The Rainy Way Back to My Cart

amywink September 25th, 2009

This week has been rainy again and we are still thankful even if it delays driving for another day. We are also thankful to have found our farrier, who came out yesterday afternoon and trimmed everyone. It took some doing to find someone good to come out to the boonies and we were, of course, anxious to find someone who would pass muster, given our poor experiences with some farriers. We were more than pleased with Joe Salaman, a UK certified farrier, we found through another barefoot trimmer. All the horses look terrific and seem very pleased with his work. Lisa and I both enjoyed talking with him and learning so much about the work. I always enjoy listening to a skilled craftsman talk about his work and yesterday was no exception. Of course, as he started on Miss B, the rains began again and so no driving after he finished. The sound of rain on the barn’s tin roof was, however, almost equally enjoyable as the sound of horse’s hooves trotting down the road. We are still in drought but the steady light rains are making a dent.

Since the rains have started up and the weather has cooled down, I have gotten back to my cart rebuilding project. I had to put it aside this summer because the heat was so bad, it started to warp the wood I had varnished outside!! I still have the underside of my shafts to varnish and the underside of the shaft stabilizer. Of course, now that it’s raining, I can’t do that yet either. This week, I got back to painting my bolts brown and touching up the metal pieces for the seat platform. I’ve gotten one seat upholstered, except for the trim around the bottom, and we’ll be working on the driver’s seat shortly.

This morning, I scraped the dripped varnish off the dash with a razor and reapplied new varnish to smooth out the flaws. Once the seats are completed, I intend to put the dash assembly together, with the crossbar and the swingletree. I have the materials to create the trim pieces–the same marine vinyl I have for the seats and I think I have decided to make the loops from a set of synthetic reins I do not use. We’ll see if I stick to that decision on further reflection.

The varnishing and painting of the cart’s body is mostly complete aside from what I mentioned above and a few carriage bolt heads and corresponding nuts (which I am still considering how/when to paint) so the next Major Step are the wheels, which have been in my garage since last Christmas. I will be sanding and staining and painting the trim on those sometime this fall, as well as painting the axle and springs. I was very pleased this week to discover I could order “Spring Blocks” from Iowa Valley Carriage to replace the split ones I pulled off the cart.

It’s been a great adventure, this cart, and I’m surprised by my interest in re-doing it and excited by what I’ve learned about the mechanics of it. As usual, Tom O’Carroll taught me a great deal about cart structure every time he looked at a cart and I have started to look at other carts with an eye to how they are put together. I have made a couple of changes to my cart as I have progressed after I noticed other designs that proved more durable and structurally sound. The true test, of course, will be what happens when we get it all back together–and perhaps “can we get it all back together!”

Here are a few photos of the cart before and during the rebuilding process. I’ve chosen Minwax Woodstain “Gunstock” and Cabot Gloss Spar Varnish (as per the recommendations everywhere) for the durable finish. The ironwork paint is Rustoleum Leather Brown. I suppose I should say that I bought this cart for $250 and proceeded to put about $600 and my own labor hours into the project to create what I hope will be a smashing presentation vehicle.

BEFORE:

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DURING

I ended up replacing the seats entirely, rebuilding with new wood, reusing the brackets and oak pieces underneath, and the dash (because of the giant crack). The shafts were also replaced and the wheels because of their size. I did refinish the fenders and the floor, replacing only a couple of missing pieces, and the spares box under the driver’s seat. I also changed the dash brackets so the dash is attached to the front, with the metal on the “inside”. Now the dash and the seat backs have the same curve.img_2103.jpgimg_2067.jpgimg_2066.jpg

The metal bits are now brown, after sanding and filing with a Dremel: img_2110.jpgimg_2164.jpg

Now, this isn’t going to be an ordinary Meadowbrook cart but a Custom Meadowbrook cart, complete with a Custom Painted Design created by my mother, Winifred Wink. We were inspired by the idea of adding flames to carriages but wanted something that tied Will’s name (Frisco Creek Red Ranger, aka Will Scarlet) to his carriage. This is what we came up with. :-D

Check out the fenders, the spares box, and the dash and seatbacks.img_2093.jpg img_3194.jpgimg_3200.jpg

I also solved a problem on the seat bottoms and the seat backs with the delightful, and design-suitable Acorn Nut:
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I still have work to do so the “After” shots will come later, upon assembly I think, but we’ve certainly come a long way since with our original cart! And, I think this is fairly good work for an English Major!

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