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Monday, June 10, 2013

Buggy Man.....

While I am not QUITE done - I have a top to build,  a brake rod to attach/adjust, and, of course, paint - I AM far enough along to have a "roll out viewing".

Actually, we COULD go for a drive the way it is, but brakes are always a handy thing to have - even though a LOT of Amish buggies do not have them - they have the old fashioned "WHOA" Brakes.....These usually work pretty good - if the horse feels like it.

So, last Saturday, we rolled it out of the barn, and took a few photos. I couldn't coax my lovely wife to get into the seat, so her dad got in instead. The seat turned out to be pretty durn comfortable. Probably way better than I could have made.

Trying out the "new" buggy seat.

This afternoon, I made the trip over to the Amish Harness Shop to see how the girl was progressing on Pearls bridle and harness. She told me she was ALMOST finished, but earlier in the day, she ran out of gas, so her sewing machine wouldn't run.....

It sounds odd, but their machines all run on a "line shaft" that is turned by a small gas or diesel motor.

She had just gotten back from town with some gas, so she told me "If you want to sit and watch, I can finish it up in a few minutes".


Leaha (the Amish girl harness maker) fired up the motor, hit the clutch lever, and all the line shafts and pulleys came to life. She grabbed the two remaining pieces, and sewed them together like she'd been doing it for 20 years........

Ok, she's only about 15 years old, but she knew how to run them machines!

When she was done, she explained a few parts, and told me how to order the two pads we need (they didn't have RED...), and I carried the whole thing to the car. At home, I brought it into the house to show Deb. She wondered aloud what part went where....To her, it was just a big Pile-O-Parts, jigsaw puzzle.

I'm hoping the horse knows where stuff goes - and is willing to show us.....

Looks like a puzzle to me!

Actually, it's not that hard, but I will still want one of our Amish friends to come over and help me to get things adjusted right the first time.

Now, if the sore on Pearl's foot would hurry up and heal, then we could have her shod, and head out on the highway to dodge semi's........

Wednesday, June 5, 2013

Working On The Shop

Last week, I went to a small City Surplus Auction nearby. They didn't have much, and some stuff - like things from the waste water treatment plant - made you scratch your head at the prices they were bringing. I guess a lot of it went to "scrappers".

I DID manage to bring home a few things, though - Some lumber, shelves, tables, plywood, electrical boxes, pipe, and a few other things.

Even a seat for my buggy.....

At the time I bought the stuff, I wasn't SURE what I was going to do with it all, but it didn't take long to figure it out, once it was home. I used it all in my shop to build tables and benches!

My shop at our old place wasn't laid out very well, and ended up being cramped. I also didn't have a very large table for bigger projects, and layout. Most o my shop out there, was in a 15x15 room that got kinda tight.

I decided a long time ago, that I was going to build this shop how I wanted it - complete with a couple of large tables (4x8).  Since I don't have all of the flooring installed (have to wait until we can afford more, or until I can find some), I still have some building to do. This haul netted me enough to get a go start on things, though. I brought home enough material to build (2) 4x8 tables, (1) 2x8 work bench, plywood for the walls above the work benches and tables (need more, though!), a small shelf unit, and a couple of doors. I still have a few pieces left, but not a whole lot.

This is what it looks like from the outside doorway:

Wood Shop

And from the other doorway:

New Wood Shop

The folding tables under the big benches are from that auction, too. I don't know what I will do with them yet, but they will hide where they are - for now...

I HOPE to be able to work on the other three doors in the near future, and also continue getting rocks and bricks for the floor in the main part, and the driveway.  Sooner or later, I will need to start getting that part of the shop ready to use.

Then I can REALLY have fun........

Friday, May 17, 2013

That's The Brakes.....

I have learned - and improvised - a LOT while building this buggy! It is pretty amazing the "high-tech" that goes into a modern horse drawn carriage....I decided not to use a lot of it, but I was amazed at what was available --

Disc Brakes
Drum Brakes
Torsion Axles
Fiberglass Wheels
Air Suspension
Windshield Wipers
Electric Flashers

Etc, etc, etc - the list goes on and on.

I am just as - or MORE - impressed with the gentlemen who build there buggies with almost NONE of the above list. Sure, they might use parts made a little sturdier than a hundred years ago, but they are essentially the same thing.

One of the things I am using on my buggy is the old style "pad" brakes. They consist of a THICK rubber (or wood) pad, mounted on a rotating shaft, and postitioned in front of each rear wheel. To operate, you simply move a lever by the driver, into one of several notches cut in a curved steel plate.

I set out this evening to make the curved plate...

First, I cut a piece of 3/16" x 3/4" flat steel to the desired length, then I added a twist to each end:

First Bends

After it cooled a bit, I then needed to bend a "hook on the ends of the twisted part:

Second Bends

After all that heating, twisting, and bending, I needed to bend a gentle curve into the whole thing. I just "cold" bent this part, using my patheticly small anvil, some brute force, and a little smoothing blows with a hammer:

Third Bend

At this point, I had to twist the ends of the hooks down a bit to allow me to insert a bolt through them, and attach the whole thing to the side of the carriage:

Twist The Ends

I still need to cut the excess off those tabs, and cut notches in the curve, but it looks like it will work like it should. When I get to that point, I will need to make a handle - with a nice, round, ball at the top - a cinch arm to attach to the brake rod, and a small clevis and rod assembly to tie the whole mess together.

If I have my list straight, this is the last MAJOR part I have to make and install. There are about 15 other small pieces, but most of the "heavy" stuff is about done.

Then some paint, seat cushions, and a harness.....

Friday, May 10, 2013

Busy Few Days

Well - last week (April 28 thru May 5) there was a "flurry" of activity around here!

Especially on Thursday, May 2nd.....

It all started on Sunday, when my friend, Kirk, came over from Nebraska to have me help him build my shop. I know, he was SUPPOSED to help ME, but it didn't work out that way! There are some things that I just cannot do anymore, and I was VERY thankful for his abilities, and knowledge to get the shop built. I couldn't have done it without him!

We were actually going along at a pretty good clip - we started Monday morning, and by Tuesday evening, we had the trusses up, and one side of the nailers on the roof.

Galen's new shop!

By Wednesday evening, we had the tin on the sides of the main part.

Starting on the metal

That is when the trouble started.....We broke for supper at about 5:30 on Wednesday evening. We planned on coming out and putting poles up for the lean-to I was building on the back end of the main shed. After supper, we trotted outside wearing the same T-shirts we had on before we ate.....

and about froze to death!

The temp went from 70°, down to the upper 30's in about an hour. We ended up grabbing out winter coats, and got the holes drilled for the poles, and set two of them. The rest would wait until morning.

Well, the next day dawned cloudy, wet and cold, but we kept at it, anyway. Andy, one of our Amish friends stopped by, to help us for a few hours, too. We managed to get all of the side tin on, and a few other things before it got too nasty to work - and it was getting close to supper time anyhow. We figured we would put tin on the roof in the morning. The Weather Gypsies were calling for SNOW, but used the tirm "Little Or No Accumulation"


We knew something was wrong, when the fan in our bedroom stopped at almost exactly 0600.....

The power was out!

 It seems the "little or no" had turned into 5" to 6" of heavy, wet white stuff.

May Snowstorm

Kirk decided that he could sweep the snow off of the roof nailers, and go ahead and work on getting tin down. Andy must have thought we were nuts when he stopped by to see what we were up to! He volunteered to help, but we told him we were about to stop, because our drill batteries were nearly dead, and we had no way to charge them.

Oh well, we needed to go to town and do a few things, anyhow! The next day being Saturday, we had planned on attending an auction, so work was halted another day. Kirk decided that he could finish the roof on Sunday before he took off for home. Luckily, our power came on almost exactly 12 hours after it went off. Some folks around were out for several days.

Working on the shed

When he left, it was pretty much done on the outside. There are a few pieces left, but nothing major. Andy stopped by on Monday, and helped me install floor joists in the lean to (which will be my wood shop).

Floor Joists

Since then, not much has changed with the shop. I had to order some trim pieces we didn't get, and cleaned up around there, but nothing too much has changed. I did manage to scrounge up about 250' of used gutter and some downspouts....for free.


Most of the week has been involved with mowing the lawn, tilling the garden, and making a trip to Chillicothe so an Amish neighbor could get new glasses. I didn't even get to do too much work on my buggy, until about 3:00 this afternoon. I did a little bit on Thursday evening - after supper, but not much.

Today, I managed to get the front axle installed, then I put the front wheels on, so I could measure where a couple other things would sit.

Front Wheels

I even got the "trunk lid" put on, too!


I still have a lot to do, but it is getting down to just a couple "major" items, then a bunch of little things....

I'm thinking a nice "Farmall Red" would look nice for the buggy.....

Sunday, April 21, 2013

Buggy Update

I decided to post an update on my buggy building.

Over the past month or so, I have been scrounging as much stuff as I can, to get one together. My BIL came up with 4 wheels and a hub. My FIL let me dig through his supply of dried Cedar and Ash boards to come up with enough wood to build the "box" (along with a few pieces that I had on hand). Then, a couple Amish neighbors donated a few parts.

One day last week, I was over at my FIL's house when he mentioned a pile of old parts down by an Oak tree. He said they were there when he bought the place in 1972, and he'd not moved them! I dug around and came up with some buggy steps, and some other useful pieces.

More Buggy Parts....

A couple weeks ago, I went to the post office in Princeton, MO. While there, I noticed that there were some chicks there with an Amish neighbor's name on them. I loaded them up, and delivered them. While there, he mentioned he had pieces of an old buggy in one of his old barns. He said if I wanted them, I could have the pile for $20. It didn't take long for me to decide! He had most of the things I needed.

While all of the stuff is still in pretty good condition, it sometimes doesn't "mix" well with new parts. When I run into this, I have found that the easiest - and cheapest, in the long run - thing to do, is to "horse trade" parts. I have also been finding out, that NEW parts from Amish tradesmen are usually WAY cheaper then trying to modify something, and hoping it works. Almost all of the parts from Amish buggy makers are about 1/10th the price of online venders, too.

Apparently, the stuff I am trading is over 100 years old, and hard to find, so I have managed to get a LOT of new parts for almost ZERO cash!  I have even traded a little work, or cell phone usage for parts! The other day, I helped an Amish buggy builder saw about 2 dozen boards, and let him call the lumber yard on my phone - he let me pick out the shaves for my buggy!

A couple days ago, my FIL and I used clamps and boiling water to bend the wooden "axle cover" down to the front axle. It is now clamped down tightly, and drying nicely. It should be ready to un-clamp in a day or two.

I have also been trying to get the "box" built. I almost have all of the wood cut for the lower box, and just need to layout and cut the seat pedestal, then the seat frame. There are a lot of little things that I will need to "clean up", but things are looking fairly good - at least to me!


Buggy Rear Axle

One interesting story I ran across during all this, is when I took a set of those shaft supports (those long, curved things in the top photo...)  my FIL had laying against the tree, over to the main buggy shop that is close by. I had planned to just hold them up to the shaves to see if they would work. Well, I got a shaft down, held the support up to the curve, and found out the curve was all wrong. I figured I'd just have to make new ones.

The man took it from me, looked it over, and said that it would work fine. He said he'd show me how it's done. Well, he took that support, grabbed his hammer, and headed for his anvil.


He holds it up in the air - nowhere close to a shaft.....

"OOPS, just a BIT too much...."

Back to the anvil, he flips it over....

Tap, Tap, Tap....

He looks it over and says - "PERFECT!"

He hands it to me, and I hold it up to a shaft......and it WAS perfect!

Experience is a wonderful teacher.

I have found out that the whole - or MOST of - the Amish community knows me - even if I haven't yet met them! I will see a new face in town, and they already know who I am.....

I'm the guy who inherited the horse, wears an Amish straw hat, and is building a buggy.....

Saturday, April 20, 2013

The Thing On My Head....

A few years ago, I bought a nice new, Amish Straw Hat from a store in Jamesport, Missouri. I wore the thing exactly THREE days before it got munched by one of our goats who thought it looked tasty. Well, THIS time, we don't have any goats, so the one I got last week MIGHT last a bit longer - hopefully.

Right after I bought this one, the weather changed back to being cooler, so I didn't wear it a whole lot at first. Since the last couple days have warmed up a bit (still frost at night, but 40's during the day), I have been wearing it again.

Today was the first time I wore it around our Amish neighbors.....

Andy is building a barn at his new place, so he had his brother Jerry, his father-in-law, and a brother-in-law (and a few assorted nephews - all under 10), helping out with framing part of it up. There they were, Andy, Jerry, the BIL working on the roof nailers, and everyone else doing ground work or playing tag.

I knew something was "up" when I drove into the driveway. They guys on the roof, stopped, stood up, and started grinning ear to ear. I knew they knew it was me, because my pickup has been around several times. The had to be grinning at something else.

So, I pull up, and get out of the truck. Andy hollers down:


"A HAT!", I hollered back.

"What are you trying to do, be Amish....?"

"Naw, just trying to look cool...!"

I guess they aren't used to "English" people wearing their hats, and building buggies. I actually had a guy in town the other day, ASK ME IF I WAS Amish! Never mind that I was wearing a belt, a T-shirt with "Nebraska" on the front in 2" letters, was driving a bright red Ford pickup, and was talking on my cell phone....

Some folks just don't have a clue....

Amish Straw Hat

Monday, April 15, 2013

Sky Pilot.....

I was headed over to Deb's dad's place this afternoon, just cruising along. I was coming up a hill, and slowing down to turn the corner to their house, when I spotted some movement out of the corner of my eye. My mind told me it was a bird, but there was something odd about it. I HAD to back up and take a look.

Several years ago, my brother and I were headed to a road project near Hutchinson, Kansas. Since Bob knew all the back roads - no matter where he went - that's what we were on, headed to the job site. We were on a small blacktop - "oil roads", they call them in Kansas - and cruising down a flat spot between a couple of marshy areas. One side was so marshy, in fact, it was a POND that came right up to the road. About 10 feet from the road, a barb wire fence cut across about eight feet of the end of that pond.

Since there were low fly birds in the area - and even a road sign to warn of them - Brother Bob slowed down, just in case. It turned out to be a wise move, because we looked up to see a mid size duck lining up for a landing on said pond.

There he was, lining up his approach like the best pilot you ever saw, except he was just a BIT below glide path -- as he was passing the fence, his neck caught the top wire. All we saw as we rolled by (at a near stand still), was that duck spinning around that wire like he had caught a fan blade! He did his flying trapeze act around the wire a few times, then hung there, limp as a dish rag.

Fence 1, Duck 0

I have no idea what species of bird this one today is, but it was talented! When I backed up to take a good look, the first thing I noticed was his feet weren't touching the wire below him. He was just hanging there, blowing in the wind.

I got out and investigated further. He was a "better" pilot than that duck - instead of hooking himself on the wire, he DEAD CENTERED it! Only trouble was - he was TOO good, and - in his case - dead centered really meant "dead" centered.

Sky Pilot....

I don't know HOW he did it, but you can see in this photo, that his "lips" are caught in the "holes" the twists of the barb wire make.

Bird On A Wire

Some times, pilots are too talented for their own good....