Thursday, July 9, 2009

Mad Max Road Cart

It was a couple years ago I received an email from a guy in upstate New York with a couple of carriages for sale. One was an original Brewster piece and the other was a road cart. I had some deliveries out that way so we come to terms before I drive up there to take a look. The directions were long and it seemed to be out in the middle of nowhere. Sure enough it was.

So I’m tooling along these back roads long since removed from cell service and I’m getting closer. Turn here, then left at the tree, over a hill you’ll come to a fork, go right, you get the picture. Wooded, hilly, and historic which is really fun driving but sometimes interesting with a truck and trailer that‘s 50 feet long. So I find the place. A somewhat run down historic traditional farm. Not that many years removed from her glory. Maybe ten or so but in her day a stunning showplace. Inviting beautiful yellow house and barns with cream trim pealing away. Tall grass and overgrown flowerbeds. Some junk in the yard and a tipped over bird bath. With some work this place could be absolutely stunning.

So I pull in the drive. Three guys walk out of the house. They looked like they just walked off the set of Mad Max Beyond Thunderdrome. My guy is apparently in the lead with another 500 pounds of meat on four legs behind him. So I’m thinking to myself this could be interesting. I was barely able to get pulled into the driveway with my truck and trailer. I’ll have a hard enough time getting out of here as it is let alone in a hurry. I’m sitting here by myself with no cell service and a big fat wad of $100 bills of which they are fully aware.

A brief “Hey, how you doing” and before I know it they are leading me out to the back barn "to see the carriages". Yea right I'm thinking. Through the weeds and overgrowth to the far back barn of course. They open the doors and into the big and dark old barn we go. “Watch your step”. “Sure” I say.

So we get to the back of the barn and there they are. The original Brewster piece as described and this really cool road cart. For some reason I’m in a bit of a hurry as I look over the open railing to the concrete floor below. “Hey" in my squeaky I must have just had something cut off voice "they look good, let’s get them out of here and loaded up”. We grab the two vehicles and toward the trailer we go. I begin to feel this may not be my demise and turns out they were a good bunch. Local guys, one in charge of getting the place cleaned up for the new corporate owner. One a local neighbor who has to drive a tractor because he's to wide to fit in a car. The other guy is a worker in charge of pulling out tree stumps by hand or something. Seems like one of them ended up being from Shawano Wisconsin or someplace around here so we had a good topic of conversation.

We pulled the road cart into the shop a couple months ago. It has some really interesting features. After stripping off some paint we realize that the seat was originally a spindle seat that someone cut all the spindles out of. So Bob goes to work making all new seat spindles.

We have most of it ready for paint. The frame, body and seat are ready to start laying on some color. The wheels are still in need of some repairs before we can go any further with those.

Quite the adventure. Who knew that being a carriage guy could be so dangerous. Over the years there have been a lot of miles and some really interesting situations. This certainly being one of them.

Have a great day.



Kim Bates said...

What! No picture of these guys!!???
glad you made it home safe!

Rick Castor said...

I think old barns are some of the most interesting places on earth- because they very often become "time capsules" which preserve bits of our former way of life and the technology our forebears used every day- like carriages!
Great story on the discovery and aquisition of a surviving road cart built by my ancestor- Lewis F Castor of Philadelphia.

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