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Novelist desperately needs historical carriage info-how did a "skid" work?

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  • Novelist desperately needs historical carriage info-how did a "skid" work?

    Can anyone point me to a photo or diagram of a "skid" or "skid-plate" or "slipper," which was used before brakes to lock the wheel(s) of a carriage or stagecoach when going downhill?

    I am finding a lot of references to this in pre-1830 or so coaching and staging references, but I can't find any image of it.

    Also, the wheel could apparently just be "chained" or both "chain and skid" put on, rather quickly apparently, even from the rear perch by the guard on a stage or mail-coach.

    I'd really really appreciate any detail about this process, how it could go wrong, and what the equipment looked like.

    Thanks in advance!
    Ring the bells that still can ring
    Forget your perfect offering
    There is a crack in everything
    That's how the light gets in.

  • #2
    You might check Fairman Rogers manual on coaching for an illustration. Problems with the skid: catching fire if the friction was too much on a steep slope. Same with a chained wheel.

    I was always under the impression that the guard/groom had to dismount the coach to employ the skid or chain. Can't see how one could put either in place while sitting on the coach.

    The skid looked like a triangular piece of wood, similar to a modern wheel chuck, attached to a single chain to which the other end of the chain was attached to the undercarriage of the vehicle to both keep the skid in front of the back wheel when in use and prevent it from being lost while traveling on the road. It hung from the underside of the carriage when not in use.

    BTW: this method of braking could only be used on iron shod wheels.

    November 2nd 2007 Chronicle of the Horse article by Trisha Booker on the coaching event at Upperville , Va shows a photo of Hector Alcalde's private drag with a slipper skid hanging from the underside of his vehicle.
    Last edited by gothedistance; Sep. 14, 2011, 01:40 AM.


    • #3
      I am completely ignorant in this area, but I would contact the Carriage Association of America. Their thing, to a great extent is historical carriages and restorations. I am sure they could refer you to a member that would be able to help if Jill can't help you.


      • #4
        Could try contacting Andreas Nimitz from Coaching in Bavaria and see if he can help you out.

        At a CAA conference he spoke about his business and I believe he still uses this technique for some of his driving in the Alps. If I remember correctly they had to reinforce the drag for use on some of the steeper descents. I have vague rememberances of his talk, but not clear enough to use as a reference


        If you ever have the chance to hear him speak it is well worth it. VERY interesting.

        Also try the
        Carriage Museum of America
        4089 Iron Works Parkway
        Lexington, KY 40511

        They are a research library (closely affiliated w CAA). They should be able to help you out.


        • #5
          Originally posted by Drive NJ View Post
          At a CAA conference he spoke about his business and I believe he still uses this technique for some of his driving in the Alps.

          WHOA! This is the first time in my life I've ever been intrigued by a foreign vacation!!! How fascinating!


          • #6
            Here is one for sale on Ebay, 230671996415. Enlarge the photos and get the details of cast sides that wheel fits into. Totally made of metal, to take a lot of dragging before needing replacement. GTD's comment about hot brake shoe from dragging and wheels catching fire was interesting!! Brake shoes came in all sizes and degrees of utilitarian or objects of craftsmanship. Some are very crude, others rather elegant to match their vehicles.

            I have always called them brake shoes, never heard the slipper name. Slipper
            is an apt name though with the turned up front end that fits the wheel roundness.

            My Coaching friends tell me that the Groom/Guard in the rear of the Coach hops down to put the brake shoe on while the vehicle is moving. They have to move quickly and ACCURATELY, to place shoe to go on moving wheel. Then he swung back into his seat for the downhill portion of the ride. I understand that in the "olden days" you knew if a man had been a Coaching groom because they often had part of a finger missing from the shoe and wheel going over finger when shoe was not lined up properly. YIKES!! Evidently a common occupational hazard of the job.

            With brake shoe in place, rear wheel stopped moving, heavy chain from Coach body held shoe in place. Coach stopped at the bottom, so Groom could remove shoe from wheel and hang shoe back under the body. I have seen some really heavy Coaches with two brake shoes hanging underneath, so they must have stopped both rear wheels on their downhill ride. Usually there was only one brake shoe on Coaches. Freight wagons used brake shoes with their heavy loads as well. Just a MUCH bigger version of what is shown on Ebay to fit the much wider wheels.

            I have seen some old woodcuts of the Pioneers tying logs to the rear wheels of Covered wagons to get them down mountain trails. They also used ropes anchored on tree stumps to hold the axle while Teams were lowering the wagons down the mountian. Sure didn't make much milage on those kinds of days!!

            I can see things going wrong with wheels failing, spokes breaking under the pressure of logs pushing on wagons. I am not sure exactly on what "chaining" entails, though I have some mental images. One that sticks out has logs run between the spokes, chained to the wheel rims so wheels can't turn. This again, puts a lot of pressure on small areas of wheel, axle/support of body of vehicle, not how it was designed to be used. So failure of parts was easily a bad feature of doing this method. Steel shod wheels had to be helpful, rubber covered wheels would never have taken the abuse.

            Even being successful part of the time with big wagons, using them so harshly, is a REAL credit to the wagon makers and wheelwrights!! They made a solid, well crafted vehicle and wheels to hold it up to those abuses.

            You need to specify what area the Stagecoaches, carriages you are interested in were being used. American Stagecoaches of that time were more Mud Wagon type than what is shown in Western Movies. English Stagecoaches were a totally different ball game in design with their hard-surfaced roads. American roads were actually trails, hard to get anyplace quickly on. Vehicles had to be more "tough and solid" to survive the rigors of travel. Conestoga Wagons, curved bottoms, were the Freight Wagon of the times in the Eastern States, not really a family moving Pioneer wagon. Conestogas were not the more square Prairie Schooner, boxy shape of the "Westward Ho" movement of the 1850's and later. People get confused with the styles because both the Prairie Schooners and the Conestoga Wagons had wood bows with white tarp covers to get the "Covered Wagon" effect.


            • Original Poster

              Thank you so so much! I knew I could count on COTH for some quick illumination!

              I had the general idea, but the various anecdotes from the period were really confusing me. GTD, thanks, I couldn't figure out where it hung from. I read one incident from the Sporting Magazine (English, circa 1820's):

              'Some few years past I was travelling to Brighton, I think by the " Alert," at the time driven by a coachman named Pattenden. On pulling up at the extreme point of Reigate Hill, and being anxious to get the drag on, he did not do it securely. On starting rather brisk, whether it came in contact with a stone, or from what cause I know not, but it flew from the wheel it was placed on to the opposite one, and fixed as properly and securely as if placed by hand, in which manner we proceeded down the hill, in my opinion, a providential and singular circumstance, which perhaps, prevented a serious accident.'
              Since I thought it hung from the side of the coach, that really baffled me. (Still seems pretty "singular" all right, but at least within the realm of possibility. How this passenger knew what had happened under the coach, I don't know, either. Sounds a bit fishy all around actually.)

              I went back over what I'd read about the guard being able to put on a skid from the perch, and I realize now I was confusing a description of an early brake with the skid, because they were talking about both. So yes, guards were apparently encouraged to put it on while moving (yeah, goodhors, the fingers! OUCH), though I have some other charming stories about stage coaches that left the stop w/o the coachman, for one reason or another, with passengers inside, and the horses ran to the next change, stopping at the top and bottom of each hill, and coming in so perfectly that the passengers never realized they had no driver.

              goodhors, THANK you for finding that ebay item! I'd searched all over and all I could come up with were modern automobile and motorcycle things. Frustrating! That is extremely helpful.

              As to the time period, we're on the Royal Mail, 1825. I'm just in love with the mail-coaches. By 1837, they had the system timed so perfectly that the London-Edinburgh mail left at 8 pm every night but Sunday, and arrived in Edinburgh 42 hours later. The allowed time averaged 10 mph the whole distance of 400 miles, including stops, which meant for much of the time the heavily loaded 4-in-hand coaches were traveling at 12-14 mph.

              Those guys were serious dudes. The guards worked for the Post Office, and had the responsibility to get the mail through on time no matter what. If something delayed the coach, they were to take one of the leaders and go on with the mail (leaving the passengers to their fate). More than one guard died trying to get mail through snowstorms when the coach was stuck in drifts. And that's not even to mention the floods. Woe be to any horsekeeper who delayed the mail by not having the fresh team ready (the time allowed for changes dropped from 6.5 minutes in 1810 to 80 seconds by 1837, with changes commonly made in 45 seconds.) If a tollgate keeper was asleep (or drunk) and failed to have the gate open when they heard the horn, they would be heavily fined.

              I'm writing a "close call," something that turns out basically ok. Anecdotes suggest going downhill was a frequent source of accidents, so I'm hypothesizing a skid that doesn't hold--it catches and then releases alternately, which was apparently fairly common, and made the top-heavy coach sway ("strike"):

              I have before stated several objections to a locked wheel, with a top-heavy load; but I am indebted to that experienced coachman, Mr. Charles Buxton, for the following remark, communicated personally to me the other day. 'If,' said he, you must lock a wheel with a heavy load, and upon a smooth hard road, let it be the wheel next the ditch, or any other dangerous part. A coach, in going down hill, always strikes on the side that the wheel is not locked. I therefore think the coachman should keep as much as he can on that side of the road on which the wheel is locked; as, by crossing the road, if he meets, or has to pass, anything, his coach will not strike; and by holding that way, at any time, it will prevent her overturning.' This is quite correct, as the coach naturally strikes in a direct line from the perchbolt.
              (Annals of the Road, 1876)

              Perchbolt being what the chain is attached to?

              So in my little world, the skid isn't catching, and the Bad Barmy Thoroughbred wheeler is shouldering the pole, which puts the team at an angle to the hill. Then something happens to the skid (flies off? breaks? just doesn't work?) and the coach is tilting down the hill, almost toppling, alternately skidding down and going forward, with the entire weight on the nearside wheeler (Our Equine Heroine, a beautiful Yorkshire Coach Horse of Great Wisdom, Athleticism and Experience). At which point Our Hero (human variety), an inside passenger, jumps out and somehow manages to get a chain on the other wheel, which locks it and takes the pressure off the good wheeler, straightens the coach, and All Is Well. (Except the good wheeler has blown out her stifle, which means she's can't work the fast coaches anymore, and will be sold down the river, ie for a London cab. But never fear, Our Hero buys her, and she will live happily ever after, once her stifle heals up a bit, driving an elegant cart in the country for Our Human Heroine. But all this is come...)

              Does that sound do-able? I don't have to be very detailed, and frankly it's just self-indulgence that I go into any detail at all, but I hate to write a horse scene that is completely off the wall.

              Regarding brakes vs skids and wheel wear, I found this, from An Old Coachman's chatter (1870's):
              It must be recollected that up to quite the latter end of the great coaching days no patent brakes were in use. They were not invented until about the year 1835, and were very slow in coming into use. I knew a case of the Post-office authorities refusing their sanction for the proprietors to have one attached to a mail coach at their own expense, because they thought it would break the contract with the coach maker, and I can quite imagine that the brakes were no favourites of those who miled the coaches, as there was not only the original cost, but the use of one has a considerable influence in wearing out the hind wheels.
              DNJ, The Bavarian Stagecoach sounds like a blast!
              Ring the bells that still can ring
              Forget your perfect offering
              There is a crack in everything
              That's how the light gets in.


              • Original Poster

                Here's the only specific description I've found of using a chain (vs skid):

                In frosty weather, -when the road is glazed as it were, neither slipper nor chain are of much use, and the only way in which a wheel can then be tied to effect, is by a chain, so contrived as to have it go around the felly of the wheel, instead of around the spoke, taking care that it pass under the tire, just
                where it takes the ground.-The roughness of the links then stays the wheel, whereas the smooth and polished surface of the skid would cause it to glide over the ice like a skate. A passenger should never put his head out of a coach window on the side on which a wheel is chained, for should the chain break anywhere near the perch, it would be instant death to him.
                Ring the bells that still can ring
                Forget your perfect offering
                There is a crack in everything
                That's how the light gets in.


                • #9

                  In frosty weather, -when the road is glazed as it were, neither slipper nor chain are of much use, and the only way in which a wheel can then be tied to effect, is by a chain, so contrived as to have it go around the felly of the wheel, instead of around the spoke, taking care that it pass under the tire, just
                  where it takes the ground.-The roughness of the links then stays the wheel, whereas the smooth and polished surface of the skid would cause it to glide over the ice like a skate. A passenger should never put his head out of a coach window on the side on which a wheel is chained, for should the chain break anywhere near the perch, it would be instant death to him.

                  Reading this, the wheel's tire and felloes, is wrapped with a chain, to give better grip. Felloes is the correct name for "felly" in the quote above, which is the wooden rim that spokes end in, while tire is the steel wheel surface. If the wrapped chain should come unfastened, the flying chain end would indeed damage a person with their head out the window of the coach.

                  Not sure that your scenario will work with trying to chain a rear wheel in mid-skid. First is that there is no handy chain normally on coach to grab for chaining the wheel to stop movement (skidding the wheel). Also no place to anchor the chain on coach to halt movement without killing himself in the process. This kind of chaining would be different than wrapping the wheel tire described in the quote above. He MIGHT come out the window and get up with the Driver on the perch, to work the brake, stopping the unbrake-shoe shod wheel from turning! Would reduce the skid sideways, possible jack-knife effect of front and rear of carriage. Driver has his hands full with the Team being pushed sideways, can't work the brake lever too.

                  Know that a pole on a Coach is not high, probably wouldn't be able to be pushed with the horse shoulder. Wheeler COULD spook for some reason or fall sideways if road is "washed out" under his hooves or had a big hole to trip over. This would let him push sideways on his partner wheeler and the pole, to re-aim the carriage front. Partner Wheeler would get pushed a bit sideways because of surprise and blinkers not letting horse expect the sideways movement. "Knocked off her feet" for a moment or so, before she can again obey the reins and gain control of the pole.

                  And lastly, while I LOVE Yorkshire Coach Horses!!, own two, if she blew a stifle back then, she would gimp forever after. Fixing a bad stifle is done from the inside and is a modern technique. I asked the resident Farrier, not possible for a truly blown stifle to be fixed back then, horse would not be sound or non-gimpy.

                  She could still be brave, level-headed, athletic (because they ARE!), so maybe she could obey the Driver and out-muscle the other wheeler back into place to get the Coach back to a straighter angle (to prevent over-turning) aimed downhill on the road. Driver SHOULD have had his Leaders out of draught, in his hands, so one Wheeler pushing pole over some may not have affected them to run, just being confused. Mare getting pushed over some, yet still holding the Team and Coach steady with calmness and muscle (Yorkshires are not small animals in any way!) lets Driver regain control of idiot Wheeler, straightens his Leaders. Hero applies the brake hard, and she only got a twisted or swollen leg out of it from being stepped on. She could recover from those injuries, to be the future wonderful horse, still be usable for your hero to ride or to drive out with his heroine.

                  I am going to say the Perchbolt is what holds the front wheels onto the carriage body. What we now call the Kingpin, which goes thru the 5th wheel turntable that allows front wheels to turn independently of the carriage body.

                  As with cars today, if the one wheel locks in braking, the other moving wheel is going to throw the rear-end forward to start a spin. Especially true in snow and bad weather conditions.

                  So according to the quoted Mr. Buxton, the brake shoe side (by the ditch) holds straight, while the open wheel side (middle of the road) to the inside is what flips forward first in a bad situation. I expect the perchbolt (kingpin) is mentioned because that is the pivot point of the vehicle, and jack-knifing will start there.

                  You also want to keep in mind that folks in the UK drive on the left side of the road, dating back to carriage days. Modern carriages still have the Driver's seat on the right side because of that tradition. So Drivers in the past, Coach Drivers, would pass with both Drivers on the right side of vehicle, in the middle of the road. This was supposed to let them see axle clearances and prevent accidents.
                  Last edited by goodhors; Sep. 14, 2011, 10:12 PM.


                  • #10
                    Cute story premise, but has some issues.

                    Chaining the wheel in non-snow weather is different than snow usage. I can't remember exactly - am away so do not have access to my books - how the wheel was chained but it involved immoblizing the hub by wrapping the chain around it. I believe one or two of the spokes may have been involved, but don't quote me on that!

                    Had the skid or chain failed, the coachman would have run his horses out in front of the coach to keep it upright and in the center of the road. Scary to think of it, but keeping it moving and straight was critical - more so than trying to use the wheelers to stop it by having them pull back on their collars against the force of the pole. Harness wasn't meant to withstand that type of extreme force, and if the collars and hames failed, the situation would be far more grave overall.

                    Unfortunately, I can't see your hero leaping from the inside of the coach without coming either to fatal grief under the huge back wheels of the coach, or destroying his clothing, and possibly coming to bodily harm even if he did leap clear of the wheels. Just imagine you leaping yourself out of a car going even 15 or 20 mph. You'd be left behind in a second, unable to catch up, or be any help whatsoever.

                    It would help if you physically saw or knew the grade (slope) of the road described. Most were not long hills or severe grades. When visiting England several years ago, I stood at the top of one of the hills enroute on the old London to Bath run (so the historical road sign bragged) and looked down that (now paved and pristine smooth) byway, and imagined it gravel, rutted, pitted by rain and carting traffic...and saw those old coaches with hired cock horses pulling up the grade, and locked wheel heading down.

                    When I get home I can do a bit more research if you'd like.

                    One suggestion: You may also wish to contact one or two of the gentleman who did the Saratoga NY coaching runs a number of years ago to have them describe how they negotiated the hills. The passengers writing about their experiences in those prior centuries often spoke to the coachman afterwards to get a gist of what really happened, so as to flesh out their own personal observation. Pretty much like people nowadays, the stories were embellished to give an exciting narration, and very few passengers even knew how to drive a pair, let alone understand the complexity of how to drive a four. So their remenisances are rather suspect, if you catch my meaning.

                    Don't forget how critical the condition of the road itself was in the days in affecting the journey as well.

                    By any chance would you be able to come to the coaching event in Uppervile VA this October?
                    Last edited by gothedistance; Sep. 15, 2011, 02:11 AM.


                    • Original Poster

                      GTD, I was just about to cross-post to you--I'll go ahead and post my response to GH and then yours below that...

                      Excellent points, goodhors. I'd just been thinking, yeah, where's this other chain come from? When I wrote the scene I was under the impression there was a chain or skid on both sides, attached to the sides or front axle somehow. I'll have to do some rewriting.

                      I totally agree about the stifle, I should change that to "badly twisted" or something. Injured enough that she couldn't do the fast stages again, and no contractor that horsed the mails could afford to keep a horse around that didn't. I actually used the word "popped" but twisted is probably better.

                      Unfortunately, as shown in the quote above from the chattering old coachman, there was no modern-type brake invented in 1825 that could be worked from the box. And my hero has to do something fairly heroic, because, you know--he's the hero. On the other hand he also has to be alive for the happy ending.

                      Note that from the reader's point of view, we just get the experience of being inside the coach--POV character has been asleep and is woken by being flung halfway off the seat. Then later some dialogue in which the coachman and guard explain in a couple of sentences what happened. So I can get away with some tossed-off coaching/horsey slang that probably won't mean much to most readers. It's my authorly pride that makes me want to "get it right" for those relatively few who would understand. (And then there are those who think they know, and write me letters telling me I'm a clueless idiot, and I have to send them my sources to prove I'm right and they are the...well, we'll leave it at that.)

                      Nimrod defines "shouldering the pole" as "pushing it against his partner." Annals of the Road says:
                      There are, however, some horses which no man, however clever, can make to hold a loaded coach down a hill. Of this description is, first, the stiff-necked one (as he is called, and which I have before described), which turns his head away from his partner, and shoulders the pole; and secondly one which, when he feels the weight pressing upon him, begins to canter or jump--as coachmen term it; when holding back, to any effect, is out of the question. With such cattle as these, the drag-chain must be had recourse to; or when there is the least reason to suspect the soundness of the harness.
                      Maybe their poles were higher? Or maybe it's just a figure of speech, but they seem to have used it, I came across it in several different accounts.

                      It's relevant that the fast coachmen of those days had to drive some very iffy horses, changing to a fresh team every seven to twelve miles. "Three blind 'uns and a bolter" was what they called a bad team. But as our chattering old coachman says, "They were, indeed, often a very queer lot, but they had to be driven, and were driven."


                      GTD, next post...
                      Ring the bells that still can ring
                      Forget your perfect offering
                      There is a crack in everything
                      That's how the light gets in.


                      • Original Poster

                        GTD, I sure wish I could get there, but I'm in the southwest. I learned to drive a pair in England for a short time, but it was many many moons ago, and I've forgotten most of it. Would love to see an event!

                        I also agree with your point, that they would have just had to go for it downhill if the skid failed. So I'll probably need some complicating factor...the bad wheeler I'm thinking, maybe he's jibbing and won't go?

                        Just as aside, it's interesting that between the beginning of the 19th C and 1838 or so, when the railroads began to kill off big-time coaching, the roads became better and better. A lot of money was poured into improving the grades and MacAdam had re-engineered the surfaces, though asphalt (tar-on-macadam, or tarmac) was just coming into use at the end. Many of the cross roads were awful but many, at the height of the mail-coach era, especially the big time ones like the Bath road were quite good, at least in comparison! Couldn't get those flashy 14 mph speeds otherwise.


                        I have to go out of town this weekend, will think about this further. Hope you guys will keep an eye on this thread, as I may try to come up with a way to adjust the scene with least amount of re-writing (ie-work for me!). I really appreciate any and all help and input.

                        Any and all ideas welcome. Maybe I should dump the skid idea and do something different.

                        The things I need to stick with:

                        1) Hero has to do something heroic.

                        2) One horse has to injured enough to keep it from returning to the fast coaches. But not injured enough that it can't get a couple miles down the road to the next stop.

                        3) Can't be a complete breakdown, just a potential wreck, I need to keep characters moving along the road

                        4) Don't want another vehicle involved, too many complications would ensue.

                        5) I'll have to be able to explain specifically what happened in a few sentences from coachman and guard.

                        I have pre-loaded a thunderstorm seen from a distance, so that could be put to use.

                        Thanks! Really glad to be able to talk this over with ppl who know, helps me so much!
                        Ring the bells that still can ring
                        Forget your perfect offering
                        There is a crack in everything
                        That's how the light gets in.


                        • Original Poster

                          Oops forgot one more: coachman and guard are likable and sympathetic secondary characters so can't be caused by incompetence or negligence on their part; needs to be something unavoidable.
                          Ring the bells that still can ring
                          Forget your perfect offering
                          There is a crack in everything
                          That's how the light gets in.


                          • #14
                            I have a scenaro for you - very workable, exciting, and hero-enabling. Appropriate to the times, characters, and conditions. One that few would have thought of, and only if they knew coaching from that epoc. You are welcome to it if you like it. From one writer to another.

                            Will write it out for you when I return from vacation - the thought of having to detail the storyline via a traveling Android and a two-finger touchpad turns me pale.


                            • #15
                              The heroic horse doesn't have to be injured enough to not be able to return to coaching. They wouldn't have 'carried' the horse through a long recovery. If there was a significant layup needed, the horse would probably have been sold on.

                              Sounds like GTD might have your answer shortly. If not, try CAA for connections to top coaching people here and abroad who have driven through some 'issues'.

                              I've never taken the Coaching in Bavaria trip, but everyone I've talked to that has gone enjoyed the trip. Andreas was a really interesting speaker at the CAA conference talking about the business and loads of stories. CAA/Williamsburg also made several 4-in-hand rein machines for you to try with him instructing too. Amaxing to watch the precision of his rein handling.

                              Speaking of which... if anybody is interested in carriage driveing (not CDE), the CAA is having another conference at Williamsburg this winter. We went in 2010 and it was a great meeting.


                              • #16
                                DNJ-2 here

                                It just so happens that IF you can make really quick vacation plans

                                There is an opening in the Nemitz Tuscany Tour the end of Sept

                                Just saw it in the CAA weekly

                                from Andreas Nemitz, Coaching in Bavaria:

                                Due to illness among participants on the Fall Tuscany Tour, there are now four vacancies, which Mr. Nemitz is offering to CAA members and their friends. You will drive with two four-in-hand teams from castle to castle and from winery to winery. Last-minute discounts are available, and there will be opportunities for experienced four-in-hand whips to take the lines themselves.

                                The dates of the tour are Sept. 27 through Oct. 11, 2011. The tour will start and end in Siena, Italy (the closest airports are Florence-Pisa and Rome).

                                To learn more, write to info@coaching-in-bavaria.com.


                                • #17
                                  Just as an aside - I downloaded, two seconds ago, while sitting here on the beach, surf pounding, hotel internet being picked up by my Nook way across a tourist scattered stretch of white sand, the digital version of Coaching Days and Coaching Ways. It is free from archives.org. The book is now apparently in the public domain as the copyright is expired.

                                  There you go. Technology bringing the stories of the past right to our digital fingers.


                                  • #18
                                    Another total aside, but this is a really interesting thread. I love COTH because there are so much knowledge here. I never thought about brakes for drags or the complications of driving in the past. So thank you for the interesting posts!
                                    Where Fjeral Norwegian Fjords Rule


                                    • #19
                                      Have to agree with GTD, that going FORWARD and downhill, would be better in saving the Coach safely, than trying to hold it with the Wheelers if it was trying to angle across the roadway of a hill. She is totally correct about the dangers of harness breaking with the weight of loaded vehicle.

                                      I didn't know that the big Mail Coaches of the early times had no brakes. The Conestoga Wagons did have brakes, were made in those times. USA stuff was often copied from European models. Seems like some sort of brakes would be a no-brainer on large Coaches! Even a lever drag brake, not a special patent brake, would not be hard to make or fit on.

                                      I also like GTD's idea of wrapping the wheel hub with a chain, probably including the axle, as a holding method on a big vehicle for hills. As mentioned, it wouldn't take much time, only need the chain length, which might be standard equipment in the boot or spares box.

                                      I will be quite interested to see what GTD finds in her reference books for further information.

                                      Would it be possible for the hero to buy the Yorkshire Coach Horse, without giving her permanent damage? He could pay more than she is worth, or the injury could need a long healing time that the Stage line folks don't want to put into her. So they are willing to sell the hurt horse for whatever they can get, with no extra work on their part to rehab her in the busy, working stable setting. Hero takes her to his manor house and the wise old stableman fixes her up over time, good as new, to be the Hero's favorite horse.

                                      As a book reader, I APPRECIATE your working to get carriage, horse, handling details correct. It really sucks for me, when a great story line gets slammed to a halt with wrong terminology or details. I then get hung up with "That is NOT possible! Or WHY didn't someone ASK about that carriage detail FIRST?!" Wrecks the flow and messes up the rest of the story for me. Curricle details are always among the worst. The authors have obviously NEVER seen a picture of one, to be writing about it the way they are. I think one of the worst had a Team of 4 hitched to the Curricle, along with the groom "up behind", when it is a one-seat vehicle with only two wheels!!

                                      I am quite looking forward to seeing how this story progresses.


                                      • #20
                                        But Goodhorse, there were curricles with groom's seats and they did drive with a 4 (admitedly not often)

                                        Here's curricles with 'back' seat




                                        Couldn't find pictures of curricle and four, but it was often mentioned in books. I think it was a stupid turnout done more often on a dare or in regency novels.