Friday, October 30, 2009

Go Ahead Watch It One More Time

I know a number of you have probably seen this video but I never seem to get tired of watching it. I think it is the best of the driving videos by Tim Maloy. Good selection of music, action and well edited. It is a great way to promote the sport of driving.

Beekbergen - Apeldoorn 09 from Tim Maloy on Vimeo.

So big breaking news here folks. Tim gave me a list of new projects. He promised me that no one on the face of this earth with have access to them before me. So just keep it right here. That way you won’t miss a thing. Here you have it.

“Our plans for next year include another coaching run with the Bowman’s (Ireland, Scotland who knows!!) The Para Carriage Driving World Championships are being held here next August. I am a supporter of the British team and will be involved with training and planning. Then we will be making a six part series in Golega, Portugal featuring Lucitanos. We may even get over to the Calgary Stampede!!”

Sounds like filming has come to an end for this year as the season came to an end. I might mention these are available on DVD and the make great Christmas gifts so keep that in mind for your favorite driver.

I’m going to post updates on a couple of projects in the works. It’s been a while since I have posted on the Kimball Brougham. Progress continues on that project. Dale sprayed the Brewster green on the body this week. So the black and the green have been based and cleared. Now the entire body is ready be sanded and cleared one more time.

Here is a portion of the fifth wheel that is currently hanging in the booth. It was shot with base this morning. As you can see it does not have much shine to it. The base is basically color and nothing else. It goes on fairly thin and the clear is what brings out the shine and depth.

As you can see the body has a pretty good shine already. There is quite a bit of clear on the body but once it is sanded and cleared again it really builds the depth that we like to see on a body like this.

Bob finished up the seat valance on the Show Gig yesterday. It really turned out nice. Just like the old pattern that we had in storage. The body was also sanded this morning to level the sealer and take off the shine. So now this part is ready for primer. Our client has chosen to go with deep maroon and black which will look very sharp on this body.

I am in the middle of re-ironing the shafts. When we had the cart assembled we had the irons tacked together and installed temporarily just for fitting. Now we weld everything and bolt them on solid to the wood shafts. There will be an “L” on the end at the rear cross brace and a “T” on the front cross brace.

This shows the front spring mount. We bend the shape of the curve from solid rod. Create the “U” shaped mounting bracket and weld it all together. Takes a lot of welding and grinding but that’s the only way to make it look traditional.

My friend Pete brought another one of Tim Maloy’s projects to my attention. Were is a link to that one. This is a fairly long one so grab some popcorn.

Watch the first part closely as the groom goes flying off the back of the carriage. Who said carriage driving wasn’t a contact sport? Sure looks to me like that dude made some serious contact with a tree or something.

Ryanne is just starting upholstery on the Albany project with the Spaniel. Watch for some updates on that one next week.

Have a Scary Halloween!

Thursday, October 29, 2009

What Was This?

The trip around the back roads of Iowa County Wisconsin continued. We were somewhere south of Mineral Point when the eagle landed and we came across the subjects of the next two photos. All within a half a mile or so on a very quiet and isolated country road.

This building was out in the middle of the countryside quite removed from anything. It is now being used as a barn but I’m sure that was not the original intent of this structure. Like many buildings in that area it was constructed of limestone. If you look closely you can see the façade of the building is constructed of squared and faced limestone (click it) where the sides are just straight running stone. This building was something. As you can see it is right up against the road. There was a large pair of doors flanked by large windows coming out of the lower level in the front. There were also doors coming out of the second story so there must have been a porch structure on the façade at one time. You can see nice cornice moldings above the front windows. I question the pitched roof. I’m thinking that was an afterthought and the original structure had a flat roof. I’m guessing it was a combination livery stable and hotel. Or maybe a Burger King.

Just down the road was this pretty little stone house. That is what is so interesting about this area. The rural countryside is dotted with historic structures that are very well preserved. Well maybe not the livery - hotel - Burger King but what could he do. The guy needed a barn.

The wood shafts on the Show Gig were shaped this morning. I really like the look of this 30 degree bevel on shafts. It is deep enough that the proportions are right for the size of the shaft and it really adds dimension to the vehicle.

The tails of the shafts are shaped with a simple but elegant bevel edge design to add some additional eye appeal to the frame itself.

The body is now in hard coat sealer and ready for sanding in the morning. Once we have the entire vehicle back together this body will then be ready to begin primer coats.

Each end of the seat base will have a wood valance trim. It takes a little to set up the saw to cut this molding so Bob has been working on that. He has it figured out and plans to make and install those this afternoon. This is a traditional design that we are duplicating from seats used on antique sporting carriages. It makes a very attractive detail.

Yesterday the majority of the clock tower on our historic City Hall was painted. It is looking beautiful. The weather is pretty shakey looking again today so I have my doubts that they are finishing it today. I'll post some pictures as soon as it's done.

Have a great day!

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

The Eagle Has Really Landed This Time

A few weeks ago we were out for a Sunday afternoon drive in the Mineral Point area of Wisconsin. That portion of our state is really interesting in that it was settled very early in our state history. Limestone is abundant and it was used extensively in construction. Downtown Mineral Point is quite unique. The majority of the buildings are constructed of limestone so it creates a beautiful early American setting.

So we are cruising around the back roads. In that part of the state you can really get off the beaten path if you want to. We are driving along a very quiet country road. We look over to our left and this guy is standing in a pasture full of cows knawing away at something. We see bald eagles from time to time in Wisconsin but it is still a real treat to come across one in this kind of proximity. We were able to pull out the camera and shoot several pictures before he became suspicious and took off.

Watch the blog the next few days. I have a couple more interesting shots from the little road trip to Mineral Point.

The Show Gig project continues to move along. We are getting close to completing construction of the body. Today Bob made up the fenders and installed the louvers on the rear body panel.

The fenders are made of wood in traditional form and I just set them up on a plank for a test fit of how they will look. Ultimately the fenders will be mounted on metal brackets that will be mounted to the body.

The louvers are a false louver which was commonly done on vehicles of this type. Reminiscent of larger sporting carriages that had functional louvers, some gigs had falsies. They give the same impression but were not functional. These type of vehicles were not large enough to house dogs which the louvers were intended for in the first place.

Here you can see the fender and seat frame in a little closer detail. The end of the fender has a soft radius and we detailed the edge with a traditional cove chamfer.

The frame is back in pieces. We have test fit all of the mechanical parts, spring mounts, springs, fasteners and so on in order to get the basic form. Now it all comes back apart one more time for some additional detail work on the wood shafts. The shafts will be shaped with an edge chamfer which Bob will be doing tomorrow morning. Then they will be sanded and cleaned up before they are assembled for the final time.

Sit tight on the Tim Maloy details. I still have another driving video to post and the scoop on his new projects. Just too many blog topics at the moment. We’ll get to it after a couple more Mineral Point pictures.

Have a great day!

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Good Day Sunshine

It is beautiful in Wisconsin today. The ground is a completely saturated but the sun is out and the temperatures are beautiful for this time of year. Our area farmers are having big trouble trying to get their crops out of the fields. It was a cool summer so the growing season was short to begin with. Now they can’t get in the fields for harvest. I hope things dry out soon for their sake.

I’m sitting here writing my blog with a bag of Ghirardelli chocolate chips in front of me. Life gets no better than that. The projects for the morning were the dash and seat frame for the Show Gig project. Here we have the metal framework for the dash cut and ready to weld.

Bob is finishing up some of the woodworking on the body. He just installed the chamfer panel on the rear of the body and the base board for the seat itself.

Meanwhile back at the ranch I’ve welded up the dash frame and have it drilled for the rein rail. Next I’ll grind off the welds and it will be ready to mount on the body.

The seat frame is a traditional steel rail framework which will support a nice comfortable seat back. I just finished up bending the outer rails. I’m lining them up so they can be welded to the uprights which will support the back cushion as well.

So here we are. Dash installed and seat rail just about complete. I need to weld the front support tabs on the seat frame and it’s ready to install as well.

The majority of the woodwork on the body is complete. We have a couple of odds and ends on the front end to finish and the body will be ready for sealer. That will happen later in the week after the chassis is complete. We normally finish all construction work in entirety before we begin any finishing of any components. Still a fair amount of ironwork to complete by the end of the week. Body mounts, lamp brackets, fender brackets and steps so the week will be full.

Whoa. Chocolate chip overload. Ugghh. Maybe I need to lay down…

Have a great day!

Monday, October 26, 2009

Rain, Rain Go Away

Wisconsin has been the rain forest for the last month or so now. Just kind of cruddy weather in general, cold, wet, windy. Good flu weather me thinks. Which reminds me. There was a photo in the Milwaukee Journal last week of people waiting in line to get their flu shot. Apparently there was no room to wait inside the school so people stood outside in 40 degree temps, in the rain, with a 15 to 20 mile an hour wind. Some folks waited outside in that stuff for up to three hours for their flu shot. Does that make sense to you?

Ooooh! I got the big scoop from Tim Maloy on what he is working on. I have a nice little list of driving video work coming down the pike. I’ll share that with you later in the week along with another video brought to my attention by my friend Pete. Tim is filming something in the mud right now. He said "don’t ask" so I’m guessing it’s probably footage for the PBMW which stands for Professional British Mud Wrestling.

We are busy this week working on a Show Gig for a client with a Friesian. It is currently in the construction phase which will wrap up this week. The body is being built in traditional style somewhat on the order of a Stanhope Gig. Here we are fitting the steel frame to the wood body.

The steel frame not only reinforces the body but also goes up the angle of the toe board to support the front of the body. Here I have tacked the frame for fitting and it is ready to weld.

With the frame installed Bob is moving ahead to install the floor on the toe board.

Here we have set the body on the frame for the first time. These bodies always look a little funny without the seat and the dash but that will come later in the week. We will be setting up for fenders and lamps as well so all of that will eat up a lot of what looks like empty space.

The frame is a traditional three spring platform suspension put to gooseneck shafts.

This type of suspension provides for a great ride. It is very comfortable because with springs in each direction the axle can move freely to absorb shock. The rear spring will be mounted to a larger block than the temporary set up shown which will elevate the cart a bit more. As shown the vehicle is not quite up to our projected height.

Watch for more on this project tomorrow as we will be on it the rest of the week. Stay dry…

Have a week!

Saturday, October 24, 2009

The Million Dollar Question…

So yesterday I posted a video by Tim Maloy. I was fortunate enough to receive an email from Tim thanking me for posting it. Neatly tucked away in that email was another video and the timing of this one is rather interesting. The subject matter of the video below is a coaching run that Tim traveled along with to film. This being driven by George Bowman and the Bowman family. A British dynasty in the world of coaching and competitive carriage driving. Kudos to Tim for passing along another great video.

Limerick to Dublin by Stagecoach from Tim Maloy on Vimeo.

My next order of business with Tim is getting the scoop on his work at hand. The guy has to be working on something. I prodded but no news as of yet. We’ll see what turns up. If I can break a story on a really slick new driving video you will be the first to hear about it.

So like I said receiving this video was quite timely. The last time Cheryl and I took a day off we ripped up to Door County. For those of you not familiar with Wisconsin, Door County is the peninsula that juts out into lake Michigan just north of the world famous Green Bay Packers.

The County is a beautiful natural phenomenon. There is more natural coastline in Door County Wisconsin than any other county in the United States. The terrain is varied from rocky shores to wooded bluffs to fertile agricultural land. The countryside is rich in history and the only real communities North of Sturgeon Bay are best described as small villages. It is a tourist area and like many such places it has maybe seen more contemporary development than necessary. That being said all in all it is a really beautiful place.

So what am I leading up to here?

As we walked along a stretch of quiet country road near Fish Creek known as Cottage Row a thought came to mind. This area would be perfect for horse drawn coaching tours. Cottage Row is one of so many beautifully tree lined country roads with grand historic homes perched along the Door County shoreline. The majority of these roads are bordered by stone fences, gardens and rocky bluffs. One can easily picture a coach and four traveling this road with passengers from town to town.

What I like about the Door is the proximity of each village and the ability to travel via scenic country roads to reach your destination. The towns are filled with historic Inns and fine dining establishments. All fitting to a travel business venture of this type. I’m just guessing but the length of the peninsula top to bottom is maybe 80 miles from Sturgeon Bay to Gills Rock. Routes could vary and I could see making daily stops in all of the villages to drop off and pick up passengers on holiday.

So the million dollar question remains. Is something like this feasible in the United States? If so where? Door County Wisconsin seems like a great opportunity for something like this but it can’t be the only option. One has to believe there are a number of areas in this great country that would be suited to this type of business venture.

So where are they? What seems critical to me is solid tourist traffic with disposable income. Unique lodging and dining opportunities. Safe and quiet routes of travel. Historic architecture and natural beauty. Urban areas in close enough proximity with a supply of ready travelers.

That little walk along Cottage Row this summer stirred up something. Tim’s video sparked it again. Seems to me this could be an absolute blast. A really unique opportunity for travelers and a piece of history to keep alive.

Dreamer? Maybe. Always been a dreamer. Right now I’m a sponge.

Have a great weekend!

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Albany Mania

I ran across this video by Tim Maloy. I don’t know Tim but it appears that he is a British video producer that works in a number of different subject matters. Well Tim has put together some of the best carriage driving video that I have ever laid eyes on. I suppose being in Great Britain can’t hurt. A front row seat to some of the best driving events in the world.

Royal Windsor Horse Show 09 from Tim Maloy on Vimeo.

So the above video was shot at the Royal Windsor Horse Show 2009. Some of the action shots, especially of the fours are spectacular. If this does not get you excited about carriage driving then I guess nothing will. This is certainly the elite of the sport in competition but it is fun watching the pros at work.

We are currently working on three Albany Cutter projects. I think that is a world record for us. The photo above shows the current status of a full restoration that we are doing on our own sleigh. It is all ready for Dale to begin putting on color. This sweet little Albany will be available for purchase upon completion so keep an eye on it.

Here is a shot of another full restoration in the works for a client in Nevada. As you can see it is painted with the striping and artwork complete. It is next on the docket for Ryanne to trim and upholster. She is wrapping up work on a Portland Door Cutter and will begin work on this project next week.

So here is the third. Our client brought this sleigh in for restoration. I think she had an idea of it all being new and shiny but we walked her down a different path. A conservation so to speak. Original sleighs in this condition are few and far between. It’s not perfect but it really has some remarkable qualities about it in the original state.

This is the biggest reason not to restore this cutter. I can’t recall ever seeing a hand painted manufacturer’s name on a sleigh before. I feel this part of this sleigh is awesome and so important to preserve. The sleigh was built by Birdsall & Muckle, Whitney’s Point, NY.

Our client wants to use this sleigh so it needs to be structurally sound and ready to go. We stripped out the ratty upholstery. The main portion of the body was pretty intact. Bob glassed the entire inner core of the body after replacing the floors. Now the body is rigid, solid and will not move. The sleigh has been cleaned and will be sealed in several coats of clear satin finish.

The final step will be new upholstery. We will be using a wool broadcloth in a conservative color. Going that route with the new upholstery will keep it from overpowering the original patina of the sleigh. I love doing projects like this. The result is a beautiful original work of art with a great patina still intact.

Guess what. It's supposed to rain again today but I'm sure that comes as no surprise.

Have a great day.


New Sprint SP2

The new SP2 made it’s debut this summer and we are very pleased with the results. The cart has served our customers well over the years but it was time for an update. The Sprint SP2 and the CX2 are our best selling vehicles. The CX2 shares the same frame and they are now available as well.

SP2 is short for Sprint Pleasure 2 Wheel Cart. It is designed to be durable, practical and have amenities that people are looking for in a modern vehicle. That being said we have so many customers that like the look of a traditional wood carriage that we have created the SP2 to fill that need. The new frame is 1.5” diameter steel tube bent to create the form of the body.

All Sprint carts are fitted with spring assisted shock absorbing suspension. The cart is adjustable in height quickly and easily by changing the location of the top shock mount.

This particular cart was fitted with some options like the wood shafts. The shafts on the base model cart are 1.5” diameter steel tube rather than the wood. The wood shafts are fastened to a steel frame and are easily removed. This cart also features the following options tufted seats, spares box, walnut stain color and patine shaft trim.

All Sprint carts are equipped with an adjustable seat. With the pull of a lever the seat adjusts forward and back for driver comfort.

All steel components on our Sprint carts are powder coat finished. The wood parts are sanded and clear finished using a two step process resulting in a smooth high gloss shine.

The SP2 is available in pony thru draft sizes. We have a number of other options and configurations for the Sprints which you can see at We are busy filling orders for Sprint carts year around and normally have in stock units available. You can clink on any photo to see an enlarged view.