As China Doll said, wheels can vary. You want the shafts riding level at the horse saddle. This is why you measure your equine when you go shopping for new vehicles. Harness tug loops don't give a lot of adjustment for leveling well. Cart shafts being level are much more important than with a 4-wheeler because equine is holding up weight in them. Part of the "magic triangle" for us, in balance. Triangle consists of both wheels, horse tug loops to make shafts level, since this is how the cart will balance to ride in. Not being level changes how the cart rides and handles.
Above is kind of "basic information" for cart sizing. Looks can vary if you have Gig shafts, curved shafts, on a cart, because your point of level will be the shaft part coming out of the body. Shafts are level there (or should be if this cart fits horse), then sweeping upward to the saddle and tug loops or French Tugs where horse carries them.
If I really loved cart X, but it was a little short on shaft height, I might consider getting larger wheels for it. Wheels to raise cart have to be a good jump in size, because you only have half that height UNDER the axle for actual lift change.
For the more simple carts, Road Cart, Meadowbrook types, you can often raise or lower the axle on the body and gain the shaft height you want. Fancier carts might give you a little adjustment height, but not always. They just are not as flexible or simply built in construction as the slatted type carts. That could be where the wheel size change could work, but is a bigger investment to have done. Have to make sure a taller wheel doesn't rub any body parts or cause other problems. Sometimes a different size wheel just is "looks wrong" in the proportions to the body of cart.
4-wheel doesn't have the same problem with level shafts, because they are hinged at the vehicle front, so no weight on horse saddle. 4-wheels take all the vehicle and passenger weight away from the horse. For LOOKS, having shafts more level appears nicer. SAFER with no raised ends up by his face to snag reins or bridle on. You can get shafts with a bigger curve at the rear, so they rise higher and hit horse midway of body. Higher for taller horse, but level at the saddle is still the goal. Same would be true if getting a smaller equine out front. Lower rise for ending up level shaft height on the big pony. Curve and downward length from shaft to vehicle connection point, is what changes shaft from pony to horse size in height.
New shafts are not a big expense. You actually SHOULD be checking your shafts yearly or upon purchase of a vehicle, for wear, moisture damage. You MUST check under the wrappings too, moisture collects there. Some shafts just need replacing because they are OLD and brittle, have old bolts, not trustworthy any more. Shafts got broken or worn out ALL THE TIME in the old days, so they got replaced. Newer wood is more springy, and will have NEW BOLTS in it, that also can be depended upon to not break easily.
So ideas to think on when contemplating a vehicle. Witmer Coach Shop has shafts, wheels, very helpful for almost any carriage parts. They are Amish and been very helpful to us.
Witmer Coach Shop
1070 W Main St
New Holland, PA 17557
Maybe there are other shops closer to your location for wheels and shafts, save on shipping.
Thanks for such an informative post! I love how you were able to clearly explain things that seem too filled with mystique for me to want to think about, and you break it down to understandable physics. So many times it seems you need to know more driving lingo to try to understand what one is talking about, and it gets a little overwhelming.
I'm not really at the top of my game today. I'm not even exactly sure what game I'm supposed to be playing, in fact... or where it's being held...
Well, thanks to everyone's help made some phone calls and got a sense of things.
As the wheels are too big and the shafts too long, it would require new wheels and shafts from Whitmers, and then staining, varnishing and installation at Shady Lane.... to the tune of $850-ish.
What would start out as a bargain would quickly become an expensive and time consuming project.
Shady Lane did suggest I could buy this unsuitable one and then trade it for a more suitable one through them. I might sleep on that idea.
Though I wasn't actively shopping for a cart, I think meadowbrooks are just so pretty so when a bargain turns up I'm eager to jump on it. Thanks to you all I have a better sense of what would be involved.
Chewbacca, thank you! I'm going to measure my horse tomorrow, but did some math based on your numbers and it seems my horse should likely be around 49". But again, I'll measure to know for sure.
I'm actually quite close to New Holland, PA, I'm surrounded by lots of meadowbrooks for sale. I haven't been actively looking but really good deals are suddenly popping up and catching my attention. I'm having a hard time looking away Though I really should, I don't even know where I'm going to keep a cart. I already have the two and I board. A third will be tricky.
You know, I was almost relieved when I retired my pony from riding, I'd accumulated SO many saddles, I said to myself, "at least I won't be accumulating carriages and carts for goodness sake! they take up room, so costly, etc, etc.." but, so it begins! I can't help myself from wanting to start a collection
Sorry China Doll, I'm just trying to remember off the top of my head. I know the hackney has 36" wheels, and yes, his tug loops are at 40", but the cart sits level. Perfectly.
I am not 100% sure on the QH's height off the top of my head. I know the wheels are 48" because I just recently measured them for other reasons. But where his tug loops are at exatly, I'm not sure off the top of my head. I do want to say they are around 55" but maybe they are at 50".
The carts certainly are not tipped up or down in any way.