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New cart owner, maintenance

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  • New cart owner, maintenance

    Just purchased a meadowbrook, nice used condition, what is best to use to clean the wood? Seems to be stained and sealed but as I said used so there are some place where it is down to bare wood, very dusty. Is Murphy's oil soap ok or will that make it slippery, I want to touch up the bare spots. Seats are vinyl and in good condition just dirty.

    What sort of other routine maintenance should be done? Thanks
    "They spend 11 months stuggling to live, and 25 years trying to die" my farrier

    "They are dangerous on both ends and crafty in the middle"

  • #2
    Have you got a "local" person who does wooden wheels? Proper name is a Wheelwright. With our vehicles, we take the wheels off, take them to the Wheelwright to get inspected. This is especially important if you know nothing about wheels and how they are built.

    Most wooden cart wheels have a "dish" in them, which is part of the construction and strength of the design. A wheel that is exactly straight without a dish, probably needs work, has lost the dish. Or a wheel with a dish to the outside of wheel, NEEDS work, so you don't get hurt using it.

    If vehicle has been sitting a while, the wood spoke ends could be damaged with wet or rot, where wheel rested on the ground. Water gets into uncoated wood, thru paint or varnish loss, so wood soaks that water up with lots of expanding and contracting, which makes spokes loose in their holes. The Wheelwright should be checking all these things for you, along with the rubber tread condition. If vehicle is older, has the half-round rubber, it may need replacing. There is a newer type rubber tread, squared, that gives a good driving surface without cutting in like the half-rounded stuff does. In the past, most folks drove on trails, roads, firm surfaces, so the half-round was a good choice and rolled easily. Now with lots of grass driving, ring driving, folks like the square type better since it doesn't cut in on soft ground. If your wheel rubber is good, use the wheels as they are, see how you like it.

    Most modern made vehicles, use roller bolt hubs, inside the wheel hub. They are fairly straight forward to take off. There is a hub cap, which needs to be unscrewed as the first step. It helps A LOT to have a clean, dry rag or newspaper to lay the inner parts on IN ORDER of removal. Makes it so much easier to put the parts BACK ON in the correct order when the wheel is put back on the axle.

    At this point, you want to jack up the axle, so wheel can spin freely, to be able to remove it from the axle. Put blocks or buckets, something solid under to keep the carriage in place for when the wheel is actually OFF the vehicle. Jack is good, but they can tip over if vehicle is bumped. And if you want to take BOTH wheels ONLY to the Wheelwright, the vehicle needs to have good support under it in the wheel-less condition.

    If I am remembering correctly, the next item is a cotter pin that you need to pull out of the axle, then a castle nut unscrews with a wrench. Then the race (ring shaped, top and bottom holders for the bearings) with barrel shaped bearings. Then wheel, and another race with bearings inside the opposite side of wheel. Probably BEST to tag EACH wheel for the side it came off of, before there is a chance of mixing them up. This is a CRUCIAL step with Antiques, those old wheels are NOT interchangeable.

    The parts removed from the hub of wheel should be degreased to clean them, check for wear in case they need replacing. Sand and water can sometimes get into the hubs with water crossings, lots of arena driving, so bearings get worn. Most auto parts stores can get you new races, for these roller bearing wheels.
    When the wheels have been checked out by your Wheelwright, ready to be put back on, you need to degrease their hubs and clean inside them. Degrease the axle stubs too, wipe clean.

    FINALLY, you now get your grubbiest clothes, grease gun, some rags, and are ready to put the wheels back on. Grease the inside race WELL, lots of grease, then put it back on the inside of wheel hub and slide wheel back on the cleaned axle. Push wheel firmly on the axle, so it feels "seated" in place. Then grease the next race well, put some extra grease in the wheel hub, push the race on the axle and firmly into the wheel hub. Castle nut is screwed on next, firmly, but not usually down hard as you can with the wrench and fingers. Castle nut should be behind the hole thru axle. You may want to just use a new Cotter pin each time you grease the hubs, for safety. They can weaken with bending needed to keep in place or remove. Cheap and easy to replace the pin for the peace of mind. Cotter pin goes thru the hole in axle, with head and tail in slots of the castle nut so nut can't unscrew. We bend the tails apart on the Cotter Pin, so it can't fall out or work loose from the hole. An extra slather of grease in the hub is good to have plenty of lubrication inside. Replace the hubcap, snug it down carefully with threads correctly meeting. It is real easy to force on the hubcap and cross-thread it so it falls off later, along with messing up the hub threading for later.

    Then I would go over the whole vehicle, check for loose nuts, bolts, screws, metal parts that are rusty. Most vehicles are pretty easy to just replace nuts and bolts on. Use HARDENED metal replacements, not the cheap stuff found in Hardware stores because they can't take the stress you put on vehicles. Especially check the Singletree bolt by removing from vehicle to check for wear. Folks who drive a lot, can wear them to the breaking point, but looking at the entire bolt will show you that wear. Carry an EXTRA singletree nut and bolt in your spares kit. We have both broken and lost the singletree bolt, which worked loose and fell out after the nut came off. So having a spare makes it an easy fix. If you are handy, drilling a hole under the nut for a Cotter Pin, will PREVENT the nut working loose and getting lost. We do that now. Driving home with your finger on the singletree bolt is a PAIN!

    Other bolts that can wear are the ones at the ends of the springs. Springs get a LOT of wear from passengers. Bolts, U-bolts holding the axles on springs, clamps holding springs together, seat anchors, need to be checked, possibly replaced.

    I would check the shafts next, especially if they are covered. Moisture can collect under the covers, sweat, rain, so those areas can take much longer to dry out after use than plain painted surfaces. We open the covers up, to see what the covered wood looks like. Often you can easily replace those covers neatly, other times not. There are shaft cover kits, if you need to replace the covers that are worn, torn, not the look you want. We have totally replaced the shafts on a couple vehicles, they were not safe under the covered area or too short for our horse. Not a difficult job, shafts are MADE to be replaced. They are probably the most breakable, take the most wear, of any part on a vehicle. Shafts are not terribly expensive or difficult to replace. The replacement shaft covers are not hard to put on either, after shafts are painted or varnished to suit the vehicle.

    Depending on how much you drive, daily or long miles when you go out, maybe just on weekends.? The hard use vehicle should be gone over every 6 months, with a yearly check over on a less well-used vehicle. You would clean and regrease the wheel hubs, check the nuts and bolts of the entire vehicle at those times. Check the wheel rubber for wear or any separation where the rubber ends meet. Most folks get MANY years out of their rubber, but checking it can prevent problems. Any movement of the rubber, twisting, separation of the ends, would have me taking wheels back to the wheelwright for fixing. Sometimes a wire in the rubber will break, but not often.

    We usually wash a vehicle with a mild car soap, COLD water, and try not to soak the vehicle much with water. Warm water soaks in wood easier, is hard on painted wood, so cold is your best choice in water. Soft brushes, or rags for rubbing off dirt, real Chamois for drying off water spots quickly. Rinse the brush or rags OFTEN, since they will pick up dirt, sand, could be abrasive on the paint or varnish finish. Let vehicle dry in shade, hot sun can fade or be hard on paint, vehicle wood. We cracked a dashboard that way once, just sitting out in the hot sun on black paint.

    You might contact Driving Digest, ask about previous articles covering these topics and buy some old magazines from them. I am sure they have covered these things more than once, and photos might be quite helpful to you. I am "pretty sure" I got all the parts inside the hub, been a while since I greased any wheels. Husband likes doing the maintenance stuff, has me doing other horse stuff instead.