Gunsmoke

Late 1800's barnfind 1HP/2HP Model, needs drive-train

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Long before Louis Chevrolet, Peugeot, Panhard and Olfield, and the other early racers, and before Grand Prix's and much later Muscle Cars, I'm sure there were young bucks who loved the idea of racing down the road in the latest 4 wheeler. I recently found this great specimen of those early days in a barn where it had sat un-driven for over 80 years. This one is made more rare because it has hookup options for both 1HP and 2HP drive-trains! For anyone who has never spent much time investigating the fine engineering of these early Roadsters (yes, that's what they were often called 140 years ago), they by this time (circa 1880-1890) had evolved into a very light, sophisticated, hand made wonder, in this instance complete with very slender wheels and both transverse and longitudinal springing. With a total road weight of about 200 lbs, they must have been an easy pull. 

 

At the time, professional/stakes racing involved quarter horses or 2 wheel sulkies, but for farm boys and other adventurers, racing down the rural road in a 2 HP hookup  with one of these at 20-30 mph perhaps must have been quite a thrill. And what better conveyance for taking your sweetheart to the church hall box social. 

 

I have owned several buggies over past 30 years, usually as dilapidated "yard-art" or as flower display bases, but not sure what I will do with this one because it should to be stored indoors in inclement weather. I would like to keep it's 80+ year old patina like it is, will explore some options for preserving the wood, de-rusting some of the fittings. The grease in axle ends is hard as rock, evidence it has been parked for a long time. Photos will be in 2 batches.   

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Interesting find! 

 

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This being so very light, with two passengers aboard, how far could it travel in a day's run ? This assumes fairly good roads of the day, and no hills. No engine transplant.  -  Carl 

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10 minutes ago, C Carl said:

This being so very light, with two passengers aboard, how far could it travel in a day's run ? This assumes fairly good roads of the day, and no hills. No engine transplant.  -  Carl 

Those very light, very large-diameter wheels roll surprisingly easily. Two good team horses that were used to each other and in good healthy would surprise you in their endurance (if not driven to fast) and in overall speed (but only for very short periods, obviously)

 

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Funny that 100 years ago just about every guy knew how to hitch up horses to a wagon, and a car was costly. Today few people have ever ridden or driven a horse & carriage. I think I could figure out how to ride a horse a lot faster that using an !Phone. Bob 

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Some articles on-line mention that driving one of these in single horse or double horse was smoother, simpler and safer than riding horseback, which they suggest required much more skill and care.  Watching some of the early movies with chariot races gives us a good idea about how brave/reckless/crazy some men were back in the day. Little has changed!

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The longest journey starts with a first step.

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I learned at an early age how to fall off a 17 hand horse (English saddles lack a hand grip). Stood me in good stead when started riding motorcycles.

 

ps before quarter-mile drag races there were quarter-horses.

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My Mum was proud of the fact that she could beat the bus into town, driving her one-horse gig. It was seven miles, and admittedly the bus had to stop occasionally. She never drove a car. Thirty miles was a big day's run for both harness and saddle horses, but longer trips were probably not uncommon. 

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That is an especially nice buggy. Congratulations on finding one so well built and designed and in such fine condition. In our barn we used to have a buggy that my great grandfather bought in the teens when he should have been getting a car. It was in very nice shape as it wasn't used much. I played in it as a child. In the '70s we sold it to some Amish folks who reacted the same way we would with a choice "barn find".  I enjoyed hiding "treasures" in the little trunk with the spring loaded top.

Does this buggy have any makers' identification ?

I'm sure with a little cleaning up and derusting, it will look beautiful. The seat (I presume it is leather) should respond well to some careful applications of a leather restorer of some kind.

Now you just need a team of carriage horses and you're all set. :) 

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I have not found a makers ID, and I know there were many buggy makers in our province at the time. I owned 2 buggy's a few years ago, one was brass tagged "Eisenhower Carriage Co" with a local address, the second much more well known, "McLaughlin Carriage Co." with an Ontario address, they eventually produced M/Buick's here in Canada starting 1909. I plan to do some further research to see if I can find any similar buggy in records, images etc that may lead to a name.

 

The seat base is leather with a diamond pattern pleats and buttons. Seat back however is leatherette and as shown un-pleated, and while it looks original, after 130 years who knows, but I would expect seat and back to match at least in regard to pattern. I suppose the seat may have used leather since it gets a lot more rigorous use than the back. One curiosity is on the trunk lid. The hinged edge has a 1/2 moon shaped cutout in the wooden lid, about 18" wide and 6" deep? Lid is fully covered with leatherette, so the purpose of this cutout is a puzzle. It can be seen in the photo with the lid raised. any thoughts? I also note buggy at edges of seat back has various brackets that likely held some form of top. I intend to contact the seller to see if there is a chance the top may still reside somewhere in the old barn.  

 

The 2HP shaft system appears to be original to the buggy, it's end brackets are perfect fit into corresponding loops on buggy. The single horse shafts don't appear to be original to the buggy. While they fit dimensionally into the buggy brackets, they are a loose fit, and the hardware details don't match the 2HP unit. This might make sense because over 130+ years the 1 horse setup was most likely used 90% of the time and the original shafts (if there were any) would possibly wear out sooner. It's also possible it was only purchased as a 2 horse unit.

 

The spring plies are all locked together due to rust between the leaves and I will plan to either disassemble them or use a spring separator and some lubricant to free them up. Should be a fun winter distraction from spending all my spare time on old cars. 

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Technically wouldn't that be a "late model" rather than "from those early days"?

Very cool!

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8 hours ago, Gunsmoke said:

I also note buggy at edges of seat back has various brackets that likely held some form of top

The buggy we had did have a top so the brackets you see would be for the top. I hope you can find the one that went with it.

No ideas on the cutout in the trunk lid unless perhaps it allowed the lid to clear items stored inside when it was opened. The leatherette would flex to allow this.

It does seem unusual for the seat back and bottom to be of different materials and design. On a buggy of this quality, I can't understand this unless the seat back was damaged in use and repaired inexpensively long ago by someone not good at upholstery.

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Thanks 36D2-C (sounds like you should be appearing in a Star Wars episode). I contacted the seller and he informs me he did a thorough search thru the old barn looking for the top and any other items the wagon may have had, but found nothing. I may make a visit to the barn myself just in case he missed something. I plan to ease a portion of the seat back leatherette off and would not be surprised if it is covering the original material, and perhaps with some extra stuffing as it appears overly thick. Will let you know. For now, I dis-assembled the wood body from chassis and moved the buggy indoors where I will work on it over the next few months.

 

A major decision will be what to do with the wood regarding a finish/preserving material (and perhaps a different approach to the wheels than to the box). This is especially problematic for wheels. The spokes often rot from the fellowe ends, as water gets in there and gets sucked up into the spoke. If spokes can dry properly this does not cause an issue, but if spokes are sealed with some paints, water gets trapped with the resulting deterioration of spokes and fellowe etc. I understand some owners back in the day liberally soaked the wheels with oil (linseed or other) to keep them protected. Spokes in this unit look like cedar? but I would be surprised if they are. More research to do, any suggestions welcome.

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