hay wagons. Most of the ones I see have a large dimension to the tongue itself, at least 4"x4", tapered to a narrow tip that lets the yoke slide on. Could also have the hook to support a swing pole or Leader bars for various hitches of horses. This is NOT what is used on those light wagons you put pictures up of.
Originally Posted by nfld_pony
The light wagons use a Drop Pole, which has a metal piece, usually iron, that clips or fits into the the brackets on axle that hold the shafts. The metal holds the wood pole piece on with bolts, also the evener. This pole is light, slender piece of wood that goes forward, has a light wooden yoke put on the tip end. Yoke is held up by the buggy collars of horses pulling. Everything is lightweight, much more refined than the drop tongue used by the heavier wagons.
A correctly appointed drop pole has a brass cap on the tip, with a collar so the yoke can't slide in too close to the horses. Horses are harnessed snugly front (yoke strap to traces adjustment when hooked to the singletrees) to back, so there is no "wiggle room" to allow yoke to fall off. Horse is not tight in the harness, just the strapping is tight. Driver is EXPECTED to keep his horses up in their bridles, so they work equally. With the tapered, capped pole tip, there is no place to put the hook for Leader bars. Pole end is not sturdy enough to attach the hook.
In carriage driving the hook for the swing pole or Leader bars is called a crab. The crab fits on under the pole head of a carriage, though they are seperate pieces.
As with all terminology, names can be used incorrectly, mispronounced, have local names different than other places call the same item. Dropped pole, dropped tongue, both come from the pole/tongue being able to drop down to the ground when yoke is removed. Fixed poles on fine carriages, sprung poles found on Modern metal vehicles, stay in the air, self supported, when horses are removed, so you hitch/unhitch each of the horses individually, using Headers to hold them. This is unlike Draft folks who drive to the wagon with it's dropped tongue, having horses already paired up, to be hitched.
Smaller wheels will lower the whole vehicle. However they also will lose a bit of weight in shrinking them, and you still would have "high weight" if you fill the seats with people who are tall when seated. That gives the top of vehicle more "leverage" in tipping because they are higher up.
It seems like your original reason for redoing this wagon you showed us in OP, was to just go driving down the road with a Pair. Wagon is quite suitable for that. Again, you control the speed, go easy on speed around corners, have a good view ahead of your ponies, and wagon will fill those requirements. But if you want to do fancy turns, haul people with you on bumpy roads, you will have to modify how you do it or this wagon is going to cause problems. You can probably show this wagon in ring classes, do alright again.
But if you want to do cross-country things, move along at higher speeds, compete in other kinds of driving competition, the wagon is not a good choice. You are the one who is not clear, to me anyway, about precisely what your plan is when driving the wagon.
We tend to think more along modern Driving activities on this Forum, showing, CDE, club activities that require a vehicle which is nimble, comfortable, able to withstand those demands on it. Few of us would consider having a small wagon, it is not capable of doing how we want to drive.
Thank you for taking the time for typing all that up. II really appreciate it. Sorry if I was shot in my last few messages.
I do not plan to compete, there are no compeitions in this area. I have a gscart that I bomb around in. I don't even have plans to put the back seats into this vehicle ones it's rebuilt, it's not a people mover. To there will only be weight up front.
Is there anything that I am able to do to get anymore turning (not fancy turning just more than the very slight turning I can get now)? I was speaking to a carriage maker in Alberta and that's who suggested I drop the wheels and then boost the box up a little higher. The seat in turn would be up the same height but the wheels would be able to turn a little more.
Could you find me a photo of the pole that is appropriate for this harness? I have both CDE style harness and the felt padded draft harness. Well, I don't have the draft harness yet.. it's in the mail. This is it... I think it's put together wrong in this photo though...
Would the draft style harness be the appropriate one?