Practical Carriage Building
Compiled by M.T. Richardson, Vol.1. 1891
Carriage Parts Part 3
In making a carriage there should be one master mind from the beginning to the end. In too many of our shops each department has its own boss, who has full charge of it, and designs his part to suit himself.
We often see a very crooked body on a carriage that is straight. That throws the carriage out of proportion, giving too much wheel in front of the bed and too little back of it. Then we often see the futchells spread so far apart that the carriage is not in harmony with itself.
If I wanted to have my carriage a little different from a hackman's, I would put on a stiff bar and worry the horses. But the experience of men who have been much among coachmen is that our colored brother, who wants very little trouble in driving, favors a swivel bar, but that the best coachman wants a stiff bar, because his eyes are never off his horses, and he keeps them always together. But if in a pair of horses one differs from the other in spirit, it requires constant attention to keep them together. But the lazy man wants to sit at leisure, with slack reins, and let the horses drive themselves.
We all know that it takes but a small blemish to spoil a very fine picture. It is the same with a carriage. In the sweep of the sides the most important and difficult part lies between the fifth wheel and the spring on the bottom bed (Figs. 20-1 and 205). The top and bottom sweeps at this point incline to conflict with each other and make the bee) small and weak between the bearing of the fifth wheel and the spring, a point that is called upon to bear more strain, according to its ability to bear it, than any other part of the two beds; and care should be taken to give it all the strength possible, by giving the bed a good taper from the fifth wheel to the spring. The center of this bed is supported by the top one, but out beyond the fifth wheel it stands unsupported, with the exception of the stays, and is subjected to the twist that comes when the carriage wheel strikes an obstruction; so we may very often find that right there the carriage part gives out. Carriage part makers, or some at least, do not seem to understand this, and in sweeping the carriage they make the weakest part between those two bearings when it should be the strongest.
Another thing. The carriage part maker will taper his bottom bed on the side and make it smaller or narrower at the point than it is at the center. This is a mistake, for the very reason, as I said before, that this is the weakest point and needs more strength than any other part of the bottom bed.
In sweeping the carriage part and laying out the design it needs to be wide on the bottom. In fact, it should be laid out very much as the Dutchman out West built his fence. He lived in Iowa, where they have those blizzards and tornadoes, where the wind blows like a politician running for office. He was troubled with his fence blowing down, and he conceived the idea of making it wider than it was high, so that when it blew over it should be higher than it was when standing up. Now this bottom bed should be built about the same way. It should be wider than it is high. Then when the iron is put on you will find it higher than it is wide and in good proportion. The carriage part maker should also remember and make his carriage look lank and lean, and remember that the iron is to go on there and fill out what looks like a deficiency. It is very important to get a Rockaway body as low as possible, and that docs not give you much room for the carriage part. If the beds are made perfectly straight, it will take about four and a half inches between the body and spring for the carriage part. Hut if the bottom bed is dropped or sweeped down, the space is increased.
Speaking of this common fault of a carriage part, the bottom bed, in the weakest point, is cut the smallest. In the center there is a great bunch where the king bolt goes through. There is no call for it at all. One point of beauty is to make the work without bunches. The top must be in harmony with the bottom. Those who are desirous of studying this part of the carriage can certainly learn as much from the faults of a badly made carriage part as they can from a well made carriage. They will learn what to avoid, and when that is learned, they have gone a great way toward learning what to do.óBy W. G. SHEPARD