Monday, July 27, 2009

Groovy Carriage Stuff

The Columbus Public Enemies Celebration went off on Saturday without a hitch. Great weather, good music, nice crowds and hundreds of motorcycles. I was told 400 plus. Mostly Harleys but a little bit of everything. A few really nice custom bikes and a lot of noise. There were hayride tours of the historic residential districts which seemed to be a big hit. The wagons were full every time they went by. My buddy Rod was up on the roof of the showroom taking pictures so hopefully he might share a couple of those with me this week.

Half of the fun of carriages is all the stuff that goes with it. Over the years I have accumulated so many little carriage knick knacks. Now for the shameless self promotion part. All of these items are for sale. Wait a minute… This whole blog is shameless self promotion anyway. Above is an original Standard Oil Mica Grease can in outstanding condition.

Here we have an original correspondence from Brewster & Co., New York. This very rare piece is an original document and the only one of its type that I have ever seen. This item did sell on eBay a few weeks ago and went back to New York City.

Probably my favorite carriage related item is my Parry Buggy clock. Not that I’m that crazy about Parry buggies but this clock is awesome. It is all original and in outstanding condition. It was made by the New Haven Clock Company. It is complete with the pendulum and the original key. It works, off and on. You can see this item right now on eBay.

Here is a really beautiful pair of seat side rails. The craftsmanship of the old masters was evident in the workmanship here. The most difficult part of being a designer or builder of anything is getting the lines to flow properly. Great lines in craftsmanship are really a rarity today. These carriage parts are not only a good example of highly skilled craftsmanship but really exemplify great design.

Build a better mousetrap. Here is a good example. This axle wrench shows a patent date of 1904 which was pushing the end of the carriage era. But it was probably one of the handiest wheel wrenches you could find. It’s adjustable to fit any sized wheel nut and it has the handy wood handle to act as a “speed” wrench. This great item can be found on eBay.

To find me on eBay search “antique horse drawn wrench” and the above wrench will show up in the list. My seller name is “jamestreet”. Once you open that item you can click “see sellers other items” in the upper right hand corner. We normally have around twenty unique carriage related items listed at any given time. All kinds of groovy carriage things to see.

Have a great week.


Friday, July 24, 2009

Busy, Busy, Busy

I hate when this happens. I get too busy to take the time to post the blog. That’s frustrating but maybe I’ll do a Saturday or Sunday blog to make up for it. So much to talk about and so little time. So anyway it’s going to be a big day in little Ol’ Columbus on Saturday. It is the Columbus Public Enemies Celebration. I hate to admit it but we have yet to see the movie. I suppose we better get to that while it is still in the theaters.

The link below is the place to go for more details about the Columbus Celebration.

Here you can find a schedule for the weekend. Come by Columbus to check it out. Many of the festivities will be happening on the Boulevard right in front of Colonial Carriage Works. We will be open tomorrow from 9 until 7. Yes that’s 7:00 pm so stop by!

The Kimball Brougham is coming along. We have all of the split panels replaced. Here we have the left rear quarter that has been installed and hard coat sealed.

One of the doors was also showing a bad split. That panel has been removed and replaced.

As you may recall the top layer of the roof was letting go in a pretty bad way. It worked out quite well to just remove the top layer. We fastened down what was loose on the sub layer than re-skinned the top. It looks great with no more cracks and wrinkles.

Here is a close up shot of the body after sealing and sanding. Our hard coat sealer is basically a form of fiberglass gelcoat. This is a catalyzed epoxy material. It has the consistency of honey which allows us to lay it on fairly heavy. It is clear and cures very hard. When it is dry it looks like a thick coat of varnish. We will often reinforce joints and corners with one layer of fiberglass mesh. This prevents joints from cracking in the future. The entire body has been coated with this material and sanded. We will probably hit it with one more coat before we go to primer.

All the individual components of the front end have been blasted and primed. All of these parts will be sanded once then primed again.

Here we have some of those parts in the sanding process. The first go round is done with 220 grit paper then the next sanding we will cut back to a finer paper.

Maybe we will see you over the weekend.


Monday, July 20, 2009

Stick A Fork In It - It’s Done

Pizza. This morning I feel like I ate Pizza. Probably because I did. We went to the Blue Moon last night for dinner. The Blue Moon is a great place in Lake Mills which is about a half an hour drive for us. At one time we had a Blue Moon in Columbus until it unfortunately burned down. So then they opened up in Lake Mills instead. Bummer for us. Great Cajun cooking and excellent pizza.

They have a Half Moon Pie and a Full Moon Pie. We had the Veggie Bomb Half Moon Pie. Outstanding! It’s kind of a deep dish pizza with a crunchy crust. Has to be homemade sauce. Lots of cheese and tons of veggies along with some pickled yellow peppers and some green olives to liven it up. The half moon pie is more than enough for two. It was excellent and as far as pizza goes I give it five stars.

Funny though, when you are not used to eating like that you still feel it the next morning. We have been on a pretty healthy eating kick lately and pizza hits you like a ton of bricks. Well worth it once in a while…

The Pleasure Show Phaeton was put to bed on Friday. Click on the photos to enlarge. Dale is finishing up the striping and the trim on the shafts today and it will be completely wrapped up. It turned out great. I pulled it out yesterday and managed to get some nice shots.

The body is black with a maroon chassis and maroon wool broadcloth upholstery trimmed with a vermillion stripe. It is horse size fitting 15 hand to 16 hand horses.

I loaded it up yesterday and moved it into the showroom in the afternoon. Moved things around a bit and found a nice little spot for it in the front window. It is available for purchase priced at $8,495.

We have a busy week again this week. A number of projects in the works in different stages of progress. One thing about this business it seems you always need to have a number of projects in the air at once. We are waiting for this or that which always seems to hold us up so you need a backup project in order to keep working. I'm off to the races.

Have a great day.


Friday, July 17, 2009

Two Great New Pony Carriages

Well winter is starting to set in here in Wisconsin. I think we are supposed to get up close to 60 today. I was just outside and the wind is blowing and it’s cloudy. It is definitely a sweatshirt day today.

We have had a couple of really nice new arrivals. The first is a pretty restored Wicker Pony Trap. It is medium pony size, fully restored and ready to show. It’s maybe been shown once or twice since the restoration but still looks like new.

The wicker is beautiful and in perfect condition. The upholstery is done in a tan Bedford cord which always looks attractive. It has a great little set of pony sized lamps that are included.

The rear seat is accessible by dropping the rear deck. The passengers sit backward with their feet on the deck in the lowered position. This great little carriage is available with lamps and shafts for $12,500.

The other is a pony sized ECC M-130 Batmobile. It is used but in excellent condition. Rear disc brakes, adjustable seat and adjustable shafts.

This is a very light small to medium pony marathon. It also features negative camber wheels and lamp brackets.

This little Batmobile is in great shape and ready to go to work. It is priced at $5,995 including shafts.

Watch the blog next week for more information about the Columbus "Public Enemies" Celebration. It's coming up on Saturday, July 25th and it's going to be one hoppin day in Columbus to say the least!

Have a great weekend.


Thursday, July 16, 2009

Columbus - An Economic Development Leader?

Had a chat with a couple of good friends yesterday. The Columbus City Administrator and our Economic Development Director. I think our Administrator has been here a little over two years. Our ED Director has been working a little over a year. We are in the middle of a recession and there are new business’s popping up all over the place in little old Columbus. We have a major development with an old blighted property on the edge of town. A new business in one of the strip malls. Several new shopkeepers downtown. A large state of the art dental clinic under construction near the hospital. A new community based Entrepreneurial/Economic Development Center opening in the fall. And Columbus is being touted a national leader in alternative energy and conservation efforts. That’s all pretty exciting.

Right now our city government is leading the way in community and economic development, energy conservation and downtown redevelopment. I wondered if I would live long enough to see anything like that happen. Hat’s off to my friends Boyd and Steve. Since their arrival things are changing in a really positive fashion and that is great news for everyone in Columbus.

The Show Phaeton is nearly complete. I’m really pleased with the way things are coming along. All the paint work and striping is completed other than a little touch up. The wheels will go on tomorrow.

The seat has been striped and installed. The body is now mounted on the chassis. The existing upholstery and dash look nice. We will be making a new leather bound rubber mat to place on the floor for the drivers area.

The body color is black with a vermillion stripe. It’s looking really sharp.

Dale finished striping the spokes on the wheels yesterday as well. New seals, pack the bearings and install the wheels today. We will go with some new brass caps to dress it up a little bit. It should be sitting on the floor of the showroom by the weekend.

Have a great day.


Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Show Phaeton In Living Color

The weather has been nice in Wisconsin lately but it’s getting to the point that we could use some rain. I know, those of you that live up north have needed rain for weeks now. It could be worse but it is starting to dry up around here too. Dry air, breezy days and no showers for quite some time are leading us to the mid summer brown lawn stage.

Here we have the body for the Show Phaeton project. It is now painted, cleared and striped. We are ready to bolt it on the chassis. It turned out great!

We left the upholstery intact when we repainted the seat. We did remove the webbing around the perimeter of the seat. Now the seat is painted. So last night I installed new webbing around the perimeter of the upholstery and it all looks like new. The seat still needs a few stripes so that’s on the agenda for today.

The chassis is striped. We went with a deep maroon paint color and a vermillion stripe. It looks excellent.

The rear portion of the chassis is all striped in traditional fashion.

The wheels are painted and striping is just beginning here. The fellow is complete along with a couple stripes around the hub. We should have the majority of the work on this carriage completed this week. Looking forward to getting it outside for some pictures.

Have a great day.


Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Million Little Pieces

Tomorrow is breakfast with the boys. Every Wednesday I get together with some friends for breakfast. Always entertaining, occasionally enlightening and certainly one of the highlights of the week. It started with two of us. We added a third and now we are up to four that have managed to pass the grueling initiation process. Depending on the day there may be an additional straggler along once in a while. We dine locally as well as making short road trips to such exotic locations as Rio, Fall Rivera, Waterloo, and Eastern Lowell where they open 30 minutes early just for us. It’s the one day a week that I throw out the diet and splurge on hash browns, some sort of breakfast meat and toast with jelly. Three guys in suits and me in shorts and flip flops. I’m surprised that I have not faced discipline in violation of the dress code.

The Kimball Brougham project continues to move along.

We have come to the point that we are completed with the body and the chassis needs to come off. We are starting on the front end and when we have that in primer we will move to the rear.

The roof so far is going according to plan. Bob removed the top skin to find the next layer in pretty decent condition. The loose areas have been fastened and now the new top layer is being fitted.

Once glued and fasted this will give us a good solid base on the roof. We will then continue to infill the remaining panels that have been removed. I would expect to see most of that work completed today.

So here it is in a million little pieces. The front end of the Kimball Brougham. Every last nut and bolt has been removed and the stripping and blasting process begins. As you can see the metal parts are quite rusted and the only way to really clean them up properly is to completely take it apart. Brandon will begin blasting metal parts today.

Have a great day.


Monday, July 13, 2009

Money’s Top 100

So money magazine picked the top 100 places to live and as usual Wisconsin has a few cities on the list. Middleton is number 4. Hat’s off to Middleton. It is a nice city but to really appreciate it you need to be into urban sprawl and fields of McMansions. The development there has been fast and furious. Some of it has been pretty well done and like much of America some of it hasn't. It always feels like a little big city to me. Other Wisconsin cities on the list are New Berlin at 34, Pewaukee at 61, Germantown at 76 and Waunakee at 78. Waunakee? Give me a break. Waunakee always feels like a speed bump on my way to Middleton. Sorry Waunakee but I’ll stick with Columbus.

So that’s a paint job. Dale just shot the final coats of clear on the show phaeton body on Friday. This is a shot of the side panel. They don’t leave the shop until I can see myself in the shine. It is looking great. Dale is striping the chassis this week and I will follow up on that project later in the week.

We are continuing work on the Kimball Brougham. As you may recall the left rear upper corner panel was split. The only way to properly repair split panels is to remove them and start over. So the panel has been removed and ready for replacement this week.

The interior has been completely removed and you can see what the inside structure of a brougham looks like pretty clear in this photo. One advantage to removing the interior is it makes the structural and panel repairs on the outside much easier to do in a proper fashion.

The roof is pretty tough. It must has had some moisture issues at some point to de-laminate this much. The top consists of two layers of veneer. We are thinking we may be able to remove the top layer and fasten the bottom layer. Then over lay a new panel on over the top.

This is a shot of the interior seat frame. This caned panel inserts below the cushion on the interior seat. It is in great shape so we will be refinishing this part and reusing the original caning.

It’s going to be a very busy week. I have a number of different projects in the air and looking to make substantial progress on all of them. Stay tuned.

Have a great week.


Friday, July 10, 2009

Houston, We Have A Problem

It looks like the little Kimball Brougham was the source of some trouble at some point. In taking the right door off of the body we encountered a pile of busted glass in the bottom of the door. And a note. The note and the rubble appears to have been hidden away in the bottom of the door for decades.

The note reads. “If you want your kids to climb around on this carriage give me $3,500 first. Then I could care less. Leave the door CLOSED.” It kind of looks to me like some youngsters must have been playing around in this vehicle and busted the window. Obviously much to the dismay of the owner at the time. It’s always fun to see what you will run across when you dive into these restorations. The note will be saved and passed along to our client upon completion.

Bob and Brandon are making good progress on stripping the carriage. It’s getting to the point that they will be taking the chassis off to start on the fifth wheel, springs and axles. The doors have been completely stripped and the one split door panel has been removed.

The body is pretty well ready for the wood repairs. Not much paint remaining. Once the split wood panels have been replaced we will coat the body in a hard coat sealer prior to primer coats.

The body is marked in a few locations with a serial number 2839. This one is stamped on the top of each of the doors.

Here 2839 appears on the inside wood panel behind the coachman’s seat. We will be doing some digging over the next few days to see if there is any historic information available on this carriage. Unlikely but it’s worth a try now knowing the serial number.

It’s a really big weekend coming up in Wisconsin. The Great Circus Parade is Sunday in Milwaukee. This is one incredible event. Over 350 horses take part in this parade along with most of the historic wagons from the Baraboo Circus World Museum. Take the time to see it if you have never had the chance. You can find more details at .

Have a great weekend.


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.