A Wagon Load of Missing Parts

Published by: David Sneed, Wheels That Won The West® Archives, LLC
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This week’s blog is the first of atwo-part story covering transient parts of old wagons.  Webster defines transient as being of ‘abrief or temporary existence’ as well as including references to ‘somethingpassing quickly into and out of existence.’ When it comes to wagons, it’s a polished way of referring to parts thatcan become alienated from the vehicle over time. 
A few weeks ago, we published a blogfocused on the topic of ‘originality’ in early wood-wheeled vehicles.  As I’d mentioned then, there are a number ofthings that can affect originality levels in an old wagon.  One of the more common enemies of originalityis the issue of transient parts.  As mentioned above,by transient, I’m referring to any number of elements that started out with thewagon only to end up lost or separated from the vehicle.  

In many cases, it’s simple to understandhow these pieces are so easily and frequently misplaced.  They may have been deliberately taken off orsome may have simply fallen off.  Ineither case, today, we see countless examples of wagons that have lost some portionof their original structure.  It’s partof the history of a set of wheels.  Evenso, those losses do not always negatively impact the resale value of the piece.

Ultimately, it’s good to know the kindsof things to look for if total originality and authenticity are priorities.  With that in mind, below are a few parts thathave had a tendency to get lost and replaced over the years… 

Box rods – Some of themore commonly replaced elements of a vintage wagon seem to have been box rods.  It’s understandable since the rods were often taken out so endgates could be removed and the wagon dumped, longer cargo added, or the sideboards may have been detached for a particular need.  Some rods never made it back to their rightful place and some were taken to be used for other needs - like fireplace pokers!  (I've seen that a number of times)  

Nuts, nails, & screws – These smaller pieces are regular 'no-shows' when it comes to evaluation of surviving, original components on earlywagons.   

Even small parts like nails, screws, box rod washers, and nuts can all become separated from a wagon over the decades.
Tongues – Most of these lengthy pieceswere made to be easily removed.  Manywere also broken in accidents.  As a result, it’s not unusual to find wagonsfitted with non-original tongues today.

Doubletrees/singletrees – Similarly,these pieces were moved from place to place during use with a wagon and sometimesbecame separated from the vehicle.  Brokenor heavily damaged doubletrees and/or singletrees could also result in a non-originalsubstitute.

Neck yoke – One of themost susceptible pieces to wandering off is the neck yoke.  By its nature, this piece of hickory was nottypically a permanent attachment to the tongue. As a result, when a team was unhitched, the neck yoke could get setaside and eventually separated from the wagon and tongue.  It became an even more frequent occurrence as wagons began to be used as trailers behind tractors.  Suddenly, there was no need for the neck yoke (and doubletree/singletrees) and it was cast aside. 
If you have a vehicle with missingpieces or non-authentic replacements, there are outlets that can help with either new old stock or even modernreproductions made to original maker specs. Next week, I’ll cover at least a dozen more wagon parts with an equal tendency towind up missing over the course of time.

Please Note:  As with each of our blog writings, all imagery and text is copyrighted with All Rights Reserved.  The material may not be broadcast, published, rewritten, or redistributed without prior written permission from David E. Sneed, Wheels That Won The West® Archives.
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