Archive for the 'cart building' Category


amywink July 6th, 2010


I was renewing my membership to Heart of Texas Morgan club this week and naturally, they asked for my “farm name”. I don’t really have a farm, but I have 2 horses. And I do have a “farm” address. Since Lisa has 2 bays, it’s easy to distinguish which two are mine: the red ones.

I spent Monday evening watching the pair in the sunset. They are developing a good, calm relationship. Blessing backs off when Will looks grumpy, but she doesn’t move very far off and he doesn’t chase her very far so she can move right back in close. Mostly, they graze close together and Will seems happy with his pasture mate, though he gets a little worried when it looks like she might be getting a treat.


This morning, I pulled out my new toy, a Mouse detail sander, and got to work on the cart wheels that have been sitting in the garage for, oh, two years. I got one completely sanded and am totally sold on the little sander! I’ll get to the second wheel later this week then start the staining and varnishing.

I finished painting all the bolts (lots and lots and lots of bolts). Now I have to decide whether to paint the nuts before I put the cart together or after. Given the chance of banging the paint up in the assembly process, I’m leaning toward painting after assembly. It might be tedious but I have to paint the bolt ends anyway.

I still need to order new springs and spring blocks later this summer but those will be the last parts I need. I’m hoping to finish getting this cart together by Spring 2011, so we can use it at the Heart of Texas Morgan Horse Fun Show in April. We’ll see if I can get there–and we’ll have to see if Will likes it!! If not, Blessing will be getting a very nice cart for driving single!

Valentine’s Day: First Drive of 2010

amywink February 16th, 2010

Actually, it was our first drive since the last weekend of November, 2009! The weather has been horrendous and rain, rain, rain has kept the fields muddy muddy muddy. We had a break this weekend. Saturday was nice and Sunday morning I decided that we had to drive, even if it was just down the caliche road. We had a window of good weather before the cold front was supposed to move in late Sunday afternoon so Lisa and I got busy and got to driving.

It was great to be back “behind the reins” and both horses were complete champs. Like we hadn’t missed a day of our regular driving schedule. Will was a little speedy in his trot but he responded well to my hands and never got too heady for his own good. He jumped a bit when the hens cackled as we drove by but again, came right back to me. It was another milestone, our first drive after a long lay off of 2 and a half months. I expected more fireworks and rodeo but we just had a nice calm drive and I think both of us really enjoyed it.

Here he is sporting his Christmas buckle-nose halter, a gift from his herd.


The buckle-nose worked great for harnessing and I really think it looks quite fashionable as well. I’m calling it his “dress halter”. He has gained a little weight in his time off and we had to let out his harness a tad in the false martingale and the girth but I’m sure we’ll work it off as we get back to business. He had plenty of energy and wasn’t breathing hard when we finished and he even looked pleased about the day.


It was also a very big day for Cookie who had her first Carriage Dog lesson. She’s quite the charmer and seems to enjoy the attention.


About 3:30 we noticed the skies darkening in the northwest as the front approached, the clouds rolled in quick and the front arrived with fierce winds that excited the horses. They dashed about their pasture wildly and Will seems to be thinking “Wheeeeeeeeeeeee”


By the time I got to the gate, the blue skies were gone and clouds were racing in on the cold air:


But all that mattered to me was the wonderful drive we’d finally squeezed in. I hope we can get back to our regular driving schedule as we approach the spring.

Another Rainy Day

amywink October 3rd, 2009

So, I planned to get down to see Will this morning but as I checked the radar around 8:30, rain was heading toward us and it hasn’t stopped all day. We’ve had almost an inch of slow, steady rain. I know we need it but I’d like to drive soon!

So anyway. Plan B: Put together the dash assembly.


It’s not quite finished because I have to paint some bolt heads (carefully because I am not undoing this!) and place the rein rail on (after it’s completely on the cart). I also need to attach the swingletree straps. I wrapped the swingletree with the same marine vinyl I used on the seats and I’m pleased. For the straps, I’m going to use some material from a set of synthetic reins I don’t use. The stabilizer bar will attach to the crossbar in the front–you can see the bolt holes in front.

As I stapled the vinyl to the swingletree, it dawned on me that I probably needed to do the shaft trim before I get the cart entirely put together–otherwise, I’ll be flipping the cart to staple the vinyl on, or stapling upside down!!

During all this assembly, I keep thinking of my favorite episode of M*A*S*H, when Hawkeye and Trapper have to defuse a bomb while Henry Blake yells the instructions to them from a safe distance. After he shouts the instructions to cut one of the fuse wires, and the pair does, he shouts out the all important “but first. . . . ” Hopefully, I won’t come to some part of this cart and think “but first….” after something is completely finished!

But, I am pleased with getting this section put together. The next large section to put together is the floor!

Seats Finished!

amywink September 28th, 2009

Though we’d planned to drive this Sunday, it turned out to be way too hot, 95+, so I spent my Sunday inside working on several projects, including my cart seats. And now they are finished!!!

Seats from the Back:
Passenger SeatDriver's Seat

Seats from the front:
Driver's Seat 2Passenger Seat 2

Spares Box:Spares Box
Passenger Seatback Closeup:
Passenger Seat Back

There was a lot involved in putting these seats together. I replaced all the wood, vinyl, and foam but kept the seat brackets, spares box, and the two pieces of oak that hold the passenger seat bottom together. I also replaced the piece of wood the passenger seat will rest on. These seats will be affixed to the shafts so I had to get all the holes drilled correctly and everything upholstered before we put the seats on the cart. I think these are the most complex part of the cart. All the other parts assemble fairly simply.

Next, I’ll put the dash assembly together.

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.




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:

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!