Vintage Horse-Drawn Conveyances
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Roger’s collection includes several heavy wagons. One is a heavy hitch wagon capable of carrying loads of up to 12 tons. “That is the type of wagon replaced by heavy-duty trucks,” he says. “It’s about all my team of big Belgians could do, just to pull the wagon empty.” The wagon has a fifth wheel plate that allows for a short turn without tipping. Two heavy leaf springs are placed parallel to the load at each wheel and another is placed horizontal to the wagon at each axle.
Another heavy box wagon was used for general purpose hauling for hay, sheaves of grain, bundles of corn and, with sideboards, small grain and ear corn. Farmers used a running gear similar to the one on this wagon, except they mounted a flat bed on it.
Roger’s buggies include one made by the Columbus (Ohio) Buggy Co., with an unusual “cut under” arrangement. The body is made in such a way as to allow the front wheels to move under the frame when turning, allowing a shorter turning radius. The wheel spokes are set in staggered post line (rather than the more familiar straight-line arrangement), providing added support for the wheel.
An unusual buckboard manufactured by the Shane-Unfler Co., North Baltimore, Ohio, features an open-slat bed rather than the customary solid floor. Normally, this buckboard has one permanently fixed front seat for the driver and passengers, and a removable middle seat for passengers. Steps on each side serve both seats.
Looking for the best
Roger’s preference, when adding pieces to his collection, is complete units. Replacement parts are hard to find. “Most parts are made of wood and they have simply disappeared,” he says. If an original part can be located and measured, it is possible to have a replacement made. Iron parts are a bit more difficult to re-create; many must be made from scratch. Lights are very difficult to replace as well. “Unless you can find a complete frame,” Roger says, “you have to replace the light with one that may or may not have been used on the original wagon.” Roger is a stickler for detail: If it’s not correct, he’d rather not have the part on his wagon or buggy.
When it comes to restoration work, Roger has no trouble finding just the right person for the job. Nearby Amish communities are good sources for replacement wood parts, new finishes, tires and wheels. “All it costs is time and money,” he says. FC For more information: Roger Higgins, Marion, OH; (740) 499-2589. James N. Boblenz grew up on a farm near New Bloomington, Ohio. He now lives in Marion, Ohio, and is interested in antique farm equipment, particularly rare and lesser-known tractors and related items. Email him at email@example.com.
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